Skip to content

U.S. men’s figure skaters mired in quad quandary

Oct 21, 2013, 11:03 AM EST

Max Aaron Getty Images

DETROIT — Down went Max Aaron. Down went Adam Rippon.

It’s the hardest puzzle piece to snap into place in men’s figure skating leading up to the Sochi Olympics: the quadruple jump. And after the season’s first Grand Prix event, it continues to be an elusive element for the top U.S. men.

Only Skate America’s winner, Tatsuki Machida of Japan, made it through the weekend without any trouble with four-revolution jumps, landing two in his free skate to win over Rippon and Aaron, who took silver and bronze, respectively.

Daisuke Takahashi, the 2010 Olympic bronze medalist, barely caught his quadruple toe loop and struggled Saturday to finish fourth.

Can the American men find their quad form come Sochi?

Evan Lysacek was criticized in 2010 for winning gold in Vancouver without a quad. While Lysacek remains out with injury, two-time Olympic silver medalist Elvis Stojko, who helped usher in the jump to men’s skating in the 1990s, is a fan of the bigger-is-better movement.

“Guys are trying two quads in a program, which is awesome,” Stojko said last week. “I feel that they’re really pushing the envelope. Now they’re back to what we were doing in 2002 in the quads. There’s more guys doing it and more consistently, which is great. So, having at least one quad in the program is a must, if you want to be in the hunt. If you really want to take down the competition, doing two with a combination.”

The toe loop has been a struggle for Aaron, who landed two quad salchows Saturday night.

“Right now we’re committed to keeping that quad toe loop in there; we’re not going to take it out,” Aaron said. “Maybe by Boston (U.S. Championships in January) it will be perfect, maybe it will not.”

Aaron has a whopping three quads in his free skate, compared to just one in Rippon’s. The silver medalist made light of his fall Saturday night, in which he hit the boards.

“I’m lucky that the Joe Louis is an old, sturdy arena,” Rippon said, drawing laughs. “The boards held up and didn’t break.”

But Rippon, who was second at Nationals in 2012, got serious a few minutes later, saying that he planned to add one, if not two quad jumps to his program this season.

“My priority for each competition is to go out and put out a good quad lutz,” he said. “By the end of the season I hopefully will add another quad lutz and also a quad toe to the program. The quad toe has been good at home in practice.”

Other Americans in contention to make the Sochi Olympic team, including Ross Miner and three-time national champion Jeremy Abbott, have quads but have not been able to execute them on a consistent basis.

For many skaters it is a numbers game. Figure skating’s “new” scoring system, which has now been around for nearly 10 years, awards higher totals for the bigger jumps, even if they aren’t executed perfectly.

“I left a lot of points on the table,” said Aaron, referring to the fall and subsequent mistakes around his quads. “It was unacceptable for me to fall. I’m not very happy about that.

“I’m going to go back home and continue to work. We want the components a lot higher, we want the technical score a lot higher and we want the overall score a lot higher. We’re not looking for falls or step outs; we’re looking for a clean skate every time. We will get it right. We picked that program for a reason and there’s no backing down.”

Plushenko updates on his training

Latest Posts
  1. Maksim Kovtun rallies to win Trophee Bompard; Grand Prix Final picture

    Nov 22, 2014, 4:24 PM EST

    Maksim Kovtun Getty Images

    It’s unlikely a U.S. man will qualify for the Grand Prix Final.

  2. Renaud Lavillenie, Valerie Adams win IAAF Athlete of the Year awards

    Nov 21, 2014, 3:10 PM EST

    Renaud Lavillenie Getty Images

    This year’s winners came from unprecedented nations and events.

  3. Ashley Wagner trails, Denis Ten leads at Trophee Bompard (video)

    Nov 21, 2014, 2:24 PM EST

    Ashley Wagner AP

    Wagner could match a Michelle Kwan feat at the French event.

  4. Angelina Jolie showed Louis Zamperini scenes of ‘Unbroken’ on hospital bed

    Nov 21, 2014, 8:59 AM EST

    Angelina Jolie, Louis Zamperini AP

    “Unbroken” film about Olympian and World War II hero comes out on Christmas.

  5. Table tennis player shoves over referee after loss (video)

    Nov 20, 2014, 5:34 PM EST

    Table Tennis

    Young Dmitry Melnichenko lost the match, then lost his cool.

  6. Joss Christensen becomes ‘mountain man’ since Sochi Olympics

    Nov 20, 2014, 4:57 PM EST

    Joss Christensen Getty Images

    Olympic ski slopestyle champion uses a chainsaw every day.

  7. Louie Vito hopes to stand out after missing Olympics

    Nov 20, 2014, 3:03 PM EST

    Louie Vito Getty Images

    Vito thought he had what it took to make the Olympic team, but judges didn’t see it the same way.

  8. Claressa Shields wins first World Championships bout in 11 seconds (video)

    Nov 19, 2014, 11:30 PM EST

    Claressa Shields Getty Images

    Olympic champion could face the only woman who beat her in the quarterfinals.

  9. Mikaela Shiffrin finishes 15th, 16th in super-Gs in Colorado

    Nov 19, 2014, 8:25 PM EST

    Mikaela Shiffrin Getty Images

    “I don’t really want to race unless I have a shot at winning.”

  10. Vanessa-Mae faces retroactive Olympic ban

    Nov 19, 2014, 1:40 PM EST

    Vanessa Mae Getty Images

    Her name could be “erased from the list of participants,” IOC president said.

  11. Rio Olympics to have some morning track and field finals

    Nov 19, 2014, 11:29 AM EST

    Shalane Flanagan Getty Images

    Eight stadium events will have morning finals, a first for Olympic track and field since 1988.

  12. IOC proposes adding Olympic events, bid reforms

    Nov 18, 2014, 4:11 PM EST

    Witters Sport via US PRESSWIRE Witters Sport via US PRESSWIRE

    The IOC will vote on 40 proposed changes to the Olympics in December.

  13. Ryan Lochte: I have no doubt Michael Phelps will come back

    Nov 18, 2014, 4:01 PM EST

    Ryan Lochte, Michael Phelps Getty Images

    Also, Natalie Coughlin said she reached out to Phelps.

  14. Ryan Lochte unsure who is world’s best swimmer

    Nov 18, 2014, 3:52 PM EST

    Ryan Lochte, Kosuke Hagino, Michael Phelps Getty Images

    Four years ago, Michael Phelps’ coach said Lochte was the world’s best swimmer.

  15. Doha gets 2019 World Track and Field Championships over Eugene, Barcelona

    Nov 18, 2014, 9:23 AM EST

    Lamine Diack

    U.S. has never hosted the World Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

  16. Jennifer Kessy, Emily Day form new beach volleyball partnership

    Nov 17, 2014, 4:35 PM EST

    Jennifer Kessy Getty Images

    Olympic silver medalist’s partner in London was April Ross, who is now with Kerri Walsh Jennings.

  17. Bode Miller out until January due to back surgery

    Nov 17, 2014, 1:42 PM EST

    Bode Miller Getty Images

    Miller hopes to return one week before the one storied race he has never won.

  18. Peter Forsberg and the Olympics

    Nov 17, 2014, 1:16 PM EST

    Peter Forsberg Getty Images

    Swede being inducted into Hall of Fame authored one of the iconic Olympic moments in 1994.

Featured video

Yogging a hit at Youth Olympic Games