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

  1. #16
    Tanguera feraina's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Olympia View Post
    I'd like to point out, though, that the two best ladies' spinners in history are rather large ladies in terms of sheer size, not girth. Lucinda Ruh is I believe 5 foot 9, and Alissa Czisny is 5 foot 5 or thereabouts. They're thin, but they're not wisps. So if Caroline gets to a good fighting weight and learns to deal with the new strong adult size that she is, she should speed up just fine while in complete obedience to the laws of gravity and inertia! (As you see, I generally take the hopeful view in these matters.)
    Girth is a lot worse than height for spinning, because moment of inertia isn't just determined by weight but by how far away each unit of weight is from the center of rotation. Height doesn't matter so much for moment of inertia (and speed of rotation) if the skater is doing an upright spin or Bielmann spin, or even a compact sit spin.

    But it's not only the moment of inertia that figures into speed, it's also how much of a perfect "rigid body" the object is. You can spin around a baseball bat really easily, but try to spin around something floppy of the same shape, and see how much it slows down. Here is where core strength can help a skater (both in spins and jumps) -- you want to have really strong core muscles and engage them so that your body approximates as much of a rigid body as you can while you are rotating.

    Core strength is especially important for doing a camel spin, as you have to really engage your core muscles and glutes to fight gravity and stay strong. I've never seen Caroline do a fast camel spin. She got only a level 2 in the SP on her flying camel, because she couldn't rotate fast enough to get sufficient rotations on two of the positions. She also only got a level 3 in her combo spin because it was a little slow. Having two of your three spins being graded low levels is a big deal in the SP. If she worked out super hard on her core and does the exact same program at 4CC as she did at National's, she'd be able to get higher level spins and earn 3-4 more points in TES. Good deal, huh?

  2. #17
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    I like all this talk about "inertia", keep it coming. Seriously, it brings to mind pairs skating, in particular Donlan & Speroff, and the mechanics of lifts/throws/twists. Gretchen Donlan being the tiniest ladies pair skater in seniors imho, and by that I just don't mean height, I mean more importantly weight/build, I can see how she & Andrew would have a leg up on the other US pairs if they started training a quad twist or a quad throw.

    Btw, I read an article from several years back (when Gretchen was still competing as a single) wherein she stated that she had worked on her "core strength" in order to prevent any further injuries to her back (just like Sasha Cohen, she had sustained a stress fracture in her back and had to sit out a year). And just like Sasha, "core training" worked; her back when she lands those huge throw jumps is perfectly straight & strong, something I recall Peter Carruthers raving over.

    Okay, back to Caroline Zhang and the question asked at the very top of this thread "Can She Regain Her Spot Among The Top US Ladies?". I say YES, of course she can, anybody can if they really want it enough to go that extra mile. Case in point, Alissa Czisny, I honestly thought she was done years ago. I mean she's been competing for 11 years in Seniors, since the days of Sarah Hughes/Sasha Cohen/Michelle Kwan/6.0! And to only come into her own these past few years is amazing (course COP helps tremendously as well; e.g. her spins). So I say if Alissa can do it, anybody can. They just have to rehaul whatever it is that's costing them points. For Alissa it was her mindset & jump technique, so she left her one & only long-time coach to train with Sato & Dunjien. And Caroline did the same, her nemesis was her technique, and she has improved a lot, but still has a lot more to do (e.g. mule kick is still there) and I personally think she can get even fitter. Same goes for Rachael.

    The Olympics is only 2 years away, so between now & then the one that wants it the most, really wants it (not just talk) will p-r-o-v-e it by her actions. Whomever was down & out will come back literally "smokin'" next year, and by that I mean in terms of body!

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    It is hard to say. It was great to see her comeback. However I think next year could be harder for her. Agnes beat her at Nationals despite bombing the long program, and has huge potential, more overall than Zhang at ths point. Wagner and Czisny arent going anywhere. However next year Gracie Gold will be senior. A revitalized Nagasu would still have the edge on her as well. Someone like Christina Gao could still improve alot. I would say she has to continue working very hard if she is to even stay where is now, let alone move up, lets put it that way. At this point I would still say she is a long shot for the 2014 team but she is atleast back in the mix, and that is already an achievement.

  4. #19
    Rejoicing in the land of Kwan kwanatic's Avatar
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    It depends on how much more she improves. The performance she had at nationals was remarkable for someone who was sitting in 12th place last year. Caroline still has a lot of work to do, but if she continues on this path I can't see her going anywhere but up. She's slimmed downed quite a bit since October and if she continues to train, she'll probably slim down some more. BUT her body type isn't willowy a la Mao or Alissa so to say she needs to get to that size is unrealistic and very unhealthy. Caroline was a good size back in the 2009-2010 season. If she can get back to that, she'd be in good shape both literally and figuratively.

