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Thread: What does it mean to be an "all-around skater" or have the "complete package"

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    What does it mean to be an "all-around skater" or have the "complete package"

    There's been a ton of back and forth on this issue in several threads.

    So let's discuss: What does it mean to have the "complete package" and which skaters have it (or have the potential to have it?)

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    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
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    Although the words don't technically mean that, often in the US, commentators say, "So and So has the complete package," when they are excusing a lack of technical prowess at the highest level.

    It would be said, for example, of Evan Lysacek, as a counter to the true statement, "but he doesn't have a quad." To which the other commentator would say, "Yes, but he has the whole package." Apparently, to our commentators, the whole package can be one can short of a six pack.

    It was also used of Nancy Kerrigan, a pretty skater who happened to not have the greatest head for competition, and therefore fell a lot. Commentator one, "She fell 3 times." Commentator two, "But she has the whole package! What she does do is done with excellent quality. And she looks like Katherine Hepburn or Princess Grace. She's wearing Vera Wang!! And her mother is legally blind."

    And also used of a cast of thousands of pretty girls with flutzes, girls who fell, girls who were supposed to be artistic, but didn't have a full set of jumps.

    It would never be used of Johnny Weir, an artistic skater too flamboyant for his federation's taste.

    It would never be used of the pre-whack Tonya Harding, a girl who had technical chops in spades, but who was not well-turned out, and smoked and lived in a trailer and played pool, even though she had a feel, if a somewhat quirky feel, for music.

    The whole package girl or boy was almost always the person USFS was trying to hype, and was attractive, well turned out, with no visible bad habits, and whom they could see in posters for USFS events. They usually wanted to make the claim that the whole package person was "artistic," back in the day that "artistic" was actually part of the grading system. These days they want to say the "whole package" kid has lots of transitions, whether said kids has any transitions at all.

    Consequently, when I hear the term used, it feels like the skater is being damned with faint praise.
    Last edited by dorispulaski; 03-08-2012 at 03:32 PM.

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    Custom Title hurrah's Avatar
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    Jumps: having all the jumps, big with correct technique and transitions before and after, should be fluid throughout
    Spins: well centered, fast, beautiful positons, turnout, pointed toes, edges
    Skating: having BOTH big, deep curves and smaller intricate multi-directional turns on both legs fast and quick
    Body movement: relaxed, well-coordinated, no hunching allowed
    Musicality : an absolute must
    Looks: must be considered attractive one way or the other, through sheer looks, personality shining through, etc.
    Behavior: must be classy both on and off ice

    (This is what I wish, but Doris is probably right in what it actually means.)
    Last edited by hurrah; 03-08-2012 at 03:41 PM.

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    The "package" metaphor dates back to the 1980s or earlier, when school figures were also part of the mix of skills it took to win.
    I find it kind of cliche, and it may be misused in the ways dorispulaski mentions.

    However, I think the point that it's trying to get at is that the skater is strong in all relevant areas, not weak in any, even if they aren't necessarily among the very best in any one area.

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    Rejoicing in the land of Kwan kwanatic's Avatar
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    I think a skater with the complete package has the right combination of everything needed to be a champion. Essentially it's a skater who doesn't have any glaring weaknesses. They may not be excellent at everything, but they're not less than average in anything either: good jumper with good technique, good spins, good basic skating skills, good presence on the ice, good relation to the music and audience, good performance ability, that certain something that draws attention (I'd call it star power), good consistency and, of course, focus/mental toughness and confidence. There aren't a lot of complete package skaters; I'd say they're really rare. More often than not you have a skater who has nearly everything they need but is missing one or two key components.

    IMO, the most recent complete package/all-around skater was Yu-Na Kim. She ranged from good or excellent at everything. Her only "weaknesses" were her spins (which were still good in terms of speed and centering) and her lines (which were good but not excellent...damn her blocky feet!). There wasn't one thing you could point to and say she wasn't good at. Essentially, Yu-Na had it all.

    There are a ton of skaters who have the potential to be the whole package...but potential gets you nowhere; it's all about what you actually do. Ashley Wagner has had the potential to be a threat since she moved to seniors but she's only just developed into the total package this year...she'd been very close for a long time (the "Almost Girl") but she finally found the right combination of confidence and focus to make it happen. Across the board, Ashley is solid (jumps, spins, choreography, performance, etc.). This is the year she's finally showing it. OTOH, Mirai has a ton of potential to be a total package skater...but she has a weakness: mental toughness/focus are what keep her from being the total package.

    I think a lot of the junior/newer skaters (Julia, Adelina, Gracie, Elizaveta, Zijun, etc.) have the potential to be total package/all-around skaters but they are still in the developmental stage, so it's a bit too soon to say. They're still growing, maturing, finding their style and learning who they are as skaters so as of now, they're all a mass of potential. As they continue to grow, that's when potential will be realized...or, as in most cases, disappointment will set in...

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    For context, what spurred the discussion elsewhere was namely Jason Brown.

    His critics say that Jason Brown can't be an all-around skater/have the complete package because he lacks a 3A. I think the emphasis is on "complete" and less on package.

    As I pointed out in those threads: I think Brown presents a good package if not a complete one (if having the 3A is the definition of completing it):
    ** While he does not have the 3A, he does have all the other triples and he rarely gets UR/edge calls on them, he has a consistent 3-3 and has been relatively clean all season (2012 Nationals FS being the exception).
    ** Since he has not been able to get the 3A in place, he has instead worked on his skating skills, ice cover and other aspects scored in PCS. You only have to look at his 2010 Junior National programs and compare them to his programs today and you can see a clear improvement. These improvements are on top of his already natural performance ability and solid choreography.

