Vancouver / Canada

The figure skating competition at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games continued in Vancouver, Canada, on Thursday with the Men’s Free Skating. 11, 689 tickets were sold for the event at the Pacific Coliseum.

Evan Lysacek (USA) skates to gold
Evan Lysacek (USA) skated to Gold in a nerve-racking Men’s Free Skating, upsetting defending Olympic Champion Evgeni Plushenko of Russia and becoming the first US man to take Olympic Gold since Brian Boitano in 1988. Daisuke Takahashi claimed the bronze, the first Olympic medal in Men’s Figure Skating for Japan.

Skating first in the last group, Lysacek knew that he had no room for error and reeled off eight triples, including two Axels, in his routine to “Sheherazade”. Lysacek pumped his fist during his final spin and the crowd rose to their feet. The reigning World Champion scored a personal best of 167.37 points (84.57 element score/82.80 program component score) and accumulated 257.67 points overall. He edged out Plushenko by just 1.31 points. “That’s my best free program this season. To do your best when it counts most. I tried not to get too excited after each jump”, Lysacek commented. “I probably knew it was my best skate ever. It was not just one section of the program that was strong, but it was strong from start to finish and I guess that was the key tonight.”

Plushenko, who skated last, gave a dramatic performance of his “Tango Amore” routine, nailing a quad-triple toeloop combination and six triple jumps, but one spin got a level three and he was a little shaky on two jumps. The crowd gave him a standing ovation as well and  the Russian raised his arms in triumph as he finished. The 27-year-old earned 165.51 points (82.71/82.80) and slipped to second at 256.36 points. Plushenko added a third Olympic medal to his gold from 2006 and his silver from 2002. Only one man has won more medals Olympic Figure Skating – Gilles Grafström of Sweden took three gold and one silver from 1920 to 1932. “I was sure that I had won my second Olympic Games”, Plushenko admitted. “I thought it was enough and it should have been enough. As I said earlier, I’d accept any result and silver is great, but nevertheless it was a defeat today”, he continued.

Takahashi risked everything, went for the quad toe but missed. Unfazed, the Japanese nailed seven clean triples after that and entertained the crowd with his detailed choreography to “La Strada”. Takahashi picked up a seasons best score of 156.98 points and was ranked fifth in the Free Skating, but held on to third place at 247.23 points. “When I knew that I had won a bronze medal, I was so emotional. I was in tears”, Takashi said. “There were parts of my program that weren’t perfect, including the quad. But to finish where I am in the Olympic Games feels so good”, Takahashi went on. “I was injured a year ago and couldn’t skate. I never thought that I would recover well enough to be back here on the Olympic stage”, he added, referring to his knee injury that sidelined him the past season.

2006 Olympic silver medalist Stéphane Lambiel (SUI) looked tentative in his “La Traviata” program and touched down with his hand on his opening quadruple toeloop. He also two-footed the second quad toe, but moved up one spot to fourth with 246.72 points, less than one point behind Takahashi.

Reigning World silver medalist Patrick Chan (CAN) landed six clean triple jumps, but fell on a triple Axel to place fifth in his Olympic debut. Johnny Weir (USA) put out a clean program that included eight triple jumps. He remained in sixth place with a total of 238.87 points. Nobunari Oda (JPN) had to interrupt his performance as the laces of his right skating boot had broken. He was ranked seventh (238.54 points). 2007 World Champion Brian Joubert (FRA) was unable to recover from his sub-par performance in the Short Program and finished a distant 16th.

The figure skating competition at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games continues Wednesday with the Compulsory Dance.