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Lysacek, Plushenko will fight for gold

Before I get my review of the men's short program, there is an issue I need to address with one of my former fellow competitor's, Elvis Stojko: Go f*** yourself! Now with that out of the way, let's down to people who are doing good things.

A short program will not win you the Olympics, but it certainly can cost you the Olympics. Just ask a few former world medalists. They'll tell you.

Evgeni Plushenko is exactly where most of the skating world has predicted, in first place after the men's short. But tonight the night belonged to American Evan Lysacek. If you ask me, I would say that Even was robbed.

But after reading over the detailed marking reports, Lysacek was given the bigger component scores, while Plushenko outranked him technically. Plushenko was his calm, collected self throughout his performance tonight. He had his signature smug grin on his face, while ripping off his quad/triple combination like he had never left the competitive rink.

Evan skated the short program of his life, knocking off his jumps better than I would've ever expected, and he did with flare and ease. At the end, he was overcome with emotion, and rightfully so. But the battle has been set. Will Plushenko be the first man to defend his Olympic title since Dick Button in 1952, or will Lysacek be the first U.S. man since 1988 to win the gold?

The Japanese have thrown in their cards to challenge. Japanese champion and former world silver medalist Daisuke Takahashi skated a brilliant program putting himself within striking distance of the gold medal. Nobouri Oda followed in fourth.

But it's the fifth- through seventh-place skaters who are probably wishing they could give it another shot.

Reigning Olympic silver medalist Stephane Lambiel needed a solid quad/triple, and didn't get it. His double axel, as superb as it was, needed to be triple. His spins were given the highest grades of execution, and rightfully so. But his lack of technical difficulty left him in fifth, and too far away to challenge for the gold, which was his mission at these Games.

Johnny Weir probably would like another take on his short program, usually his strength. He opened in grand command, with a strong triple/triple combination, and a triple axel. But his last jump, his triple flip, was not his best. Weir's show was also not there; he looked slow and his footwork was not up to his usual showmanship. I do, however, question a deduction he received on his trip flip.

Reigning world silver medalist Patrick Chan showed up looking scared and tight. A flunky landing on a triple axel and a mistake in his footwork sequence left him looking stunned as he got off the ice. A time violation cost him another precious point. He stands in 7th. 17th.

But the true bad luck story tonight belonged to U.S. national champion Jeremy Abbott, who is sitting in 15th.

The disaster was France's Brian Joubert. Not even I would believe he would be sitting in 18th place after the short program. Worse, he actually showed some emotion other then ego; time to think about retirement, darling!

My predictions?

Plushenko and Lysacek will not be caught; one will grab the gold, the other the silver. The Japanese skaters will both falter in the long program. Chan and Weir will show up hungry for Thursday's long program. They will make a move and the bronze medal is open for the taking. But who wants it?

Related: Chad Conley's pre-Olympics preview.