As the athletes make their way out to march at the Opening Ceremony, the skating world is still recovering from an unexpected first day of competition at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. There were so many surprises, yet the four teams at the top are the four teams you would expect to finish in the top four. Was it first day jitters? Was it the earliness of the competition? Let's take a closer look at the men's and pairs' short programs from the Team Event.
Related: Team men's short | Team pairs short
Three favorites falter
In the men's event, three of the favorites made multiple huge mistakes in their short programs - two of them got out somewhat unscathed, but the third made his and his team's path to gold just a bit tougher.
It all started with Patrick Chan, the first skater in the second (and last group) of the men's short. Two falls - one on his trusty quad toe and the second on his least favorite triple axel - looked like it was about to dig Canada completely into a hole, especially with four more strong skaters coming. Nathan Chen went two skaters later and doubled his quad toe and fell on his triple axel - giving him the lowest short program score of his senior career and putting him right behind Chan.
And when Mikhail Kolyada took the ice, he had the opportunity to put OAR in a very strong position over Canada and the U.S. He was also unable to keep it together and ended up in eighth after two falls and a singled triple axel. And when it was all said and done, Team Canada not only did not lose ground to Team OAR, but they also opened up a much clearer path to gold than they had imagined they could have.
You wonder how much of this had to do with this being Olympic ice, especially for Chen and Kolyada, skating at their first Olympics. They both had very solid practices just a couple hours before, and Chen had a flawless warmup right before his short program. For Chan, his inconsistency may not have come as a complete surprise considering the season he's had, but you have to believe he's relieved to have salvaged third place after a skate like that.
Uno, Bychenko impress
Not the case for Shoma Uno - he easily won the short with a solid but not flawless program. He handled his debut Olympic performance well, but even he looked a bit tight in his jumps.
The skate of the day, though, belonged to Alexei Bychenko. Carefree and clean - Bychenko did everything he could do with a personal best short, giving Team Israel a second-place finish in the men's short. They would end the day in fifth place.
Rollercoaster continued with pairs
The pairs' short was full of surprises as well, though they veered away from disasters - off days for Vanessa James/Morgan Cipres and Xiaoyu Yu/Hao Zhang, both of whom are expected to be outside contenders for the podium in the individual event, and both with errors in their side-by-sides that pushed them lower than expected.
Perhaps the biggest surprise was the fall from Aljona Savchenko/Bruno Massot, who have looked so solid during practice this week. They went into their throw flip with barely any speed, and she just didn't get the power that she usually gets on that throw. They meant for this appearance in the Team Event as a way to shake off some of the cobwebs after not competing at Europeans - but what it didn't do was solidify them as the favorites for gold.
Evgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov stepped up to redeem Team OAR's Day 1 - and their chances at team gold. They won the short over Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford - just a bit of a squeaker on their side-by-side lutzes but otherwise strong in their short.
The biggest pleasant surprise was a season-best skate from Alexa Scimeca Knierim/Chris Knierim in their Olympic debut. They hit everything, including their problem element, the side-by-sides. Alexa got just a tad too excited right near the end and tripped on the exit of their lift, but their fourth-place finish was higher than expected and ensures that Team USA stays as a medal favorite.