BEIJING — The United States leads the figure skating team event entering the second of three days of competition. The Americans started strong with top finishes from Nathan Chen in the men’s short program and Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue in the rhythm dance. In the pair skating short program, U.S. duo Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier placed third, the best result they could have hoped for without major mistakes from the top-finishing Chinese and Russian pairs.
In the team event, which debuted in 2014, skaters earn points based on their finish, with 10 for first, nine for second and so on. A representative from each country performs each program, and the top five teams advance to the free skates. The eight segments (two programs in each discipline) are contested over three days of competition, and after the first, the U.S. team led with 28 points.
The Russian Olympic Committee, projected to win this event because of its strength in all disciplines, is in second with 26 points. The Russians could jump into the lead Sunday with Kamila Valieva, the gold medal favorite in the women’s individual event, performing her short program. The United States will be represented by Karen Chen, who skates just before Valieva, the final competitor in this segment.
While the United States and the ROC are nearly assured a spot in the free skate portion of this event, there could be a tight competition for the final three spots. Five countries enter Monday’s competition within six points of one another — China (21), Japan (20), Italy (18), Canada (16) and Georgia (15).
After the women’s short programs, the top five teams will compete in the men’s free skate. The final three segments will be held Monday.