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Thread: Who is to blame for low-tech Oly performances?

  1. #1
    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Who is to blame for low-tech Oly performances?

    In 1998 Tara Lipinski did seven triples including a triple loop/triple loop, and Michelle Kwan also did 7 triples.

    In 2002 Sarah Hughes did two triple/triples in a 7 triple performance.

    In 2006, the gold medallist landed 5 triples, no 3/3 combination.
    The silver medallist fell twice and called her medal "a gift."
    The bronze medallist managed 4 triples.

    Here is an interesting article asking whether the New Judging System is in part to blame.

    http://www.latimes.com/sports/printe...ines-pe-sports

    Ottavio Cinquanto instead puts the blame on the national skating federations for "not developing the talent" necessary to compete under the new rules:

    "The ISU can produce administration, a system of judging, can organize competitions, but we don't produce the skaters," he said during Friday's exhibition gala at the Palavela. "So if the member federations, the national federations, they are unable to make available talent, it is not the fault of the ISU…."

    (Of course it's not, Speedy -- is anything ever the fault of the ISU?)

    MM

    PS. Hmm. The whole LA Times web site seems to be down at the moment. The link should work after a while.
    Last edited by Mathman; 02-25-2006 at 12:41 PM.

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    The skating certainly wasn't very good, but I don't think it was all because of the judging system. There was not a top skater who wasn't capable of skating their COP program cleanly. Some years are just bad. 1992 was pretty wretched.

    The problem is that even had they been clean, their programs would not have been as interesting under COP. There was too much foot pulling, too many identical spirals. I hate what's happening with the spins. I miss beautiful laybacks that last longer than a blink.

    Can we just split the blame 50/50 in the interest of justice?
    Last edited by SusanBeth; 02-25-2006 at 01:12 PM.

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    Custom User Title CDMM1991's Avatar
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    I thought Shizuka's performance was one very deserving of an Olympic Gold medal. I don't think that a triple-triple has to necessarily be in the job description for an Olympic Gold Medalist. The triple-triples were what set Tara and Sarah apart. Shizuka had other things to set her apart; she didn't need the big jumps. I'll take an Ina Bauer like that over a triple-triple any day.

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    I have to disagree with the title. Low-Tech? Not at all.

    Let's see can all level 4 spins and spirals. Level 3 step sequences over take 2 3/3 jumps? That's about 11 (5 in SP and 6 in LP) non jump elements VS. 2 combo jumps. Not to mention Shizuka has better quality on her other jumps than either Tara or Sarah. Plus Shizuka's over all skating skill, no brainer. Shizuka skated more technique chanlanged programs than either Tara or Sarah.

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    Custom Title Joesitz's Avatar
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    Is there anyway to get rid of Speedy? It really is time for a change.

    Joe

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    In my opinion, Lipinski and Hughes had less to offer in other areas of their skating than Arakawa, although I think both of their Olympic programs were full of transitions between elements. Under CoP, rotation and the individual parts of jumping -- entry, air position, height, and landing -- are given more emphasis than a landed jump that is underrotated, has a skid or low entry, has little height, or has a faulty landing. Those were problems that were tolerated under the system in which Hughes and Lipinski thrived. Arakawa's strengths were rewarded by the system: clean rotation, solid entries, tight air position, good height, and the softness knees and landings in the business.

    There's been huge amount of complaining about how technical difficulty has gone down in Ladies' jumping -- post Ito, Harding, Yamaguchi -- since the early 1990's, a decade before CoP was implemented. Bauil's Olympic-winning program had a splendid opening 3Lu, if telegraphed, and not many more well-executed and difficult jumps. All of these skaters, who had excellent spins as well, were from the school figures age, but they were able to trade their figures time for jump time in the early 1990's. The kids who came up post figures had that same block of time to work on more difficult jumps from an earlier age, once they no longer had to train for figures.

    Kwan is usually credited with lowering the overall difficulty of Ladies' championship skates, because she "only" did 3T/3T, but did a series of top-quality spirals and footwork as well as spins in good positions with controlled and polished transitions. When speed because the calling card, she reduced the number of transitions -- just like Totmianina/Marinin did with their post-Cotton Club long programs -- in order to increase speed.

