2002 Olympics - Men's Short Program

A.H.Black

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Since the season ended, I have been catching up. I found so many great videos on the Olympic Channel. In the US, until recently, we had no access to video of ALL the performances. It was so great to watch the 2002 coverage. I thought I would share the Men's event. I made notes for friends so please excuse some of the personal references and my apologies for typos and grammar mistakes.

https://olympics.com/en/video/men-s-short-program-figure-skating-salt-lake-city-2002-replays

Here's the results -

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Figure_skating_at_the_2002_Winter_Olympics_–_Men's_singles


2002 Olympics - Men’s Short

So nice to see all of this competition. At the time NBC never showed all the skaters and there was no streaming. They did show the entire competition to those who had the new “HD”, however, that was so new that very, very few people had it and I never did see a recording of it. Youtube didn’t exist at the time and the availability of foreign broadcasts was something I wouldn’t have thought of. I thought I was so privileged to be able to have a timer to record my video tapes. Dvds were still pretty new and expensive.

I was lucky enough to volunteer as an ice patcher for the Olympic Games in 2002. I was able to see every figure skating event in person, either as a patcher or in the audience. Two of the greatest weeks for which I waited for most of my life. For men's short, we were in the nose bleed seats on the side opposite the judges.

When did I become such a fan of the “new” scoring system? While watching the videos I kept thinking about difficulty and edges and landings. I also thought about component marks and transitions and spin quality and on and on. I know the current system is not at all perfect, but in hindsight, I like it much better.

First warm-up - Ah for the days when there was a blind draw. I wish they still used it. With the old scoring system it really made a difference if you skated early. Now, not so much. Media/money has really changed the structure of the sport, although, the best skaters are still the best skaters. Much of the audience didn’t arrive in time to see some of the best skaters.

Michael Weiss - Skating first definitely affected Michael’s placement, however, not as much as it might have. That quad was 2-footed and only having a 2t on the end was a problem. The axel was not his best. Nice lutz with a good edge. Liked the costume and I think it would hold up today. I’m an arms and hands person. Even though Michael had the right “presence” for Malaguena, I always felt like he wasn’t stretched out through the shoulders and arms. He looked muscle bound to me (I remember he was weight training) even though he didn’t have over-developed muscles. He did look very fit.

Sergei Davydov - Lots of crossovers. The first of the 3 axel /3 toe combinations (good one). I don’t think I ever understood how/why a 3A/3t with a 2A in the short program was better than a 3A with a 3/3 combination of lutz or a flip. Now, of course, this is not an option. This was a good program from Davydov. Good spins.

Stephane Lambiel - A very young looking Lambiel. He always had trouble with the axel and had to hang on to the double axel in the short. The rest of the jumps 3Z/3t and 3F were fine, not spectacular. His spins were there and definitely the strong point. Had a wonderful headless scratch spin at the end. I miss good scratch spins. I know my main problem with that program is I don’t like Tangos and this music was not my favorite, whether it was an actual tango or not.

Lee Kyu-Hyun - I’m sure his goal was to try to make it to the free program. The program itself was a full, well choreographed effort. All the jumps had issues but he stayed on his feet. There was no mention of North or South Korea. I don’t think the Koreas competed together. I think North Korea didn’t have a teal that year.

Vakhtang Murvanidze - That 3A was so sideways it had no chance. Since that would have been the combination, there was no combination. The lutz and 2A were fine. So nice that he put a smile on his face and enjoyed the rest of the program. The audience loved his positive attitude.

Group 2 warm-up

Emmanuel Sandhu - withdrew. I don’t think we were surprised.

Margus Hernits - Too bad about the popped axel. I always wished skaters would practice the skill of substituting on the fly. He could so easily have done a combination later in the program. The popped axel would have been much less of a problem. I know a lot of skaters just can’t rearrange programs. I keep thinking it is a skill that can be practiced. Hernits is a skater that is all legs. If I just look at his face I think he is short and little. I was always surprised by the legs.

