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Skating Friday, 15 February, 2002, 13:33 GMT
Yagudin triumphs in classic final
Russia's Alexei Yagudin (centre) celebrates winning the gold medal with silver medallist Russia's Evgeni Plushenko (left) and Timothy Goebel
Yagudin was the victor in an excellent contest
Olympic gold medallist Robin Cousins gives his verdict on an exhilarating men's figure skating competition in Salt Lake City.

Thrilling is really the only word that I can use to describe the final of the men's figure skating competition in Salt Lake City.

There were many fine performances, but when all the marks were tallied, it was Alexei Yagudin of Russia, who was victorious with his brilliant routine.

Yagudin said it was really tough to come back after finishing second at the World Championships in Vancouver, Canada, last year.

The men's event can only grow from here

Robin Cousins

But he managed to bounce back with the help of a sports psychologist.

The 21-year-old said he had to learn to let go of the bad performances that did not work.

Well, he managed to do that here when it all counted.

The Russian said that after he landed his second quadruple jump, he knew he had the gold medal around his neck.

Along with his two stellar quadruple toe-loop jumps, the rest of his free programme was nearly perfect.

He had a slight glitch on the landing of a triple flip near the end of his program.

That could have happened because he was thinking he was finished, which is the worst thing a skater can think about because that is when mistakes will happen.

Regardless of the slight miscue he made history with the four 6.0's he received.
Russia's Evgeni Plushenko on his way to winning the silver medal
Plushenko paid the price for an early error

No other man in Olympic history has received more than one perfect mark.

Yagudin's rival, Evgeni Plushenko, said he was thrilled with his silver medal after finishing fourth in the short programme.

Plushenko knew it was going to be hard for him to even reach the podium after his fall in the short programme.

But he did try a quad, triple, triple combination, and also the triple axel, half loop, triple flip combination that had never been done before.

He may have been disappointed at not winning the gold, but at just 19, I think he still has a couple more years in him.

Not only were the competitors in the final group exciting, but there were some very good quality performances from some of the lower ranked skaters.

It just proves that the men's event can only grow from here and will make the next Olympics in Turin, Italy, just as thrilling.

See also:

15 Feb 02 | Skating
Yagudin skates to glory
15 Feb 02 | Skating
Reaching the gold standard
13 Feb 02 | Skating
Yagudin in pole position
Links to more Skating stories are at the foot of the page.

Links to more Skating stories

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