American figure skater Jeremy Abbott put together a respectable but disappointing score of 72.58 in the men's 2014 Winter Olympics short program on Thursday in Sochi, Russia. He is in 15th entering the free skate, where the medalists will be determined.
Abbott finished ninth overall in the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver and isn't likely to find the podium this time around either, barring an unforeseen, sublime performance in the free program—not to mention multiple misses from the top competitors.
This is in part thanks to a rough fall while trying to land a quadruple jump at the start of Abbott's routine that threatened to end the performance right there.
However, after a few moments of defeat, Abbott brushed off the ice and continued on. As Philip Hersh of the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune noted:
Abbott impressively finished the routine, and the crowd showed its appreciation for his toughness (via Juliet Macur of The New York Times):
Abbott talked about the fall after his routine (via Nick McCarvel of NBC Sports):
The 28-year-old placed seventh in the short program during the inaugural team competition, where the USA captured the bronze medal while the Russian hosts dominated en route to the gold.
Hersh pulled no punches in assessing Abbott's underwhelming team performance:
Unfortunately, Abbott didn't do anything to quiet the critics in the individual short program either.
That team short program letdown is something Abbott attributed to life in the village, where the second-time Olympian felt he was in a state of apathy and didn't stay with his schedule. Lacking attention to detail can be detrimental in many sports, and Abbott felt he couldn't resist the village lifestyle—so much so that he left and checked into a hotel close by to avoid the temptations.
After four years of hard training to get back to this massive stage, it makes sense that Abbott is doing all he can to focus. He discussed how he felt about his efforts in the team short program in a Tuesday report by USA Today's Nancy Armour:
The short program was a disappointment. But I think it was kind of exactly what I needed looking forward. Like I said, I was extremely upset that I did that for my team. … I felt like I let the team down.
(But) it made me really look at how I was structuring the competition and how I was approaching it mentally. We've restructured this games so it's much more normal for me.
As a four-time U.S. champion, more was expected from Abbott at the Vancouver Games, and he also underwhelmed in his program for the team competition. Although he's ranked 29th in the world as an individual, per ISUResults.com, he has flashed more talent and potential over the years than that spot suggests.
This run in Thursday's short program was disappointing for Abbott as he prepares for the free skate on Friday, where he will do the best he can to represent the USA.
All the extra work Abbott did to get his mind right for the competition wasn't quite enough to put himself into medal contention. At least he shouldn't be second-guessing and pondering what could have been if he did indeed follow through on his stricter regimen.
Since this is likely at least his penultimate showing at the Olympics, Abbott's finish—regardless of the result—won't be due to a lack of diligence or preparation.