10-09-2011, 05:14 PM
Have you seen these guys off the rink? They are happy people. If anything it reflects their enjoyment of the sport. Can they control those smiles better? Sure. Could they learn to express other feelings. Also sure. But to accuse them of being fake -- when they clearly are not -- is not cool.
Originally Posted by gmyers
They have level 4s because they have good technical skills. Expression is not scored in TES. I think they're getting the proper docking for that in their PCS scores.
And also, they have done different programs-- have you not seen their junior stuff? Not a single Nat King Cole song in the mix.
10-09-2011, 05:24 PM
Tripping on the Podium
Wow IP, thank you so much for that. Seeing an intelligent, well-thought-out, non-sarcastic and polite criticism finally has made me feel, actually, quite relieved. I have a lot of respect for you right now.
I think as you pointed out, with success brings criticism. I think this is also the way with any sport. If a team keeps winning (medals, in this case), it automatically triggers a wave of annoyed people who will search for every flaw, exploit it to the point of sounding terribly jaded, and when more success comes, scorn it.
Ont he opposite hand, however, aside from a few snide people on a forum, they have gained so many more fans than "detractors". They have wonderfully universal appeal, as even casual skating fans I know love them and will tune into ice dancing when they are skating (promoting ice dancing even more!). So while their harsh critics like to voice their opinion loudly and repetitively, there is pretty much a legion of fans there to support them.
I know exactly where you are coming from, IP, but I think maybe that is goal for their programs now, thematically. They're working out the kinks in their technique, trying to find their inner voice, chase these HUGE powers in ice dance now (V/M, D/W, P/B) and keep delivering at the elite-level events. They are like the growing adolescents in the family of ice dance, literally and figuratively. Considering all this, last season they did beyond phenomenal. And this year, nothing too heavy, labored or contrived...something they could develop and excel with after jumping into the deep pool of senior-level ice dance...something to keep them afloat.
I think as they continue to expand their horizons, we'll see a depth grow in this refinement (like Mrs. P said). I already see it forming in this new program, slowly the choreography, the lifts, their faces have this kind of spark and glitter of so much untapped potential. We may be witnessing the growing pains of the next great ice dancing power, which something very beautiful indeed to watch.
This is why I love them, and why I am so excited!
Last edited by 100yen; 10-09-2011 at 05:27 PM.
10-09-2011, 05:56 PM
I just can't find a rational reason for all the viciousness from some toward the Shibs. By this I don't include substantive comments like those contributed by Pogue, Doris, KKonas and others. But the "smile monsters" comments by Gmeyers and others strikes me as fairly petty. It's like a young kid getting into a disagreement with his older brother and losing on the merits, so he resorts to name-calling. It's not helpful.
My two cents about the Shibs, their choice of music and ice dance in general: I agree with all others who have stated that their purity of technique is what truly sets them apart. It carries them a good 80% or more of the way toward their current standing in the world. Their bubbly personas on the ice make up a lot of the difference. Will that always be the case? I hope not. I hope they will develop more range over the seasons, but what I see as range and what others see may be different. I loved their FD last season. But there were still things I would have changed about it. I would have added more sharpness to the in-between sections with more connecting dance steps in hold much like DW's tango. Still I can recognize that from a technical standpoint that was not required and also that what they did was done exceptionally well. My hope for them for this season was not necessarily that they would radically switch the musical or choreographic style of the program as much as I wanted to see them add greater complexity to it. To me growth of their actual skating matters far more than whatever music they pick. In that regard, I think they have succeeded.
It's clear the Marina and Igor are grooming this team for the long haul. They are undeniably good and near the top already, but they have miles to go and I think they are being paced slowly to develop into champions once DW and VM eventually move on. As for their choice of music, it's somewhat unfair to single them out as they have been. The current trend of teams to radically switch their program style from one season to the next is only a recent phenomenon. In fact teams that switch up their styles have actually tended to have less consistent results over their careers (eg Moiseeva and Minenkov, Duchenays, Bourne and Kraatz; all very good, but up and down). Annisina and Peizerat had one main style from the 1997-98 season onwards. Davis and White pre-tango and excluding Eleanor Rigby had a fairly predictable FD style (high drama). Virtue and Moir also had one main style (romance) thru the last Olympics (except for the Money routine). Even Torvill and Dean were fairly one note early in their careers, skating largely to **gasp!!!** big band and broadway music. In fact Bolero was the only FD they did that was not big band, broadway or a movie score. They were world famous for their interpretation of these themes which reintroduced fun and vibrancy to a discipline that was quickly becoming either staid or overly dramatic. That's part of why Bolero was so controversial. It was totally theatrical and a complete departure from what they had previously done. The point is, many of the great teams have found a style of program that works best for them and shows off their skills effectively and they use that style brilliantly. Once they find it, they tend to stick with it for the most part. Do they change at some point, yes in some cases, but usually because they are so dominant that they feel free to explore other options. Klimova and Ponomarenko are really the only great ice dance champions I can name who felt forced to significantly change their style as a means of staying competitive.
