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Thread: What will the 2011/2012 season bring us in ice dance?

  1. #226
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    Another sign that the judges are really going to be in "crack-down" mode , where they haven't been in the past? I can't recall that the other teams that have used La Strada have stuck very strictly to the storyline , apart from dressing shabbily. It's always just been "down on our luck , but in love..and still clowning around " that I can remember. Still, whatever the reason..I really like Die Fledermaus for Meryl and Charlie, and hope they have time to whip it into shape.

    I didn't have time to post earlier, but I've been following the great discussion here, and want to echo so much of what jcoates ,eyria and others have said . For example, I'm sure I spent that decade spanning '95- '04 grinding a good 1/8 of an inch off my teeth..I definitely don't long for a return to that situation in ice dance.

    I can't really account for much of the the anti-Shib opinion/sentiment that has been rampant..not necessarily by the people that have been involved in this discussion, but in general..Earlier , somewhere, Pogue said that success ( and I'd add talent ) breeds criticism ( and I'd add resentment and sometimes outright hostility )

    Last year all through the season , there were a number of us saying , don't count the Shibs out in handicapping chances at the top 5. P/B had been steaming right along and no-one would have predicted their fall. They fell. The Shibs did what they'd been doing all season. The field was tight, and what happened , happened. Now, it's a new season ; skaters have to go out again and lay it down, regardless of age, experience or rep. And the field,though it will be a bit different, will be tight again. True, I still think V/M and D/W are a cut above..but I know anything can happen.( And after 4+ decades of watching , I'm still finding that refreshing.)

    Really, I have to say that I don't find P/B's program to be particularly artistic ,original, creative, or authentic . They've even used a similar theme themselves , in the past. The opening pose "nod'" to A/P has been mentioned and their recycled lift. Also, there's a section that's very reminiscent of D/W's Indian OD and Indian art, rather than Egyptian ( I'm speaking of the multi- arm effect )..and that's just what was obvious on one viewing.

    I think authentic is really the wrong word to use. Authentic to what ? Only to the conventions we've developed in trying to recreate Egyptian art , which was itself governed by strict conventions. Even the ancient wall paintings that depict dancers seem to suggest that they moved in a much more natural fashion.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/libyan_soup/3446950325/

    But I'm happy to see Nathalie dressed in more than her jewelry.

    I'm not saying this can't be an enjoyable, difficult, entertaining , well skated dance. It may be very successful for them.But what was something new,and a stretch for them were the programs they had last season. To me this is a return to same old , same old .

  2. #227
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    Quote Originally Posted by herios View Post
    Hmm

    I read here somewhere that Cappellinni / Lanotte will do "La Strada", wasn't it the trigger for D/W to change suddenly their FD?
    I can't imagine that would cause Davis/White to change music. Cappellini/Lanotte are no threat to D/W; if anything, using the same music would just highlight how much better D/W are. It must be because of the rule changes. Not sure I like the idea of Die Fledermaus. I was looking forward to D/W returning to their strengths, using a more dramatic music selection/theme. And changing SO close to Skate America just doesn't sound good. Then again, they changed their short program very late last year, and it worked out okay. Hmm.

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    Sorry for the typos in previous post as I had to rush off. Charlie was behind the La Strada choice, but said he didn't want to stick to the movie storyline, which apparently was the sticking point at Champs Camp. Marina always wanted them to skate to Die Fledermaus and Charlie cut several pieces of the music. Although they admitted it is never easy to change programs, they felt they had time as they have been working efficiently all summer long. They play with the idea of a mask throughout the program and say it is very playful. They were also excited about their SD. Elena Grienko the pro ballroom dancer helped them with the Latin feeling and helped pick out the music. They start out with Batuadas drum music, and do the rhumba CD in the middle to Life is a Carnival with some dancing in place and then end with On the Floor.

  4. #229
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buttercup View Post
    1. P/B are not as weak technically as you suggest, they are not poorly trained, and have improved on the technical side throughout their career. And they bring things to the ice that Shpilband and Zoueva teams don't, not just from an artistic standpoint. As for that time when they were beaten by C/P - they skated badly at 2008 SC, and I don't recall too many people who thought they wuzrobbed. They got better as that season progressed and their results reflected that.The only reason they were not on the Worlds podium last season was a freak fall; that does not mean they are suddenly inferior to Canton teams in general and the Shibutanis in particular.

    2. I like the Shibutanis and find them very talented and likable; I have since first seeing them at 2009 JW. But I do feel they were generously scored at times last year. I'm also not sure the sort of immediate success they enjoyed will be good for them in the long-term.

    the .
    I like P&B and wanted them to win bronze even with the fall but the fall was not really a fluke it was more of a common flaw coming back at the worst time and that was their frequent habit of badly messing up a free skate.

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    re: Buttercup’s thoughts

    I assume with D/W this is in reference to POTO vs. their tango FD, although it may be more appropriate to compare their breakthrough 2009 season with the year after. In either case, I don't know that they took as big a risk as did V/M with Umbrellas vs. Pink Floyd.
    Oh, I was totally cheating with that one. But I’ll also point out someone like Delobel/Schoenfelder, after they won their first medal with The Piano, went into a completely different direction as well.

