Jeremy Abbott’s first sensation was pain; then came confusion. After falling hard on his right hip bone and sliding into the boards on the opening jump sequence of his short program at the Sochi Olympics on Thursday, Abbott wasn’t sure whether to go speak to the officials or skate off the ice.
But once he got to his feet and heard the applause of the crowd at Sochi’s Iceberg Skating Palace, the four-time and defending U.S. figure-skating champion was determined to skate on.
After finishing his program to enthusiastic cheers of the supportive, predominantly Russian audience , Abbott spoke about the sequence of events, his debt to the crowd and his feeling, on balance, of yet another Olympic program gone wrong.
“The second I stood up and all of the audience was screaming, I was like, ‘F-f-f….Forget it all! I’m finishing the program; I don’t care if I’m two minutes late. I don’t care what happens with the rest of it. But I’m getting up and not going to give up this moment!’”
Abbott told reporters immediately after coming off the ice.
“I have to thank the support of the audience and all the international fans in this arena. It’s really because of them that I finished the program, honestly,” added Abbott, who vaulted into first place on his score (72.58) but was soon overtaken by fellow American Jason Brown, who earned a season-high 86.00 for his stylish, evocative performance to Prince’s “The Question of U.”
Abbott said that despite falling during his short program for a second time in one week, having stumbled during the Olympic team event as well, he was proud.
“As much of a disappointment as this is, I’m not ashamed. I’m not in the least bit ashamed,” Abbott added. “I stood up, and I finished that program. And I’m proud of my effort, and I’m proud of what I did under the circumstances.”
After 17 of 30 skaters have competed, Brown stands first, and Abbott is third, with the stronger skaters yet to go. The top 24 advance to Friday’s free skate, and both American men are safe. Abbott says he’ll be ready to compete.