As far as programs styles for other teams go, I prefer as much variety as possible. The happy dancy programs can be balanced out by sexy ones, dramatic ones, edgy ones, etc. What I don't like it trend based choreography where one team sets a standard which is immediately copied by all other teams. What's worse is when the ISU tries to impose or eliminate a style by fiat. Ideally I wish for each team to skate to the music or style with which they are most comfortable or suited.
I think the Shibs are doing just fine at the moment. If they don't medal next March, that's ok, so long as they keep improving, which I think they will do. They have plenty of time to produce some sort of angst ridden masterpiece about drug addiction (or some other such drivel) that will hopefully please their detractors.
10-09-2011, 06:24 PM
Hahahaha Well said.
Originally Posted by jcoates
10-09-2011, 06:28 PM
I was not clear on the level 4 stuff. I think their technical skill would allow for having varied expression or experimentation and not the smile assaults. Last season I did post how their K&C smiles were different from their performances smiles because in performances they seem unnaturally frozen. I am not saying they do not enjoy what they are doing but over the minutes of a program unchanging expression is not beleivable and distancing to me.
Originally Posted by Mrs. P
10-09-2011, 06:36 PM
Great points! I could have not said any of that better.
Originally Posted by jcoates
10-09-2011, 06:45 PM
Excellent post, jcoats! If there had been another American team (D&W) competing at this event, the nastiness directed toward the Shibs would have been minimal. I thought their FD was fine and wouldn't expect someone fast-dancing to Big Band music to show any *angst* on their faces...just pure joy because it's so much fun. As we all know (and have discussed on different forums for years & years), it's a challenge to find appropriate music/programs for siblings.
10-09-2011, 06:55 PM
Tripping on the Podium
Obviously they aren't going to have the same smiles as in the K&C...totally different emotions/situations. It's one thing, smiling while flipping someone over your head balanced with your legs spread or trying to get a perfect edge, and another smiling sitting down comfortably looking at a camera. Doesn't make it any less genuine. :sheesh:
Originally Posted by gmyers
10-09-2011, 08:13 PM
Bravo jcaotes. Thoughtful commentary! Pinch me.
Not holding my breath though. I stand ready to place a healthy bet that entrenched Shibs detractors can always be relied upon to post shovels full of “criticism” even if the Shibs did anything that the critics claim they would prefer. I can see it now from the usual corners: “Their blood shot eyes are just not convincing enough. Withdrawal seizures while she is up in that lift? ... BORING! Her torn stained dress? Not ugly enough!
A bit more seriously ... I found many of jcoates comments insightful. The Shibs are obviously being very skillfully groomed for the long term. They were well prepared for their senior debut with programs that highlighted so many of their strengths. Becoming known for strong skating fundamental technique like "quiet blades" is a quality associated with “skater’s skaters” like Yuka Sato. I’ve seen them skate live and it is true.
Another thoughtful observation, also made by Binthere, that one can get to by simply looking beyond the headline of the type of music they have chosen and prematurely concluding "no change". The level of technical difficulty throughout the program, especially with the complexity and technical difficulty built into the choreography and connections is without question at a much higher level than last year. The combination lifts they do especially are on par with Virtue/Moir and Davis/White’s difficulty and execution. Stepping up the technical ante from within a framework which works well and can be polished is indeed a well worn strategy. Many dancers are mentioned, but some of my favorite singles skaters (John Curry, Janet Lynn, Rodnina/Zaitsev, Babilonia/Gardner. Am I showing my age?) also built their competitive careers on similar high quality frameworks.
