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Thread: At what age do female skaters peak?

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    At what age do female skaters peak?

    Mirai Nagasu
    13-years-old: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_xSyRYj7HXc
    15-years-old: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZgAiLcGiWI

    Mao Asada
    13-years-old: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cm5xsi9Ypu0
    15-years-old: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVedT...A24D36EB5E163C

    Miki Ando
    12-years-old: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fUfKLHiboA
    14-years-old: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rc7FZGol7hQ

    Yuna Kim
    13-years-old: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xoh3P...feature=relmfu
    14-years-old: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-6mBhkB47w
    15-years-old: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lbn45S026_s&feature=fvst

    Michelle Kwan
    13-years-old: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hnVEfLmAuA
    15-years-old: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20JF_KVXYyc

    Irina Slutskaya
    14-years-old: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZy3dgNRrIw
    15-years-old: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ixbuNARSKEA
    16-years-old: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8cNM...eature=related

    Midori Ito
    13-years-old: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzBCpzw7vl0
    14-years-old: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_T5E...feature=relmfu
    16-years-old: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T4oZ-Judbac

    Kimmie Meissner
    13-years-old: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZPGM...eature=related
    15-years-old: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Antcz4WpdU
    16-years-old: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1VaoEWyBeQ

    Carolina Kostner
    15-years-old: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PT7LH6WYdQw
    16-years-old: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPBK-FkhOCg

    Shizukawa Arakawa
    13-years-old: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7dVd6N_0yRY
    15-years-old: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rm5XTC6_YE8

    Tara Lipinski
    13-years-old: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wn34pAZqC9c
    15-years-old: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZhIs6OIJ-I
    16-years-old: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEKDHCu5iYM

    Sarah Hughes
    13-years-old: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IfQRQJ6ZBN8
    14-years-old: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R945UtwCKa4
    16-years-old: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pun-ZjqUOLA
    Last edited by hurrah; 04-12-2012 at 06:30 AM.

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    Sometimes I wonder why people don't consider figure skating a real sport. Then I see threads like these. -_-

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    Quote Originally Posted by brightphoton View Post
    Sometimes I wonder why people don't consider figure skating a real sport. Then I see threads like these. -_-
    Given the emphasis on 'puberty monster' one sees in discussions, I thought this would be a good way to gain a more grounded perspective. In collecting Youtube files of famous skaters skating around the age when puberty monster strikes, it seems to me that some do go under after 15-16, but most top skaters reach their peak well into their mid to late-twenties, and this is something that is more so under CoP.

    Actually, discussion of 'puberty monster' is relevant to other sports as well, for example, swimming. At 1992 Barcelona Olympics, a 14-year-old swimmer Kyoko Iwasaki won the gold medal in 200-meter breaststroke. And the Japanese public thought that if this girl could win gold at the age of 14, she was going to be unbeatable for the next decade. However, swimming commentators said that the only reason why she won was because she was not fully grown, and had a lighter and shorter torso in ratio to the length of her arms and legs, a condition which would not last for much longer. Sure enough, her winning streak did not last, and even though she did manage to compete at 1996 Atlanta Olympic, she placed 10th in 200-meters and did not qualify for 100-meter race. So this is a case when having a 'young' body helped someone get the gold medal in swimming. However, this is an anomaly and in most cases, swimmers who win gold medals are much older and are completely over their puberty and win their medal because they have reinvented their physique through arduous training.
    Last edited by hurrah; 04-12-2012 at 11:16 AM.

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    We just saw ladies over age 20 rule the podium in Nice. Carolina Kostner is 24 years old; Alena Leonova is 21; and Akiko Suzuki is 26.

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    I think when they had school figures, the age was around 18-20. It took years to master those figures. When they were gone, but it was still under the 6.0 system, in what many think was the golden age of at least understanding the sport (whoever did the hardest jump and didn't fall pretty much won) the ages went down considerably. Now that there is such an emphasis on deep edges and stroking, etc. the age is going up again. However, the jump content is going down, arguably. This year the winner didn't do either of the two hardest triple jumps, the axel and lutz, which hasn't happened in a while.

    As a high school teacher, I see the maturity level of teen girls. I think what may be happening--especially in Mirai's case, I didn't watch all the other clips--is that after a certain age, the girls have to do a more "sophisticated" performance, with heavy music, trying to express sadness or desire or pain in their skating. They are adorable doing the younger, cuter music like the Nutcracker or Charlie Chaplin or whatever, but seem wooden and lost when they have to skate to the requiem of the sad violin. Teen girls of today--even the older ones--still have cutesy taste, at least my students do. They reach a point where they don't seem to like what they're skating to any more.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Poodlepal View Post
    I think when they had school figures, the age was around 18-20. It took years to master those figures. When they were gone, but it was still under the 6.0 system, in what many think was the golden age of at least understanding the sport (whoever did the hardest jump and didn't fall pretty much won) the ages went down considerably. Now that there is such an emphasis on deep edges and stroking, etc. the age is going up again. However, the jump content is going down, arguably. This year the winner didn't do either of the two hardest triple jumps, the axel and lutz, which hasn't happened in a while.

