Even the Russians know it: Plushenko is a Freak and a Fraud

Matvey Ganapolsky, writing for Huffington Post:

At the Vancouver Olympics, Evgeni Plushenko was not given the gold. Plushenko, whose feelings were hurt, told his wife, Yana Rudkovskaya, that he thought the figure skating world was “stopped.”

Ms. Rudkovskaya–a famous business woman, popular television producer and winner of the Diamond Hairpin Prize for the country’s best blonde–was even more defiant, demanding that the Russian government, “a potent and mighty power,” ought to “defend our athletes.”

Naturally, it’s immaterial that the same standards used on Plushenko’s Vancouver performance were used to judge the skate that won him gold at Turin. What’s important is that there’s been an insult not only to an athlete, but to his wife: a Russian television personality, a highly visible producer and a judge appearing on many an American Idol type show.

Evgeni Plushenko is a very good skater, no one’s denying that. But his friends weren’t doing him any favors when they convinced him it was simply impossible for him to lose. His posse sees his loss as evidence of a worldwide conspiracy, and he concludes that it represents nothing less than the sport’s demise.

This reminds me of a famous joke. A poet writes a love poem and sends it to his publisher with a note attached: “With this poem, I’ve finally got the topic covered.”

Plushenko seems unaware that in Russia he is just the powerful’s pawn. True, he’s been made into a glamorous national hero and symbol of infallibility. National heroes are absolutely necessary to the Russian government, so they made one out of him. His producer wife’s motives were no doubt a little more mixed: she made him what he is out of love as well as professional instinct.

Together, wife and country taught Mr. Plushenko never ever to ask himself a very simple question: “what will happen, if I lose?”

All the same, he might have recalled that at the last winter Olympics at Turin, someone came in second, while he himself won the gold. It was the judges’ decision.

And this time, they decided differently.

He ought to have known that, while his quadruple jump is certainly a very wonderful thing, it’s not the be all and end all of figure skating, or, if it is, the judges In Vancouver might not have known that to be the case. And he might have known that outside his own country, the demand that gold be given on the merit of jumps alone might sound a little crazy. It might sound something a bit like the USSR demanding the world recognize its superpower status because it made big atom bombs, despite its inability to produce a working juicer or a drivable car.

Attitudes like this haven’t abated with time. And turning any and every competition into a patriotic show remains the Kremlin propagandist’s treasured pastime. A skater skates poorly, and some defender of the people is there by the ice, waving his Russian flag with such undying loyalty, it’s just heartrending. A singer is up on the stage, singing; they’re sure to poke some Russian flags in front of the camera.

It wasn’t Plushenko who did a quadruple, it was great Russia herself, generously allowing the world a share in the enjoyment of her athletic prowess. And so the silver insult is not one shown to Plushenko, but to Russia herself. And this is something that needs “sorting out.” And, how did the authorities “sort it out?” With a telegram from Prime Minister Putin, expressing the consoling sentiment that Plushenko’s “silver was no worse than a gold.”

Try. Can you imagine anything stupider?

One of the members of the judging panel said that he thought Plushenko’s skating style was “straight out of the 80s.” I can’t agree with that. Evgeni Plushenko is a fantastic athlete – both technical and artistic components make him the unique talent he is. What is truly “straight out of the 80s” is the reaction to the loss.

However, I don’t really think that Mr. Plushenko is reacting this way on his own; in the past, he has more than once demonstrated his ability to get through all sorts of defeats and difficulties.
His glamorous clique, made up of both personal and political connections, is what’s urging him on.

And then there’s the government itself, which habitually injects a healthy dose of patriotic propaganda into sports coverage. Sport becomes the last resort for patriotism in times of economic and political misfortune; an athlete’s victory becomes the victory of his entire home country, and his loss, into his people’s.

Since, when it comes down to it, it was just Plushenko who lost the gold (and maybe a little of his cache along with it), to send Russian troops into Vancouver won’t be necessary at this time.

To the rest of Russia, this loss – believe it or not – is actually totally irrelevant.

17 responses to “Even the Russians know it: Plushenko is a Freak and a Fraud

  1. If I understand correctly Mr. Plushenko has complained of changes in the scoring composition. Something like ten things instead of six under the old system. How are these changes in anyway the fault of any of his fellow competitors much less the gold medal winner Mr. Lyacek? Didn’t they all have the same time and notice to adapt to whatever these changes were? Did the Americans or Westerners somehow dream up these scoring composition changes as some kind of plot against Russia? Presumably there were reasons for the changes and I for one would like to read and hear more about these so if any reader can give any input that would be great! It would also be great if he stopped making himself and his country look like the group of paranoid, jealous losers that many claim them to be!

    • Yes Corey, there was a very good reason for the rules changes, I believe it happened after the 2002 Olympics where a group of corrupt judges gave the gold to a Russian pair, followed by a huge scandal. In the end they gave a second gold to some Canadians and decided to make rules a lot more objective.

      As you said, the new rules are the same for every competitor, and so if this Russian skater blames the rules, he is not only a sore loser but a fool as well,

      • “In the end they gave a second gold to some Canadians and decided to make rules a lot more objective.”

        RV, they made them so objective, that nobody understands them anymore. I guess, Plushenko blames not the rules but the judges, as the Canadians did in 2002 (but they were much more pushy than Plushenko, ridiculously pushy). I think Plushenko has his point, as quads are orders of magnitude more difficult than triples. I don’t mind Plushenko should be the winner, but it really smells to give the gold medal to a guy who didn’t do any quad.

        • As to the Canadians who were given the gold metal because they were pushy, if anyone cares to remember, their routine was FLAWLESS, and the russian pair FELL, yet they got the gold. The corruption and cheating was glaringly obvious, and the Canadians did the right thing to be pushy.

