The men’s event began with the Qualifying Round (QR) in which 45 entries were divided into two groups. The top 15 competitors from each group proceeded to the Short Program. The segment score for the QR was multiplied by a factor of 0.25 and was then added to the scores of the Short and Long programs for a total score.
Switzerland’s Stephane Lambiel was the surprise winner in the men’s event, winning his first medal ever in a senior ISU competition. Jeffrey Buttle of Canada won his first World medal – a silver, while USA’s Evan Lysacek captured his first – the bronze.
Qualifying Round – Group B
Lambiel delivered one of his best long programs of his career (152.00) since 2003 Cup of Russia (136.01). The Swiss champion landed two quadruple toeloops (one in combination with a triple toeloop), as well as a triple Axel, a triple loop, a triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination, a triple flip (shaky landing), and a triple Salchow. Although he also displayed unique spins, the Swiss man exceeded the time limit for a one point deduction, earning a Total Segment Score (TSS) of 38.00 for a first place finish in his group.
“I’ve skated with a lot of confidence today,” said Lambiel, adding that he remained focused and calm throughout the whole program. “I changed the free program to have a more difficult program,” he continued. “I had a month to prepare it and it was worth it to take the risk. I felt very strong with this new program and with my overall shape. I’ve also improved the level of my spins.”
France’s Brian Joubert, who was first to skate, stepped out of the landing of a quad in what was supposed to be a quadruple toeloop-double Salchow combination in the opening of his routine to music from the 1492: Conquest of Paradise soundtrack. While the reigning World silver medalist landed five triples, he left out a triple toeloop on a triple Axel-triple toeloop combination and fell on a triple Lutz, earning a TSS of 33.00 for a second place finish in his group.
“It wasn’t so hard to skate first,” said Joubert, “but it was hard to skate first so early in the morning! The French champion made it known that he doesn’t like qualifying rounds or skating in the morning. The 20-year-old also missed the 6AM practice. “I made the mistake of going to the opening ceremony, and when I wanted to go back to the hotel, our bus got into a traffic jam. The roads were closed off because Putin [the Russian President] had come to the rink, and we had no police escort. I went to bed only at 11pm.”
Of the fall on his Lutz, Joubert said, “It felt good, but then I cut the turn. Overall I’m pleased with my qualifying. It was funny that both Plushenko and I drew starting number one in our group, but I would have preferred to skate in the afternoon!”
Lysacek fell on a triple Axel and turned out the landing of a triple loop, but landed a triple Axel-triple toeloop combination, a triple flip-double toeloop-double loop combination, and three more triples to earn a TSS of 32.13 for a third place finish in his group.
“Unfortunately I had some boot problems after the Four Continents competition,” explained Lysacek, “but I worked really hard for the last couple of days before I left and I feel ready here. I had a stress fracture on my left hip but I’m pain-free now. Today has been a good warmup for me for the rest of the week. I put a bit too much steam into the second triple Axel, but that happens, and I try to learn with each competition.”
When asked about how he felt competing at Worlds for the first time, Lysacek replied, “So far it has been awesome. I have learned a lot from watching the other skaters who have been doing this for a decade or more. I have learned that you have to pull it out whether you feel great or not and whether it’s 10AM in the morning. You have to go out and light up the audience – they have paid for it and for them it’s a show even though for us it’s a competition, and we have to go out and put a smile on and have fun.”
Buttle played it safe, delivering a triple flip-double toeloop combination and a triple Axel-triple toeloop combination (turnout on the Axel), but stepped out of the landing of a triple Salchow and underrotated and fell on a triple Axel. The two-time and 2004 Four Continents gold medalist landed two other triples and produced good spins, but the mistakes cost him and he finished fourth in his group with a TSS of 32.00.
“I am satisfied with my performance today,” said Buttle, who said this qualifying round was an improvement compared to the one at Canadian Nationals. “It is also an improvement that I made the team this year – unlike the last one. But it does not mean that I am already content with just being here. I want to show my best skating. Buttle stated that he felt energetic during his routine. “That’s why I perhaps put too much force into some elements.” In regards to the quad, the Canadian added that he was ‘playing it be ear’. “As you have seen, I already had problems with the triple-double combination (he had planned a triple flip-triple toe).”
