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Thread: Canadian ladies vs. other disciplines

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    Custom Title mmcdermott's Avatar
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    Canadian ladies vs. other disciplines

    I'm hoping someone here can shed some light on this topic. It's something I've always wondered about.

    Why are the Canadian ladies so weak compared to the other three disciplines? Is there a reason why this happens? Joannie Rochette had a few very successful years, but other than that the Canadian ladies have really struggled over the past 20 years or so. Similar to the way Cynthia Phaneuf has been struggling since her great performance at Worlds in 2010. She has the potential to do quite well, and yet she continues to have problems landing her jumps. The same was true for many of the Canadian ladies who came before her.

    And yet the men do very well. There is usually a Canadian man on the podium at Worlds/Olympics or at least challenging the leaders (and often several of them...). The ice dancers have been getting better and better over the past 10-15 years, and the pairs are always competitive.

    So why does this happen? It's not because Canada doesn't have a strong tradition in ladies skating. I can't imagine that fewer girls than boys get involved in the sport. Is there something about the training or coaching of ladies in Canada that makes it difficult for them to reach the highest levels? Or is this just how things have happened?

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    Custom Title skateluvr's Avatar
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    God spreads the wealth around. Canada can't have everything in one quadrennial. Joannie is as beautiful a skater as it gets.And a strong athlete. She wasn't the strongest competitor but she was on podiums with two of the best females we've seen ever. We just had a great talent under CoP in Canada so I think your point isn't accurate. She's retired for now. She was beaten at the Olympics by a perfect unbeatable Yuna Kim, a truly driven (for a while ) athlete. Mao Asada came second with two flawless (almost) skates with 3 triple axels. What Joannie did was incredible. It was beyond anything I ever saw at Olympics.

    They had S/P in pairs, they have Voir and Patrick. I'd say Canada has been kicking butt over many decades. This is the era of Asian dominance in just about everything.

    I would ask why so few good women skaters are coming out of Europe? Carolina has been it and struggling until just last year, now winning with easier jumps.

    Maybe success breeds success and every little male skater builds on the great one before. No question Canada and the USA supplied the mens world class skaters for decades with Russia coming third. Now Japan is training the best singles as they are crazy about FS, families will sacrifice, and their work ethic is the best. So talent comes from everywhere. You might ask where is the Canadian pair to emerge under CoP?

    I don't think there is an answer to your question, other than Canadian parents maybe don't want to push their little girls to elite level when the money is not there. I don't think it will help the situ as all of Canada sees their golden boy PChan's family is financially stressed and even though he's world champion, he is questioning whether it was worth it.

    Curling anyone?


    I personally don't care for Cynthia or Amelie. Perhaps there is someone in juniors right now in Canada who is going to pop. I have not looked at the juniors other than Gracie Gold of USA and the Russian babies because there are so many. Have you watched any JGPF events to see whose in the oven so to speak?
    Last edited by skateluvr; 12-17-2011 at 12:31 AM.

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    I've often wondered about this question myself. Canada has had an almost unbroken line of male contenders, from Toller Cranston on; it's been an ice dancing powerhouse since Wilson and McCall in the eighties; and it has frequent pairs champions (though not right now). Canada is not entirely without ladies' stars, including Magnussen, Manley, and Rochette, but the consistency isn't as strong as in the men's roster. Maybe it's just one of those things. After all, Russia hasn't been lucky with ladies' champions, largely except for Slutskaya (maybe the new juniors will change that), and it has had a long string of successes in the other three disciplines.
    Last edited by Olympia; 12-17-2011 at 01:36 AM.

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    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
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    Maybe great Canadian lady skaters gravitate more to pairs and dance, rather than first to ladies, if they can manage the jumps. In the US, our pairs tend to be people who were having trouble with learning their harder jumps, rather than people whose first choice was pairs.

    Only occasionally do they have a Rochette, a Manley, a Magnussen, or a Barbara Ann Scott.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dorispulaski View Post
    Maybe great Canadian lady skaters gravitate more to pairs and dance, rather than first to ladies, if they can manage the jumps. In the US, our pairs tend to be people who were having trouble with learning their harder jumps, rather than people whose first choice was pairs.

    Only occasionally do they have a Rochette, a Manley, a Magnussen, or a Barbara Ann Scott.
    That's a possibility, of course. For years, we heard that great young skaters in the U.S.S.R. were steered toward pairs skating or ice dancing, because the training was specialized in that direction in the country (and most impressively so). That steering was done from above, because it was such an authoritarian system, but in Canada it might just be the result of a general mind-set.

