Plushenko Lysacek


The Big Red Machine is mostly red-faced these days.
There is growing rage on the home front
with even Prime Minister Vladimir Putin weighing in.
If medals were awarded for finger-pointing,
the Russians would be undisputed leaders in Vancouver.

Russia whines about cowardly Canada
by Cathal Kelly, Toronto Star, Feb 25, 2010
The next Winter Olympics is shaping up as a Cold War-style battle between Canada and Russia after a blistering editorial in Pravda labeled us as a nation of cowardly, incompetent war criminals. The editorial, entitled Vancouver: Mutton Dressed as Lamb, goes straight for the eyes from the outset. "Vancouver is not fit to hold the Winter Olympics," it declares in the opening paragraph. And that was before Canada whipped Russia in the hockey quarter finals. Today, the site was less expansive. "The Red Machine Runs into a Maple Tree," was Pravda’s headline. Other newspaper banners across Russia included "Nightmare in Vancouver" and "Down and Out". Reading back on Pravda’s screed, the schadenfreude will be thick for Canadian supporters.

The website’s main athletic complaint is about a short-notice drug test issued to Russian skier Natalya Korosteleva. It neglects to mention that VANOC organizers have no input into the drug-testing regime of any particular sporting body. It also impugns us for the decision to give the gold medal in men’s figure skating to American Evan Lysacek over Russian Evgeni Plushenko – as if we had some say in that, either. The writer, Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey, seems mainly distressed by Canada’s political aims. "We all know Canada has problems with the future lines drawn on Arctic maps and we all know Canada lives in the shadow of its larger neighbour to the south," he writes about something we don’t all know. Had he left it there, we might have shrugged it off. But then it gets personal. "The abject cruelty shown by Canadian soldiers in international conflicts is scantily referred to, as indeed is the utter incapacity of this county to host a major international event, due to its inferiority complex, born of a trauma being the skinny and weakling bro to a beefy United States and a colonial outpost to the United Kingdom, whose Queen smiles happily from Canadian postage stamps." Wow. "Maybe it is this which makes the Canadians so … retentive, or cowardly." Double-wow.

While the British press has been no fan of these games, even they were taken aback by the viciousness of Pravda’s attack. “Even more diligent critics of Vancouver 2010 have been astonished by the editorial,” the Times of London wrote today. Last night, Russian hockey stars were being … well … Russian about their loss. "We wanted to play as well as we could, but things turned out … you know the rest yourselves … like always," Alexander Ovechkin told Sport Express. Pravda notes that Ovechkin’s queer phrasing is a takeoff on a famed political quote, the "like always" used popularly to lament Russia’s frequent sporting letdowns. In that, at least, Toronto and our Russian friends have some common ground. Asked about rumours that his charges had been enjoying Vancouver’s nightlife a little too much, Russian coach Vyacheslav Bykov rounded on the media. "Let's get the guillotine or the gallows out, yeah?" Bykov sneered at Sovietski Sport. "We have 35 people in the squad. Let’s cut them all up on Red Square.”

Russia's hockey empire crumbles in front of the world
by Greg Wyshynski, YahooSports, Feb 24, 2010
Russia's 7-3 loss to Canada in its Olympic hockey quarterfinal game is one of the most definitive, declarative and emphatic emasculations the sport has seen in decades. The fans chanted "we want Russia" after Canada's win over Germany; how many knew Canada would dismantle this hockey empire once it got them? Russia was embarrassed. To the point where Russian NHL player participation in the 2014 Games in Sochi is now guaranteed; there's no other way to cleanse the stench from this defeat. This game was supposed to be a classic. Instead, it was a coronation for the Canadians in this rivalry. Evgeni Nabokov was pathetic. As bad as a goaltender has been in this tournament. The 23 shots he faced before he was pulled were the fault of his defenders; the six goals were his own folly. His mistimed slide on Rick Nash's goal, which gave Canada a 3-0 lead, was his worst moment until he allowed a shot by Brenden Morrow to squeeze through him and over the goal line, like a dog leaving an ignominious present on its owner's stoop. The sixth goal he allowed came 57 seconds after the fifth. The questions about his status as a clutch goaltender have never been more validated.

