Rachael and Tom learning how to curl. With Figure Skating Team Leader Lorrie Parker at practice.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


For me as a coach, if a skater can do a jump in competition, then they should risk it in the short program. That is why Evgeni Plushenko is a real man. I probably lost one of my best skaters by saying this, but I believe in my heart as a coach who wants to coach a male Olympic champion that it is true. The quad is not a risk for Plushenko because he trains it. I know firsthand because when Ann Patrice McDonough was competing I would watch and study Plushenko and Alexei Yagudin on practice sessions. They both did the quad toe effortlessly. So it is no surprise that Plushenko was the only man who risked it and did a clean short program. This is his second time that he skated a clean short with a quad in the Olympics (he risked it and failed the first time in 2002).

That said, I would like to acknowledge Ryan Bradley, my veteran star who landed the quad combination three times this season in his short program and Brandon Mroz, my young charge who at 19 completed his quad combo in his short program twice this season. Way to go, men! I am proud of your risk taking mindset!

Ask Erik Schultz and Becky Calvin and many of the skaters at the CSWA. I predicted three of the top four places of the men's short program by watching one practice in Vancouver. I said Plushenko would win, followed by Evan Lysacek and Nobunari Oda. I had Chan in the top 4 (he finished 7th). As Aristotle said, we are what we repeatedly do...

One cool thing about this Olympics is that it is as green as it can be. Coca Cola, one of the major sponsors, is recycling 100% of the plastic bottles and will build an outdoor facility with the recycled bottles that will support active living in Vancouver's inner city, which happens to be where the Olympic village is located.

The second cool thing about this Olympics is that students from the province of British Columbia wrote good luck cards to all of the athletes (and referenced their specific sports) from all over the world. They are hanging on the walls on every floor of every condo in the Olympic village.

Question of the day: How many mascots are there for this Olympic Games?

Answer to the question of the day: There are two Olympic villages: one in Vancouver and one in Whistler.


  1. Sour grapes much? My goodness... (and what in the world does being a "real man" mean?) Jeremy has landed the quad a lot more since working with Yuka than when you were coaching him.

    Last night Daisuke and Evan tied Plushenko without the quad, so I don't really see how that part of your argument holds up.

  2. Well said, Emily.

    Plushenko may have done the quad, but the rest of his program was lackluster - blah.

    The fact that Evan Lysacek and Daisuke Takahashi are so close to him in points after the short program is testament that the quad is "not-all-that". It takes more than a quad - and you, of all people, should know that.

    Never knew much about you before - and now have no desire to learn more.

  3. Wow, I must say coming to your blog to read up on Rachael and seeing this, has left a bad taste in my mouth. I rather see a skater have a clean program and not riddled with falls and splats.

    To feed into the trash talking of Plushenko is pretty sad. I really was pulling for Rachael in this Olympics, but I think I just changed my mind. I feel bad that she has a coach that feeds into the trash talking.

    Would it upset you for someone to say, a real female skater could show some grace when skating, instead of skating like a truck driver?

  4. Wow. Mr. Zakrajsek has every right as a coach, as a spectator, as a blogger, as a citizen journalist, and as a member of the figure skating community to have his own opinion about the merit of jumping and the value of taking the risk that is the quad in competition. Every single person with any knowledge of this sport has strong feelings about the quad (as is attested to in this comment field), and has the right to express that opinion. This entry is not at all attacking anyone who didn't do the quad, merely commending those who did. The backlash of these comments was completely unwarranted. Each skater has his or her own strengths and while grace and poise are absolutely extremely important elements, it is ignorant to pretend jumps aren't a huge consideration in the quality of a performance. The most disrespectful things I have read here weren't regarding particular skaters, but instead were the attacking of an opinion of a very informed member of the skating community with every right to express his own opinion about a major concern within his sport. The only bashing going on was at the hands of the commenters.

  5. Well said michellespell!

    I was quite apalled at the (misinformed!) vitriol of the commentators. My goodness.

  6. Just a question - What is wrong with respecting someone who is willing to take risk to win? Do you think Plushenko could win with out the Quad/triple combination? Of course he has to do it because he has nothing else. His spins are average, his choreography is simple. He has no edge or lean to anything he does. In the short, other than the Axel, his landings were on an inside edge. If Evan were to risk the quad and land it, I believe he would win outright because every thing else he does is superior.

  7. These 3 negative commenters are classic Tom Z bashers. I would suspect they are either unhappy ex-TomZ skaters or parents or they belong to other envious for no good reason coaches. Poor Tom Z, he's damned if he does and he's damned if he does'nt. Guess you can't win 'em all eh? That's the price you pay when your good on what you do! Keep it up Thomas!

  8. Thanks for your support. Don't worry. I have tough skin. My father taught me to keep my nose to the grind and not worry about what other people say about me as long as I can answer to God about what it is in my heart and who I am.

  9. Amen to that. This sport is hard enough for the athlete, parents, and coaches to worry what other people say or think about! It's just too bad that it is what it is. I wonder if this is the only sport that feels like you're in Hollywood, full of drama and crap. I salute the parents who can put up with all these bs!