As for quads and footwork, AFAIK the first skater to have level 4 footwork and a 4-3 in the same program was Plushenko. The next one, I believe, was... Evan Lysacek. It's now easier to get level 4 on step sequences than it was in the past; if I'm not mistaken, there were level 4s given on the JGP, and Viktoria Helgesson got one at TEB this weekend, and she's not exactly renowned for her footwork, is she?
I would be curious to see if SF feels there is any area in which any skater is superior to Patrick Chan (not including spirals, which he doesn't do).
Yeah, it was definitely more difficult to get a level 4 step sequence back in the day, much more so than it was now. I think Caro Kostner was the first lady to get a level 4 step sequence in around...2007, was it? It was a pretty significant thing when it happened.
PCS marking was also very different too, and quite wonky in the first few years of CoP. But for awhile, 7s were absolutely top-shelf marks reserved for the top skaters. Getting 8s and 9s was literally unimaginable, lol. It seems crazy today that Lambiel's Poeta only received 7s in 2007, but if Lambiel, as the reigning world champion, had skated Poeta the way he did in Tokyo Worlds at the Vancouver Olympics, he obviously would have received high 8s and 9s in the context of more contemporary scoring practices.
Last edited by Violet Bliss; 11-21-2011 at 02:12 AM.
It was important even back then to have both quads and footwork (....or actual, well-choreographed programs), particularly if you look at the larger context of Joubert and Buttle's world titles.
Joubert actually lost the long program in 2007 Worlds to both Lambiel and Takahashi. And it wasn't by razor-thin margins either--Takahashi had won the LP by about 6 points. The reason why Joubert won the gold overall was because Lambiel and Takahashi both botched their short programs, especially Lambiel, who skated dreadfully in terms of jumps. Joubert skated cleanly in the SP and decently enough in the LP and was thus able to hang onto his lead overall. If Takahashi and Lambiel didn't screw up in the short, they definitely would have beat Joubert soundly. It's also interesting that neither Lambiel or Takahashi were completely perfect in their LPs as well, but they still beat Joubert nonetheless (though admittedly, Joubert had watered down his LP somewhat). But 2006 Worlds, in my opinion, had already established the writing on the wall for Joubert vs. Lambiel--though both had quads, the judges were going to go for the more complete skater if they both skated well: Lambiel. In the LP, Joubert skated perfectly, while Lambiel had no triple axel and two-footed a jump--yet Lambiel still won.
As for Buttle's world title, it definitely wasn't clear during that season that a quadless man could even win the world title. Lambiel had been skating quite sloppily all season (but still with quads) but the judges had been scoring him quite generously nonetheless (e.g. 2007 GPF). Takahashi, meanwhile, was coming to Worlds after the breaking the world record at the 2008 4CC with 2 quads in his LP, completely thrashing silver medallist Buttle (and bronze medallist Lysacek, for that matter) there by literally 30 points. However, both Takahashi and Lambiel melted down in the LP at 2008 Worlds (additionally, Takahashi also Zayaked himself out of contention) and Buttle had been able to skate cleanly and take advantage. However, if you look at the way Takahashi and Lambiel were being scored that season, it was clear that Buttle would not have won the world title if Lambiel and Takahashi had been anywhere near decent in Goteborg.
Of course, coulda, woulda, shoulda. Joubert and Buttle deserved their world titles given what transpired, but it was Takahashi and Lambiel's lack of consistency that smoothed the way. If you really wanted to control your own destiny and win the gold back then, you would have showed up with both quads and footwork, like now. All things considered, it was clear that Takahashi and Lambiel were the judges' favourites and were going to win if they skated anywhere near decently (or in Lambiel's case at the 2007 GPF, even if he wasn't so decent)....but they, of course, didn't always.