The defense was pathetic. Unable to move Canadian players from Nabokov's sight line. Unable to defend odd-man Canadian rushes. There may be a "D" in "forward," but there sure wasn't any in these tentative, meandering Russian wingers. The non-NHL players were pathetic. The Russians have nine players on the roster from their native Kontinental Hockey League. There were a combined minus-9 with two points, getting outclassed and outcompeted in every zone. They were warm bodies, background players to Canada's stars. Finally, and perhaps most surprisingly, Alex Ovechkin was pathetic, a non-factor in one of the most high-profile games of his career: no goals, no assists, three shots on goal and nothing noteworthy off the stat sheet. His line with Pittsburgh Penguins star Evgeni Malkin and fellow Washington Capitals winger Alex Semin was dominated early by Canada's fourth line of Mike Richards, Jonathan Toews and especially Rick Nash. He broke three sticks: two on shots, one on a Canadian slash. He gave his critics fodder on a defensive lapse on Weber's goal; cue the NoBackCheckin' crowd. With 11:25 left in the game, Hockey Place echoed with a mocking chant of "Ooooooovieeeee". With 7:45 left, he took a Toews shot off his hand and skated to the bench in obvious pain. He returned, but was ineffective. His defenders will cite Sidney Crosby's silent night (0-0-0) as being just as bad, but the fact is that Russia needed Ovechkin more than Canada needed Crosby; because what the hockey world discovered in these 60 minutes was that Canada is a hockey superpower while Russia was only billed as one. The fans chanted "We want gold" at the end of the game. It's the only thing that could top this moment for Canadian hockey.

Medal slump panics Russians
by Jim Kernaghan, TorontoSun, Feb 20, 2010
Sergei looked down at Czechoslovakia’s Olympic soccer team receiving gold medals in Moscow's Lenin Stadium and was almost tearful. "I would trade every gold medal we have won in this Olympics for that one," the young press aide murmured that evening 30 years ago. Today, Sergei might trade even the chance of a hockey gold medal for medals of any colour as Russia's disastrous Winter Olympic Games continues. The Big Red Machine is mostly red-faced these days as a result of setbacks across the board. The former powerhouse is in disarray. The hockey team lost to Slovakia in a shootout, superstar figure skater Evgeni Plushenko was bumped to a silver medal by an American and in the most crushing loss of all, the perennially unbeatable pairs figure skaters (46 years of Olympic victories) fell. Going into Saturday night’s competitions, the Russians had just five medals, two gold, two silver and a bronze. They used to reach that in a couple of days. There is growing rage on the home front with even Prime Minister Vladimir Putin weighing in. If medals were awarded for finger-pointing, the Russians would be undisputed leaders in Vancouver.

It began before the competition even started when Australian aboriginal groups accused a Russian ice dance pair of mocking aborigines. Russian Figure Skating Federation president Valenin Piseev reached back to the old Soviet empire days for this one: The Russian skaters were the target of an international plot forcing them to change their performance. "I think this is a well-executed strategy directed against our athletes," he told Russian television with old Cold War paranoia. The mood of desperation continued. The Russian in the biathlon sprint blamed poor weather for his 30th-place finish. The goalie on the Russian women’s team said the high humidity at the rink was partly to blame for the team’s failures. Plushenko and many other Russians pretty well accused the judges of the men’s singles skate with barefaced bias in awarding Evan Lysacek enough points to take the gold. The panic goes right to the top. Putin sent a message to Plushenko that suggested he was robbed of the gold medal and will come home a hero. “Your silver is worth gold,” Putin told Plushenko with obvious meaning.

