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Thread: Caroline Zhang - Can She Regain Her Spot Among The Top US Ladies?

  1. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dragonlady View Post
    It is NOT lack of fitness that prevents Caroline Zhang from improving her speed, it is a lack of good basic stroking technique. If she used her legs properly to push, and skated on clean strong edges, she would generate power.
    I wonder whether it is difficult to adjust stroking technique. I would imagine so; I think Caroline HAS worked on learning to generate speed because it is evident that she made minor yet noticeable improvements in that area. However, since she still hasn't caught up to the speed of the other skaters, I assume that these changes are really hard for her to implement.

  2. #32
    At the rink. Again. mskater93's Avatar
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    It's not that hard to make adjustments to stroking technique, it's actually one of the easiest areas to make improvements quickly. One just needs to focus on it and be really committed to it (and I think this is the one area where she HASN'T truly committed, frankly, because she can "get by" with what she's got for the time being as long as she can rotate her jumps again).

  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dragonlady View Post
    I have said this from the beginning. It is NOT lack of fitness that prevents Caroline Zhang from improving her speed, it is a lack of good basic stroking technique. If she used her legs properly to push, and skated on clean strong edges, she would generate power. Irina Slutskaya was one of the strongest, fastest, most powerful skaters in the sport and she was not a skinny woman. Nor is Carolina Kostner a skinny waif. These are lovely strong women who generate their speed and power through technique, not because they are so skinny they look like children.
    I just love this first paragraph. It aligns with the point I was trying to make earlier when I said that the two best spinners of recent times, Czisny and Ruh, weren't tiny little drinking straws in terms of shape. Yuka Sato was never a sylph either, and she had one of the best techniques around because of her stroking technique. The five "lovely strong women" cited by you and me are a joy to watch, and I'm eagerly awaiting Caroline's entry into their ranks as she sharpens up her technique.

  4. #34
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    I remember when Robin Wagner said that she worked out of plan with Sasha to improve her stroking as a foundation to improving her skating and they agreed on the plan. Say what you will about Sarah Hughes posture, her basic skating was very nice indeed, certainly it was better than Cohen's. Sasha's response to the idea of working on stroking was to go back to John Nicks.

    It's boring work. Spins and jumps are a lot more fun. But if you look at the skaters who make it to the very top of the podium consistently, they all have strong basic skating. I believe to this day that if Sasha had had better basic skating, she'd have been a world champion. In her competitive days, Sasha never had it all - she always lacked strong edges and powerful stroking.

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    Agreed about Sasha's stroking. I didn't know that Robin Wagner had proposed to change that.

    I used to read that the old Soviet coaches would have their students spend long periods stroking around the rink. When you see someone like Gordeyeva, you realize how such training paid off. A friend of mine who saw Gordeyeva and Grinkov live (I think in Skates of Gold) said that when they warmed up, they didn't skate together practicing moves; they stroked around the rink and practiced individually. She said they both were the fastest skaters out there—they really flew.

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    Tanith Belbin said that the first thing Natalia Linichuk said to her when Belbin & Agosto first went to her for coaching was that Tanith was too thin and needed to gain 10 pounds in order to improve her core strength and that this would help both her speed and flow, and enable her to hold her positions better in lifts and spins. IOW’s, in spite of what the Duchess of Windsor said, you can be TOO thin.

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    Speaking of practicing styles, Carolina Kostner warms up very, very slowly. She does a lot of stroking, a lot of MITF, and then doing quite a few big and beautiful single jumps, then double jumps, and finally barely one triple of each type before she gets off the ice. When I first saw her do this at a practice session at Skate America, I thought she was having a bad day. But it turned out that this is just the way she always does things, and she skated very well in that competition.

    Caroline Z is just the opposite. She would get on the ice and immediately start jumping triples without much stroking or MITF or single/double jumps. I think it would have benefited her when she was younger to have a coach that taught her methodical practicing strategy.

  8. #38
    Tanguera feraina's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dragonlady View Post
    Tanith Belbin said that the first thing Natalia Linichuk said to her when Belbin & Agosto first went to her for coaching was that Tanith was too thin and needed to gain 10 pounds in order to improve her core strength and that this would help both her speed and flow, and enable her to hold her positions better in lifts and spins.
    I totally agree. I train at a very amateur level, but even I can feel my power/speed/position totally go when my core is a little out of shape. I feel like core strength is at least half the puzzle when it comes to skating with strength and power (the other half being technique).

  9. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by feraina View Post
    Speaking of practicing styles, Carolina Kostner warms up very, very slowly. She does a lot of stroking, a lot of MITF, and then doing quite a few big and beautiful single jumps, then double jumps, and finally barely one triple of each type before she gets off the ice. When I first saw her do this at a practice session at Skate America, I thought she was having a bad day. But it turned out that this is just the way she always does things, and she skated very well in that competition.

    Caroline Z is just the opposite. She would get on the ice and immediately start jumping triples without much stroking or MITF or single/double jumps. I think it would have benefited her when she was younger to have a coach that taught her methodical practicing strategy.
    It's funny that you mention that because I was about to post the same thing. I have watched Carolina practice lots of times, both at competition practices as well as in Oberstdorf. She always takes a long time doing steps and edge exercises. Then she does big single jumps; and then only one or two triple of each jump (that is at competition practice). In Oberstdorf, I have watched her and other skaters from Huth's group do several practice sessions in which they only did edge exercises (approx 1,5 hours per session just steps and stroking exercises). It was so interesting to see. Huth is very innovative and the skaters seemed to have a lot of fun. He always came up with something new.