Samuel Contesti of France, who finished fifth (30.82) in his group, was also happy with his performance. “It was a fantastic performance,” said the French bronze medalist. “I had some problems on the opening triple Axel, but in the end, everything turned out fine.” When asked how he felt about skating in the AM, the 22-year-old replied, “It was easier for me than for Brian [Joubert]. Both the practice and the competition started later for me, so it was OK.”
Japan’s Daisuke Takahashi finished sixth (30.13) in his group. “I was a little bit nervous,” admitted the 2005 Four Continents bronze medalist. “But I think I skated quite well. It’s a good result for me, I suppose. The audience received me very well. There were many people who supported me.”
USA’s Timothy Goebel, who finished ninth (29.78) in his group, was disappointed with the way he skated. “But it is better than last year when I didn’t make the National team,” said the 2002 Olympic bronze medalist. “Considering the problems I have had this season – my injury and my coach dropped me and I had to move across the country – so I think it’s not too bad.”
Takeshi Honda of Japan withdrew from the competition after spraining his left ankle. The Japanese champion attempted a quadruple toeloop-triple toeloop combination in the opening of his routine, but bailed in the air and landed hard at the boards.
Qualifying Group A
Battling a groin injury, Russia’s Evgeni Plushenko didn’t attempt a quadruple. Instead, the 2002 Olympic silver medalist opened with a triple Lutz-triple toeloop-double loop combination followed by a double Axel, a triple Axel-double toeloop combination, a triple Lutz, a triple flip-double toeloop combination, and a triple Salchow. The 22-year-old also landed a triple loop and produced good footwork and spins, but stepped out of the landing of a triple Axel. The three-time and reigning World champion earned a TSS of 37.98 for his Godfather performance, placing first in his group.
“I’m completely out of breath,” said Plushenko, who was having difficulty breathing due to a tightening sensation in his back. “The only thing I can say is that I missed two weeks of practice because of the groin injury and just started training cautiously a few days ago.”
Coach Alexei Mishin added: “Zhenia has serious problems with his health. He is only skating on his power of will. We considered to withdraw but then decided to take one step at a time. He skated in the qualifying and did a great job considering the circumstances, but I cannot say if he will be ready for the short program. I do not know it yet.”
Stefan Lindemann of Germany landed a nice quadruple toeloop-triple toeloop combination, but turned out the landing of a triple Axel, doubled a loop, put his hand down on a triple flip, and fell on his second triple Axel. The reigning World bronze medalist also received a one point deduction for exceeding the time limit, but earned a TSS of 32.50 points for a second place finish in his group.
“I started very well into my program,” said Lindemann, “but then I felt the lack of practice. I didn’t have enough energy for the whole program. That’s why I doubled the loop and fell on the triple Axel.” The 2005 European bronze medalist added that he was slowed down as the air felt too warm and dry. “I’m satisfied with my components. They were quite high, in the 70s, which I didn’t have before. It’s something to build on for the short program, and I am going to attack.”
Chengjiang Li of China nailed a quadruple toeloop-triple toeloop combination, a triple Axel-triple toeloop combination, and three other triples. However, the 2004-05 Grand Prix Final bronze medalist underrotated a triple Lutz (his nemesis jump) and doubled a flip to earn a TSS of 32.23 for a third place finish in his group.
“I was very tired and therefore the mistakes happened,” explained Li, regarding the errors on the flip and Lutz. “I just didn’t have enough rest after the Four Continents Championships. I did two other national competitions after Four Continents. There are a lot of competitions in China now.”
USA’s Johnny Weir produced a triple Axel-triple toeloop combination as well as four other triple jumps and good spins, but doubled a loop and singled a flip for a fourth place finish (32.20). Initially, Weir was in third place, but was later positioned in fourth place after an error was found and corrected in Li’s score.
According to a statement by referee Gale Tanger, Li’s final spin was erroneously given zero points “due to a human input error”. Once Li’s score was recalculated, the revised score (before factoring) was found to be 128.90. Weir had 128.78.
An hour before competing, Weir received two injections in his left foot for pain that he’s experienced on and off since 1999. “It started [again] here in Russia,” said the two-time and reigning US champion. After the injections, he still didn’t feel too sure. “It didn’t feel right and I didn’t feel like myself. But I’m glad I was at least able getting through with it, because it shows me that I’m growing up and becoming more mature as an athlete and a person. Even if things are terrible or very rough I can still go out and give a performance – even if not my best – and skate.”