Others cannot expect a welcome home and one can only be thankful the ruthlessness of the old Soviet regime is gone, or their return next week could be frightening. As it is, there are calls for the firing of the sports minister and the head of the Russian Olympic Committee. The Russian decline, of course, can be tracked to the end of the old Soviet system. No sports regime can bear the loss of so many top athletes to the breakaway republics, particularly at a time when so many coaches and athletes from across the empire were heading for professional teams in the West. In Calgary in 1988, the Soviets led the medal sweeps with East Germany following. In ''92, a year after the breakup, the new Russian team was second. From there, it has been a slide to fifth place, two places behind Canada at the 2006 Games in Turin. The lacklustre performances in these Olympics could hardly come at a worse time. The Russians will be staging the 2014 Winter Games and expected a large infusion of money would help restore some of the past glory as they get set to be hosts.

Interestingly, just as the old Soviet system began creaking, the Germans were gaining strength. The melding of East and West Germany created a new winter powerhouse that has been atop the leader board in medals the past three Olympics. If you think Canada's men's hockey team is under enormous pressure to perform, just imagine what it's like for the Russian Olympians halfway through the Games. "Anything under fourth place for our team will certainly be a failure, including for those who oversee athletes in our country," Russian Parliament speaker Boris Gryzlov said ominously. Heads will roll.

Canada's golden Games
by Paul Waldie, Globe Mail, Feb 28, 2010 (These were indeed the best Games ever - at least if the measure is Team Canada's medal haul. Thanks to a remarkable final few days of competition, Canadian athletes won 14 gold medals in Vancouver - twice as many as the team won in Turin, and more than any nation has ever won at a Winter Olympics. The previous record for gold medals was 13, set by Norway in 2002 and the Soviet Union in 1976....Winning so many gold medals came as a relief to many Canadians who have long lamented the fact that this country had never won gold on home soil. That was something even International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge noted yesterday....Despite the success of the Vancouver Games, the future of the Own the Podium program remains in doubt. Roger Jackson, OTP's chief executive officer, said the program needs an additional $22-million annually from the federal government to make up for funding that ends now that the Olympics are over. Mr. Jackson pointed to recent polls that suggest Canadians support the program, saying he hopes politicians will respond. About half of OTP's budget comes from the federal government, with the remainder from provinces and corporations. The federal government has committed to keeping up its share, but most of the provinces and corporations have not. Canada won the most gold medals by a nation at the Olympic Winter Games: 14 - Canada, 2010; 13 - Norway, 2002, Soviet Union, 1976; 12 - Germany, 2002, Germany, 1998; 11 - Germany, 2006; Russia - 1994, Soviet Union, 1988, Soviet Union, 1964; 10 - Germany, 2010, USA, 2002, Norway, 1998, Norway, 1994, Germany, 1992, Soviet Union, 1980

Was Plushenko robbed? Enough already
Russian skater, who landed only two of three planned jumps, is sounding like a child
by Dan Barnes, Canwest News Service, Feb 20, 2010

First of all, the man from St. Petersburg didn't skate a clean enough long program to stand up and moan about being jobbed. So let's start this dissertation on the manly sport of figure skating by establishing Evgeni Plushenko's fallibility, OK? Had the prickly Russian landed all three planned jumps in his opening combination instead of two, had he not wobbled through a triple Axel to earn a negative grade of execution, he would have been halfway through a vodka bender as Olympic champion and American Evan Lysacek would no doubt have graciously accepted silver. And we could have all gone back to our twizzling. Instead, the Russians are trying to recruit disgraced French judge Marie-Reine Le Gougne in time for the ice dance and the Kremlin is rattling chains, if not sabres.

"I would like to sincerely congratulate you on the wonderful Olympic performance, your silver is worth gold," Russian PM Vladimir Putin said in a telegram to Plushenko, just before signing off on plans to invade the International Skating Union offices in Lausanne. And Plushenko? He sounds like a 10-year-old, not the man he claims he must surely be, since he does the quad, which apparently puts hair on your chest....

