Should Skating Keep the Short Program?
First off, I want to apologize for taking the "Jeff's Injury" thread off topic; and turning it into a discussion about judging panels bonusing good jumpers. I was about to add yet another dimension to that discussion, when I thought perhaps a separate thread was more appropriate.
I would like to know if anyone has given any thought on what should be done with the Short Program under today's marking system? Recently I've been involved in a few conversations with former and current skaters, former and current coaches and several former and current judges. We've been talking about the evolution of skating and the marking systems. A growing number of people have begun to question the value the "Short Program," they're questioning its purpose in today's skating climate.
Originally the technical/short program was exactly what it said, a brief program skated with 8 pre-determined elements, performed by each competitor within the catagory. The purpose was to provide the judges with a format that would produce a fair way of evaluating each skater's skill set, apples vs apples or axels vs axels.
There is no suggestion the Short Program fails in its purpose, but given the choreographic direction the Long Program has taken, it seems to many the Long Program now provides the judges with exactly the same evaluation opportunity. Under CoP every skater is of course chasing points ... he who ends with the biggest total wins. Plain and simple. As a result however, the majority of competitors now either do, or try to perform, exactly the same elements ... same spiral sequence, same spins, same jumps, and pretty much the same footwork sequences. If its a particularily good competition, these higher scoring elements will be performed in differing orders, but they still boil down to an array of the same elements/skills. Understandably, everyone is trying to max out on Level 4 elements, afterall, why do a gorgeous layback spin and get 1.80 points when you can do a beillman spin for more points?
I'll quit here ... your thoughts?
I think there is a difference between elements in the long programs, as in they attempt different kinds of spins, jump combos and sequences, and of course they have different choreography and transitions. Sure, spirals are looking similar nowadays, but before COP skaters were pretty much doing the same kinds of spirals.
Now, regarding the short program and COP.. I think it kind of lost some of its purpose with the new judging system, because skaters can make up for lost elements or a fall with positive qualities in their other elements. It's not so much do-or-die anymore. It's like a shorter free skate, instead of a technical program. If it truly were to be a technical program that would "compare apples to apples" they could make the skaters do the exact same spins and jumps and spirals, with no variations that would make them higher levels. Therefore, only the quality of the elements would set skaters apart.
Ever since CoP was introduced I have been afraid that the short program would be eliminated. I love short programs! Since the long program has now become very technical and restricted, perhaps the short could become an artistic program? The components get extra weight so the emphasis is on choreography and presentation, not on a list of required elements? Just thinking aloud...
I love short programs, too. It seems paradoxical, but I think the fact that you can only do three jumps makes the skaters present more interesting programs. In a good short program each element is a well-placed highlight, whereas in the long you have to cram in as many jumps as possible, to the detriment of the program as a whole.
If you think about it, for ladies you are expected to generate about twice as many points in an LP that is only 50% longer in duration (4 minutes versus 2:40). Something has to go, and usually it is the presentation/choreography/transitions in the LP that end up suffering.
From a sports point of view I don't see the necessity of it. It was basically instituted to force skaters to do some elemental basics anyway since figures were going away.
They do everything now in the CoP controlled Free Skate which is not free anyway.
However, fans of figure skating love their short program and that's the main reason it will stay.
I like the short program because it puts too much pressure on a skater to perform just one program and not have a chance to 'come-back' and make up for a lousy technical score.
All the SPs right now look alike, but since everyone is doing (almost) the same things, it's a good way to give a preview of the quality of the long program. Even the Dance still has compulsory figures.
Plus, skaters going through an entire season with only one competitive program cannot really showcase to an audience their versatility (or lack thereof). It would cut down even more on broadcast times (at least here in the U.S.) and that's a poor way to get renewed interest in the sport.
My two cents.
I think the short program should stay.
