Page 1 of 5 1 2 3 4 5 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 62

Thread: Why male figure skating has become stale/lackluster – thoughts after seeing the GPF

  1. #1
    Custom Title
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Posts
    816

    Why male figure skating has become stale/lackluster – thoughts after seeing the GPF

    After finished watching the male long programs at the 2010 GPF, I started to wonder just how long since I "carefreely" enjoyed figure skating.

    By “carefree,” I mean not to have to hold my breath and to count number of jump each skater performs until I finish counting all “eight” of them. And since ISU rule grants 10 % bonus to each jump after two minutes mark, I have to hold my breath for an awfully long time! Yeah, watching skating has become a real health hazard for me.

    At this juncture, I’ve faced with two choices: quit watching figure skating to protect my health (both mental and physical), or reflect on factors contributing to the stale/lackluster nature of male figure skating, especially the long program. Here are some of my thoughts on the 2010 GPF male long program analysis, which started all:

    1. Lack of variety in program composition across the six finalists:

    a. Opening with three jumps, first of which are a featured jump, either quad or triple axel, followed by two other triple jumps, some of which are combination jumps;

    b. Filling the time till the two minute mark with circular or serpentine step sequences and a combination spin. Note Chan did two spins, but rest of 5 men followed “b.” At this stage, skaters’ arms are not fraying too much, as frantic arm movement naturally consumes skaters’ energy. Remember name of the game at their quest for milking the maximum point is to preserve their energy till the 2 minutes mark;

    c. As soon as the two minutes mark hits, skaters “rush” to finish 5 jumps before they lose their legs. Oftentimes skaters do lose their legs. Hence we are “forced” to witness some ugly “splat-fest.”

    d. The home stretch – straight line step sequence. Many stop and pause before this element as if they are bracing themselves like, “Man, this is gonna hurt.” At this point skaters’ arms are fraying and often look frantic and chaotic, since they just finished 5 jumps and really tired. I know, step sequences are taxing; that’s why they reserve this element last. Musicality and artistic expression? Yea, forget about it. “Can’t you see how exhausted I am?” they’ll tell ya if they could.

    e. Finishing touches (barely) – Spins. Often they do a combination spin and a spin element one after another, had they not put one of the spin elements right before the straight line step sequence.
    f. Finishing pause – “Yea buddy, I feel for you. ‘Cus I’m exhaused, too, for watching you.”

    So you see, stripping the music selection and costumes, the program compositions are basically the same. It’s as if the skaters and spectators collectively hold our breath with our mutual commiseration toward the finishing line – the final pause. I don’t know about you, but this has been my experience watching figure skating with acrobatic elements, namely, mens, lady’s, and pair skating.

    With increase on tricks such as increased number of lifts, ice dancing has become more acrobatic, at least to me in this year. I have witnessed elevated number of falls and injuries. Hence ice dancing has become more anxiety ridden experience for me to watch.

    I don’t enjoy the state of affair as it is presented now.

    Looking back, I see the introduction of Code of Points as the turning point of figure skating becoming an anxiety ridden experience for me to watch. It is surprising that CoP has been around only since 2004. However the difference in my experience watching 2002 Olympics’ epic battle between Yagudin and Plushenko (pre-CoP), and ho-hum battle in 2010 Olympics (post-CoP between Lycacek and Plushenko) are truly striking.

    Note that I am not necessarily blaming CoP per se. The inception of the CoP is noble in its effort to make the judging more objective and fair. Nor do I blame skaters’ attempt at maximizing points. It is criminal not to, if you are any self-respecting athlete.

    However, right now, I feel something is lost. Figure skating has become less artistic, fluid; programs feel more mechanical, monotonous. In short, many programs look dull to watch.

    I know I’ve written a lot. I will post my humble opinions on remedies, and suggestions later.

  2. #2
    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Detroit, Michigan
    Posts
    28,192
    I agree with this post. All sports are repetitious to some extent. I think what we are seeing in men's figure skating is a consequence of trying tho make figure skating "more like other sports" and pushing the performance aspect into the background.

  3. #3
    Custom Title
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    2,198
    I also agree with this post to some extent--hence my complaints about "boring, dull, soulless paint-by-numbers" programs in another post.

