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Thread: Bad layback = good jumps?

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    Bad layback = good jumps?

    It was nice to have YuNa back and I enjoyed her program. It was the jumps that stood out the most to me, especially the timing and stability within the jumps. It felt like watching a metronome - turn, reach, pick, vault, spin, check, land, flow. Every part had its beat and it just went tick tocking along. What I didn't like was her layback position. This reminded me of Michelle, who also had great jump timing (mostly) and and not a great layback. In general both YuNa and Michelle were/are reliable jumpers, but not the most flexible skaters. It made me wonder about the relationship between flexbility vs jump stability.

    Gracie also has big even jumps, but not so flexible. Carolina maybe too, though her jumps haven't always been stable.

    Sasha seems the poster girl for very flexible, but jumps that let her down.

    So is there an inverse relationship between how flexible a skater is and how reliable and well executed their jumps are?

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    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    I was hoping that someone would contribute to this interesting thread. I don't have an answer myself, but we must have some experts on jump and spin mechanics who can share some insight?

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    Custom Title FSGMT's Avatar
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    I wouldn't call myself an "expert", but I think that, if you are extremely flexile (Cohen, Lipnitskaya, Czisny, Nagasu...) you don't have as much power as the athletes who have stiffer muscles but they're more powerful and they can "push" their jumps higher. For example, Caro has never been so flexible, but her jumps have always been very powerful and well-executed (she had so many problems with her nerves, that's why she was so inconsistant in the past: in practices, she was always perfect); the same for Akiko or Joannie. Mao, for example, is flexible but, even if she's able to land so many jumps, notice that she often has UR and TF problems...

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    I remember reading somewhere, on one of these boards, someone theorizing that flexible skaters have looser ligaments and as a result less security in their joints.

    That might a be a separate issue than muscular power (which would relate to natural fiber type composition and also training for strength vs. stretch), but the two issues could combine in ways that cancel each other out or that amplify each other positively or negatively.

    I think the poster was professionally involved with physical training of some sort, not necessarily skating.

    As I recall Nicole Bobek was an example used. She did have big jumps, but perhaps her natural or trained flexibility represented physical insecurities that got in the way of her landing the jumps consistently.

    Her layback turnout was only average, but that's also a different issue than flexibility. There have been much less flexible skaters with well-turned out layback attitudes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FSGMT View Post
    I wouldn't call myself an "expert", but I think that, if you are extremely flexile (Cohen, Lipnitskaya, Czisny, Nagasu...) you don't have as much power as the athletes who have stiffer muscles but they're more powerful and they can "push" their jumps higher. For example, Caro has never been so flexible, but her jumps have always been very powerful and well-executed (she had so many problems with her nerves, that's why she was so inconsistant in the past: in practices, she was always perfect); the same for Akiko or Joannie. Mao, for example, is flexible but, even if she's able to land so many jumps, notice that she often has UR and TF problems...
    What makes you think Carolina Kostner is not flexible?
    http://i.cdn.turner.com/si/multimedi...-10498-mid.jpg
    http://web.icenetwork.com/images/200...9/VjDBAy5x.jpg
    And how can you say that Mao Asada--the only lady in the world currently landing triple axels (and the only one to have landed 3 clean ones at the Olympics) is not a strong jumper? YuNa Kim also has a very flexible back and is a very strong jumper. Clean 3Lz+3T with no under-rotations or edge change.
    And as for the men, I have two words for you: Yuzuru Hanyu!

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    Generally it's hard to generate plyometric (instant springing) power when you are flexible. It's also difficult to maintain a stable landing when you have a free leg that can go wild. It's a bit like a rubber band -- too stiff and you won't get a range of motion, too loose and your jumps become unstable. There seems to be a correlation between being slim and having a strong layback (which makes sense), and generally this slimness translates to quick rotation on your jumps. If you think about Cohen and Asada and Lipnitskaia, they are all fast rotators. Whereas a power jumper like Rochette or Sebestyen have less flexible laybacks. Of course you do have your exceptions like Slutskaya and Arakawa who aren't the fastest rotators but actually get height when they jump and yet they still have great flexibility.

    I don't understand why people have such a beef with Yu Na's layback not having a Biellmann. Who cares, it's a position. I'm sure many of these people glorify Daisuke's layback, in spite of him have a really poor layback position, if you can even call it that. The extra level is less than half a point, and it's not like it makes the program... most laybacks to Biellmanns are strained and instead of the Biellmann being a highlight of the spin, it ends up looking strained. I realise the layback is an iconic move in women's skating, but it's not the be-all, end-all. Dick Button will be meh about a skater doing a 3-3 combination, but then go postal on a poor layback or spiral, as if the skater committed a gross indecency.

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    Sitting Here on Blue Jay Way silver.blades's Avatar
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    In terms of jumping the type of flexibility is a factor. Open hips are not conducive to jumping because they need to snap close when you enter the rotation. That was Sasha's biggest problem, Shawn Sawyer as well. It takes a lot more strength and control to keep the hip from opening up to soon, loosening the air position and making the rotation more difficult and increasing the chances of the free side opening up and softening or stepping out. Basically turnout is not good for jumping.

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    This whole issue is so interesting to contemplate.