    No doubt he will have to "add more to the package" if he wants to succeed at the senior level. But I believe the package he presents TODAY has yielded success — JGP medal and wins, top 10 finish at U.S. Nationals for the second year in the row and a junior worlds bronze.

    Which begs the question:
    Can you be successful with a "good package" even if it's not complete? Does it depend on what you're missing? Are there crucial must-have jumps + skills you have to have?
    i.e. does it matter that Mao Asada has a flutz and struggles on the Salchow? Same with Ashley Wagner — she's putting it all together this year, but she still futzes occasionally,
    Or in the men, I think most would consider Daisuke Takahashi as a complete skater even if he doesn't have a a solid quad (he's been hit and miss on it this season).
    Last edited by Mrs. P; 03-08-2012 at 04:51 PM.

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    Rejoicing in the land of Kwan kwanatic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mrs. P View Post
    Which begs the question:
    Can you be successful with a "good package" even if it's not complete? Does it depend on what you're missing? Are there crucial must-have jumps + skills you have to have?
    i.e. does it matter that Mao Asada has a flutz and struggles on the Salchow? Same with Ashley Wagner — she's putting it all together this year, but she still futzes occasionally,
    Or in the men, I think most would consider Daisuke Takahashi as a complete skater even if he doesn't have a a solid quad (he's been hit and miss on it this season).
    I think so. Michelle didn't have the hardest jumps or fastest spins...she excelled in areas like skating skills, artistry and presentation as well as consistency and focus, and it was good enough for her. Granted, that might not be such a good comparison seeing as how things have changed in terms of scoring.

    IMO, Mao's flutz is a minor issue especially when everything else is going right. Like I said, I don't think you have to be the absolute standard in everything, but it's crucial that your strengths outweigh your weaknesses...

    In terms of mental qualities (focus, mental toughness), it's a different story. Brown may develop a 3a down the line...the only way it's bad is if the lack of it holds him back...

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    The whole package to me means a complete skater with a little extra something special. They should be good technically- jumps, spins, footwork et al, extemelygoo dand difficult trnasitions. great stroking and skating skills, good stretch, great interpretation, great use of music. Lambiel, Kerrigan,
    Buttle, Orser, Kwan, Cohen, Butryskaya - all these skaters when on define whole package. I am not sure about Evan because I never felt his pcs were that special but he did skate clean at Worlds ant OGM but not particularly spectacular. he might a great competitor lol. The jumps need to be with some oomph or power. THey should be athletic and yet in tune with the music, graceful yet powerful, not have major weaknesses ie poor spins, footwork. Sadly a lot of skaters can't do all the jumps especially the ladies other than the 3A.

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    Custom Title heyang's Avatar
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    I think I agree with many who have commented already. For me , 'complete' doesn't mean 'best' at every single aspect, but certainly having high degrees quality in all aspects of skating and performance - good, consistent skills, good body positions, musicality, charisma and the heart of a competitor. It doesn't have to mean that they have the best jump as compared to others, but rather that the sum of the parts is greater overwhelms the flaws. I have confidence that the skater will likely not making any major mistakes and that I will enjoy their performance and enjoy the skater's sucess.

    For me, Sasha was had the potential to be complete, but she lacked a mental component that allowed others to stand above her on the podium. I was always holding my breath to see if she would land her jumps vs sitting back and enjoying (and being shocked by mistakes.)

    While Yu-Na has not been perfect, there's something about her that makes it surprising when she makes mistakes. She is the complete package even though she's had some poor performances.

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    For me, Baiul is the only "total package" skater. A full array of big triples, terrific spins, deep edges on her spirals, and the best extension of any of the top ladies at the time... she really could do it all. Arguably her only weakness was her choreography, but her programs were as good as most we saw in the late 80s/early 90s.

    Yu-Na and Shizuka are also great, but I prefer the ballerina on ice that Oksana was. Sasha's basic skating was nowhere close to the aforementioned so I would not have her on my "complete package" skater list. Kwan's spins and Irina's overall sloppiness would preclude them as well.

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    At the rink. Again. mskater93's Avatar
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    Baiul two footed most of her jumps, though. To me, that's not a "total package" as she had a major deficiency technically.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mskater93 View Post
    Baiul two footed most of her jumps, though. To me, that's not a "total package" as she had a major deficiency technically.
    Most means >50% and that simply was not the case. She may have had at least one two foot landing in most of her programs though. She was the fastest, best spinning, best spiraling skater among her peers and, even with the errors, she outjumped everyone except Surya at 1993 Worlds and except Nancy at 1994 Olympics.

    I don't consider two-footing a deficiency that prevents her from being a total package skater because, when clean, she delivered the total package. She wasn't clean a lot but did skate clean programs. Sasha, Michelle, and Irina, even when clean, had the deficiencies stated above.

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    If a skater were to stop improving: stop adding more difficulty, stop getting better interpretation/performance skills/etc, how satisfied would you be with that skater? I think if you can't answer strongly positive to that question, the skater isn't a complete one for you.

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    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
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    I really prefer for skaters to always be trying to improve something-I suppose it's that Olympic motto thing.

    It needn't be their jumps.

    But something.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gkelly View Post
    However, I think the point that it's trying to get at is that the skater is strong in all relevant areas, not weak in any, even if they aren't necessarily among the very best in any one area.
    I agree. The newest ice network article about Patrick Chan put him into complete package category, siting that he has both quads (the representitive of the difficulty of technical level) and flair and elegance in his skating. And I agree with the article.

    The definition of "complete package" is and should be connected with the scoring system that's been using. Such scoring system is trying to define figure skating. No more and no less abilities are needed other than 70% technic and 30% artistry. JMO.

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