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Thread: (somewhat gloomy) Article: U.S. skating prospects dim

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    Post (somewhat gloomy) Article: U.S. skating prospects dim

    http://www.nola.com/newsflash/sports...xml&storylist=

    Most troublesome are the absences of Kwan and Cohen. Kwan has almost no experience in the points scoring system now in use — her only major appearance under it was in this year's world championships, where she was a disappointing fourth, her first non-medal at worlds in a decade. Unless she makes a late entry into a Grand Prix event after dropping out of Cup of China on Tuesday, her next competition will be at nationals in January.

    That means international judges won't have seen Kwan's programs and she won't have gotten the necessary feedback to make them battle-tough for the Olympics.

    Granted, Kwan is such a clutch competitor that she probably will win her ninth straight (and 10th overall) nationals. But the Olympics haven't supplied her most glorious moments.
    Well, well. What do we make of this? Do we disagree or do we join in the doom and gloom?

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    Custom Title 76olympics's Avatar
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    I choose to stay on the sunny side. It is early in the season and I think all of the players have time to heal and improve. I may be in the minority, but I really like Inoue and Baldwin and I think they are on the upward swing. They relate to each other like a pair. If Baldwin could just be more consistent on the jumps...

    I also think Johnny will conquer his early season jitters. It is nerve-wracking dealing with a new scoring system in an Olympic year. It is disorienting to change your program to adhere to it. But-I think Johnny will find a way to let his particular style shine through.

    Call me an optimist, but I can dream. I like the foreign skaters, also-so I will enjoy watching everyone regardless of nationality. But-I am sure the fans in those countries like to have home skaters to root for also.

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    Evan did well at Worlds, and, has started off the GP with a bang and last season, Johnny had great success on the GP circuit -- but Wilner doesn't think that the men will medal. Sasha was out injured during the GP circuit last season, too -- but she medaled at Worlds, and Michelle -- with a disasterous QR and a fall -- still did better at Worlds than 5 out of the 6 ladies who qualified for the GPF (and so, had much more CoP experience). Yes, it is possible that Michelle and Sasha won't medal. but it is way too early to make any such prediction.

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    On Edge Piel's Avatar
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    If Cohen is healthy she will be on the podium. If Kwan is healthy has a program that is what we are used to seeing her skate (no Shez or Bolero) and is clean she will be on the podium. If Tarasova gave her a program as good as Cohen's original Swan Lake and Kwan gives it the old Kwan magic she could be at the top of the podium.

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    I think the article makes some good points, but as it's too early to be crowning an Olympic champion, it's also too early IMO to be calling the US a failure. If January comes and the US still isn't competitive in terms of point totals, then we can panic. But I think some great points are raised: Kwan is being robbed of Cop experience, Cohen not being "a sure thing" (although the latter I think can be argued: She's been one of the more consistent performers over the last two-three years. What about Arakawa who jumped from 1st to 9th? Or Elena who was second in the world in 2003, to drop off the radar the very next year? Or the Japanese ladies, who didn't really show up at '05 Worlds? The list can go on.). But I believe that stuff happens. Whatever that means, we'll have to wait and see.

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    Go Irina, Daisuke, Shen & Zhou and Navka & Kostomorov!

    I thought this was the most intersting comment:

    "It's all math now," said renowned coach Frank Carroll, who guided Kwan to the top and now works with Evan Lysacek. "It's unfortunate that it is more math than skating and you lose a little of musicality and pleasure of watching it. So why do anything more than what is being scored?"

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    Custom User Title CDMM1991's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman
    So why do anything more than what is being scored?"
    THIS is the problem. Remember when MK said she had to cut her signature spiral short because after a certain amount of seconds on one edge she wasn't getting any more points and had to move on to another move (One that was most likely far less attractive than the former alternative)

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    I wasn't aware that Michelle and Sasha were the only skaters going to be on the team

    the men have a deep field... any combo of 3 guys can hold their own
    the dance even without Tanith and Ben will at least make a strong showing
    and who knows with pairs lol


    besides this is the end of October.... January is, sadly, a couple of months away, and then there's a month until the Olys.... this article is premature

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    Ok I have a less than positive outlook about U.S. skating's prospects but not to the extreme as the author here. He obviously underestimates Sasha by calling her underachieving. He must have forgotten about her past 2 World silvers. However, I can see his point about Michelle. As for U.S. skating in general, it's really too early to tell at this point. There may very well be some surprises in store for us come Turino.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman
    Go Irina, Daisuke, Shen & Zhou and Navka & Kostomorov!

