Skating is art, if you let it be.
Reworking Ashley Wagner's Olympic Season LP into a great program, podium material
Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet is probably the best music Ashley Wagner could have picked this season. That's why I'm so sad the program is dull and rather shapeless, aside from the opening and the ending. Even more than that, it simply does not showcase a lot of Ashley's best qualities. "Dance of the Knights" is a perfect musical piece for Ashley - it is aggressive and staccato, which are her natural body rhythms. And yet, that piece of music from Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet is not found in Ashley's program (in any significant way). This is a HUGE mistake! Here is that selection of music, for those who do not know - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EdXXk6xtFuU&t=1m10s
This post will detail all of the changes I would be making to Ashley's program, were I her coach and choreographer. I will reference her current program via this link - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ga7wIlljXMM
Before I even get into all of the proposed musical and choreographic changes of the program, I need to state that Ashley does not have a "real" Triple-Triple combination. She cheats the jump by pre-rotating on her toepick during the takeoff and all 5 of her attempts at it in competition this season have been underrotated, by my standard. The actual technical panels have ratified it 3/5 times, which is a pretty good amount, but if it becomes well known and agreed upon amongst the tech specialists that she is cheating this jump, then she will be micro-analyzed on it and likely not receive full credit at the Olympics. This technical issue is very unlikely to be something Ashley can fix in time for the Olympics, especially since Arutunian is letting her get away with it still. This is the guy who fixed Mao Asada's toeloop technique so that she stopped pre-rotating on the takeoffs, don't forget. If he couldn't fix Ashley's by now, it's not happening in time for the Olympics.
As such, my plan for Ashley's Long Program will not include the Triple-Triple. She needs to do it in the Short Program - both to show the judges "look, see, I can do it if I want to" and also because an underrotated Triple is still worth a little more than Double - but in the Long Program it very likely will not help her. Even IF she gets full credit for the Triple-Triple in the Long Program, it probably won't even boost her technical score as compared to other program layouts, as I previously explained here - http://www.goldenskate.com/forum/sho...l=1#post792455
Okay, so now you understand where I'm coming from. Let's get into the details of the program. The current opening she has is very good and should be kept, everything up through the spread eagle and brief spiral position, seen at 1:02 through 1:09 (remember to refer to her current program as I talk about it - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ga7wIlljXMM). The only change here is that her 3Flip+3Toe attempt should become a 3Flip+2Loop+2Loop. She did that combination in the past and it should be brought back. +2Loop+2Loop combinations are key in building up technical scores; it is worth an entire point more than +2Toe+2Toe combinations, which is part of why the Triple-Triple attempt is not worth including in the LP for Ashley - it tires her out and forces her to only be able to tack on +2Toe+2Toe later in the program. Ashley should also be able to do the 3Flip+2Loop+2Loop at the start here with a bit more transitional movement than the 3Flip+3Toe, since it doesn't require quite as much unwavering focus.
Now then, after her spread eagle and brief spiral position I just referenced, this is where the real changes to the program will start. She will immediately go into a combination spin with change of foot at center rink. The spin will start with a forward camel, go down into broken leg sit, change foot with a jump into a back tuck sit spin, and then pull up into an upright cross-leg spin (with as expressive of free arm positions as she can accomplish for this music). The spin will end by 1:25 and we will hear a new music edit at 1:28, with "Dance of the Knights" making its first appearance. Ashley will build up speed for a 3Sal as she does in the current program and her footwork sequence will come directly afterward, obviously with modified choreography for this different piece of music. Having "Dance of the Knights" throughout her whole foot sequence will provide a much more solid base for her and allow the program to actually present a complete idea here. I'm sorry, but that current footwork sequence has too much going on and gets a bit lost in the woods.
