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Thread: Helping the casual viewer learn COP for Olympics

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    Helping the casual viewer learn COP for Olympics

    I've been watching women's figure skating on Youtube for two seasons, but this year I've convinced my boyfriend to watch the Olympics with me! The only figure skater he's ever heard of is Michelle Kwan, so he's quite a newbie. I'd like to help provide commentary because I feel that's not something I get from our American commentators. I can pick out three voices: a woman, an over-excitable man, and a lower-pitched calmer man.

    But the problem is, I'm just a bit more experienced than the non-watcher. I watch my favorite skaters on Youtube, but I have no technical training in skating and I've never bothered to look at protocols. But I'd still like to offer helpful commentary during the performances. Anyway, here is my repertoire of things I know about figure skating. Can you guys check my accuracy?

    1. Types of jumps I can identify:
    Axel: the skater skates forward, and then lunges into air.
    Flip/Lutz: the skater skates backward, and then sticks one leg behind them and digs into the ice. Caroline Zhang does an exaggerated version of this, the “mule kick.” The lutz is taken from an outside edge, and a flip is taken from an inside edge.
    Salchow/Loop: the skater stands with one foot in front, one in back, and corkscrews into the air. I can't tell the difference between the two. Is it an edge difference?

    The big thing with jumps is that they have to fully rotated, three times in the air for triples. If you rotate on the ice, it's called pre-rotation and it doesn't count. If it's sort by more than one fourth of a rotation, then it is downgraded to a double, and that's bad because you can't win the Olympics with glorified doubles. Falls have a deduction of -1.00, but it's not so bad if you fully rotate three times in the air, because the landing is more susceptible to chance.

    2. Spirals
    A spiral is when a skater sticks a leg in the air for at least three seconds, and she has to do several in a row for it to be a spiral sequence. Good spirals don't necessarily have to be “bendy.” It has something to do with the angle of the ice blade to the ice. I'm sort of confused on this; more on edges later.

    3. Step sequence
    I have no idea what makes one step sequence better than another.

    4. Spins
    Spins are fun, I think these will be no problem. Good spins are ones that show off flexibility, have changes in positions, and are centered.

    5. Basic Skating skills
    How can tell whether one skater has better basic skating skills than another? I keep hearing edges and speed. Speed is easy – I just watch how fast the boards are moving behind the skater. But what do people mean by deep edges? How can I identify this? Do good skaters lean to one side while skating so to only use one edge of the blade and splay up the ice?

    6. COP
    There are two sections of scoring, TES (Technical) and PCS (Artistry). Every element is given base value of something, harder elements have higher base values. If you do the element well, you get a positive GOE, and if you don't, you get a negative GOE. A good SP score is 70+, and a FS is 130+.

    Anyway, that's about everything I know about skating. I hope to be competent when explaining how figure skating works. Any comments or advice to better explain it?

  2. #2
    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    That's basically it.

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    Custom Title Joesitz's Avatar
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    you could also add that the elements you wrote are skated to music in a choreographed manner, and much of the judging is opinionated albeit there are guidelines. The sport is not a Free Skate and has a good deal of restrictions.

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    Grr, I typed a long reply but somehow it got lost in the process of posting. So I'm going to answer in several smaller posts.

    You have a good start. I'm just going to pick out a couple of points to expand on.

    1. Types of jumps I can identify:
    Axel: the skater skates forward, and then lunges into air.
    Flip/Lutz: the skater skates backward, and then sticks one leg behind them and digs into the ice. Caroline Zhang does an exaggerated version of this, the “mule kick.” The lutz is taken from an outside edge, and a flip is taken from an inside edge.
    Salchow/Loop: the skater stands with one foot in front, one in back, and corkscrews into the air. I can't tell the difference between the two. Is it an edge difference?
    You're missing the toe loop. That's the jump that's most often done as a quad, or as the second jump in a 3-3 combination, although you'll also see it as a solo jump especially from ladies. It's also a toepick-assisted jump, but with the opposite foot from the flip and lutz.

    You may find these links useful:
    http://www.sk8stuff.com/m_recognize.htm
    http://figurespeedskating.suite101.c..._skating_jumps
    http://www.bixby.org/julie/skate.html

    If you go to youtube and search for the name of each jump, you should find examples of both the basic single jumps and the triples performed by elite skaters.

