Originally Posted by Mathman
No, I don't think Emily is the next Sasha, but I'm starting to think that J. Buttle is headed down that track...
I don't think extreme flexibility leads to an inability to land jumps. Best example: Denise Beillman. She had great flexibility and a couple of triple jumps right up to 40.
Also Bobek could land jumps when well trianed (it was her flutzing and lack of discipline that did her in.) I think Hughes2 simply has a weak jump- the loop. Skaters like Hughes 1, Sasha and Nicole couldn't do real lutzes but got around it by cheating the take off. Lipinski had an axel that barely left the ice but could rotate for dear life. Aside from underrotation- there is no cheating the loop. ( see also kwan's loop and Yamaguchi's Salchow for great skaters with that one iffy jump.)
I think we are simply spoiled by having some great jumpers in the last decade or so & are forgetting that only a handful of women can master the 5 main triples and the double axel (much less 3/3s and 3As)
I will agree with one apt Sasha-Emily comparo- Sasha has fallen on that 3toe at the 1/ to 2/3 point of her program more than any jump I can remember. And Emily seems to have the same problem with the 3 loop in that spot. Maybe putting their 'weak' jump at that point simply allows whatever fatigue, mental lapse or nerves come into greater play.
It's not only the loop---Emily's lutz also seems a liability for her. She left the 3L out of her FS at Worlds after falling on it (again) in the QR.
But she has always had a little problem with her lutz combination, where she struggles to stop the lutz rotation enough to add the 2T. She fell on it in the Worlds SP, and in the FS, she singled the lutz, meant to be a 3Z2T2L combination, then substituted a 3T for the 3L usually in that place. She later added the 3/2/2 combination where the solo 3Z used to be.
I have noticed that all of Emily's FSs are very front-loaded, in that the jumps are the first 8 elements and the last 5 elements are all spiral, spin and step sequences. She starts off with four jump passes in a row: 2A, 3F2T, 3/2/2 lutz combo, 3L (or 3T); then a combo spin; then three jump passes in a row: 3Z, 3F, 3S2T. Those last 3 jumps get bonus credit, but most of the time she underrotates or pops at least one, and sometimes double-foots or puts a hand down on one. I think that's because she has a tendency to run out of steam after the first half of the program. All that unbounded and uncontrolled energy just fizzles after the halfway point.
For the past 2 seasons, Emily has had consistent problems with the 3loop, esp. in international competitions. The last time she landed it cleanly outside of practice was in 2005 World Juniors FS.
This seems to be something of interest. I have visited "another place" that is chatting about this. From Rgirl's post I get the feeling the topic is on to an interesting point. Particularly when discussing "thinner mussels" and "shallow joints" (I will be more common tongued after the other post) and the comment of the contortionists saying something like "you have to work on it..."
Is this why the short "skating life" (I loved the way Irina says it best), due to pushing to hard at the young ages? Trying to achieve that in which you are not capable of? How strong or capable of lifting, throwing and spinning their bodies are contortionists per-say?
Makes me wonder if I wasn't to harsh in some aspects of how they ARE doing, and not try and compare so much as appreciate the ability they have..........naaaaa.
Just to be clear, I never said nor do I believe nor is there any kinesiologic/physiologic reason why extreme flexibility would lead to an "inability to land jumps." (My emphasis.) The main points I was trying to make was that (a) it has only been recently, ie, since Bobek, that we have had more skaters than ever before with extreme flexibility throughout their bodies (flexibility is specific, which I'll get to), and (b) that figure skaters with extreme total body flexibility need specific off-ice training techniques and, depending on individual differences, adjustments to traditional techiques for teaching jumps.Originally Posted by rob43
I'm so glad you brought up Denise Biellman. Specific to your comment that Denise can land jumps into her 40s, indeed that's true. However, it's not all her jumps, but I wouldn't expect her to, and the ones she does do are solid as a rock.
However, in a fluff piece done on Denise about three years ago, 90% of the interview was about how intensidely Denise has always trained with weights and other devices off-ice. IIRC, DB was about 37 or 38 when the piece was done for an elibigle/pro competition. Only 3-4 triples including one in combination were required for the technical program. In the interview piece, it was reported that Denise warms up off ice for 45 minutes just to prepare her body to do the Biellman spin. I'm sure she didn't need to warm up like that when she was 20, but the point is that this woman is very knowledgable when it comes to the cutting edge of sports training methods specific to figure skating, the individual needs of her body, and how to sustain her ability to skate at a high level with minimal risk of injury. When it comes to off-ice training as well as adjusting her jump technique, this woman is as incredible as the spin that bears her name. BTW, even though Tamara Moskvina seems to have done it first, hers didn't have the stretch the DB;s has, plus it was Biellman who made it "famous."