The 2001 World Junior champion added that he wasn’t sure if the foot was just inflamed (tendonitis) or if there could be a possible stress fracture. “But you can imagine it hurts really bad if you’re coming down in the jumps from quite a height,” said Weir. “It’s difficult in the take off for the lutz, flip and loop – at that point I couldn’t feel my body and what was going on with my foot. I’m just trying to do one step at a time.”
In his first trip to Worlds, Russia’s Sergei Dobrin finished fifth (31.70) in his group. “I’m just happy that I was allowed to compete here,” said the 2005 World Junior bronze medalist. “it’s a great honor for me to compete, and I just try to show what I can do.” The 18-year-old arrived in Moscow on Monday after competing in Canada. “There [at Junior Worlds] I had more responsibility. Now I’m just enjoying this championships and I watch how all the others are skating.”
Bulgaria’s Ivan Dinev finished sixth (30.71) followed by Canada’s Emanuel Sandhu (29.73).
Sandhu doubled a quadruple toeloop, doubled a flip, and singled an Axel. The 2005 Canadian silver medalist was not happy with his performance.
“The program was a constant fight,” said Sandhu. “I made little mistakes here and there. The second salchow is in the program when there is a quad one in the beginning. Now Joanne (McLeod, his coach) told me to do a double Axel instead. That was the plan for today. For the later part of the week I have to remind myself of the fact that you still get credit for doing quads even when they are not perfect. I couldn’t have a good warmup because it felt like no one was moving. I was crossing paths with other skaters and had to change my patterns, but that is what happens sometimes.”
Lambiel, who was first in his QR, became the leader in the men’s short, executing a triple Axel, a quadruple toeloop-triple toeloop combination, and a triple Lutz in his routine to Spanish Caravan. The 19-year-old also produced good spins, earning a score of 80.28 (personal best), placing first in the short and overall (118.28).
“I am so happy,” said Lambiel. “Yesterday was wonderful and today was just magnificent! After I finished the program I said, ‘Merci’. I wanted to say thanks for giving me this strength. We have been working so hard for this. I just felt so much energy.”
“The beginning of my season was difficult because of my knee injury,” continued Lambiel. “But I feel confident now. I worked very hard with my team. I want to thank my coach Peter Gruetter, my choreographer Salome Brunner, Cedric Monod and all the team around me and my friends and family for their support. I just can do my best and show all the pleasure I have on the ice. I also want to thank Alexei Mishin, he helped me a lot last year and two year ago. I feel very strong and confident here in Moscow.”
Joubert landed a quadruple toeloop-triple toeloop combination, a triple Axel, and a triple flip in his routine to music by the Blue Man Group. The two-time and reigning European silver medalist earned a score of 79.66 (personal best) for a second place finish in the short and overall (112.66).
“I am very satisfied,” said Joubert. “This was my best short program this season. There was a little bit pressure but I just did my job. I don´t think about what other people say.” The 20-year-old had seen Plushenko’s performance on the TV in the dressing room. “This is sports. Things like this happen,” he continued. “I saw that Stephane Lambiel did a good program and I knew I needed to skate well.”
Joubert wasn’t surprised with Lambiel’s placement. “I know he is a great skater and very dangerous for me,” he acknowledged. “There are a lot of good skaters out there,” he continued, mentioning names such as Buttle, Weir, and Sandhu. “We are five or six skaters who can win a medal.”
Skating to Prelude in C Minor, Buttle opened with a triple flip-triple toeloop combination, followed by a triple Axel and a spread eagle into a triple Lutz. The Canadian champion also displayed good spins and footwork to earn a score of 77.39 (personal best) for a third place finish in the short and fourth overall (109.39).
“I felt really good today,” said Buttle. “I felt very comfortable. Neither too alert, nor too relaxed. I really felt like I cannot make any mistake. It does not happen often. Last time I felt like that was [during the] Canadian long program and once at World Championships before. It is very important to do the first jump well, because it brings back the memories of all the training and sort of sets you on the autopilot. Now I am looking forward to having a day off and a chance for recovery.”
Performing to Espana Cani, Lysacek opened with a solid triple Axel, following up with a triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination and a triple flip. The 2005 Four Continents champion earned 73.42 points (personal best) for a fourth place finish in the short and fifth overall (105.55).
“I am very excited to skate that well,” said Lysacek. “I mean, it is my first world championship and I skated so well. It is great.” Lysacek went on to explain that it has been a hard year for him while recovering from his injury. “I worked very hard and I think I deserved some pay off. But frankly it was almost too easy, I just did one thing at a time.”