Had this competition been conducted under the old 6.0 system, Plushenko said, he would have won, so he doesn't care much for the new system. Go figure. Soviets and Russians almost always won under that old system, they just didn't always deserve it. So he's finding out how the other half lived with all that eastern bloc bias for decades on end. Chin up, Plushy. "You can't be considered a true men's champion without a quad," Plushenko said. "For someone to stand on top of the podium with the gold medal around his neck by just doing triple jumps, to me it's not progress, it's a regress because we've done triples 10 or even 20 years ago. Just doing nice transitions and being artistic is not enough," he said.

Russian skater deserved his silver (didn't deserve gold)
by Dan Barnes, CanWestNews, Feb 20, 2010
...The ISU won't be quick to move on the issue. "I don't see it like that. Figure skating is not only a jump. Figure skating is a combination between athleticism, the jumps, the spins, the steps and the performances," said ISU official Peter Krick. Lysacek wondered why Plushenko was protesting so loudly. "It's funny that especially he of all people is making such a big deal of just one single element. It is one difficult step in the program but that's one step of hundreds. "If it was a jumping competition there would be no music or anything. They would give you 10 seconds to do your best jump and that would be it."

Vancouver: Mutton Dressed as Lamb
by Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey
Pravda.russia, Feb 19, 2010
We all knew it weeks before the game started, with accusations about doping being levelled at Russian athletes, and we all saw it on day one of the games, with the death of a Georgian athlete on a corner which miraculously was elevated the following day. Vancouver is not fit to hold the Winter Olympics.

Far from being a question of sour grapes, Russian commentators were already expressing their reservations as to the integrity of the Vancouver Lobby being able to host the Olympic Games weeks before the start. After all the IOC was starting to fire off in all directions before the first aircraft arrived.

We already have the case of a Russian skier being hounded to produce a urine sample after qualifying for a race, and if she had given the sample, she would not have had the possibility of entering the following round. Natalya Korosteleva was asked to provide a urine sample during a half-hour pause between the quarter-finals and semi-finals of a skiing event. "This seems against all the rules," she stated, as she refused to have the sample taken, alleging that if she did, she would not have had time to continue in the next phase. Why her?

We all know Canada has problems with the future lines drawn on Arctic maps and we all know Canada lives in the shadow of its larger neighbour to the south. The abject cruelty shown by Canadian soldiers in international conflicts is scantily referred to, as indeed is the utter incapacity of this county to host a major international event, due to its inferiority complex, born of a trauma being the skinny and weakling bro to a beefy United States and a colonial outpost to the United Kingdom, whose Queen smiles happily from Canadian postage stamps. Maybe it is this which makes the Canadians so…retentive, or cowardly.

So it is not exactly a huge surprise to have international skating experts from the four corners of the Earth criticising the decision to award the Men’s figure skating Gold medal to the US athlete Evan Lysacekv over the reigning Olympic Champion Evgeny Plushenko, whose superior performance was inexplicably ignored. As Plushenko explains, "I did a great short program but did not get the marks I deserved. When I asked why, they told me I was skating early and they had to retain top marks for the last group…Then in the free program, I was the last to skate, did everything clean and still didn’t get the marks”.

Everybody who knows anything about Olympic skating, Winter Olympic sports and international politics will infer from the pitiful and dangerous conditions provided by the Canadian authorities, which already caused one death, that Vancouver is mutton dressed as lamb. Take off the outer veneer and the stench is horrific. It is a surprise that any Russian athlete would wish to remain in that sort of environment for a second longer.

