Wednesday, March 17

2000 World Championships Flashback: Day Two

Day two of my week-long look back at the 2000 World Championships features Russian Evgeny Plushenko as an 17-year old. All season long, Plushenko was handily beating his chief rival and country-mate Alexei Yagudin (who, at the time, was the two-time reigning World Champion himself). An early-season pro-am competition, the Grand Prix Final, the Russian National Championships, and the European Championships all saw Plushenko besting Yagudin, but Evgeny showed up in Nice and surprisingly lost the first portion of the competition (the qualifying round) to Canada's Elvis Stojko. Yagudin won the other qualifying group, and also won the short program over 2nd-place Plushenko. The standings from the first two portions of competition meant whichever of the two men won the free skate would win the gold medal, and many looked to Plushenko to once again come out on top, as Yagudin had changed his free skate from "Broken Arrow" to "Tosca", and was debuting it at this competition.

But, that was not the case. After a doubled quadruple toe loop attempt, Plushenko went on to try the quad two more times: turning one into a triple, and falling on the third. He rallied back to land two triple Axels and the rest of his jumps later in the program, but he not only didn't win the gold medal, he fell off the podium completely, finishing in 4th place! (Stojko won silver and American Michael Weiss won bronze.)

Don't send me hate mail! This World Championship memory isn't one where I celebrated Plushenko's loss; I was shocked about his failure to medal after such a great season coming into the event. Honorable mention to Michael Weiss' short program where he landed the quad toe for the second time in his life, but ended up stepping out of a DOUBLE Axel, of all things! He still ended up third in the portion and held on for the bronze medal overall, so it wasn't a complete disaster.

Watch Plushenko's free skate and Weiss' short program:


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