Friday, February 12, 2010

2010 Olympics: Figure Skating Preview

Figure Skating Preview

What would you do if you had a sport that decided its winners based on an arcane scoring system where a random group of people gave scores based on their opinions, and those opinions determined a champion? Well, if you're College Football, you institute the BCS, which in its original forms, rewarded teams for running up the score and blowing out their opponents. Similarly, after the figure skating disaster in Salt Lake City in 2002 where the Russian pairs team won gold despite skating a flawed program, the sport of figure skating began a long and complicated process to revamp their scoring system. Now, the scoring is based more on adhering to technical requirements rather than performance. What does this mean? This means that someone who skates a relatively dull program that hits all the technical points will score better than someone whose performance is more artistic and challenging.

Ice Dancing

In both the Men's and Women's division, skaters perform a short program (roughly 3 minutes) and a long program (slightly over 4 minutes). The scores from the Long Program are weighted and count for 2/3 of the overall score while the scores from the short program count for 1/3. With the new computerized scoring system, don't even try to figure out how it works, it's like the BCS.

The Pairs event follows the same format where a man and woman skate together. Sorry folks, Chazz Michael Michaels and Jimmy MacElroy have not entered the Pairs competition in Vancouver.

In Ice Dancing, the pair does not use lifts and throws the way they do in Pairs skating. Rather, think of Ice Dancing like Dancing with the Stars on Ice. It's essentially a ballroom dance competition on skates.


Russians have dominated figure skating since the steroid-induced days of the Soviet Union. Their athletes are clean now, but haven't lost their mastery over the sport. Russian Evgeni Plushenko won Men's gold in Turin and looks on track for a repeat performance. Brian Joubert of France, Patrick Chan of Canada, and Daisuke Takahashi of Japan will also be front-runners in the Men's event. On the Women's side, South Korean Yu-Na Kim and Japanese skaters Miki Ando, Mao Asada and Akiko Suzuki are the favorites.

US Hopefuls

Men's skater Johnny Weir has been getting a lot of press in the run-up to the games for his outspoken nature. We've got nothing against Weir, but he isn't the best skater on the team. That would be Evan Lysacek, who has a decent shot at a medal if he can land a quadruple toe loop. Honestly though, we'd like nothing better than to see Evan and Johnny both on the medal podium at the end of the day. The US will be represented by Rachel Flatt and Mirai Nagasu in the Women's event. Both are inexperienced in the international arena but could pull out a big performance and shock the world. Nothing America hasn't done before.


The Steelers n'at Pick: Plushenko is going to medal, there's no way around that, the question really is who the other two medalists will be. We're going to pick Lysacek and Canadian Patrick Chan with Takahashi from Japan as our sleeper pick. On the women's side, we're going to say Mirai Nagasu stuns everyone and gets on the medal stand.

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