Vladimir Putin weighs into figure skating debate
Telegraph, Feb 19, 2010
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has added his voice to furious backlash in Russia after Yevgeny Plushenko failed to defend his men's figure skating Olympic title with fingers now being pointed at the judging system in Vancouver. Putin lent his support to the Russian athlete, who was second on the podium to America's Evan Lysacek, by saying his silver medal finish "was worth a gold medal." Others meanwhile decried injustice and called for officials to "protect the honour" of Russian athletes. Anton Sikharulidze, chairman of the Russian parliament's sports and culture committee, also said Plushenko should have won the gold and not the silver. "On the whole, Yevgeny was the stronger skater," Sikharulidze was quoted as saying by the RIA-Novosti state news agency. Plushenko's wife demanded that Russian authorities publicly defend her husband who was relegated into second position by world champion Evan Lysacek despite the American's more conservative performance. "This is a gross mistake by the judges," Plushenko's wife, Yana Rudkovskaya, told the Russia-24 television network. "We need to defend our sportsmen and protect their honour." Plushenko has also slammed Winter Olympics judges and threatened to quit the sport. "I am not prepared to skate well and lose," Plushenko complained, RIA-Novosti reported. "This is men's figure skating - not ice dancing," Plushenko said. The Russian skater said his opening with a tricky quadruple-triple toeloop was not adequately scored by the judges who instead gave better marks to Lysacek though he did not include a quadruple jump in his programme. Plushenko, who has won both Olympic gold and silver medals previously in men's figure skating, and who was favoured to take gold in Vancouver, said he may retire from competitive skating following his second-place finish....

Russia, usually near the top of the rankings in Olympic medals tables but this year not even in the top 10, is due to host the next Winter Olympics in its southern city of Sochi in 2014. The state has attached huge importance to the Sochi games and Boris Gryzlov, speaker of parliament, said Thursday that the sports minister and Olympic committee chief would be called to explain Russia's performance in Vancouver. Internet chat rooms meanwhile were bursting with acerbic exchanges of opinion on whether Plushenko or Lysacek deserved the gold medal, with many in Russia saying the United States "bought" the top men's skating prize. Anton Orekh, sports commentator with liberal Echo of Moscow radio station, struck a more sober note, but said few figure skating fans in Russia - Putin included - understood new scoring rules introduced recently. "These rules do not encourage technical complexity in the programmes," Orekh said. "Our spectators, including the prime minister, are not experts in these rules and so this is incomprehensible to them," he added, referring to Plushenko's second-place finish.

Lysacek ready to defend title in Sochi
AFP, Feb 19, 2010
...They both scored identical artistically with 82.80 but the difference came down to the executed elements or the technical side. Under the new scoring system, jumps in the second half receive a 10 percent bonus, and Lysacek had more jumping passes. And the 24-year-old, who shunned the quad in both programmes, admitted that it had been a relief not having to risk injury doing it. "Not doing a quad was definitely a relief, just because I didn't have to worry about my foot holding up," said the skater from Chicago. "Even though it is a difficult element, it's just one step of many steps in a programme. "I know how many hours and energy it takes to work on the jumps but it pales in comparison to the amount of time it takes on the spins." "My programme had a lot of difficulty. I tried hard to make it look as easy as possible. We're doing our job if it looks easy." International Skating Union (ISU) spokeswoman Devra Pitt Getaz said they had not received any complaints about the judging. "To date no protests have been received," she said.

Plushenko Spoilt My Moment: Lysacek
Reuters, Feb 19, 2010
Vancouver - Olympic figure skating champion Evan Lysacek hit out at Russian Yevgeny Plushenko on Friday for discrediting his rivals and tainting the American's gold medal moment with a bitter rant. Silver medalist Plushenko said the American was "not a true champion" as he had won without performing a difficult quadruple jump, which requires great height and pace to make at least four mid-air rotations. The Russian did two in Vancouver. Even Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has weighed in on the subject, saying his silver was worth gold after Plushenko blasted the sport for being like "dancing" rather than figure skating.

"I guess I was a little disappointed that someone who was my role model would take a hit at me in probably one of the most special moments of my life that I'll never forget, regardless of what anyone said there," Lysacek told a news conference. "For him to discredit the field is not right, it's probably the strongest field there has ever been." Lysacek, who said he had not yet been to sleep or taken off his medal, was diplomatic about the debacle which has raised questions about the fairness of the judging system. "It's tough to lose, especially when you think that no matter what you are going to win," said the American, caressing his gleaming medal. "It's a really tough pill to swallow and I'm sure he said stuff in the heat of the moment that maybe he doesn't mean so we'll just try to not take it out of context and give him the benefit of the doubt. "Congratulations to him on a third Olympic medal."