    I thought this was the most intersting comment:

    "It's all math now," said renowned coach Frank Carroll, who guided Kwan to the top and now works with Evan Lysacek. "It's unfortunate that it is more math than skating and you lose a little of musicality and pleasure of watching it. So why do anything more than what is being scored?"
    Mathman finds a comment about math interesting? How very odd.

    Okay, call ]i]me[/i] an optimist but I think knowing what's being scored is a big advantage over not knowing. Right now, for example, almost all the top American women, plus some from other countries, are doing the same spiral sequence: an arabesque change-edge; a Y position catch-foot; and a fan spiral (the one with the free leg in front). Only Irina, that I've seen, is getting a Level 4 or 5 with her Beillman sequence. Of course I'm sure we'll see more variations as the GP series goes on. But that's par for the course in any new system.

    Also, the COP tells you what's being scored but it STILL does not tell anybody what moves to do. Emily Hughes, for example, does that wonderfully difficult deep edge "swoop out" with one hand touching the ice that Michelle used to do at the end of her Charlotte. To paraphrase a line from Shakespeare's "Julius Ceasar": "The fault lies not in the COP. The fault lies in ourselves." "Ourselves" meaning a lack of creativity among coaches, choreographers, and the older skaters who can contribute to their own choreography.

    When Sasha first hit the scene as a contender and started with the "SashaMovesTM" thing, even I gagged. But now I can see why she tried to do it. Nobody I saw was doing the fan spiral, although I'm sure Sasha didn't invent it, when Sasha started doing it. Same with the I-spin (it's not even fun to call it the BC anymore). Now both are all over the place.

    The other thing the COP doesn't tell you is what to do in terms of choreography. Even if Robin Wagner hadn't changed the music selections when she took over Sasha's "Swan Lake," it was clear at least to me that even though Cohen was doing the same highlights, such as the scratch spin with the arms held elbows up in front and in back of her head, RW's "Swan Lake" was like the same balloon but with all the air let out of it. If ever a case could be made that it's not the COP that makes the choreography good or bad but the choreographer, that was one.

    Also, the COP does not tell you in what order things must be done. Sure, a skater gets more points for doing jumps after a certain time (is it the 2 or 3 minute mark?) but that seems fair to me. I remember when a French skater whose name escapes me did her LP to "Legends of the Fall" and did all her spins at the end of the program, about five or six of them, a couple of combo spins too, all in a row. I absolutely loved it; I found it mesmerizing and it reminded me of leaves whirling off the trees as they fall. There is nothing in the COP to prevent a choreographer from doing something unique like that or something else. The French skater lost the bronze at that year's Europeans to Volchkova and there was nothing to look at, besides the OBO marks, to get an indication as to why.

    Anyway, the person who made the remark is Frank Carroll who has coached for a very long time, quite successfully, under the 6.0 system. At his age, I can't imagine he's too thrilled about trying to incorporate a whole new scoring system into the tricks he must come up with and around which the choreography must be built.

    I think that we'll see a lot of copying of the tricks done by the top skaters at least for a while. Skaters and coaches are naturally insecure about what to do, especially in an Olympic year, so everybody is playing it safe. However, I think that over the next four years those skaters who want to break out of the pack will seek out those choreographers who can be creative with the COP and also coaches will look for ways to use their skaters' strengths in technical areas such as the spiral step sequence and the footwork instead of just copying last year's top point getters in those areas. I mean, the fan spiral doesn't look that great on every ladies skater who is using it. There are a great many ways to lift the free leg (catch-foot or not) and get a deep edge on the skating leg as one glides at top speed across the ice.

    As for someone making the argument that Michelle couldn't hold the second part of her change-edge spiral as long because holding it longer didn't get her anymore points. That's what it says on paper, but Michelle never tried different spiral sequences in front of COP panels of judges, so I can't feel bad for her on that score (no pun intended). I thought Sasha's spiral sequence from that included Y-position catch-foot 180-degree turn would certainly rack up maximum points, but it didn't. To my way of thinking, the catch-foot Y turn had great difficulty of position and required great edge control. However, apparently the judges did not see it as a spiral because it did not glide across the ice. Fair enough. But Sasha had to try it to find that out.