While their presence in the sport and success seems to be deeply disturbing to ice dance fans from certain time zones, I can attest that the Shibs are definitely having a positive impact which goes well beyond chat boards (thankfully). They have definitely raised the profile and popularity of ice dance amongst younger skaters at our club. This has been very very hard to do. Personally, as someone whose knees say "no jumps, only slow pattern dances!" I really appreciate them for that.
Words of wisdom probably for any young skaters, not just the Shibs, but the baby Ballerinas too: Paying attention to excellent skating and movement, and ignoring the snipes and criticism which come with having a lot of unexpected early success, will keep them in good stead for careers that can be long and successful.
Finally, if you read any of Alex's blogs or even just watch the press conference from the Finlandia Free dance, you will understand why Alex and the people around him spend so much time smiling.
10-09-2011, 08:40 PM
1. jcoates, I think it's worth mentioning that T/D's OSPs allowed them to explore stuff beyond the big band. Summertime, RockNRoll, the legendary Paso Doble.
2. Indeed, one thing you're neglecting to mention is how those OSPs/ODs demonstrated the broader range. A/P had the lilting waltz and of course their legendary flamenco. V/M had their flamenco, their 2007 Assassination Tango, and even their last junior OD. The only team to win two Olympic Gold medals did so with this and this as their FDs. Staggering range.
Like everyone else, the Shibs have done different stuff in their ODs. Except they haven't been all that successful. Their GW last season was underwhelming (and also done in the exact same way we normally see them). I don't recall anyone loving their Japanese folk OD (last junior year) nor their tango FD (ditto). And of course, their Latin SD this season hasn't been garnering that much enthusiasm (though, frankly, I prefer it to their FD. Go figure) so far.
3. I will say that I prefered the angst ridden masterpiece about drug addiction (C/L's Olympic FD) to anything the Shibs have done.
4. I wonder if the Shibs came from somewhere not Canton/Shpilband-Zoueva, would they be more accepted? I mentioned in other posts about my concerns for a backlash, based solely on some comments made here and elsewhere. Personally, because I'd like to see teams challenging themselves more, I'd love to see if V/M or D/W took outside choreography. Won't happen, but I think V/M skating to something by Steuer or Camerlengo or Platov .... hell, even Zhulin or Zazoui (well, maybe not Zazoui) would be fascinating
5. Oh, I hope the Shibs don't medal. I really hope that P/B can finally step onto the worlds podium (he says, not really liking them, and already ready to hate their FD)
10-09-2011, 10:03 PM
Pogue, to respond to your points:
Originally Posted by ImaginaryPogue
1-2. I deliberately did not include OSPs or ODs from any of the teams I mentioned. I did this in part because those dances are prescribed. The skaters played absolutely no part in picking those themes (aside from the years when they had a choice of rhythms, countries/cultures or decades toward the end of the OD format). Of course the great teams find a way to stand out within those prescriptions, but that is somewhat outside what I was getting at. When it comes to coming up with their own concept, most teams including the great ones tend to have a certain range they are most comfortable in. The range need not be restricted to choreographic style. Some teams may maintain the same style but approach it in different ways (greater speed, more intricate choreography, etc.) Others may use a wide range of choreographic styles (eg Grishuk and Platov as you mention) but have a very distinct approach to that choreography. In G/P's case, vitually every program they did after moving to Linichuk and Karponosov and later Tarasova was built around emphasizing their incredible speed and ability to handle great difficulty. The program itself actually became somewhat irrelevant as it was merely a showcase for their technical wizardry meant to blow you out of your seat. In that regard, they are very similar to Bestemianova and Bukin. They actually skated to a much wider range of music than they are given credit for. But whatever theme they chose was less important than the passion and speed they exhibited. It was so big and in your face that the themes tended to blend into the background and the lack of intricacies were often forgotten.
2. As far as the Shibs' previous OD choices, I think it unfair to compare their junior programs (choreography, skating quality, reception, etc.) to their work as seniors. Is the work junior teams do important? Yes to a point. i prefer to look at it as an apprenticeship. Valuable, but not completely determinative. Also, how many junior champs and world medalists go on to have zero success as seniors for any number of reasons? The fact that they have made a successful transition in so short a time should make any past stumbles at junior level irrelevant or at least less significant. After all, growth spurts and other factors including emotional growth can also be pointed to as having been hindrances.
