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Thread: Are Belbin and Agosto better than...

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    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Are Belbin and Agosto better than...

    Lang and Tchernyshev? Punsalen and Swallow? Roca and Sur?

    U.S. ice dancers of the recent past have been the unwanted step-children of ice dance internationally. But Tanith and Ben shot up to the top. Is this a matter of ISU politics, or are they really that much more talented than their predecessors?

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    Custom Title Joesitz's Avatar
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    I think they shot up to the top because their style is very Russian. I think they are a very good team but I don't consider them American dancers, and can not get on their bandwagon. I prefer Punsalen and Swallow.

    Joe

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman
    Lang and Tchernyshev? Punsalen and Swallow? Roca and Sur?
    No, no and maybe.

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    Interesting question. I'm not sure how to answer it, or if I even will -- directly -- but I would like to make a few observations.

    First off, I do think Tanith & Ben have the "IT" factor more than P/S or L/T. Some may disagree, but I personally think they have it. As to whether they are a "better couple", technique-wise, etc, etc, than the other two -- well --

    It IS interesting that the rise of B/A internationally does come at a time when USFS just happens to have a few butt-kissers in key ISU positions, or at least did (I didn't check the complete latest election results). This might have helped
    "the process along".

    Of the 3 couples mentioned, however, I do think that from a pure dance technique perspective, Punsalan & Swallow were/are the best of the 3. Why didn't they then rise as high as B & A have? A few reasons, all of them falling seriously under the "IMHO" category:

    1. The US judges did them no favors by leaving them off the Olympic and World teams following their very impressive 11th-place debut in 1991. Instead of sending them to subsequent Worlds and Olys and allowing them to BUILD on that 11th place (and "move up and take their turn", as was standard Ice Dance protocol at the time, fair or not), they weren't sent to another major international till Lillehammer 3 years later THEN had to wait ANOTHER 2 years to get on the World team AGAIN. By that time, from the view of the judges, they pretty much had to start all over and work through the ranks again. Yes, they fell in the free dance in the 92 Nats. So?? The judges could have held them up for the #2 spot on the Oly team instead of giving it to Mayer & Breen; it's not like they'd never held anyone up before! Especially in an Olympic year! So why drop the ball this time around?? Then along came Roca & Sur. A very talented couple, yes. But first, I think the judges got a little carried away with "Ooooh, we have a former Russian Junior champion skating for us", and furthermore, there were 2 spots available for the 93 Worlds and instead of giving the 2nd spot to P & S, they gave it to Wynne & Witherby, to which I can only say, ARE YOU KIDDING ME??

    2. On the other hand, once P & S did get back on the World scene, they did THEMSELVES no favors with 3 seasons of schlocky hyperactive Latin free dances which were simply (a) beneath them and (b) not in the same league as what other couples internationally were doing. With this, too, I lay part of the blame on the US judges. It wasn't until the last few years that US dance judges finally got a CLUE that the more European style of free dance was what was winning competitions and placing high so they finally figured it was time to ENCOURAGE instead of DISCOURAGE US couples to do this type of thing. Up until that realization, the US judges seemed to want as much of the Same Old Schlock as they could possibly see, and if a couple tried to skate along the lines of what the Europeans were doing, it got them nowhere at Nationals, Roca & Sur notwithstanding. Once P & S finally dropped the Latin and went in another direction, which they finally did with their free dance in Nagano -- WOW. Their Nagano free dance still remains one of the most beautiful examples of PURE ice dancing I have ever seen -- no frills, no miscellaneous drama, no ripped costumes, just beautiful technique and a dazzling display of skills unique to Dance. I often wonder how they would have done in Nagano had they presented this type of thing a couple of seasons earlier, assuming the US judges would have let them. (I do find it interesting that they debuted this dance at the Olys and NOT at the Nats)

    3. Punsalan & Swallow also skated during the Gritshuk/Platov era. The reason why I feel this is significant is because of the fact that I have always believed that the domination of Gritshuk & Platov involved a LOT of skullduggery and dirty dealings on the part of the international judges. So in an atmosphere like that, it would really be hard to move up in the rankings unless you had the right politics on your side -- especially if you're doing schlocky hyperactive Latin free dances every year.

    As to Lang & Tchernyshev -- they were, IMO, very frequently undermarked and definitely underrated internationally. They, too, may have gotten caught up on being on the wrong side of the political tracks.

    So I guess, in summary, B & A might be the first US dance couple in many years to be on the right side of the political tracks, which certainly helps their standings. However, they have also shown a LOT of versatility in their free dances; every year they have come up with something completely different and Dance judges really like that. P & S, as mentioned earlier, didn't really do that in their later career and I don't think L & T really did either.

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    What L&T did, they did extremely well, but they did not have the speed and difficulty in their OD and FD that the top teams did, so they did not rise. Navka/Kostomarov in their early years didn't have the difficulty either, but then they were Russian and didn't have to have that to rise in the rankings.