    What the coaches, skaters, choreographers, and judges decided they wanted to see in a top level spiral step sequence is variety of positions, difficulty of positions, and superb execution. A position may be so difficult and the execution so great that a skater may still receive a Level 5 without a lot of variety, or any other combination of two great elements. But it seems most skaters go for their best in all three areas since usually one of them isn't their strong suit.

    Finally, last night ESPN reran it's '05 "Worlds Roundup" or whatever it was called with Paul Wylie hosting. My favorite part was irina describing her free skate because things she did that I thought were "Finally, some creative choreography instead of the same old thing!" were actually mistakes she made, lol. For example, she was so tired she forgot to do her footwork sequence and started to do her oh-so-familiar final Beillman combination. At Worlds, she did the first half of the Beillman combo and then went into the FW sequence. I thought, "Great!" Anyway, because she was off the music she had to make up some things to finish her final spin with the music, i.e., as she and Paul were watching a tape of her LP, Irina would say, "I make mistake before so this part I make up." Loved it.

    Anyway, even if the COP results in less creativity in competitive figure skating choreography, it's not like it was very creative before in singles. We had the Lori-Frank-Michelle collaboration for six years; two Olympic-year highlights from Phillipe Candeloro's camp; and Tarasova. Of course we still have Lori, just with a different skater, and also Tarasova. I think when we start having coaches and choreographers brought up under the COP we will see a whole new era in skating. Whether us old OBOers will like it or not is another story.

    Rgirl

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    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Rgirl, to me, your post reinforces what Frank Caroll is saying. Just because something is difficult does not mean you should do it. I'm sure it is very difficult to spin with your finger up your nose. Maybe that change of position with raise your spin from a level 2 to a level 3, under the New Judging System.

    I think Caroll's point is, all that creative choreography that you mention -- yes, it is possible under the NJS, but it is not rewarded in the point totals, so why waste your time doing it?

    About Michelle's spiral, while I don't feel sorry for Michelle about it, I feel sorry for us. We don't get to see the second most spectacular move in the history of skating any more.

    MM

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    He obviously underestimates Sasha by calling her underachieving. He must have forgotten about her past 2 World silvers.
    Maybe he is, but in the US, we must not forget it's basically all about winning. (Remember the US basketball team in 04?) SC has lots of silvers, yes, but she hasn't won anything major. Therefore some heavily pro-American can come around (whoever wrote this article?) and call her underachieved. I can see where the author is coming from (however that doesn't mean I agree with him). JMO...

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    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Anyway, it seem pretty clear that we are looking at a Russian sweep in Torino -- Slutskaya, Plushenko, Totmianina and Marinen, and Navka and Kostamaorov. So it's not just the U.S. that will be singing the blues.

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    I hate to criticize CoP, because it is so new, but there was one thing I was discussing recently that sticks out in my mind. I think that there is really a technical base to every thing a skater does now, and once the coaches and skaters are able to determine what technical aspects are going to garner the highest scores they will have more freedom. There is a lot of imitation right now, because skaters see each other and can say, "Ok, well running across the ice on my toe-picks will up the level of my footwork." But once the full range of what technical skills can get a skater a level 4 then we'll see choreographers and skaters playing around with things a little more. After talking to a lot of skaters who have judges and specialists come to their rinks to watch their programs, they've all said that they don't actually get any specifica feedback on what they should do to make elements more difficult; they get feedback telling them simply that the element is either up to standard or not difficult enough.

    The last thing I want to say is that I do personally miss the 6.0 system, and for one reason; Michelle Kwan's short program footwork from 97 and 98. Both of those pieces of footwork are just unbelievable to me to watch, and yet neither would get a high level in today's system, because of it's strict definition of what difficult is. The fact is is that no one could have done those footwork sequences like Michelle except Michelle, and I'd say that makes it pretty difficult, but I guess the ISU is really looking to make this an exact science. It's tough to think we'll have to live without those kinds of moves for a while.

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    "Anyway, the person who made the remark is Frank Carroll who has coached for a very long time, quite successfully, under the 6.0 system. At his age, I can't imagine he's too thrilled about trying to incorporate a whole new scoring system into the tricks he must come up with and around which the choreography must be built."

    Frank Carroll might not be too thrilled about the new system, but he coached Lysacek how to do well under it. IMO, Carroll is one of the most adaptable of the coaches. He coached skaters to World and/or Oly medals when figures were compulsory, without figures, and now under the CoP. There are not a lot of other coaches who can equal that accomplishment.

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