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Thread: Random Figure Skating Thoughts & Questions

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    Random Figure Skating Thoughts & Questions

    This is just for musings and stuff that you might not feel deserves a full thread (and might just be filled with my own questions, but I'm curious nonetheless).

    First question: Has any ice dancing team debuted higher than sixth place at worlds? I know Virtue/Moir did in 2007 and the American team of Blumberg and Seibert did the same thing in 1980. I assume Grishuk/Platov might have, but I can't find out for sure.

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    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
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    The highest was O'Connor and Millns USA 1975. They were world roller dance champions. They converted to ice when ice dancing was included in the winter Olympics. They were 2nd in their first worlds. This is kind of a waffle, since they already had rep from roller skating.

    I think the second highest I recall is Klimova / Ponamarenko. They finished 3rd in their first Olympics 1984, followed by 4th in their first Sr Worlds 1984.
    Last edited by dorispulaski; 08-16-2009 at 07:26 AM.

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    O'Connor and Millns debuted at worlds, I believe, in 1974 and placed seventh. The 1975 worlds was held in Colorado Springs, and was kind of interesting -- the top Russians (Pahkamova and Gorshkov) fell ill and pulled out, and O'Connor and Millns led after the compulsories. However, they were overtaken by the second Russian couple, Irina Moiseeva and Andrei Minenkov, in the free dance.

    I can't swear to it but I think the best-ever worlds ice dance debut was the bronze medal won by Anjelica Krylova and Vladimir Fedorov in 1993.

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    Grischuk /Platov finished 5th in their first worlds together.
    Usova/Zhulin finished 4th in the first Europeans in 1988 and 2nd in 1989, as far as my memory goes

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    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
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    Post from Olympia (not me)

    O'Connor and Millns! Haven't heard their names in years. It's as if they never existed, and yet, if memory serves, they were the only Americans to win any kind of ice dancing Olympic medal before Belbin and Agosto. (Bronze in 1976, I believe.) O'Connor especially had a beautiful, almost boneless way of movement. They deserve more recognition.

    (This is my first post ever, after years of viewing and enjoying. I read the rules and it says not to post spoilers. I hope posting about the '76 Olympics falls within the boundaries of those rules!)

    Olympia, to get a post to post in the right place, the correct button is the blue Post Reply button. It is at the left hand bottom of the page, and there is another at the left hand top of the page.

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    O'Connor and Millns

    Thanks for finding this and posting it, Doris. I don't know how I got so tangled up yesterday, but today everything seems to have gone more smoothly. I'm so happy to be here on the forums! I've enjoyed reading everyone's comments for a long time.

    I had forgotten that O'Connor and Millns were roller skaters before they took to the ice. In that period of Soviet and East German dominance, it was amazing that they did so well. O'Connor reminded me quite a bit of Jayne Torville--well, really the other way around, because Torville came later. Neither was very fussy or showy, but both were very graceful and expressive.

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    So I started taking figure skating lessons just for fun recently, and other than my big surprise at the complete ignorance of actual figure skaters of ongoing international competition (none of them have any clue as to who is world champion in any discipline); I keep on having discussions with people about the quad axel; I was under the assumption that nobody has actually landed a quad axel before, and certainly never in competition; but those girls and boys keep telling me *they* believe some people are capable of executing that jump. So; who's right; the figure skating fanatic or the actual figure skaters?

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    Sitting Here on Blue Jay Way silver.blades's Avatar
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    I'm pretty sure that a quad axel has never been landed and it has defiantly never been landed in competition. Some people have tried, the last one I heard of broke his leg in something like 3 places. I'm not sure if a quad axel is physically possible or not. I think it is but not with any consistency and a very, very high risk involved.

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    Given that the triple axel has proven problematic for a couple of world medalists in recent years (Chan, Lambiel), I'd assume that the quad axel remains a pipe dream.

    Here's another question. How is it that most countries simply are unable to develop figure skating in all four disciplines? I mean, I understand how some of the poorer federations or federations from the smaller countries would struggle developing a slate of elite skaters, but what about the biggies? For example, in the quadrennial between Turin and Vancouver, Chinese skaters took home six medals - two golds, four silvers. But all were from the pairs teams - indeed, I don't think they've placed in the top ten in any other discipline (which is weird, given that their first breakthrough on the international stage was Lu Chen). Japan is a powerhouse in singles skating, but pairs/dance is weak. Even for Canada, which recently has emerged quite strongly, had that huge drought in womens. Is it simply lack of talent? Development?

