"We need quadruples ... that is the future of figure skating," Plushenko said. "Without the quadruple, [it's] not men's figure skating. Now it's dancing."The scoring system in figure skating has changed and is no longer the subjective 6 point scoring system where you had the mysterious "Russian judge" giving scores one couldn't understand, but is now a much more objective, particularly on the technical side, system where each element has a base score and the competitor is judged on how well they performed it. Further, jumps performed late in the program earn a 10% bonus to give credit for performing them when more difficult and to encourage skaters to not front load their routines making them somewhat boring. Add this all up and you have the technical score.
Now, a quad jump is indeed given a higher base score and so Plushenko's claim does have some merit, but it is only 1 of 13 elements that are scored, so since I love looking at data, I couldn't help diving in to the detailed scoring of their two routines to see how they stacked up.
In the table below, I've listed the programs for both skaters with the base value for their elements, their grade of execution, and running total along with the difference of their running totals through the programs. I've also put in bold those jumps that occurred in the second half of the programs and received a 10% bonus for the base value. Note, since both skaters had identical program components scores, analyzing the technical score is all that is needed to compare them.
From this we can see that Plushenko did take an early lead with his quad/triple combination and extended it with his early triple axel combination and triple loop, but then the lead began to shrink and ultimately became a lead for Lysacek when he threw his triple/double/double combination. The way the lead varies is really due to the order of the elements as we aren't comparing apples to apples in the rows. To do that, I've reordered Plushenko's program to match the rows of similar elements of Lysacek's below and the Diff column is the difference for that row/element. The 10% bonus items still appear in bold.
Now we can more clearly see how they compare. Looking at just the jumps to start, as expected, Plushenko's quad does give him a big advantage, but Lysacek executed his triple axel better eating into nearly a 3rd of that advantage. Plushenko got a bit back with his triple axel combination being better executed (even though Lysacek got the 10% bonus here), but the 10% bonus and better execution got Lysacek nearly a point for his triple loop. They both did a third combination getting the 10% bonus but Lysacek threw in the extra double loop giving him a 0.7 advantage. But the big difference was Lysacek throwing his triple lutz late in the program got him a 0.6 advantage that he extended to 1.4 with his execution.
In the end, for the jumps, Lysacek had a base value of 58.23 (3.23 from the 10% bonus) and 5.24 for execution for a total of 63.47 to Plushenko's 59.33 base (but only 1.53 from the 10% bonus) and 4.44 for execution for a total of 63.77. Plushenko's big lead from the quad was nearly completely lost due to poorer execution (0.8 point diff) and not maximizing his 10% bonus (1.7 point diff). Also, due to doing the quad toe loop, Plushenko wasn't able to fit a triple flip in his program which is more difficult than the triple salchow and triple loop that he did perform.
Lysacek also performed more difficult footwork and spins having a base value of 16.7 with 4.4 for execution to Plushenko's 15.7 and 3.24 for a difference of 2.16. This results in, from a technical mark standpoint, Plushenko's 3.8 point base point advantage for his quad being lost and Lysacek actually beating him on the technical mark by 1.86.
Now, if Plushenko has simply paid more attention to putting elements where they get more bonus, say moving the triple axel (0.82 bonus) and triple lutz (0.6 bonus), the margin would have been narrowed to 0.44. That is less than the difference from his poorer execution meaning that ultimately his winning or losing was due to how he arranged his program and his execution, particularly his triple axel where he had -0.36 grade of execution.
So from the data, it does not appear Plushenko was robbed, rather his assertion that the winner needs to try a quad is only one part of the story.
But what do you think? Do you think Plushenko was robbed?