19 February 2010

The night they killed figure skating - Thus spoke Stojko...

The night they killed figure skating

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Sorry, Evan Lysacek. You’re a great skater and all.
But that wasn’t Olympic champion material.
In Thursday night’s men’s free skate, Lysacek skated slow and his jumps weren’t close to the technical ability of defending Olympic champion Evgeni Plushenko.
Plushenko had a great performance. His footwork was great and maybe his spins weren’t quite as good as Lysacek’s, but it wasn’t that big of a difference. He also had a quad toe triple toe that wasn’t even attempted by anyone else. He did both triple axels, so all the jumps were there.
But the judges’ scoring was ridiculous.
Because of it, the sport took a step backward. Brian Boitano did the same thing, technically, in 1988. There are junior skaters who can skate that same program.
And the judges’ scoring probably killed figure skating because kids now are going to see this and say, “Oh, I don’t need a quad. I can just do great footwork for presentation marks and do a couple of nice spins and make it to Olympic champion.” With that type of scoring, you don’t have to risk it. You can play it safe and win gold.
In what other sports do you have to hold back in order to win?
The International Skating Union has taken the risk out of figure skating and it makes me sick.
If Plushenko had made some mistakes, then sure, maybe Lysacek deserves gold. But when you take the risk out of skaters’ programs, it doesn’t compute to me.
And it’s not a personal thing. I like Evan. But when you compare performances and have an outcome like this, the sport is going backward. And it hurts me to say it because I love this sport. But the judges made a mockery of it by giving Lysacek the gold.
I don’t want to rain on anybody’s parade because it’s not the skaters’ fault. It’s the system. And the figure skating community wants to control who wins and who loses. And what it does is it makes the component score more valid than the jumps so it can control whatever it wants. And that’s exactly what happened Thursday night at Pacific Coliseum.
How can the sport be put back on the right path? I have no idea. I haven’t even thought about it. It’s not up to me. Because people at the ISU obviously seem to know what they’re doing. Well, they think they know what they’re doing.
For me, the outcome on Thursday night was disappointing.
A few more thoughts on the men’s free skate:
• I thought Daisuke Takahashi was awesome. He tried the quad and he had the guts to go for it, and he should’ve been ahead of Lysacek in that aspect.
Johnny Weir was great. He should’ve been higher than sixth – above Patrick Chan, who was fifth. Weir outskated Chan. He might’ve skated a little bit slow but he went out there and did his stuff. I feel bad for him.
• People say I’m hammering certain skaters. I’m not. It’s the system I don’t like and if you say I am biased … I already said I am not a fan of Weir’s skating, but he skated well tonight and deserved to be ahead of Chan.
In addition, Takahiko Kozuka – my favorite skater – did not get the points he deserved. He skated great, had awesome spins, the best edges in the competition, was very close with the quad and did a ton of triples.
Figure skating gets no respect because of outcomes like this. More feathers, head-flinging and so-called step sequences done at walking speed – that’s what the system wants.
I am going to watch hockey, where athletes are allowed to push the envelope. A real sport.

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