What really changed the playing field were the events of fall 2008, when Takahashi severely injured himself and had to sit out for an entire season, while Lambiel abruptly retired after leaving Peter Grutter. After the two main guys with both quads and footwork were out of the picture...well, imagine how the playing field would look like now if both Chan and Takahashi (or Kozuka, I guess) suddenly retired.
Last edited by evangeline; 11-21-2011 at 02:41 AM.
I think you're right about Poeta.
Dai's injury was a game changer for sure; a torn ACL is about as serious as it gets. He'll probably never be the skater he was technically, but he compensates for that in other ways. And Buttle's win was a the blueprint for how to win without a quad, so also a really important event. 2008 Worlds had all sorts of unexpected outcomes: Dai Zayaking away a medal, Tomas Verner's Hidden Czech skate, KvdP getting a small medal, Johnny winning his only medal, Stephane off the podium after three straight medals... lots of surprises for sure.
I just want to add, because I know some people were underwhelmed by Joubert's 2007 Worlds LP and disappointed to have a World Champion who was only third in the LP, that Joubert had to make adjustments to the program because he was returning from an injury. In February of that year, he spiked a blade into his foot on a 3Lz attempted and sustained tendon (and possibly ligament?) damage - I think it required surgery, he was off the ice for a while, and couldn't even train lutzes and flips until right before Worlds. He sustained a more serious version of that injury in November 2009, and it completely derailed his Olympic season. (Kurt Browning tweeted that the same thing had happened to him three times - ouch!) Anyway, considering Joubert's occasional headcase tendencies, I'm still amazed that he was able to pull off 2007 Worlds. The pressure, coming in undefeated on the season and knowing that he was not 100% physically, must have been crushing. You can kind of see it when he skates off the ice after the LP - he doesn't look elated, he looks relieved. No singles skater has gone undefeated in a season since then.
Joubert never got a level 4 on footwork (his goal seems to be to get level 3) but AFAIK he scored the highest GOE ever given for a quad in international competition, which is pretty cool. Still, I think it's unfair to characterize him as someone who cares only about the jumps; he's stated otherwise multiple times, and has put a lot of work into other areas of his skating. It's one thing to argue that those things are not his forte, but he's not the one-dimensional skater some suggest.
Last edited by Buttercup; 11-21-2011 at 03:10 AM.
Ah, the QR at 2006 Worlds helped, but I think it was pretty telling that Lambiel won the LP nonetheless in Calgary, even if it was by a thin margin over Joubert. Wasn't there some angst about the 2006 Olympic silver medalist and World Champion not being able to land a triple axel properly?
Yeah, in retrospect, 2008 Worlds for men was such a bizarre event. If I recall correctly, almost everyone predicted that Takahashi would win that year. He had the quads, the programs (Cyber Swan!!), the PCS, the footwork, the judges' love, good performances all season....his mistakes and Zayaking came completely out of nowhere. I'm sure many fans' fantasy picks were completely ruined by that. Lambiel, on the other hand...I guess it wasn't entirely surprising that he melted down, given his performances all season. But the degree to which he melted down was kind of surprising. And Tomas' skate! Still painful to watch, especially since he did so well in the short and was the reigning European Champion. I was happy for Buttle, but I definitely had mixed feelings about the whole thing.....
I wasn't really a fan of Joubert's LP in 2007, but his Bond SP was loads of fun and definitely deserved to have a big lead for sure. When Joubert is on, he really does have great charisma and command over the ice and I can understand why the judges were willing to give him good PCS. I have no complaints about Joubert winning worlds in 2007, even with a third-place LP--Lambiel and Takahashi, though great in the long, did themselves in during the SP.
Last edited by evangeline; 11-21-2011 at 03:32 AM.
I actually kind of think he even deserved the Silver medal over Joubert (Takahashi clearly deserved Gold overall for me), despite the big jump mistakes in the SP. It was that superior of a performance and one of the most difficult ever technically.
Last edited by Blades of Passion; 11-21-2011 at 05:25 AM.