In just a minute.
I'm not quite done with Plushenko yet.
LOVE IT. Everything you say really should be self-evident to anyone with even a passing interest in the sport. But alas. Even before the "controversy" over the men's result, there were lots of articles lamenting the death of the sport, that the new scoring system had taken the artistry out of the sport. Um, no. It actually rewards artistry... spins, step sequences, all the difficulty and intricacy there, rather than Plushy's mincing. Lysacek does it SO WELL, and so do all my Canadian boys Patrick Chan and the now-retired Jeff Buttle and even Emanuel Sandhu.
Emanuel Sandhu chased the quad, too, which was a shame. The "skating" part of the sport was his metier, though. And really, I think a skater should be able to jump AND skate. If you can't (like Sandhu, sadly, couldn't always do), then you aren't at the top of the heap. When Jeff Buttle won Worlds, I remember someone (Joubert, I think, another jumping machine) grumble about how he did it without a quad. And that was a few years ago, before skaters like Lysacek and Chan began to really dig into this new system and maximize their point value. I am not a big fan of the new system but not because its heart isn't in the right place. I think it rewards some dumb things. The spiral sequence, for example, is ass. What the system rewards is EASIER than the spirals that someone like Michelle Kwan used to do. I wish the footwork sequences didn't have to be QUITE so frenetic, and that a skater with a well-centered scratch spin got more points for it.
But given what we saw this week, the purest all-around performed programs won all four disciplines. This hasn't always been the case but Vancouver got it right. I was delighted with all four winners. None of whom, BTW, were Russian. And the Russians usually win three of the four disciplines. The only winners who faltered a bit in the free program were Shen and Zhao, but that was mostly due to the amazing, break-out performance of Pang and Tong. Definitely the program of the night in pairs. But Shen and Zhao as Olympic champions? I honestly didn't think anything would have made me happier, until Evan Lysacek won. It's rare that so many skate so well but we had a clean top six in almost every discipline. The men and ladies were just phenomenal. Yu-Na Kim, of course, was as dominant as she virtually always has been for the past few years. Mao Asada got Russified, sadly. Joannie Rochette was a deserving medalist outside of her personal tragedy. And America got a lift from Mirai Nagasu, who finished a surprising fourth. Her coach is Frank Carroll, BTW. He sure had a good Olympics.
Recently, I heard that there were whispers about Plushenko before the long program. People were muttering that he hadn't done all the work he needed to do on that program, that his transitions were weak and he didn't have that complete mastery over the jumps that he used to. Given how scary his triple axel was (interesting that it got scarier, while Lysacek's got less scary), I see some truth in that. And based on the scores, Plushenko actually got a gift there in the program component score. At the end of the day, though, Evan Lysacek stepped up and WON the Olympic gold medal. Sorry, Evgeny. Good luck in Sochi, if you don't need to have more knee surgeries to land quads at the age of 31.
The media seems to just get so *scared* of numbers. "6.0" was very easy to explain, but I guess that since they can't explain the new system in 20 words or less it's too difficult. I see the same thing in other sports too -- people have the HARDEST time explaining the world rankings in tennis and golf, when they're really not that hard.
They're NUMBERS. And not ordinals, either. Just cold, hard numbers. You get a certain point value for a certain move, and then you either get additional points for doing the move well, or you get dinged for not doing it well. Then you add the numbers up. It's not calculus. Viewers can understand that but the media doesn't seem to think so. Now, when a network -- let's say NBC -- airs the ladies' free program but declines to show the skater who finished fourth in the long program and doesn't even MENTION her, well... that's a whole other issue with the coverage.
I will say that the downgrades on the jumps were pretty rampant and although I've always felt that skaters should be dinged if they can't bother to take off on the correct edge, the judges are being WAY too harsh on rotation. Super-slo mo? Really? If they want to get people to watch skating, then the results need to make sense to the audience. By all means, downgrade an egregiously under-rotated jump. But there should be a line there, and there should be some consistency. Johnny Weir's marks, for example, didn't make sense to the audience. And that's where the viewer frustration comes in. But if the viewer was better educated, then I think a lot of that would go away. I wish Johnny would have gotten a higher score. I think he was a touch under-scored. But I understand where the scores were coming from.
I did like the decent attempt to show the viewer a visual of what a fully rotated jump looks like. More of that, please.
What I think is interesting is that Plushenko consistently cultivates a super-villain image. Why? Why so sinister, Plushenko?
Since apparently his goal in life is to be universally despised, he takes every possible opportunity to be a jerk...so no, I wasn't surprised when he was a douchebag at every turn in this situation, too.
Yeah, he was douching it before he even skated. During practice, apparently, and to his loving Russian press afterwards. I don't blame Plushenko for thinking he'd win this thing the way he won Torino. He'd already creamed Lysacek, Joubert and the rest of the field. He could easily take out a Japanese kid and the Canadian. He'd won both of his competitions, although both were in Russia (that was stupid, Evgeny). So why should he think he had anything to worry about? As far as he was concerned, Lysacek's world champion status should have the "but he didn't beat Plushenko" asterisk next to it. Like I said in the other post, though, I do think he got a little spooked when he saw how close Lysacek and Takahashi were after the short. Lordy, how I hope he gets his ass beaten at Worlds. I don't think he will, though; now he has to prove himself. But if he gets beat WHILE he's actually taking the competition seriously... wow. Cool! Too bad Lysacek won't be there, but if Plushenko gets beat by someone else, that's even MORE embarrassing.
Honestly, I think HE thought it was 2002 again, when he had the perceived "rivalry" with Alexei Yagudin, who was miles better than Plushenko. And all the skaters now are looking at him in confusion, going, "Um, dude? We're not Russian. We have NO idea what you're talking about."
I agree with you about Oda and Takahashi but I do believe Takahashi has matured considerably. The level 4 footwork was invented for him. He's still a little inconsistent but when he's on, he's tough to beat. I wonder about the speed between him and Oda. I feel like Oda went backwards a little this year. I know he's had problems. Nobody lands a jump better but there's just something a little soft about him. I like the Chaplin program but when he skated last week, one of the commentators said that skating after Lysacek made him look like a junior skater. And it kinda did, which surprised me.
I can't even talk about Domnina and Shabalin. I think they're awful. But Belbin and Agosto let themselves be Russified and honestly, I think the judges couldn't tell the two teams apart. Top two were right, but I would have had B/A and Faiella and Scali ahead of them. Just horrible. I have friended Quit Whining Plushenko as well. Thanks for the tip!
Okay, gentle readers. That's IT for the Olympics, unless Plushenko does something else idiotic. I kind of hope he does. Next post, back to normal... or what passes for "normal" around here. I think next time, I'll talk about meetings. Because it's that time of year. Hello staffing season, you harsh mistress!!!