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Plushenko's whining unbecoming of a champion

Evgeni Plushenko of Russia competes in the men's free skate. (George Bridges / MCT)
Evgeni Plushenko of Russia competes in the men's free skate. (George Bridges / MCT)

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — The post-event cheeky chatter — and nobody does cheeky chatter like figure skating — was about Evgeni Plushenko's impudent suggestion that he had been robbed.

"Overall my basic position and attitude is that movement needs to go forward and never stop, never go back," the 2006 Olympic champion told the media.

"I think people need to do lots of quads."

Because the Russian skater was the only one in the room who does quads, his remarks Thursday night came across as self-serving — sour grapes, unbecoming of a guy who thought he could take three years off from the sport and then dance in and steal the gold medal.

Plushenko, quadruple jump and all, received the silver medal in Thursday night's men's figure skating finals. U.S. skater Evan Lysacek, who attempted no quads in his dramatic, near-flawless performance, was rewarded with the gold.

Move along, everyone. There's no crooked judge to see here.

Lysacek confessed later to the Chicago Tribune that he was disappointed to hear such whining from a champion skater whom he's always looked up to.

"I guess I was a little disappointed that someone that was my role model would take a hit at me in probably one of the most special moments of my life," Lysacek told the Tribune's Phil Hersh.

In insisting, however, that skating should always be looking forward, Plushenko diminishes his own argument by focusing on his quad jump. If he really felt the judges were only looking at quads, Plushenko should have thrown in another one in Thursday's free skating program, especially one in the second half of his performance.

Instead, he did what a lot of less-experienced and lesser-prepared skaters would have done — he packed his jumps into the first half of his routine (when a skater is less tired), and then tried to showboat in front of the judges in the second half.

Twice, he blew the judges kisses. It reminded Olympic watchers of the 1988 women's final, when Katarina Witt all but skated behind bubbles and fans to win the gold medal.

The judging is different now. Lysacek's overall performance was simply better.

At a news conference Friday, Lysacek said, "It's funny that he, of all people, is making such a big deal of one single element. It is one difficult step in the program, but that's one step of hundreds.

"Each and every step we take from the starting pose to the ending pose is accumulating points. I don't know why some people are so hung up on one particular element."

NO CHEAP TICKETS

The guy on the sidewalk above Robson Square — the guy who wouldn't make eye contact, because there were cops everywhere — wanted to know if I wanted Olympic tickets.

"I've got Finland and Russia hockey," the man said. "That's going to be a good game — a great game."

How much, I asked? I was curious.

"One-fifty ($150)," he said. "It's going to be a great game."

Face value was $80, so you do the math.

Ticket scalping in British Columbia, it seems, is a lot like cannibis. It isn't entirely legal, but the police have better things to do.

"I'm not going to answer that," a Vancouver policewoman said Friday. "That's a really gray area.

"But I would caution anyone who buys an Olympic ticket from someone on the street. You don't know where that ticket came from. The original purchaser's name is recorded. If he decides to report the ticket as stolen, you're the one who could be arrested for receiving stolen property."

Hmm. Just to see Finland and Russia?

A better, safer deal is just to go to one of the downtown official Olympic ticket offices, the ones with usually about 100 or so people in line.

Pickings are lean, however. The ticket office at Robson Square had the same Finland-Russia hockey game for $80 and $140.

Same price for today's big battle between . . . Latvia and Slovakia.

There are, amazingly, still seats available for the closing ceremony. That, plus some $300 tickets to a men's hockey quarterfinal game, are listed as "very limited."

The closing ceremony tickets sell for $775 or $500.

LeBreton is a columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram

(c) 2010, Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

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