Though Israelis can’t help feeling disappointed that the Israeli Olympic team does not seem likely to bring home any medals from the Winter Games in Korea, they’re still full of pride for Israeli figure skaters Alexei Bychenko and Daniel Samohin, who glided their way to the highest-ever ranking of Israeli Olympic skaters and achieved personal-best scores.
The flagbearer for Israel’s 10-person Winter Olympic squad at the opening ceremony in Pyeongchang, Bychenko placed 11th in the men’s single skating free skating finals on February 17. In the same event, 2016 World Junior champion Samohin finished in 13th place.
This was the first time Israeli skaters reached the top 15 in men’s singles at a Winter Olympics. The previous record was held by Michael Shmerkin, who placed 16th for Israel at the 1994 Winter Olympics.
Bychenko, 30, improved his personal best by 1.49 points. Samohin, 19, improved his personal best by 14.79 points.
Bychenko started strong at the Winter Olympics, finishing second in the men’s single skating short program team event at the Gangneung Ice Arena on the February 9, ranking higher than American skater Nathan Chen.
Next month, Bychenko will compete in the ISU World Figure Skating Championship in Italy.
Alpine skier Itamar Biran, 19, finished the men’s giant slalom in 49th place among 110 competitors, significantly placing this Israeli in the top half of Olympic skiers. He will compete again Thursday, in the slalom event.
Evgeni Krasnopolsky and Paige Conners finished ninth in the team event for the pairs skating short program on February 9. Aimee Buchanan finished 10th in the team event for the ladies single short skating program on February 11.
Israel’s first-ever skeleton racer, Adam (AJ) Edelman, placed 28th out of 30 competitors. Edelman took up skeleton racing – where the athlete rides prone on a small sled down a frozen track — only four years ago and is self-coached.
Today, Adel Tankova and Ronald Zilberberg finished in 24th place in the short ice dance event (they took 10th place in the team event February 11). Tomorrow, short-track speed skater Vladislav Bykanov competes in the men’s 500-meter heat. The Olympics wraps up on February 25.
In the end, 2018 may not have been the year that Israel would finally win a medal in a Winter Olympics. But squad members’ impressive performances gave Israelis something to hope for, looking ahead to the 2022 games in Beijing.