Thursday, February 13, 2014

Olympic preview: Men

Short program: 13th February h 19.00
Free skate: 14th February h 19.00

In the Men event the medal contention is extremely open and a there is a wide bunch of competitors who could fight for the gold medal.
Patrick Chan is surely one of the favourites for the Olympic title. The three times world champion has had a very consistent season showing incredibly strong performances as he did at the Trophee Eris Bompard. He is an incredibly complete athlete with a supreme skating quality. If he skates at his best, no one would be al├Čble to take his gold medal away. However this season's experience has proved that he doesn't have much room for mistakes as in the past, but any insecurity could be a dangerous advantage to others.
The Canadian champion has indeed a strong competition ahead: Yuzuru Hanyu on top is a gold medal thread. Yuzuru Hanyu is the male skater who has improved the most in the last couple of years: after winning the bronze medal at the 2012 World Championships, he started to collect success after success. He has an incredible capability of getting a lot of points with jumps. He is the only one who has equalled and bettered Chan's scores. He has a very strong short program and a challenging free skate with two quads and two triple axels in the second half of the program. He has never been able to nail his quad salchow in this season, but his technical scores have always been very high for a solid quad toe and the two amazing triple axels. If he gets the salchow done, he won't have competition on the technical mark.

Japan has a medal shot from its other two skaters Tatsuki Machida and Daisuke Takahashi. Tatsuki Machida has been the surprise of the Japanese team of the season. Although he had showed his talent even before, Machida had an incredible improvement this year climbing the national ranking up to becoming the Japanese silver medalist behind Hanyu. He has both a pretty good solidity on jumps and other technical elements  and a good quality of skating (provided by the typical Japanese knee bend), often under rated. Considering the strong field, Tatsuki doesn't have an easy way to the podium, but if anyone collapses, he may very well sneak in.
Daisuke Takahashi, the 2010 Olympic bronze medalist, has had a tough fall season that culminated with the fourth place at Nationals. He has struggled with his jumps all season long and in this sense the Morozov coaching hasn't helped him at all. But whenever he nails them, he becomes one of the most competitive skater in the world. As it has been reported, Daisuke has been struggling in his recent practices in Sochi, so that it is difficult to consider him a medal thread, even though he has the potential to battle for the gold.

Javier Fernandez of Spain has been struggling in his grand prix series as well, but a brilliant outcome at European Nationals did put him back in the list of strong competitors going for an Olympic medal. He wasn't perfect in Budapest, anyway he proved to be solid on his most valuable jumps and if he fixes his pointed jumps, in which he usually struggles the most, his skating should be worth a top three finish.

Something needs to be said about Eugeni Plushenko. After all he has been through, just few imagined he could have been a top contender in Sochi. However, he proved in the team event to be physically and emotionally ready to challenge in his last Olympics. Despite the several surgeries and injuries of the last couple of years, he managed a super clean short program and a good free skate, where he wasn't perfect, especially in the second half, but nailed a quad and a couple of stunning triple axels in a somehow conservative program. He will need to give everything he has in the individual event if he wants to medal in such a tough competition. Probably, even considering that he shouldn't get the same components score as some others mostly due to a lack of transitions, he won't be able to get the gold here. Yet, his incredible experience might take him ahead of younger competitors.

Gold: Patrick Chan
Silver: Eugeni Plushenko
Bronze: Yuzuru Hanyu

1 comment:

  1. I love watching a good session of ice skating. It is often refreshing to watch not only the ladies but also the men be so graceful.