Jeremy Abbott's quest to atone for his disappointing Olympic performance four years ago has ended in failure.
Abbott finished Friday's free skate with an a score of 160.12, giving him a 232.70 overall, which was good enough for a 12th-place finish, according to the official results.
The 28-year-old Colorado native finished behind gold medalist Yuzuyu Hanyu, who capped a brilliant run with a score of 280.09. Patrick Chan came in second to score a silver medal, while Denis Ten rounded out the medalists with bronze.
Heading into the free skate, Abbott had dug himself a bit of a hole. He was in just 15th place following the short program, an unspectacular run reminiscent of his time in Vancouver. There was a slight chance he would come back and contend for a medal, but it would have taken quite a bit of help and an absolutely flawless run Friday to make it happen.
Heading into Sochi, Abbott was considered possibly the United States' best chance at a medal but an overall longshot. The United States were not selected to win any individual medals by the Associated Press, their deep coffers of solid skaters not quite matching up to the elite in other countries. Ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White, picked for gold, were the only U.S. favorites in non-team competition.
Abbott himself has a history of struggling on the world stage. While he is a four-time national champion in U.S. competition, Abbott's only Olympic medal was a bronze in the inaugural team skate—an effort which he did not help much. Abbot skated through a poor short program and told Nancy Armour of USA Today, he's completely acquiesced to the desires of his coaches to do better:
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.
Still, Abbott was always at a disadvantage considering the stellar field. Reigning world No. 1 skater Patrick Chan from Canada was the overwhelming favorite for gold, his past four years since Vancouver being spent establishing himself as a dominant force on the world circuit.
Japan also had its own up-and-comer in 18-year-old Yuzuru Hanyu, who threw down a gauntlet in the team short program with a near-perfect score. With Javier Fernandez of Spain among others also looking to medal for their country, the United States seemed like a secondary fixture on ice.
With American Jason Brown finishing in ninth, the expectation mostly played out.
White and Davis are the remaining hope for the United States going forward. The Russians have dominated the ladies' side thus far, and there has been little indication of why that would change.
Either way, at age 28 and well into his skating career, Abbott's Olympic career may be over. It's too bad that he couldn't get over the hump.
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