Figure-skating draw bashed

By RYAN PYETTE, QMI Agency

VANCOUVER — The sudden return of figure skating stars from retirement has made a mockery of the Olympic short program draw.

After watching his student — defending Olympic men’s champ Evgeni Plushenko — draw the 10th position in a 30-skater field for Tuesday’s men’s opener at the Pacific Coliseum, Russian coach Alexei Mishin said it’s time to scrap the current system based on world rankings.

“If you’re here, you deserve the chance to skate first or last,” Mishin said.

The worry is, despite the revamped code of points scoring system, some judges would revert to old ways of habit where a skater in an early group is placed there for a reason — because they have no chance of winning.

Plushenko skates right after Canada’s Vaughn Chipeur.

Patrick Chan, who didn’t show up for the draw, was represented by Debbi Wilkes. He skates 24th and is in the second-last group with France’s Brian Joubert and American Johnny Weir.

Americans Evan Lysacek, Jeremy Abbott, two Czechs and a Belgian skater round out the final group.

Out-of-retirement Chinese pair Hongbo Zhao and Xue Shen, a gold-medal threat, led off the short program Sunday night.

Mishin said Plushenko is a better skater than he was in Turin.

“He is more cooked,” Mishin said. “His skating is more rich and mature. Evgeni came along at the right time (for Mishin, who has also refined his methods). A lot of coaches (in the world) follow my exercises. They are just shy to talk about it.

“I wasn’t surprised he came back (so strong). If Plushenko can come back, then God can come down and skate.”

Then, Mishin offered a heaven-and-hell story in which the underworld challenged Paradise to a skating showdown to illustrate his draw point.

“God said, ‘this is a silly competition. I have all the Olympic champions up here’,” Mishin said.

The devil’s retort?

“I have all the judges with me.”

ryan.pyette@sunmedia.ca

POLL