    I admire V/M rather than love them, and have varying degrees of enthusiasm for the others, but I agree with the sentiment. I really don't like how so many elite teams are now concentrated in the two Detroit-area clubs, and I especially don't like the Canton formula that allows teams to take shortcuts to success. This is not to say that we need to go back to the 6.0, wait your turn days; but you can tell when a team has been together for a while, like V/M or P/B, vs. new teams that are kind of going through the COP motions and hitting the technical requirements but don't have the same connection.
    Which Canton teams do you feel shortcut their way to success? The Shibutanis have been together longer than some OGMs (G/P, for example). Unless you’re referring to the junior circuit teams (Chock/Zuerlein were together very briefly before winning WJs), but I’m not sure that’s a fair assessment.

    Secondly, I think that the upsurge of the second Detroit club is a bit illusory. It’s not as if P/B have competed internationally under the auspices of Krylova/Camerlengo. So yeah, they moved to Detroit, but that was forced move based on federation squabbling it seemed. Heck, even Weaver/Poje were coached by Shae-Lynn Bourne prior to this most recent season.

    Thirdly, I think the team that tried to shortcut their way to success was, interestingly enough, Ilynikh/Katsalpov. Instant junior success set tongues wagging, and they were supposed to shoot up the rankings this year. It didn’t really happen, and it didn’t happen because shortcutting isn’t as easy at is seems imo – those high risk elements aren’t easy to slap together (that swan dive lift looked scary dangerous). Indeed, hitting the technical requirements often needs more time together than in pre-COP days, where time was spent getting to know the other, etc. And that’s something that bugs me as well – the assumption that ticking the technical boxes is somehow easy. It’s not.

    I agree with everything you wrote - I touched upon this in my post yesterday, but you've done a much more thorough job of articulating the problems with the system as pertains to ice dance. I particularly agree with the sections I've left quoted (also that the criticism of Tessa's supposed weight gain being absurd). Say what you will for 6.0, it did leave judges room to evaluate range and maturity and other things that don't seem to apply much anymore. The PCS are not an equal measure: they are more detailed, which is good, but also include many technical rather than artistic considerations. This is a problem across all disciplines, IMO, but dance seems to have been particularly affected. I think doing away with CDs is also responsible for some of the issues we're seeing in dance.
    Hmmm... The CD’s were largely technical exercises, weren’t they? And it’s only been a year, has it really been enough time to see the effect on the next generation teams? Unless you’re arguing that older/more mature skaters would’ve been held up via the CDs and that itself isn’t a bad thing. I’m not quite sure I agree. I agree that PCS aren’t an equal measure to artistic considerations (right now, I’d say that Total Scores are about 70% technical, 30% artistic) and I’m fine with that. What you get when you deal with predominantly artistic considerations isn’t what dance should be either.

    One thing that I think is worth recalling, though, is that technical still did win out in the past. The first half of Grishuk/Platov’s career was largely because they were technically brilliant. Bourne/Kraatz were technically weaker compared to the top teams (slower, less complicated footwork) and were generally crucified for it.

    Young teams do benefit from the rules and scoring in place today, and ice dance has gotten awfully young these last few years; I suspect it's now a younger discipline on average than pairs and men. The lack of maturity in some of the teams is noticeable, and often once you look past the tech and the skating skills, there's not much there. There are teams that would certainly have benefited from additional time in juniors or a lower-pressure introduction to the senior level. DelSchoes, to use one of your examples, were junior world silver medalists, and it still took them years to break through at the senior level, and they had time to improve their skating and develop their own identity.
    Of course, technical elements and skating skills are not insignificant on their own. I can watch technical elements and skating skills and be wowed. I can watch artistry and be wowed (Lambiel’s show skates, for examples). Obviously, both is best.

    The identity thing is key, though. If the Shibutanis never travelled beyond what they do now (and I don’t share jcoates confidence that they will), I would be very disappointed. Because who they are now, while undeniably watchable (except for gmyers), doesn’t get me the way I’d like them to.

    If I look at the Olympics, V/M had a very pretty program and skated it very well; D/W had a difficult program and skated it very fast. Both teams did lifts that were there as highlight moves and IMO had nothing to do with the programs (The Goose was more appropriate in the Pink Floyd FD; the Phantom is just unattractive, even if it is difficult). Both teams scored well, as they should have under this judging system. Meanwhile, you had F/S, who had a gorgeous program that flowed, had a concept, and with elements that were really well-incorporated but not at the same wow level. I imagine they were somewhat slower, and they never really had a shot at getting near the podium. Just as the older teams may not be up to doing some of the more difficult elements, a younger team couldn't have skated The Immigrants to the same effect. But the technical aspects of a program are more easily measurable, while other things are not. I don't know how to resolve this.
    Well, if we’re going to be fair, I’d point out that F/S had a highlight move that didn’t have anything to do with the program (the curve lift), but even with their mistake (twizzle error), I think they should’ve been third. Their performance, choreography and interpretation were leagues ahead of Belbin/Agosto and Domnina/Shabalin. I don’t think that’s a COP problem as much as a Linichuk problem (F/S were with Linichuk and likely third in that group). They weren’t that much slower than DomShabs, at any rate. But more than that, we saw the PCS can still be misapplied. Recall, for example, DomShabs receiving 8.8 for interpretation in their OD, which was clearly ridiculous. And my V/M fandom might be peaking through here, but I’d argue that “young people in love” is a concept. Maybe an easy one, compared to the immigrant drama (which, of course, I adored), but it still requires an ability to sell theme, mood and nuance, something they did phenomenally.

    re: alitha’s thoughts

    And the three russian teams will be hungry,B/S to show everyone who is the boss,R/T to show they're not number 3 and I/K to show they're progressing.It's going to be interesting at least.
    Agreed. It’ll definitely be interesting because I’m not sure how it’ll play out.