As I noted before, I wanted to touch upon the fact that flexibility is specific to certain joints and muscle groups. For the Beillman spin, for example, Denise has the flexibility in the hamstrings of her supporting leg; the flexibility in her lumbar and cervical spine (low back and neck) to arch (hyperextend) sufficiently; the flexibility in her hip flexors (the muscles and joints) that allow her to pull the free leg very high and very close to her to her extremely arched back; and finally, the strength to hold that position while she's spinning fast.
However, where Denise is not hyperflexible is in her split jumps, ie, either forward or Russian, she's never had a 180 degree split such as Cohen, Bobek, Michelle, Emily Hughes, Sarah Hughes, and others. Neither could Denise do a 180-degree arabesque position for a spiral a la Bobek, Cohen, and Czisny. In that aspect, Denise is like Irina; they both have very flexible spines, hamstrings, and hip flexors that allow them to not only do the Biellman, but also other "skate to head" moves. What Denise and Irina lack are hip sockets that are both shallow and rotated more towards the back than normal (like elite ballet dancers), which is why DB and IS can't do 180-degree arabesque spirals or Charlottes like Cohen.
An example of someone who was not born with the natural ability to achieve these positions but who worked very heard to come close is Michelle kwan. Michelle is not naturally built for these positions the way Cohen and Bobek are; however, by concentrated stretching starting when she was very young--and spurred on, as was reported in a long ago fluff piece, by Bobek's spiral--Michelle was able to achieve about a 150-160 degree arabesque spiral eventually, and same with her Charlotte. Also, I cannot underestimate the strength needed in more muscles than I'm sure you'd care for me to list in order to hold these positions.
The point I tried to make with artistic gymnast vs. rhythmic gymnasts is that artistic gymnasts (those who work on the apparatus) need to be born with exceptional flexibility but also need to train for it, especially if they are not as flexible in certain joint-muscle groups needed to be elite. They also train very hard to build strength with weights. All that is combined with technique for each apparatus. To be clear, I'll call them apparatus gymnasts. With a few exceptions, such as Svetlana Khorkina, they can jump like nobody's business, so clearly, extreme flexibility, when looked at as a separate variable aside from other physical attributes, has nothing to do with the ability to jump with great spring and height in floor tumbling, beam, and vaulting.
Rhythmic gymnasts, OTOH, have longer muscle fibers naturally (not thinner muscles, but it's understandable why people say that, not to mention language differences) and extremely open joints. As I said, they are more like contortionists. Although they can jump, their split leaps have great range of motion--at the Olympic level, close to 200 degrees--but they don't have much spring or height. Rhythmic gymnasts tend to have almost a classic "ectomorphic" body type, which is very thin, on the tall said (at least for female gymnast), and without much muscle strength or bulk. In other words, L&L--long and lean. Alissa Czisny has a high degree of ectormorphic in her body type, which is why I believe she will continue to have jump problems until she does the right kind of off-ice training and also the right adjustments to her jump technique. The hinged figure skating boots are a good start. However, of the three body types, mesophorph, endomorph, and ectomorph, everyone is a combination two or all three, though with one type most predominant.
So, penultimate bottom line, yes, there are some people with extremely flexible bodies, ie, the almost total ectomorphic contortionist type, for whom triple jumps in singles figure skating are always going to be next to impossible to get consistent for what is required these days. However, such skaters--I'm talking females--may do well in ice dancing or pairs. Natalia Mishketunok was a great example of an extremely flexible skater doing well in pairs. However, today, she would have to be able to do at least two triple jumps consistently in order to be competitive.
But as far as Sasha and Emily are concerned, getting back to the thread topic, as I said in my previous post, yes, extreme flexibility such as what Sasha has will likely negatively affect her jump consistency in competition for all the reasons I mentioned. The problem is, although everyones entitled to their opinion, most people base their opinion on just on what they've seen or remember about a couple of skaters without actually having the ability to analyze the differences among those skaters physiologically or kiniseologically. I'm not knocking observation and hope I'm not coming across as "Well, if you don't know the science of it, poo on you." However, I do think it's important for people to identify when they're stating an opinion based just on what it looks like to them. Observation is important. People with both exceptional observation skills as well as experience in skating can often identify tendencies that those who look at the problem analytically can miss.