    Her speed has improved quite a bit but she's still a bit slow; her flip has improved tenfold, but her lutz and axel need a good amount of work, plus she has no salchow; but her loop is FABULOUS! I think the main thing this year was just to build confidence. She really floated through her SP looking calm and relaxed and as if she was truly enjoying being out there. Her LP had an air of determination about it; not much speed or relation to the music until the end...she was concentrating on the jumps. As her confidence continues to grow, hopefully she'll be able to settle in to her programs and add more to them (transitions, choreography, etc.).

    In terms of making it back to number one...I'm a little skeptical, especially with the younger girls coming up through the ranks. Everyone seems to think Gracie Gold is the heir apparent to the US figure skating throne (I'm not convinced yet...) and if Agnes and Christina ever get themselves together, they'd be in good shape. Then you have Ashley, Alissa and Mirai to contend with as well. I think as long as Caroline continues to improve, she'll be able to remain competitive, especially if she finds some of that consistency she had back in 2007, 2008 and 2009. A top 5 finish is an accomplishment, especially when a year before you were nowhere near that.

    No matter where she places I'm just so proud of her for sticking with this sport, rediscovering her love for it and making the necessary improvements to work herself back into the mix. Her SP and LP at nationals were two of my top three highlights.
    Last edited by kwanatic; 02-03-2012 at 09:49 AM.

  5. #20
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    In terms of making it back to number one...I'm a little skeptical, especially with the younger girls coming up through the ranks. Everyone seems to think Gracie Gold is the heir apparent to the US figure skating throne (I'm not convinced yet...) and if Agnes and Christina ever get themselves together, they'd be in good shape. Then you have Ashley, Alissa and Mirai to contend with as well. I think as long as Caroline continues to improve, she'll be able to remain competitive, especially if she finds some of that consistency she had back in 2007, 2008 and 2009. A top 5 finish is an accomplishment, especially when a year before you were nowhere near that.
    I probably agree most with this comment. But one thing is clear- when you get as low as Zhang did last year, one of two things typically happens- you quit, or you fight like mad to turn things around. It's clear that Zhang has a lot of fight and motivation within her, and it remains to be seen how far that will end up taking her. I'm tempted to say she won't get there, but I didn't think Czisny would turn things around last year either...

  6. #21
    Custom Title dwiggin3's Avatar
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    While Czisny is an excellent example of what hard work and persistence can do, I think her case is rather unusual. She hasdthe innate ability to skate the way she currently is for some time, but lacked the focus to do it. In her case, mental and emotional maturity has allowed her to come into her own (along with excellent technique, an easy battle with the puberty-monster, very few injuries and the simple, yet critical love of skating). I don't this this is the case with Zhang. Unlike Czisny, Zhang's body has changed significantly through the process of natural maturation. Her technique is still not nearly as strong as Czisny's and I question her commitment/passion for the sport. Yes, she hung around during tough times, which is to be commended, but there is something more that is needed beside sheer willpower and love of sport - something Czisny and Kwan had/have in spades - this is quite rare in today's athlete's.

    As far as Agnes is concerned, she has good technique but the fact she was seriously considering quiting the sport less than a year ago has me wondering if she has what it takes to hang on and go through the roller-coaster that is elite sports - figure skating specifically. Her strong performance at Nationals may serve as a catalyst to propel her forward but I remain skeptical that she will be in it for the long haul.

    Darby

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    Quote Originally Posted by dwiggin3 View Post
    While Czisny is an excellent example of what hard work and persistence can do, I think her case is rather unusual. She hasdthe innate ability to skate the way she currently is for some time, but lacked the focus to do it. In her case, mental and emotional maturity has allowed her to come into her own (along with excellent technique, an easy battle with the puberty-monster, very few injuries and the simple, yet critical love of skating). I don't this this is the case with Zhang. Unlike Czisny, Zhang's body has changed significantly through the process of natural maturation. Her technique is still not nearly as strong as Czisny's and I question her commitment/passion for the sport. Yes, she hung around during tough times, which is to be commended, but there is something more that is needed beside sheer willpower and love of sport - something Czisny and Kwan had/have in spades - this is quite rare in today's athlete's.

    As far as Agnes is concerned, she has good technique but the fact she was seriously considering quiting the sport less than a year ago has me wondering if she has what it takes to hang on and go through the roller-coaster that is elite sports - figure skating specifically. Her strong performance at Nationals may serve as a catalyst to propel her forward but I remain skeptical that she will be in it for the long haul.

    Darby
    Alissa's jumping technique isn't excellent in the slightest. It may not be as poor as Zhang's, but it sure ain't textbook (her loop and flip are prime examples). About the only really good thing about her jumping is that she doesn't flutz.

