The Olympic Games 2010 - David Richardson reports about Men SP

By David Richardson
Photos © Absolute Skating

from left to right: Elliot Hilton, Alex Wilde and David RichardsonMy name is David Richardson, I am a male figure skater and represent Great Britain. Since being a child I have wished to compete in the Olympics, as have many, unfortunately 2010 was not my year. The British men failed to qualify a place and so no place was given . . . Hey, there’s always 2014!!!

When watching major events on TV I like to see the skater perform the program and enjoy their skating. That is probably why I am inspired by the character and portrayal from Contesti of Italy. He oozes personality and has a real showmanship to his skating which I find mesmerizing.

There is always a huge build up to the Olympics, in all disciplines of the sport, but non more so than the anticipated return of the Russian wizard, Plushenko. After a fantastic start of the season and another European title under his belt, many skating lovers (including myself) assumed the Olympic Gold was already his. However, after Lambiel’s amazing free program in Tallinn I began to think that there was a slight possibility of an epic battle for the Gold.

Not having seen any of the top Americans, Canadians or Japanese men perform all season I was slightly unaware of their form or threat. This is not to say that the likes of Lysacek, Chan, Weir and Oda would let the Gold slip so easily!

As I sat down to watch the short program get under way, I felt excitement and apprehension, an hour and a half full of dreams being made . . . or broken.

Okay so let’s start at the top: Plushenko. The man has an abundance of technical talent and was flawless on his jump elements. I believe that his steps and spins were generously marked and he seems to be lacking the musicality he used to possess. There is no doubt he is a machine and his technical ability is astonishing. It was good to see that the judges didn’t go too high with the component mark as the program wasn’t as pleasing to the eye.

Now for 2nd and 3rd: Lysacek shone with his quality and poise, as well as displaying a complex variety of spins and steps that not only get the levels but also get plus GOE's. Takahashi was, for me, the best of the night. His expression was captivating and attention-grabbing from beginning to end. His jumps and transitions had precision and flowed with confidence; a definite dark horse for the title.

Oda was slightly disappointing for me, he skated very well but seemed to be missing that killer attribute, know as “the X factor”! Everything he did was nice but nothing wowed me. Again though, he is a very talented skater and hopefully can develop more in the next few years.

Lambiel again put on a fantastic display. He is a pleasure to watch and you can see his passion for the sport. His combination jump, quad toe-double toe, had a major touch down (a backward drag to be precise) but for me this shows how hard he has trained for this event as most other athletes would not have even thought about getting the second part of the combination on; true grit and determination!

It is encouraging to see that places 7 -11 are occupied by younger competitors, the oldest being 20 years of age. In particular I think young Denis Ten and also Brezina show a lot of prospect for the future and are definitely names to look for in a few years time.

Belgium’s van der Perren produced probably his best skate of the season at the most important competition of his life. This is the sign of a true competitor and displays the ability to produce a magnificent performance when it’s needed.

I suppose the biggest shock of the event was Joubert. He showed such promise at Europeans but just wasn’t able to produce it on the day. I feel for him as he is a hard worker, and is capable of much better. With a mistake on the combo and on the Lutz, then performing slightly under-par on the steps and spins, it was inevitable he would not be able to pose a threat for a medal. I’m sure we will see a completely different skater in the free program and believe he is still one of the best skaters in the world.

It is interesting that the lengthy debate of program training and technique between Europe, America and Asia has been given a simple answer in the short program in Vancouver . . . THEY ALL WORK!!! The top three all represent one of the continents. I would say that Asia has really battled to gain the rankings they are achieving and are now established as a major force in Figure Skating.

I am eagerly awaiting the free program!

SUMMARY

Programs:

Best technical = Plushenko. He showed guts to go for the quad combo and showed strength on the other elements.

Most entertaining = Contesti. His light-hearted cowboy themed program brings the crowd alive and shows just how fun the sport can be.

Best expression = Takahashi. His routine had facial expression, musicality and style. Very well performed and choreographed!

Least expression = Oda lacked his usual sparkle for me. Not capturing the essence of the piece. I hope he returns to normal form in the free.

Costumes:

Liked - again Contesti. It fits the music perfectly, it’s original, unique and quirky.

Disliked – Lambiel. I think it was too much. He could have had a more modern approach and less distraction from his skating.

I think Lysacek’s costume was too undefined, it didn’t show any of his lines and had no real definition, shape or structure. However this could have been the TV as it may have looked different live.

It’s a pity that in today’s figure skating, free skaters don’t get to skate to music with lyrics!

It’s great that in today’s figure skating, all aspects of the sport (i.e. steps, spins and jumps) are taken into account.

Hope you enjoy the rest of the Olympic Games 2010!!!!

Best Wishes

David Richardson

 






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