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Thread: Why doesn't anyone like pairs skating any more?

  1. #46
    Custom Title FSGMT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chuckm View Post
    Oddly, what has happened in Pairs is that it's become almost like the CD in dance. All the top pairs use the same moves, so you see the same elements executed over and over again, because those are the ones with the highest point value. There are few surprises and a fair number of stumbles and bumbles, even from the best teams.

    The end result is that Pairs competitions are, well, boring.
    (And, I liked the CD, but I still get bored with today's Pairs competitions!)

  2. #47
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    I personally love pairs now. I was so sick of teams doing the requisite elements layout (everyone did a SBS 3T, and throw salchow/loop, and basic spins and lifts). Throws/twists are a lot more ambitious and huge, SBS jumps are harder, SBS spins are harder wotj partners actually staying in unison more than in the past, lifts are actually being more intricate (T/M's lifts in 2006 Olympics were boring as heck, especially compared to V/T's lifts at Worlds). Some moves I dislike like the slow death spirals trying to get a level 4 with extra rotations or lifts where there's a prolonged hold just to get a level.

    I think the passion and partner chemistry is diminished because of the added elements difficulty but I'm okay with that. As I always say, the sport needs to evolve difficulty-wise, and if I want to see skaters with less difficulty and better classic pairs unison/artistry, I can always rewatch past videos of Gord/Grin, Mish/Dim, etc. But I'd rather see progressive difficulty and higher and harder (and more innovative) elements -- that, to me, makes for exciting pairs skating.

    I disagree that the top pairs skaters all have the same moves... they have different throws, different SBS jumps, different spins, different lifts. Take a look at the top 3 from this past Worlds SP...

    V/T: throw 3L, SBS 3S
    D/R: throw 3Z, SBS 3Z
    S/S: throw 3F, SBS 3T

  3. #48
    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    ^ I can't agree with the part about staying in unison. Here are Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner in 1979.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=63cmIfO-u6k

    Comparing that to present day performances, it is no wonder that the popularity of pairs skating has pretty much hit bottom among the general public.

    About the "harder is better" notion, to each his own, I guess. To me, "better is better." The IJS rewards attempts at difficult tricks, even if those attempts are unsuccessful. This is really quite a departure from the sporting ideal. In basketball, there is a saying among the players, "ball don't lie." Figure skating needs an "ice don't lie" policy.

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    Lifts and throws may vary in difficulty, but that doesn't make them look better or more interesting to the viewer, especially if they are barely or awkwardly landed. I'd rather see an easier throw landed with great flowout than a really difficult one landed forward and jerkily. I feel the same way about jumps.

    I'm aware that Duhamel/Radford do harder jumps and throws, but their landings are often barely held, and their overall skating doesn't have the elegance of the Germans, or the grace of Bazarova and Larionov.

  5. #50
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    [QUOTE=Mathman;738754]^ I can't agree with the part about staying in unison. Here are Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner in 1979.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=63cmIfO-u6k

    Comparing that to present day performances, it is no wonder that the popularity of pairs skating has pretty much hit bottom among the general public.

    /QUOTE]

    Thanks so much, Math! How wonderful to see this again. One thing that always strikes me with Tai and Randy (and with Nicks's other American pair of that time, JoJo Starbuck and Ken Shelley) is how tall the lady is. I know that lifts are much more demanding nowadays, so the height differential has to be as great as possible, but even then, Randy had to hold Tai overhead with one hand. He really is an unsung hero of male partnering. He's about 5 foot 8 or 9, I seem to recall. He must be so phenomenally strong.

    I love and always have loved their spread-eagle/Ina Bauer combinations. Once they performed a pas de quatre with Starbuck and Shelley, and the four of them did a group Ina Bauer, lined up in a beautiful backbend column.

  6. #51
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    ^I'd love to have seen this (pas de quatre with S&S)! Just enjoyed watching Tai and Randy's '79 LP (thanks, Mathman). They were the skaters who turned me into a figure skating fan. That spread-eagle/Ina Bauer combo is gorgeous. Loved their pair spin (and I've loathed pair spins for the past 10 or more years). Yeah, sure, the sport has to advance but when you look at pairs skating from back in the day, you can see how empty it has become in between the big moves IMO. I've now switched over to ice dancing for beauty, sport and excitement in competitive skating.



    I love and always have loved their spread-eagle/Ina Bauer combinations. Once they performed a pas de quatre with Starbuck and Shelley, and the four of them did a group Ina Bauer, lined up in a beautiful backbend column.[/QUOTE]

  7. #52
    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Tai and Randy and Jojo and Ken.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wU_NdqwdOuA

  8. #53
    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
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    It's possible to do interesting stuff when small if your partner is even smaller. Kristi (age 17) and Rudi (age 19) were amazing!
    What gets to me with this program is the unison they maintained in the spin, despite rotating in opposite directions.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AE02qmpJRJ0

  9. #54
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    Berton and Hotarek could be quite compelling if they tightened up their technical skills. I find them the most charming of all the pairs skating now. S/S can also be quite entertaining; really liked Pina. I hope they both come out with really good programs this season. Their may be other lovely pairs I'm forgetting, but these two immediately spring to mind.

