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Thread: Mao & Mr. Sato

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    Mao & Mr. Sato

    Hello!

    Can somebody clarify for me what happened with Mao's jumps? I haven't followed fs that long so I am not aware of all things related. I know Mao lost her mother. When she first entered the scene her jumps were huge and secure to me so did she lose them prior or after she started working w/ mr. Sato? And who was the one who thought her the jumps originally? Why did they start the process to learn the jumps again? And has he been a good couch to her during all these years?

    Thanks..!

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    She didn't lose them after she started working with the Sato's but rather, chose to make changes to her technique as well as other areas of her skating. This is a long process, and I think all the hard work and sacrifices were worth it in the end. Mao and Sato seem to have a very good relationship, not surprising considering that he is the first coach who Mao (since Yamada) could communicate normally with, with no language barriers.

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    As good as Mao is her jumps before did have some issues, most notably, she tended to flutz her lutz. So, she reworked the technique. She hasn't lost them, her jumps are improved now and she has more speed and power. She never lost them she just had to adjust. I think Mr Sato has been got for her, he is a well-respected coach and he's helped her rebuild.

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    Short summary
    Mao with Yamada: she had the 3A and a great 3F-3Lo, but she had a toe-Axel and a wrong edge on Lutz. Didn't attempt Salchow.
    Mao with Arutunian: fixed her toe-Axel. Still had flutz but all her jumps were solid.
    Mao with Tarasova: tried to fix Lutz, started going for 2 3As in a program, brought back Salchow. Looked great at first but started losing her jumps starting in 2009. Eventually stopped doing Lutz and Salchow, no more 3-3 either.

    After Vancouver, she went to Nagakubo (Akiko Suzuki's coach) to fix the jumps and get back some of the ones she stopped doing as her 3-3 was far out of reach by that point. Then she went to Sato. In 2010-2011 she was a mess because relearning and fixing technique takes time, and there were competitions she probably should never have attended. She's still in the process of trying to restore her jumps to around their 2008 state (probably her absolute peak for jumps). We can see all the jumps there in practice but consistency- and technique-wise it's not really there (still edge call, under-rotations). Still a vast improvement since 2010/2011 though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CarneAsada View Post
    Short summary
    Mao with Yamada: she had the 3A and a great 3F-3Lo, but she had a toe-Axel and a wrong edge on Lutz. Didn't attempt Salchow.
    Mao with Arutunian: fixed her toe-Axel. Still had flutz but all her jumps were solid.
    Mao with Tarasova: tried to fix Lutz, started going for 2 3As in a program, brought back Salchow. Looked great at first but started losing her jumps starting in 2009. Eventually stopped doing Lutz and Salchow, no more 3-3 either.

    After Vancouver, she went to Nagakubo (Akiko Suzuki's coach) to fix the jumps and get back some of the ones she stopped doing as her 3-3 was far out of reach by that point. Then she went to Sato. In 2010-2011 she was a mess because relearning and fixing technique takes time, and there were competitions she probably should never have attended. She's still in the process of trying to restore her jumps to around their 2008 state (probably her absolute peak for jumps). We can see all the jumps there in practice but consistency- and technique-wise it's not really there (still edge call, under-rotations). Still a vast improvement since 2010/2011 though.
    Good summary. It's easy to get wrapped up in the 3A and in Mao's skating and forget she does have some flaws in her jumps. Part of the reason Yu-Na Kim beat her in 2010 was cleaner jumps. As CarneAsada mentioned, Mao didn't do a Lutz or a 3-3. Yu-Na had a Lutz and a 3-3. Her triple Lutz-triple toe combo is one of the most dififcult plus the quality points she'd get for it. Mao had two triple Axels but no Lutz, no Salchow or 3-3. Even with two triple Axels, Yu-Na was stronger

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    I don't think there is a need to bring Yuna into this thread at all. I do agree with CarneAsada that Mao shouldn't have attended as many
    competitions as in 2010-2011, so she could have been more focused on correcting her jumps.