    The question mark for me is Capellini/Lanotte with La Strada.Where are they going to end up at Euros especially.
    Agreed. I think, in real terms, they’ll be dumped this season. I don’t know to what extent Morosov is their main coach (I’ve heard people say both) and his attentions are undeniably elsewhere (Fernandez is still smarting from that). Additionally, if the plan is to do a literal rendition of La Strada (apparently, Luca will

    About V/M's FD..I'm kind of uninterested in it,I admire their skating,but it's as if they are going back instead of forth.I have no doubt that by the end of the season they will be amazing at it,but the FD itself doesn't excite me.Maybe I'm just bored of them catering to their fans taste for cute and romantic,or the fact that I believe that they can challenge themselves much more,but their technical score was almost identical to the Shibs,B/S and W/P from last years worlds and it kind of bugged me...
    What bugged you about it? That it was low? It’s early in the season, and with new lifts etc, everyone will get lower technical scores. That it was too high for what they did? There certainly was some generous GOEs. But more than that, is it just that’s cute that bugs you about it? It’s not that romantic a dance, doesn’t really rely on their sex appeal (like their FD/SD did), is a character piece (something htey haven’t done before).

    Northern Dancer....

    As for COP allowing young skaters to advance fast, I have a couple of examples/concerns. Last week in the JGP, the Russian team scored 62.86 in the SD. Are they really that close to V/M who scored 68.74 at Finlandia? I don't think they are even in the same ballpark. The Russians are good, but not that good yet. And they soundly beat the Shibs in the SD. Does that mean when this Russian team appears at Senior we should expect to see them in the top 5? I don't think so. 87.12 in the FD basically means they tied or beat the Shibs in the FD as well, since there is an extra element at Senior. Those are pretty high marks. But what the scores don't adequately reflect is the difference in the quality and maturity of the skating. The Russians are not at the level of the Shibs yet. I/K had the same sort of experience, which seems to have given them license to expect they will be the next great thing for Sochi. But suddenly Senior results were a "disappointment". I don't think they were disappointing. I think the expectations were way off.
    a) The best Juniors should be competitive with the seniors, if not all of them. Virtue/Moir’s world juniors score in 2006 (172.57) would’ve placed them seventh at seniors (they got sixth in their senior debut). Bobrova/Soloviev’s score was good enough for 13th which is what they got on their senior debut, intriguingly. Samuelson/Bates would’ve been 8th. Etc etc. Given that the Russians are the heavy favourites for WJs, it’s not that surprising that their score is comparable.
    b) Given where the teams are at in their training, we’d expect the junior teams to be closer to their peaks than the senior teams.
    c) I agree with your point that I/K’s results weren’t disappointing, but I’d argue that their performances were.

    Another example, some of the really young teams finding fast success. I think Ralph/Hill were casualities of this. They won Novice, then Junior, then ended top 5 at Senior in Canada. But they've been stuck and not improving since, until maybe perhaps this year. (We'll see.) It's hurt them internationally, as well as within Canada. It would have been better for them to have to work more and develop more at Junior before reaching Senior, and then they would fare better in their international assignments at Senior. Kudos to Ralph/Hill for sticking together, but I agree some of the changes this year are a result of the pressure to achieve more than teams should be expected to achieve. This is my fear for our little teams from BC, in addition to them all outgrowing each other and having to start fresh in new partnerships at a level where there are a lot of eyes, attention and judgement. Just witness the feeding frenzy on all the changes this year, and it has to be tough on kids. There are some pretty nasty comments about Chock/Bates on these boards.
    I have to admit I don’t really agree. The biggest/most shocking split was over in pairs (Yankowskas/Coughlin, not Dube/Davison) and the big teams that split apart – Crone/Poirier, Samuelson/Bates, had split apart after ten years. I think it’s worth mentioning that the splits we’re seeing here were FAR more common in the 6.0 heyday. Tatiana Navka was teamed with Platov for a while, before he shuttled off back to Grishuk. Then she competed with Gezalian. Then Morosov. Then Kostamorov. How many world champion holders can make the claim to have skated with the same partner since juniors and before?

    I think we have to also recognize that there is a cultural shift going on as well. We live in a world where I can watch BS test skates on youtube, or even streamed live! These eyes... they’d be on them nonetheless. The internet is a place where people can say whatever they want and do so anonymously. I’m thankful that Golden Skate is a polite place to be for that reason.

    I have to admit, ND, I’m more confused rereading your post now than I was before. What exactly is your concern with the juniors?

    How many years were Wing/Lowe at Senior before achieving success? And the same with Dubreil/Lauzon? Bourne/Kraatz? And Delobel/Schoenfelder? And even Weaver/Poje needed to spend some time in the wilderness over the last couple of years. But they returned to worlds and won a top 5 placing, now that they are ready for it. Of course it is unreasonable to demand range and diversity from the young ones with limited repertoire. And I guess that's the point. Some of these young ones are achieving results in line with the very top teams, which would lead one to believe they should have diversity and range, when they obviously don't, and can't be expected to. In my opinion, the marks aren't reflecting this difference.
    Do you feel the judges are marking the dancers incorrectly or that the marks should be changed to do so?

    jcoates

    1. Check out B/K's 2000-2001 FD when they moved to Tarasova. (note TRacy's comment about the mood with which it was skated that season than in this competition.) They tried virtually everything to break through over the course of their career.
    And they went back to Michael Jackson and had their most successful season to date. Then they went to Morosov and won Worlds in perhaps the most neutered victory ever. I’d argue that “Trying virtually everything” is less a trend based decision, though frankly, that might be semantics.

