Women’s Olympic Figure Skating and More on Evgeni Plushenko

I’ll get back to him in a minute.
But let it be noted that I was mentally vacant for more than half of the women’s short program because of him.
I’d been catching up on his routines, watching a couple on YouTube every night. I dunno… although it took me a while to feel the much needed impact his performances typically give, the last two I watched made me really wish it was him out there instead
😛
more on the guilt trip later

But anyway, when I got into the thick of the action, it was the last two groups of skaters.
Valentina from Italy became one of my favorites because she has “the look,” not just of a great skater, but she’s got movie star good looks. So when it was her turn to go on for the free skate today, that was when the competition really started for me. I find her engaging for the same reasons I enjoyed Ashley Wagner.

Part of it is home-team bias. Nothing I can do about that, but of the three girls from America skating, she was the one I went for. Maybe because she was the underdog and I wanted to see her prove the critics wrong. People who thought she didn’t deserve to be on the team because she tanked at the U.S. Championships.
I don’t know what the heck I was watching at the time, but I missed out on that almost entirely. I think Jeremy Abbott was the only skater I saw. He nailed his program, but we all agreed it didn’t have that x-factor, that wow factor that my mom said Jason Brown had.

Ashley’s wardrobe the first night was gorgeous. It really brought out her eyes and made the routine pop for me. Which it already was doing because she was skating to some Pink Floyd. Not super familiar with their work, but whenever I hear, it’s pretty mesmerizing. Mind you, she did the routine in the team competition, but I liked that it was choreographed to something from the 20th century.
Speaking of which, one of the girls from France danced to “The ? of U” as Jason Brown did. He owned that routine. Don’t get me wrong, she skated it well, but she didn’t fill in the space between the notes. Most of the skate looked like she was doing steps.

Gracie Gold, I liked on both nights and thought she had just as good a chance at the podium. But considering all the girls competing and how tight the scores were, it was just too tall an order.

A couple of the low-lights were with two of the big favorites going in. Just as I’m regretting more and more every day my attitude towards Plushenko in Vancouver, I came to regret what I’d written and thought of the 15-year old from Russian, how I wished at the team competition she was not as good as she was cuz it didn’t seem fair… don’t know what it is, but what I wanted the home team to do well. At least for the competition to be there. When she fell during the short program, I was astonished and saddened at the same time. It was worse than seeing Yuzuru fall in the men’s free skate.
Yeah, the pressure and expectations were just too high for her to handle. Except for the fall during her “Schindler’s List” routine, I really enjoyed her performance today. It was so poignant and controlled. And to think what she’ll be like in 4 years… that’s too mind-blowing to even contemplate.

Then there was what happened with Mao Asada. I know she’s one of the best girls there. How I know that, I don’t know… I think I’m basing that more on what commenters have said about her than what I’ve seen personally. Almost like there’s a jinx in place, but whenever I watch her compete, she falls 😦 and that ruined any chance of her getting a medal in her last season.
I didn’t even see her routine until the rebroadcast tonight, but I saw she had the top score going into the final group. So there just might be some superstition in place where she does better when I don’t watch 😛

Gotta give extra props to Akiko Suzuki just for her “Phantom of the Opera” routine. I mean, the music by itself would make me cry anyway, but she made it even more beautiful. Granted, I felt more connected to her performing it in the team competition.
…kind of a theme going, isn’t there? although it’s gonna end here

Carolina from Italy blew me away last night. I think, all around, she was my favorite from a performance and from a technical standpoint. She really surprised me with how angelic she looked and she got me thinking that she’s my favorite kind of female skater. Her style. I also found it kinda cool that she did her free skate to “Bolero”… my memory sucks right now, but on the name alone, that was one of the first Plushenko routines I watched on YouTube. I can’t even remember how well he skated it, but it was music that definitely suited him. [After rewatching it while letting this entry sit for the night, yeah, it was pretty fantastic. Probably will be my top 10 all time, supposing I get around to making such a list but not quite my top 5]
I was already contemplating the interesting notion that she might win Gold in Russia, just as Plushenko won Gold in her home country. Alas, much like what happened with the last Super Bowl, Peyton didn’t win in his brother’s stadium as Eli had in his, and the winner went on to be another Russian. Now Adelina will be the “IT” girl. Not that there can’t be TWO figure skating “IT” girls in Russia. Either way, the program will have a large freshman class coming in next season.