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    Mao learned her jumps back under 6.0, when the jumping technique wasn't very closely scurtinized, and as long as the jumps looked nice to the naked eye. Some of the technical flaws weren't universally recognized as flaws.

    One thing to consider - back when many of the current coaches learned skating there was no HD videos, instant slow-mo replays, or IPads to record jumps and rewatch them instantly. The average jumping layouts were much easier for both ladies and men, so there was less pressure to find that perfect jumping style that would maximize the skater's chances of landing the jumps and jump combinations perfectly. There were jumpers ahead of their era (like Midori), but their jumping prowess was most often a result of exeptional physical qualities and "transplanting" their jumping style onto another skater wouldn't work (case in point: Yukari's jumping style was modeled after Midori's, but without Midori's powerful muscles Yukari's leg wrap looked bad and caused her jumps to be often underrotated and lack flow).

    Only recently, with technological advancements and the growing importance of 3-3s (for ladies) and quads & quad combos (for men) the concept of "textbook technique" has appeared. And by "textbook" I don't mean how pretty the jump looks (Midori's jumps looked spectacular, but her technique isn't compatible with most skater's bodies), but rather the body position and entry speed that would maximize the time spent in the air (to avoid underrotations), the flow on the landing (to make attaching another jump at the end posible), the chances of maintaining the correct edges, etc..

    I apologize for the digression, but I don't want this thread to turn into "which coach should be dragged over buring coals for teaching Mao faulty technique". The coaches did their best, it's just that Mao's jumping style wasn't seen as faulty back then, and there was dozens of skaters who jumped in the same way.

    To answer supsu's question, though:

    And who was the one who thought her the jumps originally?
    Machiko Yamada, who previously coached Midori Ito.

    Can somebody clarify for me what happened with Mao's jumps?
    Young Mao was considered a jumping genius - she had good balance, great muscle memory and rotated unusually quickly in the air. However, she was taught to approach her jumps in a more "up-and-down" rather than "across" way, and her 3Lz, 3F and 3T had flawed, by today's standars, entrances. Why? Perhaps as she started landing her triples very early (at novice Nats 2000 she was alteady attempting all 5), she possibly didn't have quite the speed and muscle power to achieve enough ice coverage to rotate the jumps, or perhaps the coaches wanted to make things easier for her. Looking back at her 2000 novice LP shows that she was actually exceptionally fast for a novice skater, so it's possible that she was taught to jump this way simply because most of Machiko's students at that time were jumping this way as well.

    Let's look at Mao's 3F/3Lz from that time.
    Back then Mao approached her 3F/3Lz by leaning forward, lifting her free leg pretty high (almost above hip level) and using the momentum from slamming the free leg down to launch herself high enough to rotate the jump.
    To borrow an explanation from Wikipedia: "Another notable technique flaw that appears in many skaters' flips (and Lutz jumps) is "hammer toe," which occurs when the free leg rises unusually high, typically near (in some cases above) hip height, before descending to strike the ice. This can make the jump easier to rotate but sacrifices height and some control."

    Here's a screencap from her SP (GPF 2005):
    http://i41.tinypic.com/2n6gg0z.jpg
    You can see her body is almost parallel to the ice, with free leg raised almost above her hip.

    As long as Mao had tiny body, jumping in this way didn't cause her any trouble. However, as she started getting taller and heavier, it was becoming more and more difficult for

    her to launch herself high enough to rotate the jump. In result, her 3F/3Lz became even more "hammer toe-ish":
    http://i44.tinypic.com/ohl99v.jpg
    From Worlds 2009 LP. (Compare this to her 3F/3Lz this season - she isn't lifting her free leg so high, she doesn't swing her right arm so much, she doesn't lean so much to the inside on the take-off and, in case of 3F, she doesn't pause after the mohawk turn and uses the momentum from the turn to initiate the rotation rather than the swing of her arm and free leg.)