    2. I understand your concerns about one school being dominant, but in sports it's up the to competitors to find a way to break through. In tennis, Nadal did it with Federer and this year Djokovic did it with both of them after years in the shadows. It can be done, but it should not happen just for the sake of providing balance. It should happen because it's deserved. That's what would be best for the sport.
    a) I prefer Nadal and Djokovic to Federer, so at least I’m consistent (that, and I find Federer largely without class, but that’s another discussion).
    b) Providing balance? No. Recognizing that there should in fact be more than one way to excel and providing mechanisms to respect that? I think so. I actually think those mechanisms are largely in place, right now, though.
    c) But more than that, when one school is so dominant, you get people doing what you don’t want – following lock-step behind them and doing the exact same thing. Going off the beaten track becomes less worthwhile, and everything stays the same. Again, Bourne/Kraatz, Belbin/Agosto are two examples of teams that fell into line

    Regarding this program appearing juvenile to some, perhaps it's because this style of dancing is currently taught in dance classes for younger people. It is very physically demanding on the floor after all. But at it's inception, this was the social dance style of young men and women looking to party in bars and clubs across America and Europe during pretty depressing times (WWII). It was meant to inject fun into life when life seemed pretty darn bleak. That's not juvenile at all in my opinion.
    No, that fact is not juvenile.

    last but not least, eyria

    I agree with jcoates on this. I just don't understand why people are so critical of the Shibs and their bronze medal. Everyone admits they're an incredibly talented team, yet at the same time seems to feel they medaled too soon and should have "waited their turn" as teams used to in the old days. Also that they're too young and not developed enough artistically. All I can say is, this is a sport first and foremost; in the COP era, it's finally being scored like one. The Shibutanis are some of the best technical ice dancers in the world. That counts--and SHOULD count--for a lot. In my book, it counts for more than vague (and far from unanimous) opinions about P/B being more "mature" or W/P being more "innovative" or whatever. Maia & Alex skated fantastic last year and absolutely deserved the bronze as far as I'm concerned. I personally found their victory tremendously exciting. Who the heck wants to go back to the old 6.0 days when dance teams seemed to win more on attitude, politics, and theatrics than any actual skill? I agree with jcoates that the 1995-2004 period was sort of the nadir of ice dance--when I think of the overwrought, often technically empty programs of that period, from so many teams that were really never better than mediocre yet somehow rose to the top of the heap (Fusar-Poli/Margaglio, Lobacheva/Averbukh, Chait/Sakhnovsky, Grushina/Goncharov), I just shake my head. Whatever its faults, COP is a far better system and, if it encourages and rewards teams like the Shibutanis, I'm all for it.
    Let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater. Anissina/Piezarat, Krylova/Ovsiannikov, Grishuk/Platov, Drobiazko/Vanagas alone make that period worthwhile.

    Grushina/Goncharov won their medals during COP. As did Khoklova/Novitski and Domina/Shabalin (latter days). So it’s not as if attitude/politics/theatrics has disappeared.

    Why am I complaining when I have repeatedly stated I like the Shibs (despite my disappointment here), dislike Pechalat/Bourzat’s dances quite intensely, was largely underwhelmed by Weaver/Poje’s FD last season, love COP like it’s my own mother (not quite), and doing my own scoring coming up with the exact same top five as the judges did at last season’s worlds?

    Good question.

  6. #231
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    First years of COP had PCS in Dance at multiplied by more closer to 2 (1.5 and 2 in ch) like PCs in all the other disciplines. That created a completely lopsided PCS score that doubled tech scores. That is when Ice dance became the only discipline to peg PCS at diffrent multipliers and made is less PCS or artistic and program oriented and more tech oriented. Records by Navka and Kostamorov stood until 2010 when VM and DW started to get all +3's in GOE and tens in PCS by some judges.
    Last edited by gmyers; 10-13-2011 at 11:58 PM.

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    N/K still have the record for CD (which now that they're gone, will never be broken) and FD.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ImaginaryPogue View Post



    a) I prefer Nadal and Djokovic to Federer, so at least I’m consistent (that, and I find Federer largely without class, but that’s another discussion).
    b) Providing balance? No. Recognizing that there should in fact be more than one way to excel and providing mechanisms to respect that? I think so. I actually think those mechanisms are largely in place, right now, though.
    c) But more than that, when one school is so dominant, you get people doing what you don’t want – following lock-step behind them and doing the exact same thing. Going off the beaten track becomes less worthwhile, and everything stays the same. Again, Bourne/Kraatz, Belbin/Agosto are two examples of teams that fell into line



    No, that fact is not juvenile.

    last but not least, eyria



    Let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater. Anissina/Piezarat, Krylova/Ovsiannikov, Grishuk/Platov, Drobiazko/Vanagas alone make that period worthwhile.

    Grushina/Goncharov won their medals during COP. As did Khoklova/Novitski and Domina/Shabalin (latter days). So it’s not as if attitude/politics/theatrics has disappeared.

    Why am I complaining when I have repeatedly stated I like the Shibs (despite my disappointment here), dislike Pechalat/Bourzat’s dances quite intensely, was largely underwhelmed by Weaver/Poje’s FD last season, love COP like it’s my own mother (not quite), and doing my own scoring coming up with the exact same top five as the judges did at last season’s worlds?

