SOCHI, Russia -- Jeremy Abbott has been grounded.
After the four-time U.S. champion's spectacular meltdown in the short program of the team competition, he left the athletes' village and checked into a hotel. Instead of doing what he wants, when he wants, as he did when he was in the village, coach Yuka Sato and trainer Britta Ottoboni are in charge of his schedule.
"I was a little too laid back, relaxed and mushy," Abbott said Tuesday. "From now on, Yuka and Britta are my puppeteers. They're pulling the strings."
Abbott has a long history of struggles with his psyche, particularly at world championships and the Olympics. He can be absolutely brilliant at the U.S. championships, only to look like a human Zamboni two months later when the world is watching.
He was ninth at the Vancouver Games, and 11th at the 2008 and 2009 world championships. He was fifth at the 2010 worlds, but that was in a weakened, post-Olympic field.
But Abbott has been saying all season that he's a different skater. That restructuring his whole approach in 2012 has given him more confidence, and makes him better-equipped to handle his nerves.
Then came last Thursday's debacle.
Abbott splatted on his quad, did a watered-down combination and popped his triple axel. It was about as bad as he could have done, and it left the U.S. seventh in the 10-team field.
The Americans wound up with the bronze medal, rallying behind Meryl Davis and Charlie White, Ashley Wagner and Gracie Gold.
"The short program was a disappointment," Abbott said. "But I think it was kind of exactly what I needed looking forward. Like I said, I was extremely upset that I did that for my team. … I felt like I let the team down.
"(But) it made me really look at how I was structuring the competition and how I was approaching it mentally," he said. "We've restructured this games so it's much more normal for me."
As a second-time Olympian, Abbott knew what to expect when he got to the athlete village. But he still found himself caught up in it, hanging out with friends and not sticking to his schedule. He wasn't doing anything terrible, and he was fine when he was at the practice rink.
But he'd lollygag on his way to breakfast. Miss the bus he planned to take. Find himself speed walking so he wouldn't be late.
"Living in the village feels like Neverland. Time doesn't exist and you feel like a kid forever," Abbott said. "It's an amazing feeling, but it wasn't conducive to my needs."
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Abbott and Sato have actually tracked his results through the season, and they discovered his worst performances came on days when he was scattered or off his schedule.
No surprise, then, that he did so poorly in the team competition.
"It's all in the preparation, not just at home but in the preparation that day," he said. "Mine was a little scattered, and you saw I was a little bit scattered on the ice."
Abbott had considered moving into a hotel before the men's event, but he and Sato decided to see how the team event went before making a final determination.
"After a week in the village," Abbott said, "it was a necessity."
Now that he's in a tightly structured environment again, Abbott is confident he's ready for the men's event, which begins Thursday with the short program.
He may not be having as much fun, but there's plenty of time for that when he's done competing.
"I had to step away and say, `All right. I have a whole week and a half after to live this whole experience.' I'm here to do a job," he said. "I can't let this opportunity slip again."
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