Right, but Belbin and Agosto didn't magically start doing well. It was the expert coaching they received in Detroit under Shpilband and Zoueva that helped guide them to start winning and thus leading the charge to change the ice dance landscape to what it looks like now. You can't just say "start winning" to skaters without them being given the guidance, resources, encouragement and support they need. If they are given the necessary "wind beneath their wings," then they'll be able to soar.
Originally Posted by xzchief
I really have to say, "There ain't no babies in figure skating, and especially NOT in pairs figure skating!" Those pairs ladies are some tough cookies who gotta have loads of trust and belief in their partner princes who throw them around pretty regularly, and who lift them ever so strongly to such great heights. Looks like a lot of fun, at least on the surface.
Why DO our pairs teams break up so readily? And thank God John and Caydee are going to Worlds. I really don't see any of our other pairs teams standing a chance on the international scene. It obviously takes years to develop a team and alot of hard work with little reward in the beginning. I thought the pairs long programs were pretty basic with sort of bland choreography. Yes the women are fearless but moves seemed unfinished. It's like a dancer not pointing their toes or something. Positions in the air were sometimes pretty ugly and I thought overall there was a lack of grace and fluidity. Do we not have coaches that are evolved enough to coach world-class pairs teams? Is it funding? I don't buy that there aren't enough male figure skaters or that little girls all want to be Peggy Fleming. There are alot of singles skaters that really should consider another discipline. Why don't the coaches work toward finding pairs. A boy or a girl can be just a so-so singles skater but excelt at pairs. I really think this is definitely our weakest event right now. I just hope John recovers completely before Worlds!
Originally Posted by noskates
While I respect you opinion about D/C skating at Worlds I'm not convinced it's a great idea to come back too quickly. Many an athlete has done that to face serious rehab and longer recovery.
I watched the senior pairs at the national championships and saw something very different. I saw three NEW PAIRS TEAMS that have tremendous potential. ALL three ladies were new to pairs and they looked amazing in their early progress towards making US Pairs figure skating very competitive. B/T, L/L and K/O were a great surprise and positive addition to the competition. Usually you look to the Junior ranks to see who is coming up to Senior in pairs to see the new talented teams. This year I honestly believe these NEW to Pairs ladies and NEW TEAMS are already more talented and advanced than the up and coming Juniors. These teams are well coached and will push the pairs talent in the US.
Well Goldseal - happy first post! I think whether you OR I think it's a good idea for John Coughlin to come back to competition for Worlds, I have no doubt whatsoever that he will be checked out thoroughly before being allowed to compete. If he isn't ready I'm going to make the assumption that the team won't take a chance and jeopardize next year and the Olympics. I don't disagree with you about the potential of the new pairs teams - but that's what we ALWAYS have.....new teams with potential. And then about the time they start realizing that potential they break up!!!
I still say that the US is in a world of hurt for a few years while these teams get up to speed. Hopefully they'll stick together for awhile. But I do think John and Caydee are our best hope for top 10 world finishes in the next 2 years.
Hey Noskates, Thanks for the kind welcome. I don't have inside knowledge of his condition and unless you are his doctor you don't either....lol. I do have experience with rehab and completely understand the best will evaluate and come up with a diagnosis and opinion. The risk of doing well at worlds vs his health is going to be an interesting decision and has been an interesting discussion. I guess we shall see.
As for the NEW Pairs teams, you are right about all the history of break ups.....That's always the wild card. I think this year was really unusual in that the three pairs teams B/T, L/L and especially K/O have some great upside talent wise. The teams are equally matched and the kids are all suited well with their partners for the long term. Unlike some of the junior teams where size is already an issue that does not get better with time, I think these three teams have a great edge in that they are talented and the ladies are perfect size for pairs for the long term. Size and fit with their respective pairs partners in addition to lots of "IT" factor and athletic talent make for exciting futures. Just saying.
I have to say right now sadly the US pairs situation is totally forgettable. IN part all the break ups but it will take a while before the nation embraces the pairs winners; now it is just a struggle to remember who is skating with who let alone who they are. I think if there was at test right now of identify skaters with photos there would be no matches almost for those outside the skating communicating whereas in the men someone could identify a lysacek, a weir or in ladies Kwan of course. I am jsut calling it sadly is.
Thanks for this post, Art & Sport. I very much agree with you. I think we're at a point where, as a fan community, we really need to support our pairs skaters in the U.S. There are not many of them left, and they're facing a lot of hurdles as they try to build their careers. I'm not saying we should ignore mediocrity or cease all useful criticism. But let's celebrate the successes when they happen and recognize the efforts of pairs teams who truly do have potential.