    The "hammer toe" influenced her core balance and speed/flow on the landing, which made landing 3F-3T and 3F-3L very difficult (she stopped attempting them at that time). It made her 3Lz too unstable to be included her programs as well.

    In the months leading to the Vancouver Olympics Mao concentrated mostly on getting her 3F consistent again - it was way too late to rework it completely, but she wanted it just consistent enough to be put into her programs. If you look at the Vancouver protocols, all of her 3 triple flips were problematic, but at least she didn't fall. However, by that time Mao knew she would have to rework her jumps after Olys if she pland to continue to compete. So, to answer the question:

    Why did they start the process to learn the jumps again?
    ...Because, in Mao's words, as she continued growing she would lose the ability to jump at all. The technique she learned as a child wasn't compatibile with a mature woman's body. Muscling through the jumps not only made them unstable, but also put huge strain on her muscles and bones.

    I'm not going into technical details regarding all of the jumps (and even the above description is fairly simplified), because it's pretty late here and I need to get up early tomorrow. However, if somebody is interested in how each of Mao's jumps changed (and what Mao & coach Sato are aiming for), I can post some vids/gifs/explanations when I get back from my trip (that is, on Thursday).



    ETA:
    Quote Originally Posted by CarneAsada
    Mao with Yamada: she had the 3A and a great 3F-3Lo, but she had a toe-Axel and a wrong edge on Lutz. Didn't attempt Salchow.
    She actually had a solid 3S until she started practicing 4S. Unless somebody removed the videos, there should be a clip from her Novice 2000 LP (where she landed a clean 3S), 2002 Nationals LP (where she landed a wonky one) and 2003 Nationals (another clean one). There should be also a 4S or two uploaded (although they were UR).

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    Quote Originally Posted by CarneAsada View Post
    Short summary
    Mao with Yamada: she had the 3A and a great 3F-3Lo, but she had a toe-Axel and a wrong edge on Lutz. Didn't attempt Salchow.
    Mao with Arutunian: fixed her toe-Axel. Still had flutz but all her jumps were solid.
    Mao with Tarasova: tried to fix Lutz, started going for 2 3As in a program, brought back Salchow. Looked great at first but started losing her jumps starting in 2009. Eventually stopped doing Lutz and Salchow, no more 3-3 either.

    After Vancouver, she went to Nagakubo (Akiko Suzuki's coach) to fix the jumps and get back some of the ones she stopped doing as her 3-3 was far out of reach by that point. Then she went to Sato. In 2010-2011 she was a mess because relearning and fixing technique takes time, and there were competitions she probably should never have attended. She's still in the process of trying to restore her jumps to around their 2008 state (probably her absolute peak for jumps). We can see all the jumps there in practice but consistency- and technique-wise it's not really there (still edge call, under-rotations). Still a vast improvement since 2010/2011 though.
    Wow, good summary!

    Silly question, but what is a toe-Axel?

    Has she ever done 3flip-3 toe or other 3-toe- combos? Cause aren't those easier as in 3-3? All in all it seems that Mao has more of a unique type of jumps, not the usual toe-toe etc.. I had just wondered why that is. It's sad that when Yuna was out she (Mao) wasn't in the best shape to get her own kingdom... I don't want to get into the argument on Yuna vs Mao, but I really hope that Mao would do a 3axel and a 3axel-combo in Sochi... I mean pointwise doesn't it cover the fact that she wouldn't have a 3-3? Oh, and without under rotations...

    Interesting, I wonder did her "becoming women" (although her body seems to be the same) affected her jumps like with russians etc? Did she lose power and height or was is just on the faulty technique?

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    Quote Originally Posted by supsu View Post
    Silly question, but what is a toe-Axel?
    Short version is very poor technique on the toe loop take-off.. rather than reaching back and behind, the toe-in happens "open" out to the side, sometimes even with the weight being planted totally forward on the take-off. Some rotation on the toe with a correct take-off is normal, but this basically pre-rotates the jump before the take-off has even started.