    But once in awhile amid the sea of monotony, a skater gives a transcendent performance, wonderful enough to remind me of the reason why I actually bother to get up at 4AM to watch a figure skating competition.

    As for more creative programs, some of the lower-ranked skaters deliver very well on this front--I'm thinking of skaters like Jonathan Cassar or Shawn Sawyer.

  4. #4
    Custom Title
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Posts
    816
    Quote Originally Posted by evangeline View Post
    I also agree with this post to some extent--hence my complaints about "boring, dull, soulless paint-by-numbers" programs in another post.

    But once in awhile amid the sea of monotony, a skater gives a transcendent performance, wonderful enough to remind me of the reason why I actually bother to get up at 4AM to watch a figure skating competition. As for more creative programs, some of the lower-ranked skaters deliver very well on this front--I'm thinking of skaters like Jonathan Cassar or Shawn Sawyer.
    I couldn't agree more. And I think a lot have to do with different way of conditioning.

    Here are some of my suggested remedy:

    Treat pre-CoP & post-CoP figure skating as different sports requiring different set of skills.
    To me, the essence of figure skating is fluid, gliding movement. This movement is allowed by the skating blade traversing over ice, in contrast with walking/running on earth. This fluid, gliding movement in its nature tends to be that of a long runner – if you use your knees and ankle properly, you can stay on your feet without losing speed for a long time.

    With the emphasis of jump elements (from single to double to triple to quad) and combination jumps, skaters are increasingly asked to equip with the quality of “sprinter” in that you need a burst of energy right before the take off.

    Step sequences, be it straight, circular, or serpentine, require skills of contact sports, e.g., a succor player, basket ball players in which you constantly have to change speed and directions, including abrupt stops.

    Finally, if you are pair skaters and now increasingly for ice dancers, too, you need strength of weight lifters. Yea, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that “diminutive” Meryl Davis has mighty fine looking biceps!

    The point that I am trying to make it that the evolution is gradual but the figure skating of, say, 50 years ago, and the post-CoP era is a very different sport requiring a whole lot more skills and physical strength.

    For instance, when electric drums were introduced in 1980s, many drummers were skeptical about this “new beast.” Many old timers complained, just like many “purelists” complain about the CoP. Interestingly, it was non-drummers who initially embraced electric drums. They tended to approach electric drum not necessarily as drums, but as a new instrument. In other words, once you are free from the old preconception of what drums ought to be, you could create something new and interesting.

    My guess is that something similar approach might help with creating innovating and exciting programs within the CoP system.

    I’m no expert, but to be able to really maximize the CoP system of figure skating, skaters and coaches ought to seriously look into the athlete’s physical conditioning. Especially since ISU rules grant 10% bonus for jumps at the latter half of the program, both increased endurance and sprinting ability are the must.

    Well-conditioned body not only affects your jump but also your mental well-being. If you have faith in your stamina and conditioning, you will be less anxious about the next jump! Almost without exceptions, consistent jumpers, such as Evan Lycacek, Michelle Kwan, and/ or Yuna Kim have excellent work ethics and well-conditioned, as they have been capable of maintaining excellent speed throughout their demanding programs. Comparing with equally talented but inconsistent jumpers such as Tomas Verner and Caro, for example (at least until the last year). You might see noticeable decrease in speed in their skating toward the end of their programs.

    I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the post-CoP Evan Lycacek, who many considered less talented, came out victorious over Plushenko in Vancouver 2010.

    In any case, I would like to see skating coaches and skaters incorporating and emphasizing more of the physical conditioning of other sports. For only with better conditioning, skaters will be more confident in jumping elements later in their programs. Freeing your emotional confidence may free up their energy towards creativity even within the confine of the CoP. Yuna Kim is an excellent example, I’d say.

    Toward the end of 1980s and the early 1990s saw the innovation is Tennis equipment, which shifted its emphasis from the net play to baseline play. This change in the nature of play necessitated different kind of physical conditioning among Tennis players. Together with his physical conditioner, Andrei Aggasi revolutionalized conditioning among tennis pro. As a consequence, he had became the oldest number 1 pro-tennis player at the 33; the feat that had not been surpassed yet.

    I would love to see something like that kind of pioneering effort in figure skating.
    Last edited by CARA; 12-11-2010 at 10:24 PM.

