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Team figure skating set for debut at Olympics

Rachel Cohen Associated Press

SOCHI, Russia – Ashley Wagner, a self-described vicious competitor, concedes it will be a little strange to cheer on fellow American Gracie Gold.

Team figure skating makes its debut at the Olympics today, one of the TV-friendly events held a day before the opening ceremony. Ten countries will send out one entry in each of the four disciplines: men, women, pairs and ice dance.

The nation with the highest total score after the short and long programs wins – suddenly giving figure skaters the chance at two medals at one Winter Games.

Canada is the favorite with three-time world champion Patrick Chan and reigning ice dance Olympic gold medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. Host Russia – with medal contenders in the women’s, pairs and ice dance events – could challenge if Evgeni Plushenko looks more like the skater who won silver at the 2010 Games than the one who finished second at his own national championships this year.

American ice dancer Charlie White, who won a silver medal in Vancouver, said skaters used to joke about how athletes in other sports could win so many medals.

“Obviously that was something we grew up with and part of what made figure skating so special,” he said. “But having only had one opportunity to win a medal at the last Olympics, we certainly cherish the opportunity to walk away with more than one.”

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