Evgeni Plushenko and My Olympic Skating Commentary thus far

I’m not entirely what it is about me, but I have a thing about fangasming. Suddenly becoming a fan of somebody in some medium and it’s an infatuation that lingers for months… perhaps more.

I feel the early symptoms of that phenomenon cropping up with Russian Figure Skater, Evgeni Plushenko.
Considering I came away from the previous Olympics with a very negative impression of him, that’s pretty spectacular.
(Btw, this is the first time said infatuation has been over an athlete 😛 I go more for actors and singers/musicians).

My only memories of the previous Olympics were the male figure skating competition. Evan Lysachek won the first ever U.S. Gold in that discipline. Of course, as an American, I was stoked. The only thing that brought me down was that the Russian that got 2nd place said he didn’t deserve it because unlike a lot of the top skates, Evan didn’t have the Quad in his routine. I felt like it was a case of sore grapes and he was just being arrogant about it. And yes, a big part of my anger at his comments were because I was backing the athlete from my country.
In other words, my opinion was the result of bias.

Four years later, I arrived late to the Team short program where Jeremy Abbott had apparently missed up big time and the blame was on “the Plushenko thing”… I didn’t know what that meant at first, but sooner or later, I found out that the skater from the Russian team had gone and had done so well that the intimidation affected his skating.
Then I learn it’s the very same Russian that won Silver in the previous games.

[exact exchange… I’m thinking “wait, is he the same Russian from the previous Olympics?”… somehow suspecting it would be him because he has this outstanding reputation]

A few days of skating later, I wanted to keep an eye out to see him in the free skate… it was perfection. I was in absolute awe and couldn’t help but give up for Russia’s skaters. They really did deserve Gold, although it still didn’t seem fair that their female skater was only 15 and looked so much better than the rest of her competitors 😛

I’m sure everyone who’s been following the Olympics or news in general knows what happened next. Plushenko had to pull out of the mens’ solo competition due to injury. There were some other great moments that day and those not so great. Even without him in the running, he still cast somewhat of a spell on the arena. All of the skaters fell or missed things in their routine as if his ghost was haunting the place. The most dramatic was Jeremy Abbott falling and I wasn’t sure if he’d even continue. But somehow, he did and did amazing.
My favorite throughout was Yuzuru from Japan, ever since he made his presence known in the Team competition. I guess it’s the animé fan in me that’s just a sucker for the Japanese.
Then there was Jason Brown, who did a short program to “The ? of U”… yes, by Prince, and if Prince would ever be okay with people using his music, I’m sure he would have loved that. Everyone knows about his Riverdance routine that went viral after the Boston Championships. Sadly, he never did quite as well as he did then. Never fell, but wasn’t perfect enough to contend for the Bronze.

All that aside, the loss of Plushenko… I don’t even remember my exact thoughts and it was only a few days ago. I felt devastated. I seriously wanted to cry because I just felt so bad for him. He really looked like he was in pain and wanted to go on, but made the brave decision to pull out. After doing so well in the Team competition, I thought he made his country proud and it was perfectly fine for him to rest up. It woulda been nice to see him compete again after he wow’d me with the free skate, but oh well.
It kinda sucks he has to retire at this particular junction, but some things can’t be helped.

[some of my exact thoughts that I’m just recovering… when I saw him out on the ice, I was excited to see him skate more. But when I saw him starting to jump, something didn’t feel quite right. One jump looked really bad, the triple axel I had trouble getting out of my head, and I was thinking “oh no…” … the next jump, I was thinking, maybe even hoping, that the bad jump was a fluke. It wasn’t. Then I was on edge, wondering if he would still compete. He was talking to the judges and they were talking about how much time he had left to withdraw and I thought maybe the time had passed and he might still have to go on. I see him to go center ice, thinking “maybe he will compete”… but as excited as I was to see him skate again, there was a dread deep inside me trying to say maybe he shouldn’t… I can’t remember for sure if I wanted him to skate more than I wanted him to quit… but the relief I felt when he got off the ice was so apparent that I really did think it was better if he didn’t put his health at risk… I wish there was still some footage hanging around of his interview afterwards because all I remember is him saying, maybe in response to  what he wants to tell his fans. “I am human like you. I am not robot.”]

