How to watch figure skating at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022

A fan favourite, figure skating's compelling mix of artistry and athleticism will feature both individual and team events in Beijing. Here is everything - and everyone - you need to look out for

By Nick McCarvel
Picture by Koki Nagahama/Getty Images

There is nothing quite like figure skating at the Olympics - or in all of sport - as athletes attempt to strike the balance between artistry and athleticism ... on ice.

The sport made its debut at the London 1908 Summer Games, but officially joined the Winter programme in 1924.

For the third consecutive Olympic Games, figure skating will stage both an individual event in each of its four disciplines - men's singles, women's singles, pair skating and ice dance - as well as a team event at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.

The team event kicks off the action on 4 February and runs through 7 February, followed by the first individual event, which is set to feature the men.

While each of the four disciplines offer compelling storylines, the host nation China will save its strongest event for last as its world champion pairs team - Sui Wenjing and Han Cong (pictured above) - will try to win Olympic gold at the close of the Games.

Read on to find out the schedule of events and the best way to watch the action.

ALSO: Olympic figure skating at Beijing 2022: Top five things to know

Figure skating events at Beijing 2022

In total, there are five separate figure skating events at Beijing 2022: the team event; men's singles; women's singles; pair skating and ice dance.

At Sochi 2014 the team event - which features a 10-nation field in which skaters earn points in each discipline - was introduced to the Olympic programme. The ROC captured gold in 2014, while Canada won the team event at PyeongChang 2018.

Figure skating stars to watch at Beijing 2022

Reigning and two-time Olympic champion Hanyu Yuzuru will no doubt be looking to write more history. The 27-year-old Japanese star became the first man since Dick Button (1948-52) to win back-to-back Olympic golds in 2018, and will try and become the first skater in any discipline to go three in a row in nearly a century in Beijing.

American Nathan Chen is the three-time and reigning world champion, and will be hoping to shake off his fifth-place finish from 2018, where he was in 17th after the short program.

Hanyu's compatriots, Olympic silver medallist Uno Shoma, and world medallist Kagiyama Yuma, as well as Chen's countryman Vincent Zhou, are all eyeing the podium.

Teenagers have come to dominate women's skating over the last two Olympic cycles, and ROC skaters Kamila Valieva, Anna Shcherbakova and Alexandra Trusova would expect to continue that trend.

Japan's Sakamoto Kaori is in her second Games, however, as is Loena Hendrickx of Belgium. American Alysa Liu and Higuchi Wakaba of Japan will look to add their names to the short list of women who have completed a triple Axel in Olympic competition.

The aforementioned pair of Sui and Han will no doubt be the home hope of the Games, with the pairs event set for last (18 & 19 February) and the two-time world champions having had a strong season leading into Beijing.

In their way are any of the ROC teams in the field, most notably the reigning world champions, Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov, who were selected after winning the 2022 European Championships in the pairs.

In ice dance, Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron will be back four years after a disappointing silver medal finish, while the likes of Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov (ROC), Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue (USA), Madison Chock and Evan Bates (USA), and Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier (CAN) are also likely contenders for the dance podium, too.

WATCH: Olympic Channel Original Series with Papadakis/Cizeron and more

Figure skating schedule at Beijing 2022

Venue: The National Indoor Stadium

(All times are in local time, UTC+8)

4 February
09:55 Team Event - Men's Singles Skating - Short Program
11:35 Team Event - Ice Dance - Rhythm Dance
13:15 Team Event - Pair Skating - Short Program

6 February
9:30 Team Event - Women's Singles Skating - Short Program
11:50 Team Event - Men's Single Skating - Free Skating

7 February
9:15 Team Event - Pair Skating - Free Skating
10:30 Team Event - Ice Dance - Free Dance
11:35 Team Event - Women's Singles Skating - Free Skating

8 February
9:15 Men's Singles Skating - Short Program

10 February
9:30 Men's Singles Skating - Free Skating

12 February
19:00 Ice Dance - Rhythm Dance

14 February
9:15 Ice Dance - Free Dance

15 February
18:00 Women's Singles Skating - Short Program

17 February
18:00 Women's Singles Skating - Free Skating

18 February
18:30 Pair Skating - Short Program

19 February
19:00 Pair Skating - Free Skating

20 February
12:00 Exhibition Gala

How to watch figure skating at Beijing 2022

Quad watch

Figure skating as a sport is ever-evolving, and this Olympics promises to be the first that will feature quadruple jumps in the women's competition. Quad jumps - in which a skater rotates four times in the air from take-off to landing - are the most difficult in the sport.

While the triple Axel has remained rare in women's skating, as well, the quad - which is only allowed during the free skate for the women - could be the difference maker for who stands atop the Olympic podium.

“Without quads, you don't have any chances to win competitions now,” the 2021 world champion Shcherbakova said in November. “So I know that for me, it's really important [to add more]. ... My goal is to do not one quad [but] to work more on it and to show more quads in my program."

The importance of GOEs

While the men's competition will see up to two quads for a skater in the short program and numbers in the three, four or five-quad range in the free, the Grade of Execution mark on a skater's scoresheet is often as important as the elements they are performing themselves. The GOEs range from -5 to +5 in terms of how well executed each and every technical element is performed.

The mark has grown in importance this Olympic quad having previously been -3 to +3.

Hanyu's Axel aspirations

While the men's event promises to be exhilarating, two-time and reigning Olympic champion Hanyu is hoping to use a new weapon in his cavalry to beat Chen for the first time in their head-to-head history: The quadruple Axel.

No athlete has ever done the quad Axel in competition, and Hanyu attempted the jump at Japanese nationals in December, landing a downgraded, two-foot try in the free skate.

"I’m going to Beijing is because I want to complete the quadruple Axel," Hanyu said after making the Japanese Olympic team. "I want the championship by using the Axel."

How to be a couch expert

Ten teams are set to compete in the team event, and each of those teams will compete a man, woman, pairs team and ice dance duo in the short program. The skater in first earns 10 points, second nine points, third eight points and so on.

With accumulated score across the four disciplines, only the top five teams moves on to the free program portion, where the scoring works in similar fashion, starting at ten points (first place) and down to six points (fifth place).

Teams are allowed two substitutions between the short and the free.

In the individual events, skaters are broken into groups based on their world rankings, with higher-ranked skaters competing in the later groups. So, pay attention as the competition builds.

In the free skate, skating order is based on placement from the short program. That allows for a crescendo in the drama - and hopefully some memorable moments for all of us to watch at home.

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