In addition, he had a (gold) medal from 1997 Junior Worlds, which between 1997 and 2000 gave an exception to the age limits.
I.e., he was eligible to compete at 1998 Olympics, was the first alternate on the Russian team, and did compete and medal at Europeans and Worlds that year.
It's really hard to say. Olympic-level is subjective as there are a lot of skaters from minor countries who make it to the Olympics, but aren't exactly the most competitive.
Also, under the new judging system it is probably immensely more difficult for younger skaters to achieve Olympic level status, because there is a much greater focus outside of jumps. Overall refinement takes time, and I doubt many male skaters starting at 12 will become a Weir.
IIRC there was a male skater at US nats who started at 17
He has landed quads, but his success rate was pretty meh. Anyway, doesn't matter. Evan and Johnny were Olympic level skaters even though they've got no chance to medal nowadays.
I'm not really sure what the original post is asking. How long does it take to get from beginner to the minimum skill level needed to qualify for an Olympic team? How long does the average Olympic medal contender (a very small sampling) take to reach that maximum skill level?
Most skaters who start training at any age will never land triple jumps.
Even fewer who start after puberty will ever land triple jumps.
Ease of movement across the ice -- the actual skating between the tricks -- also tends to come more naturally those who start skating at a young age. Getting on the ice at a very young (preschool) age tends to help balance, but rigorous technical training may not be appropriate until school age.
Natural physical talent and body type, quality of coaching, amount of coaching and practice time, temperament for hard work, etc., all affect how successful a skater will be at mastering advanced skills, and then other talents play into less technical areas such as connecting to music and audiences.
The odds are against any skater making it to the elite level, even starting at the optimal age with optimal coaching and training conditions.
Of the many thousands of kids worldwide who start skating lessons every year, probably less than 1% will ever become senior-level competitors. And maybe 1% of those would really have the skills to compete for world and Olympic medals.
The people we see on TV competing for Olympic medals are all exceptional, even the ones who don't succeed in approaching the podium on Olympic ice.
On average I'd estimate it takes about 10 years to go from beginner to senior competitor, sometimes a few years less especially for girls. Men tend to peak athletically at older ages (early 20s rather than mid teens). Pair and dance teams need to develop their partnerships as well as their individual skills. Presentation tends to improve with age as long as the athleticism doesn't fall off.
Whether they actually get the opportunity to compete at an Olympics at all will depend a lot on the depth of competition within their home countries and other factors of luck, such as injuries, financial ability to continue competing, or when their athletic peak falls in the Olympic cycle.
Sticking around longer can increase the number of Olympics a skater can try to qualify for.
I may be in the minority; however, I appreciate skaters that deliver great performances... with or without a quad.
Awesome list on Wiki, very interesting! Thank you.
Both Johnny and Evan did quads in practice and included it in some competitions. At the time the system punished much harder for double-footing or falling on the quad, so skaters were more likely to play safe than now. Johnny used to land pretty amazing quad combinations in practice: http://youtu.be/USs7ulzmiZI
I don't think the starting age is a defining factor--what works for one skater does not work for another.