Jeremy Abbott loses marks for ugly fall, wins hearts for finishing short program

Jeremy Abbott of the United States falls as he competes in the men's short program figure skating competition at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

SOCHI, Russia — Jeremy Abbott will be monitored by U.S. Team doctors on Thursday to determine if he can recover from an embarrassing short program faceplant in time to continue competing at the Winter Olympics.

Abbott botched his attempt at a quad jump, the most difficult trick in figure skating, by smashing into the ice and landing on his ribs and pelvis before sliding in the padding surrounding the rink at the Iceberg Skating Center.

His crash was far from being the only one on a night of thrills and spills as much of the men's field tried and failed to nail the elusive quad. But Abbott's fall might have been the most spectacular and left him considering stopping his short program as he struggled to collect his senses.

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Abbott's coach, Yuka Sato, tried to run onto the ice to assist him — the equivalent of a boxing trainer throwing in the white towel to save the fighter from further punishment. However, the door to the rink was jammed shut and she was unable to get onto the surface.

Meanwhile, Abbott bravely got to his feet and, despite being 10 seconds behind on his program, began to skate again as the crowd rapturously applauded his courage and spurred him to continue.

"First thing, I was in a lot of pain and I was laying there kind of shocked and I didn't know what to think," Abbott said. "I was waiting for the music to stop. The audience was screaming, and I was, like, 'Forget it all, I am going to finish this program.'

"As much of a disappointment as this is, I am not in the least bit ashamed. I stood up and finished this program, and I am proud of what I did in the circumstances."

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The four-time U.S. champion was the 11th skater to perform and finished with a score of 72.58, which was enough for first place at the time, but too low to prevent him from being passed by a number of competitors as the night wore on.

Abbott, who finished ninth at the Vancouver Games, was always going to be a long shot to get anywhere near the podium. His fall ended any chance he might have at springing a surprise.

Instead, he is more likely to appear on countless highlights packages for reasons other than those he would have wanted.

"It is hard to know exactly what happened," Brown said. "I had a slight hesitation, and I pulled too hard with the upper body and caused me to not get as much height, causing me to fall flat on my face."

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The 28-year-old admitted adrenaline got him through the rest of his routine, and as he stood in the interview mixed zone, he said he was fully expecting to compete in the long program on Friday night.

However, Yahoo Sports caught up with Abbott after he had been seen by medical specialists, and he was less optimistic, admitting that the pain had started to seriously kick in and was restricting his movement.

In the short program, Abbott was in danger of incurring a time violation penalty due to the delay but managed to trim the rest of his routine to fit in the time limit. He could have chosen to stop and inform the referee he wished to restart his run after an injury break, but he would have been given a two-point penalty. So he decided against it.

The intensity of his crash shocked Sato, who said she was relieved when Abbott dragged himself to his feet.

"Because of the padding I couldn't see over the board and I was starting to get worried," she said. "I heard the noise of him hitting the ice in an unusual way.

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"I was getting ready to come out, but the door wasn't moving. I was actually going to walk out onto the ice. I was trying to figure out what was going on. I was wiggling the door to open it."

Abbott's decision to continue earned him the admiration of not only the crowd but also his fellow competitors, several of whom offered their support after his performance.

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