While Plushenko, the 2006 champion who also won silver in 2002, avoided publicly congratulating his rival after Thursday's free skate, Lysacek said they had shaken hands and the Russian had spoken to him in private. The debate over the quad has split the skaters at these Games, with many like bronze medalist Daisuke Takahashi agreeing with Plushenko that it was a vital part of the sport. Owing to figure skating's very subjective nature, athletes have often said it is hard to know what judges are actually looking for but Thursday's result suggested it might be an all-round performance rather than one show-stopping moment. "Different countries sometimes interpret the rules differently," said Lysacek. "In the U.S. we get some sort of unwritten rules that are explained to us from judges ... and maybe he (Plushenko) got different information than I got." Lysacek said he had no plans to retire, although he has not decided whether he will defend his world title next month, but joked that he might not be the most welcome competitor when Russia hosts the next winter Games in Sochi in 2014. "I don't think they would love to see me there to be honest, if I could somehow get a visa into that country," he smiled.

Coach: Plushenko was 'robbed' of gold
by Martin Rogers, YahooSports, Feb 19, 2010
Vancouver - Russian figure skating chiefs were planning their own Crime Scene Investigation on Thursday night, as accusations of sporting robbery followed Evan Lysacek’s dramatic victory in the men’s long program at Pacific Coliseum. The American star's triumph sparked a furious reaction from Alexei Mishin, the coach of silver medalist Evgeni Plushenko, with Mishin claiming his athlete had been unfairly “robbed” of a second consecutive gold. "This is nonsense," Mishin told Yahoo! Sports. "It is wrong. It is criminal. How can it be like this? They are killing figure skating and taking it back 20 years. They have robbed him of his destiny. "There is nothing we can do but we want to know what happened because this is not right. We will investigate. Someone needs to explain to me how this is possible. I cannot believe it.” Mishin was disgusted that Lysacek was awarded an overall score of 257.67, enough to overcome his 0.55 deficit from the short program and push him ahead of Plushenko, the sport’s shining star. Mishin’s ire centered around the quadruple jump, the most difficult maneuver in the sport. Lysacek opted not to include one in his program but was awarded higher marks for his clean execution of simpler elements. Plushenko nailed his quad, but it wasn’t enough.

Plushenko felt he had performed strongly enough to clinch gold with his routine and even jokingly motioned to step on to the top level of the podium during the medal ceremony. "I was certain I had won," he said. Plushenko had previously claimed the quad and its variations are the future of figure skating. Mishin focused his accusations of thievery on the judging panel. "Any judge who thinks this is the right champion is a Cyclops," Mishin said. "Without the quad, there is no difference between the men’s competition and the women’s. Why not let them skate together? Why not have it as a unisex competition in the Olympics?" The Olympic competition has only served to put the controversial current judging system under further scrutiny. The complicated marking format, which replaced the old and popular 6.0-is-a-perfect-score method, has alienated some fans and made figure skating a nightmare to understand for the uninitiated. However, Lysacek’s coach Frank Carroll was adamant that the right man had won. "I looked at the performance of Evgeni and Evan, and I saw strengths and weaknesses in both," Carroll said. "It was up to the panel to sift through it and see who came up with the most points. "There were things about Evgeni’s routine that were weaknesses. It was up for grabs and we didn’t know how they were going to go through it".

Starting another cold war through ice-skating
(shows Plushenko driving a car past statue of Lenin in St Petersburg), YouTube
Gawker, Feb 17, 2010)
During NBC's coverage of men's figure skating, the network ran a package about Russian favorite/destroyer of worlds Evgeni Plushenko. Plushenko (and Russia) were painted as a bleak, yet brooding force with haunting music and low-angle shots of the Kremlin. Why? Is NBC trying to romanticize figure skating by telling us it's Rocky IV on ice? We're all for building up hype around an event to grab the attention of the casual viewer, but is Evgeni Plushenko really evil? The gigantic, unstoppable Russian heads west to rock the very foundation of Capitalism using a triple axel, double toe loop combination? And what will America serve up to defend itself from this unstoppable force? Johnny Weir — the immovable (and fabulous) object —of course. The Russians, with their hooked noses, bowl-cut mullets and sheer power are no match for fox fur, lace, sequins and showmanship. If Plushenko performs as well in the free skate tonight as he did in the short program last night, America could be in some serious trouble. Either that, or we applaud him for winning two consecutive gold medals. Six of one, half-dozen of the other, right?