3. I won't begrudge you your preferences. However, I do have reservations about the trend among skating fans to assume the the longer a team or skater is around, the more depressing the themes of their programs must become. Dark moods and themes don't fit every person, much less skater. I personally find it very refreshing that not only the Shibs, but also V/M and P/B last season have fully embraced this current attempt to lighten up ice dance. While I don't want all teams to do the same thing or be told explicitly what to do, I also don't mind a gentle nudge here and there. C/L's 2010 FD was just not up to snuff for me, in part because of the music but also due to the contrived theme. But I felt the same way about almost all of the themes of the top ten that season other than DW, VM and FS. The contortions each team did to come up with a theme almost verged on the ridiculous for my taste.
4. A valid concern. It should not be the case, but it is. Much of the criticism of all the Canton teams reminds my greatly of the kind of Cold War jingoism that went on between the US and Soviets. It was distasteful and laughable then, and it is today in this new context. Where they train should have not impact on how they are perceived, but sadly it does. To their credit, they don't seem to be letting such trivial concerns bother them.
5.Your sentiment confuses me. Is there a concrete reason for why you wish the Shibs to not medal next year particularly if you don't even like the work of the team you prefer over them? Is it simply to see a team rewarded who have been perceived as waiting their turn? Should they be given a medal for that reason alone? Would it be to make up for a tragic stroke of bad luck at Worlds last year. What about merit? That sort of sentiment reminds me of the reasoning behind winners and losers at award shows. What if the Shibs are demonstrably better than P/B at Worlds next year? Should they be denied a higher placing or even a medal simply because of what: age, experience, perception that their previous placement was undeserved, their coaching team, host country?
Last edited by jcoates; 10-09-2011 at 11:26 PM.
10-09-2011, 10:50 PM
2009 - 2010 I think P/B were notable for messing up their free dance at almost every competition except worlds where they changed. Before that they were the team with weak CDs. Now last season they did well but of course had their mess up happen at worlds. So for competitions for the upcoming season I think it is possible that they will not have great success and possibly go back to normal uneven performances that will not make them such a strong contender for world bronze like last season. They built up so much steam and then both of them splat. There was only one other fall in the entire free dance competition. S/S had a very good free dance of high levels and clean skating. They are in a much stronger position than P/B.
10-09-2011, 11:23 PM
1. I'd argue that a greater choreographic style is what people are asking for from the Shibutanis, though. I definitely don't agree that the program was irrelevant wrt Grishuk/Platov (though I'm curious to know if you think the programs the Shibs do now are irrelevant). If I hear the strains of Nyman, I instantly imagine G/P's dance. But I think ODs/OSPs are clear examples of those who are comfortable in multitudes of styles
2. While it's probably fair to exclude junior programs, I think that because dancers are so young and because the transition from junior to senior success is happening more and more (the only COP-dance WC to not win a junior medal was Denkova/Staviski), it's worthy of note.
3. Is that actually a trend people believe in? With regards to C/L, I adored it precisely because of the music (love RfaD) and theme (the way they weave it throughout is phenomenal. That straight line lift..... whoa). V/M, F/S and C/L had my favourite FDs that year.
4. If the Shibs miss out on a medal, the backlash against them might subside a little. P/B winning a medal at home would be nice (so yes, but not so much waiting their turn as so-close-yet-so-far - Euros 2009, Worlds 2010). I should state in no uncertain terms that between the Shibs and P/B, I'd rather watch the Shibs - I sorta hate most of P/B's dances. If P/B don't deserve to win a medal but do, I'll be annoyed, but not overly (provided they don't beat V/M, of course). If the Shibs win a medal but don't deserve to, I suspect I'll have to take a break from message boards for a while. All things being equal, I think it would be nice to see P/B win a medal before they retire. If they don't win in Nice, I would doubt that happening..