  5. #5
    Custom Title
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    148
    Quote Originally Posted by CARA View Post
    I’m no expert, but to be able to really maximize the CoP system of figure skating, skaters and coaches ought to seriously look into the athlete’s physical conditioning.
    In any case, I would like to see skating coaches and skaters incorporating and emphasizing more of the physical conditioning of other sports. For only with better conditioning, skaters will be more confident in jumping elements later in their programs.
    You're definitely not an expert. Off-ice conditioning has been an enormous part of the sport for decades now. Trust me, coaches and skaters are way ahead of you on this. They know about plyometrics, agility drills, stamina training (and training at elevation), core strength and conditioning, etc etc. No need for a memo.

  6. #6
    Custom Title
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Posts
    816
    Quote Originally Posted by doubleflutz View Post
    You're definitely not an expert. Off-ice conditioning has been an enormous part of the sport for decades now. Trust me, coaches and skaters are way ahead of you on this. They know about plyometrics, agility drills, stamina training (and training at elevation), core strength and conditioning, etc etc. No need for a memo.
    You are rigth. My knowledge of skating is very limited. I'm the first one to acknowledge it. But in that case, could you enlighten me as to why so many so- called top skaters at this years' GPF are inconsistent in their jumping ability?

    At least I am trying to think constructively here. My area of expertize is psychology (I'm a 'shrink'). And I can tell you that having to perform more than half of cruical elements later in their program when they are not at their physical best in the prescription for for increasing anxiety. Anxiety constrain your body (emotional reactions always have physical counterparts.)

    That's why I "overprepare" when I go to a court to provide an expert testimony. The higher the stake, the more I overprepare. When I don't feel that I am well-prepared, I feel anxious and lose credibility in front of juries from my experience.

    Any way, thanks for your suggestion in advance.
    Last edited by CARA; 12-11-2010 at 10:50 PM.

  7. #7
    Custom Title
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    148
    Because is jumping is hard.

    Skaters fall. Skaters have always fallen. No jump will ever be 100%, even if a skater peaks in their training at exactly the right time, has the mental conditioning of a nuclear submarine commander, has flawless technique, is completely uninjured and at their physical peak age, and the ice is in excellent condition.

    You're deluding yourself if you think jump inconsistency happened with COP, or quads/high level triples, or the removal of figures. Skaters fall. Jumping is hard.

  8. #8
    Custom Title
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    beijing
    Posts
    1,910
    Another thing is that figure skating is a precision sport, just being "slightly off" can equal disaster. And there are so many variables in how a skater's body feels from day to day, some days you land just about every jump and other days, you can't beg borrow or steal them. It's sort of like golf, another precision sport. Champion pro golfers sometimes have bad days too, no matter how much practice or how many previous successes they've had. Sometimes just hitting the golf ball a wee bit hard or soft sends it into the water hazard instead of on the green.

    Something else to think about, for both skating and golf. In a competition or a tournament you have competitors you are up against, of course. But mostly, the way these sports are set up, you are up against yourself. In skating, you have your ideal, perfect program as your standard and you are working to achieve it as much as you can, in any given practice or competition performance. And so are your fellow competitors. Unlike a tennis match, you aren't interacting with one of your competitors. In golf, the pro is really playing his best against the set course. As is each of his other competitors, independently. There is a mental element in most sports, but I think skating and golf each have the mental aspect as a large proportion of the total success factors needed. Especially for consistency.

    The judging system used in figure skating, whatever it might be, is not likely to change any of this.
    Last edited by bigsisjiejie; 12-11-2010 at 11:03 PM.

  9. #9
    Custom Title
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Posts
    816
    Quote Originally Posted by doubleflutz View Post
    Because is jumping is hard.

    You're deluding yourself if you think jump inconsistency happened with COP, or quads/high level triples, or the removal of figures. Skaters fall. Jumping is hard.
    Then what's the difference between more or less consistent jumpers and more or less inconsistent jumpters, given that jumping is hard?