At 2:18 the music will change back to her current cut. The loop turn at that point of the footwork sequence can be kept; it's a great way to squeeze in a requirement for the sequence while working with softer music. Right after that movement Wagner will go into her flying corkscrew sit spin just as she does currently, but instead of doing more sit spin positions she will change foot to a forward camel spin, then change to a sideways layback, and then to a haircutter layback. We are giving her the highest base value spins possible in this program, using the least amount of time possible and the cleanest positions possible. There's no reason why she should still be doing flying sit spin and layback spin on their own in her Long Program; it's an unnecessary loss of base value and she isn't getting any special choreographic value or GOE scores from those spins. She is perfectly capable of doing higher base value spins, I've seen her do so many different variations throughout her career and that ability is not being utilized.
As we move into the second half of Ashley's program, this slow section will not change too drastically from the current program. At 2:49 she will still do the spiral position, but instead of a spread eagle into a 3Loop, she will instead do turning three's here. This jump will also not be in combination. Instead, after the landing, I want her to build speed and perform gently explosive upward arm movements at 3:02 with the crescendo of the music. She will then go into her Lutz, as in the current program. Afterwards will come a spread eagle into 3Loop+2Axel sequence. Moving that element to here will provide a much more impressive contrast for the sudden music change at 3:21. We will keep that brief piece of music heard in the current program, but afterwards will be a new music edit, where the program will return to "Dance of the Knights".
This new musical selection will provide a much stronger buildup for Ashley's next two elements (both jumps), creating a contrast to the slower section we were just in and reestablishing the theme introduced earlier in the program. This is where Ashley can throw everything she's got into the arena, utilizing sharp and relentless arm movements and stroking across the ice. She'll go into a 3Flip at 3:38 and then have a short section of choreography in a semi-circular pattern before building up speed again and going down the other end of the rink. At 5:53 the music will return to what she has in the current program, shortly after which she will perform a 3Toe+2Axel sequence. After coming out of it she will do a split jump and quickly build up speed for a forward change of edge spiral, which will start at 4:07 with the swell of the music. Expect very dramatic arm movements.
After the spiral, starting at 4:14, the program will resume with the current choreography. The split jump into forward lunge is brilliant and obviously must be kept. Her final spin of the program will be slightly modified. She will do a backwards camel entrance into upside down position, just as she currently does, but then she'll change foot to a forward inside camel, and then change after a couple rotations to an outside edge camel with an upward catch-foot position. These are the exact features she used in her combination spin last year, but now it's a Level 4 change of foot Camel spin, which gives her the highest base value possible for her spins in this program (because, remember, her two spins earlier were Level 4 change of foot Combination spins, and one spin in the program can not be a combination spin). She will end the program as she currently does, with a self-stab and double-armed neck clasp. But this time people will be uncontrollably clapping before it ends.
Base value = 61.14
Projected GOE for perfect performance = 10.7
Projected PCS for perfect performance = 70+
I like this, am seeing it totally. From your lips to Wagner/Arutunian/Nicks' ears. She's got to do something about the muddled middle of this program both music edits and choreographically. Not sure I'm ready to give up on the 3-3 but I see your point about the prerotation. If she didn't have the GPF to attend, I'd say she might be able to get it clean and fixed by Nationals but hmm....it does seem that right now she's got a 50-60% chance of getting full credit if left unfixed.
Originally Posted by Blades of Passion
If Virtue/Moir skate to this music(Prokofiev's R&J), they would do wonderfully.
Wow, that... is quite an explanation. Long-winded, but a very brilliant reconstruction.
Originally Posted by Blades of Passion
Honestly, though, I see quite some potential with the program. I don't think it needs a COMPLETE revamp, but the middle section certainly has to have some tweaking to it; it just isn't as cohesive as it should be.
Blades of Passion, have you ever done any choreography at all? I'm just curious; you seem to be quite experienced with this based on your post.
That second half is extremely demanding. Five jumping passes?! As in five triples and two double axels? And two of them being the hardest triples? That's pretty crazy.