Truthfully, a love of narrative provides that POV. I hoped that the Kerrs would win bronze at worlds 2011, win Euros 2012 (at home) and follow that up with a solid worlds skate even though I don't like them either. I was annoyed when F/S elected to continue because I thought they had peaked in 2010 and top five at the Olympics, bronze at home was a great way to end a career (and the epilogue wasn't all that strong, unfortunately). My desire to see Adelina Sotnikova win gold in Sochi has very little to do with her skating (I don't think I've watched an entire program of hers) and more to with I think it would be really awesome for a Russian lady to win the first Olympic gold on home ice (and the other Russian ladies' names are too difficult for me to spell). Less to do with skating, and more to do with how these characters fit into a larger narrative. Of course, I'd like it all to be deserving too (which comes off as an afterthought, but it really isn't. Honestly!)
10-10-2011, 12:20 AM
I understand that people are looking for greater choreographic range from the Shibs. I just don't see the rush for it to be so immediate. I see them as a much more long term team, a bit like Klimova Ponomarenko were. That team was at or near the top largely on the basis of their technique for most of their (very long) career. Their iconic image as a high drama team is mostly the result of their 1991 season, 3rd Olympic season and subsequent pro career. Before that, they had much more tame themes. In retrospect those programs have been much more appreciated by skating fans, but while they were competing, they received much of the same criticism the Shibs are getting now. "Too conventional" "Old fashioned" "Lacks passion and drama" Etc Etc. Yet they were no worse than second at Worlds for an astounding 8 consecutive years. Given that as well as the relative similarity in their ages to K/P's career arc and the pure technique, I'm not at all worried about them for the long term. They will develop a choreographic range of their own at their own pace, not ours.
Regarding G/P, their programs were very good to excellent, but the only one that really stands out for me as being timeless from a choreographic point of view is their Feeling Begins program. That was the only one of their free dance that seemed to truly fit them as people. That was their peak IMO. Their other programs seemed more like roles they were playing. Their rock and roll, Fred and Ginger and latin FDs were all fast, intricate and very difficult, but not choreographic masterpieces. Does that count against them in my mind? Not in the slightest. They were the best technicians by such a large margin that any deficiencies mattered less to me. Their Requiem program was very good (although not performed at their top level in Nagano) but bugged me. It came across as too derivative for me. There was a little too much of T/D, B/B, and K/P all lumped together for it to seem original to me. Nevertheless, I preferred it to the waaay over the top Carmen K/O did. Do I view the Shibs in the same way as far as how much the program matters? To a degree yes, but I should point out that most of the truly enduring ice dance teams were so good from a technical standpoint that their choreography or music choice could be seen as less important than their skating quality.
As for ODs being a measure of comfort level with different styles of dance, I agree with you on that point. However, it's worth noting that the Shibs didn't exactly fall off a placement cliff with their less successful ODs. They placed lower with some of them, but they were almost always near or on the podium. For so young a team skating against older competitors even at the junior level, that's pretty promising in my view. I look at all the junior successes and failures as mere practice for their senior career to come. As I've said, I think they have plenty of time in them.
I should refine my comment about trends to prefer heavy drama and romance, but I definitely think the trend to wish for heavier programs from longstanding teams is a real one. In fact, its been a trend since Bolero. (most of B/B's career, the Duchenays, late K/P, Usova and Zhulin even in 93 when more upbeat themes were being pushed, most of G/P even before 94, A/P, late B/K, D/V etc.)
I detest the idea that the Shibs or any team would have to lose out on a deserved medal or placement in order to deflect or end some sort of backlash. That sort of treatment is more appropriate in a beauty pageant than a sporting event. If they outskate the teams around them, then they should beat them regardless of where they train, who their coaches are or any other extraneous reason.
I understand your love of narrative. It's perfectly human to feel that inclination. But I would rather see the very best possible performances from all concerned and let the chips fall where they may, like 2010 Vancouver between D/W and V/M. I preferred Meryl and Charlie, but could not argue with the result. That to me is the best and longest lasting source of narrative and drama. The fairytale ending is nice but not necessary for me.
10-10-2011, 06:43 AM
While the Shib's emotional range isn't really explored in their new free dance, it definitely ups their difficulty level, particularly with the transitions and the lifts. I was particularly drawn to their toe work that they usually don't use in their programs as well as the combination lift. The opening Lindy Hop-esque section works. They're also introducing more of a stark change in tempo and keeping up with the beat of the ending.
Also, it's incredibly early in the season. I expect them to connect with more of that Latin fire in their SD and get deeper edges on their footwork sequences. I also want the middle section of their FD to be far more controlled and soft, done to the slow phrasing of the music.