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Plushenko's coach decries lack of blind justice in draw

February 14, 2010 |  3:47 pm
Russia's Evgeni Plushenko has been the dominant men's skater in the world this year, but he was an also-ran in the rankings that helped determine the draw for Tuesday's Olympic short program.

Those rankings are based on results from the last three seasons, including this one. Plushenko had taken three seasons off after winning the 2006 Olympics. He returned to win two international events: the Grand Prix event in Russia and the European title.

Plush The top 10 skaters in the world rankings drew for the last 10 spots in the skating order, and that pattern continued down the line.

So, Plushenko, ranked 38th, will start 10th among the 30 skaters.

Johnny Weir skates 25th, Evan Lysacek 28th and Jeremy Abbott 29th.

"I am upset this is not a blind draw, like it was in Turin four years ago," Alexei Mishin, Plushenko's coach, said Sunday. "The instinct for the judges is the late groups are better skaters.''

That sort of judging was supposed to end under the new scoring system, when the mathematical possibilities for scores are virtually infinite.

Under the old 6.0 system, judges were not allowed to give the same scores in both marked areas (technical and presentation) to two skaters. 

That led to judges "holding back'' scores for the later skaters, so the top marks were not gone.

Mishin told a joke to express his feeling that the judges' mind-set hadn't changed.

"One time the devil came to God and said, 'We should organize a figure skating competition between the underground and paradise.''' 

"God said, 'Listen, you suggest a silly thing because all Olympic champions are with me.'''

"The devil answered, 'All the judges are with me.'''

The devil is in the details, like the one Mishin conveniently neglected to mention Sunday.

Plushenko was the second man of 30 to skate at Turin.

He won the short program.

By a whopping 10 points.

-- Philip Hersh in Vancouver, Canada

Photo: Evgeni Plushenko at practice Saturday. Credit: Yuri Kadobnov / Getty Images