Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Sochi Sojourns V: Olympic Men's Preview/Predictions


Check out this post I did last week to find out what’s up with the 2010 Men’s medalists these days.

There are 30 men from 21 different countries scheduled to take the ice in Sochi for the short program; 24 of them will move on to the free skate Friday night.

The Favorites: Patrick Chan, multiple World Champ who is hoping to win Canada’s first-ever gold medal in this discipline. Co-favorite, if there is one, would be Japan’s teen phenom Yuzuru Hanyu (one of the few to defeat Chan in recent memory).

The Top Challengers: Aside from Russia’s pride and joy Evgeni “Plushy” Plushenko there are several... including Tatsuki Machida (JPN), reigning World Bronze Medalist Javier Fernandez (ESP), reigning World Silver Medalist Denis Ten (KAZ), 2010 Olympic Bronze Medalist Daisuke Takahashi... and yes, if USA champ Jeremy Abbott can somehow keep it together through both programs, he could be seen as “a challenger” as well.

The USA Men: We have two representatives in Sochi. 28 year-old Jeremy Abbott was in Vancouver but finished in 9th, well behind OGM Lysacek and 6th place finisher Johnny Weir. He is capable of some of the most intricate, nuanced, gorgeous skating you’ll ever see—but has a long history of crumbling at the worst times (world championships as well as Olympics). In fact, you might’ve seen him come apart just a few days ago in the Team Event—he skated his SP there. That SP gets a second shot this week, as does his stunning (and self-choreographed) Exogenesis Pt.3: Redemption free skate.

On a completely different plane—at least in terms of experience—is 19 year-old Jason Brown. He was still competing at Junior Worlds last season, but now he’s an Olympian who actually defeated Abbott in the Nationals Free Skate (finishing 2nd overall). Brown’s Riverdance FS is a viral video smash, but he also possesses a smoking-hot SP to Prince’s “The Question of U” that is not to be missed. Brown does NOT have a quad jump in his repertoire, but even at his relatively young age, the quality of his jump, spins and all-around skating is so high he’s managed to hold his ground against many of the quad kings anyway. He’s THAT good.

Quad Counts: Most of the top 10 men will attempt one in each program, either the quad toe-loop (a toepick jump) and/or the quad salchow (an edge jump). Chan, Hanyu, Takahashi, Fernandez, Machida, and possibly Plushenko will go for one in the SP and two in the FS. And Kevin Reynolds of Canada might go for as many as FIVE in the entire event: two in the SP and three in the FS. Because he’s out of his crazy-haired mind. (Just a guess. It’s more likely because he’s an excellent jumper and not the artiste that Chan is.)

And a note about Uzbekistan’s Misha Ge (pronounced “Jee”): He won’t likely be in the Top 10, so I don’t know that NBC prime time will show him... but if you can catch either of his programs via streaming video or at NBC SN, please do so. Literally and figuratively he’s one of the most colorful, joyous skaters in the business right now.

My predictions:
GOLD- Yuzuru Hanyu
SILVER- Patrick Chan
BRONZE- Evgeni Plushenko

BECAUSE: I think Hanyu has the least to lose... never medaled, not defending anything, might be in the sport for years to come, and he’s already shown he can outskate Plushy in the SP (Plushy’s strong suit at this point). BUT I think he’ll need to come from behind to win—if he’s on top after the SP, the first-Japanese-Man-to-win-Gold nerves might overtake him. Chan’s got a similar battle to overcome in regards to “winning it for Canada”, but I can’t help but remember the outrage that has brewed from some of his World victories...and I can’t help but wonder if the judges might be on their best behavior here, trying to avoid the controversy that questionable judging at the Olympics can bring. Then again, when they’re filing the ridiculously high component scores that were obtained by Plushy in his FS contribution to the Team Event, who knows what to expect? (It’s for this last reason I’ve got Plush in for the bronze, BTW.)

Remember, the Men get started at 10AM Eastern time Thursday 2/13 on NBC SN (Sports Network), with highlights coming in prime time Thursday and Friday nights! But be warned... NBC was pretty stingy with its prime-time pairs coverage. If you’ve got a favorite that’s not likely to make the top 6 after the SP, play it safe and catch them in real time during the day.

I will be live-tweeting as much as I can... follow me on Twitter @KLBSt8ofSk8.

1 comment:

sara.raju said...

I think Chan will probably win, although I'm really rooting for Hanyu as well. He is so charming and adorable, and I love the SP to Parisian Walkways. And he's SO good!