Evgeny Plyushchenko of Russia celebrates after competing in the men's team short program figure skating competition at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)Evgeny Plyushchenko of Russia celebrates after competing in the men's team short program figure skating competition at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, in Sochi, Russia
The inaugural Olympic team figure skating event kicked off Thursday with the men's and pairs short programs.
Skating powerhouses Russia and Canada had strong showings as expected, while Team USA got off to a rough start.
Reigning U.S. champion Jeremy Abbott had his worst showing in years, falling on his quadruple toe loop and popping his triple Axel to a single. "There are times when you say you wish you could do it again. I feel that way now," the 28-year-old said after the men's short program.
His teammates Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir had to make up ground, but only bettered Abbott's 7th place by two spots. Their one mistake came on their side-by-side triple Salchows, which they both missed.
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Bolstered by the home crowd, Team Russia turned in two excellent performances.
Reigning world champions Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov skated flawlessly to claim first place in the pairs short program. Combined with Evgeni Plushenko's second place in the men's event, Russia leads with 19 team points.
Canada is in second place after Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford's second place in pairs and Patrick Chan's third place finish in men's.
Team USA finds itself in seventh place (losing on tiebreakers to Germany and France). It will need to be among the top 5 teams after the ladies short program and ice dance short dance to contend for a medal. It will fall to Ashley Wagner and Meryl Davis and Charlie White to make up the deficit.
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Current standings after the men's and pairs short programs:
1. Russia - 19 team points
2. Canada - 17 team points
3. China - 15 team points
4. Japan - 13 team points
5. Germany - 10 team points
6. France - 10 team points
7. USA - 10 team points
8. Italy - 8 team points
9. Ukraine - 5 team points
10. Great Britain - 3 team points