    The big thing with jumps is that they have to fully rotated, three times in the air for triples. If you rotate on the ice, it's called pre-rotation and it doesn't count.
    "Prerotation" refers to rotation on the ice before takeoff. It's pretty rare that jumps get downgraded for this, although it does happen sometimes, most often with toe loops at the ends of combinations (so-called "toe axel" error).

    Most downgrades are because of rotation on the ice on the landing. This is called "underrotation" or "cheating the jump."

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    Quote Originally Posted by brightphoton View Post
    3. Step sequence
    I have no idea what makes one step sequence better than another.
    The most important thing the technical panel is looking for to determine the level of the step sequence (how hard it is) is the number of different kinds of turns and steps. That requires including some of the harder turns that are not often used outside the step sequences. Distinguishing brackets, counters, and rockers from each other in real time is one of the hardest jobs the technical specialist has to do. That's why they have to have been advanced skaters who have actually performed those moves themselves. No need to worry about it when you're first starting out.

    The number of turns in each direction and the use of the upper body also contribute to the difficulty level. You can probably see those for yourself.

    What the judges are looking for are the security and depth of the edges (see below), how well the skater maintains speed and flow across the ice, and how well the steps relate to the music. You can look for these things too. Musical expression would be easiest to recognize.

    4. Spins
    Spins are fun, I think these will be no problem. Good spins are ones that show off flexibility, have changes in positions, and are centered.
    Yup!
    The speed of the spin would also be taken into consideration. And the total number of revolutions, especially in teh short program where the requirements are pretty strict.

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    Quote Originally Posted by brightphoton View Post
    5. Basic Skating skills
    How can tell whether one skater has better basic skating skills than another? I keep hearing edges and speed. Speed is easy – I just watch how fast the boards are moving behind the skater. But what do people mean by deep edges? How can I identify this? Do good skaters lean to one side while skating so to only use one edge of the blade and splay up the ice?
    Splaying up the ice is usually considered a bad thing. Sometimes it's done on purpose for choreographic effect.

    Good edges are smooth and controlled, and in most cases quiet, or sometimes growling as they carve into the ice. No snow flying.

    Deep edges mean that the skater is leaning over one side of the blade, preferably in one unit from the blade through the whole body, in most cases with a deep bend in the knee. Deep edges create a deep curving pattern on the ice, not tiny circles and not almost-straight lines.

    Ice dancers are usually best at this. The best way to see the distinction is to compare a top team and a non-world-class team doing the same compulsory dance, to compare the size of the curves and the amount of lean and knee bend.

    Since you're more interested in ladies, here are some examples of female skaters from the past who were known for the quality of their edges. Look for the lean and the big curves:

    Janet Lynn
    Dorothy Hamill
    Yuka Sato

  7. #7
    Always Believed! Sk8n Mama's Avatar
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    I'm going to link you to this page on the ISU website. It has good clear explanantions of what the judges are looking for, particularly in the Program Components area. Check out the "program components explanation" and then the links to "Singles skating", "pairs skating" and "ice dance". The singles skating explains well what they're looking for in regards to footwork and spiral sequences.

    http://www.isu.org/vsite/vnavsite/pa...v-list,00.html

    The one thing I wanted to point out is a fall on a jump is a -3 Grade of Execution. It's an extra -1 as a "deduction" if it was a required element. All programs have required elements. For example, the ladies must do an axel jump in their SP. Let's say Mao Asada goes for the triple axel in her short and falls. The triple axel is worth 8.2. Because she fell, she'd get 5.2 because she'd lose 3 for the fall. But then, she'd also get a -1 deduction on her total TES because she did not do the required axel jump. Does this make sense? The deductions that you see come up on the screen are when the skater does not complete a required element and are different from the Grade of Execution scores. The GOE don't come up on the screen, they're part of that total "Technical Elements Score".

    Also, the big thing with the underrotated jumps is, not just can a triple be downgraded to a double BUT if they fall, it will be downgraded and they'll lose the 3 points for the fall off the double mark, which make the jump worth pretty much nothing.

    There's also a maximum number of "jumping passes" in the programs. If the jumpers do more jumps than are allowed, they don't count. There's also a maximum of any one kind of jump to keep skaters from doing semething like including 4 quad toes to rack up the points.

    Have fun & enjoy the skating!

