Alexei Bychenko of Israel competes in the Men Single free skating competition final at the Winter Olympics, February 17, 2018.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Michael Shmerkin was the first Israeli to compete at the Winter Olympics in 1994, finishing the men’s figure skating event in 16th place. His achievement in the event remained unmatched for 24 years, until Saturday, when both Alexei Bychenko and Daniel Samohin finished in an impressive 11th and 13th places in the men’s competition at the Pyeongchang Olympics.
Bychenko, who was competing in his second straight Games, improved significantly on his 21st-place finish from Sochi in 2014, registering an overall score of 257.01 points. The 30-year-old recorded the best-ever result for an Israeli man at the figure skating world championships in Helsinki last year, ending the event in 10th place to earn Israel a second berth in the men’s competition at the Olympics.
The 19-year-old Samohin, the gold medal winner at the 2016 world junior figure skating championships, made the most of the opportunity, recording an overall score of 251.44.
Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu took gold, becoming the first man in 66 years to defend his Olympic title and giving Japan its first Pyeongchang gold.
Skating in front of a crowd of euphoric supporters at the Gangneung Ice Arena, the 23-year-old took steps out of his quad toeloop and triple Lutz. But those errors did not stop him from delivering a gold-worthy performance despite a gap of weeks in his training after injuring his ankle last November.
Hanyu, a two-time world champion, finished nearly 11 points overall ahead of compatriot Shoma Uno.
Elsewhere, Israel’s A.J. Edelman ended the men’s skeleton competition in 28th place out of 30 competitors.
Israeli skier Itamar Biran will open his account in Pyeongchang when he competes in the men’s Giant Slalom on Sunday.Reuters contributed to this report.