Roman Skorniakov - Ilia Malinin certainly reminds me of his dad in build - has his mom’s coloring. Too bad about the axel/toe. At least he didn’t abandon the combination attempt and got partial credit for it. He had a good free leg position in his sit spins. It’s unusual for a skater to have a strong free leg position in both legs. I notice Ilia has adopted different positions in his sit spins - probably for more points according to difficulty levels. I liked the attempt at a fully realized choreographed program although I thought it could have been stronger.

Brian Joubert - really young looking in 2002. The axel was under-rotated, thus the wonky landing. The quad was a good attempt - too bad about the 2 toe. He was always appealing on the ice but never committed to the performance side of things. I didn’t think this music suited him or skating in general.

Gheorghe Chiper - One of my least favorite things in any performance of any kind is when the performer signals/begs/demands more applause. I wish Gheorghe had not felt the need to do so. He really gave it his all in the performance. Hanging onto the Axel was quite a feat. I’m not sure if the toe loop was supposed to be a triple. Too bad about the 2Axel. The spins all needed work, especially the positions. I also wish he had better hands.

Anthony Liu - Really nice quad toe! I might have had him ahead of Michael Weiss except for the 2Axel. Very good speed all the way through. Sort of a “heavy” skater - in the style of skating, not appearance - but the speed makes the heaviness effective. Nice camel position too.

Ice make. Group 3 warm-up

Yosuke Takeuchi - Takeuchi was one of those skaters that worked really hard in practice bot the jumps just did happen in performance. We watched him in both 4 Continents in 2001 and here in the Olympics. He was someone you noticed in practice. I liked the flamboyance of his performance and it went with the costume. Too bad about the 2 Axel and the combination. I don’t know if the first jump of the combination was supposed to be his quad - that’s where he usually did it - but I don’t think so. I’m glad he made the free program; last one in.

Li Chengjing - Great program. Gorgeous quad. The 3Axel/3toe was also really good. Looking at the marks, the judges were clearly leaving room for other skaters above him - especially on the technical marks. He was always a precise performer rather than an emotional one. I thought the performance marks were right.

Alexei Yagudin - This “Winter” program still holds up today for me. No, it wouldn’t medal now, but it was a complete program where Alexei paid attention to all the elements, spins, jumps and footwork. His performance ability was equal to the best skaters today or at any time as he reached the audience and drew them to him. My only complaint is he threw snow too many times - once or at the most, twice would have been better.

Takeshi Honda - I had completely forgotten how well Takeshi skated in the short. The jumps were not quite as good as Yagudin’s, as well as the spins, which could have been stronger. Honda didn’t draw in the crowd, but performed a set program of choreography which drew in the crowd as he got going after successfully completing the jumps. I think the placing and scores were correct.

Dmitri Dmitrenko - At least he got a combination in after the problem with the 3Axel. Every jump looked like a herculean effort, even the 2Axel. That said, I had forgotten about this costume. It belongs on any costume foul list in existence. I remember people not liking Evan Lysacek’s snake in 2010, but this tops that one for bad costuming by a mile. He was so invested in the program and that’s commendable but I just couldn’t see it for the costume.

Li Yunfei - He was really happy with the program. I was less impressed. I’m sure he was excited to land the quad with only a hand down and to get in the combination. I thought the 2axel was unimpressive. Yunfei is so long through the body that his legs are pretty short. I wonder if it affected his jumping.

Group 4 warm-up

Evgeni Plushenko - Should not have been 4rd after short - under the old or the new scoring system. He didn’t have a combination, fell on the quad attempt, and the quad was under-rotated. At the time I kind of accepted it as the “way things were” even though I didn’t like it. Now, I hope I wouldn’t have to accept it and the code of points would have put him much lower. I acknowledge that Plushenko did have performance skills. I just didn’t like his style.