Skating is art, if you let it be.
I've done choreographic work since 2009, although nothing at the level I'd like to be working in (in terms of being officially hired). Unfortunately, having a non-skating career takes up the time I need to really be visiting all of the rinks more, along with continuing my own competitive goals. But tomorrow is always another day and until something more substantial comes about, I'm glad to spend some free time sharing thoughts with my contacts in the skating world and in public here on GS.
Originally Posted by Snoopy15
But in that second half it's actually the exact same jumps she is already doing, up to the point of the 3Toe+2Axel. And the program should actually be less tiresome up to that point because she didn't have to do a Triple-Triple combo at the start, which requires more fast-twitch muscle fibers. So in the end she's getting the same potential score as her current layout, but without the rather high risk of -GOE or a < call on the Triple-Triple. Blame the scoring system for not giving a bonus to more difficult jump combinations, but that's how it is right now. Anyway, Ashley does those 2Axels in sequence really well. She has very strong legs and competitive determination to muscle them out with solid spring and flow. With a lot of other people those combinations tend to look awkward, but when Ashley does them it's often an exciting highlight. Why not play to your strengths?
Originally Posted by CanadianSkaterGuy
I remember that lovely program Blades suggested for Kiira Korpi a few years ago.
Originally Posted by Snoopy15
I appreciate a lot of your suggestions, what I think would be impossible is the 3F+2Lo+2Lo: she has never attempted a 3x+2lo+2Lo in competitions during this past 4/5 years, and after the 2011-2012 season she even went from a 3F+2T+2Lo to a 3F+2T+2T last season, so I don't think that introducing in the middle if the Olympic season a combo with two douple loops as the opening jump of her FS when recently she's been working mainly on toeloop combos would be a good idea, going back to the 3F+2T+2Lo would be better I think
ISU, stop promoting 2-foot skating!
Interesting post, Blades of Passion.
The program definitely needs more style and character.
The choreography as it stands at the moment is generic and not memorable at all. She deserves better.
As for the triple-triple combination, I would personally disagree. It's cheated a bit less than it used to be in the past and the only way for her to master is it to do it as much as she can, not just in practice but competition as well.
Upon further analysis of your description, it's clear you missed Choreography 101 when it comes to jump layout. You put 5 jumping passes (5 triples/2 double axels, no less) back to back with no spins or footwork sequence in between, all within a minute. Even if Ashley were somehow able to pull that off, the judges would nail her on Choreo PCS.
Another huge flaw in your layout is that sequences lose 20% base value on the whole combo.
3L-2A (seq)x BV = 7.39 vs. 3L-2Lx BV = 7.59 (and obviously 3L-2L is way easier to execute).
3T-2A(seq)x = 6.51, vs. 3T-2L BV = 6.49 (essentially the same value and much easier to execute).
The following layout is still pretty ambitious but easier to execute and gets her more points, and is wayyy more balanced:
2A-3T (likely before the 2nd half -- to me, this is the combo she should be going for if not 3F-3T)
3L-2L-2L (in case she misses the combo she can add it on the second loop)
Your jump layout gets her 43.4 points of jump BV.
This jump layout gets her 46.31 points of jump BV.
Even if you argued against her attempting 2A-3T, and she turned it into a 3T-2A seq before the 2nd half, it would still get a higher BV than your layout and be much less demanding, and much more balanced.
3T-2A(seq) [in the 2nd half this only gets 0.59 points more]
BV = 44.83 points
(Although I do think she needs a XX-3T to be competitive for bronze, considering Julia and Gracie and Adelina will all be attempting those.)
Skating is art, if you let it be.
CanadianSkaterGuy, your math is wrong. The base value for jumps of the layout I've suggested is 45.04
Ashley isn't good at doing loop jumps on the end of 3Loop, so your first layout definitely wouldn't be a good one for her, because you're giving her two combinations that she doesn't have a good chance at (2Axel+3Toe and 3Loop+2Loop+2Loop in the second half). That layout is also choreographically weak, lacking fireworks towards the end of the program.