    I watched Sotnikova and Tuktamisheva practice at YOG in Innsbruck the other month and it was like night and day: Tuktamisheva got on the ice and immediately started jumping, while Sotnikova spent at least 20 mins just warming up doings steps and stroking. And IMO there was a huge difference between those two skaters in terms of the quality of skating skills, Sotnikova won hands down.

    I guess you really have to take your time and practice those edges on a daily basis. Caroline had so much to improve on that she probably did not have time to focus on her edging too much - she first had to fix her jumping technique. Now that her jumps have improved a lot, I hope she focuses on the rest!

  10. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by jiggs View Post
    I guess you really have to take your time and practice those edges on a daily basis. Caroline had so much to improve on that she probably did not have time to focus on her edging too much - she first had to fix her jumping technique. Now that her jumps have improved a lot, I hope she focuses on the rest!
    Just as you have to run before you walk, you have to learn to skate before you jump. Improving her strength and edge skills will give Caroline a better base from which to jump, and more strength to ride the outside edge into her luz. It's interesting to me that the skaters who show the most improvement in their skating skills are those who have been injured and are not allowed to jump for medical reasons. They come back with better everything. Maybe Caroline needs to just stop jumping period and focus on her stroking and edges.

    I loved reading the posts about the training habits of the best skaters. I has started to write about how the best skaters always start practices with a long session of stroking and then edge exercises and then deleted it before I hit the reply button. Michelle Kwan did the stroking warm-ups too and then the edge work.

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    That is very interesting. MK always made me feel at ease when she skated, like she was walking on water and was used to it.. so amazing... Jason Brown makes me feel the same way.



    Quote Originally Posted by Dragonlady View Post
    Just as you have to run before you walk, you have to learn to skate before you jump. Improving her strength and edge skills will give Caroline a better base from which to jump, and more strength to ride the outside edge into her luz. It's interesting to me that the skaters who show the most improvement in their skating skills are those who have been injured and are not allowed to jump for medical reasons. They come back with better everything. Maybe Caroline needs to just stop jumping period and focus on her stroking and edges.

    I loved reading the posts about the training habits of the best skaters. I has started to write about how the best skaters always start practices with a long session of stroking and then edge exercises and then deleted it before I hit the reply button. Michelle Kwan did the stroking warm-ups too and then the edge work.

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    I agree, I think she fits the "delicate dancer look" model better. I believe she has the ability and the will to do well.

    Quote Originally Posted by feraina View Post
    It's amazing how far Caroline has come since "the bottom fell out", in her words -- but I think the most major thing holding her back is her fitness level, especially her core strength. I feel like this lack of core strength is what's making her stroking slow and labored, her jumps small and muscled, and her spins slower (now she no longer has a stick figure like she used to). It's a *lot* better than the last three years, but it's her biggest natural weakness, and therefore she really needs to work on that aspect of her fitness. I'm sure doing pilates and other core exercises is a lot less fun than working on jumps or spins or programs, but she has to put in that time and effort to get to the "top rung". She has two routes, get fitter and powerful and start projecting the look of a top-tier "athlete" like Ashley and Agnes, or get willowy like Mao and Alissa and sell the delicate "dancer" look. I think her more natural path is to go with the dancer look, but while she has slimmed down a lot, she would need to slim down a lot more to get there -- I'm not sure that it would be healthy for her to try to attain that look. On the other hand, not everyone has the genes to be super athletic and powerful either, no matter how hard they work out. I guess on the whole, now that she seems to be past the worst of the puberty monster and has shown how disciplined/effective she can be in controlling her figure, I think the easier route for her may be to try to recover the delicate "dancer" look she had at a younger age, but with better jump techniques.

  13. #43
    At the rink. Again. mskater93's Avatar
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    If she has the will to be a top notch skater, she needs to start working on her stroking. It's the one thing that WILL hold her back.

    It's amazing, but (even though I am *just* an adult skater) when I added my "performance" coach into the mix (we work on presentation, choreography, moves in the field, and how things look including elements/entries/landings) and he really started forcing various stroking exercises into my skating schedule (more than just the current moves in the field test that I happen to be working on - some are very basic crossover exercises, some are basic turns/steps, some are non-crossover development of power exercises, some are more advanced turns) everything else started to improve (jumps, spins). Now I try to spend a good 20-30 minutes of every session just doing the various stroking exercises that are part and parcel of the "work" that needs to be done to be a good skater and some days ALL I do is work on those stroking exercises/turns. It makes EVERYTHING that much more secure and consistent and NICE. Yeah, it can be boring, but it is WORTH it.

  14. #44
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    Caroline seemed reasonably fast in her National short. I have to assume she is working on her stroking.
    She also seemed to have lost some weight. She looked a little leaner than at Skate America.

  15. #45
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    Personally, I believe how she does at 4CCs will be very telling of where she stands in the big scheme of things. If she can upset Wagner for a medal, that would be huge. OTOH, if she finds herself behind the other two Americans, perhaps in the middle-to-lower top 10, she still clearly has some catch-up work to do. Traditionally she seems to do pretty well in this event, though- don't think she should have too much trouble here.

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