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    Quote Originally Posted by inskate View Post
    Mao learned her jumps back under 6.0, when the jumping technique wasn't very closely scurtinized, and as long as the jumps looked nice to the naked eye. Some of the technical flaws weren't universally recognized as flaws.

    One thing to consider - back when many of the current coaches learned skating there was no HD videos, instant slow-mo replays, or IPads to record jumps and rewatch them instantly. The average jumping layouts were much easier for both ladies and men, so there was less pressure to find that perfect jumping style that would maximize the skater's chances of landing the jumps and jump combinations perfectly. There were jumpers ahead of their era (like Midori), but their jumping prowess was most often a result of exeptional physical qualities and "transplanting" their jumping style onto another skater wouldn't work (case in point: Yukari's jumping style was modeled after Midori's, but without Midori's powerful muscles Yukari's leg wrap looked bad and caused her jumps to be often underrotated and lack flow).

    Only recently, with technological advancements and the growing importance of 3-3s (for ladies) and quads & quad combos (for men) the concept of "textbook technique" has appeared. And by "textbook" I don't mean how pretty the jump looks (Midori's jumps looked spectacular, but her technique isn't compatible with most skater's bodies), but rather the body position and entry speed that would maximize the time spent in the air (to avoid underrotations), the flow on the landing (to make attaching another jump at the end posible), the chances of maintaining the correct edges, etc..

    I apologize for the digression, but I don't want this thread to turn into "which coach should be dragged over buring coals for teaching Mao faulty technique". The coaches did their best, it's just that Mao's jumping style wasn't seen as faulty back then, and there was dozens of skaters who jumped in the same way.

    To answer supsu's question, though:



    Machiko Yamada, who previously coached Midori Ito.



    Young Mao was considered a jumping genius - she had good balance, great muscle memory and rotated unusually quickly in the air. However, she was taught to approach her jumps in a more "up-and-down" rather than "across" way, and her 3Lz, 3F and 3T had flawed, by today's standars, entrances. Why? Perhaps as she started landing her triples very early (at novice Nats 2000 she was alteady attempting all 5), she possibly didn't have quite the speed and muscle power to achieve enough ice coverage to rotate the jumps, or perhaps the coaches wanted to make things easier for her. Looking back at her 2000 novice LP shows that she was actually exceptionally fast for a novice skater, so it's possible that she was taught to jump this way simply because most of Machiko's students at that time were jumping this way as well.

    Let's look at Mao's 3F/3Lz from that time.
    Back then Mao approached her 3F/3Lz by leaning forward, lifting her free leg pretty high (almost above hip level) and using the momentum from slamming the free leg down to launch herself high enough to rotate the jump.
    To borrow an explanation from Wikipedia: "Another notable technique flaw that appears in many skaters' flips (and Lutz jumps) is "hammer toe," which occurs when the free leg rises unusually high, typically near (in some cases above) hip height, before descending to strike the ice. This can make the jump easier to rotate but sacrifices height and some control."

    Here's a screencap from her SP (GPF 2005):
    http://i41.tinypic.com/2n6gg0z.jpg
    You can see her body is almost parallel to the ice, with free leg raised almost above her hip.

    As long as Mao had tiny body, jumping in this way didn't cause her any trouble. However, as she started getting taller and heavier, it was becoming more and more difficult for

    her to launch herself high enough to rotate the jump. In result, her 3F/3Lz became even more "hammer toe-ish":
    http://i44.tinypic.com/ohl99v.jpg
    From Worlds 2009 LP. (Compare this to her 3F/3Lz this season - she isn't lifting her free leg so high, she doesn't swing her right arm so much, she doesn't lean so much to the inside on the take-off and, in case of 3F, she doesn't pause after the mohawk turn and uses the momentum from the turn to initiate the rotation rather than the swing of her arm and free leg.)

