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Thread: Why is flexibility so appreciated?

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    Why is flexibility so appreciated?

    As I noticed around various skating boards, flexibility in spirals and spins for many people is one of the most appealing factors they're looking for in a skater. I'm curious to know why.
    Of course, a split spiral or something like Caroline's pearl spin is a real 'wow' factor. It's certainly amazing but not really a quality I'm primarily looking for when watching figure skating. For great extensions, perfectly pointed feet I'm going to watch ballet (this is of course important in skating too, but for me only to a certain extent) and for crazy flexibility I'd watch rhythmic gymnastics. So, overall, while I sometimes appreciate it, it's not a necessary or perferable quality to me.

    So to all the flexibility lovers out there, what is it that makes it so exciting and essential for you?

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    For me, it's not the hyper extension I appreciate, but fully holding out a move, whether it's a spiral, layback or ina baur. Michelle, for example, is above average where flexibility is concerned, but she is not extreme like Sasha, for example. However I find her moves just as beautiful because she holds them out and pays attention to the small details. Sasha is very flexible, and she does the same-takes her time and holds them out fully so you can appreciate them. Then you've got skaters who are not as flexible, say Fumie, but some of the finer details are lacking, stretch, pointed toes, hand positions, etc, so the overall picture is not as great (like her arabesque spiral position).

    I'm sure some folks like contortionist moves, but that's not it for me. A well stretched out, and held out move can be much more beautiful.

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    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    If a skater can make it look natural, I think an extra inches of extention can turn an ordinary move into a highlight.

    Here is Sasha Cohen’s split jump. I don’t lnow if you would say this is flexibility, but the more than 180 degree split is pretty spectacular.

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...Split_Jump.jpg

    Her is Denise Biellmann. Again, this is not outrageous flexibility like a contortionist, but the position is pretty cool. They should name a spin after her!

    http://viljen.vgb.no/files/2009/03/biellmann-spinn.jpg

    Sasha’s I-spin. When she first started doing it the move was more in the category “look what I can do.” The problem was, she couldn’t do it with a straight back and that spoiled the line, no matter how impressive the split.

    Later she got so she could do it it with excellent posture and also was able to integrate it into her programs better.

    http://www.stephenrademan.com/images...Cohen-4683.jpg

    Arakawa’s Ina Bauer. This is a show stopper, but now in my opinion we are getting into too extreme a position, where we are saying, wow, look how flexible she is instead of of, wow, what a good skater.

    http://web.icenetwork.com/images/200...8/i4BQS2px.jpg

    Caroline Zhang. Sure, she can do this at 14. Will she still be able to do it at 18?

    http://www.nancarrow-webdesk.com/war...g.393855_t.jpg

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    Beliver in Sasha's Perfect Program Tinymavy15's Avatar
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    IMO flexiblity is beautiful. Nothing better than straight lines, legs pointed to the sky, back arched into a upside down U....I greatly appreciate flexiblity wether I am watching dance, gymnastics, skating, whatever.
    However I agree that the line must be superior for the flexibility to be appreciated. Saha's I-spin is a perfect example. In 2000 the position was not perfect, but her spiral positions were. By 2003 when she used the I-spin to dramaticlly end her Malaguena short program it was perfect.
    Caroline Zhang used to have bad hait of dropping her back during her change of edge spiral in competition. She did not do this in exhibitions, and lately has greatly improved her back position in the spiral making it much more impressive.
    Emily Hughes had an almost 180 degree spiral..but nobody thinks of her as a great spiraler because her posture was so bad when she did the move.

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    Looking at Sasha's split jump-this is what I see: not only does she achieve maximum flexibility in the split, but her back is straight as a board and her arms and hands are stretched out to enhance the move. Speaking of the "I" spin-don't forget, that Sasha's earlier "I" spin was a front catch, so she always leaned away as she pulled her leg in. She now does a side catch, pulls herself towards her leg, and I find that one MUCH more aesthetically pleasing. Alissa has a nice forward catch:
    http://photos.skatetoday.com/albums/...05/CZISNY1.JPG

    Here is, IMO, a cringe inducing version of an "I-catch" position:
    http://wendyreidcrisp.typepad.com/ph...rlfriend_2.jpg

    For me, this is more pleasing:
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...ate_Canada.jpg

    ...than this:
    http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/image...nastics_01.jpg

    And this is my all time FAVORITE picture:
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v2...aaaaaaaaaa.jpg
    Wonderful extension, deep edge, freedom of head and upper back while still keeping her back up, beautiful placed arms/hands. And yet, she does not evoke an "OMG! THE FLEXIBILITY!!!!"

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    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MKFSfan View Post
    And this is my all time FAVORITE picture:

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v2...aaaaaaaaaa.jpg

    Wonderful extension, deep edge, freedom of head and upper back while still keeping her back up, beautiful placed arms/hands. And yet, she does not evoke an "OMG! THE FLEXIBILITY!!!!"
    Michelle always held her fingers nicely separated, middle finger most forward, pinky highest, so that whatever angle you viewed the hand from you always see five distinct digits. That's attention to detail.

    As for edges, well, she was the Kween.

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    Banned janetfan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    Michelle always held her fingers nicely separated, middle finger most forward, pinky highest, so that whatever angle you viewed the hand from you always see five distinct digits. That's attention to detail.

