Why I Love Sports Today: The Olympic Spirit in Plushenko’s Exit, Hanyu’s Record, Abbott’s Fall
It usually takes me a while to get into Olympic figure skating. I think what keeps me from appreciating the sport more is that it’s so hard to work up a basic understanding of what each skater does. It’s obvious when someone falls or looks shaky coming out of a jump, and you can generally tell when someone skates well, but I have no idea how the skaters are actually judged. It’s frustrating for me.
However, I rarely turn off Olympic coverage when it’s on, and last night, the men’s short program was sandwiched in between the men’s ski slopestyle competition. So, I kept the figure skating on… and I’m glad I did. I can’t stop thinking about it; the competition was that good, and the Olympic spirit was on full display.
First, Evgeni Plushenko–an athletic hero in Russia–withdrew from his final Olympic competition after aggravating a back injury in warmups. I can’t imagine the heartbreak he must have felt as he skated over to the judges’ table to withdraw… especially in front of his home crowd. The man is a hero in Russia, and I wish he could have done his final two skates before retiring.
But hats off to Plushenko for recognizing that his body was telling him no. It’s a tough thing to admit, even more so on an Olympic stage, but he did the smart thing.
I would have loved to have seen Plushenko face off against Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu, though. Remember, I don’t know how to judge this event, but even I know that Hanyu’s performance last night was one of the best performances of all time (right, Kanye?). For the first time in Olympic history, a skater broke the 100-point mark in the men’s short program, as Hanyu recorded a score of 101.45. If you can find a video of his skate, watch it. It was incredible.
(By the way, Canada’s Patrick Chan posted a 97.52–not too bad either.)
Lastly, last night’s short program made me love sports today because of Jeremy Abbott’s gutsy performance for Team USA. The guy fell–hard–and for a few seconds laid down on the ice in pain holding his side. But somehow, he was able to get up and complete the rest of his program, and actually did it pretty well. His score wasn’t great, but he landed some difficult jumps shortly after staggering to his feet.
It’s the Olympic spirit–a difficult goodbye, a world record performance, and a relentless determination–that today has reminded me of why I love sports.