    The "hammer toe" influenced her core balance and speed/flow on the landing, which made landing 3F-3T and 3F-3L very difficult (she stopped attempting them at that time). It made her 3Lz too unstable to be included her programs as well.

    In the months leading to the Vancouver Olympics Mao concentrated mostly on getting her 3F consistent again - it was way too late to rework it completely, but she wanted it just consistent enough to be put into her programs. If you look at the Vancouver protocols, all of her 3 triple flips were problematic, but at least she didn't fall. However, by that time Mao knew she would have to rework her jumps after Olys if she pland to continue to compete. So, to answer the question:



    ...Because, in Mao's words, as she continued growing she would lose the ability to jump at all. The technique she learned as a child wasn't compatibile with a mature woman's body. Muscling through the jumps not only made them unstable, but also put huge strain on her muscles and bones.

    I'm not going into technical details regarding all of the jumps (and even the above description is fairly simplified), because it's pretty late here and I need to get up early tomorrow. However, if somebody is interested in how each of Mao's jumps changed (and what Mao & coach Sato are aiming for), I can post some vids/gifs/explanations when I get back from my trip (that is, on Thursday).



    ETA:


    She actually had a solid 3S until she started practicing 4S. Unless somebody removed the videos, there should be a clip from her Novice 2000 LP (where she landed a clean 3S), 2002 Nationals LP (where she landed a wonky one) and 2003 Nationals (another clean one). There should be also a 4S or two uploaded (although they were UR).
    Thank you for this wonderful description. I'm looking forward to reading the longer and more detailed version that includes all of her jumps.

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    Welcome, supsu. Thanks for joining us.

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    Thanks! No experience in figure skating (except for school), so I'm all about silly questions!

    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    Welcome, supsu. Thanks for joining us.

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    Oh, and for inskate:

    Thanks for the very detailed answer!


    "I apologize for the digression, but I don't want this thread to turn into "which coach should be dragged over buring coals for teaching Mao faulty technique". The coaches did their best, it's just that Mao's jumping style wasn't seen as faulty back then, and there was dozens of skaters who jumped in the same way."

    Yes, absolutely my intention wasn't to point out any coach and there faults, but to learn about Mao's background concerning jumps, which people have done very well. Also it was interesting to know who was behind the 3A. The thing with Mr. Sato was to learn why the change in technique, whether it was Mr. Sato's idea or Mao. And since I didn't know there was problems with the original technique, it puzzled me. Clearly, know it makes sense having learnt she had issues with jumping.

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    Quote Originally Posted by inskate View Post
    Mao learned her jumps back under 6.0, when the jumping technique wasn't very closely scurtinized, and as long as the jumps looked nice to the naked eye. Some of the technical flaws weren't universally recognized as flaws.
    Sorry, I just can't agree with what you're saying about 6.0. Technical flaws such as a flutz, mule kick/hammer toe, and underrotating were universally acknowledged as flaws under 6.0. I don't think the mule kick was explicitly punished, but Sarah Hughes was criticized for it and it was seen as a flaw--you can hear Dick Button/Peggy Fleming commenting on it in some of her videos. The current IJS didn't make those flaws up. Flutzing was an issue for both the eventual 1998 and 2002 Olympic champions. Tara Lipinski and Michelle Kwan's coaches had their war of words over flutzing in 1997-1998. There was even an unintentionally hilarious NY Times article in 2002 that portrayed Sarah Hughes' flutz and how she had been punished for it as a conspiracy to bring her down instead of acknowledging that Sarah Hughes had one of the worst flutzes ever.

    Flutzing has never been recognized as anything but a flaw. Now, judges did not always consistently punish skaters for flutzing and underrotating because they didn't always notice (or the skaters hid their lutz well) and didn't have the ability to replay at the time, but that does not mean flutzing and underrotating was universally accepted. The two are different issues. See some of Lu Chen's technical scores at the 1998 Olympics, or Sarah Hughes' SP scores at the 2002 Olympics, as proof that judges did notice their mistakes.