I had my worries about Yuna, seeing as she was getting so much hype. Talking about how she’s the reigning champion and may be the first back-to-back gold medalist since Katerina Witt. That also didn’t come to pass. I was so nervous for her yesterday, but she surprised the heck out of me with her poise and constancy.

Today, the women really proved their merit. Doing some volunteering today cleared my head, so I was free to enjoy them and remember how I used to look up to women skaters when I was growing up. I didn’t think much of the guys’ program, I think until Vancouver, because ice skating to me seemed like it was just a women’s sport.
Unlike gymnastics where I favor the artistic women’s program over the strength and stamina of the men’s, I can enjoy both genders in figure skating, but for different reasons.
The girls are about beauty and the guys are about technique and the real wow-factor… which of course is the quadruple jump… as well as the entertainment factor. I get a good mix of those things from watching Johnny Weir. Jason brown embodies the performance aspect and Plushenko is about the wow-factor and other things I’m getting to discover more and more as each night goes by.

And yeah, I do believe that Adelina deserved the gold. Not just because she’s on the home team, but because her performance was crisp and precise. Yuna had one landing that wasn’t quite there and that was the fraction of the margin of victory.
I hate to say it, but the women’s ice skating program met all of my expectations. Where the top three girls were super competitive and it was the narrowest of margins of victory. I found the men’s program a disappointment. Particularly the free skate.
Not because Plushenko was unable to compete. Not because none of the Americans medaled, but because it was about which skater screwed up the least. It’s just not as good entertaining.

**

as for the remainder of my Plushenko discussion…

first things first, I might have spoken too soon about Vancouver… again.
I watched the short program last night and I’ll have to reconsider a few things. Might need to rewatch all the footage to be absolutely sure of my decision.
Simply put, Evan Lysachek’s short program was a snooze fest. He did the required elements, yeah, but it was boring. And maybe this was due in part to the fact I wasn’t as taken by some previous routines I was watching, but Plushenko’s program was so incredible that I almost teared up.

It feels strange saying this and I do feel guilty for doing so, but this is how I feel.
I enjoy him most when he’s at his best. I watched his Salt Lake City performances. The fact he fell in the short program took me out of it… seeing him flat on the ice just looked unnatural, like he’s so good at what he does that it just seems like a foreign concept. Then when he skated to Carmen, his landings were rough, which felt almost as bad as seeing the fall.

That was a case where it’s amazing that he worked his way back and got the silver medal.
But the fall aside, his Michael Jackson routine had most of the ingredients that drive me crazy in the best possible way. As spectacular as his quadruple jumps are, what I’ve come to LOVE in his routines are his step sequences. His step sequence in the Michael Jackson medley felt out of this world, kinda the way I feel when I see the “Smooth Criminal” choreography, but exponentially more exhilarating.

I saw some earlier programs he did when he was 13 and 16… he was a prodigy and it was all about “did anyone have any idea he’d get SO much better than that?”
but it seems like my favorite period of his work is from the past 5-6 years, between 2009 to the last glimmer of him in Sochi. Both the skill level and his look as a professional skater is completely together. In the way Prince’s Purple Rain period was better than the eras before it… it’s the completed product at the end of the tunnel.

Also something I did yesterday was that I stumbled onto a couple of interviews he did in English (I wouldn’t mind subtitles, but I just love him speaking English really well with his homegrown accent)… a couple of them were victory laps, so I searched for the routines he did beforehand. One was after he’d been off the ice for 3 years… it was off the charts how impressive it was. Just WOW! it’s like he never left.

