A commentary by Cecile Daniker Rusch on the state of skating today and the reason for the increase in injuries.
A commentary by Cecile Daniker Rusch on the state of skating today and the reason for the increase in injuries.
A good read, although I don't agree with everything said there.
School figures are still alive, skaters have to do them to pass their senior tests. If countries wish to emphasize figures more in the training of students, they should increase the quantity and difficulty of figures in the tests that skaters are required to pass. It should not be something that is part of competitive skating, unless it becomes its own event that garners its own medal.
The problem there is that it's too boring to be an event of its own. I would rather see an event where no jumps, or very limited jumps, are allowed. I'm also HIGHLY in favor of giving separate medals for the SP and LP (this wasn't in the article, just my own thought), which would create a total of 3 distinct events for skaters to compete in (ice dancing would similarly have 3 separate medal-winning events). Figure skating really needs to diversify. Too many great skaters are left without medals simply because there aren't enough to go around and because the current set up doesn't necessarily reward the niches that some people excel in.
I think ms Rusch was opining that there was an era of skating where it was called Ballet on Ice as compared to today's Acrobatics on Ice.
I tend to agree with her.
This was always the case even when figures were required in international competition. Some countries had rigid figure tests that skaters had to pass to qualify for each competition level. Others just had the skaters learn whatever figures they needed to compete each year.If countries wish to emphasize figures more in the training of students, they should increase the quantity and difficulty of figures in the tests that skaters are required to pass.
There's no way the ISU can police how each country decides which of its skaters are or are not allowed to compete as juniors or seniors. All they could do would be to require figures in competition again, in some form.
Individual federations could require figure tests, but given the current state of competition format there would be no benefit to doing so.
The US had separate competitions for figures and freestyle all the way through the 1990s before finally phasing them out completely.It should not be something that is part of competitive skating, unless it becomes its own event that garners its own medal.
If the ISU had taken that approach starting from 1991, offering world championships with separate medals in that discipline, we'd probably have seen more skaters sticking with both disciplines for longer before deciding to specialize in figures or freestyle, and a small but tightknit group of international figures competitors continuing the tradition. But they didn't, and a whole generation has come and gone who never had to learn any figures at all even at the lowest levels, except for those whose coaches happened to require or recommend them. So reviving them now would pretty much be starting from scratch in terms of the competitor pool.
Another way to reward the kinds of skills figures require would be to introduce figure variations as a potential kind of element, with features and levels just like other elements in the current judging system, that skaters could choose to include in their long programs instead of a step sequence. Obviously they would only be judged from a distance, not by judges on the ice examining the tracings, and variations in body position etc. should be allowed to help them fit into the choreography. But that would give skaters a reason to hone those skills.
School Figures are Ballet's barre work. You will feel edges if you do them and also the various turns on one foot. But all that, is not addressing her main issue which is that the Sport has become acrobatic.
Can you address her main issue? and discuss that multiple positions in spins and quad jumps are what it's all about? which is what CoP promotes. No real credit to flow and musicality except maybe a mention.
Great article! I agree. As the once famous and master of figures - Trixi Schuba exclaimed when criticized for winning the World title and Olympic title based mostly on her figures score - "After all it is Figure Skating!"
Figures are still a large part of figure skating - at least here in Canada - but do not garner the same attention they did in Schuba's era. I think this is what the writer is trying to say. Now the emphasis has shifted from the execution of figures (which involved hours of intense training on learning edges) to the execution of jumps. Unfortunately some of the discipline and patience skaters gained from practicing figures has waned as well. Skaters seem to want to rush everything. It took many years to perfect figures, pass all the tests and learn good edge control.
That is why it is such a treat to watch great artistic skaters such as Jeff Buttle and Shawn Sawyer perform. Their jumps may not be as big as some of the other skaters, but their edges and attention to detail are a pleasure to watch especially for us "old school" figure skaters who recall perfecting their figures hours on end in a cold rink.
I doubt skating will ever go back to making figures the main part of a competition. People want excitiement when they watch skating. To the untrained eye figures are rather a dull exercise and not many would turn out to see the likes of a Trixi Schuba perfect her craft these days. In fact, I used to always get upset when Trixi placed first over Karen Magnussen or Janet Lynn back in the day based solely on her figures because Trixi lacked lustre when it came to the free skate. However, my respect for Trixi rose when she once demonstrated her finesse at figures at a tour of Championship skaters here in Vancouver a few years ago. They were perfect! Still, it is good to know that figures are still incorporated in skaters basic training and used as a teaching tool to perfect edges. Good stroking skills cannot be underrated either.