Zhang Min - HIs jumps seem to be for distance rather than up in the air. Too bad about the fall on the quad but it was all the way around. He does perform the choreographic moves but doesn’t have much presence on the ice. I found myself losing interest at the end.

Timothy Goebel - That smile! Great program for Timothy. The quad salchow was a good one - maybe a quarter turn short but not more and in those days that didn’t matter a bit. He always had a very good sit spin position, on both legs. Timothy was the first skater where I was aware that they “fixed” a technique problem. He always had problems with his axel and when he went to Frank Carroll, Frank was able to find a method where Timothy could not only land the axel but do it well.

Ivan Dinev - It’s a tango - have I mentioned I don’t like tangoes? I didn’t remember Ivan having such high jumps. Lots of air under that axel. I wish all the men who tried quads had planned for a different combination in case of a fall. So few succeeded. I loved the flying sit spin - great height and good position. It was an effective program. Plushenko’s marks should have been closer to Dinev’s or vice versa.

Zoltan Toth - Disappointing that he could land a quad combination (even though the quad was two footed), but didn’t even try a 3axel. I thought the music did him a disservice. It was pretty but way too even with no highlights or places of emphasis. His presentation got completely lost in all the sameness.

Angelo Dolfini - Has a natural, dapper, confident presence on the ice that is attractive. I loved the position on the first of the sit spin - powerful and strong. The music and the performance worked. Jumping was not his strength. He seemed very happy to be on his feet after the Axel.

Ice make. Group 5 warm-up.

Alexander Abt - Should have been ahead of Plushenko. His quad combination was as good as anyone’s except Yagudin and maybe Honda. His triples were all slightly under-rotated, but those things weren’t watched then. And there is a much younger Rafael Arutunian with the familiar shake of the head and an unfamiliar jacket and tie. I remember at the time, I just shrugged this off. It’s still all I can do.

Todd Eldridge - It ‘s hard to watch this now. It’s hard to see Kristi emotional at the end. It wasn’t so much the quad (it looked all the way around, by the way), it was the Axel - could have been, and so often was, glorious. I always loved his spins and the footwork and music were very effective. The scratch spin at the end was wonderful. There are other performances from the season that I prefer to watch.

Frederic Dambier - I didn’t remember he had a quad salchow. It was pretty good - all the way around. I would have been great if he could have managed a 3toe after instead of a 2toe. Too bad about slipping off that axel. I wasn’t captivated by the rest of it although I do like the music.

Kevin Van Der Perren - Very good program for him and was he happy. One of the nicest (if not the best) of the 3Axel/3toe combinations of the day. Very easy and smooth. That said, his hands needed a lot of work not to mention his spins. In the current scoring system, he would have lost tons of points on those spins. Nice to see him so happy. He and Timothy Goebbel can fight it out over who’s reaction was the best.

Sergei Rylov - Everything looked like it needed work. He didn’t pull in on the jumps. The spin positions could have been much better. He did look like he had pretty good speed. He also looked like he was really hard on himself. Good to see him pull himself together, realize he as at the Olympics and wave to the crown.

Elvis Stojko - If I remember right, Elvis had a groin injury that he didn’t talk about till afterward. It was evident in the landing of the quad - so good that he was able to get the 3toe afterward. The axel was great. Elvis was never artistic, but he was a performer. He was very aware of the audience and played to them first. The bobble on the camel spin at the end - I wonder if that was injury related too. This Kodo Drums program was probably his most memorable.

And that’s it. The standings after the short were pretty right with the exception that Plushenko should have been in 6th or 7th at least. I wonder how the medals would have changed.
 

Bouffantrex

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210
Heartbreaking short program for Todd. Attempting the quad in the short program was a questionable decision at best, but like you noted, his problem here was the 3A.