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    To be honest i'm not if i want any of the Ladies from the last Olympic cycle to be on the team come Sochi. Certainly if every lady we send to Sochi is from the last 5-6 years not including relative newcomers like Agnes or Christina does not bode well for the US.

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    Quote Originally Posted by R.D. View Post
    I probably agree most with this comment. But one thing is clear- when you get as low as Zhang did last year, one of two things typically happens- you quit, or you fight like mad to turn things around. It's clear that Zhang has a lot of fight and motivation within her, and it remains to be seen how far that will end up taking her. I'm tempted to say she won't get there, but I didn't think Czisny would turn things around last year either...
    To me, the question of whether Zhang will succeed or not depends on one and one thing only - the commitment to improving all aspects of her skating; stroking/edging, choreography/musicality, and spins. To be able to do that, you need to not only put in a lot of work as a skater, but you also need a team that can help you polish all of your skills. Frankly, it's much easier to quit than to put in all of that work.

    Also, I wonder if her coach is as good as Brian Orser. If she was working with Brian, I'd have a lot of confidence in her future.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jammers View Post
    To be honest i'm not if i want any of the Ladies from the last Olympic cycle to be on the team come Sochi. Certainly if every lady we send to Sochi is from the last 5-6 years not including relative newcomers like Agnes or Christina does not bode well for the US.
    I will wait and see how Wagner and Czisny do at Worlds before casting a stronger opinion if I would like to see one or both make the team in Sochi or not. I wouldnt mind a team with 1 or 2 veterans out of the Wagner, Czisny, Nagasu, and maybe Zhang (Zhang by far the least likely though) combined with 1 or 2 of the younger skaters like Agnes, Gao, or Gold.

  11. #26
    At the rink. Again. mskater93's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by krenseby View Post
    Also, I wonder if her coach is as good as Brian Orser. If she was working with Brian, I'd have a lot of confidence in her future.
    I haven't seen Brian Orser develop or "fix" a skater yet. Kim came to him with all of her elements as did Gao and I haven't seen a huge leap in Gao's ability (in fact, I think her 2A has REGRESSED since going to Toronto). He was unable to fix Rippon's 3A mental hurdle which it appears Yuka and Jason HAVE done (maybe). Peter O is a BIG disciplinarian which is EXACTLY what she needs and Karen K is more motherly and takes the edge off Peter's tough love approach.

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    Quote Originally Posted by krenseby View Post
    Also, I wonder if her coach is as good as Brian Orser. If she was working with Brian, I'd have a lot of confidence in her future.
    As I understand it, Peter Oppegard has been coaching for a while and is rather good. I first noticed him when he coached Tiffany and Johnnie Stiegler, and they were excellent. Remember that Karen was coached by Frank Carroll, so her "apprenticeship" was with someone who was both strict about self-discipline and meticulous about technical aspects. Karen herself placed as high as fifth in Nationals. Judging by the progress Caroline has already made, they seem to know what they're doing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mskater93 View Post
    I haven't seen Brian Orser develop or "fix" a skater yet. Kim came to him with all of her elements as did Gao and I haven't seen a huge leap in Gao's ability (in fact, I think her 2A has REGRESSED since going to Toronto). He was unable to fix Rippon's 3A mental hurdle which it appears Yuka and Jason HAVE done (maybe). Peter O is a BIG disciplinarian which is EXACTLY what she needs and Karen K is more motherly and takes the edge off Peter's tough love approach.
    Not sure if Yuka and Jason have done it. Rippon's 3A got worse. You have to see him live to see how slow he is, especially going into the 3A. He's telegraphing that jump for half a rink at glacier-moving speed. It looked ridiculous.
    Gao hasn't improved, I agree.
    I think Caroline's situation is fine, now. Looks like she made a lot of progress. It takes time to build up your reputation again.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FlattFan View Post
    I think Caroline's situation is fine, now. Looks like she made a lot of progress. It takes time to build up your reputation again.
    I am hoping she can start rebuilding some reputation in a few days. She has to finish top U.S. lady in Colorado Springs, earn a 2nd Grand Prix event, and show continued improvement in the fall.

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    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.

    The height on her jumps is from a lack of spring. You need to go down deep into your knee to spring up into the jumps and she doesn't do that. Prior to puberty, girls have less bone density and have not accumulated their adult bone mass. One of friends calls it "having bird bones", which isn't exactly true either, but the effect is that those skinny little girls have very light bones, making getting height on their jumps easier. Post puberty, they're going to weight substantially more because of that bone mass accumulation so of course, both their centres of balance changes and they have a big weight gain which is not related to fitness or fat.

    She doesn't need to work on core strength, lose weight or any of that stuff. She needs to continue to work on her stroking and her jump technique. That's the ONLY way she can achieve her skating goals.
    Last edited by Dragonlady; 02-06-2012 at 02:40 PM.

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