Olympic men's figure skating: Tonight, it's all about the quad
The Winter Olympics men's figure skating long program tonight will determine the gold medal. Russia's defending champion Yevgeny Plushenko is in the driver's seat and he's laid down the gauntlet to his rivals. It's all about the quad. Check out the video.
Going into tonight's figure skating long program Yevgeny Plushenko, the steely Russian champion, is poised to do what no other man has done in figure skating in over 50 years: Repeat as Olympic champion.Skip to next paragraph
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And he's promised to do it by pushing the envelope, the same formula that propelled the American Dick Button to the podium in 1948 and 1952. The Russian's formula? Quads. Quads. And more quads. (Check out the quad video below)
Talking to reporters yesterday, he practically sneered at this main rival, the American Evan Lysacek's, unwillingness to take on figure skating's toughest maneuver.
Plushenko and the Japanese challenged DaisukeTakahashi said they'll go for it. Even Johnny Weir, not the best of leapers but needing to do something to force his way onto the podium from sixth place, is mulling pulling one out of the bag.
“Without quadruples, I don’t know, sorry, but it’s not men,” Plushenko said earlier this week. "It's not figure skating.”
The main American challenger Lysacek defended his reluctance to take on the jump. "I guess if you asked a speed-skater whether one stroke is more important than any other they would say no and I feel that way about my program. That each stroke I take, each jump is of equal importance. Sometimes it's easiest for us to forget about the simpler moves and take them for granted."
That might sound like an appeal to the judges to look at the total package, but if Plushenko lands his quads with authority and is clean otherwise, expect the gold to be his.
Though the first quadruple jump was completed in competition 22 years ago by the Canadian Kurt Browning and almost all of today's top men have completed quad's in practice, few have the power and balance to control the jump consistently in competition, which requires rotation rates upwards of 800 spins a minute.
"It’s not going to be just about quads," says Karen Cover, the archivist for the World FIgure Skating Museum and Hall of Fame in Colorado. "If Plushenko pulls a few [quads] but has a mistake here and there and someone else comes out and skates a clean program, that could cost him."
Former World Champion and three-time Olympian Todd Eldrige, writing for the New York Times, agrees with her: "I believe the judges will be looking for the best overall performance to take the title, not just who does the most difficult technical elements or who shows the greatest artistry." Still, he wrote: "The quad is a great trump card and if you removed it from the short program equation, your top three would most likely be in a different order."