    Good question.
    Heh, heh Pogue you're the only person I "know" who agrees with me on the Federer point and who prefers both Novak and Rafa to him. You get big points from me on that score. He gets way too much credit as a gentleman largely because his game is attractive and his mannerisms are refined and elegant. He his largely dismissive of his opponents, especially if their level threatens his (Djokovic and Nadal) or their style of play strikes him as crude. He often strikes me as quite snobbish.

    Regarding the point on skating schools, I agree that far too many athletes in many sports choose to take the easy route and opt to imitate rather than innovate. I'm sure that's where many fans' criticisms originate: the fear that COP or one dominant school will force homogeneity. Still the very best competitors will choose to break new ground (either technical (G/P) or stylistic (T/D)), either because they are challenged to do so, or because they happened to be a breed apart to begin with. A good example outside of skating is the Chris Evert/Martina Navratilova rivalry in tennis. Despite current trends in tennis toward baseline tennis, Chris was the innovator and mold breaker when she hit the scene while Martina was the conventional player. Most women in the 70s were attacking players like Martina, not baseliners like Chris. Still Chris was not groomed as a baseliner with the specific intent to make her standout from her competitors. She turned out that way because that's where her strength lay. In fact her dad tried to modify her game to make it more conventional but gave up and went with the flow eventually, working to maximize what she had to work with. Chris' success led to the generation of young girls after her to totally copy her game and eventually make it the standard of play. It was a seismic shift in the way the game was taught and played. Still none of those imitators could sustain a challenge to her for very long. They were superficial copies (facsimilies as Bud Collins once said) with little substance or durability. The only players that did challenge her consistently in her prime were first Evonne Goolagong, then of course Martina (it's still the greatest rivalry in any sport at any time, anywhere IMO) and finally Graf. Now they were the innovators. Of course they played an exactly opposite style that was more difficult to teach and took longer to perfect for most players so it was harder to copy them and took more time. Before Martina perfected her attacking style and maximized her speed and fitness, the common wisdom was that Chris was so steady and sound that attacking play was a lost cause. Better to copy her and beat her at her own game. Therefore, as the game grew and prize money increased, the incentive to succeed faster led to many young girls and boys learning to be counterpunching or defensive baseliners because it would lead to faster, more consistent results. It also homogenized the game. The coaches are largely to blame for this because they make more money if they pump more kids through their academies with this less nuanced approach rather than working to individualizing them based on their natural talents. Most of the very best women who've followed Chris and Martina have chosen from the beginning or adapted later to be very different from their chief rivals. The others who choose to clone Chris (who's become a template as much as a tennis icon) still tend not to last that long at the top. The reason of course is that while they can emulate and even improve on her strokes, they have not been able to emulate either her strength of concentration and focus nor her subtle but remarkable sense for tactics and point construction.

    That's relevant to skating because I think most skaters in all disciplines tend to follow whatever trends exist, but often tend to only really succeed on a superficial level and finish in the middle of the pack. I think that's a matter of poor decision making by both the skater and their coach rather than an indictment of any one school of skating. What should be done instead is to train to enhance a skater or any other athlete's natural strengths and shore up their weaknesses rather than attempting to copy one default style. In that regard, the Shibs are actually setting their own direction by focusing so much at the beginning on technique and dance quality instead of emoting because that's where their current strengths direct them. Another example is the North American approach to pairs. I mentioned in the greatest pairs thread that I feel it's becoming too homogenized. But in the 70's, 80s and early 90s North American and West German pairs medaled quite frequently at Worlds and Olympics (sometimes even breaking through to win Worlds) not because they copied the Soviets/Russians, but because they chose to take an alternate approach to highlight their skills. Since the mid 90s that approach has changed and now very few North American teams break through and stay there. My point is, it's a choice and until the teams who compete against Canton find a way to make their alternate choices work effectively to defeat them, this complaint about a monopoly will still be an issue.

    I should revise my point about the 95-04 era. I know that the teams you mentioned were all technically strong (although A/P relied far less on intricate steps in their FDs in favor of strong edges and spectacular lifts than in their ODs). I was more specifically referring to the teams that largely tended to finish 4th-10th during that period. I'm amazed Jerrod Swallow still has his hair given the unbelievable frustrating finishes he and Liz suffered from 96 onward. They should have been challenging for the bronze that year through the Olympics. They were clearly technically stronger that FP/M and L/A and on par with A/P and B/K. Their programs were clear, very well choreographed and perfectly communicated the latin themes they chose. They were one of the only teams who were really dancing back then rather then stroking and emoting. Dick Button's famous quote about Peggy Fleming having a great deal of substance vs her competitors' "fuss and feathers" could be perfectly applied to them during those years. I can honestly say that if A/P's programs did not grow into such treats, I would have stopped watching ice dance alltogether. There were also years when Lang and Tchernychev being stuck in 8th-10th annoyed me (although to be fair, she tended to screw up her CDs and ODs with minor errors). So when FP/M (that hip hop Romeo and Juliet was attrocious) and L/A eventually rose to be world champs and Olympic medalists, I felt soooo bad or the teams they passed who clearly deserved to get there first.

    Lastly I hope you don't think I'm accusing you of being a Shibs hater. I know your criticisms are substantive. I greatly enjoy our long correspondences specifically for that reason. They are very stimulating. I just hope the other posters don't mind how long they can be.