I still think the required elements of the short (which allows only three jumps and one jump combo) provides a good benchmark, so to speak. It's a good way for judges to evaluate skates apples to apples, oranges to oranges, and better than in the long, requires versatility without being able to hide so easily behind tricks. The fact that a lot of the programs look comparable is a good thing in this scenario.
Plus, you know, I just really enjoy watching them, LOL.
I tend to say keep it for the same reasons. Everyone has to do the same # of elements. You get one try at a triple jump of your choice, one attempt at the combo. So, there is pressure there to do it right. Also, I think the Free skate has become an endurance test - who can throw the most elements into it.
Originally Posted by rain
Some skaters crack under the pressure of the SP and some skaters fail to keep it together for a longer program. Also, I admire skaters who have an 'off' Short and then come back fighting in the free skate.
Gadfly and Bon Vivant
Lots of good points, generally I prefer watching SP's to LP's for lots of reasons including the fact that when it goes badly, at least it will soon be over.
The new SP and LP are too much like each other. What made the SP interesting before was the automatic deductions that made the SP a do or die proposition. Originally just 7 elements, it was lengthened around the time they did away with figures (the spiral sequence was added for ladies and a second footwork sequence for men) and more freedom was given in how to fulfill the requirements. Meanwhile the LP has acquired more and more requirements too (in now way shape or form is it a 'free' skate anymore. I think somone said that now there's a SLP and a LSP. The only real unique purpose the SP serves now is to seed for the LP and I think there are better ways of doing that.
I think they should tweak the SP. Maybe it should be shortened back to 7 elements and have stronger penalties for failure to complete elements and/or go back to stricter requirements about what the required elements are and establish it as a separate competition.
At present figure skaters have to do far too much chasing after a single medal (not as much as the three-part marathon from 73 to 90 but still too much for too little reward). Split the current single-medal format into two separate competitions that have to be qualified for separately with or without some sort of qualifier for seeding the skaters. And when the olympics come around there's twice as much chance for medals.
Of course the names would have to be changed, I'd go for Technical skating (SP) and Free skating (LP).
I agree with most that the SP is fine just as it is...intersting to note though is that under CoP (as with the former system) you have 8 requried elements 3 jumping passes, 3 spins, 2 footwork sequences, yet in the LP suposedly twice as much you don't have 6 jumping passes, 6 spins and 4 footwork sequence to complete, you have one extra spin, no extra footwork but nearly three times the number of jumping passes (as a man) and usually a three jump combination if you really want to rack up the points....so which direction is COP pushing skating i ask myself?
At any rate, the point i was going to make is that the SP is fine just as it is - its the LP and its many restrictions that are wrong. It is no longer "free" skating at all, it is very prescriptive skating. trouble is with an "aboslute" scoring system, how do you ever give the skaters the freedom again. If you don't limit the number of jumps the skaters can do then you could end up with a skater stalking their jumps and throwing things in just to get points, the old simple Zayak rule would not work if you have a skater making up for falling on their harder triples and then spend the last minute of the program whipping of 10 double axels?
I can't think of an answer right now for fixing teh LP which means that if anything ever does get fixed, it will likely be the SP.
Thoguh i've said before i'd quite like it if they had an SP that was more like the junior SP - Mandate a different jump from steps every year. Mandate a different flying spin every year. How about the return of the serpentine step sequence by mandating it in the SP? What about ditching the double or triple axel and mandating a delayed axel or tuck axel or some such axel variation? Maybe even a free choice - a single axel variation (not allowed to do a bog standard one)...we might even see some nice one foot or inside axels. While we're on it ...absolutely no telegraphing if you have a set up of more than 2 seconds to the jump it doesn't count...lets have the elements genuinely interspersed with the music as one flowing piece...we might not see the big triples but that's what the LP would be for?
Gadfly and Bon Vivant
Agree about the loss of freedom in the lp (too bad no one thought of that before instituting COP he wrote crossly).
