Feb 14, 2014, 9:10 PM EDT
SOCHI, Russia – His hip badly bruised from a cringe-worthy fall on Thursday night, Jeremy Abbott’s pride was far from far injured. In fact, the to-be-retired 28-year-old went out and skated a personal-best free skate to finish his second of two Olympic appearances.
“Of course I would have wanted an Olympic title, a world title,” Abbott said after his long program. “But, this is my story. And I’m proud of it.”
The American, long known to be a hot-and-cold performer on international ice, wasn’t able to say if he’d skate at the World Championships next month in Japan, leaving it a mystery as to if Sochi was the last place he’d skate competitively.
“I’m so happy to have had this experience and finish the competition,” Abbott said. “I really showed courage under pressure. That is what the Olympics are all about and they’ve inspired me once again. The crowd really rallied around me and I appreciated that. I had to scale back my program because of pain.”
What Abbott didn’t scale back was his emotion and expressions on the ice, skating with a kind of heart that one can only have after a decade of competition. He finishes with four U.S. national titles, two Olympic appearances and eight Grand Prix medals on the international circuit.
“I’ve had a lot of ups and downs in my career; it’s been a roller coaster,” said Abbott, who fought back tears as he spoke. “But my favorite memories are when I’ve come back from the bottom.”
That’s what Abbott had to do twice in Sochi, having skated to a low 65.65 in the team event short program and then suffering a horrific crash on his opening jump in the individual event, which caused him to alter his jumping patterns in the free skate.
“I had to change my program because of bruising from my hip to my ribs,” Abbott said, explaining his muscled had seized up in that part of his body, as well. “We took out all the loops from my program, they were just too painful.”
Abbott, as he deserves to do, will take the remainder of his time in Sochi to soak up the Olympics.
“I’m going to revel in the Olympic moment,” the Colorado native said. “I wouldn’t change what I’ve done for anything. I can own it forever. I’m just so grateful to have this opportunity.”
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