    PS: if you're near the Canadian border and can watch the skating on the Canadian feed, you might find the commmentary more helpful. I find Kurt Browning good at explaining what might be downgraded, which footwork is better and why, etc.
    Last edited by Sk8n Mama; 02-08-2010 at 10:45 AM.

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    Beliver in Sasha's Perfect Program Tinymavy15's Avatar
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    If you And your boyfriend know how Michelle Kwan skated, you know what good skating skills look like. Watch a few videos of how she moves across the ice and comapre that with a video of Caroline Zhang.

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    Dreaming and dancing Bennett's Avatar
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    When I watch football, I don't understand the rules so that I watch cheerleaders!

    So it may be helpful for your boyfriend to know the basic scheme about how the skater garners points.

    Another approach that may work well is to introduce your favorite star skaters to him.

    At the same time, I would say, just let your boyfriend's heart be open and let him enjoy the performances just as they are! If you guys are thinking too much, you miss the magic moments. Disagreeing with judges and complaining about it are a part of the competition
    Last edited by Bennett; 02-08-2010 at 11:10 AM.

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    "Hold an edge and look sexy!" museksk8r's Avatar
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    brightphoton, here's a new article on the icenetwork website that might prove useful to you: http://web.icenetwork.com/news/artic...&vkey=ice_news

    Here's the direct link to the handbook mentioned in the above article: http://usfsa.org/content/IJS%20Handbook.pdf
    I just discovered this handbook and it is an excellent resource - highly recommended!
    Last edited by museksk8r; 02-08-2010 at 11:52 AM.

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    What a great thread! I've been watching skating for years, but I'm a total ignoramus about some details--especially concerning the new judging system--and I've learned a lot from these posts. I'll check out the reference links you all supplied also, just to make sure I know what I think I know!

    I agree with Bennett, though, that opening your heart and taking in the overall effect is definitely an important component of enjoying skating. You'll generally enjoy the best skaters by doing that, but you'll also come to love skaters that maybe aren't at the top but are bringing something special to the ice.

    And I'll add that a lot of the commentary that will be posted here after the various stages of the competition will be hugely helpful. I learned so much just by lurking here for the years before I joined. People explain a lot of what has happened, and then you can review the skate on YouTube with the commentary fresh in your mind.

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    Custom Title chapis's Avatar
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    quote 1. Types of jumps I can identify:
    Axel: the skater skates forward, and then lunges into air.
    Flip/Lutz: the skater skates backward, and then sticks one leg behind them and digs into the ice. Caroline Zhang does an exaggerated version of this, the “mule kick.” The lutz is taken from an outside edge, and a flip is taken from an inside edge.
    Salchow/Loop: the skater stands with one foot in front, one in back, and corkscrews into the air. I can't tell the difference between the two. Is it an edge difference?quote

    the difference between a salchow and loop, is if the skater is right the take off of the loop is with the right leg, the salchow the take off is with the left leg.

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    "Hold an edge and look sexy!" museksk8r's Avatar
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    A layman's way of telling the loop and Salchow apart is that with the loop entry, the legs have to be close together to vault oneself into the air (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...ior_Worlds.jpg) and with the Salchow entry, the legs are separated (http://www.iceskate.net/skate%20images/salchow_demo.jpg).

    http://www.iceskate.net/term_jump.php
    Last edited by museksk8r; 02-08-2010 at 12:20 PM.

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    Here is how I identify the jumps:

    Axel--the easiest to spot, a forward takeoff

    Loop--the non-jumping foot crosses in front right before the takeoff. This jump seems to go straight up in the air

    Flip--backward takeoff from a 3-turn (front to back on one foot). I have trouble sometimes telling this from toe-loop

    Lutz--backward takeoff, no turn beforehand, a lean to the outside edge

    Salchow--entry looks the same as an entry to a spin--backwards, curving around

    Toe-loop--looks like a flip; try to see if landing on same foot; a toe-loop if the flip done previously; or wait for commentator to identify!

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    Constable , Costume Police colleen o'neill's Avatar
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    Re TV commentary: Since the Olympic contract went to CTV instead of the CBC, I doubt you'll get any commentary by Kurt Browning .I've obviously been looking in all the wrong places to find out who will be commentating for CTV..all I know so far is that Elizabeth Manly will be providing some..she can't be alone , though.

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