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Lysacek wins the gold

Posted by Scott Thurston, Globe Staff  February 18, 2010 08:26 PM

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Reigning world champion Evan Lysacek can add Olympic gold to his medal collection.

Skating a flawless artistic program, Lysacek proved he didn't need a quadruple jump in his program to overtake Russian Evgeni Plushenko and record the first US victory in the event since Brian Boitano in 1988.

Every American man who has been reigning world champion (Dick Button 1952, Hayes Jenkins 1956, David Jenkins 1960, Scott Hamilton 1984) has won the Olympic title. But no world champion since Hamilton had won it. (Boitano was not world champion in 1988.)

"It's been a tough couple of days,'' said Lysacek after the victory ceremony. "I was nervous, but that comes from wanting it so badly. I saw that American flag go up and I couldn't believe it was for me.''

It came down to the component scoring. Plushenko, who on the gold in the 2006 Turin Games, didn't do the full quad-triple-double, barely saved the axel, and had rough landings on both lutzes. Thus, he gave away most of his technical jumping edge.

Lysacek beat Plushenko, 257.67-256.36, a 1.31-point advantage. The difference came down to a missed opportunity by the Russian in that quad-triple-double. The jump was supposed to end with a double loop, a simple maneuver that is worth 1.5 points. It would have been enough for the top spot.

"I thought that he looked great,'' said Lysacek of his rival. "He had a great skate. It wasn't about gold, silver, or bronze for me. That was a great skate.''
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Lysacek was the first of the final six skaters to compete. "Worlds rejuvenated my love for skating, but it also confirmed to me that the most important thing about figure skating is the daily training that goes on at home,;; he said as he waited for all the marks to come in. This year I've worked harder than I ever have before to prepare for this competition. The whole season has been building toward this and waiting for that clean skate the whole season, and to get it in most important moment is pretty special.

“I wasn’t even tired at the end, the crowd and everything kept me going.”

Japan's Daisuke Takahaski took home the bronze. Johnny Weir finished sixth with a score of 238.87 and Jeremy Abbott, the reigning US champion, came in ninth (218.96)

***
Update, 11:52 p.m.The big question was what Johnny would wear (a glittering silver and black ensemble), but he turned in a solid skate, drawing a standing ovation from the crowd at Pacific Coliseum. Master of hyperbole Scott Hamilton says it was his best skate ever. However, Weir skipped the opening quad and didn't do the triple axel-triple toe. He just didn't do enough and could only move into fifth place. Fans are booing the marks, but they don't see the element scoring.

Update: 11:38 p.m. Stephane Lambiel of Switzerland, the reigning Olympic silver medalist and two-time world champion, came out of retirement this year. He was sitting fifth coming in, but turned in an uninspired performance and couldn't overtake Lysacek .....and Japan's Daisuke Takahashi is down, failing to land a quad toe. He took a big risk and it didn't pay off. But a solid and energetic recovery and he moves into second.. Johnny Weir is next.

Update: 11:33 p.m.. Nobunari Oda, who was in fourth place coming in, broke a skate lace and the program interruption is a mandatory 2-point deduction. Had he not resumed within three minutes, he would have been disqualified. As it is, the mishap probably cost him any chance at a medal.

Update, 11:27 p.m. For the record, Powers reports that the nine judges (no countries are listed in the new system) are from the US, Canada, Russia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Ukraine, Czech Republic, France, and Sweden. Five are from former Eastern Bloc socialist countries. The computer randomly drops two; seven judges count.

Update, 11:15 p.m.: No quad jump for Lysacek, but a technically solid skate. He was clean (with a good save on the second triple axel) but very deliberate, if not tentative on the jumps. If Plushenko also is clean, Plushenko probably wins.

Update, 11:09 p.m.: The leaders are warming up.. Counting base jump values only (no spins or footwork) Russian Evgeni Plushenko has a 59.3 to 55.0 edge on Evan Lysacek, which means that Lysacek has no margin for error on other stuff and needs better component (i.e., artistic) marks. (Aren't you glad Powers is in my ear? You won't get this kind of analysis from Scott Hamilton). Lysacek is next up.

Update, 10:51 p.m. Big crowd reaction for favored son Patrick Chan, of course. The Canadian hopeful is the reigning world silver medalist but had a leg injury for much of Grand Prix season.and was a disappointing seventh coming in, He struggled again with his jumps, staggering out of a triple lutz and falling on a triple axel. The fall is an automatic 1-point deduction, plus minus -3 execution marks. No chance for a medal.

Update, 10:30 p.m. A disastrous performance by France's Brian Joubert, a five-time world medalist who won the title in 2007. He fell on his opening quad toe, then staggered out of his triple axel. He was sixth in the Turin Games but probably won't be in the top 15 here.

Update, 9:40 p.m. The authority on all things Olympic, John Powers, reports that Jeremy Abbott, who was 15th after the short program, fell on his quad toe and singled his triple flip (I knew it didn't look good).. If he finishes worse than 12th, it'll be the worst performance by a US champion in Olympic history.

* * *
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The order for the top contenders in tonight’s men’s free skate, with their planned program, standing after the short program, and song.

Evan Lysacek and Patrick Chan do not include a quadruple jump, which carries the highest technical score, in their routines. Each skater must complete eight jump elements, three spins and two step sequences.

Patrick Chan, Canada (seventh)
Phantom of the Opera

triple axel/double toe loop
triple flip/triple toe
triple lutz
circular step sequence
flying sit spin
triple axel
triple lutz/double toe/double loop
change foot sit spin
triple loop
triple salchow
double axel
straight line step. seq.
change foot combination spin

Evan Lysacek, US (second)
Sheherazade

triple lutz/triple toe
triple axel
triple salchow
circ. step seq.
flying sit spin
triple axel/double toe
triple loop
triple flip/double toe/double loop
triple lutz
double axel
flying change foot sit spin
straight line step. seq.
change foot comb. spin

Nobunari Oda, Japan (fourth)
Charlie Chaplin medley

quadruple toe
triple axel/triple toe
flying sit spin
triple salchow
circ. step seq.
triple axel
triple lutz/double toe/double loop
triple flip/double toe
triple loop
change foot sit spin
double axel
straight line step seq.
change foot comb. spin

Stephane Lambiel, Switzerland (fifth)
La Traviata

quad toe/double toe/double loop
triple lutz
quad toe
triple flip/triple toe
circ. step sequence
comb. spin
double axel
triple loop
triple flip/double toe
flying sit spin
serpentine step sequence
triple salchow
change foot comb. spin

Daisuke Takahashi, Japan (third)
La Strada

quad toe
triple axel/double toe
triple loop
flying change foot sit spin
circ. step seq.
triple flip/triple toe
triple salchow
triple axel
triple lutz
triple lutz/double toe/double loop
flying change foot. comb. spin
straight line step seq.
change foot comb. spin

Johnny Weir, US (sixth)
Fallen Angel

quad toe
triple axel/triple toe
triple salchow
triple axel
flying sit spin
circ. step sequence
triple loop
triple lutz/double toe/double toe
triple lutz/double toe
double axel
flying change foot sit spin
straight line step seq.
change foot comb. spin

Evgeny Plushenko, Russia
Tango Amore

quad toe/triple toe/double loop
triple axel
triple axel/double toe
triple loop
flying sit spin
triple lutz
change foot sit spin
circ. step. seq.
triple lutz/double toe
triple salchow
double axel
straight line step seq.
change foot comb. spin

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