Originally Posted by antmanb
I'd eliminate any jump with over 3 revolutions from the SP and tighten the requirements (to be changed every year). One year the jump combo might have to have a loop (as first or second element) another year the second jump would have to be a double tl. I'd dump the spiral requirement for ladies (getting to be a contortionist bore) and have a serepentine and one other step sequence (straight line or circular in alternating years). I'd bring back the camel spin requirement which is a good bellweather for spin positions and centering for a long time)
I'd like at least one jumping pass in the LP (not SP) to be a single axel of some sort (tuck, one foot, delayed, inside) And I'd insitute a rule that the (declared, attempted or completed) combo from the SP can't be repeated in the LP. If you have a lutz toe loop combo in the SP no lutz toe loop combo in the LP.
I like the idea of not being allowed to repeat your SP combo in the LP. I'd also add that in addition to the loop or toe loop as the back half of the combination jump in the SP you could mandate a sequence one year instead of the combo and have half loop/salchow and half loop/flip in there as well.
Originally Posted by Mafke
And on the spins - i'd echo the camel spin as a requirement but how about at least 8 revs on each foot or ten revs on each foot - that would show you who can and can't hold a nicely centred postition well.
In my heart, I'm actually Canadian....
There's no way the ISU would eliminate the short program; it's 3 more events they can sell tickets for, hence, more $ into those pockets.
I think it would be a bad idea anyway. Eliminating the short program would then make the long program one go-for-it all-or-nothing do or die type thing, and don't we see enough messy programs as it is? Prior to CoP, we saw MANY (too many) incidents of skaters tightening up in the short program because missing ONE element could knock you down into 9th place. These skaters are under enough pressure as it is. Actually, in some ways, CoP has actually ENHANCED the idea of having both a short and a long, as we have seen many incidents of people coming from 6th or 7th (sometimes, tho rarely, even lower) to win, which (with the exception of Zayak at the 82 Worlds) rarely, if ever, happened before. This makes things much more exciting for the audiences, and I think it takes some of the pressure off the skaters. Now you can have a bad short and come roaring back in the long and finish quite well; conversely, a good short can often keep you in a respectable overall place if your long isn't that good.
ITA with other posters on this thread who really like the short program. I, too, feel that the format encourages more focused, coherent efforts (at least from an artistic point of view) than can be found many times in long programs. I think a good example would be Irina Slutskaya. She has presented many delightful, well-done focused short programs with, as Uncle Dick would say, "point of view" -- something that, IMHO, she has problems with in the long program. It's much easier to hold on to an overall artistic concept for 2 1/2 minutes than it is for 4 minutes, ESPECIALLY under CoP, with its emphasis on technical content, technical content, technical content; the idea of the program (assuming there is one) often gets lost in all the energy used on trying to get those points racked up.
I think this is a great point. I really enjoy it when a skater plans his/her two programs together as a contrasting pair. One fast, one slow, one "bravado," one "lyrical," one classical, one modern, one presenting a character, one abstract, one sensuous, one exuberant, one in flamboyant costume, one in spare.
Originally Posted by riverflows
I'm laughing, but that is so true. In fact, even when it is going well there are lots of LPs these days that do not hold my attention for four or four-and-a-half minutes.
Originally Posted by Mafke
I agree. Let's keep the short program and eliminate the long.
Originally Posted by JonnyCoop
Originally Posted by bostonskater
I believe that figure skating has become too defensive. We let the Nascar / TV Poker boys bully us by saying, ha ha figure skating is not a real sport, nya, nya.
Originally Posted by Mafke
No, it's not a "real sport." It's real sport AND real performance art. Keep the long program for what it is -- a chance for our marvelous athletes to do as many jumps, spins and footwork as they can cram into 4 minutes -- and replace the short program with an "artistic" program.
In other words, do one program for the judges and one for the audience.
Maybe we would get some performances like Michelle Kwan's Arianne (7 triples, including a triple-triple) followed by East of Eden as performed at the 1998 World Pro competition.
Last edited by Mathman; 10-18-2006 at 01:18 PM.