Will Russians Be Good as Gold Again?

Former Soviets--Ukrainian Viktor Petrenko and Russians Alexei Urmanov and Ilia Kulik--have won the last three Olympic men’s titles. The streak is expected to continue this year with Russians Alexei Yagudin and Evgeny Plushenko vying for the gold medal.

Yagudin, fifth in the 1998 Winter Games, won world championships in 1998, ’99 and 2000, but Plushenko won last year. Vowing to come back, perhaps so that he can again partake in the victory celebrations that he reportedly relishes, Yagudin appears to have regained the edge this season. We’ll know more after tonight’s short program, which counts for one-third of the final score.

The U.S. champion is Todd Eldredge, who is competing in his third Olympics. He is known as “No Quad” Todd because he is the only contender who doesn’t consistently include a quadruple jump in his programs. But he is steady and could benefit if everyone else crashes. The other Americans, Timothy Goebel and Michael Weiss, are also considered bronze-medal contenders.