Originally Posted by Art&Sport
Castelli & Shnapir had a rocky free skate, and unfortunately the spin problem really disrupted the whole program. But, as you said, they still put a good program out despite the problems. There was a lot of really interesting content and choreography in the program, a lot of great moments. I am really impressed, actually, with how much this team has matured artistically this year. Yes, they need to work on controlling their nerves and becoming more consistent. But they are demonstrating solid improvement, and it's a very good thing they've stayed together this long and persevered. Now, they just need to keep at it.
And Scimeca & Knierim! What a debut for a brand-new team. There is really a ton of potential there. Right now their programs are very generic, but it's their first year, what else could we expect? Just stay together, and this team could easily be winning Grand Prix medals in a year or so. And as to Zhang & Bartholomay, I enjoyed their skate and there's no denying they really hit their elements well. I don't know if this team has the artistic potential or height differential to go much further, but I enjoy them and they can execute a program, which is, yes, an accomplishment.
Another thing to keep in mind: It's not just the U.S. pairs that are bad. In fact, the whole discipline of pairs is struggling worldwide--worrisome for those of us who love this sport. Overall there are fewer and fewer entries in international pairs events; fewer new young talented pairs coming up to challenge the established teams; and fewer strong performances overall. The glory days of 1988/1992/1994, when some of the greatest pairs teams of all time packed Olympic and World podiums, are far behind us. Only a handful of countries--Russia, Canada, China, the U.S.--can now field even a couple of decent pairs at the senior level.
I don't know what the solution is to bring U.S. pairs up to the level of our ice dancers--I don't know enough details of the issues involved. But clearly, coaching is a big factor. We are incredibly fortunate to have 3 of the top ice dance coaches in the world in Detroit. There is nothing like that in pairs. Right now we have only one pairs coach--Sappenfield in Colorado Springs--who has really demonstrated somewhat consistent success on the international stage the last few years. Aside from her, we have emerging coaches in Boston (Martin), Florida (Zimmerman) and San Diego (Meno/Sand), who show promise but are still young and have not yet achieved consistent success at the international level. The coaching situation needs to get stronger to help really build our program.
I also think the federation needs to provide more financial and organizational support for pairs. I don't know how possible this is, as TV revenue has dropped so much, but it certainly would help.
And then, more than anything, I think we need that one breakthrough U.S. pair who will inspire others with their success. In the late 70s, Tai & Randy inspired a generation of U.S. pairs skaters and helped lead to silver for the Carruthers in 1984 and bronze for Watson & Oppegard in 1988. In ice dance, Tanith Belbin & Ben Agosto led the way and broke the barriers, paving the path for Meryl & Charlie, the Shibs, and our other dancers. We desperately need that kind of breakthough team in pairs right now.
Until that moment comes, though, let's support our pairs and appreciate the good moments. It's a building process. Whatever success each team can achieve helps all the others by gradually raising the level of competition.
I disagree about the statement that all the Ladies were lacking grace or fluidity. Grechen Donlan may struggle to land jumps but her lift positions are some of the best in the world she's balletic and she makes Caydee look clumsy by comparison. Denney is not know as the most graceful Pairs skater and has some horrible lift positions which haven't improved in over 4 years. Yes Denny lands her jumps but D/C are never going to medal at Worlds. They lack the overall skills. If only Donlan/Speroff could land their jumps they would be truly world class because they have the beauty and grace of those great Russian teams of the past. But right now i think this new team S/K has a lot of potential.
Originally Posted by noskates
Last edited by Jammers; 01-30-2013 at 03:54 PM.
I feel bad saying this because I know a lot of people here love D/S and I was way excited about them last year, but there is a lot more wrong with them than they can't land their jumps. If that were the only problem, they could compensate for it in other areas. However, their problems run deep. They consistently fail to get levels on any element but lifts. As one example, they had a basic death spiral at this Nationals. That means it was not even level 1. In the long they only got level 1. Someone with the grace and fluidity she has should be able to eek out a decent death spiral, every time. They also sometimes fail to hit above level 2 on spins, and she (and less often he) fall on both side by side and throws with what can only be called great frequency despite the fact that the jumps they attempt are pretty much the easiest ones possible to attempt at this level. In addition, they are sloooow live. This would prevent them from reaching the top teams internationally even if everything else came together for them perfectly.
Originally Posted by Jammers
Further, they were given opportunities this year to step up and could not. I don't say did not- I really think they could not.
While I too admire Grechen's positions and this team's overall grace, and would love to be proven wrong, for now I think they don't have much of a future in the sport.