Plushenko's coach not happy with criticism at Olympics
by Kelly Whiteside, USA Today, Feb 13, 2010
Vancouver - Russia's Evgeni Plushenko, the defending Olympic champion, is not speaking to reporters until after Tuesday's short program, but his coach, Alexei Mishin, weighed in on the sport's latest controversy. Skating should be decided on the ice, not the internet," Mishin said after Saturday's afternoon practice at Pacific Coliseum. Earlier this month Joe Inman, a top international judge, sent an e-mail to friends, including some judges, about comments made by Plushenko. "If the judges want someone to place high, they can arrange it," Plushenko was quoted as saying last month. "Like (at the European championships) in Tallinn, (France's) Brian Joubert got more points for his transitions than me, although we did exactly the same transitions on the ice. In fact, we don't have any transitions because we focus on our jumps." Inman forwarded that quote to friends, writing: "I find this an interesting observation of his own skating and the judges' marking of his transitions." The intent of his e-mail has been misconstrued, Inman said in an interview on Thursday. However, the kerfuffle has "set off an international firestorm of accusations that there is a North American bias against European figure skaters in the men's event," according to Toronto's Globe and Mail. Clearly the topic has been on Mishin's mind. He raised the issue Saturday before being asked about it. "I don't like what some are trying to do, criticizing Evgeni," Mishin said.... Since there's no controversy — yet — in the pairs event, the anticipation for the men's competition has continued to grow. Last summer, Plushenko's artistry was criticized in a series of judges' educational videos which critiqued his 2006 Olympic performance. The Russian skating federation demanded the International Skating Union remove Plushenko from the videos, three people with knowledge of the videos told USA TODAY. Plushenko had retired from the sport when the experts selected examples of skaters' work to show on the DVDs. With this backdrop, the men's event begins. Presumably, it will be decided on the ice....

The USA's Evan Lysacek, who won a world figure skating title last year without attempting a quadruple jump, said Saturday he does not intend to try one at the Olympics. But he did leave the door open slightly. Lysacek competed at last year's world despite a stress fracture in his left foot. That injury prevented him from practicing the quad. He fell on a quad attempt at U.S. nationals last month. He said he has stopped working on it as a precaution because of "some problems" with his left foot again. "I did start practicing it to test it out, and it did not prove to be a worthwhile risk," he said. "Right now, I'm not planning on it. I'm doing just a couple of triple toes (triple toe loop jumps) every day." But there is still a chance. "If I really feel it in the heat of the moment, I have been doing them (quads) every once in a while in practice," he said. "I know that I can do it. … But my plan right now is to do what I can do well." On a quadruple toe loop, the skater stabs the toe of the left skate into the ice and uses it as a launching point. The jumper makes four rotations in the air in a tight spin.

A short history of Olympic cheating
CBC, Feb 11, 2010 (Finding a way to win can tempt an athlete to test the boundaries of fair play, as the difference between fortune and failure is measured in fractions of a second. Whether it's a deliberate shot in the arm or an innocent cold pill, bending or breaking the rules of competition has been around as long as sport itself. In some instances, like freestyle skiing or curling, where pure skill far outweighs lung power, cheating isn't considered a big factor. However in endurance sports like speed skating, cross-country skiing and biathlon, there's a worrying history of skullduggery through drug use — a trend that has given rise to squads of medical experts collecting blood samples and statistical analysis of spikes in the oxygen content of red blood cells....)

Jackie Jura
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~