          • Yes it was flawless, but much less difficult than the Russians’ routine, Moreover, Russians DID NOT FALL (it was only a minor error). These were the Canadians who FELL in their previous short program (without getting any deduction from the judges, though). See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2002_Olympic_Winter_Games_figure_skating_scandal for more detail:

            “In the free skate, Berezhnaya and Sikharulidze made a minor (but obvious) technical error when Sikharulidze stepped out of a double axel. Meanwhile, Sale and Pelletier skated a flawless program, albeit one that many experts considered to be of lesser difficulty than that of the Russians. (Previously, in their short program, Sale and Pelletier had tripped and fallen on their closing pose. Because the fall was not on an element, it did not receive a deduction, but it marred the program enough to land the pair in second place behind Berezhnaia and Sikharulidze. Final standings would come down to the long program alone.)

            So the bottomline is: should judges put their priority to support high-risk high-advance routines, or encourage safe but nothing-new boring ones? I’m definitely for the first option, as it moves the things forward.

            And, in my opinion, the whole North-American mass media pushed for their medal as much as they can, moving the issue entirely from sport to politics. This was for me the most ugly political far-of-sport medal decision of Olympics over all years. Why I love soccer: such ugly things are just impossible there, even if “the hand of God” scores.

        • So what if the quad is more difficult? The rules were clear that each element has some fixed number of point assigned to it, and then who gets the highest number wins.

          Plushenko got the second highest number, so he is the second. Perhaps he did other elements not as clean or did fewer of them, or whatever. I recall their final numbers were very close. He is a bad sport and a sore loser, that’s all. No sportsmanship at all.

          • “So what if the quad is more difficult?” Or, nothing except the routine of Lysachek contains all jumps and elements that most of good women skaters can easily do.

            Plushenko is a great sportsman, he won medals of THREE Olympics (with one of them being gold). He will remain in the history no matter what you or others say. A sore loser is somebody else.

  2. CCCP, another quadruple ****up.

  3. Steamed McQueen

    “But his friends weren’t doing him any favors when they convinced him it was simply impossible for him to lose.”

    This is a hallmark of Russian mentality. They simply cannot fathom the possibility of failure. Whereas in the west we like to say ‘failure is not an option’, to a Russian failure is not even a possibility.

    As always, if they do not admit something exists or can happen, it does not exist and can not happen.

    Look back to the great 5 year plans of the USSR. Ask any Russian why things didn’t go as planned and they will tell you it’s not because the plan was flawed, it’s because the plan was not followed as designed. They planned for everything except the possibility that the plan could fail.

  4. Thank God, the next olympics are in russia where their can be fair judging russia will be the first country to win all the gold metals…well if their snow and if the “Caucasian Emirate ” decides hell were so close lets get a bomb into the stadium and blow it up I cannot see how they can prevent it if Dokka has any money and “sense” ( Psycho Killer Terrorist sense that is) he will bribe his way in and any explosion will over shadow the whole games no matter how pathetic it is and it will turn the games from mere Neo-Soviet Terror to Islamic terror which unlike Russian state terror scares even Obama. (BTW I’m not saying Obama bad I think he is great Domestically but I favor G.W. Bush on Foreign policy protect Americans PERIOD!)

  5. Plushenko was such a sore loser, no class at all, the American skater was the definition of class. The Russians have shown themselves to be soooooooooooooore loosers- they have no class. I think the IOC must have been bribed to allow the 2014 Olympics in Russia. Knowing the Russians, they’ll cheat and cover it up. I would not trust the Russians to check whether athletes have been doping or not. I would not put it past the Russians to cover up their own athletes transgressions and dope the other athletes results. The introduction to Sochi was absolutely terrible, if that is what we have to look forward to, I’d rather watch the Parlimentary debates.

  6. You can see what were in for in Sochi. The Russians demonstrated to the world that they have no class. If I was Russian I would be embarrassed to say the least. Russia it’s not about winning or losing, it is aboute being gracious whether you win or lose. Example Plushenko vs. Lyschek.

  7. hey russia if you have a problem with the new system you shouldn’t have corrupted the old one. there’s nothing like getting a taste of your own medicine -except this time the judging was fair.

  8. Quote” Gordon // March 1, 2010 at 7:59 pm | Reply

    It’s not because the plan was flawed it’s because of the foriegn wreckers, spys and sabatours.”

    Another sore loser sentiment??????

  9. Becky, Chicago

    The fact that my fellow Americans are acting out with so much anger and hostility says a lot. It is very interesting. It lets us know who is really, the true champion, in all of our hearts. If Evgeni’s position was truly without merit, we would simply ignore him. We are a country that loves risk-takers. Champions who take risks are our greatest heroes. “Playing it safe” is not the American way. Evgeni, it is he who embodies all of the qualities that we as Americans love and respect. If he was American, he would be a national hero. I was so happy when he stood up for himself and explained his position after he was wrongly given the silver. That was not bad sportsmanship. He spoke his Truth, what was in his heart, and we felt it in our hearts, as well. That is the most important thing. That we all know, in our hearts, who really won. No matter how angrily some of us try to cover up this truth, we cannot hide from it.

    I love this comment posted by MR – “They all are envy that Evgeni can just get up from his sofa and skate better than some American who worked his ass off to get on the podium.” – hahaha! Yes, there is a good deal of jealousy here, and I am an American. Evgeni is exactly the type of person we Americans tend to fall in love with. Please, keep telling Americans that they are just jealous, it is very funny and very true.

    Fairness and justice is more important to me than what country someone is from, and for this reason I support Evgeni.

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