Plushenko fell on the quadruple toeloop, but came back to land a solid triple Axel and triple Lutz in his Moonlight Sonata performance. The 2004-05 Grand Prix Final Champion earned 73.28 points for a fifth place finish after the short and third overall (111.26).
“I say honestly, I’m not in shape right now,” said Plushenko, explaining that he hadn’t skated for two and half weeks. “I had an injury before Europeans and then I pulled my groin after Europeans. I couldn’t train, and I put on some weight, four or five kilos. Now I’ve been skating for about a week, but I decided to compete here, because it is at home in Russia. I try to do the impossible.”
The Russian champion went on to say that he couldn’t do a triple last week and fell on the Lutz last week in St. Petersburg. “I don’t want to defend myself. I skated badly today. I could have withdrawn, but I’ll stay in the competition.”
While at home in St. Petersburg, Plushenko received an injection in the groin. “It helped,” he said. “But five days before Worlds, the groin and abdomen started to hurt again. I took painkiller pills before practices and the qualifying. I took two pills before today’s practice because one wasn’t enough. Then I got a painkiller shot before the short program, and it helped. I felt a lot better. I think I’ll have another injection before the free skating.”
Li landed a quadruple toeloop-triple toeloop combination, a triple Axel (shaky landing), and a triple loop. The three-time and reigning Four Continents silver medalist earned a score of 72.61 (personal best) for a sixth place finish in the short and overall (104.84).
“I think something was lacking in today’s performance,” said Li. “The elements were not so confident. I was nervous.” The 25-year-old wasn’t wearing his costume during the warm-up. “You can guess!” he exclaimed. “I forgot it in the hotel! This never has happened to me before. A lot of interesting things are happening in this competition.”
Weir fell on his opening triple Axel, placing ninth in short (70.50) and seventh overall (102.70).
“It didn’t affect me having to switch my warm up group and switch the number when I was skating,” said Weir. “I am not disappointed about it. I was lucky to be fourth in the Qualifying round.” Weir said that this is the only system he has heard of where you can drop a place overnight. “My placement doesn’t really mean the world to me,” the 20-year-old continued. “it’s more the performance quality of my program that I’m interested in.”
Weir is still experiencing pain – especially on the landings of the jumps. “But [that is] still no excuse for the fall on the Axel,” he said. “That was just bad luck and not really concentrating. Being in front of such an awesome audience and great Russian fans I feel like I disappointed myself and the people here.”
Takahashi was eighth overall (102.31) after the short, followed by Russia’s Andrei Griazev (100.23).
Plushenko, who stood in third after the short, withdrew from the competition due to an inflamed adductor muscle.
Skating to music from the King Arthur soundtrack, Lambiel popped his opening Axel to a single, but rallied back to land a quadruple toeloop-triple toeloop combination, followed by a triple loop, a double Axel, and a quadruple toeloop. The student from Lausanne doubled a Lutz in a triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination and singled a flip, but landed a triple Salchow-double toeloop combination and displayed good spins and footwork to place first in the long (144.18 – personal best) and overall (262.46), becoming the first man from Switzerland to win a World title since Hans Gerschwiler in 1947.
“I’m very happy with the result,” said Lambiel, “although my performance was not so great. Not as good as the short and the qualification. The week was very long and it is very difficult to stay on top all the time.” Lambiel said he felt a lot of pressure and was nervous after Joubert skated. “But I did my job. I did some mistakes on the Axel and the flip. But still I made it. I cannot believe I won. I already couldn’t believe it after the short.”
Buttle, who stood in fourth after the short, landed a triple flip-triple toeloop at the beginning of his routine, but fell on a triple Axel and a triple loop. However, the 2004-05 Grand Prix Final silver medalist landed three other triples and displayed good spins and footwork in his performance to Nagoyatsi, earning a score of 136.30 for a second place finish in the long and overall (245.69) to win the silver.
“I am a bit disappointed,” said Buttle. “I skated this program better at Canadians, but if you take a week as whole it was a better competition. So I am proud of doing so well. My goal in coming here was to make the top six and I did it. So I’m happy about that as well.” The 22-year-old went on to say that he was also proud that he was able to recover quickly after the fall on the triple Axel. “I do not know what happened. I felt confident coming into it.”
