Who Really Won the Olympic Gold Medal: Lysacek or Plushenko?

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Who Really Won the Olympic Gold Medal: Lysacek or Plushenko?
Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Yes, I saw the men's figure skating final Thursday night. Big whoop.

It's the Olympics, and I'm rooting for any American competing—even if it is in figure skating.

That being said, the dreaded C-word has once again showed its ugly face on the ice: controversy.

Thursday, Evan Lysacek became the first American to win the gold medal in men's figure skating since Brian Boitano did it in 1988.

Defending gold medalist Evgeni Plushenko took home the silver—and was not having any of it. In fact, he made it clear that he felt he deserved the gold.

The margin of victory between the two was less than two points—a far cry from the 27-plus-point win Plushenko pulled in 2006 over Stephane Lambiel.

Yes, it was close. But was it fair? Here's my breakdown.

 

Jumps

Lysacek did not have the quad, but he did have eight triples. He knew he had to save some of his toughest jumps for the second half because skaters are rewarded bonus points for every jump done at that point.

His triple-Axel combination, as well as an impressive triple-flip/double-toe/double-loop combination near the end of the program, must've been etched in the judges' heads. With the exception of having to fight for his second triple Axel, his jumps were clean, and his take-offs were first-rate.

Plushenko had the quad, and he nailed it in combination with a triple toe. It was perfection. Then something strange happened: His jumps started to have some mad tilting action, yet he managed to land them. His execution on the jumps hurt a little, and he didn't take into account that jumps in the second half of the program would have helped him.

In the final minute of the program, he had already finished all of his jumps—leaving him to try to impress the judges on his artistry.

 

Artistry

Lysacek is not the best artistic performer. But he did give it his absolute best in the free skate. His face showed so much determination and he fought through every footwork sequence with passion. His spins were probably the best he had ever done. He really wanted this gold.

Plushenko is a jumper, and it seems like he figured that it was the only thing that mattered. His artistry was not as passionate, and the last minute of his performance was so forgettable—not to mention the constant flirting with the judges that looked as if he was saying, "Look at me. I'm No. 1."

His spins did not have the energy and speed that Lysacek had, and he looked sloppy when it was all said and done.

 

Bottom line: Yes, Plushenko had the quad jump, but rules are rules. In the new scoring system, you save your toughest jumps and jump combinations for the end—and that's what Lysacek did by evening out his artistry and jumps throughout the program.

However, I think if the old 6.0 scoring system was still into play, Plushenko might have won.

It's a shame that Plushenko had to act the way he did after winning the silver. Not to dog on Russia, but I've noticed that the U.S.A. has had some pretty happy silver and bronze medal winners so far in these Olympic Games.

Sure, gold is what everybody wants, but winning a medal in the Olympics should be a highlight in one's career.

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