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Does the size of the jump matter?

Now that Russian Evgeni Plushenko established he's back, and American Evan Lysacek stood up, and Japanese Daisuke Takahashi turned heads in the men's Olympic short program Tuesday, the conversation turns, of course, to the the quad jump.
With 90.85 points, Plushenko leads Lysacek by 0.55 points and Takahashi by 0.60 entering Thursday's deciding long program.
Japan's Nobunari Oda (84.85) and Swiss Stephane Lambiel (84.63) are just ahead of American Johnny Weir (82.10) and Canada's Patrick Chan (81.12).
Of all of the numbers, perhaps the most interesting is this: four.
Plushenko did a quadruple jump in Tuesday's short program, but Lysacek and Takahashi did not. Oda, meantime, did not. Lambiel did. Weir and Chan did not.
Which brings the question: Is the jump, still something of a barrier to many men even 22 years after it was first landed, necessary to win an Olympic gold medal?

The last two world champions, Lysacek in 2009 and Canadian Jeffrey Buttle in 2008, did not land a quad at the event. But Plushenko and others, including Lambiel, are a threat to land multiple quadruple jumps in one program.
When executed successfully, quads provide big points. When executed poorly, they do significant damage--leading Lysacek, Chan, Weir and others to argue they are not critical to a performance.
In the short program, Plushenko not only did a quadruple toe, he also did it in combination with a triple toe jump. That powerful combination earned him a strong 14.80 points. Lysacek got 11.00 points for his triple Lutz, triple toe combination, and Takahashi a 10.30 for his triple flip, triple toe.
Lysacek said his bum right foot, which has nagged him all season, might not be able to withstand a quad jump attempt.
"I don't think there are any elements in the free skate for all three of us that are any more important than any other," he said.
Takahashi disagreed.
"I think it is necessary for something like the Olympics," he said through an interpreter. "I would like to include my quad jump in my performance. I think it is important for the future."
Plushenko, the reigning Olympic champion, backed Takahashi.
"I believe the future of figure skating is in the quad jump," he said. "We need to make quadruple salchow, quadruple flip and quadruple Lutz in the future. Of course we need transitions, speed and steps, harder and harder ... I [was able to] make triples in 1984."
A comparison of the top skaters jump scores:
Plushenko, 4T+3T, 14.80 points.(13.80 base value + 1.00 grade of execution)
Lysacek, 3L+3T, 11.00 (10.00 bv, 1.00 GOE)
Takahashi, 3F+3T, 10.30 (9.50 bv, .80 GOE)
Oda, 3L+3T, 10.60 (10 bv + .60 GOE)
Lambiel, 4T+2T 9.18 (11.10+ -1.92 GOE)
Weir, 3L+3T 10.80 (10+.80 GOE)
(note that the quad paid off for Plushenko, but not for Lambiel, who turned a planned quad-triple into a quad-double.)

By Amy Shipley  |  February 17, 2010; 1:43 AM ET
Categories:  Figure Skating  
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Next: Olympic hockey: Catching up with Mike Milbury, Peter Bondra, Alex Ovechkin


i cant believe there are no comments about figure skating...its almost like NO ONE FREAKING CARES...nbc sucks, show hockey, curling and snowboarding and shoot any man who ice dances

Posted by: formerlylove1 | February 17, 2010 3:57 AM | Report abuse

Why o why does NBC continue to use Mike Milbury as a commentator for hockey. He not only bad mouthed the US Hockey team but verbally abused JR. This guy has no business being on US TV. Let him broadcast on CBC where he can kiss Crosby constantly.

Posted by: rmijax | February 17, 2010 6:57 AM | Report abuse

As long as the skater demonstrates sound technical ability the size of the jump shouldn't matter especially since the quad isn't required yet. Right now, it is still a gimmick.

Artistry shouldn't be given short shrift either.

Posted by: pstenigma | February 17, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

You neglected to include Plushenko's "its not men's figure skating without the quad" statement. Personally I don't think its a big deal, and hate that it seems jumping is valued more than artistry, fluidity, and musicality. Plushenko didn't have a connection with the music, and for part of the program flailed his arms around like a windmill. Lysacek was almost perfect, better than Plushenko by quite a bit in my estimation. Yet Plushenko is still ahead. The judges are telling us by how they score that the quad is more important than anything else.

Posted by: EllenK1 | February 17, 2010 9:19 PM | Report abuse

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