Sandhu landed a quadruple toeloop-triple toeloop combination as well as four more triples, but fell on a triple loop and singled an Axel. The the 2004 Four Continents silver medalist, who stood in 10th after the short, placed third (134.13) in the long and moved up to seventh place overall (231.16).
The Canadian admitted to being tired at the end of routine, hence the fall on the triple loop. “But otherwise I feel pretty good about my performance. The first Axel wasn’t the quality I would have liked. I would have been much higher if it wasn’t for the [fall on the] triple Axel in the short program, so that was a valuable lesson for me.”
Lysacek, who was fifth after the short, nailed a triple Axel-toeloop combination and a triple flip-double toeloop-double loop combination in the opening of his routine to Singin’ in the Rain. While the 19-year-old also landed a triple Lutz-double toeloop combination and a triple Salchow, he doubled a triple Axel and a triple loop and stepped out of the landing of a triple Lutz. The reigning US bronze medalist earned a score of 133.74 (personal best) for a fourth place finish in the long and third overall (239.29) to win the bronze.
“I am in shock,” said Lysacek. “It is totally not real. It was not even my best skate tonight. I came here hoping to make it to the final flight. As the week went on, I gained a lot of confidence and I’ve been really consistent. That was reflected in the results.”
Kevin Van Der Perren of Belgium landed eight triples, (one a triple flip-triple toeloop-triple loop combination) for a score of 133.51 (personal best) and a fifth place in the long. The 2004 Belgian champion, who stood in 12th after the short, placed eighth overall (229.94).
Weir, who was seventh after the short, displayed good flow throughout his performance which featured a triple Axel-triple toeloop combination, as well as six more triple jumps. While the student from Delaware also displayed good spins, he stumbled coming out of his circular footwork, placing sixth (133.36) in the long and fourth overall (236.06).
“Obviously I’m not 100 percent,” noted Weir. “More than anything, I’m just proud of myself that I got through all this competition. I didn’t totally embarrass or disappoint myself. I didn’t expect any high score. I was feeling that awful.”
“Going into the competition and knowing I’m not perfect is very difficult for me,” continued Weir. “My foot is very tired and shaking right now.” On his routine, Weir added, “I’ve changed my step sequence, fell on the circular step sequence, and my jumps have been quite short. But in the bigger picture, I’m so proud of myself that I’ve managed.”
Li produced a quadruple toeloop, a quadruple Salchow, as well as four good triple jumps, but stepped out of the landing on a a triple loop and singled an Axel to place seventh in the long (130.83) and fifth overall (235.67).
“I think my program was very good,” commented Li. “I’m very satisfied with my performance. The score was a bit lower than I had expected it, but the judging system is still new for me.” The 2004 Chinese champion went on to say that at first he felt a lot of pressure. “Then I got more relaxed as I just wanted to skate good and didn’t have to defend any title. The Russian audience is very warm and supportive. You can notice that they love skating and know a lot about it.”
Goebel who stood in 14th after the short, fell on a quadruple toeloop attempt and a triple Axel. The two-time World silver medalist earned 129.84 points for his Queen Symphony routine, placing ninth in the long and 10th overall (222.57).
“All I can say is that I’m obviously really disappointed,” noted Goebel. “I came here well prepared and I never gave up. I was pushing through the whole performance. Things were going well. I was hitting both quads in practice and had a really good feeling coming here and had high hopes. This has been a rough year for me. I expected better.”
Joubert, who was in second after the short, dropped to sixth overall (235.29) after placing 13th in the long (122.63). The Frenchman put his hand down on the landing of a triple loop and fell on a quadruple toeloop and a triple flip.
Joubert commented that his legs felt good, but that his head wasn’t quite there. “I was very stressed out. But this free program – this didn’t really suit me. I learned a lot from it and I have to use what I learned. This theme didn’t suit me and it was hard to skate.”
The French champion went on to acknowledge that he didn’t really “get into” today. “But it happened and it’s part of my career,” said the 2002 Olympian. “It’s a shame to end the season like this. I’m disappointed. I did a very good short program, the best short program of my career, and then I did a catastrophic long program. But I can’t dwell on this, I have to move on. When I popped the quad into a triple, you could already see that I wasn’t into it. But I still could fight, but it was very difficult tonight. Not physically, I wasn’t tired, but my mind wasn’t there.”
Lindemann, who was 18th overall after the short, placed 10th in the long for a 12th place finish overall (213.54).