Americans love skates, skis and hockey sticks

Figure skating tops skiing and hockey among popular Olympic events, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. But Americans aren’t picky, with nearly half giving positive scores to all three.

In a close contest, 72 percent have a favorable impression of figure skating, 68 percent for downhill skiing and 65 percent for ice hockey in the survey. Positive views for each event tested in the survey far exceeds the 50 percent favorable mark for the Sochi’s Olympic Games overall in a Post-ABC poll released last week.

(Post interactive: What is your favorite Winter Olympic sport)

Favorable ratings for Winter Olympic events--BARS

The Olympics’ appeal is broad, even for individual events. Majorities in nearly every demographic group hold positive views of skiing, hockey and figure skating, and 48 percent of the public gives positive marks to all three.

So far in Sochi, American figure skaters picked up a team bronze medal and skier Julia Mancuso sped to another bronze in the women’s super combined. The U.S. women’s hockey team takes on Canada Wednesday morning, while the men’s team meets Slovakia on Thursday.

Figure skating holds special appeal among women, with 82 percent rating it favorably, 46 percent “strongly.” But at 62 percent favorable, men don’t appear poised to grab the remote control on sight of a triple axel, even if ice hockey is a bit more appetizing.

Despite being at polar opposites on style, hockey and figure skating fans generally flock together. Nearly nine in 10 Olympic hockey fans also have favorable views of figure skating (87 percent), and 78 percent of figure skating fans also like ice hockey.

Although widely popular today, no winter event tested in the poll ranks as popular as Olympic swimming just before the 2012 London Games. Almost eight in 10 Americans had favorable ratings of swimming that year (79 percent), in which Michael Phelps won four gold and two silver medals to become the most decorated Olympian of all time.

Interactive breakdowns of the poll results by group are available here. The Post-ABC poll was conducted Feb. 5-9, among a random national sample of 1,017 adults reached on conventional and cellular phones. Overall results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 percentage points.

Peyton M. Craighill contributed to this report.

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