    As a high school teacher, I see the maturity level of teen girls. I think what may be happening--especially in Mirai's case, I didn't watch all the other clips--is that after a certain age, the girls have to do a more "sophisticated" performance, with heavy music, trying to express sadness or desire or pain in their skating. They are adorable doing the younger, cuter music like the Nutcracker or Charlie Chaplin or whatever, but seem wooden and lost when they have to skate to the requiem of the sad violin. Teen girls of today--even the older ones--still have cutesy taste, at least my students do. They reach a point where they don't seem to like what they're skating to any more.
    That's a fascinating way of looking at the issue. I think it may help explain some skaters' "lost years" in middle adolescence. I also think of Michelle and how she was able to burrow into very sophisticated music almost right away, which might explain her extraordinary appeal and success. It makes me wonder what would have happened with Tara if she had remained healthy and continued skating. She didn't change much physically, but would she have been able to deliver a mature performance?

    As for the body changes, I was thinking just this morning how ironic it is that the sport that people have most associated with female athletes, figure skating, for a while became a sport that a young woman at the peak of her strength and ability might be shut out of. Growing taller and stronger is generally an advantage in swimming (many female swimmers are almost six feet tall), tennis, softball, volleyball, and track--the sports that gained support and popularity with Title IX in the U.S. But skating (and gymnastics, but that's another story) was becoming a ghetto for prepubescent kiddies. If you're right about the fact that emphasis on edging and stroking and such in CoP might be pushing the age up once more, that's great. Not that I have anything against little girls triumphing in skating, but because I value musical interpretation so much, I'd rather see skaters who are capable of artistic maturity.

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    Quote Originally Posted by golden411 View Post
    We just saw ladies over age 20 rule the podium in Nice. Carolina Kostner is 24 years old; Alena Leonova is 21; and Akiko Suzuki is 26.
    This was also the weakest field we've seen in quite some time. But it does seem like the judges are holding off on giving high PCS until the skaters are more mature. I was surprised at how low Polina was scored in Worlds for PCS. I don't think she's great just yet, but her PCS was baaaaad.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Poodlepal View Post
    I think when they had school figures, the age was around 18-20. It took years to master those figures. When they were gone, but it was still under the 6.0 system, in what many think was the golden age of at least understanding the sport (whoever did the hardest jump and didn't fall pretty much won) the ages went down considerably. Now that there is such an emphasis on deep edges and stroking, etc. the age is going up again. However, the jump content is going down, arguably. This year the winner didn't do either of the two hardest triple jumps, the axel and lutz, which hasn't happened in a while.
    Agreed.
    My knee-jerk mental response to the question in the subject line was "19," thinking back to the figures era.

    after a certain age, the girls have to do a more "sophisticated" performance, with heavy music, trying to express sadness or desire or pain in their skating. They are adorable doing the younger, cuter music like the Nutcracker or Charlie Chaplin or whatever, but seem wooden and lost when they have to skate to the requiem of the sad violin. Teen girls of today--even the older ones--still have cutesy taste, at least my students do. They reach a point where they don't seem to like what they're skating to any more.
    Could be. It's good to stretch oneself, but there's no reason to spend a whole year training and performing a program that you don't like and don't feel comfortable with. I'd hope that skaters could find music that they like and that also allows them to showcase their skills.

    However, I fear that if the ISU decides to allow vocal music in freestyle programs after all we're going to end up with a lot of shallow pop songs that don't allow much room for interpretation.

    Quote Originally Posted by Olympia View Post
    As for the body changes, I was thinking just this morning how ironic it is that the sport that people have most associated with female athletes, figure skating, for a while became a sport that a young woman at the peak of her strength and ability might be shut out of.
    The strength is not a problem -- big girls can cover the ice faster, often on bigger curves, and often can jump higher.
    It's that pesky rotating in the air thing that's a problem. And fast rotation and flexibility for spins can also be compromised.

    If you're right about the fact that emphasis on edging and stroking and such in CoP might be pushing the age up once more, that's great. Not that I have anything against little girls triumphing in skating, but because I value musical interpretation so much, I'd rather see skaters who are capable of artistic maturity.
    Could be, and I hope so.
    Of course, some younger girls are more musical than many older ones (Oksana Baiul comes to mind).
    But I'd rather see the girls who are already good enough to compete at the top level at 16 have reason to stick around and become even better skaters overall rather than see them land a bunch of jumps at 16, take the medal, and leave the sport, only to be replaced by another crop of 15- and 16-year-olds every year.