    As for edges, well, she was the Kween.
    Yes, I always admired Michelles's finger flexibility, extension and control. Her hand posture has never been equaled
    Actually, I never thought about it before - but it does add to the overall pleasing effect. Did she learn this from Frank Carroll, or maybe in dance classes?

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    Beliver in Sasha's Perfect Program Tinymavy15's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MKFSfan View Post
    I agree. Maybe if the latter was wearing a bit more it would look more pleasing.

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    I like pie. Tonichelle's Avatar
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    Nicole Bobek's spiral is still my favorite!

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    L'art pour l'art Medusa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tinymavy15 View Post
    I agree. Maybe if the latter was wearing a bit more it would look more pleasing.
    Zhang isn't wearing much more. The only difference seems to be that Zhang is a small child without any female body definition - and the gymnast seems to be a woman. Heck, you can even see Zhang's Tuberculum pubicum outside of the dress, it is that small. If you have a woman with tighs and some butt, you will end up with some more body mass that is pressed together and therefore creating the, to you, "unpleasant" effect in the second picture.

  11. #11
    ~ Figure Skating Is My Passion ~ Ladskater's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alicja View Post
    As I noticed around various skating boards, flexibility in spirals and spins for many people is one of the most appealing factors they're looking for in a skater. I'm curious to know why.
    Of course, a split spiral or something like Caroline's pearl spin is a real 'wow' factor. It's certainly amazing but not really a quality I'm primarily looking for when watching figure skating. For great extensions, perfectly pointed feet I'm going to watch ballet (this is of course important in skating too, but for me only to a certain extent) and for crazy flexibility I'd watch rhythmic gymnastics. So, overall, while I sometimes appreciate it, it's not a necessary or perferable quality to me.

    So to all the flexibility lovers out there, what is it that makes it so exciting and essential for you?
    It's a no brainer...Figure Skating involves flexiblity. Those skaters who are gifted - like Sasha Cohen for example with natural flexibility have the edge over other skaters who have to work on their flexibilty to perfect a move. It just adds to the overall look of the move and improves the skaters posture and poise.

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    Custom Title Joesitz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ladskater View Post
    It's a no brainer...Figure Skating involves flexiblity. Those skaters who are gifted - like Sasha Cohen for example with natural flexibility have the edge over other skaters who have to work on their flexibilty to perfect a move. It just adds to the overall look of the move and improves the skaters posture and poise.
    All sports people and people not in sports have flexibility or they are in rehab.

    What I am saying is that some skaters are more able to bend their body parts better than other skaters. Some of those tricks are quite exciting but I would be hesitant in saying they are beautiful. JMO.

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    Just out of curiousity, Joe, which very flexible positions that ice skater hits well do you find ugly? We may be on a similar thought-I personally have no use for I-spins/spirals and fan-spirals, even when the skater has more flexibility than the average person:
    http://media.twango.com/m1/original/...74a783a4c1.jpg
    http://cache.daylife.com/imageserve/...kxat2/340x.jpg
    ...but I will also say I think when those positions are fully stretched out well, it's amazing to see, I just not necessarily think,"Oh, that's beautiful!"

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    Custom Title Joesitz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MKFSfan View Post
    Just out of curiousity, Joe, which very flexible positions that ice skater hits well do you find ugly? We may be on a similar thought-I personally have no use for I-spins/spirals and fan-spirals, even when the skater has more flexibility than the average person:
    http://media.twango.com/m1/original/...74a783a4c1.jpg
    http://cache.daylife.com/imageserve/...kxat2/340x.jpg
    ...but I will also say I think when those positions are fully stretched out well, it's amazing to see, I just not necessarily think,"Oh, that's beautiful!"
    MKFSfan - I didn't say ugly. I did say exciting like in Cirque du Soleil and Gymnastics and in FS, I would consider anything that doesn't require a helping hand but just plain old muscle. The I spin for me, is just too many body parts involved.

    We agree. If the I spin could go up to high heaven without a two hand assist, I could appreciate the ability of the skate's acrobatics. Not sure, though if I would consider it beautiful since it's only a position reserved for some competitors and doesn't say much about ice to skate.

    Spirals and Camels at 145 degrees are beautiful and can be exciting with the right music. That's what skating is to me. I'm not in favore of more acrobatics in figure skating, I get enough of that in Pairs.

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    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joesitz View Post
    All sports people and people not in sports have flexibility or they are in rehab.
    I don't think "flexibility" has to be an either/or proposition (either you can bend or you can't). It can also be comparative.

    To me, there is a spectrum: inflexible, limited flexibility, normal flexibility, superior flexibilty, freakish flexibility. A 145 degree change of edge spiral displays greater flexibility than a 90 degree change of edge spiral does.

    Average flexibility – what I can do (except for the skating part)

    He’s trying!

    Superior flexibility – the average person can’t do this.

    Hand assisted (sort of).

    Hand assisted for real. If you don’t stop doing that, young lady, your legs are going to lock in that position and you’ll never walk again!

    And the winner:

    NATHAN CHEN

    Spirals and Camels at 145 degrees are beautiful and can be exciting with the right music.
    Have you ever seen a 145 degree camel spin?

    http://www.dmfsc.com/Skills/CamelSpin.jpg

    http://www.frogsonice.com/skateweb/r.../bradley-2.jpg
    Last edited by Mathman; 06-25-2009 at 01:38 PM.

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