    If what you say is true about 6.0, then that meant skaters had no incentive to master a true lutz or proper jump technique in general. So why would they bother? Obviously, it's not true. Any knowledgeable judge/coach did know that flutzing was not okay. Shizuka Arakawa had a true lutz in 1998 (see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4fFzm8Iics ). She didn't have a mule kick, and she didn't underrotate her solo jumps (she did sometimes underrotate the backend triple of a triple/triple, and that's probably part of the reason the judges put her in 2nd after Sasha Cohen at 2004 Worlds in the SP, where she did a 3Lz/3T and Sasha Cohen did not do a 3/3). You can find plenty of examples like that throughout where the scores and placements make more sense once you acknowledge that they're likely deducting for flutzes or URs or other mistakes not immediately obvious to the casual viewer.

    One thing to consider - back when many of the current coaches learned skating there was no HD videos, instant slow-mo replays, or IPads to record jumps and rewatch them instantly.
    No, but it wasn't the stone age either. They had VCRs, they could record videos. Coaches could talk to judges and to each other. I would certainly expect most coaches to know the rules of the scoring system, know what merits deductions, follow the major competitions, watch performances, see the scores, and be able to understand why some skaters scored higher than others.

    Only recently, with technological advancements and the growing importance of 3-3s (for ladies) and quads & quad combos (for men) the concept of "textbook technique" has appeared. And by "textbook" I don't mean how pretty the jump looks (Midori's jumps looked spectacular, but her technique isn't compatible with most skater's bodies), but rather the body position and entry speed that would maximize the time spent in the air (to avoid underrotations), the flow on the landing (to make attaching another jump at the end posible), the chances of maintaining the correct edges, etc..
    Again, oversimplification, too much generalization. Textbook technique only mattered "recently"??? What? Flow upon landing was important under 6.0 (Frank Carroll thinks that was one of the difference makers for Michelle Kwan beating Lu Chen in 1995), not cheating the jumps was important, edge take-offs were important, etc.

    I apologize for the digression, but I don't want this thread to turn into "which coach should be dragged over buring coals for teaching Mao faulty technique". The coaches did their best, it's just that Mao's jumping style wasn't seen as faulty back then, and there was dozens of skaters who jumped in the same way.
    I'm not interested in coach flogging, but your overall point isn't true. Maybe Mao's coaches didn't see her jumping technique as faulty, but that doesn't mean other coaches wouldn't have seen that there was an issue. There were skaters who did not have proper jump technique like Mao--and there were skaters like Shizuka Arakawa and Miki Ando who did.

    Besides which, while you say that Mao was trained under 6.0, she competed internationally under IJS her entire career. In Mao's junior years, there are protocols which show that the judges were deducting for her flutzing. So the idea that flutzing was a flaw that was penalized didn't just drop out of they sky when they implemented the "e" mark later in 2007.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jaylee View Post
    Sorry, I just can't agree with what you're saying about 6.0...
    No one is saying that those mistakes didn't exist back then, or that it was made up in 2007. But the deductions for them were not as clearly defined. I think Mao's technique problems are a result of the competitive Japanese environment where for novice skaters at the time, it was a race to learn all the triples, technique be damned. Murakami, Nakano, many have problems with wrong edges or under-rotations, Yukari's leg wrap, etc. Even Shizuka Arakawa and Miki Ando who you hold up as paragons of good technique both had problems with outside edge takeoffs on their flips, and both have had plenty of problems rotating 3-3 combos. Miki Ando has also had her -2Loop-2Loop combinations downgraded in the past.

    In other words, yes, we can squarely place the blame on Mao's early coaches if we want to rake someone over the coals, but I am also uninterested in it as these same coaches taught her plenty of good stuff that she might otherwise have missed with other coaches, and it doesn't help to blame now anyway.

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