Alexei Bychenko was all smiles as he stepped onto Olympic ice in Sochi on Friday evening, having made it to the final round of competition in the men’s figure skating event.
Born in Kiev, Ukraine, Bychenko had added both a triple axel and a quadruple jump into his program this year in the hopes of earning Israel’s only Olympic spot.
He began the free skate, or long program, with the triple axle, which wasn’t landed cleanly and cost him on grade of execution points. The next major element was the quad jump, which he fell on, as he did in the short program, thus ending any outside chance he had for a podium finish.
The disappointment was immediately evident on his face, but the 26-year-old soldiered on with the four-and-a-half minute program. He proceeded to land five more triple jumps, three of them in combination, but in the end it wasn’t enough. He ended up with a final score of 114.62, and in 21st position of the 24 skaters who had made it to the free skate round.
Bychenko formerly represented Ukraine in international competitions, having twice won that country’s national championship. This was, however, his first trip to the Olympics.
In a surprise twist, the competition was won by 19-year-old Japanese skater Yuzuru Hanyu, who beat 23-year-old three-time world champion Patrick Chan to seize the gold medal in Friday’s competition.
Chan, who represented Canada, placed second, with Kazakhstan’s Denis Ten, the world silver medalist, winning bronze.