Russia makes it official: Plushy is their man

The Russian Skating Federation has made it official: After skating in a closed-door test skate, Evgeny Plushenko will be the man representing them in the men’s event at the Sochi Olympics. As my friend T has said, “If he can walk, they will send him”. The also-rans didn’t help their cases any at Euros. Maxim Kovtun, fresh off of his besting Plushy at Russian Nationals, could only manage fifth place. Sergei Voronov took the silver at Euros, but was a long shot anyway. Konstantin Menshov had a great free skate to take the bronze after being in 11th place after the short (!), but he was never really under consideration. I for one have seen enough Mishin-inspired arm flailing for two lifetimes, but certainly think that Plushy is the Russians’ best shot if his injury-wracked self holds up. Since Russia only qualified one man to the Olympics, this means that Plushenko would have to skate the entire team event plus the men’s event. Countries are allowed to have different skaters skate the short and free in the team event, but the skater has to have qualified to the Olympic team in his/her/their individual event first. I think this may preclude Plushenko’s competing in the team event and then pulling out with an “injury”, with one of the alternates (Kovtun or Voronov) replacing him in the men’s event. However, if there is a way to do it, Russia may find it….

And while on the topic of Euros, I have to say that the artistry (lack of artistry would be a better term) exhibited in the top flight of the men’s event was alarming after seeing Jeremy Abbott, Jason Brown, and Joshua Farris in Boston. IJS programs all the way at Euros (sigh).

The rest of the Russian Olympic team is no surprise. 2014 European Champion Julia Lipnitskaya and European silver medalist Adelina Sotnikova will skate in the ladies’ event (Alena Leonova is the alternate). Volosozhar/Trankov, Baranova/Larionov and Stolbova/Klimov (who won gold, bronze, and silver, respectively, at Euros) will be the pairs, and Bobrova/Soloviyev, Ilinykh/Katsalapov, and Sinitsina/Zhiganshin the dance teams.

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Random thoughts about the Olympic skating season so far….

Apologies for not posting for a while; health issues (sigh). Let’s just say I won’t be sorry to see 2013 in the rear view mirror!! Lots has happened in the skating world, as I’m sure most of you know.

The 2013 Grand Prix season is in the books. I love that there is a competition each week from a spectator standpoint, but that has to be so hard on the skaters to do all of that travel and competition in such a short time. Also, sometimes the competitors’ list from one GP event to the next can be very inconsistent; you can have several top skaters facing off one week, and a relatively weak field the next…

Mao Asada has come back with a vengeance this season. She struggled through some rough times while tearing down and rebuilding her jump technique, and she is now reaping the benefits. The fact that she is the only woman to be doing the triple Axel right now doesn’t hurt either. She is clearly the favorite going into Sochi. Yes, I know, Yu-Na Kim will be competing too, but Zagreb aside, she’s hardly competed in the last few seasons. Asada and Kim will in all likelihood be competing for gold and silver, but there are several contenders for the bronze medal: a bevy of Baby Russians (Lipnitskaya, Sotnikova, et.al.), Kostner, Wagner, Suzuki….

Speaking of the Baby Russians, some of the early candidates are getting older now (of course, “older” is a relative term!!) Elizaveta Tuktamysheva just turned 17, and we’ve seen her struggle this year with the hormonal highway; she’s grown a lot and her jumps have suffered. She is certainly young enough to make a run at 2018 if she adjusts to her body changes, but she is going to have a rough time even making the Russian Olympic team with all of the young talent behind her.

Russian Ladies’ Nationals are going to be tough, but the world’s toughest ticket is probably a spot on the Japanese men’s team. It’s no accident that half of the competitors at the GP Final were Japanese, and Nobunari Oda replaced Daisuke Takahashi, who withdrew due to a right knee bone bruise. The fact that Yuzuru Hanyubeat Patrick Chan at the GP Final was very interesting. We all know about Chan’s sometimes “untouchable-ness” in the eyes of the judges; despite talking a good game, I’m sure Chan was a little shaken by the GP Final result. It certainly makes the Sochi men’s competition more intriguing!!

Max Aaron is obviously trying to show his artistic growth by choosing to skate to Carmen this year, a skating chestnut if ever there was one. Am I the only one thinking that this choice shows a real lack of originality?

At least NBC at least mentioned pairs in some of their Grand Prix broadcasts, but showed virtually none–BOO. Just because it’s the weakest of the American disciplines doesn’t mean it’s not worth watching in the USA.

Other tidbits:

    Evan Lysacek will not be competing at US Nationals, which is not a huge surprise given his injury problems in the last few seasons.

    NBCSN will be broadcasting many Olympic events live, which means (a) set your DVRs or (b) get up in the middle of the night to watch 🙂 !!

    Brian Boitano has come out publicly.