Men’s figure skating, with its international intrigues, judging scandals, corsets and divas has reached the point, say enthusiasts, where Blades of Glory seems less like satire, and more like cinéma vérité.
Last night’s U.S.-Russia showdown was no exception.
Before it began, Evgeni Plushenko, Russia’s reigning gold medal champion and the night’s putative favourite, was talking smack, calling out Evan Lysacek’s inability to land the risky quadruple jump.
“Without the quadruple, I’m sorry, but it’s not men,” Plushenko, said Tuesday, shortly after executing night’s only quad, and grabbing an early lead heading into last night’s long program.
Translation: Evan’s not man enough for figure skating (it bears mention that he said this while dressed in a unitard—I do love this sport).
In the end, however, Plushenko’s early quad, though landed cleanly, wasn’t enough to give him the gold. He made small mistakes; his spins were not as fast as two nights ago, nor did he seem to have the same, perfect control over body movement as he did in the short program.
Lysachek’s spins, meanwhile, were faster, more centred; cleaner. Neither, however, skated as well as they did two nights before.
Canada’s boy wonder, Patrick Chan, who started the night in seventh, needed a clean skate to crack the podium. He did not; he fell on a triple axel, and made several, small, but costly errors (as he did two nights ago), yet finished a respectable fifth.
All in all, he did not look like the poised, perfect Patrick Chan who won the Four Continents Skating Championship here, a year ago, at just 18.
“I wish I hadn’t made the mistakes—dumb mistakes,” he said afterward. “My goal was definitely to finish higher.” The crowd, which gave him a standing O was “amazing,” he added, and made him “proud to be Canadian.” He’s looking beyond his first Olympics to Sochi when he’ll be 23.
The Sheherazade, the music Lysacek—a 24-year-old Chicagoan—chose to skate to, is about a battle between a king and a slave—a fitting choice for a dethroning.
Afterwards, a deflated Plushenko refused to let up. “If the Olympic champion doesn’t know how to jump quad—I don’t know. Now it’s not figure skating. Now it’s dancing.”