Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Sequined Gauntlet

Yeah, it’s a little disconcerting to listen to one man wearing shiny bits and Lycra question the manhood of another, but that’s the bizarre machismo that is Olympic figure skating.

The Sequined Gauntlet


            Yeah, it’s a little disconcerting to listen to one man wearing shiny bits and Lycra question the manhood of another, but that’s the bizarre machismo that is Olympic figure skating.

             Cold War on Ice erupted last night when Russian favorite Evgeny Plushenko, the best quadruple jumper among last night’s contenders in the men’s final, essentially said American winner Evan Lysacek – who, with a left foot injury, doesn’t even try the quad – skates like a woman, then intimated that geography mattered more than execution:

             “If Olympic champion cannot land quad … Now, it’s not men’s figure skating. It’s like dancing.”

            It's like Dancing with the Yankees – or, at least, the Canucks.

             “We are on your continent,” said Plushenko, noting that Canada and the United States border each other. “It’s going to be in our country (next time).”

             By the time the torch is lit in Sochi in 2014, Plushenko, whose silver here matches one won in 2002, hopes his quad carries more weight than it does now.

 “We need to change the judging system,” said Plushenko.

 He landed his quad, amid a choppy routine. He allowed he skated imperfectly, but, he contended, simply completing tougher elements should matter most.

 He hopes that happens within the next 4 years. He’s 27. He retired after winning gold in 2006 but came back in September to defend his Olympic title.

 By the sound of it, he isn’t retiring again.

 “I need to learn (much),” he said.

Until the quad gets more heft, Plushenko needs to learn how to skate like Lysacek.

 “Tonight, my focus was getting every point I could out of that routine,” said Lysacek. “If it was just a jumping competition, they’d give you 10 seconds to do your best jump.”

 He wasn’t the more manly jumper, but he was the better skater, by 1.31 points, proving, for now, elegant style counts for more than brute strength. For that, Lysacek’s coach, Frank Carroll, is grateful – and validated, by the judges, who, by their actions, agreed that excellence should be rewarded at least as much as what Plushenko calls progress.

 Not that the judges discounted Plushenko’s efforts:

 “I don’t think this was a statement,” Carroll said. “I don’t think they were trying to send a message.”

 Plushenko’s message was clear, and as loud as his shiny duds.

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About this blog

SAM DONNELLON's career began in Biddeford, Me., in 1981, and has included stops in Wilkes-Barre, Norfolk, and New York, where he worked as a national writer for the short-lived but highly acclaimed National Sports Daily. He has received state and national awards at each stop and since joining the Daily News in 1992 has been honored by the Associated Press Sports Editors, the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association, the National Association of Black Journalists, the Associated Press Managing Editors of Pennsylvania and the Keystone Awards. He and his wife have raised three fine children, none of whom are even the least bit impressed with the above. Sam is veteran of Olympics coverage for the Daily News, including the Games in Sydney and Turin, among others.

MARCUS HAYES grew up on a small farm outside of Hermon, NY., a small town near the Canadian border about the size of Reading Terminal Market. In high school he played three varsity sports and aspired to be faster, or more skilled, or taller. Having failed in those aspirations and seeking a warmer climate, Marcus attended Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and eventually graduated with a degree in Magazine Writing. He also earned a degree in English from the College of Arts and Sciences. To date he has written for no magazines. His English is spotty at best. Upon graduation in 1990, with Jim Boeheim's talent-leaden SU basketball teams having won no titles, Marcus spent 4½ years working for the now-absorbed Syracuse Herald-Journal covering high school sports, local small college sports and non-revenue sports at SU. Marcus joined the Daily News as a feature story writer in 1995. Among other assignments he has covered the Eagles and Phillies beats for most of his tenure. Still, the paper soldiers on.

Sam Donnellon and Marcus Hayes
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