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    Quote Originally Posted by drivingmissdaisy View Post
    This was also the weakest field we've seen in quite some time.
    2008 was far worse...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tanja90 View Post
    2008 was far worse...
    In terms of the actual skating we saw, yes, but I would say the field was deeper in 2008. It was just between Miki withdrawing, Mao with that dramatic fall at the start of her FS, Yuna bombing the SP, Joannie having issues in both programs, and Kimmie on a major downswing, the results and skating we saw were a bit disappointing. Had the contenders all have competed and skated well, it could have been a stacked event.

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    Are they seriously thinking of putting in vocal music? I agree, there would probably be 10 people doing whatever "big ballad" was in at the moment (this year it would be Adele). Still, it would be something different.

    Michelle was someone who was very sophisticated very young. Didn't she tell the tv guide that her best friends were all over 30 (she was 17)? She is probably the exception more than the rule. Sasha is another skater who was very artsy. You felt that she really loved that Russian peasant dance!

    Oksana Baiul's signature performance was actually extremely cutesy. You don't see a lot of programs like that today, with the show tunes and the fake tap dancing. I don't know how she or Tara would do today, or Tonya and Nancy either, for that matter. Their musical choices are very different than what you see today.

    Mirai is the main example of someone who looks like her programs don't suit her. I thought that may have been a problem with Kimmie (who seemed very tomboyish) and Rachael (although she had other problems as well, of course).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Poodlepal View Post
    Oksana Baiul's signature performance was actually extremely cutesy.
    You mean the free program? Yes. But I thought she did a better job with expressing each of those little pieces of music than most cutesy teenagers skating to cutesy music.

    And her other two competitive performances that we got to see (1993 short program and 1994 short program) both contrasted in style, so that over the course of two years and three programs we saw more variety in musical expression than many skaters show over the course of significantly longer careers. (Kerrigan, for example.)

    Still, I think it would have been better all around if she had been penalized enough for her technical errors at Lillehammer that she didn't win gold at 16 and stuck around to develop into a more mature skater without all the problems she ran into as a professional, or at least not while she was still in her teens.

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    Quote Originally Posted by golden411 View Post
    We just saw ladies over age 20 rule the podium in Nice. Carolina Kostner is 24 years old; Alena Leonova is 21; and Akiko Suzuki is 26.
    That tells you the weakness in Ladies skating at the moment. Usually mid point between Olympics the new kids are challenging the older skaters internationally and passing them up by the next Olympics. But the younger girls still haven't been allowed to even skated at Worlds and its less then two years before Sochi. Compare that to Kim and Asada skating at Worlds the year after the Torino Olympics which gave them time to become the dominate skaters for Vancouver.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jammers View Post
    That tells you the weakness in Ladies skating at the moment. Usually mid point between Olympics the new kids are challenging the older skaters internationally and passing them up by the next Olympics. But the younger girls still haven't been allowed to even skated at Worlds and its less then two years before Sochi. Compare that to Kim and Asada skating at Worlds the year after the Torino Olympics which gave them time to become the dominate skaters for Vancouver.
    Yeah, I wonder with 2013 the last Worlds before Sochi, if the girls who are becoming seniors next year will have time to get their reputations and PCS up to the levels needed to compete with Kostner and... well I guess just Kostner.

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    Quote Originally Posted by drivingmissdaisy View Post
    Yeah, I wonder with 2013 the last Worlds before Sochi, if the girls who are becoming seniors next year will have time to get their reputations and PCS up to the levels needed to compete with Kostner and... well I guess just Kostner.
    And Akiko, Mao, Alissa & Cynthia Phaneuf (whose PCSes are high, they just bombed technically this year), as well as well as Ashley Wagner and other seasoned seniors.

    (And this is completely off topic, but can someone please tell me why Alena gets high PCS? She's not slow but she's not fast either. Her ice coverage is decent but not great. It's not like she has transitions. And her skating is not refined. But there must be something. But I don't see it.)

    I think though, that when Sochi comes around, it ought to be Polina K who should be competitive as a senior skater. Her skating this year (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrF_OIKPA6g) reminds me of how Carolina Kostner and Shizuka's skating at the same age. It seems to me that she has the physique that would be able to carve deep edges while skating fast and also jump big. And also Adelina, if she can fix her jump issues.

    But of course, with younger skaters, it's a huge gamble because they might just grow a inch or so during the season and you don't know how they will react to the pressure of skating for the home crowd. So maybe, when Olympics comes around, it might just be Alena and Ksenia (who in the meanwhile has fixed her jumps) who represent Russia at Olympics! Wouldn't that be ironic.

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