Skip to content

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

Oct 21, 2013, 11:03 AM EDT

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. Talk of a sub-two-hour marathon

    Sep 29, 2014, 1:16 PM EDT

    Dennis Kimetto Getty Images

    Dennis Kimetto’s record-smashing win in Berlin brings the barrier into closer view.

  2. ISU wants synchronized figure skating in Winter Olympics

    Sep 29, 2014, 10:51 AM EDT

    Synchronized Skating Getty Images

    ISU asks for synchronized skating and a new speed skating event for 2018.

  3. Yevgeny Plushenko wants to prove he ‘is not a coward’

    Sep 29, 2014, 10:27 AM EDT

    Yevgeny Plushenko Getty Images

    Plushenko received criticism for withdrawing at Sochi Olympics.

  4. Dennis Kimetto breaks world record at Berlin Marathon (video)

    Sep 28, 2014, 5:40 AM EDT

    Dennis Kimetto Getty Images

    Third Kenyan in four years to break the record in Berlin.

  5. Brittney Griner leads U.S. past early China test in Worlds opener

    Sep 27, 2014, 4:17 PM EDT

    2014 WNBA Finals - Game One Getty Images

    Griner played her first game in a Team USA uniform in three years.

  6. Gracie Gold third at Nebelhorn Trophy

    Sep 27, 2014, 8:33 AM EDT

    Gracie Gold Getty Images

    U.S. champion shaky in season debut.

  7. Jason Brown wins Nebelhorn Trophy

    Sep 26, 2014, 4:39 PM EDT

    Jason Brown Getty Images

    First senior international victory for the U.S. Olympian.

  8. Kerri Walsh Jennings, April Ross eliminated in final tournament of 2014

    Sep 26, 2014, 4:11 PM EDT

    Kerri Walsh Jennings, April Ross Getty Images

    Walsh/Ross go into 2015 with no match experience against upstart Brazilian threat.

  9. IOC adds anti-discrimination clause to Olympic host city contract

    Sep 26, 2014, 2:40 PM EDT

    Witters Sport via US PRESSWIRE Witters Sport via US PRESSWIRE

    Change comes after issue raised over Russian law for Sochi Olympics.

  10. Carolina Kostner questioned 4 hours in ex-boyfriend’s doping case

    Sep 26, 2014, 2:38 PM EDT

    Carolina Kostner AP

    Figure skater “extraneous from the entire case,” attorney said.

  11. Olympic sports bodies support U.S. 2024 Olympic bid

    Sep 26, 2014, 1:36 PM EDT

    Scott Blackmun Getty Images

    Forty of 47 organizations respond positively to USOC’s query.

  12. Michael Phelps, Katie Ledecky lead Golden Goggles nominees

    Sep 26, 2014, 11:45 AM EDT

    Michael Phelps Michael Phelps

    Ryan Lochte absent from major award nominees list for first time since 2006.

  13. U.S. women can clinch Olympic berth; FIBA World Championships preview

    Sep 26, 2014, 10:57 AM EDT

    Maya Moore Getty Images

    The U.S.’ path to another world title got easier last week, despite a defeat.

  14. Kosuke Hagino not satisfied with 7 medals at Asian Games

    Sep 26, 2014, 9:41 AM EDT

    Kosuke Hagino Getty Images

    Japanese star could do better at 2015 Worlds, but Olympic schedule hurts him.

  15. Thomas Morgenstern retires with 3 Olympic ski jumping golds

    Sep 26, 2014, 7:52 AM EDT

    Thomas Morgenstern Getty Images

    Only one Austrian won more Olympic medals in a career.

  16. Cadel Evans, Tour de France winner, four-time Olympian, sets retirement

    Sep 25, 2014, 7:06 PM EDT

    Cadel Evans Getty Images

    The first Australian to win the Tour de France first competed in the Olympics in a different cycling discipline.