In my opinion, the physical age of the skaters matter less than the emotional maturity they project on ice. While V/M are physically young, what they project on ice, since when they first won the FD at the 2008 Worlds, demonstrated an emotional maturity that is way beyond their age. You can be 20-21 year old but come across as 25-26 year old for instance.
Originally Posted by Mathman
Samuelson/Bates, in my view, has a critical problem with how they project themselves on ice. Keep in mind, this perception is fairly subjective but I do have almost 20 years of experience in Ice Dance as a fan, skater and official so I am offering my perspective as someone who has been deeply involved in the sport and who is keenly aware what ticks and what doesn't among judges. The issue with this team is him. In all my years watching Ice Dance, I have come to believe a successful Ice Dance team requires a very strong male partner. While woman is the focus most of the time, because there is a much larger pool of talented and interested female skaters compared to the much smaller number of male skaters, the female ice dancers are more or less comparable to each other at the top level. Though, the difference in the men is a lot more glaring. Not only does the man needs to be a strong skater, in Ice Dance, the man also needs to have a complementary charisma and emotional maturity that will allows him to accentuate the presence of his female partner. Evan Bates looks younger than his physical age when he is on the ice. That's a big problem. Someone like Scott Moir, who is only 22 and he was 20 when he and Tessa Virtue won the FD at the 2008 Worlds over much older teams, he projects a maturity this is not only suited to his style but also complements his partner. Their Umbrella FD in 2008 was age appropriate when they were only 20 and 18 respectively, but yet, their emotional maturity in that program makes people forget their physical age was only 20 and 18. At the same time, they weren't trying too hard and come across as unsuitable. Samuelson/Bates, mostly it's him not Emily, doesn't quite do that. They look like a pair of teenagers who happen to be very good skaters, technically but that's about it. Take their choice of OD and FD for instance. The American country music further accentuates their youth whereas most young teams of their age did everything to camouflage their age, V/M-> Flamenco, C/P->Flamenco, D/W->Indian folk with heavy makeup. Then their FD, Canto Della Terra, a beautiful piece of music that requires a lot of maturity to do it justice but unfortunately, it isn't there due to lack of chemistry between partners.
Maybe a coach change will solve that problem. Even Frank Carroll recognized early on that Michelle Kwan missed that, hence she missed the World podium in 1995. What Samuelson/Bates need the most is that maturity transformation, to give the judges the impression that they are truly a Senior team, not just technically but in their presentation as well. That, in my opinion, will dictate whether they move up to the next level or remain stagnant & get passed by teams behind them like this year.