What is the figure skating team event?

Figure skating is often thought of as an individual event, but the team event allows for a change in that mentality. It’s similar to the gymnastics team event in that all disciplines are contested and it’s an opportunity for a country to win another Olympic medal during the Games. The event is contested before the individual disciplines and lasts three days.

A nation assembles its best skaters from each discipline – ladies, men’s, pairs, and ice dance – and is allowed two substitutions. For example, at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, these skaters competed for the U.S. in the team event, and each earned a bronze medal for their efforts:

  • Ladies: Ashley Wagner (short program only) and Gracie Gold (free skate only)
  • Men: Jeremy Abbott (short program only) and Jason Brown (free skate only)
  • Pairs: Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir (short program and free skate)
  • Ice dance: Meryl Davis and Charlie White (short dance and free dance)

The programs in the team event are scored in the same way that the disciplines are scored. Then, the skaters earn points based on their rankings. For example, if the U.S. skaters were to place 5th in men’s, 7th in pairs, 1st in dance and 4th in ladies during the short programs, the U.S. team would earn 27 points (6+4+10+7).

After each of the short programs, the top five highest-scoring teams advance to the free program round. For example, the U.S. could advance from the short phase to the free phase with their score of 27 points. Then, the U.S. could place 2nd in men’s, 4th in pairs, 1st in dance and 2nd in ladies during the free skates, and its total placement points score for the free skates would be 35 (9+7+10+9) and its aggregate score for the entire team competition would be 62 (27 points in the short phase + 35 points in the free phase). The team with the most points after both phases wins the gold medal, followed by the silver and bronze medal winners, respectively.

The team event is most similar to the World Team Trophy,…

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