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Thread: Why is flexibility so appreciated?

  1. #1
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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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    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by janetfan View Post
    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?
    Actually, I think they do learn about hand positions in off-ice training.

    http://www.businesspundit.com/wp-con...5/zzhamill.jpg

    Michelle modeled her spiral after Nicole Bobek’s

    http://www.geocities.com/Colosseum/S...8492/bobek.jpg

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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.

  12. #12
    Beliver in Sasha's Perfect Program Tinymavy15's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Medusa View Post
    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.
    Zhang is also wearing tights..the gymnast is not.

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    Banned janetfan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tonichelle View Post
    Nicole Bobek's spiral is still my favorite!
    Nicole did have a beautiful spiral. What is it about American skaters and spirals?
    Kristi had nice spirals and so did Nancy.Alissa and Mirai aso have nice extensions. Is it something others notice too when watching European and Asian skaters? That so many have average spirals at best?
    Last edited by janetfan; 06-14-2009 at 10:19 PM.

  14. #14
    L'art pour l'art Medusa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by janetfan View Post
    Nicole did have a beautiful spiral. What is it about American skaters and spirals?
    Kristi had nice spirals and so did Nancy.Alissa and Mirai aso have nice extensions. Is it something others notice too when watching European and Asian skaters? That so many have average spirals at best?
    Not just spirals - also layback spins. I remember seeing this Danish girl at Europeans and she had a really good layback spin with the best leg position. I was totally confused, because you don't see that in Europe normally. Her ISU bio then said that she is actually from the USA.

    I don't mind if girls can't do the layback spin with the "American"-leg position - but then they shouldn't try that and have the freeleg so ugly bent in the knee. Arakawa simply went for the an easier, but still beautiful, position. Lepistö too. Hah! Found a picture - here. It's easier but not ugly. In contrast to this, which is simply not pleasing to my eye.

  15. #15
    Banned janetfan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Medusa View Post
    Not just spirals - also layback spins. I remember seeing this Danish girl at Europeans and she had a really good layback spin with the best leg position. I was totally confused, because you don't see that in Europe normally. Her ISU bio then said that she is actually from the USA.

    I don't mind if girls can't do the layback spin with the "American"-leg position - but then they shouldn't try that and have the freeleg so ugly bent in the knee. Arakawa simply went for the an easier, but still beautiful, position. Lepistö too. Hah! Found a picture - here. It's easier but not ugly. In contrast to this, which is simply not pleasing to my eye.

    Very interesting (you naughty but brave girl). But then again I do not possess the "gorgon eye" (or whatever it's callled) I remember Button commented on that last picture and also on a somewhat wobbly spiral with poor extension - and one might have thought the world was coming to an end. Later it was accepted that it was just a poor translation.

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