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Thread: Age and Jumping Ability

  1. #1
    Dreaming and dancing Bennett's Avatar
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    Age and Jumping Ability

    I am wondering to what extent age affects jumping ability.

    We don't see many female skaters over 25 yrs old. Do you think it because their jumps start to decline due to physiological aging in muscles etc? Or is it because of injuries that they accumulate by then? Or is it more to do with psycho-social or socio-economic reasons such as financial concerns, other career plans, marriage and/or child-birth etc, especially because female skaters tend to debut at Senior relatively young so that they feel like moving on by then?

    After the bodily changes in mid or late teens, are there any other major changes that could affect female skaters' jumping ability in their 20s?

    Since boys debut at Senior relatively late, it makes sense to me that there are many senior male skaters over 25. I feel that males tend to get better in jumping even after 20rs old. But I wonder how long they usually keep getting better after 22-23.

    I see many ice dancers as well as athletes in other sports such as marathon runners and baseball players who are over 30 years old. So I don’t really think that late 20s to 30 years old are old as athletes. But I am not quite sure how it could affect jumping ability in terms of spring, height, and tightness in the air. Any thoughts?
    Last edited by Bennett; 04-24-2008 at 08:36 PM.

  2. #2
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    That is very interesting question. I also wondered about same thing.
    I was surprised female skaters tend to peak quite early and retire while they are still very young. I also heard of many female skaters who lost their jumps as they went through puberty.
    And I also see Yukari and Joannie learned 3A and 3-3 in their 20s.(Is this correct?)
    So I kind of concluded once they pass puberty safely it is okay.
    I really want to believe that female skaters are not destined to lose their jumps physically. Otherwise it is just very depressing...
    Last edited by gourry; 04-24-2008 at 11:18 PM.

  3. #3
    On the Ice
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    Very interesting questions, indeed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bennett View Post
    We don't see many female skaters over 25 yrs old. Do you think it because their jumps start to decline due to physiological aging in muscles etc?
    I don't think this is the case, at least with a proper approach to trainings and other things that affect physical conditions of a skater.
    Imo, there is much more of a mental case. Firstly, it's kind of a tradition already for Ladies to finish around 25, with the Olympics as a round-up factor. So I would suppose that many young girls from the very beginning are mentally ready to end their competitive career around that age. And I think this is a very important factor.
    From where this "tradition" goes? Perhaps from the fact that most of "avarage" skaters tend to be affected by "psycho-social or socio-economic reasons such as financial concerns, other career plans, marriage and/or child-birth etc". If results don't come and also the money, and a basin of illusion by that time is more empty than full... well.
    And it's really hard to make any comparisons with other sports here. A baseball player, even average, even that who will never gain a title in his life, makes a lot of money. And as for marathon runners... well, they, like Forrest Gump, just run. They don't need choreographers, costumes, free ice, they don't slip, don't underrotate, don't have to jump triple axel, don't have to deal with the lack of one in the beginning of a program, don't get underscored... The don't a lot of things. A marathon runner just mechanically steps from one leg to another, some do this better, some worse, and that's almost all about it. A pastime. In comparison with figure skating, which is, imo, the hardes sport from a psychological standpoint.
    As for for ice dancers, i think everything is easier because they don't have jumps. The burden is not so heavy. And there is a pair - it's always easier to go through difficulties together, than when you are alone.
    Last edited by summervie; 04-25-2008 at 11:37 AM.

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    Very interesting question. Recent history seems to indicate that skating at the highest level, with full triple-jump repertoires and triple/triple combinations, is extraordinarily demanding on the human body. The high number of serious injuries found in top-level skaters over the past decade (with Kwan, Lipinski, Kim, Yagudin, Plushenko, Lambiel, Galindo, and others affected) is clear evidence of this. I think this is one reason why female skaters sometimes flame out at an early age. They tend to reach their peak earlier than male skaters, in most cases; it makes sense that their careers would then end earlier due to injuries/other physical problems. Plus, female athletes face the problem of transitioning through puberty, which can be difficult.

    I think there are other factors as well. Looking at skating and other individual sports, especially gymnastics, swimming, and, to a lesser extent tennis, it seems to be a general trend that female athletes in these demanding, high-skill-level sports often have careers that peak in their mid- to late teens and then slowly decline. There are exceptions in each sport (i.e., female athletes who continue to dominate into their twenties or who don't peak until their twenties). Yet, there are many examples in each sport of girls who peaked well before their twentieth birthday (Tara Lipinski, Martina Hingis, Carly Patterson, Shannon Miller).

    Why is this? My guess it's a combination of physical and socialization factors. As girls mature, society places increased significance on their roles as women. Their appearance, their romantic relationships, their social lives all take on much greater importance than they did when the girls were prepuberty. This is true for boys as well of course, but I think boys experience such pressures less intensely than girls. There is still a surprisingly high level of expectation in many cultures--including Japan and Russia, two key skating countries--that women will find a boyfriend, marry, and settle down fairly young. The growing pressures of such expectations in girls' late teens and twenties may be a distraction from the need to maintain the sole focus on skating that's perhaps necessary to reach and maintain the highest level.

    However, this is all a strictly personal, anecdotal interpretation; I'm sure many may disagree with me.

  5. #5
    Tanguera feraina's Avatar
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    Hmm, interesting question. There might be a combination of social and biological factors, but I personally tend to think it's more of the latter. Young women undergo puberty and develop curvy bodies that are just not optimally designed for jumping up high and spinning three times or more in the air. In elite female athletes, who exercise so much and burn off so many of the calories they consume, this curve-development phase can be delayed into the late teens (though they seem to gain height at a more normal time). But very few young women can maintain their pre-puberty jumping abilities afterwards, never mind improving on them.

    I think the reason why we see many more young girls competitive at the senior international level than young boys is primarily because technical development in women slows down, ceases, or reverses in the late teens, as compared to young men. A boy who has 5 triples and a double axel cannot compete at the international senior level -- Patrick Chan is a prodigy, with innate musicality, strong basic skating skills, good spins, and solid jumps, and yet he did not gain any attention at 15 when he didn't have a 3A. Few people even remember his 3A-less debut on the '06 grand prix circuit. But young girls like Yu-na and the young Americans, once they gain the 5 triples along with good spins and presentation skills, they are competitive with the best in the world.

    I think the reason you see a few more female prodigies at 13-14 (than males) may be because there is an overwhelmingly larger number of young girls taking up skating than boys, so there is a larger basis to develop talent from -- plus, young girls tend to take dance lessons more often than young boys, which helps with their PCS/presentation scores.

  6. #6
    Dreaming and dancing Bennett's Avatar
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    Thank you all for your insights!
    What would you think of men? Would they keep getting better as long as they keep training hard? Or would they peak at a certain age(s) due to physiological reasons?

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