Still, I'll repeat my hypothesis: Hyperflexible skaters such as Sasha Cohen and Alissa Czisny tend to state repeatedly, "I can do all my jumps perfectly in practice, even on double run-throughs of both my SP and LP. I've been trying to figure this out for years, along with my coach, and we can't understand why I have problems in competition." A paradigm of elite athletic competition is that athletes need to be able to do at least 120% of what they need consistently in order to account for the effect of adrenaline and other stress hormones not just on their minds, but also on the way these hormones affect their muscles, tendons, ligamints, and neuromuscular system, to name but a few of the majore ones. Because hyperflexible skaters such as Bobek, Cohen, Czisny and others are new on the scene, training methods that work for these skaters are not based on analysis and a training system that includes room for error and techniques that don't work for that skater. It's all been based primarily on tradition, a "catch as catch can" training system, and at least in Cohen's case, her own attempts to do the right kind of off-ice training. It's frustrating for me to watch because I know there are many people out there who have done fellowships at the Olympic training center, studied figure skating with every means currently available, and either the skaters in question or the coaches decide not to use them.
One notable exception in the summer of 2002 was Michelle Kwan. In the '01/02 season she was a very, very thin waif. In the fall of '02 she showed up at Campbell's with a beautiful new "outfit" of muscles. Everything about her skating became stronger, IMO, after she worked with an off-ice trainer. I hoped Michelle's work would influence other top elite skaters to at least try doing the same, but I didn't see it happen. True, Michelle later lost her 3/lp, but I think that was a function of about a decade of competing with seven-triple LPs starting at either 12 or 13. Some things just don't last forever. But she may have lost more had she not worked on both her strength and flexibility with a knowledgable trainer to guide her.
Rob used the example of how Nicole Bobek could be consistent with the right kind of training. But she never put together a clean SP and LP or if she did, it was only once. Even under Carlo Fassi, the coach with which she had the most success, her USN win was with a significantly flawed LP. Of course we know what happened at Worlds that year and I hope we can all understand the devastation Nicole had to skate with. In an earlier year, when Nicole was coached by Richard Callaghan, she won the bronze at Worlds, but that was after being first after the SP and making at least as many mistakes as Cohen did at this year's Worlds. And then there were Nicole's "extracurricular activities," which Cohen has never had, unless you count going to an Oscar party between the Olympics and Worlds.
These hyperflexible ladies singles skaters are the "guinea pigs" as for how they should train their jumps both with on-ice adjustments in technique as well as off-ice training. Also, as I said before, flexibility is specific. Sasha and Alissa are very similar in the way their bodies are flexible. Sasha and Irina are not at all comparable in how their bodies are flexible.
The ultimate bottom line: Even though I know they will, I hope people will realize the folly of making generalizations about hyperflexibility and jumps. Solving their jump problems, although there are probably general principles, is also unique to every skater. Trying to work out a successful training program will be complex and involve a lot of trial and error, most likely. Or they could be lucky and hit upon the right recipe relatively quickly.
If so, then they can tackle the challenge of training periodization, which IMO is something both Sasha and Irina lacked BIG TIME and caused them to be physically and mentally exhausted for the Olympics and in Cohen's case, also Worlds. Maybe someday we'll talk about what training periodization is, but for right now, this post is another gigantic one and training periodization would be off topic.
Last edited by Rgirl; 04-06-2006 at 07:25 AM.
Thanks, Doggygirl. Sure, I'd be happy to e-mail Fumie encouraging her to "rock on" with sports science. That way my e-mail can go right into the bin with all the other tens of thousands of fan e-mails she gets. I'm also sure she'd love to study the effect of hyperflexiblility in skaters on jump consistency, since hyperflexibility isn't one of Fumie's problems. Yep, I bet she's waiting for my e-mail as we speak.Originally Posted by Doggygirl
Rgirl, who likes Fumie very much when she has the right choreography, thank you.
Yeah, I'll ghostwrite a book where the "name" gets all the money when Phoenix, Arizona freezes over in July.Originally Posted by Mathman
BTW, where's my effin' picture for the cover?!
I KNOW you are not daring me to post the picture of Rgirl dancing with her national touring company, ca. 1980, which I have in my vault next to my autographed picture of Yuka Sato!Originally Posted by Rgirl
About your post #97 above,
Heckfire no! But I was hoping for a little PhotoShop creativity, like my head on Ilia Kulik's body, or one of Ilia's head on Sasha's body doing her spiral.Originally Posted by Mathman
Thanks for the "bow wows" re my post #97; but if I keep spelling words like "physiologic".as "physioligic" nobody ain't gonna pay me nuthin' no more to write squat.