SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Brian Orser has won two Olympic silver medals and coached a skater to gold. All that experience did little to prepare him for the sport's newest twist.
Team figure skating debuted Thursday at the Sochi Olympics, and Orser wasn't quite sure what to think as coach of one of its top competitors — 19-year-old Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan. The same was true for many of the skaters, who were quick to rationalize their performance, good or bad.
The biggest intrigue on Thursday came in speculating what the results on the first night of the team competition portend for the upcoming individual events.
Canadian three-time world champion Patrick Chan called the night a "trial run" after his shaky short program. U.S. champ Jeremy Abbott used the term "run-through" after he crashed into the boards on a fall on his opening quad.
Russia's Evgeni Plushenko was thrilled with his triumphant return from injury, but in case he flops the rest of the way, he proclaimed: "Doesn't matter what kind of results it's going to be for me, at the end of this Olympics, I already win for myself."
After Orser's protege, Hanyu, sparkled in the short program, the coach noted that "there were a couple of little scratchy moments."
"You know what?" Orser said. "That's just the way I want to have it right now."
So perhaps some skaters built confidence, while others had theirs cracked for their next short program in a week. Or maybe they shook off the cobwebs and found motivation.
The team competition takes a day off Friday for the opening ceremony, returning Saturday with the women's and ice dance short programs and the pairs free skate. It wraps up Sunday with the men's, women's and ice dance long programs.