The craziness began right at the start of the second group of skaters, as four-time Olympic medalist Evgeni Plushenko landed a jump awkwardly in his warm-up and immediately grabbed his back. He was the first skater in that group set to perform and, instead of skating out to center ice, he skated over to the judges. Next thing you knew, he'd withdrawn due to injury and was taking a goodbye bow, his Olympic (and skating) career officially done. What?! He'd been having some issues since the team event long program, but I still felt like I'd been clubbed over the head with a frying pan. Complete and utter shock. In all my years of Olympics-watching, nothing like that has ever happened.
After that, we were all lulled into a false sense of security, assuming that there's no way anything else shocking could happen. I mean, one shocker like that is rare enough, but two? Nah. No way.
And then Jeremy Abbott took the ice.
If you haven't been following U.S. or Olympic figure skating, here's the dealio: Jeremy won U.S. nationals in 2010 (ahead of future Olympic gold medalist Evan Lysacek, no less) to make the Olympic team, but had a disaster of a short program and finished ninth overall. He finished second at nationals to make the Olympic team for 2014 and, in the team event, had another bad short program to finish seventh out of 10. The hope going into the individual event was that he'd gotten his nerves out and could now skate cleanly. In his own words, he'd now already gotten his Olympic disaster out of the way.
Well, homeboy fell on his first jumping pass in his individual short program. And not just any run-of-the-mill fall, either. I'm talking total wipe-out, right on his hip, careening into the boards, and not immediately getting up. He was down, and he was clearly very badly hurt.
|via Yahoo images|
But no. Oh, no. After an agonizing 10 or 15 seconds that felt like it took an hour, Jeremy collected himself, stood up and continued his program. According to good ol' commentators Johnny Weir (literally just typed "Weird" instead of Weir, hahaha. #freudianslip) and Tara Lipinski informed us that, despite his significant time down on the ice, he hadn't missed any of his program's required elements (i.e. jumps, spins, etc.), just some choreography. So he caught up with his music and kept going. I was so nervous as he approached his second jumping pass, I was about ready to vomit... but lo and behold, he landed it. And he landed every other jump he executed.
He was like a different person! Before his program, he was taking deep breaths and visibly trying to get himself mentally ready. But after his fall, you could see in his eyes that he was pissed and determined and ready to raise some hell. And he did.
And guys, I cannot even tell you how completely overwhelmed I was. The amount of respect I have for this guy is unreal. It was so inspiring to see him fight back from what could've (or, really, should've) been utter devastation. This is his last Olympics and he wasn't going to just let it end like that.
It should be a lesson to us all: our flops should never be death knells. Jeremy Abbott went hip-first into the ice and face-first into the boards at the Olympics and got up and finished with his head held high. Didn't accomplish what you wanted to? Well, bummer. Brush the snow off your pants and hit that triple lutz-triple toe combination because, damnit, you can!
As Jeremy was waiting for his scores, I think it was Tara that said, "It may not've been the Olympic moment he'd been hoping for, but he inadvertently created an Olympic moment." Heck yes, he did.
(And then he returned for his long program today and delivered like a CHAMP. Ended his final Olympics on the most positive of notes. I may or may not have gotten a little misty-eyed. You go, Jeremy.)