    Under OBO, the "well-balanced" guidelines were minimums and under CoP, they are maximums. CoP doesn't force skaters to do any more spins or harder spins than the well-balanced program rules under OBO. The type of spin in the SP has been dictated for decades. What CoP encourages is more than perfunctory sit spins, especially among the men -- remember Yagudin in SLC? remember Joubert before CoP? -- and footwork sequences by offering points for more difficulty and, at least in theory, better execution. If you think that every spiral sequence in Ladies' is the same under CoP, Biellmann after Biellmann, you should have seen almost all of the 2003 European Ladies' spiral sequences: nearly all of them had catch-foots with flat backs -- picture Marinin in his LP spiral, except on 35 women -- or bent legs, and few positions were held for more than 2 seconds, with the free leg dropping like lead and hardly any core strength.

    CoP point allocation doesn't discourage rotated difficult jumps at all. What it doesn't do is encourage jump diversity -- i.e., no bonus for doing all five or six triples instead of 2-3Lu's and 2-3F's or skipping a jump -- or harder combinations, because all combinations are simply the sum of the point values of the two single jumps -- i.e. no bonus for 2T/3T vs. 3T/2T or 3Lu/3T vs. 3Sa/3T. But in addition to encouraging more complex spins, spirals, and footwork, CoP also encourages doing more than five triples, and the skater can choose to do harder jumps, spins, spirals, and footword or to trade off higher levels of difficulty on spins, spirals, and footwork for more difficult jumps, if that is the way the skater wants to allocate his/her time.

    Scenario 1: Six triple program with one 3/3. No 3A. Hardest six triple program.
    3Lu/3T
    3F/2T/2Lo
    3Lu/2T
    3F
    3Lo
    2A
    2A

    The 3T in combination is worth 4 base points and the extra 2A is worth 3.6 (after the first half). Assume the five-triple program has one unplanned doubled flip. The total difference in base is 7.6-2 or 5.6 points.

    If the same skater does a L1 upright spin instead of L4 upright spin, a plain sit-change-sit instead of a L4 change of foot spin, a L1 combo spin instead of a L4 combo, and a plain flying camel, the difference in base is 5.7.

    Total advantage for 4-L4 spins vs. 3/3T and second 2A and all L1 spins is .1 in base, but the potential upside/downside for the 3T is twice for each level of GOE. And change the 3T in combination to a 3Lo and the single 3Lo to a 3Sa, and there's another net .5 on the jump base.

    There isn't a singles skater at the Olympic or Worlds level who can't do at least one L2 spin with little additional training, and almost no skaters have all L4 spins. The point differential between 4-L2's and 4-L4's in base is 4.2, which would give the same skater with six triples and 2-2A's the opportunity to do a L2 instead of a L4 spiral sequence, and have a slightly higher base than the 5-triple skater with 2 doubles and L4 spins and spirals.


    Scenario 2: Six Triple program, including a 3A.

    In this case, the 3A raises the base difference by 4 points over scenario 1 -- 3A replaces second 3A -- and the skater can do all L1's -- spins, spirals, footwork -- and still have the same base as a skater doing all L4's.

    Scenario 3: Seven triple program, not including a 3A.

    3Lz/3T
    3F/3Lo
    3Lz/2T/2Lo
    3F
    3S
    2A
    2A

    Scenario 1 except the skater can do L1 spins, spiral, and footwork and have a higher base than the five-triple/2 double skater who has all L4's.


    Scenario 4: Seven triple program including a 3A.

    Scenario 1 except the skater can do L1 spins, spiral, and footwork and have an even higher base than the five-triple/2 double skater who has all L4's.

    Any skater has the choice of taking that practice time and putting it into jumps that will rack up points,, especially if performed well, instead of increasing Levels on other elements. Weir, for example, could have done all of Tarasova's original spins, if he had completed all eight jumping passes and done the maximum combinations and still had the same, if not a higher, base score. (Why the USFS gave him griefs about his levels instead of his jump content is beyond me. 2x3=3x2.) Any skater has the choice of doing simpler spins, spins, and spirals and of converting the program time needed to hit and hold extra positions to longer and easier -- or harder, thus increasing the transitions scores -- set-ups for jumps. It's all there on paper.

  7. #7
    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Another blockbuster expert post from Hockeyfan, to paste into my CoP notebook! Thanks for that take. First rate.

    I guess the real question that I am going back and forth on is this. One of the purposes of the New Judging System was to make figure skating "more like a real sport" (and presumably less like a beauty contest). To me, Arakawa won the gold medal because she was more lovely and elegant than anyone else. I realize that it takes a lot of technique to skate with elegance and loveliness. Still...

