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Olympic Men’s Skating: As the Russian Flies

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Thing of beauty, eh?

Congrats to 2006 Olympic men’s figure skating silver medalist and reigning world champion Stephane Lambiel of Switzerland, bronze medalist Jeff Buttle of Canada, the courageous American Evan Lysacek (battling stomach flu, he skated to a fourth-place finish with a remarkable, passionate program that excelled technically and artistically), the elegant Japanese skater Daisuke Takahashi (who finished eighth; this youngster showed lots of potential) and the exciting and graceful Shawn Sawyer (a Canadian up-and-comer with real style). Skating devotees should keep an eye out for these guys – big futures should be in the offing for all of them. And for US national champ Johnny Weir too, despite his disappointing fifth-place finish. But this one was settled before any of these young men took the ice at the Torino Games.

Yep, this night was Evgeni Plushenko’s from the get-go; he really won the gold two nights ago, during the short program. His long-program performance – riveting to be sure, though not his best – was more than enough to seal the deal. That became clear when he opened with a flawless quadruple toe loop-triple toe-double loop combination and followed it with a gorgeous triple axel-double toe.

Tonight’s win makes the driven Plushenko, who scored the silver in 2002, the fourth Russian in a row to pick up Olympic men’s-skating gold. And he won decisively: The 23-year-old newlywed beat second-place Lambiel by more than 27 points. In more than 30 years of following amateur skating avidly, I cannot recall ever seeing such a blowout. To have it be so well-deserved made this men’s competition a joy to behold, even if some of the competitors wilted under the pressure and missed some of their crucial jumps (particularly those dreaded quads).

Didn’t matter, in the end: This was Evgeni Plushenko’s night from beginning to end, and this skating fan feels like a winner for having seen it. Next up on the ice in Torino: women’s individuals and ice dancing. Can’t wait.

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About NR Davis

  • Natalie Davis

    An editor changed my original spelling of Yevgeni Plushenko’s name. For the record and in my defense – and I have checked this with a wide variety of media sources – Yevgeni, Evegeni and even Yevgeny are recognized as acceptable representations of the skater’s Russian name.

    Thank you.

    NR Davis

  • Trinket

    Natalie you’re right on all of the varied spellings of the first name. Plushenko prefers it to be spelled Evgeni- as it is a bit more unique and his first name is quite common for Russian men. When he first appeared on the world stage about 9 years ago there were several “Evgeny’s” competing, so he switched the spelling.

  • Matthew T. Sussman

    Turin or Torino?

    G-News had 2,320 results for “Evgeni Plushenko,” 306 for “Yevgeny Plushenko” and just 4, including this one, for “Yevgeni Plushenko.”

    Mlle Davis, it’s OK, I’m fairly certain nobody’s gonna come after you for this.

  • Trinket

    Truly no one will. General media seems to like to favor lots of “e’s” & “y’s” in the spelling of Russian names. I covered skating for 8 years otherwise I certainly wouldn’t know the difference.

  • Natalie Davis

    Ms. Trinket, thank you; that information was helpful.

  • Yulya

    ha, my sister’s name is Evgenia so
    I know it’s really difficult to spell (for non-Russian residents I mean)
    concerning to Plushenko… I was watching the competition and he was great, apparently. He didn’t demonstrate all his best.. but almost. / I’m so proud that my native-petersburg school gives birth to such talanted figurists (Tot’myanina-Marinin, Yagudin who won Olympic Men’s Skating in 2002 and so on so on)
    Oh and also I have to admit that young Lambiel was very… I don’t know.. touching? when he cried…
    (sorry for my not-perfect English))

  • Natalie Davis

    My English isn’t perfect either. No worries.

    Plushenko was great, not his best, but just enthralling to watch. And yes, I was touched by Stephane Lambiel’s tears. The Petersburg have much of which to be proud. I am a huge Alexei Yagudin fan, and there are so many Russian skaters I admire. After Russian wins in the men’s and pairs competition, it will be interesting to see how your country will fare in the ice dance and the women’s.

  • Skagen Silver Watch

    I was watching the competition and he was great, apparently. He didn’t demonstrate all his best.. but almost. / I’m so proud that my native-petersburg school gives birth to such talanted figurists