Team figure skating made its Olympic debut on Thursday and Russia dominated, forcing a needed comeback in later events.
This is an event USA has dominated since its introduction to the sport of competitive figure skating, but Russia formed a formidable team including a modern skating legend.
Team Men Short Program
Pressure was on Jeremy Abbott to start things for Team USA on the ice, and he got off to a rough start when he fell on a quad loop combination to start the event.
Things didn't get better for Abbott, who was unable to add an impressive combination to his program, completed a single axel and didn't have tight spins on the ice. He finished with a disappointing 65.65 that gave USA a hole to climb out of.
A dejected Abbott left the ice with his shoulders slumped, but was embraced by his teammates. It put the pressure on Team USA's Team Pair to get the Americans back in the competition, which wasn't their strong suit entering the games.
The oft-injured, but supremely talented Evgeni Plushenko aimed to get Team Russia off to a strong start and he did just that with a dramatic routine that was almost flawless. He posted a score of 91.39, a personal best in the short program.
It seemed like Plushenko would command the event until 19-year-old Yuzuru Hanyu took over for Japan. He finished with an unbelievable 97.98 in the short program and it felt like a torch was being passed from the grizzled veteran to the next young star of men's figure skating.
Team Pairs Short Program
Hopes for a Team USA resurgence in the event stood with Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir. They skated to a familiar song, "Smooth" by Santana and performed well outside of a small misstep on a synchronized triple salchow. Castelli and Shnapir finished with a score of 64.25.
It was good enough to claim fifth in the event, keeping Team USA in the hunt.
Canada was looking to bounce back following a third-place finish in the men's competition by favorite Patrick Chan, and the pair of Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford didn't let their nation down. They put on a near-perfect program to finish with 73.10.
Russia is the team to beat based on early results. Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov were on another level. Their height on throws was unmatched by the competition and there were no mistakes. The pair finished with a 83.98 to win the pairs event.
There's plenty of room to catch up with six events remaining in the team figure skating event, but it's going to be difficult for Team USA to medal unless the Americans turn things around quickly.
1. Russia (19 pts)
2. Canada (17 pts)
3. China (15 pts)
4. Japan (13 pts)
5. Germany (10 pts)
6. France (10 pts)
7. USA (10 pts)
8. Italy (8 pts)
9. Ukraine (5 pts)
10. Great Britain (3 pts)