Or just look at the numbers. In the short program, the base value of a maxed-out quadless SP (excluding the second-half bonus) is:
3Lz-3T - 10.10
3A - 8.50
3F - 5.30
TOTAL = 23.90
A typical SP with a quad is:
4T-3T - 14.40
3A - 8.50
3Lz - 5.30
TOTAL - 28.20
So a quadless man starts out with a 4.30-point disadvantage in base value even before he starts skating. The gap even widens further with the way GOEs are structured (ceiling for GOE for 4T-3T higher than GOE for 3Lz-3T, etc), plus unspoken factors like the fact that programs with successfully-landed quads are often given a little boost in PCS.*
From general observation, a clean quadless SP by a very good PCS skater scores around mid-80s or lower outside of inflated Olympics scoring:
-Jeremy Abbott, 2012 WTT: 86.98 points (last season; w/ current scoring, he'll get about a point more due to second-half bonus)
-Jeremy Abbott, 2012 TEB: 81.18 points (this season; his highest int'l score w/ clean SP at 2012 Trophee Eric Bompard)
But a clean SP with a quad by a very good PCS skater can score around 10 points higher:
Patrick Chan, 2013 Worlds: 98.37
Yuzuru Hanyu, 2012 NHK: 95.32
Daisuke Takahashi, 2012 GPF: 92.29
Even if the skater with a quad in the SP makes a mistake, he can easily score the same or higher than the skater without a quad due to the points cushion the quad gives:
Javier Fernandez, 2013 Euros: 88.80 (doubled a jump)
Patrick Chan, 2012 GPF: 89.27 (doubled a jump)
Yuzuru Hanyu, 2012 GPF: 87.17 (fell and under-rotated his 3Lz-3T)
Daisuke Takahashi, 2012 NHK: 87.47 (big stumble/stepout out of quad)
Plus, if you look at the SB list for international competitions this season, the highest quadless SB this season was a whopping 83.48 points by Tatsuki Machida, ranked 11th overall (http://www.isuresults.com/isujsstat/...13/sbtsmsp.htm).
The points gap between a quadless and a quadded skater further widens in the LP, with more jumping passes for the man with a quad to take advantage of.
So yes, I'd say a quad is essential to win, especially since so many of the men are attempting it. Note that every single man who won or medalled at an ISU competition this season was attempting at least one quad. Maybe the quadless man can win or make the podium if the men collectively skate as disastrously as they did at 2013 Worlds, but he won't be able to control his own destiny. And he sure won't win often at all, since the men (as inconsistent as they are) don't always skate that disastrously.
Perhaps the men who have quads right now consistently make mistakes, but they don't need to be clean to win or medal. All they need is to rotate their jumps. Mistakes like falls aren't penalized sufficiently under the current scoring structure, because the increase in base value thanks to the quads and the extra jumps slots the men are able to gain with quads can easily make up for errors. Plus for some skaters, skating like crap doesn't seem to affect their PCS at all....
*does anyone, for instance, think that skaters like Aaron and Reynolds would be receiving the same PCS as they do if they weren't landing multiple quads?
American fans are the worst supporters!!
Jeremy is one of the most beautiful skaters at the moment and just going through a tough time. He is one of few skaters out there that can tell a story on the ice. I wish him well next season and hope to see him at the Olympics.