    Sasha got silver because, after she picked herself up from the opening jitters, she skated with eye-popping beauty and charm.

    Personally, I am tickled pink that "Arakawa's strengths were rewarded by the (new judging) system: clean rotation, solid entries, tight air position, good height, and the softest knees and landings in the business."

    But my question is, doesn't that count on the "beauty contest" side of the equation rather than the "is this a true sport" side?

    MM
    Last edited by Mathman; 02-25-2006 at 07:42 PM.

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    Ballroom Baby
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman

    Personally, I am tickled pink that "Arakawa's strengths were rewarded by the (new judging) system: clean rotation, solid entries, tight air position, good height, and the softest knees and landings in the business."

    But my question is, doesn't that count on the "beauty contest" side of the equation rather that the "is this a true sport" side?

    MM
    I would argue absolutely not. It requires a lot of strength, fine motor control and technique to make things that are inherently very, very difficult look graceful and easy. To be sport does not mean to make things LOOK exhausting. Dressage and reining in the equestrian discipline are both about looking like you are doing as little as possible while in fact you are doing a LOT. A skating performance is not inherently more athletic because the skater makes it obvious she's muscling through moves.

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    Imo

    I totally agree that the value of a clean, 6 or 7 jump program under the 6.0 system was much higher and allowed for more choreography than the current system. It produced better quality programs and performances. Yes, CoP mandates more transitions and higher level spins and spirals but they are dirt bag ugly. It's a complete mishmash and now the programs aren't clean. I totally agree with Frank Carroll, Sandra Bezic, and Lori Nichol. Sasha Cohen's program was the finest one out there and it was a shame she couldn't have landed a 6th jump, maybe she would have won. Shizuka deserved her win, no contest, but frankly the choreography was uninspiring. I think Shizuka is a great skater believe me. But it was a very flat Olympics as far as figure skating was concerned for me. The best programs didn't win-Matt Savoie, Sasha, S & Z.

  10. #10
    Down With It
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    the thing is, if Cohen was clean, maybe Arakawa would have gone for those 3-3's. And she was super solid on those in the warm-ups. And Slutskaya- poor thing, I think she would have succumbed to nerves either way. But my point is that you NEVER know what might have happened had a skater done something differently or performed better. Maybe someone might have been inspired and had the performance of her life. I think this was Arakawa's Olympics. She just didn't bust out the big tricks because she didn't need them.

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    Red Dog

    Shiz is notorious for underrotating her triple-triples though, which is probably another reason why she didn't want to try it. Her program just wasn't the quality of Sasha's overall. Shiz will always be somewhat wooden in her presentation IMO. Not horribly wooden mind you, but wooden from western standards. If Sasha had skated cleanly, she would have been unbeatable in my opinion. I miss the days of a clean program, a well centered and beautiful spin, the attempt at 7 jumps, with a triple-triple thrown in, and most importantly meaningful choreography.

  12. #12
    Down With It
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    yeah...possibly. But Shiz did a commendable job under Olympic pressure, and the fact will remain that Shizuka brought it to the table, Cohen and Slutskaya did not, end of story. We could discuss the what-ifs till 2010, but that won't change the results.

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    Shiz

    Yes, she won fair and square. She is a wonderful skater and I am happy for her, her family and her country. I like them all very much.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman
    Personally, I am tickled pink that "Arakawa's strengths were rewarded by the (new judging) system: clean rotation, solid entries, tight air position, good height, and the softest knees and landings in the business."

    But my question is, doesn't that count on the "beauty contest" side of the equation rather than the "is this a true sport" side?

    MM
    Not at all. Form is critical in all judged sports, including diving, ski-jumping, moguls, aerials, half-pipe, etc. If the rules of figure skating were changed to have skaters hurl themselves down the ice and get around regardless of landing or air position, that would be different. Figure skating rewards proper execution of the elements, which include clean rotation and clear entries -- those also define what element has been completed -- tight air position, good height, and soft knees in landing.

  15. #15
    it's olympic season :D bethissoawesome's Avatar
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    It's so difficult to say what would have/could have/should have happened in this Olympics. If Sasha went out there and skated a clean, fantastic, passionate program, who knows what would have happened? Maybe Shiz would have gone for a triple/triple/double and a triple/triple like she did in World in 2004. Maybe Irina would have stuck to her opening combos instead of just doing the first jump. Maybe they would have cracked. Who knows. All we can say is Shizuka had the best 4 minutes on the ice at the 2006 Olympics, so she deserves the Gold.

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