ADLER, Russia -- Jeremy Abbott slumped over, burying his face in his hands, unwilling to look at a screen about to produce his scores, if he even could have seen them through his tears. A U.S. coach patted him on the back.
Behind him in the kiss-and-cry zone, U.S. teammates Meryl Davis and Charlie White, the world dance champions, tried to put on a brave face as they held an American flag but clearly realized what Abbott's short program scores would confirm.
Team USA was off to a disastrous start in the inaugural Olympic team competition.
In the latest Olympic collapse for the U.S. champion, Abbott crashed on his opening jump at the Iceberg on Thursday night, a fall Team USA might not be able to recover from at the Olympic Games.
"I've had my Olympic disaster," Abbott said, "and I can move on."
It remains doubtful, however, that in the wake of Abbott's disaster Team USA will be able to gain enough traction in the remaining competition to move onto the medal podium.
Abbott's program left the United States in a distant seventh place after the opening night of the team competition where a fifth-place showing in the pairs section by Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir did little to soften the fall.
"It's a very unfortunate day for my teammates," Abbott said.
"I'm torn about it. I love being part of the team. I love the kids I skate with; they're like family and I'm torn apart I couldn't do it for them."
The Russian pairs team of Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov, and 2006 Olympic champion Evgeny Plushenko did deliver for the home crowd.
Volosozhar's and Trankov's first place in pairs and Plushenko's second in the men's short gave the Russians 19 points and a two-point lead on Canada with China third at 15. The U.S. is seventh with 10 points.
The nations field skaters in all four categories (women, men, pairs and dance) and are awarded points based on their finish in the segments.
Plushenko's performance was the most anticipated of the night. The Russian Skating Federation's decision to award him the country's men's spot despite recent injury problems and a runner-up finish at the Russian championships was controversial.
But Plushenko, competing in a fourth Olympics, seemed to validate the decision, hitting a quad toe-triple toe combination and a triple Axel on the way to a 91.39 score.
Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu won the short program at 97.98, with reigning World champion Patrick Chan of Canada third (89.71). Abbott was more than 30 points behind Hanyu in seventh (65.65).
Abbott was literally down just moments into his program, tripping on a quad toe loop.
"It didn't get the altitude it would normally get and it came down short," he said.
Thursday wasn't the first time Abbott came up short at the Olympics. He was ninth four years ago in Vancouver. He was eighth at the 2012 World Championships.
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