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    Custom Title heyang's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ImaginaryPogue View Post
    Here's another question. How is it that most countries simply are unable to develop figure skating in all four disciplines? I mean, I understand how some of the poorer federations or federations from the smaller countries would struggle developing a slate of elite skaters, but what about the biggies? For example, in the quadrennial between Turin and Vancouver, Chinese skaters took home six medals - two golds, four silvers. But all were from the pairs teams - indeed, I don't think they've placed in the top ten in any other discipline (which is weird, given that their first breakthrough on the international stage was Lu Chen). Japan is a powerhouse in singles skating, but pairs/dance is weak. Even for Canada, which recently has emerged quite strongly, had that huge drought in womens. Is it simply lack of talent? Development?
    Note: Lu Chen medalled at several World's and won 2 Olympic Bronze medals.

    As for China, it is still a communist country. It's about the 'team' - not the individual. So, they would want to start with the emphasis on pairs and dance. Yao Bin was part of the 1st Chinese pairs team to compete at the World level; he was so humilated that he set forth to learn everything possible about pairs and essentially created the Chinese pairs program. I think Lulu was just gifted and they couldn't find a male that could partner her to success.

    For the longest time, Russia dominated pairs and dance - again because the mentality of team vs individual. Many of the Russian skaters who had success as singles came into their own after perastroika. If Oksana Baiul had been a few years older, she would have been paired with someone, instead of competing as a singles skater.

    As with many Asian countries, the population tends to be shorter. This does not lend itself to the gorilla and flea matching for pairs. China is more likely to have taller males in the northern regions because the border opens up the possibility of European blending for the taller genes. In general, Japanese males are shorter, the emphasis in Japan is on education and financial wealth as compared to sports - so, Japan's pool of tall male skaters is likely smaller than China's - thus the lack of success in pairs.

    I don't know what's up with Canada.

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    Rink Rat i love to skate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ImaginaryPogue View Post
    Even for Canada, which recently has emerged quite strongly, had that huge drought in womens. Is it simply lack of talent? Development?
    A huge reason for this was horrible mismanagement on Skate Canada's part. In the 1990's they came up with this "theory" that is was more beneficial to teach ladies triples after puberty hit because many of the girls lost their triples due to growth spurts and body issues. Obviously, this was a poor idea and we struggled in the ladies discipline for many years. Thankfully, now it has rebounded with Skate Canada's new devleopment and coaching strategies and things are on the up and up.

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    Some interesting insights into that sixty-four thousand dollar question, Heyang! I agree that the old Soviet Union's strength in pairs and ice dancing and its weakness in singles was partly a result of the way the sports machine worked: when it came upon a promising young skater, he or she was immediately groomed for pairs or ice dancing, so the lesser skaters ended up in the singles disciplines. Whereas in the U.S., individuality was prized, so the better skaters went in for singles. Another possible factor: judges favored certain countries for certain disciplines, making those countries' perceived strength into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    I agree with you that China's unequal (and currently almost unequaled) emphasis on pairs can be attributed to a single brilliant coach, Bin Yao, who of course is a pairs specialist. I don't know enough about Japan to comment. I'm just happy to enjoy their wonderful skaters.

    I can't explain Canada either; maybe someone else here can. Perhaps it's just natural for things to happen in waves and clusters. Perhaps Mathman has some insight into the behavior of trends? Whatever the reasons and factors, it's a continually fascinating issue to contemplate!

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    and... World Peace! Tonichelle's Avatar
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    According to Kurt Browning's [long outdated!] book, he doesn't think the quad axel is even truly possible.

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    Dedicated follower of the black line Wicked's Avatar
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    I have a question that I'm sure someone here can answer. I was thinking about Plushenko's Olympic comeback and how he already has an Olympic gold and a silver. A bronze would complete his collection. Has any skater or team ever won gold, silver, and bronze at the Olys?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wicked View Post
    I have a question that I'm sure someone here can answer. I was thinking about Plushenko's Olympic comeback and how he already has an Olympic gold and a silver. A bronze would complete his collection. Has any skater or team ever won gold, silver, and bronze at the Olys?
    Yes. Klimova and Ponomarenko won bronze in 1984, silver in 1988 and gold in 1992.

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