Why Rest Will Help Jeremy Abbott Later in Sochi

Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistFebruary 9, 2014

Jeremy Abbott reacts after skating  in the men's free skate at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Boston, Sunday, Jan. 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Elise Amendola/Associated Press

Jeremy Abbott will have his chance for redemption in the second week of Olympic competition.

He will be well-rested. To the surprise of almost nobody, the Associated Press (h/t ESPN.com) reports that U.S. Figure Skating gave Jason Brown the nod to step in and compete in the free skate portion of the team competition in place of Abbott.

Abbott was a part of the team and skated in the short portion of the men's program. Yes, he fell on his quad jump and, yes, he received a low score of 65.65 from the judges. He has to live with that.

Abbott will be back in the pressure cooker in Sochi. He will have his opportunity for individual glory in men's figure skating. He can go into the event without any guilt or frustration from the team portion of the competition hanging over his head. That event will be long over by the time he takes the ice in the men's individual skating.

Abbott suffered an embarrassing fall in his first effort in Sochi. He has also struggled mightily in international competition in his career. His biggest frustration came in Vancouver at the 2010 Olympics, when he finished ninth in men's figure skating.

However, he has won four of the last six U.S. Championships and deserves to be at the Olympics. As long as he realizes that himself, he has a chance to turn around his international record and put himself in an excellent position to contend for a medal.

The competition will be formidable. Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu and Canada's Patrick Chan are the gold- and silver-medal favorites in men's figure skating, while Spain's Javier Fernandez is also a top skater who could challenge the top two.

However, there is no reason that a confident Abbott can't challenge to get on the medal stand.

Steven Senne/Associated Press

He will be well-rested and well-practiced. He also has one other thing going for him: He loves the ice in Sochi. That's a huge factor for any skater. 

Many figure skaters can get undone mentally and emotionally if the ice is not to their liking. That's not the case for Abbott, who clearly is appreciative of the quality of the Sochi ice under his skates.

“It’s kind of an odd mixture of speed skating and figure skating,” Abbott told USA Today (h/t Detroit Free Press). “Usually, when the ice is springy and soft, it doesn’t have a lot of glide. You have to really work to push. Then usually when it’s fast, it’s very hard and you don’t get a lot of spring for your jumps.

“This is like a cool mixture of the two, where you get a lot of speed across the ice but there’s still a lot of spring to it.”

The positive ice conditions mean that Abbott is going to bring a positive mental attitude with him when he takes the ice in the men's competition, instead of being forced to worry about what will go wrong next. 

The rest factor will also come into play. Not the physical rest, but the mental and emotional rest. If Abbott had been selected to skate the long program in the team portion of the skating, he might have carried that with him for several days after the event. It could have impacted his preparation negatively.

Since U.S. Figure Skating went with Brown, Abbott didn't have to be concerned with the team portion of the competition.

In the end, it will come down to execution. Abbott will try to execute his quad jump and the other elements of his program. If his technique is solid, he will have a chance to bring home an Olympic medal.

If he doesn't, he will have to live with that. The pressure on this veteran skater will be significant, but that's the case for every skater in the competition. He will be prepared and well-rested.

He will have no excuses.