Sunday, February 21, 2010

Olympics on My Mind

Congratulations to Evan Lysaceck for winning the gold medal in men's figure skating. But how much does it suck that the silver medalist decides to talk trash about you the next day? Evgeny Plushenko, the Russian skater, didn't mention Evan by name, but clearly the fact that he feels that he should have won because he performed a quad, and feels that any man who doesn't, isn't a real man was pointed towrds him. Frankly, I think this is poor sportsmanship on Plushenko's part. I guess manners and diplomacy aren't taught to Russian figure skaters. Sure, I know he's disappoiinted that he didn't fulfill his goal of beiing a two-time Olympic champion like Dick Button. It's the risk that a skater takes when he comes back after several years off. Sometimes it works out (Gordeeva and Grinkov) and sometimes it doesn't. Brian Boitano was like 8th in the 1994 Olympics and Torvill & Dean only won a bronze medal at that same games. But excuse if I don't feel sorry for a guy who has 3 Olympic medals. What makes it even worse was that he congratulated Evan on his victory, and was complimentary, until the next day at his press conference. Evan, on his part, was quite gracious talking to Bob Costas on Friday about the whole controversy. It's clear to see who is the real sportsman.

I've heard talk that the Olympics are fixed, which I think is just ridiculous. The scoring was really tight between Evan and Plushenko. What's interesting is that Evan's technical score was higher than Plushenko's despite Plushenko pulling out thequad. Let's talk about the quad for a second. Men have been attempting this jump since Kurt Browning landed one in the World Championships back in 1989, but still only a few men have landed the jump cleanly in competition. No one is doing it consistently. Plushenko feels that for skaters not do be doing the quad is setting the sport back. I disagree, it's a difficult jump, and many skaters have been injured attempting it. Evan Lysaceck decided not to do the quad because of a foot injury. Evan is not just any skater, the man is a World Champion for crying out loud.

Figure skating is not all about jumps. The reason that I, and I'm sure so many fans, watch it is because it combines artistry and athleticism. The long program in figure skating for men is almost 5 minutes long, so a lot more has to be done besides just doing 8 or 9 jumps. There are spins and footwork that need to be just as technically precise as the jumps. No one wants to see someone who just jumps and has no artistry, it's boring (I'm talking to you Surya Bonaly) and it doesn't make a complete skater. That's what the judges were looking for Thursday night and why Evan won over Plushenko. If artistry won out over atheletics, than Johnny Weir would have been up on that podium instead of stuck down in 6th place. That was a crime frankly.

Evan also took advantage of the new scoring system that rewards skaters for doing difficult moves in the second half of their program, where they are more tired. Most of Plushenko's jumps were in the first half of his program,and Evan in the second, so he received bonus points. Plushenko and his couch had ample opportunity to take advantage of the new system and they didn't. End of Story.

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