At 39, Allen Johnson decided to retire from the sport he loves. It would be easiest to review the career of one of history's finest hurdlers simply by scanning his astounding resume. The 1996 Olympic champion in the 110 highs was, after all, a four-time world outdoor champ and a gold medal winner in 1995, 1997, 2001 and 2003. He came back to win bronze in Helsinki in 2005, 10 years after winning his first title. He took second at the world indoor championships in Valencia two years ago, when he was 37.
Last night Nicole Scherzinger was the 10th star to claim the mirrored ball on "Dancing with the Stars." The lead Pussycat Doll went up against Olympic figure skater Evan Lysacek and ESPN anchor Erin Andrews and came out victorious. Many predicted that Scherzinger would win from the start based on her spectacular performances and stage presence, not to mention her extensive dance history as a member of the Pussycat Dolls. But Lysacek and Andrews gave her a good run for her money, bringing an enjoyable end to a season of controversy.
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Wasn't it romantic? Long ago, in a world before American Idol, judges with fickle hearts and talents with wow factors gripped and enchanted audiences on ice stages. All it took was that one moment in a skater's program to change everything -- like the money spiral from Michelle Kwan. She would gain speed in a sequined blur, then suddenly throw her arms out wide, burst into a flirty smile and glide elegantly on one skate blade across the rink in a curving line as if she were drawing hearts.
The must-see event of these Olympics in figure skating, for a change, is the men, which begins Tuesday night. The field is wide open: competing are four world champions, seven world medalists, the defending Olympic champion. There is also a potential judging brouhaha that is a lit fuse waiting to explode. Tonya and Nancy, it's not, but for these days on the snore-me figure skating beat, it's a pretty rich brew. I see ten skaters who have a reasonable shot at a medal, and four men who could possibly win. Let's break them down by categories.
Remember the town in Vietnam that, they said, had to be destroyed in order to be saved? Something like that applies very well to figure skating, a sport with a judging system was so corrupt that changes had to be made. Unfortunately, instead of trusting that they could change the judges, they changed the whole system, and thereby destroyed the sport's popularity.
Despite all the hue and cry surrounding figure skating's new scoring system, the one thing no one seemed to be worried about was whether it would lead to too many ties. After all, each of fourteen elements is marked to the hundredth decimal point. But on Sunday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, the least likely happened. Defending champion Evan Lysacek and former three-time champion Johnny Weir did the near impossible: they finished the competition with exactly 244.77 points each.