[to top of second column]
He's done the quad before, but it puts a lot of stress on the left foot that he broke last year. He originally planned to do the quad here, but after feeling pain in the foot again after last month's U.S. championships, he decided it wasn't worth the risk of getting hurt and having to miss the games.
"If it was a jumping competition, they'd give you 10 seconds to go do your best jump. But it's about 4 minutes and 40 seconds of skating and performing from start to finish," Lysacek said. "That was my challenge tonight, and I feel like I did quite well."
The first of the big guns to skate in the last group, Lysacek seemed more workmanlike than usual for the first three minutes of the program. Everything he did was technically perfect. His jumps had the control and dependability of a fine Swiss timepiece, and his spins were so well-centered you could see the tight little circle of his tracings clear across the ice.
He didn't have all his usual flair and charisma, looking more focused on the tasks at hand. But when he landed his last jump, a double axel, Lysacek let loose. His face was so expressive that budding actors should have taken note, and he fixed the judges with a majestic glare during his circular steps. By the time he finished his final spin, fans were roaring their approval.
The last note of his music was still fading when Lysacek pumped his fists and screamed, "Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!" He clapped his hands and skated to center ice, throwing his arms out wide to the crowd and blowing kisses. As he waited for his marks, he put an arm around Carroll, who had yet to coach a gold medalist despite a list of past and present skaters that reads like a Who's Who on Ice.
"This is just frosting on the cake for me," said Carroll, who coached Linda Fratianne and Michelle Kwan to silver medals and Timothy Goebel to a bronze. "It's not something I coveted after a while. It was something I thought maybe would never happen."
It might not have, had Plushenko been a little better.
He skated with his usual flair and dramatics, drawing laughs from the crowd with his saucy, seductive tango. No one loves the limelight quite like the Russian, and he was in his element. He preened, posed and skated as if certain another gold medal was his.
But Plushenko, who can do jumps in his sleep, was noticeably off. He was crooked in the air on many of his jumps, and had to be part cat to manage to come down on one foot and hold it long enough for it to count. But the funky finishes cost him the bonus points that are the difference between silver and gold. His spins weren't quite as good as Lysacek's, either, and he got fewer points for one of his footwork sections.
"I am happy with my performance today," said Plushenko, who took off his silver medal as soon as he left the ice. "After 3 1/2 years (off) you can win the silver, it's not bad."
We likely haven't seen the last of him, either.
"I knew I would accept any outcome," he said through a translator. "After this defeat, I'm not going to put my hands down and stop."
For Takahashi, third was as good as first or second.
"To be the first Japanese man to win an Olympic medal, I am really proud," he said.
Takahashi is wonderfully expressive, from the bottom of his blades to the tips of his spiky, mop-topped hair. His edge quality is as fine as a master carver's and his blades are like little lightning strikes, allowing him to change directions and turn without losing a millisecond of speed.
It makes for a fast, energetic and very entertaining program, and he infused it with a healthy dose of sass. He played to the judges and the crowd, taking them along for the ride.
His only flaw was a fall on his opening quadruple toe loop -- a jump he hadn't landed all week.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
< Sports index
Back to top
News | Sports | Business | Rural Review | Teaching & Learning | Home and Family | Tourism | Obituaries
Law & Courts |
Spiritual Life |
Health & Fitness |
Calendar | Letters to the Editor