Your second layout is lower base value and choreographically weak. In my planned program, the 2Axels in sequence in the later stages of the program are there not just because of technical value, but because they are exciting and work with the music, which means higher PCS.
I disagree with your notions about the backloading. It only becomes "painfully obvious" if there isn't good choreography to go with it or if the execution is lacking. The judges aren't going to say "you're backloading jumps too much, I'm deducting". Miki Ando had crap choreography in 2011 with the 2-5 jump layout (and didn't even do all the jumps at Worlds) and the judges still didn't punish her. Lipnitskaya is doing that layout this year and people love the program. Men frequently do 5 jumping passes in a row directly after the halfway mark and women already frequently do 4 in a row. What's it matter to do one more? In Ashley's current program she's doing a Layback spin that doesn't do anything with the music, in the place where I'd have her doing that last jumping pass, so I feel my idea is definitely a choreographic improvement.
Ah, right, it is 45.04, which is still a lesser BV than the layout I suggest (and only 0.21 higher than the 2nd layout I suggested). BTW, I said the 2A-3T would be in the first half, not the second. I don't buy that a 3L-2L-2L would be hard for Ashley in the second half (especially with your suggested content). But fine, revise my first layout to have a 3L-2L, and put the 2L-2L after the first flip -- the BV would then be 46.13, still higher than yours.
With Julia (whose program also has poor jump balance with the 5 jumping passes back to back) but her difficulty between the two halves isn't as lopsided as the program you've suggested for Wagner's. A 3F-2L-2L and 3S for the entire first half of an LP is poor difficulty. A 3Z-3T and 2A-3T-2T for the entire first half, while only 2 jumping passes, is good difficulty with three triples and a double axel (similarly, the men can get away with 3-5 layouts because they have at least two of three opening passes as triple axels/quads, so the 1st half, even with just 3 passes, showcases decent difficulty).
Also, note that Julia's second half with all 5 jumps bunched in a minute includes 4 triples and 1 double axel -- but your second half layout for Ashley has 5 triples and 2 double axels bunched together in a minute. I don't know how you can't see this discrepancy, or why you'd think the judges wouldn't notice it.
Lipnitskaia's FS has 18.8 BV in the 1st half, 27.72 in the 2nd half.
Your layout for Wagner has 13.1 BV in the 1st half, and 31.94 BV in the 2nd half.
My 1st layout for Wagner has 18.7 BV in the 1st half, and 27.61 in the 2nd half -- almost identical to Lipnitskaia, and with better balance of jumps than yours.
My revised 1st layout has 20.5 BV in the 1st half, and 25.63 in the 2nd half -- which is even better technical balance.
I also fail to see how landing the three hardest triples (in my layout) isn't fireworks at the end of a program or choreographically weak. "Fireworks", to me, is balancing elements and choreographically building towards the end, not reeling off your 5 remaining jumping passes one after another. I don't see how filling the penultimate minute with 5 jumping passes is choreographically strong. If anything, that's choreographically lazy.
At the least, it makes no sense why you have a 3L-2A in the second half when a 3L-2L would garner more points for Ashley, and is way easier to execute.
And it's weird that you think a 3L-2L-2L would be hard to execute, but a 3Z, 3F, 3L and two double-axel sequences crammed in a minute is a walk in the park. If she misses any of those 5 passes, there is very little recovery time, and it could be a very costly domino effect.
I think her jump layout is fine as-is. Trying to do sequences she isn't currently training (3T+2A seq, 2A-3T) is a bad idea at this point because she has focused on her new element (3F-3T) and is doing it relatively well. It's a challenge for her to deliver all that content cleanly already, and is enough content for bronze if she can hit everything in Sochi (assuming Caroline doesn't have the skates of her life).