Vladimir Putin Thinks Plushenko’s Routine Was ‘Worth Gold’
February 19th, 2010 – By John Ritter
Evan Lysacek may have stunned the figure skating world by winning the men’s singles competition at the 2010 Vancouver Games. But his medal is fool’s gold, says Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
Instead of congratulating the American, Putin criticized the event’s judges for their scores, and incinuated countryman Evgeni Plushenko was robbed of the gold medal.
“I would like to sincerely congratulate you on the wonderful Olympic performance — your silver is worth gold,” Putin said in a telegram picked up by Reuters.
Plushenko was favored by USA Online Sportsbooks to win the event, and pulled off the sport’s toughest manuevers in his program, the quad jump, which requires the athlete to do four full spins before landing.
Lysacek did not.
And because of his failure to do so, Plushenko said, should have resulted in major point deductions, and loss of the gold medal.
“You can’t be considered a true men’s champion without the quad,” he told the Russian television station RTR.
Putin agreed, and insisted the Russian was simply a victim of chicanery.
“You were able to overcome all the obstacles in your brave comeback and performed the most accomplished programme on the Vancouver ice,” Putin wrote Plushenko.
Lysacek said that he didn’t do the jump because of an injury. He had tried it before, but injured his foot on the landing, and was still feeling soreness. He argued that the contestants should be judged on the full performance, not just one move.
“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 responded to the AP after the event. “That was my challenge tonight, and I feel like I did quite well.”
To that, Plushenko calls shenanigans.
“For someone to stand on top of the podium with the gold medal around his neck by just doing triple jumps, to me it’s not progress, it’s a regress because we’ve done triples 10 or even 20 years ago,” Plushenko said. “Just doing nice transitions and being artistic is not enough because figure skating is a sport, not a show.”
If Plushenko had won, it would have been a monumental story in Russia. After the pairs competition was coughed up for the first time since 1964, Plushenko was it’s best shot at capturing the title. He went into retirement after winning gold in the 2006 Turin Games, but decided to come back for Vancouver, and looked as good as ever in his routine. He landed a little awkwardly after a couple jumps, but made up for it with more techincal moves and a personality that pleased the audience.
“In the free programme I was the last to skate, did everything clean and still didn’t get the marks,” he said. “I thought I had done enough to get the gold but the judges gave it to someone else.”