  9. #234
    Off the ice Buttercup's Avatar
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    IP, you are, as always, both more patient and more analytical than I could ever hope to be.

    Quote Originally Posted by ImaginaryPogue View Post
    Which Canton teams do you feel shortcut their way to success? The Shibutanis have been together longer than some OGMs (G/P, for example). Unless you’re referring to the junior circuit teams (Chock/Zuerlein were together very briefly before winning WJs), but I’m not sure that’s a fair assessment.
    I have a lot of issues with D/W's success, but that's the current system, not shortcutting. Maybe I should have referred more to the use of a formula that emphasizes very specific things, making ice dance very technical and, I'd argue, not very attractive in some cases. The Canton school emphasizes speed, and their teams are very fast indeed, but I feel it comes at the expense of other things, such as lines, extension, posture, elegance, etc etc. I remember when S/B moved there, people were wondering if Emily would be able to retain her fabulous lines and toe point, and there was talk that they were being pushed to skate faster. Now S/B are no more, and C/B are getting pretty good scores for a newbie team, and yes, they were already accomplished ice dancers, but still.

    I've read some posters suggest that criticism of Shpilband and Zoueva teams is due to European fans being unhappy about the balance of power shifting in ice dance. Well, I can't speak for anyone else, but I honestly don't care what skaters' nationalities are; either the skating works for me, or it doesn't. Conversely, one could suggest that NA fans are so happy to see their teams succeed that they disregard said teams' weaknesses and can't accept criticism of the S & Z approach . Canton's a good technical school (well, at least for some things) but there's not much creativity in the programs, and again, not everyone is v/M, who are good enough to transcend that and make concepts we've seen before seem fresh. I would love to see some of those teams work with outside choreographers.

    I think the team that tried to shortcut their way to success was, interestingly enough, Ilynikh/Katsalpov. Instant junior success set tongues wagging, and they were supposed to shoot up the rankings this year. It didn’t really happen, and it didn’t happen because shortcutting isn’t as easy at is seems imo – those high risk elements aren’t easy to slap together (that swan dive lift looked scary dangerous). Indeed, hitting the technical requirements often needs more time together than in pre-COP days, where time was spent getting to know the other, etc. And that’s something that bugs me as well – the assumption that ticking the technical boxes is somehow easy. It’s not.
    This is probably true. I think the pressure on them to succeed quickly must have been nuts, and was exacerbated by the retirement/split of the top two Russian team right before they made the move to senior.

    Hmmm... The CD’s were largely technical exercises, weren’t they? And it’s only been a year, has it really been enough time to see the effect on the next generation teams? Unless you’re arguing that older/more mature skaters would’ve been held up via the CDs and that itself isn’t a bad thing. I’m not quite sure I agree. I agree that PCS aren’t an equal measure to artistic considerations (right now, I’d say that Total Scores are about 70% technical, 30% artistic) and I’m fine with that. What you get when you deal with predominantly artistic considerations isn’t what dance should be either.
    I don't think older teams should have been held up in the CD, but learning CDs is not easy, and it is one area in which more mature teams could shine. You can't put a highlight lift in the CD and call it a day... it's much more classic ice dance, and some of the things that were needed for teams to be good at CDs are being lost in today's element-focused ice dance; I'd love to see CDs reinstated at least at the junior level. As it is, I often feel like I'm watching pairs programs only with twizzles and different types of lifts. Savchenko and Szolkowy's LP may prove to be more dancey than most of the dance programs.

    We've discussed the balance between tech and art before, so you probably know that I'd like to see a 50-50 split between the two. Skating is both a sport and an art, and trying to make it one or the other does it a disservice.

    The identity thing is key, though. If the Shibutanis never travelled beyond what they do now (and I don’t share jcoates confidence that they will), I would be very disappointed. Because who they are now, while undeniably watchable (except for gmyers), doesn’t get me the way I’d like them to.
    Exactly. And saying this does not make one a hater. If I didn't see potential in them, I wouldn't really care what they were doing.

    Well, if we’re going to be fair, I’d point out that F/S had a highlight move that didn’t have anything to do with the program (the curve lift), but even with their mistake (twizzle error), I think they should’ve been third. Their performance, choreography and interpretation were leagues ahead of Belbin/Agosto and Domnina/Shabalin. I don’t think that’s a COP problem as much as a Linichuk problem (F/S were with Linichuk and likely third in that group). They weren’t that much slower than DomShabs, at any rate. But more than that, we saw the PCS can still be misapplied. Recall, for example, DomShabs receiving 8.8 for interpretation in their OD, which was clearly ridiculous. And my V/M fandom might be peaking through here, but I’d argue that “young people in love” is a concept. Maybe an easy one, compared to the immigrant drama (which, of course, I adored), but it still requires an ability to sell theme, mood and nuance, something they did phenomenally.
    I guess it was a highlight move, but I don't think it stuck out so badly as the Goose and the Phantom (and never mind how I feel about naming lifts, even as a joke ). DomShabs were hilariously overscored in the OD, though I feel they should have come out of the CD with a bigger margin, so some of it (certainly not all of it) evens out. But agreed about F/S deserving the bronze.

