Men’s Final in Review
On my laptop, alongside the tabs I have open for Facebook and Twitter, I currently have six articles and/or video clips waiting to be read and/or viewed. Almost all of them are about the ongoing figure skating events in
Sochi. And almost all of those are about the Men’s event which
concluded Friday night.
Over here: how Russian athletes are taking Plushenko to task for his late withdrawal from the event.
Over there: An article defending Jeremy Abbott’s well-publicized statement (I refuse to call it a rant; he was simply giving a long-overdue, honest answer to a reporter’s pretty specific question) following his 12th place finish.
Over here: A side-by-side video breakdown of Yuzuru Hanyu and Patrick Chan’s short programs that shows how the elements are calculated.
Over there: A detailed write-up by the always enjoyable Jackie Wong that shows the jump miscalculations by Javier Fernandez and Jason Brown which cost them a placement when all was said and done (and, in Fernandez’s case, cost him the bronze medal).
And of course, there’s the snarky one from Vanity Fair (a powerhouse of skating knowledge, to be sure!) proclaiming The End of Men’s Figure Skating, as well the curious one from Deadspin asking if skaters have maxed out the human ability to jump and spin in the air with these elusive tricks known as “quads”.
All this, all after what was largely perceived as a pretty disappointing night for the sport. Hanyu didn’t win gold as much as Chan forfeited it to him. As many as nine different guys were mathematically within reach of bronze after the SP, but save for Denis Ten, one by one they fell, they doubled instead of tripled, and they ran out of steam. And one of the cleanest skates of the entire night—by none other than Never-Give-Up’s man of the hour Jeremy Abbott—was too far back in the pack to make a difference. (Yes, I know there was no quad in it. Yes, I know he had to dumb down a couple other jumps just to muscle through it. Not the point right now. Stay with me here...)
This is what I saw the past couple of days. Maybe you saw it too:
+ I saw two men with the weight of the world that is their individual nations on their sturdy, but still very human, shoulders.
+ I saw a man from
who was too ill or injured to compete most of this season find a way to show
the world that his “surprise” World Silver Medal from last year was no fluke.
+ I saw not one, but two men in the final flight on Friday that I really didn’t expect to see there.
+ I saw three veterans of the sport—one Japanese, one French, one Czech—do their level best close out their Olympic careers on a high note. Considering two of them were part of that fight for bronze (and the other just behind the rest of that pack), I’d like to think they think they were successful.
+ And I saw an American veteran of the sport take a prizefighter’s bruising and turn it into newfound peace.
In other words, the brighter side. Or at least an attempt at the more compassionate side. Because that other side—damn, it’s a tough one.
If you’re a regular reader of State of the Skate, then you know my appreciation for Patrick Chan’s often-sublime skating is tempered by his cockiness and foot-in-mouth disease when it comes to dealing with the press. Arguably with the most on the line in this event—NBC made a point of showing the perpetuators of the “Canadian curse” on camera before the men’s final flight began—Chan found himself joining said perpetuators by the evening’s end. The quotes I’ve seen from him in the aftermath are scattered; some apologetic, some defensive, some determined to show pride in his accomplishments, as if to publicly reassure himself of his place in skating history.
I get this, even from him. And if I was in
covering the Olympics, I’d like to think I’d let whatever he had to say just
lay there, untouched for once. Skating’s favorite journalistic curmudgeon Phil
Hersh thought differently, though. He took it upon himself to remind us (via
Twitter) that the overwhelming Olympic pressure has been managed in the past by
true champions, e.g. Kim Yu-Na, Brian Boitano, and Gordeeva/Grinkov.
Superheroes. In other words... not mere, faltering mortals like Patrick Chan.
Because if you’re going to kick a skater while he’s down, you might as well do it wearing toepicks, right?
I don’t know. I don’t want to know. I’d rather try and see these outstanding athletes for what they are... human.
Except for Plushenko. He’s an ass.
But that’s another story for another time.