Lysacek-Plushenko showdown was snakes and sizzle

It was a tight – and very stretchy – showdown on Olympic ice for

Evan Lysacek and Evegni Plushenko.

In the end, Lysacek’s snakes alive beat out Plushenko’s sparkly,

red sizzle during the frosty Vancouver finals that were sartorially

dubbed “La Cage aux Follies” by one insider.

Two bulky serpents of Swarovski crystal bounced around the

American’s neck and up the back of his Vera Wang one-piece. “Thank

you, Vera,” Lysacek offered as he sweated out his winning scores

Thursday night.

“The tall, raven-haired Lysacek cut a riveting figure on the

ice,” said InStyle magazine’s fashion director, Hal Rubenstein.

Were the snakes too much? “A bit too heavy in close-up, but

striking on the ice.”

Still, the look was tamer than Lysacek’s costume for the short

program, another Wang piece in all black with sequins up top and

long, bushy feather cuffs. Lysacek called that one his


Nick Verreos, the “Project Runway” alum and red carpet

designer, said Lysacek and his King Cobra buddies were “dark and

dramatic” – and definitely gold medal-worthy.

Plushenko’s tight unitard with a red vest design left the

fashionistas cold. Same for Jef Billings, a longtime skating

designer who has dressed Peggy Fleming, Michelle Kwan and Sarah

Hughes for competition.

“How odd that the one skater who gracelessly questioned the

masculinity of any competitor who was not going to attempt a quad

in their long program should hit the ice dressed like the master of

ceremonies at a drag club,” Rubenstein said. “If there is ever a

version of La Cage aux Follies on ice, Plushenko is ready for


Verreos called Plushenko’s outfit as he earned silver a “’High

School Musical’ costume that matched his ‘High School Musical’


More spin on the big skate from our experts:


Weir went home without a medal, befitting his “fallen angel”

theme of silvery crystals in a toned-down look – at least by Weir


Rubenstein: “With a style and manner unlike any other figure

skater, if Weir wanted to appear otherworldly, he succeeded.”

Billings: “I’m sure the design had a significance to Johnny

since he always attempts to convey some idea in his clothes but not

sure it was evident to the audience.”

Verreos: “I’m happy, and I’m sure PETA is, too, that Johnny

lost the fur. It showed his elegant restraint and maturity

mirroring his almost flawless performance.”


Japan’s Nobunari Oda, evoking Charlie Chaplin’s silent “Little

Tramp,” could have used a costume assist when one of his skate

laces broke loose.

Verreos: “Can you please give me a couple sequins?! I get the

Charlie Chaplin reference but I was falling asleep until the lace

snapped. Never before have I been so excited about a wardrobe


Rubenstein: “You need to hit the ice looking commanding, not


Billings: “I like that it was not enhanced with beads, etc.

Just the essence of the original done a bit simply and adapted as a

costume that could be skated in.”


Takahashi, also from Japan, won bronze in bland checks with

matching wraparound scarf.

Rubenstein: “The vested checked shirt gave the vibrant skater

the air of the guy who walks into a room knowing who and what he

wants. But the untucked shirt at times appeared a little sloppy on

the ice, and at times seemed in conflict with the clarity of his

jumps. Next time, Takahashi should tuck himself in. He can look

cool after he wins.”

Verreos: “Cirque de Soleil gone wrong. … I give Takahashi

points for always bringing us over-the-top costumes, but this one

looked like a tablecloth from a cheap Greek taverna.”

Billings: “It was a bit distracting because there was a lot of

extra fabric pieces flying around. The folded scarf around his neck

was a bit overpowering for his small frame.”


Canada’s hope placed fifth as he went for “Phantom of the


Rubenstein: “Stuck somewhere between a band uniform and a

double-breasted tuxedo, Chan’s costumed betrayed the one trait a

skating costume shouldn’t project – discomfort.”

Verreos: “Although the `Phantom of the Opera’ has been done one

too many times for my taste, his costume was a refreshing twist on

an overused theme. And, thank goodness, no Andrew Lloyd Weber mask

in sight!”

Billings: “The jacket seemed a bit restrictive and perhaps some

of the detail was lost.”


He was in fourth place for Switzerland in flowing shirt sleeves

under a vest with lace that flapped at the shoulders.

Verreos: “The Swiss may be famous for their couture laces and

embroidery, but Stephane’s Tea Cozy shoulder pads were a definite


Rubenstein: “Maybe it’s the big shock of hair atop his handsome

face and frame, but Stephane tends to favor costumes that make him

look like the romantic hero in a ballet, opting for military

jackets with lots of buttons and braided shoulders, or cinched

vests worn over Jerry Seinfeld’s puffy shirt. It makes him look

dashing if a little foolish.”

Billings: “Slight period detail which was appropriate to the

piece of music. Nothing unusual but it did the job.”