Hey sports fans!! Thanks for stopping by my blog! I am a self admitted “rink rat” so a lot of this blog will be about figure skating and hockey, however as an ex-figure skater, ex-varsity athlete and a sports fan in general, I usually have thoughts and opinions about alot of different sports I follow, so visit often!
So, as we are entering year two of a four year Winter Olympic cycle, I started wondering how many repeat Olympic medalists there have been in men’s figure skating. More specifically, how many repeat Gold medalists? Between 1920 and 1952, there were 3 mens skaters that were successful at defending their Olympic titles and repeated as Olympic Gold Medalists. However, there has not been a repeat Olympic champion in the discipline of men’s figure skating since 1952 (Dick Button 1948 and 1952).
This picture just shows the Olympic podium medalists for the last 50 years.
There are many skaters that have competed in multiple Olympics, however I then also wanted to see how many skaters have actually medaled twice (or more) at consecutive Olympics. These skaters are:
In the modern era of figure skating, and with the introduction of the new scoring system, it has become much more challenging to repeat as an Olympic champion.
Interestingly enough, there are no repeat medalists between 1992 and 1994 when there was only the 2 year gap between Olympics. This change to the Winter Olympic cycle was done to offset the years of the Winter and Summer Olympics in order to relieve the financial burden for countries having to send athletes to both Olympics within the same year. I would have thought it would have been the easiest years to attempt a repeat as champion since the Olympics were only 2 years apart, but Viktor Petrenko had already medalled in the previous 2 Olympics (bronze in 1988) and won his gold in 1992 so I guess he already achieved his goals and perhaps didn’t want to train for another 2 years.
So, three times, we have had skaters repeat as medalists where they won the medal of the same colour:
*Note: the ISU member nations voted to eliminate compulsory figures entirely from international competition after July 1990. Had the figures been removed before the 1988 Calgary Olympics, Brian Orser would have had his own Olympic gold medal.
I’m not saying that none of the previous Olympic gold medalists came back to skate in the following Olympics, it’s just that many of the Olympic Champions back then (prior to 1993) turned professional after their win, and started to earn money performing in ice shows. The problem was that once a skater turned professional, he/she was ineligible to compete in the Olympics as an amateur.
In June 1993, the ISU introduced a clause, commonly known as the “Boitano rule,” which allowed professionals to reinstate as “amateur” or “eligible” skaters. This rule was not only relevant for figure skating, it has affected the sports of ice hockey, basketball and tennis, and gave way to “dream teams” in the Olympics!! If you think about this – without this ruling, we would not see skaters like Yuzuru, Patrick, and Denis skating in ice shows, and being able to earn money to pay for their training. They would have been considered “professional” and thus, ineligible to skate in future Olympics.
So can Yuzuru Hanyu be the first skater in the modern era of mens skating to repeat as the Olympic champion?? I certainly hope so. He has all of the necessary tools to do so (technical skill, artistic talent and personality). But, having the right tools doesn’t guarantee him the win. As time goes on, other skaters are starting to catch up. Any small (or big) mistakes can cost you a title, as we saw in the 2015 World Championships. We saw how hard it is to repeat as World Champion which is held every year, let alone repeat as an Olympic Champion.
Some of the intangibles that will feed into the dream of repeating as Olympic champion are Yuzu’s ability to stay healthy. Yuzu has had a history of ankle issues, serious abdominal issues, and back issues to deal with. And, crazy enough, he had all three of those within one season this time around!! While most athletes that have already realized their dreams of Olympic glory would have called it quits after winning the Olympics or going through a horrid season like 2014-2015 was for Yuzu, he remains steadfast in his determination and stubbornness to keep going. He still has goals to achieve and has a clear direction of what he wants to do. I don’t think we will hear him be as bold as he was as a young kid when he said “My goal is the Olympic Gold Medal” but I’m pretty sure he is thinking of it for Pyeongchang in 2018.
A lot people in the sport of figure skating are predicting that in the mens field, the eventual winner will require the successful execution of at least four quads, one in the short program, and three in the long program (one in combination) by the next Olympics. Will this happen or will we see another “Vancouver 2010” happen where Evan Lysacek won without even attempting a quad in either of his short or long programs. While the eventual silver medalist, Plushenko did land his quads in both programs, the debate over whether or not Lysacek should have won over Plushenko is still on. Since both skaters were tied artistically (both scored 82.80 for program components), if the judges hadn’t marked Lysacek slightly higher on his grade of execution for jumps, spins and his footwork, then Plushenko would have been the first Olympic gold medalist to repeat as champion in the modern era of figure skating.
So, back to Yuzu!! Since Yuzu is the reigning Olympic champion – it is up to him to become the first male skater to repeat as Olympic Champion in this modern era!! That is a tall order!! But, I still believe he can do it!! With the changes to the ISU rules introduced this year, figure skating has become very strategic. With greater deductions for falls on quad attempts, do skaters start playing it safe? With fewer deductions for landing a jump but cheating on the landing, will this start a whole new trend of cheating jumps? Personally, I hate cheated jumps since basically you didn’t complete the required revolutions but just manage to stay on your feet and finish the rotation on the ice. I don’t think this should be rewarded as much as it is. While I don’t just want to see quad attempt after quad attempt and fall after fall, I do agree that falls should have more than a one point deduction. There will never be a perfect scoring system and I do believe this is better than the old 6.0 scoring system by far, we will just have to wait and see what skaters and the judges will do this season. Will there be more controversies? You bet your boots there will be!!
Bottom line is that regardless of the scoring system, I think with our current crop of skaters, new seniors and experienced ones, that they will all go for the quads. This is how the sport is currently progressing. Skaters need to have both technical skill plus artistic flair and personality to be an overall complete skater. Playing it safe ala Lysacek is just not impressive in my mind. But again, just my own personal opinion. I think that in order for skaters to just keep up with Yuzu, they will have to at least make the attempts at the quads, thereby levelling the playing field. I would hope that skaters want to win if they are the best in the field and not just because they played it safe, and waited for others to make mistakes. Time will tell if anyone takes that approach.
Just as a curiosity, I decided to look up the ages of the last few Olympic champions when they won, to compare the last 6 Olympic champions. They are all within the 19-24 year old range….so Yuzu is perfectly primed to repeat as champion!!
So, stay healthy Yuzu and as always, Go Yuzu Go!! Doki Doki!!