    I have to admit I don’t really agree. The biggest/most shocking split was over in pairs (Yankowskas/Coughlin, not Dube/Davison) and the big teams that split apart – Crone/Poirier, Samuelson/Bates, had split apart after ten years. I think it’s worth mentioning that the splits we’re seeing here were FAR more common in the 6.0 heyday. Tatiana Navka was teamed with Platov for a while, before he shuttled off back to Grishuk. Then she competed with Gezalian. Then Morosov. Then Kostamorov. How many world champion holders can make the claim to have skated with the same partner since juniors and before?
    DelSchoes... that was a twenty year partnership, something I'm not sure we'll ever see again, even for teams that were paired as young as D/W and V/M (no way will they continue past Sochi). But in the past, even if people didn't team up at a young age, they often skated together until an older age - something that's not really the case today. In pairs, if that counts, the Chinese pairs are always together forever, and of course G/G were very young when they were partnered.

    Quote Originally Posted by jcoates View Post
    Regarding the point on skating schools, I agree that far too many athletes in many sports choose to take the easy route and opt to imitate rather than innovate. I'm sure that's where many fans' criticisms originate: the fear that COP or one dominant school will force homogeneity. Still the very best competitors will choose to break new ground (either technical (G/P) or stylistic (T/D)), either because they are challenged to do so, or because they happened to be a breed apart to begin with...

    I think most skaters in all disciplines tend to follow whatever trends exist, but often tend to only really succeed on a superficial level and finish in the middle of the pack. I think that's a matter of poor decision making by both the skater and their coach rather than an indictment of any one school of skating. What should be done instead is to train to enhance a skater or any other athlete's natural strengths and shore up their weaknesses rather than attempting to copy one default style. In that regard, the Shibs are actually setting their own direction by focusing so much at the beginning on technique and dance quality instead of emoting because that's where their current strengths direct them. Another example is the North American approach to pairs. I mentioned in the greatest pairs thread that I feel it's becoming too homogenized. But in the 70's, 80s and early 90s North American and West German pairs medaled quite frequently at Worlds and Olympics (sometimes even breaking through to win Worlds) not because they copied the Soviets/Russians, but because they chose to take an alternate approach to highlight their skills. Since the mid 90s that approach has changed and now very few North American teams break through and stay there. My point is, it's a choice and until the teams who compete against Canton find a way to make their alternate choices work effectively to defeat them, this complaint about a monopoly will still be an issue.
    I'm going to have to politely ask for more paragraph breaks in your posts, jcoates; those blocks of text are a bit intimidating...

    I agree with much of what I've quoted, especially the part I bolded - but I'm not sure I agree that this is what the Shibs are doing. They tried to stretch in their final junior season, but with a tango, which was all wrong for them. I think they can focus on tech and quality while showing a bit more originality; it might require thinking outside the box to find the right music, but their parents are musicians - surely they grew up hearing all sorts of interesting music that they can use in their skating?

    Since you used pairs as an example, I'd say that Ingo Steuer is almost single-handedly keeping pairs from becoming too homogenized. Aliona and Robin have shown amazing range in their programs, and they've once again found a way to bring something new to the ice this season. I'd also point to Kavaguti and Smirnov as a pair who have had some interesting programs, and further down the rankings, Lawrence and Swiegers seem to have their own style.
    Last edited by Buttercup; 10-14-2011 at 04:59 AM. Reason: Grammar and punctuation (hopefully all fixed)

  10. #235
    Constable , Costume Police colleen o'neill's Avatar
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    jcoates and Pogue.. Well , I don't mind. Go on , you two...

    And I have to say I so agree about Punsalen and Swallow.. their tango was the first time I felt I'd seen an actual tango on ice .I felt they were so often overlooked.

    I've been wanting to address some of the points NorthernDancers has raised, but haven't had time ,and wasn't sure which thread was best... Anyway , 'Dancers... I understand your concern ( and others') about the young teams rising quickly, but I think you may worry too much. If they're executing their programs well technically , they'll get the marks , but whatever the marks they are being given at the junior level, I don't think they will be marked above other more deserving senior teams when they get to seniors. Whether that means the judges have to be more critical, or that the more mature and technically superior senior teams' scores will get bumped up..I'm sure adjustments will be made.

    In Canada , at least, they won't get bumped up to senior early unless they win junior. So most of them will still be developing at the Jr.level . One team each year will move up regardless of their age. For the rest , I can't really see that it makes a huge difference whether they hit the bottleneck trying to move up through JR. before they age out...or hit the bottleneck at Sr. trying to improve enough to make the National team. Either way, they'll spend years together improving their technique and presentation in order to reach for their goals.

    Young teams have always had to face the risk that one might outgrow the other. I don't see that that will be any more traumatic now than it has always been. Occasionally , it's a worry for us. Remember holding your breath about Tessa and Scott ?..Every year there are kids that have to go through that ,whether we know it or not.

    The only thing that puts them more in the spotlight now , is that suddenly we get to see more Jr. competitions on video ..I'm not going to complain about that.

    The fact that they can now actually earn the points, rather than just be slotted into some order, might have a greater positive effect in terms of encouraging skaters to stay in ,than the possible negative, that they may get an inflated opinion of their own abilities. ( It's their coach's job to keep their feet on the ground and their federation's job not to hype them too much , too soon. )

    In particular, I feel characterizing the young BC teams as little robots( I forget who said that) is a bit unfair. They're all well turned out, their programs are different from each other, and they've done well with their assignments this year. I'm sure neither they nor their coaches think they've arrived and don't need to improve. If anything, I'd think they'd feel motivated to keep on working.