    I do have another counter-example: Shizuka Arakawa. She's a solid jumper and has remained so through quite a long career (her jump problems had to do with confidence rather than ability, it seems), and she has perhaps the most flexible Ina Bauer position in the history of skating. Or close to it!

    But I still like your question, because there may be some connection between the two classes of ability. It's definitely worth exploring some more.

    Is is possible that there are different kinds of flexibility, some of which might impede ideal jumping and others of which might not?

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    Quote Originally Posted by gkelly View Post
    As I recall Nicole Bobek was an example used. She did have big jumps, but perhaps her natural or trained flexibility represented physical insecurities that got in the way of her landing the jumps consistently.
    I honestly think that the issue with Nicole was mental. Also, her training. Didn't she do that Nutcracker tour when she had been advised not to..? When she was on, she was magnificent.

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    This is an interesting question
    One counter example I can think of is Courtney Hicks, she does that incredible Hicks spin so is obviously very flexble (though her beillmann spin is not great) and she also has the most incredible pop and spring in her jumps of any lady competing today, Gracie Gold is also quite flexible, though neither of them are as gumby as Zhang or Lipnitskaya
    I do see your point though, alot of the extremely flexible girls have poor jump technique ala Zhang and Lipnitskaya

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by ivy View Post
    It was nice to have YuNa back and I enjoyed her program. It was the jumps that stood out the most to me, especially the timing and stability within the jumps. It felt like watching a metronome - turn, reach, pick, vault, spin, check, land, flow. Every part had its beat and it just went tick tocking along. What I didn't like was her layback position. This reminded me of Michelle, who also had great jump timing (mostly) and and not a great layback. In general both YuNa and Michelle were/are reliable jumpers, but not the most flexible skaters. It made me wonder about the relationship between flexbility vs jump stability.

    Gracie also has big even jumps, but not so flexible. Carolina maybe too, though her jumps haven't always been stable.

    Sasha seems the poster girl for very flexible, but jumps that let her down.

    So is there an inverse relationship between how flexible a skater is and how reliable and well executed their jumps are?

    YU Na is flexible enough and nonetheless, she has BEAUTIFUL spin positions. It's like watching a ballerina.

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    Yuna is a phenomenal skater and I agree she has some pretty spin positions. As for being balletic though, she has the slim build and long, muscular limbs but that's as far as that comparison goes for me. I have always seen her as an athletic skater, she does have a lovely lyrical quality, but, her power and athletic ability are undeniable, even if she doesn't look particularly strong externally.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by nddandy View Post
    YU Na is flexible enough and nonetheless, she has BEAUTIFUL spin positions. It's like watching a ballerina.
    It's true that she has enough flexibility to present beautiful positions but it is relatively hard to tell that the flexibility is one of her strong points. Even on the interview a couple of days ago, Yuna herself mentioned that she doesn't have good flexibility but forced it to happen, so that it is still hard to do spins and even hurts her back and waist. She said she gets frightened before she does her layback because it hurts too much :( ... So sad that she's suffering from terrible pain while she looks gorgeous.

  14. #14
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    I remember reading many years ago that early in her career, Yuna trained to try and become more flexible, but they had to stop because making her flexible had an adverse effect on her jumps. So staying 'inflexible' definitely helps Yuna's jumps. But I don't think it's the back so much as the ankle that is key.

    Yuna has the stiffest ankle in the business, and I would not be surprised if Yuna's stiff ankle is the reason why her toe jumps are so spectacular, and why she can't do the loop.

    With a toe jump, you basically need to bang your toe into the ice and have that translate into an elevation, and if your ankle is flexible/wobbly, you're gonna lose the purity of the power that's generated.

    But with a loop, it strikes me that you need a flexible ankle (and knee) to spring into the air, and create the force to generate a torque. If your ankles and knees aren't flexible, then you have to use your vertebrate to torque, which will lead to back injury.

    I guess that's why Yuna consistently doesn't point her toes when she's spinning, and purposefully doesn't stretch her leg lines because she wants to keep her leg muscles rigid. Because she'd rather keep her toe jumps than become able to do the loop without risking a back injury.

    You could take Carolina to say that the theory doesn't hold water, but while Carolina is physically very strong and so has that ability to generate the power to go up into the air, she often falls and has little control over her landing. Probably because her ankles are wobbly.

    And so with Mao, who probably has one of the most flexible ankles in the business, you can see it's those ankles that enable her to do the loop as well as the triple-axel, but her toe jumps are not so powerful.

    Still, Mao's got the triple flip and flutz with excellent air position and transitions, so if she can sort out her under-rotation issues, she can get at least +1 GOEs on these jumps.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Olympia View Post
    I do have another counter-example: Shizuka Arakawa. She's a solid jumper and has remained so through quite a long career (her jump problems had to do with confidence rather than ability, it seems), and she has perhaps the most flexible Ina Bauer position in the history of skating. Or close to it!
    Shizuka Arakawa is a special case. I heard two of her spine bones are smaller than normal, allowing her extreme Ina Bauer position. A similar case is this icenetwork article I read a few years ago. One of male Boston skaters (I forgot his name) could do a movement quite similar to an Ina Bauer. He also had a small spine bone.

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