Sochi 2014: Ambiguous Olympics

Yuna Kim at Sochi Olympics

By Lusy Gensirovsky

Sochi Olympics were ambiguous, controversial and left mixed feelings. Maybe that is why it is so difficult to write about them.

A few words about the team event. It was not a very well thought-out idea to arrange such a difficult tournament before the individual competitions but what’s done – is done. Nevertheless, it’s somehow difficult to take received titles and medals there too seriously. In general, the event left a strange impression, though, if we say that “we want more figure skating”, then yes, the event makes sense, of course.

I would not like to mention the situation around Plushenko and at the same time it’s impossible to say nothing about him. I confine myself to the fact that he performed with dignity in the short program at the team event. As for his free skating, it is possible to argue with the points he got but as an athlete he really did all he can, and we need to give him credit for that. As for his points, well, it is not athletes’ responsibility to give this or that overall result.

The meaning of the team event seems to have remained not fully understood nor by the audience, nor by the skaters. Received medals there seem to me a sort of “semi-medals”, perhaps except for those skaters who got medals performing in both programs.

As for the individual Olympic events, let’s start from men.

A true pleasure from watching men’s event started from performances of Jason Brown of the U.S. His bright personality, artistry, musicality and special energy – all captures the attention of spectators. However, in a free skating he made mistakes even on triples, so he finished Olympics in ninth place, which is an excellent debut for yesterday’s junior skater.

Brian Joubert of France and Tomas Verner of Czech Rep. performed very worthy and pleased their fans at the event that ended their competitive career. Bravo, Brian and Tomas, bravo and thank you. We will all greatly miss you. It was a beautiful completion of your career.

I always feel sad about so strict evaluation of Canada’s Kevin Reynolds, a fearless fighter who again and again storms the highest peaks quads. Perhaps one day he will skate so perfectly that no one can find any mistake. The main thing for him is not to lose motivation. Unfortunately, it’s very easy to lose it being on places where ISU places him.

Jeremy Abbott. This would seem to be sensitive to any psychological pressure skater, who holds four US national titles, did not show almost anything outstanding at major international competitions before Sochi Olympics. No one expected any “breakthrough” from him in Russia, although he was well-prepared and very motivated coming to his last skating events.

In the short program, Jeremy landed badly, falling so hard and painful that did not get up twenty seconds! But he found the strength to not only to stand up but to worthy skate the rest of his program. And who will now tell about psychological instability of this hero of the Games?

After the short program judges put athletes placed from third to tenth place with gaps in a couple of points and thus, giving each of them a chance to fight for the bronze, to keep the intrigue. They “unhooked” only Patrick Chan and Yuzuru Hanyu. The Japanese skater in the short program showed his best and the most brilliant performance in his career.

Nobody knows what would get Patrick in case of clean skating. But unfortunately, both favorite made mistakes affected by tension and closeness of gold medal.

Kazakhstani Denis Ten used his chance and got the historical bronze for his country.

In general, men’s competition brought to skaters and fans a lot of disappointment.

Without medals remained almost mystical in his energy Daisuke Takahashi of Japan. I do not even want to think about that maybe we will not meet with Takahashi at competitions anymore. It is unclear whether he will take part in the World Championships, but, anyway, it is obvious that this season is the end of his career. And here it becomes even more obvious that we love athletes not for places and titles – certainly it’s probably sad for Takahashi to leave sport without a medal from his last Olympics – but because of that we will not love him less, on the contrary, even more.

In pair skating, Russia’s Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov made no surprise by winning the gold. But the surprise came from another Russian pair Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov, who, perhaps unexpectedly even for themselves, took the silver and beat famous Germans Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy.

It’s infinitely sorry for Aliona and Robin, who definitely decided to stay after Vancouver not for getting the bronze medal in Sochi.

In ladies skating the biggest sadness for me was a short program of Japan’s Mao Asada. Mao was worthy to be among the winners, especially taking into account her true champion’s free skating performance. Unfortunately, the judging panel sent Mao far away from podium a day before.

The first place of Russia’s Adelina Sotnikova caused a controversial reaction in the skating community. Nevertheless, this still very young skater showed on the ice all she could and showed it quite successfully. A question about deserved or undeserved points and medals is the responsibility of other people.

Korea’s Yuna Kim seemingly has not changed over the past four years. She rarely pleased us with her appearance after Vancouver Olympics, but in Sochi she appeared in her best shape and proved once again that today she is one of the best and brightest skaters in the world.

Both performances of Italy’s Carolina Kostner were clean breath of air. It was a happiness to see her so free, beautiful, accurate and totally uninhibited. Sorry if she finishes career soon and wonderful that she was able to win so long awaited Olympic medal.

Separately it is necessary to say about Julia Lipnitskaia. After the absolutely stunning victory in the team event Julia got a sea of people’s love – or rather, not even the sea – a squall, storm that knocking down and sweeping away everything in its path, including the girl herself. Perhaps this is one of the reasons of her mistakes in individual competitions.

However, Julia is still very young and the experience that she got at the Olympics is priceless. As well as her indisputable and absolutely deserved gold medal in the team event.

Ice Dance. If the first two places have long been “ordained” , the battle for the bronze was really dramatic.

The talented and young Russian couple of Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov at the right time were able to prove that they are real contenders for the Olympic podium. This bronze for them is the biggest victory to date.

There were no doubt that Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White will get the gold. Meryl and Charlie confidently gained a record number of points throughout the season, so this victory was probably natural. They are incredibly talented, skillful and hard-working skaters.

Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir skated as if they took the ice for the last time. Most likely, it was a farewell. They showed an absolute immersion into the music, full and complete interaction. It was full of love and tenderness performance. It was the moment that causes sincere tears.

Probably, the Olympics is always a drama and often it is also a tragic situation for many athletes. That’s why it is impossible not to admire their courage and bravery.

Special thanks to those who said goodbye to us, giving a real celebration at their last events. We will always miss you.

Olympic Games brought us joy and happiness, disappointment and tears. Perhaps it should be so, because there are just three places at the podium and, after all, there are never enough medals.

Photo: Yahoo Sports

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