The men’s short program took place last night at the Pacific Coliseum and the best thing about all of it was the improved judging of the program component scores.

The leader is Russia’s Evgeny Plushenko who is the defending Olympic champion. His speed and and quad/triple combination were definite highlights and although there was a definite improvement in his overall use of body line and level in his footwork sequence, the transitions were still very weak. In looking at the program component scores (PCS), his highest score was for performance and execution: 8.65 and his lowest was for transitions at 6.85. He also earned 7.85 for choreography and it was the range in these scores that I found so encouraging. His overall score was 90.85.

In second and skating the one of two programs of the night for me was defending world champion from the United Staes Evan Lysacek. His program was to Firebird and the drama of the costume and the exquisite Lori Nichol choreography were perfect accents for his skate that just seemed to build in momentum. Interesting to note that Lysacek’s PCS were stronger than Plushenko’s in 4 of the 5 categories, the only hold out being performance and execution where he was behind the leader but only by .05. His short program score was 90.30.

Japan’s Daisuke Takahashi skated the lights out in the Coliseum. He attacked his program and was confident and strong and fully expressed every nuance in the music. What a treat! He sits in 3rd place with a score of 90.25 and also beat Plushenko in 4 of the 5 PCS.

I guess what I am saying is that progress is being made in the area of accurate evaluation of skating’s “softer skills”.

Canada’s biggest medal hope is three-time national champion Patrick Chan who stumbled on a footwork sequence and had a couple of turns coming out of his triple Axel. Those mistakes aside, he made a significant error when he didn’t stop his spin when his music did at the end of the program and cost him a full point time deduction for his movement not stopping by the 2:50 sec max. That one point is the difference between 6th place Johnny Weir skating in the final flight and 7th place Chan now skating in the one before.

So …podium picks? Do I stay with what I originally stated especially since Japan’s Nobunari Oda is in 4th or do I revise?

Well I am sticking to my guns:

Gold – Evgeny Plushenko RUS

Silver – Nobunari Oda JPN

Bronze – Evan Lysacek USA

We’ll know tomorrow!

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