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Thread: THE LONG PROGRAM - why it needs variety and what CoP can do.

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    Skating is art, if you let it be. Blades of Passion's Avatar
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    THE LONG PROGRAM - why it needs variety and what CoP can do.

    I guess we can call this a reiteration and further refining of my previous thread last year (part of it anyway) about what needs to change within CoP.

    The Long Program is not actually called the "Long Program" according to the ISU. It is still called the "Free Skate". That title, however, is not at all an accurate representation of this portion of figure skating competitions under CoP. There is nothing about the current "Freeskate" that allows skaters much freedom at all. They have to complete the exact structure of technical elements that is prescribed or else they are losing points, the same as in the Short Program.

    When every skater is doing mostly the same thing, and when you KNOW exactly how many jumps a skater is going to attempt, etc, programs begin to lose part of their individual flavor and competitions as a whole become less exciting. Programs become less about trying to figure out which technical elements best interpret the music and more about simply choreographing the technical elements themselves so that they are worth the most points.

    Here is what every female program is "required" to have:

    *7 jumping passes, 2 of which are two-jump combinations, one of which is a three-jump combination
    *3 spins
    *1 footwork sequence, 1 spiral sequence

    The requirements for Men's programs are basically the same, just an extra jumping pass and 2 footwork sequences rather than a footwork sequence + spiral sequence.

    Skaters should be able to pick layouts that feel more personal. The 1998 Olympic podium is a perfect example of brilliant programs that utilize different technical structures. Tara Lipinski had 6 jumping passes (3 combination jumps), Lu Chen had 7 (2 combination jumps), and Michelle Kwan had 8 (2 combination jumps). Michelle Kwan's program did not have a footwork sequence.

    This should be the "base" requirement for a Free Skating program:

    *6 jumping passes, with 2 of them being a two-jump combination (7 jumping passes for male programs)
    *3 spins
    *1 footwork sequence or (for a female program) spiral sequence

    From there, skaters would have 3 optional slots available. They can use these flexible slots to add anything they want to the program - spins, footwork sequences, spiral sequences (males included), jumping passes, or extra jumps done in combination (doing a 3-jump combination instead of a 2-jump combination would count as a slot and a 3-jump combination would be a maximum a skater can attempt in a single combination...additionally note that something like a 3Toe/half loop/3Sal would count as a 2-jump combination).

    The limitations would be as follows:

    *No more than 3 footwork sequences in a program (skaters may not repeat the same type of footwork pattern and could do 1 circular, 1 straightline, and 1 serpentine at most).

    *No more than 2 spiral sequences in a program.

    *A maximum of 2 slots can be used to add additional combination jumps to the program (and only 1 three-jump combination may be attempted).

    *A maximum of 2 slots can be used to add additional jumping passes to the program. If 2 slots ARE used for extra jumping passes, the skater forfeits their last optional slot (adding this many extra jumping passes can make it too easy to gain points, so there has to be a balance).

    *Additional addendum to the Zayak rule: from this group of jumps -- Triple Axel / Triple Lutz / Triple Flip -- Females are only allowed to repeat one of them in a program. Why? Because we've seen too many female programs try and load up on these jumps under CoP at the cost of ignoring other Triple jumps. Well-rounded technique should be encouraged.

    I firmly believe individual programs would look better, competitions would be more exciting, and entire seasons would be more dynamic if these rules were in place. We need to be left guessing what a skater will do next. We need to see different skaters doing different technical layouts. We need to see programs change more throughout the season, as skaters experiment with different elements and ideas. CoP currently does not allow people to make as many choices as they should be able to. Choices are interesting.

    Here's the sample layout of a skater like ALISSA CZISNY, who has difficulties with the jumps but excels at spinning:

    Camel-change-Camel spin
    3Lutz-2Toe
    3Flip
    Flying Sit spin
    3Loop
    Combination spin
    ----------
    3Toe-2Toe
    2Axel
    Flying Camel spin
    3Lutz
    Spiral Sequence
    Layback spin
    Change-of-foot Combination spin

    She has just as many spin elements as she has jump elements. And why not? That area of skating is certainly difficult and you need to be able to do a vast range of spin variations if you want to put this many spins in a program and still gain extra levels.

    Then take someone like MIKI ANDO. Her layout would be completely the opposite - she wants to maximize the jumps and avoid spiral sequences:

    3Lutz-3Loop
    4Sal
    3Flip
    Change-of-foot Combination spin
    ----------
    2Axel-3Toe
    3Lutz
    3Loop
    3Sal-2Loop-2Loop
    Flying Sit spin
    Footwork Sequence
    Combination spin

    And of course, a quintessential MICHELLE KWAN program:

    3Loop
    3Toe-3Toe
    Flying Camel spin
    3Lutz-2Toe
    Change-of-foot Combination spin
    ----------
    3Flip
    2Axel
    Spiral Sequence
    3Sal
    Layback spin
    3Lutz
    Footwork Sequence
    Combination spin

    Yet another possible layout would be from YUKA SATO, who has admitted to enjoying jumps the least (especially toepick jumps) when it comes to skating. That's okay, though, because her glorious speed and edging gives her a big advantage in Footwork Sequences! She could do something like:

    3Lutz
    3Flip
    3Loop-2Loop
    Serpentine Footwork Sequence
    3Toe
    Change-of-foot Combination spin
    ----------
    2Axel-3Sal
    3Loop
    Circular Footwork Sequence
    Flying Camel Spin
    3Sal
    Straightline Footwork Sequence
    Combination spin

    Hurray for variety.

    Also, although I wanted to save the discussion about other CoP changes for another thread (perhaps it's unavoidable), here is a quick overview of some of the changes that are related to the way the Freeskate would be changed:

    Wouldn't doing three step sequences or six spins take a really long time, if you would try to achieve level 4 on all of them?
    Skaters wouldn't be trying to achieve level 4 on everything. The other change to CoP that would need to happen for this to work would be a change in the base values and GOE values of elements. A quick summation is:

    *The 2Axel would be worth less points (other jumps would also be worth less points, and difficult jump combinations would be worth more points, but it's mainly the 2Axel that would take the biggest hit).

    *Spins would receive higher +GOE and gaining extra levels would be worth less points, meaning you want to aim for the best quality of spin you can achieve, not the most variations you can put in (although well-done variations are of course always welcome). The current rule of 8 revolutions in a single position counting as a level feature would also be abolished, except in the cases where a significantly difficult position is held for that long.

    *Footwork sequences would have the same +GOE regardless of level (+1 point at every level) and there would be an extra guideline for determining the GOE of footwork sequences: how well the sequence adheres to the pattern (straightline, circular, serpentine). Most people wouldn't try Level 4 footwork because almost nobody can do that kind of footwork without traveling all over the place. Clean, fast footwork that is Level 2 or Level 3 would be the ideal most of the time.
    Last edited by Blades of Passion; 10-20-2010 at 01:32 AM. Reason: Added extra related details

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    More or less: more is more sequinsgalore's Avatar
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    I like the idea and always thought the skaters should have some optional element slots.

    But... wouldn't most skaters just do most possible jumps in hopes of getting most points? And wouldn't doing three step sequences or five spins take a really long time, if you would try to achieve level 4 on all of them? In the end I can't imagine any men trying spins/step sequences in stead of jumps and they definitely would not try a spiral sequence. Your suggestion would probably require a different judging system.

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    Last edited by sequinsgalore; 10-19-2010 at 07:23 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sequinsgalore View Post
    But... wouldn't most skaters just do most possible jumps in hopes of getting most points?
    For skaters who don't have all the triples (and unlikely to make it to the level of results that will get them on TV, with a few exceptions), it could be more valuable to fill an element slot with a level 4 spin than doubles other than the axel (or even double axel if it's iffy).

    This includes skaters who attempt triples they don't really have and consistently get downgrades (<< this year).

    Although unless they have a wide variety of spin skills we'd probably rather see them do double jumps from the takeoffs they don't have triples of.

    At the other end of the spectrum, a skater who can do multiple 3-3 combos or even 3-3-3 could use up all their allowed triples and maybe even a quad in 5 or 6 jump passes. Would we rather see them fill up the extra jump slots with double axels after they've already done triples, or spend the time on other kinds of elements?

    And wouldn't doing three step sequences or five spins take a really long time, if you would try to achieve level 4 on all of them?
    Yes, it's true that a complicated spin or step sequence would take more time than a jump. But if the skater would need to spend a long time setting up the jump with uninteresting skating, thus taking away from the component marks, s/he might be better off spending the time on elements that can actually add to the component marks.

    In the end I can't imagine any men trying spins/step sequences in stead of jumps and they definitely would not try a spiral sequence.
    Again, we're not just talking about the very top skaters in the world, who generally tend to get there on the strength of their jumping ability. There are indeed men who have good spirals and would use them if they could get points for them. Shawn Sawyer comes to mind among current competitors.

    In the US, novice men and ladies have a choice of whether to do a spiral sequence or a step sequence in their long programs. A fair number of boys chose spirals, either because (as of last year) it was easier to get a higher level on spirals than on steps or because (still relevant) they had the flexibility and edge security to get better GOEs on spirals than on steps, or because they just liked them better or they fit the music better, or some combination of the above.

    If senior men had that option, I'm sure it would be a minority who would choose spirals instead of steps. But since they have more time and more elements, they could also choose to do one of each.

    Don't forget that in the last years of the 6.0 system at the beginning of the 2000s, men were required to do a "field moves sequence" in their long programs, which could include spirals or spread eagles, Ina Bauers, hydroblading, etc.

    Your suggestion would probably require a different judging system.
    Not a different judging system, but a different definition of the well-balanced program rules and some different allocations of points for elements to give appropriate incentives for a variety of different program templates.

    I had been arguing for several years that the well-balanced program rules should be changed in similar ways that Blades of Passion suggests to give skaters who excelled in areas other than jumps more opportunities to showcase their strengths. I also wanted to see other kinds of elements introduced as point-earning opportunities: e.g., Field Moves Sequence, School Figure Variations, Small Jumps Sequence.

    Now with the change to choreo spiral sequence and choreo step sequence instead of spiral sequence with levels and second regular step sequence, respectively, for senior ladies and men, we should see more variety in those elements but not in overall program construction.

    Giving comparable points to different kinds of elements (e.g., level 4 of any of the other kinds of elements approximately equal to double axel) gives an even playing field for skaters who want to showcase different skills. After the basic requirements are met, let the skater have a choice whether to fill the last element slot or two with another step sequence, another double axel, another spin, a spiral or field moves sequence, etc.

    That's why I think that with different well-balanced program rules the current judging system could do a better job than 6.0 (which too often ended up overweighting the jump count, and confused fans when it didn't) in comparing programs with different layouts.

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    The most important thing would be to make the "free skate" unified again. No more splitting it in half as current rules do creating two free skates. Just one 4 minute free skate for ladies and 4 and a half minute free skate for men and pairs. Dance has one free dance. No splitting of the free dance in half.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gkelly View Post
    That's why I think that with different well-balanced program rules the current judging system could do a better job than 6.0 (which too often ended up overweighting the jump count, and confused fans when it didn't) in comparing programs with different layouts.
    Lots of interesting points here. When I first read BOP's post I wondered about the program layouts suggested for Miki and Alissa. The first thought would be that few members here would self-combust if Miki or any Lady did a quad and a 3x3 and did not win. Sort of like the quad issue in Vancouver.

    With the layout BOP suggested could Alissa outscore Miki? Or would the system need to be adjusted for that to happen?

    Personally I think some of Alissa's spins are about the nicest thing seen on the ice these days. I much prefer them to a rotated jump that has a scratchy landing, stepout, hand down, etc.

    We all have different taste but I like the idea of more variety/freedom in the freeskate.
    The small jumps sequence, field moves sequence and school figure variations along with suggestions from BOP could do alot to bring more variety to the LP's we are seeing today.

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    Quote Originally Posted by janetfan View Post
    With the layout BOP suggested could Alissa outscore Miki? Or would the system need to be adjusted for that to happen?
    I haven't done the math, but if the component scores and average GOEs are comparable to what those skaters have earned in the past, if they both skated their best I expect the higher basemark in the jump-oriented program would win out.

    However, if the skater who emphasizes jumps makes a few mistakes or otherwise gives away points, on jumps or other elements, that takes away her advantage. And if the skater with the lower jump content has significantly stronger PCS in addition to high levels and good GOEs on non-jump elements, that could make up the difference. If both happen, then the jump skater would lose, even if the hardest jump elements are completed succesfully.

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    Quote Originally Posted by janetfan View Post
    Lots of interesting points here. When I first read BOP's post I wondered about the program layouts suggested for Miki and Alissa. The first thought would be that few members here would self-combust if Miki or any Lady did a quad and a 3x3 and did not win. Sort of like the quad issue in Vancouver.

    With the layout BOP suggested could Alissa outscore Miki? Or would the system need to be adjusted for that to happen?

    Personally I think some of Alissa's spins are about the nicest thing seen on the ice these days. I much prefer them to a rotated jump that has a scratchy landing, stepout, hand down, etc.

    We all have different taste but I like the idea of more variety/freedom in the freeskate.
    The small jumps sequence, field moves sequence and school figure variations along with suggestions from BOP could do alot to bring more variety to the LP's we are seeing today.
    Doubtful. Considering Miki's layout will likely be:

    3lz-2lo or 3lz-3lo
    3lo or 4s
    x 2a-3t
    x 3lz
    x 3s or 3f
    x 3t
    x 2a-2lo-2lo


    And Alissa's:

    3lz-2t-2t
    3f
    3lo
    x 2a-2a SEQ
    x 3lz
    x 3t-2t
    x 3t

    Miki is attempting more ambitious jumps and has 2 difficult combinations planned in the 2nd half of the program, along with a 3lz she is likely to land. Alissa has 2 combos in the 2nd half, but they are easier, and she often doesn't do a 3 jump combo or land the 2nd lutz and she gets most of her harder jumps out of the way at the beginning (3f, 3lo)

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    Quote Originally Posted by gkelly
    For skaters who don't have all the triples (and unlikely to make it to the level of results that will get them on TV, with a few exceptions), it could be more valuable to fill an element slot with a level 4 spin than doubles other than the axel (or even double axel if it's iffy).
    The end result would still be the same. The skaters who don't have all the triples will do spins and what not. The skaters who have all the triples will do the triples. In the end, the triples have higher base value and the skaters with the triples will have a bigger margin over the skaters without. So in the current system, Alissa will lose by 30 points to Miki. In the proposed system, Alissa will lose by 50 points to Miki.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FlattFan View Post
    The end result would still be the same. The skaters who don't have all the triples will do spins and what not. The skaters who have all the triples will do the triples. In the end, the triples have higher base value and the skaters with the triples will have a bigger margin over the skaters without. So in the current system, Alissa will lose by 30 points to Miki. In the proposed system, Alissa will lose by 50 points to Miki.
    Agreed. I'd like so see Alissa landing 3lz-3lo and 2a-3t.....even 3lz-2lo consistently. Last season it seemed her 3t was her only reliable jump

    I have a feeling Miki is going to do really well this season and take advantage of the fact that Yuna will not compete until Worlds, Joannie may not compete at all, Mao is regrouping, and Mirai and Laura are coming off injuries. Carolina if she can get it together also has a great opportunity to do really well this season. It will be interesting to see what happens.

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    Quote Originally Posted by silverlake22 View Post
    Doubtful. Considering Miki's layout will likely be:

    3lz-2lo or 3lz-3lo
    3lo or 4s
    x 2a-3t
    x 3lz
    x 3s or 3f
    x 3t
    x 2a-2lo-2lo


    And Alissa's:

    3lz-2t-2t
    3f
    3lo
    x 2a-2a SEQ
    x 3lz
    x 3t-2t
    x 3t

    Miki is attempting more ambitious jumps and has 2 difficult combinations planned in the 2nd half of the program, along with a 3lz she is likely to land. Alissa has 2 combos in the 2nd half, but they are easier, and she often doesn't do a 3 jump combo or land the 2nd lutz and she gets most of her harder jumps out of the way at the beginning (3f, 3lo)
    I was asking a more specific question about the scoring potential from two clean programs - so building up Miki and knocking Alissa doesn't really apply.
    The question was based on the two layouts blades had used and I suggested if they both skated cleanly how would the scores come out.

    I don't think the point was whether Miki will skate more cleanly in the second half of an LP than Alissa which is something different.

    blades was looking at ways to allow more creativity and freedom in the freeskate with the idea of making skating more attractive. I wondered if blades also wanted to adjust the values for some of the elements but I think his point was more along the lines of letting skaters include more of what they are good at and less of what they are bad at which could possibly lead to more attractive skating.

    It also raises questions about how much different the CoP really is from 6.0.
    6.0 gets criticized for being too jump oriented - but where is the difference in the IJS?

    Having so many jumping passes favors the better jumpers but I notice that with so many skaters splatting it does not give skating fans the best reason to watch - unless one loves to see falls and sloppy skating (welcome to the GP ).

    Many of us felt the same way about the spiral rules as we were forced to watch a sequence that was rarely enhancing a program and often were just boring to watch, especially from the skaters with weak positions.

    I also liked gkelly's idea to have some more elements introduced or for the IJS to recognize small jumps.
    I used to like Dorothy's huge delayed single axel and Jill's one-footed axel + 3S, a move that I doubt many of today's skaters could pull off. But even though it was an interesting combo jump it would not score well enough under the CoP to be worth the risk.
    Last edited by janetfan; 10-19-2010 at 02:28 PM.

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    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FlattFan View Post
    The end result would still be the same. The skaters who don't have all the triples will do spins and what not. The skaters who have all the triples will do the triples. In the end, the triples have higher base value and the skaters with the triples will have a bigger margin over the skaters without...
    I think GKelly was talking more about the whole gamut of skating competitions, not just the tiny handful of elite senior champions.

    Intermediates and novices, for instance, might be better off to show off their moves in the field and get points for it, rather than to fill up their jumping passes with double Salchows.

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    Well, Miki isn't exactly the skater to look for original programs. I think her programs wouldn't look that much different under any system. However, I do think in general the lack of restrictions can contribute to more originality in the free skates, and probably make the program flow much better. I often see a random spin thrown in the FS for points rather than for the effect of the program.

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    Skating is art, if you let it be. Blades of Passion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sequinsgalore View Post
    And wouldn't doing three step sequences or five spins take a really long time, if you would try to achieve level 4 on all of them?
    Skaters wouldn't be trying to achieve level 4 on everything. The other change to CoP that would need to happen for this to work would be a change in the base values and GOE values of elements. A quick summation is:

    *The 2Axel would be worth less points (other jumps would also be worth less points, and difficult jump combinations would be worth more points, but it's mainly the 2Axel that would take the biggest hit).

    *Spins would receive higher +GOE and gaining extra levels would be worth less points, meaning you want to aim for the best quality of spin you can achieve, not the most variations you can put in (although well-done variations are of course always welcome). The current rule of 8 revolutions in a single position counting as a level feature would also be abolished, except in the cases where a significantly difficult position is held for that long.

    *Footwork sequences would have the same +GOE regardless of level (+1 point at every level) and there would be an extra guideline for determining the GOE of footwork sequences: how well the sequence adheres to the pattern (straightline, circular, serpentine). Most people wouldn't try Level 4 footwork because almost nobody can do that kind of footwork without traveling all over the place. Clean, fast footwork that is Level 2 or Level 3 would be the ideal most of the time.

    Quote Originally Posted by janetfan View Post
    With the layout BOP suggested could Alissa outscore Miki? Or would the system need to be adjusted for that to happen?
    Very difficult jumps would still be worth the most. Given that they both skated well, Miki would score a lot higher on the technical mark. However, that doesn't mean Alissa couldn't edge her out overall with much higher scores on the artistic mark. The system would allow Alissa to remain within striking distance, if the judges are going to judge properly and not give Miki big artistic scores simply because she did far more difficult jumps. If Miki's program was good, though, and she performed with emotion and excitement and executed her elements well...then Alissa wouldn't have any chance of beating her.

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    Quote Originally Posted by janetfan View Post
    Lots of interesting points here. When I first read BOP's post I wondered about the program layouts suggested for Miki and Alissa. The first thought would be that few members here would self-combust if Miki or any Lady did a quad and a 3x3 and did not win. Sort of like the quad issue in Vancouver.

    With the layout BOP suggested could Alissa outscore Miki? Or would the system need to be adjusted for that to happen?
    You just answered yourself

    Q: With the layout BOP suggested could Alissa outscore Miki?
    A: few members here would self-combust if Miki or any Lady did a quad and a 3x3 and did not win. Duh. Why not let alissa spin for 4 minutes and 10 seconds and win the Olympics.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    I think GKelly was talking more about the whole gamut of skating competitions, not just the tiny handful of elite senior champions.

    Intermediates and novices, for instance, might be better off to show off their moves in the field and get points for it, rather than to fill up their jumping passes with double Salchows.
    But it's a catch-22. They are probably not good enough at anything to score more points than a double Salchows. . I rather see a nice double jump than a Level 1 footwork or ugly level 3 spiral.

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