Speaking of that… I get the news a couple days after my previous entry that he’s considering the next Olympics.
Admittedly, there was a great deal of conflict I had over it.
On the one hand, any opportunity to see him compete again… on live TV… an irresistible opportunity
but on the other hand, considering how much he pushed himself to get through Sochi, I’m afraid he’ll physically like a porcelain doll. I think my first gut reaction was “are you crazy?” and it gave way to “If that’s what you really want, go for it.”
I don’t know how Russian politics work, but part of me worries that the pressure comes from his country’s expectations of him. Especially from the nay-sayers who dogged him for withdrawing. He has nothing to prove to anyone… except for himself, if that’s something weighing on his conscience and he’s physically capable to competing, go for it. But he’s gotta do it for himself.

So… yeah…
Evgeni Plushenko will join a list of celebrities over the years that I feel compelled to find out everything I can about.
With Prince, I conversed with people who knew him best: his fanbase (before everything got super negative), and researched which of his albums I’d most enjoy… and I started working on a book where I interpret his music to make it more accessible to people who’d dismissed him over the years as a “weirdo” or “has-been”… the latter might be up for debate still, seeing as he hasn’t released an album in years.
With Robert Downey Jr., I looked into his biography so I could get all the heavy stuff out of the way and focus on the good. I researched his movies to see which ones I’d like and ended up liking some of the ones I wrote off.

And of course, what they have in common, is that I feel compelled to write about them. Whether it’s in blog postings or fanfiction. I can just as easily do that with Plushenko, but unless I have a super vivid dream about him that lasts more than a minute and I remember it the next day, it’s not likely to happen. I wouldn’t know WHAT to write about. Firstly because I don’t know a triple toe-loop from an axel and secondly, I don’t know what the story would be. Anything I can possibly come up with is a little “been there, done that”… me randomly popping into this storyline about him withdrawing and his countrymen getting on his case about it. There was a flicker of an idea there that I was considering, but since things have calmed down a little bit and clearly, he hasn’t been fazed by the negativity, so there’s no need to go there.
The only other place I can think to do would be political in nature, which I know nothing about and I wouldn’t feel comfortable going into it blind. Wouldn’t want to offend anyone out of my ignorance or dabbling in the impossible.

Besides, nothing I could write would do him justice… sure, I did a little Prince fanfiction and the mere notion of us being in the same room together is impossible to imagine, lest my mind blow up before I can get a word out… but it’s different with Plushenko :shrug: it’s be as trite as anyone doing a movie based on his life (pretty extraordinary stuff… I saw part of an English-subtitled biography on YouTube… kinda ironic how ice skating helped him get over his constant illnesses as a kid but nowadays, it makes things difficult for him physically)… he’s kinda like a unicorn in that way. There’s only one Plushenko and any interpretation of that wouldn’t come close to the real thing. Not as magical as it is seeing him skate.

The only thing left to say is that it sucks that Russian never got a “Dancing with the Stars” franchise together because he’d be amazing at that.
It did wonders for Evan Lysachek… of course he ended up taking second place to Nicole Scherzinger of the PussyCat Dolls. :facepalm: I never really got over that. I don’t know if it’s because she’s a sex symbol and got a lot of guys voting for her or it was because Derek Hough was her partner. Nowadays, that almost always guarantees that his partner will win the mirror ball trophy. As much as I love Derek, he’s becoming the Jimmie Johnson of the show… take some time off and let somebody else win. Or at least stop giving him the most talented non-dancers 😛

On a separate note, I tweeted to Ellen DeGeneres to have Johnny Weir and Tara Lipniski on her show and I’ve got two retweets so far. Anyone in the U.S. who’d like one last chance to see them together post-Olympics, check out my handle @DreamyPopJunkie and retweet.

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