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    Custom Title mmcdermott's Avatar
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    Thanks for all your responses. I'm thinking about this over a longer period of time - not just since the judging system changed. Before that there were years when the best we had was Jennifer Robinson :sheesh:. I loved Josee Chouinard but she couldn't stay on her feet either. Often during those years the ladies would only have one spot at Worlds, while the other disciplines would have two or three. Now we're back to that state again.

    Does anyone know what kind of support Joannie got from Own the Podium? I'm assuming she must have got help from them, and that helped her improve enough to get to the podium. She must have worked so hard!

    It could be that either they're steered towards pairs and dance or they choose that route because success is more likely (see: Jamie Sale, Megan Duhamel, Jessica Dube).

    I seem to remember coming across something when I was poking through the archives here about how the level of competition isn't strong enough at the lower levels

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    Okay, sad to say, but after watching both Canadian and US Nationals, wow, it's really such a difference when it comes to the ladies. I know our population is so much smaller here in Canada so we obviously don't have the same 'pool' to choose from, but I would love any of the top 6, heck, make that top 10 ladies from the US to come up here and skate for us. We seem to always excel in the other disciplines, it is frustrating to see our ladies not only skate poorly, but almost become known for it (aside from Rochette, Manly....). It seems that many of the US ladies get lost in the shuffle because there is quite a bit of talent and potential out there. After reading the LP thread from last nights ladies I almost laugh, god, I wish we had some of those stunning ladies to represent us up here, maybe they'd focus more on their training and really blossom and embrace competition.
    I'm not looking for us to have a 14 yr old phenom, I love mature skaters and I think they bring something so special to the 'table' in terms of quality and movement, just look at how Rochette came into her own. I hope Katelyn is well looked after and her team really works to make her a strong and artistic skater as she seems like a natural (and a natural fighter), but lacks so much refinement. That should come though if they're smart about her training.

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    I believe it's because the girls don't have finals at all levels of competition unlike the other three disciplines. Every competition, there is one flight of boys, pairs and dance, and three or four flights of girls. Each flight gets a set of medals and everyone goes home. At the senior level, you can win these flights with one or two triples. Girls can win a flight with low technical content and there's no incentive to up the ante. After a generation of this, our women are doing one or two triples at the junior level. In the US, the winners of the flights go on to finals and the winners of the final get the hardware.

    Around the year 2000, all of the big competitions had finals and we had the North American Challenge Skate where the girls got to compete against the best skaters. At that time the girls were attempting 2A's in Pre-Juvenile, and some of the Juveniles were landing 3S. Rochette, Phaneuf and Duhamel all came out of that era. Now only Thornhill, Sectionals and Canadians have finals and the NAC's are long gone.

    Skate Canada has started given bonuses at lower levels for higher technical content which is helping but IMO the girls need to compete with the best at their level, just like the other disciplines.

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    Thanks for the insight into how our system works here. Really hoping they get it together and we start to produce more world-class contenders!

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    Custom Title mmcdermott's Avatar
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    Oooooh, well that makes sense! Thanks a lot for your explanation. So at what level would that happen, where there are so many more girls than boys, pairs, or dance? I know almost nothing about what happens at the lower levels. In a situation like that maybe the top girls aren't even competing agaist each other very much, or seeing what the others are doing (??). I can imagine how that would hamper their development.

    @SGrand - I was thinking the same thing while watching US nationals last night. Can't they share just a little bit ?

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    I agree, you have to compete agains't the best or close to it to make yourself a better competitor. Even just training with others in your 'class' can often boost drive and determination. We in Canada have lucked out with Patrick because he is not only naturally gifted, but also very dedicated to always bettering himself and is very well-rounded that way. Self-motivation is tough and it's hard to be the 'best' when you're basically alone or surrounded by others who are nowhere near your level (talking more about the ladies here). I realize the US ladies have their own "problems", but I can only wish that we here had the same issues with our skaters. I'd kill for a Mirai or Ashley or beautiful Caroline to rep us!
    Also, I notice the US girls are almost all so flexible and graceful with beautiful arms and shoulders (down!) where here it seems to take quite a bit of time to get those lines and posture, if ever. I have always found this and I struggle with it, but that could be because I'm a former dancer and things like that are very pleasing to me.