    I don't know that W/P would agree that their time in the wilderness was better for them than if they'd had a chance for more international exposure.There's no quit in them ,but that may just be in their natures... I wonder if W/L , or D/L don't wish more of their careers had been under CoP..
    Last edited by colleen o'neill; 10-14-2011 at 03:26 AM.

  11. #236
    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
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    Thanks to all of you for long, great posts!

    I can't however, let the enthusiasm for F&S's Immigrants go undiscussed. The program had merits, but its lifts were not some of them. F&S used the same lifts with minor variations throughout their entire career, because those were the only lifts they could do. They were a relic of the days when ice dance girls could be nearly as tall as their partners. In COP days of increased percentage of score relying on lifts, they were in some difficulties.

    Because of their relative size, Faiella was able to do a gender reversal lift, but was not strong enough to do it with the variations required for Level 4, so they used it as an optional lift.

    Like many of the teams of that ratio of sizes, attempts to keep up with the COP standard of lifts resulted in significant, career-shortening injuries, especially to the guy.

    Here's their Europeans 2010 program, which in any case, was as good or better than their Olympic one:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ki290XIW-e0

    Lift one -
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ki290XIW-e0#t=1m15s

    Lift two (combination lift)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ki290XIW-e0#t=2m30s

    Lift three
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ki290XIW-e0#t=4m13s

    Optional fourth lift (Faiella lifts Scali)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ki290XIW-e0#t=4m30s

    I don't see any particular relevance of any of those lifts to the story of being Immigrants, particularly since there was very little picking one another up done in the process of immigrating, or setting up a new home.

    OTOH, getting married (V&M Mahler) can justify a couple lifts (man carries woman over threshold, or man carries woman to bed). I admit that the original Goose was not that relevant to young couple in love (better for PF); however, the revised exit could be a metaphor for the leap of faith people take falling in love and getting married.

    Any lift in Phantom can be justified by the plot, as it includes not one, but two abductions. An untidy lift is as good a metaphor for that as any.

    I'm not sure what lift you're calling the Phantom, but I assume it was it the combination lift or the one where Meryl ends up standing on Charlie's leg?

    ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Buttercup View Post
    I've read some posters suggest that criticism of Shpilband and Zoueva teams is due to European fans being unhappy about the balance of power shifting in ice dance. Well, I can't speak for anyone else, but I honestly don't care what skaters' nationalities are; either the skating works for me, or it doesn't. Conversely, one could suggest that NA fans are so happy to see their teams succeed that they disregard said teams' weaknesses and can't accept criticism of the S & Z approach . Canton's a good technical school (well, at least for some things) but there's not much creativity in the programs, and again, not everyone is v/M, who are good enough to transcend that and make concepts we've seen before seem fresh. I would love to see some of those teams work with outside choreographers.
    Oh, absolutely, to all points above.

    RE; F/S

    I don't know, doris. If we're talking metaphors, the opening and closing (non-scoring) lift work in talking about how the partners rely on each other to make a difficult journey. Massimo's expression in the first one is a plea to God for the whole thing to succeed, whereas the mirroring with the second one can be read as a the faith required. The spin, with it's midpoint separation, speaks to both the individual and paired journeys the two take and how they might not always be the same (emotionally). This program really hit me when I saw it at CoC, though, and was disappointed they struggled with injury (wding from SC) and their loss at Euros (thanks to DomShabs)

  13. #238
    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
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    Yes--it is in the eye of the beholder. I see 2 people doing basic lifts, you see art. However, I like some of their step work. OTOH Their spin is so weak it is hard to take seriously as anything more than inclusion of a required element.

    And their staging is excellent.


    But if slinging the girl over your shoulder isn't a fine example of an abduction, I don't know what is.
    Last edited by dorispulaski; 10-14-2011 at 08:48 AM.

  14. #239
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    Quote Originally Posted by ImaginaryPogue View Post
    Oh, absolutely, to all points above.

    RE; F/S

    I don't know, doris. If we're talking metaphors, the opening and closing (non-scoring) lift work in talking about how the partners rely on each other to make a difficult journey. Massimo's expression in the first one is a plea to God for the whole thing to succeed, whereas the mirroring with the second one can be read as a the faith required. The spin, with it's midpoint separation, speaks to both the individual and paired journeys the two take and how they might not always be the same (emotionally). This program really hit me when I saw it at CoC, though, and was disappointed they struggled with injury (wding from SC) and their loss at Euros (thanks to DomShabs)
    Absolutely agree re: the lifts in the F/S FD. There is a lot of emotional lifting of partners in the difficult journey of immigration, and that is what the lifts in the program symbolized to me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Buttercup View Post
    1. P/B are not as weak technically as you suggest, they are not poorly trained, and have improved on the technical side throughout their career. And they bring things to the ice that Shpilband and Zoueva teams don't, not just from an artistic standpoint. As for that time when they were beaten by C/P - they skated badly at 2008 SC, and I don't recall too many people who thought they wuzrobbed. They got better as that season progressed and their results reflected that.The only reason they were not on the Worlds podium last season was a freak fall; that does not mean they are suddenly inferior to Canton teams in general and the Shibutanis in particular.
    I find them to be slow compared to some of the other teams, their matching lines don't match, and they skate rather far apart for a team which has been together for so long. That's what I meant by "technically inferior". I do like some of the concepts they've used in their programs but they often seem more like a pairs team than a dance team to me. And if I wasn't a fan before, their "Requieum for a Dream" program was not likely to convert me. There was no dancing in that dance.

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