Yevgeny Plushenko: Going for Gold
The Vancouver 2010 Olympics are in full swing, and as always one of the main highlights of the Winter Games is the ice skating. Competition is fierce, with strong teams from several countries making appearances, but they are somewhat overshadowed by a returning champion seeking to repeat his achievement of Olympic Gold.
Russia and the former Soviet Union have always made a strong showing in the men's figure skating events, with the last five Olympic gold medals being awarded to competitors from the countries of the former Soviet bloc. Whether the winning streak would continue seemed doubtful in the years leading up to Vancouver, however, as 2006 Olympic champion Yevgeny Plushenko had announced his retirement shortly after taking the gold in Turin at Winter Games XX.
Plushenko was rumored to be coming out of retirement for months, and finally returned to the screams of adoring fans as he swept out over the ice during the 2009 Cup of Russia to dominate the competition. He went on to win the event, and from there moved on to recapture his European crown as well as his place in the hearts of the Russian people. The announcement that Yevgeny intended to attempt a repeat of his Olympic victory was met with applause, and Plushenko began training in earnest.
During the men's short figure skating program, Plushenko took the lead with apparent effortlessness, flying across the ice in classic style and carrying off his trademark opening quad toe jump with panache. Yevgeny's quad and quad combination jumps are arguably the best in the field, garnering him consistent high technical marks and lifting him head and shoulders above most of the competition. His program was received well last night, with a score of 90.85 (just shy of his personal best of 91.30).
Plushenko edged out US skater Evan Lysacek (finishing with a score of 90.30) and Japanese team member Daisuke Takahashi (90.25). The rest of the field lagged further behind, with many skaters falling and others losing their synchronization with the music.
During the break, NBC played a video clip of Plushenko commenting on his goal of repeating his Turin victory in Vancouver: "I would like to be a two-time Olympic champion - like Dick Button."
Button, who was celebrating his 50th year as a commentator during coverage of the event, said, "Records are made to be broken - I wish him luck!" Button was the first to land a double axel and a triple loop in competition, invented the flying camel spin, and won men's figure skating Olympic golds back to back in 1948 and 1952 - the only American to ever achieve such a feat and the last man to do so in the past 60 years. Plushenko's aim to match Button's record by claiming consecutive golds for Russia ended when he was defeated by Evan Lycasek of the U.S., but he did however capture the silver medal.