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Hersh on Czisny and Weir

Chicago Tribune's Philip Hersh is contending that Alissa Czisny was propped up by the program components score at the U.S. Nationals. I'm not necessarily going to argue, although I liked the outcome. Hersh points out that Czisny only landed three triples in the free skate, which is pretty much unheard of these days. Here is what else he has to say:

All five of Czisny's presentation scores were between 7.21 and 7.89. Other than Mirai Nagasu, who had two scores over 7 while she finished fifth in the free skate, Czisny was the only skater with any 7s.

Does it look as if the judges decided beforehand that the graceful, elegant Czisny would get 7s, even if she skated like a hippopotamus?

I say yes, because Czisny simply lost the usual high quality of her skating after she fell on a triple lutz jump and reduced the next planned triple jump to a double. She plowed through the spins and footwork that followed without the effortless elegance that can make her skating special.

For all that, I was not outraged by the result, even if the judges overscored Czisny, 21, enough to make her PCS scores more than six points higher than any of the next three overall finishers -- Rachael Flatt, 16, Caroline Zhang, 15 and Ashley Wagner, 17, (who won the free skate).

He is obviously saying they scored her based on how she usually performs PCS and not how she performed on Saturday night. He concludes, though, that nobody really clearly beat her. So....what is the problem here? I dunno.

Unsurprisingly, Hersh also has some harsh words for Johnny Weir, who was lobbying to make the world team despite his terrible performances at nationals. For a recap, Johnny was sick for a lot of November and December. But it should be added that one of the illnesses (the one where he had to go to a Korean hospital) was not from a competition, but from Korean champ Yu-Na Kim's charity ice show (and I have no idea if he was paid for it).

The three-time U.S. champion all but begged U.S. Figure Skating's international committee to give him a place on the world team, as rules alllow, despite thoroughly lackluster skating at the national championships. Weir argued that his past record and experience should trump everyone but Jeremy Abbott and Evan Lysacek.
The committee said no, giving the place to Brandon Mroz, who finished second and deserved it far more than Weir.
For two weeks, Weir has let everyone know how hard it was to prepare since getting so sick at a Christmas show in South Korea that he said left him in a hospital with an IV in his arm.
``It's an unenviable position when you're feeling the worst you've ever felt in your life, trying to prepare for something so important,'' Weir said.
But it apparently wasn't important enough for Weir to skip a payday at a Christmas show in South Korea.

The argument against Weir is later complicated in the article with an absolutely ridiculous comparison to Michael Jordan, who had the flu and still went out and scored 48 points in the NBA Finals. Um, apples to oranges, much? I am sure it must be hard for someone like Weir to come back from a dramatic weight loss brought on by illness. I also think he wasn't ready for this competition, and there's no reason the judges should have chosen him over the top three finishers. It's not like he would get the spot over Lysacek, and Mroz had the skate of his young career, while Weir has had one problem after another this season. I am quite sad to see Weir not on the team though, and I have to be honest that I don't blame him for actively lobbying for a spot. Hopefully, he will come back from this the way he came back from disappointments in 2006 and 2007 - even stronger and with more focus (think 2008 season).