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    With Canada's population size, we hardly ever has the depth of US talent pool. It's our top standout talents that keep us on the map. In some way, it's preferable to a deep field of talents with no Worlds medal contenders. In Ladies, we similarly just need one or two super talents per career generation. Katelyn is looking good for now and Skate Canada needs to monitor and assist in her nurturing very carefully as we can't afford to squander our best young talent. Meanwhile, I think Cynthia may be on her up cycle again, this time into a really mature and beautiful world class skaters. :fingerscrossed:

    I agree the basic system structure needs to be examined and improved to promote a larger talent pool and the highest excellence to be achieved by the young female talents.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by SGrand View Post
    I agree, you have to compete agains't the best or close to it to make yourself a better competitor. Even just training with others in your 'class' can often boost drive and determination. We in Canada have lucked out with Patrick because he is not only naturally gifted, but also very dedicated to always bettering himself and is very well-rounded that way. Self-motivation is tough and it's hard to be the 'best' when you're basically alone or surrounded by others who are nowhere near your level (talking more about the ladies here). I realize the US ladies have their own "problems", but I can only wish that we here had the same issues with our skaters. I'd kill for a Mirai or Ashley or beautiful Caroline to rep us!
    Also, I notice the US girls are almost all so flexible and graceful with beautiful arms and shoulders (down!) where here it seems to take quite a bit of time to get those lines and posture, if ever. I have always found this and I struggle with it, but that could be because I'm a former dancer and things like that are very pleasing to me.
    i think cynthia phaneuf has all the grace in the world, and the ashley wagner (TM) 'i'm hunting a title' aggression when she skates, too. and maybe some day too we can see cynthia conquer her demons like ashley has this season. since you mention the qualities you like, being a former dancer, i'd say i like cynthia better than ... well, many skaters in the world including the new and improved elene G, and many of the top american skaters--for me, when cynthia lands her jumps she's far more beautiful than flatt, czisny, maybe even mirai and caroline zhang and ashley. i'm hoping cynthia and elene can push each other in a good way, and cynthia will achieve enough that joannie can enjoy her life without people begging _her_ to come back and help canada win the team oly and oly spots and such and such.


    but if canada is of the 'rent a russian' mind-set, please go after leah keiser or angela wang. i want to see them have more opportunities, and it's getting a bit crowded down here :D doesn't wang already train with Mme Krall, coach of a certain 300 points getter? one-stop-shopping!

    i suppose you'll also want to come after christina gao. further along the puberty trail and already training with brian orser...

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    Oh I really do hope that Cynthia is on the up as I really do love her as a skater and totally agree that she is world class with her movement/ interpretation/ stage presence, and landings (when she lands). Fingers crossed that Orser has some sort of motivational effect on her. As unfair as it may be, I would much rather see her go to worlds, although I feel for Amelie if she doesn't get to, tough call, but it's not mine so may the best skater 'win' at 4CC. Would be just fantastic if they both skated really well.
    It's true that we don't have the same 'pool' as the US to draw from and I like that we're not over saturated with the standouts (I almost lost track of the women last night lol!), but the women just always seems to be the most boring during the Nationals; it's like the winner is the one that didn't clean the ice with her butt (yes, I realize this happens everywhere else).
    Have to admit too that while I love great dance movement, what I really love seeing is someone who is both athletic AND graceful. Cynthia is almost this, and I love her maturity. That Agnes Z. seems to have this quality or at least it eventually seems like she will. I love her body type, very reminiscent of Rochette (which was pointed out in another thread), super strong, but not bulky, just needs better costumes and hair and make-up IMO. But I digress lol....

    Sure, we'll take Christina!

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    skfan, I join you in appreciation of Cynthia Phaneuf. And I mean the fully grown Cynthia Phaneuf. She popped my eyes at this last Nationals with her beauty, posture, attitude, and skating skills even if she lost the crown, due mainly to the unfortunate fall on first jump of the SP combo, forfeiting the second jump completely. There is so much that is innate with her that can't be bought or thought. I just love the way she holds herself flowing out of her jumps, steady, triumphant, and regal. And she sells her program with the footwork. At this point, as disappointing as the Nationals result is, I see it doesn't take much technical tweaking and mental adjusting, with Orser's help, to get her up there with the best in the world. for a strong willed tall Lady who would not let anything stop her from reaching for her dream.

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