Unfortunately, even if he skated clean in both segments of the competition (without quads), the best he could have managed was fourth place if everything worked in his favor (including fair short program judging of Plushenko):

1-1 Yagudin 1.5
3-3 Goebel 4.5
6-2 Plushenko 5.0
4-4 Eldredge 6.0
2-5 Honda 6.0
5-6 Abt 8.5

To have a chance at a medal, Todd needed a perfectly clean SP and a perfectly clean LP, including the 4T, to win the LP over Goebel. A tall order, and I don't think it would be enough to get the nod over Goebel, who had the momentum and Frank Carroll politicking machine behind him that season. Too bad, but Todd's skating and programs have stood the test of time and I find myself drawn to watching his programs via YouTube frequently. The last time I had any desire to watch Tim Goebel, I was having indiscriminate sex and wearing Juicy Couture track suits. Needless to say, it's been many years.
 

Vash01

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Yagudin was superb! I was so happy to see his skate live! I was very disappointed when Plushenko couldn't do a clean quad. I had wanted to see a duel between the top two. Plushenko placed 4th in the SP. It pretty much sealed Yagudin's gold. In the 6.0 system someone had to beat Yagudin in the LP, and Plushenko had to win the LP. It was not going to happen.

Goebel skated clean, with a quad. Honda skated very well, but I knew that neither could beat Yagudin in the LP.

I don't remember a lot (it was 20 years ago). What I do remember is-

Eldredge had a terrible SP. He needed to save the quad for the LP. Using it in the SP put too much pressure on him and he didn't even complete what he used to be capable of. I was so disappointed for him!

I noticed 17 year old Stephane Lambiel as someone with high potential. He far exceeded my expectations in his career.

I don't remember Abt at all, though I always liked his skating. He always struggled with the quad though and often two footed it. Oddly I don't remember Stojko's SP. He was not a medal contender in 2002, but I wanted him to skate well.
 
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A.H.Black

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I didn't remember Abt much either until I watched this time through. He easily deserved to be ahead of Plushenko in the short. It was the days where reputation and hype still counted for a lot in the judging and results. They could say that so and so had better spins, or artistry - or they could say that someone tried a harder jump so they deserved a higher ranking. This was not the case with Abt, who had the same difficulty as Plushenko, and landed it.

Usually the judges were pretty good at ranking the skaters and getting them in the right order. I used to have issues with lower placements - 6-10 where the judging would get sloppy. This time, though, Plushenko was truly held up by the judging panel - and not just by the Russian block of judges. Of course, I'm looking at this now through the lens of the current scoring system. Missing the entire combination in the short is about 15-20 +/- points these days. Almost impossible to recover from unless everyone else also has serious problems.
 

Ananas Astra

In the Center of Scrutiny from all Directions
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I didn't remember Abt much either until I watched this time through. He easily deserved to be ahead of Plushenko in the short. It was the days where reputation and hype still counted for a lot in the judging and results. They could say that so and so had better spins, or artistry - or they could say that someone tried a harder jump so they deserved a higher ranking. This was not the case with Abt, who had the same difficulty as Plushenko, and landed it.
IMHO Abt also had much better spins than Plushenko. His camel spin was one of the very best ones ever.
 

Marco

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I would have had Abt, Li, Weiss, and maybe even Stojko ahead of Plushenko in the short.

The top 3 skated wonderfully but I especially loved Honda's DQ. He started a great streak of wonderfully musical top Japanese male skaters.

I don't recall Eldredge's success rate on the 4toe during SLC practices, but he had never landed the jump cleanly in competition (not yet even the way Weiss landed his) that perhaps he shouldn't have tried it in the short there when the pressure was that much higher. He probably could have been 4th if he was clean without it. Still, he wouldn't have been able to catch Goebel in the free with 3 quads since he would at most do one.
 

A.H.Black

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Todd's quad wasn't all that bad (muscled with his free leg brushing the ice) - the 2toe wasn't very good but he got a combination, at least. It was the 3axel that killed his chances. If the axel had been great - as usual - I wonder where he would have been in the short. He had enough reputation to pull him up in the standings.
 
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