  10. #10
    Custom Title
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Posts
    816
    Quote Originally Posted by bigsisjiejie View Post
    Another thing is that figure skating is a precision sport, just being "slightly off" can equal disaster. And there are so many variables in how a skater's body feels from day to day, some days you land just about every jump and other days, you can't beg borrow or steal them. It's sort of like golf, another precision sport. Champion pro golfers sometimes have bad days too, no matter how much practice or how many previous successes they've had. Sometimes just hitting the golf ball a wee bit hard or soft sends it into the water hazard instead of on the green.

    Something else to think about, for both skating and golf. In a competition or a tournament you have competitors you are up against, of course. But mostly, the way these sports are set up, you are up against yourself. In skating, you have your ideal, perfect program as your standard and you are working to achieve it as much as you can, in any given practice or competition performance. And so are your fellow competitors. Unlike a tennis match, you aren't interacting with one of your competitors. In golf, the pro is really playing his best against the set course. As is each of his other competitors, independently. There is a mental element in most sports, but I think skating and golf each have the mental aspect as a large proportion of the total success factors needed. Especially for consistency.

    The judging system used in figure skating, whatever it might be, is not likely to change any of this.
    That's really helpful. Thanks. Incidentally, I played tennis at an elite level previously. When it come to the mental side, what you describe about skating, golf, and tennis are pretty similar. I can tell you what little mental aspects set off a successful smash and an unsuccessful one.

  11. #11
    Custom Title
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    2,198
    Quote Originally Posted by CARA View Post
    Then what's the difference between more or less consistent jumpers and more or less inconsistent jumpters, given that jumping is hard?
    There's no one single variable.

    Some people just don't have the mental toughness for competition. Or maybe they have a chronic injury but are keeping quiet about it. Or maybe they have bad technique that deserts them whenever nerves set in. Etc., etc., etc.

  12. #12
    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Detroit, Michigan
    Posts
    28,192
    Quote Originally Posted by CARA View Post
    Then what's the difference between more or less consistent jumpers and more or less inconsistent jumpers, given that jumping is hard?
    That's a great question. I think it is one that can be asked in any sport.

    Some athletes are "clutch players." Somehow or other, they are able to take that rush of adrenaline that accompanies pressure to perform, and make it work for them instead of against them.

    Alissa Czisny, that exquisite performer who stayed on her feet today and won the Grand Prix Final, has (until now! ) been the opposite. She lands everything in practice, but when the chips are down she often reverts to old habits of flawed technique and falls.

    I do think that both stamina and (over)preparedness play a role. Scott Hamilton, as a commentator, is constantly reminding us on how hard it is to do difficult jumps on tired legs (and sure enough, just as he says it, the skater doubles a jump or can't get quite around on his rotations.)

    Also, I think it helps if a skater is capable of maintaining a uniformly intense focus on each element as it comes. Dick Button quite often says something like, oh, that's too bad, she just lost concentration on that jump.

  13. #13
    Custom Title
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    5,609
    Heh.

    As disappointing as this GP season has been, if you take the group of men skating today and showcased their best moment/program, I think it would eclipse pretty much any other era for me (he says with limited knowledge)

  14. #14
    Custom Title
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Posts
    816
    Quote Originally Posted by evangeline View Post
    There's no one single variable.

    Some people just don't have the mental toughness for competition. Or maybe they have a chronic injury but are keeping quiet about it. Or maybe they have bad technique that deserts them whenever nerves set in. Etc., etc., etc.
    In addition, I suspect that skaters now "backload" their jumps due to the CoP's 10% bonus points after the 2 minutes mark. Aside from all the factors contributing to unsucessful jumps, do you think the backloading jumps is also the factor contributing to the inconsistency in jumping after the 2minutes mark? That's my question.

    Naturally, skaters tended to either frontload or evenly distributed jump elements in the pre-CoP era. Hence, my question is that does the CoP contribute to inconsistency in jump elements and also de-limits program make up? Those were my original questions.

  15. #15
    Custom Title
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    148
    Quote Originally Posted by ImaginaryPogue View Post
    As disappointing as this GP season has been, if you take the group of men skating today and showcased their best moment/program, I think it would eclipse pretty much any other era for me (he says with limited knowledge)
    Yep. Actually, Daisuke, Patrick, and Nobu's short programs all pretty much eclipsed... oh, every other short program ever performed? All for different reasons.

Page 1 of 5 1 2 3 4 5 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •