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Thread: PSA seminar on "Skating Skills"

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    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    PSA seminar on "Skating Skills"

    We have had several discussions about what the program component "Skating Skills" is supposed to mean, and why all the other components seem to key on this one.

    Here is a very interesting report on a PSA seminar on the ISU judging system conducted recently by David Kirby, Judy Blumberg and David Santee (Liz Leamy, reporter, from George Rossano's site).

    [Although jumps and spins are still important] ultimately...these elements don’t mean a thing if a competitor cannot skate well, a situation that unfortunately seems to occur more often than one would actually expect. Marks instantly decline when a skater walks through their elements and viewers tend to lose interest, according to IJS officials [my emphasis]...

    Some of the most common mistakes that prohibit development of a fine-skilled skater include stiff knees, bending too far forward, pushing with toe picks, balancing on the incorrect part of the blade, using incomplete stroking edges and short jerky steps, skating in straight lines rather than using curves and edges and skating mostly on two feet rather than one. These characteristics, taken separately or as a collective whole, can prevent the development of a skater into a top contender in a major way...

    This spring, the ISU issued a video with examples of exceptional component skating. Some of the American skaters featured included Brian Boitano, the 1988 U.S Olympic champion and Paul Wylie, the 1992 U.S. Olympic silver medalist, among others.
    The five program components are compared to designing a car.

    [The Skating Skills component is] like the engine of a car; the transitions are like the transmission and ought to be seamless; choreography is the body, shape and design; interpretation is the paint, lighting and chrome design; and performance and execution represent the wheels and brakes.
    http://www.iceskatingintnl.com/curre...%20Seminar.htm

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    [Although jumps and spins are still important] ultimately...these elements don’t mean a thing if a competitor cannot skate well, a situation that unfortunately seems to occur more often than one would actually expect. Marks instantly decline when a skater walks through their elements and viewers tend to lose interest, according to IJS officials [my emphasis]...
    As much as I would like this to be true, and for the viewing public for skating to be as well-educated as those inside the sport, this clearly isn't true and they are deluding themselves. The enormous popularity of Sasha, Surya, and to an extent Brian Joubert and Evgeni Plushenko plainly attest to that. Sui/Han will probably be incredibly popular in China, too, if they stick around, regardless of whether their SS improve. Plus, does anyone really think people went to that hotel rink in Singapore to watch Michelle stroke around on plastic ice? Her SS are spectacular but that's not why she's so beloved.

    I've no problem with the standards for amateur skating being very strict and in line with the traditions of the sport as opposed to what garners the highest TV ratings, but the degree to which they're out of touch with reality is mind-boggling. If this is the attitude of the IJS, it would be nice if they'd let pro skating come back for real.

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    Do you think skaters like Joubert and Plushenko have weak skating skills? Things like distributing the weight over the blade, skating on deep edges, accelerating with power and ease?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    Do you think skaters like Joubert and Plushenko have weak skating skills? Things like distributing the weight over the blade, skating on deep edges, accelerating with power and ease?
    In terms of all the criteria listed for SS in the definition for COP, compared to other skaters at their competitive level, strictly in terms of what they showed in their programs last season and for most of their careers? Yes. Compared to even the average junior, or the really abyssmally bad seniors (Tim Goebel, Surya, Contesti, most Tom Z skaters)? No. In both of their cases, it was a matter of underachieving in their competitive programs, probably because of the quad, and in the case of Plushenko because he was marked as if he had no competition once Yagudin retired. Neither is as good as Patrick Chan, Takahiko Kozuka, etc, even at their best, but they are still good, when they choose to be.

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    Viewers get educated over time by viewing. I find myself "judging" most skaters by comparing their skating to Patrick Chan, who has become an automatic standard for me. I don't scrutinize skaters with superb skills such as Takahashi and Kozuka but I can't help the Chan comparison when I watch a skater with inferior skating skills. So Chan spoiled me.

    If viewers have no opportunities to see really superb skating skills, they wouldn't know the difference or to demand better. But with COP raising the SS standard, I believe viewers' appreciation level and expectation will eventually rise.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SkateFiguring View Post
    If viewers have no opportunities to see really superb skating skills, they wouldn't know the difference or to demand better. But with COP raising the SS standard, I believe viewers' appreciation level and expectation will eventually rise.
    It didn't happen during the skating boom. Skating was on American TV for years, to the point of being overexposed. People still adored Sasha when she rose to the forefront, despite her lack of skating skills, and years of "education" from watching Michelle. Surya was immensely popular and a big draw for COI, she was even mentioned on an episode of Will & Grace. The general audience doesn't care about the nuances of good skating, and never will. If the ISU wants an audience of specialists and dedicated fans, that's fine, but they should also accept that skating will be a niche sport, like diving. Americans love Greg Louganis, but that doesn't mean they understand anything about diving at all or pay attention outside of the Olympics.

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    Quote Originally Posted by doubleflutz View Post
    It didn't happen during the skating boom. Skating was on American TV for years, to the point of being overexposed. People still adored Sasha when she rose to the forefront, despite her lack of skating skills, and years of "education" from watching Michelle. Surya was immensely popular and a big draw for COI, she was even mentioned on an episode of Will & Grace. The general audience doesn't care about the nuances of good skating, and never will. If the ISU wants an audience of specialists and dedicated fans, that's fine, but they should also accept that skating will be a niche sport, like diving. Americans love Greg Louganis, but that doesn't mean they understand anything about diving at all or pay attention outside of the Olympics.
    Exactly my point: SS weren't emphasized and people didn't get to see much of great skating or hear them commented. Jumps were what people saw and got excited about. But these days, the best skaters have excellent SS while those without don't reach the top level or are losing ground like Joubert is. Viewers' eyes get trained and with commentators bringing it up in every event, they get educated and their expectation will change, even if unbeknown to them over time.

    Things always change and people change along. Never say never.

    edited to ask if you think today's audiences get excited watching skating of early decades? Even as the great pioneers were appreciated, they were nowhere near today's standard.

    With the best having both jumps and SS these days, it's great leap forward time for figure skating. They are the new pioneers. Exciting indeed.
    Last edited by SkateFiguring; 12-20-2010 at 08:48 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SkateFiguring View Post
    Exactly my point: SS weren't emphasized and people didn't get to see much of great skating or hear them commented.
    Except they did, because there were plenty of skaters with great skating skills who were skating all throughout the skating boom, reaching back into the eighties and even before. There was a good amount of commentary on it, too. I remember very vividly Dick Button and Terry Gannon talking about Tim Goebel's weak skating skills, relative to Plushenko and Yagudin, during the Salt Lake City Olys.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SkateFiguring View Post
    Even as the great pioneers were appreciated, they were nowhere near today's standard.
    That's not really true. Patrick Chan is a marvel, but I don't think he has better SS than John Curry. Carolina Kostner has great speed and flow, but she can't hold a candle to Janet Lynn.

    It's also not true that the audience for the skating boom only appreciated good jumping, because in that case Michelle wouldn't be as loved as she is and Tim Goebel or the other male members of the quad squad from that era would be adored, Nobunari Oda would be one of the most popular skaters of all time, etc etc. What audiences love is showmanship and performance ability, and "star quality".

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    Quote Originally Posted by doubleflutz View Post
    Except they did, because there were plenty of skaters with great skating skills who were skating all throughout the skating boom, reaching back into the eighties and even before. There was a good amount of commentary on it, too. I remember very vividly Dick Button and Terry Gannon talking about Tim Goebel's weak skating skills, relative to Plushenko and Yagudin, during the Salt Lake City Olys.
    Exactly my point again. The great Plushenko and Yagudin might be the standard of great SS of their time, but they don't meet today's standard at all. I'm not saying they couldn't have achieved today's standard if it was expected then or was necessary to win. But those of even earlier times couldn't possibly be expected to perform like Yag, Plush or Kurt. Of course we have great performers in every era regardless of their jumping or skating abilities. But we first had skaters from pre jump era, then jumps got higher and more rotations were performed over time. Now that the physical limit of jumping has been pushed near its limit, other aspects of skating are being pushed now. For a while we expected and accepted great jumpers to forego some tansitions, but now we have new whiz kids challenging each other to bring everything to the game.

    It's progress. Once people are used to it, they won't go back.

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    It could have been interesting discussion if the caramel is left out. Plushenko and Joubert have been skating for more than a decade, they are old gang now, to compare them with top of the top 20 year olds like Chan and Kozuka is useless anyway. Chan and Kozuka are ahead of everyone in SS. But you pick those out of the whole men´s field in the same bag with Bonaly and Sasha shallow edges?
    Plushenko in his high days prior to 2004 was reported when seeing live as the fastest skater , that could accelerate from a dead stop. Nhk 2000 ABC: ¨he uses two pushes while other people need ten strikes to get this speed.¨

    General question, is the holding a deep clean edge in jump landings an SS bullet?

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    Quote Originally Posted by seniorita View Post
    It could have been interesting discussion if the caramel is left out. Plushenko and Joubert have been skating for more than a decade, they are old gang now, to compare them with top of the top 20 year olds like Chan and Kozuka is useless anyway. Chan and Kozuka are ahead of everyone in SS. But you pick those out of the whole men´s field in the same bag with Bonaly and Sasha shallow edges?
    Skating Skills as a PCS component is more than just deep edges and speed, the complexity of skating, including lots of one-foot skating, multi-directional turns, and so on is very important. In those areas, Plushenko and Joubert in the last Olympic cycle were definitely lacking, compared many/most of their competitors.

    Plushenko in his high days prior to 2004 was reported when seeing live as the fastest skater , that could accelerate from a dead stop. Nhk 2000 ABC: ¨he uses two pushes while other people need ten strikes to get this speed.¨
    Speed is not the only thing aspect to SS there is, despite what the European skating culture sometimes seems to think. But like I said, he was at one point very good. But he deteriorated with age, and didn't bother to increase the complexity of what he was doing on ice. Sadly, it wasn't ever really reflected in his PCS scores, but it should have been.

    General question, is the holding a deep clean edge in jump landings an SS bullet?
    Nope, that's in the bullets for jump GOE.

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    Quote Originally Posted by seniorita View Post
    It could have been interesting discussion if the caramel is left out. Plushenko and Joubert have been skating for more than a decade, they are old gang now, to compare them with top of the top 20 year olds like Chan and Kozuka is useless anyway. Chan and Kozuka are ahead of everyone in SS. But you pick those out of the whole men´s field in the same bag with Bonaly and Sasha shallow edges?
    Plushenko in his high days prior to 2004 was reported when seeing live as the fastest skater , that could accelerate from a dead stop. Nhk 2000 ABC: ¨he uses two pushes while other people need ten strikes to get this speed.¨

    General question, is the holding a deep clean edge in jump landings an SS bullet?
    It's no use comparing athletes of different eras, especially as time goes by and the standard gap grows. The great ones are recognized as great by the standard of their times and that should be respected. Put a talent like Patrick Chan in the 50's for example, he would likely be one of the great skaters of the time but he couldn't possibly be doing what today's Patrick Chan is doing. Put the great ones from earlier times in today's field, they would likely be today's greats and leading the field in SS and jumps.

    There were great programs from the so called Boom Years just as there were from before that because there have always been, and will always be, great performers who touch you regardless of their skills. They know how to sell their programs. Yag's great toe pick footwork for example, thoroughly amazing and enjoyable as he really sold it, but it would be level 1 in today's competitons. There will always be great entertainers in figure skating but as a sport, it gets pushed like all sports are.

    It's also pointless comparing today's Chan with yesterday's Plush or Yag because Chan is still in progress, for himself and as part of the new wave of the sport. He too is being pushed by his peers as well as younger ones even as of his age and as a work in progress.

    It's still Boom Time for figure skating, just not in the U.S.

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    Skatefiguring's point about "selling it" ia a good one. Before I knew anything about skating I couldn't understand why Tim Goebel's performances never held my interest. Now I know why -- he couldn't skate!

    Surya Bonaly, on the other hand, was just so cool with all her jumping and flipping around that I didn't care if she could skate or not.

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    What about Lu Chen? There were some programs of hers with very questionable skills, such as spinning. But the beauty and emotions she brought into her skating? Unparalleled. She brought tears to my eyes and many others', even to this day.

    Another female skater I miss is Oksana B. As beautiful and technically superior today's top Ladies are, I don't find any as memorable as Lulu and Oksana.

    For Men, there was, and is, Kurt Browning, still finding ways to challenge himself these days. What a showman, with the greatest, and still hard to match, technical skills of his time to boot.

    Yup. Talk about selling programs. Even competitive ones.

    I don't think jumping is what makes the best loved programs. There have always been many fans who find stalk and jump programs really boring and they long for good skating and interesting choreography. All round skaters are the most enjoyed, admired, and remembered ones.

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