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    Custom Title Joesitz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonnyCoop
    3. Punsalan & Swallow also skated during the Gritshuk/Platov era. The reason why I feel this is significant is because of the fact that I have always believed that the domination of Gritshuk & Platov involved a LOT of skullduggery and dirty dealings on the part of the international judges. So in an atmosphere like that, it would really be hard to move up in the rankings unless you had the right politics on your side -- especially if you're doing schlocky hyperactive Latin free dances every year.
    Russian winnings were always based on 'we are the greatest' not unlike Hitler's 1935 Olympics and the Triumph of the Will was to win anywhich way it takes. I truly believe the skulldugery which existed in that period which included so much of collusions, toe tapping and paying off judges took its toll on honest dancing. I hope China doesn't go that route.

    And yes, their latin dancing a la Persian sirens just don't go over in Latin and N.Amercias. There's more to Afro cuban dancing that shaking the booty and Russia had a sphere of influence there for a while. I guess they couldn't get it.

    Joe

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    I like pie. Tonichelle's Avatar
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    I enjoy Tanith and Belbin far more than I do P/S... but my all time favorite US Dance team is Roca and Sur... they are so unique

    that being said I never saw them compete, so I can't really base my opinion on anything but their exhibitions later on in their career

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    I had never been terribly interested in ice dancing until I saw Belbin/Agosto skate at US Nationals back in 2001. That was their first time at Senior Nationals, and they finished 2nd behind L&T. I was very impressed with their ability at such very young ages and have followed ice dance since.

    I can't honestly say that either L/T or P/S ever caught my attention the same way. IHMO, B/A have "it", that elusive star quality, where the other US teams did not.

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    Custom Title 76olympics's Avatar
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    I liked Chalom and Gates - another couple with the citzenship hurdle. But,my all time favorite in American ice dancing was Blumberg and Seibert. I think they were heads above most of the others, I really wish they had medaled at the Olympics ( to resurrect that OLD grievance!).

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    So. Yeah. What Johnny Coop said. Especially about Grishuk and Platov (who should never have beaten Usova/Zhulin or Torvill/Dean, gah, podium should have been U/Z, T/D and THEN G/P...sorry. Better now. Whew. Speaking of old grievances. )

    Honestly? I think it's that Tanith is 'hot' and their coach is Russian. They're not significantly better than anyone else (cf Tanith's inability to point her toe and finish a line neatly), they're just more marketable. Also, Ben is a very solid skater and can make up for Tanith not being as good as he is.

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    Custom Title Joesitz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by julietvalcouer
    So. Yeah. What Johnny Coop said. Especially about Grishuk and Platov (who should never have beaten Usova/Zhulin or Torvill/Dean, gah, podium should have been U/Z, T/D and THEN G/P...sorry. Better now. Whew. Speaking of old grievances. )

    Honestly? I think it's that Tanith is 'hot' and their coach is Russian. They're not significantly better than anyone else (cf Tanith's inability to point her toe and finish a line neatly), they're just more marketable. Also, Ben is a very solid skater and can make up for Tanith not being as good as he is.
    It's not an old grievance. It simply stating or reiterating someone's feeling about the result of a competition, Nothing wrong with that. Some of us don't swallow the judges conclusions.

    Grishuk and Platov - Were they the ones who tried to do a jitterbug? hmmm; not unlike that couple in 2003 who tried to do an Elvis impersonation. Very similar attempts.

    Your opinion of Tanith is as valid as anyone else's that may be different.

    Joe

    .



    Joe

  12. #12
    ~ Figure Skating Is My Passion ~ Ladskater's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman
    Lang and Tchernyshev? Punsalen and Swallow? Roca and Sur?

    U.S. ice dancers of the recent past have been the unwanted step-children of ice dance internationally. But Tanith and Ben shot up to the top. Is this a matter of ISU politics, or are they really that much more talented than their predecessors?
    Belbin and Agosto will never be like the team of Roca and Sur. I just don't think they have the passion. So far I have not seen it.

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    Better than? I don't even think that B&A are as good as the other teams mentioned. Belbin is so unbelieveably unpolished and sloppy. Ben is good, but I cannot stand to watch Tanith. She has all the elegence of a freaking CHICKEN. Never got the hype, never will.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dancindiva03
    Better than? I don't even think that B&A are as good as the other teams mentioned. Belbin is so unbelieveably unpolished and sloppy. Ben is good, but I cannot stand to watch Tanith. She has all the elegence of a freaking CHICKEN. Never got the hype, never will.
    Same here. I don't "get" Tanith, and I don't think I ever will. And I can't get over their horrible music cuts. Their music selection usually isn't that impressive to begin with, and having million cuts in one program certainly doesn't help it. I often feel that they picked all the elements out, then places them in the music rather than interpreting the music. Their last year's Flamingo FD didn't capture the essence of Flamingo dance at all.

    Ben is a very nice skater. He can point toes, finish his moves and doesn't have that perky cheerleader smile all the time.

    If their coach was not Igor Shpilband, would they still be the top of international ice dance scene? I don't think so. They're not the best US ice team there has been, but unlike some others they came at the right time (with no great team dominating the scene).

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    I can´t say which ice dance pair is better, but I enjoy watching Belbin & Agosto, Lang & Tchernyshev and Roca & Sur very much. Punsalan & Swallow, I prefer not to watch them at all because they were the ice dance pair that prevented Roca & Sur from competing at Olympics, didn´t they?

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