Israeli Olympians impress in men's individual figure skating
Israel's Alexey Bychenko and Daniel Samohin wowed the audience with powerful jump combinations, marking the first time Israel has had two skaters in the top 15 in the event.
In what is likely to be his final Olympics ever, Israel's Alexey Bychenko skated into the record books on Friday night with an 11th place finish in Pyeongchang. With a performance set to the Italian opera of "Pagliacci," the 30-year-old Bychenko unseated Japan's Keiji Tanaka landing two quad jumps to take the lead. Overcome with emotion, he fell to his knees at the end of his performance.
Bychenko was in 13th after the short program the day before, skating to the popular Israeli song "Hava Nagila." He landed his two most difficult jumps, the triple Axel and the quad toe as the crowd erupted in cheers, but landed the triple Lutz-triple toe combination two-footed.
PHOTOS: Israel at the Winter Olympics
“It is an honor to compete for Israel. I’m really proud of that,” Bychenko told us on his way to South Korea. He placed 21st in the men's singles event four years ago in Sochi. Earlier in the week, he posted a 2nd place result in the men's single short program as part of the team event.
I LOVE MY FIGURE SKATING UNCLE ALEXEI BYCHENKO pic.twitter.com/b6eISzzPPY— 🐨nikola @ SHOMA UNO OLYMPIC SILVER MEDALIST (@notgneissatall) February 17, 2018
The Japanese skaters Yuzuru Hanyu and Shoma Uno ultimately went 1-2 for the gold and silver medals. Spain's Javier Fernandez, in his third olympics, took the bronze.
In his first Olympic performance, Israel's Daniel Samohin, skating to "L’Immensita" by Il Volo, was in 18th after the short program. He maintained second in the free skate behind Bychenko until U.S. wunderkind Nathan Chan bumped them down. He finished the event in 13th place. Israel has never had two skaters in the top 15 in the men's individual event.
Israel's Daniel Samohin competes in the men's single skating free skating of the figure skating event during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games on February 17, 2018. (Photo: Roberto Schmidt / AFP/Getty Images)
At just 19, Samohin is likely to have a long Olympic future. He entered these games the 2016 World Junior Champion and is known as one of figure skating's most powerful jumpers. He is one of only a few skaters to have successfully landed two quad jumps in a short program, three quad jumps in the long program and five quad jumps in a single event.
"I take risks because I skate for Israel," Samohin said.
Israel finished the team event in 8th place and Israeli pairs skaters Paige Conners and Evgeni Krasnopolski were 19th in their individual event. Figure skater Aimee Buchanan impressed during the first weekend of the Olympics. "To be an Israeli Olympian means the world to me," the 24-year-old figure skater told us. "My experience at the Games were a dream come true."
Adel Tankova and Ronald Zilberberg will skate for Israel in the individual ice dance event to come up on Feb. 19 (short program) and Feb. 20 (free skate).
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