  10. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by chuckm View Post
    Lifts and throws may vary in difficulty, but that doesn't make them look better or more interesting to the viewer, especially if they are barely or awkwardly landed. I'd rather see an easier throw landed with great flowout than a really difficult one landed forward and jerkily. I feel the same way about jumps.

    I'm aware that Duhamel/Radford do harder jumps and throws, but their landings are often barely held, and their overall skating doesn't have the elegance of the Germans, or the grace of Bazarova and Larionov.
    To be fair, their technical content is really high. I would put D/R above Bazarova/Larionov personally... I find them to be a mismatched and rather awkward couple to watch, even if they are consistent. Unless you meant Volosozhar/Trankov who are certainly better than D/R. I don't think D/R's difficulty is detrimental to their overall artistry... they're still developing, and in order to keep up with the best in the World, they have to push the technical envelope if their artistry isn't as good as other teams. And difficulty should be rewarded.. plenty of people could have said "I'm aware that Stojko does quads, but his programs and overall skating is lacking." and if he was held back because of it, the men's event likely wouldn't have flourished to what it is today.

    Here's the thing: we've seen elegant skates from pairs in the past with lower difficulty than today, and that has won World and Olympic titles. You kind of wonder what else has yet to be seen and if skaters aren't pushing the technical envelope then really every performance is kind of something we've already seen before. And if you'd rather see easier throws, then we could go back to the days of a throw 2A and a throw 3S; or SBS 2As and 2F's -- it would be clean and watchable and it probably doesn't look less interesting to the viewer (in fact a program can be way more seamless and 'watchable' with easier elements that require less setup or have less risk). But it's totally been there, done that. I know everyone loves their classic pairs skaters, but I think skaters need to challenge themselves, even if it comes at the expense of having more of a performance (again, save it for the exhibitions).

    I'm curious as to what you're referring to as the "anymore" period when people liked pairs skating more? Gordeeva/Grinkov? Shen/Zhao?

  11. #56
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    Thanks for the treat from yesteryear, Mathman! I would love to have been sitting in the stands when they created and practiced this routine.


    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    Tai and Randy and Jojo and Ken.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wU_NdqwdOuA

  12. #57
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    I find it fascinating that when people are discussing their favorite pairs, we're hearing names like Protopopov, Rodnina, G/G, B/G, and so forth.

    I don't disagree with any of those selections. However, they are 20 to 50 years in the past.

    Does anyone think that the pairs from today will be looked at with the same reverence 30 years in the future?

    I don't. They're just not magical or memorable. I don't know if it's just a lull in the discipline or if CoP has caused this... or what. But I think it's an indication that pairs is broken.

  13. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    Tai and Randy and Jojo and Ken.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wU_NdqwdOuA
    Oh, you found it! Isn't it an astonishing performance?

    Starbuck and Shelley aren't as well remembered these days, but they have a tremendous style and did very well for the U.S., winning one World bronze. This was at a time when only Russian or East German pairs got any respect from judges.


    TontoK, don't you think that Savchenko/Szolkowy will be remembered? They're very elegant and innovative.

    To be sure, I doubt that any of the current American pairs will be remembered. They don't have any standout characteristics. Though I was very fond of Evora/Ladwig, they probably didn't make enough of an impact internationally to make it onto the list of immortals.

  14. #59
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    I think skaters like S/S and S/Z will certainly be remembered 30 years from now. S/S are one of the most experimental pairs teams who did interesting programs and didn't just go with the requisite classical pieces. Shen and Zhao turned throws into throws (same goes with the other Chinese teams P/T and Z/Z). People never really gasped at throws or twists until they came along.

    Everyone seems to be caught up with competitive skating no longer looking crisp, and neat, and tidy, and error-free with minimal risk, but to me, actually incorporating difficulty actually makes it worth watching and differentiates it from exhibitions. From a spectator standpoint, obviously casual viewers won't be able to appreciate a 3Z over a 3T (they'll just see two landed jumps), or distinguish a 3F throw instead of the usual 2A/3S/3L, but from those who can tell, that's exciting, seeing pairs push themselves. I don't think you would see nearly as many 3F, 3Z, 3A, 4S throw attempts, or the Zhang's 2A+3T, or D/R's SBS 3Z, or the Germans' throw 3A if not for IJS being introduced and actually rewarding difficulty.... teams would just settle for throw 3S/3L, SBS 3T or SBS 3S, lifts with typical positions/difficulty, and SBS spins with 6 rotations and two positions, and a line of basic footwork down the ice (yawn). Skating would look exactly how it did in the 90s.

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    For me, COP has killed the romanticism of pairs skating. The beautiful moves of the past have been replaced with ugly catch-foot positions, and the programs require far too much intricacy now that the skaters aren't able to execute beautiful, flowy moves. It's sad because there's so much of a sameness to all the programs (i.e. how many different ways can you do a catch foot) that you don't have the variety of styles like GG vs MD vs the Canadians at the 1994 Olys

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