I agree with Blades of Passions comment: "Too many great skaters are left without medals simply because there aren't enough to go around and because the current set up doesn't necessarily reward the niches that some people excel in." I guess Kurt Browning must see that too because he made Shawn Sawyer a "medal" (a looney - Canadian $1.00 currrency) with "First in Free Skate at SC" and hung it around Shawn's neck the other night after Shawn's great free skate at Skate Canada 2008. It's a shame more medals are not handed out. Going for the Gold is the ultimate quest, but it is nice to have great skating skills recognized along the way....
It is not surprising that most of the discussion (here and on that "other" board) has centered on the place of figures in modern skating, but the really important theme that holds this article together for me is the issue of increases in injuries. IJS, she is saying, has not only pushed the sport from ballet on ice to acrobatics on ice, in doing so it has created a sport that threatens the physical well being of the participants.
Is there a major competition now where you don't have top skaters who pulled out because of injuries, skaters who are coming back from injuries, skaters who get injured, or all of the above? Is this a good thing? Particularly since this is a sport mostly practiced by children. Do not the ISU, USFSA and all the other skating federations have a moral responsibility to see to it that the sport is structured so that striving to achieving excellence does not also mean ending up with damaged and prematurely old bodies? I have in mind a skater in my area who at 16 has the back of 50-year-old due to beating himself up trying to get all the triples. Unless responsible adults step in and do something about it he, and others like him, will continue to beat themselves up until injuries force them to quit.
I find it remarkable that we have so many skaters injured, and it take so long for them to recover from injury, in a sport where if a top competitor competes four-five times a year it's a lot. Compare that to sports where the athletes compete two, four, even ten time more frequently, and have fewer injuries.
I cannot agree with the view that sports evolve and we should just accept the changes in the sport as "progress." If any sport evolves into something dangerous for the participants, responsible people have to say stop, even if it makes the sport a little less exciting for the spectators -- who are not the ones getting hurt.
This would not be the first time, or the first sport, that was asked to clip it's wings in the interest of safety for the participants. In 1905, the developing sport of football saw a dramatic rise in injuries. President Teddy Roosevelt reacted by telling football, make changes to make it safer or it would be outlawed. The result was the creation of what would become the NCAA. It's time for the ISU and USFSA to show a similar sense of responsibility to participants in skating.
This line caught my attention:
I agree with that sentiment 100%. Why in the world would you want to change edge during a spin? What can that possibly accomplish except to slow the spin down and make it worse.... the new "fool proof" system which gives credit for moves such as a change of edge in a spin, which spin should not change edge since it is counter to the art of the ice?
Yes, it is hard to do. So is skating with your elbow in your ear. But it is not something that we should encourage skaters to do, IMO.
(Starting with #3). But there is show skating already, and it's not even popular.Changes Needed in Regulations
Yet, some women will turn those two poor requied jumps into either 2 flutzes or 2 lips.Triple jumps should be limited ... for women to a maximum of two
How do you like the forward inside edge on the upright position at the end of the flying combo spin at 3:05 in this program?
How about the forward outside edge in the upright at the end of the combo spin at 1:59 here?
Or this one in the combo spin at 1:10?
Brief edge change on the exit of the layback/upright spin at 1:36:
Rusch doesn't mind forward edges in camel spins. Dick Button likes this one at 2:50 too:
Here's a change-edge camel from one of Mathman's favorites at the beginning of the combo spin at 2:12
And here's a nice forward inside edge in the opening flying camel:
Forward outside camel from traveling camel at 1:19, from way back in the day:
The edge changes on the "interesting camel" and upright exit at 1:47 seem to be a byproduct of the body position changes rather than the point of the spin:
Even if they were unintentional, i.e., mistakes, does that mean it would have been preferable to stick to a less interesting steady basic position?
And here at 3:45 is a gorgeous forward outside camel in the opposite direction:
It's my understanding that for MITF a skater has to do turns 'good enough' to pass onto the next level and there's no micro-examination of technique, which works for young skaters but which can have serious repurcussions later.
I also don't think a change of edge on any backspin in a sit or upright position is a particular enhancement of it. It is a beginners mistake to spin on an inside edge on a backspin. Many beginners struggle to get that back outside edge and when they do and master it, i fail to see why an elite skater showing that they can spin like a beginner is any worth in a program.
The exception to the edge changes i think are edge changes on forward spins. Again i find it particularly ugly on a sit spin but it is difficult. I also find it ugly and slow on an upright. But (and i also agree with this on back camels) a change of edge on a camel spin I think can look really beautiful. We used to see them pre COP and i think a beautiful long camel spin where the edge changes in time to the music is a thing of beauty.
Last edited by antmanb; 11-11-2008 at 07:37 AM.