It boggles my mind that the Russian media turned on him for stepping down, claiming that he quit. Former skaters said they’d skated while injured and Plushenko was just making excuses for himself.
The only Russian that sided with him was President Putin :shrug: somebody the majority of Americans aren’t a big fan of… I like him for taking this position and for letting Edward Snowden have sanctuary in his country, but other than that, I’m indifferent towards him. I don’t like him and I don’t outright hate him… just, obviously, disagree with his politics.
Not that I really agree with anyone’s politics these days, but that’s beside the point.

So yeah, I’m coming to the defense of someone I didn’t like over a week ago… but his talent won me over big time. As for the critics over his injury, Plushenko has apparently had 12 surgeries on his knees and back and had to pull out because he hurt his back doing a Quad in practice. He didn’t quit because he was sore. He quit because he was in real pain. Even if he tried to skate, he couldn’t have done anywhere near as good as he’s known for.

Overall, though, the mens’ solo skate was a huge disappointment. There weren’t any overall clean performances. Except for Jeremy Abbott, who landed all of his jumps and killed his free skate. If only he had that Quad, he coulda been a contender. Both Patrick Chan of Canada and Yuzuru fell on their routines. I missed the dude from Kazakstan in third (until long after, his routine was clean, but not spectacular).
a couple of my favorites were very early in the program. One was Misha Ge from Uzbekistan. He was flat out entertaining to watch and artistic… kinda the way Jason Brown is.
Another thing that turned me as a Plushenko fan was that he actually went up to Jason in warm-ups to say he was a fan of his… and Jason hadn’t introduced Quads into his routine yet.

I dunno what to make of it… unless Plushenko had a change of heart after cooling down from what happened in Vancouver…
I decided a day or two ago that I’d rewatch his and Evan’s free skates to see which one really was the better of the two. I’m coming to this entry just after doing just that.
Just for fun, I also decided to watch Johnny Weir’s skate since he was part of this long video of the free skates. His was so pretty to watch, it shoulda gotten a higher score than it did.

Even with my bias as of late towards Plushenko, he didn’t do his best out there. Evan might not have had a Quad, but his skate was perfection. It was CLEAN, all his jumps nailed without a single bobble.
So I guess the next thing to do is watch his Gold-medal winning routines, the short program for this year’s Team skate and his Gold in Torino in 2006.
Any thoughts on that will come on a later entry alongside any thoughts on the womens’ program… geesh, after all the drama, spills and thrills with the mens’, will it be enough to keep me entertained? 😛

I’m a sucker for artistic Olympic sports in general, so I probably will be satisfied 😎

As for the ice dancing these past two days… I’m not as big a fan. They kept using the same songs. The short program was repetitive… the only stand-outs were Virtue & Moir and Davis & White from Canada and the U.S.
but there was another American couple today, Chokes & Bates, that made me bawl my eyes out to “Les Miz”. I guess I was just having flashbacks to the cast performance at last year’s Oscars.
But I gotta commend the Russian couple that got the Bronze. They blew the roof off with their “Black Swan” Swan Lake routine. Just gorgeous.

…earlier tonight, I checked to see if Plushenko had a Twitter account… yes, but unfortunately most of it is in Russian 😛 that was never a language I considered learning, but this one time, I wish I knew some.
Otherwise, I’d have followed him, but I’m probably set with liking him on Facebook anyway.
Another first: didn’t think I’d ever find a Russian accent attractive. I just thought it was kinda nice that he learned English so he could speak to our media during/after competitions.

It might not mean much, but if you come across this, Plushenko, you have my support in this trying time and I hope for your steady recovery.

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