Friday, February 19, 2010

Let's Hear It for the Boys!

Daisuke Takahashi became the 1st Japanese men's skater to win an Olympic medal last night--a bronze, behind Evgeni Plushenko and Evan Lysacek. And he did it his way. He could have played it safe like Lysacek and not put a quad into his free skate--and given the catastrophic knee injury and extra-fast recovery from major surgery, who would have blamed him?--but he wanted to win a gold, not back into it. Take a look at his performance fast before it's taken down for copyright violations:

You can see that he was completely at peace with his decision and even after missing the quad was totally unfazed and went on to nail every other jump in his repertoire. This was his best performance of La Strada that I've seen, hands-down--fast, clean, passionate, and full of joy--and believe me, I've seen a lot of them, multiple times, thanks to the Full Metal Archivist's love of Dai-chan. (Hey, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, right? Let's put it this way: my Ai-sama fandom ranking is several orders of magnitude below hers of Dai-chan.) I'm glad the Wall Street Journal is tracking the athleticism vs. artistry debate in men's figure skating, but let's face it: Dai-chan is an incredible athlete. If he had had another couple of months to recover and train, he would have had a reliable quad in his repertoire. I know he plans to retire after this season, but I think he ought to continue skating until he has put the debate to rest. He really could be the most complete skater in the history of the sport.

And how about Ryo Ishikawa in the WGC Match Play? Ryo-kun has made 2 dramatic shots on the 18th hole, both from out of a fairway bunker, to seal his 1st 2 matches over Michael Sim and Ross McGowan. I'd love to see him win this week! Gambatte, Ryo-kun!

[Update 1 (9:25 am): Well, that was fairly quick--don't say I didn't warn you the video would be taken down. But the Full Metal Archivist saw it enough times to notice a poster in Japanese that read something to the effect of "Daisuke Takahashi, Star of Okayama Prefecture!" Quite. He may turn out to be the first Olympian medalist from Okayama, ever. Local boy makes good, indeed.]


Anonymous said...

I think it was a huge mistake putting in the Quad, but it's easy to say that as a non-involved spectator.

A fall like that is automatically a point deduction, and presentation scores always suffer when you fall.

When you're that close to Plushenko after the SP after he completely landed a Quad, it's clear he didn't need it. :(

If you were a Johnny Weir, who lacked solid transitions in his program, then that's the type of skater who should go for the quad. The one who NEEDS too.

The Constructivist said...

I disagree. He's said all along that he wants to go back to doing quads again because he's pursuing his vision of becoming a complete skater and settling the athleticism/artistry debates by doing both better than anyone. The Olympics were a test of how far he's come along and how close he is to meeting his goals. What I'm hoping is that he'll rethink his decision to retire after this season. He got an Olympic medal and withstood the pressure better than in Torino, so there's no need to make a commitment for 4 more years. But 1 or 2 more? Why not?