ISU, stop promoting 2-foot skating!
Team Event: Men SP Report - 2014 Winter Olympics
XXII Olympic Winter Games
Men – Short Program
Result (OWG Website)
Links to other Olympics Reports:
Team Event - Ladies SP
Team Event - Ice Dance SD
Team Event - Pairs SP
The aim of these reports is to attempt to look critically at skaters’ performances, try to pay close attention to detail and evaluate each of the technical elements, as well as the program components aspect, on their own merit, whilst attempting to avoid getting anchored by things like noticeable mistakes, an overall ‘wow effect’ or skaters’ reputation, as much as possible.
What that means is that a skater can, for example, fall but execute everything else in their program to very high standard. Or make a great overall impression but commit numerous mistakes, once you look more closely. The point to those hypothetical examples is, it’s never just black or white and there are always both positive and negative aspects to every performance. What makes figure skating different from any other sport is its complexity and the numerous layers you can uncover. Finally, in an ideal world, skaters’ past accomplishments should have no bearing on how their current performances are evaluated.
The GOE values listed next to the elements are ones I would consider appropriate based on the quality of execution of that element. I’m very much a stickler and the numbers will probably be likely lower on average than those handed out by the actual judging panel, but I try my best to hold all skaters to the same standard. They’re also intended to give you a general impression of how each element was executed. I try to describe each of the elements in detail but there's not always time to be as precise as I would like (and sometimes the element is simply ‘ok’ and there isn’t really much to say about it).
Of course, it’s impossible to notice everything and figure skating is inherently subjective so any questions, comments, criticism and different points of view are all very welcome. I am always grateful for any feedback and an opportunity to look at things from a different perspective.
1. Matthew PARR /GBR/
Farruca y Rumba by Pepe Romero
spread eagle into sit forward cannonball to sit sideways broken leg/jump to sit/jump to sit  – good entry, decent flow, rotation speed not bad
some in-character connecting footwork
3lutz/2toe [-1] – not much flow out of the lutz (it looked like he landed on the whole blade), toe landing slightly skiddy and he had to do half a turn out (he was very close to the boards)
3flip  – solid landing, straight off preceding steps
to camel/upright head back/change upright forward butt out/sit behind forward bend [-2] – rotation speed not bad but he could have used a bit more flow and he was off-centred a fair amount in the first upright position and then again in the second
connecting footwork into scratch butterflies into flying camel to catch [-1] – his position in the camel variation didn’t have a lot of stretch and could have been extended better, not a lot of speed
steps into 2axel  – landing edge a little tentative
straight line step sequence  – good attack, his movement reflected the character of the music quite well
effective ending pose at the end of the step sequence
The program opened in an unusual way with the sit spin performed right off the bat, without any preparation. There was a lot of connecting footwork in the program with most of the elements being preceded by transitions. The way his movement was choreographed throughout reflected the character of the music quite well but he could have executed it with more attack. His movements weren’t sharp and staccato enough for the Spanish music with a very strong rhythm that he picked for this program. He went all out during the straight line step sequence at the end, however and it provided for a very effective closing impression.
He didn’t have as much speed and power as most skaters competing here and his edges weren’t very deep but they were adequate, with no obvious scratching or toe-pushing.
This was by far the best I’ve ever seen him skate and he has beaten his Personal Best by a whopping 8.08 points.
2. Paul Bonifacio PARKINSON /ITA/
Wolfgang's 5th Symphony by Wolfgang Gartner
4salchow [-3] – under-rotated over 1/4, two-footed, fall
3axel [-3] – slightly under-rotated, fall
flying camel to catch coe to sideways twist  – good rotation speed but slightly off-centred (+1-1)
steps into 3lutz/2toe [-1] – some hesitation between the two jumps as he skidded on the lutz landing
sit forward pancake/jump to sit forward to sit behind forward bend  – decent positions, quite good rotation speed
straight line step sequence  – edges a little shallow, upper body movement a bit messy
camel/sit/intermediate sideways twist/change upright straight L(off-centred)  – quite good rotation speed (+1-1)
He was quite fast throughout (clearly faster than Parr) but lacked control. Both in terms of his upper body movement lacking precision and his posture being poor (rounded and raised shoulders) as well as timing on the jumps being off, which resulted in mistakes happening. His edges and foot placement weren’t precise either, giving a ‘sloppy’ effect.
Good energy throughout, however. He attacked the program well. I guess the challenge for him in containing that energy better so that he can skate with more control and precision.
The Italian Federation had an Olympic qualification system based on the highest free skating score in the current season. Whilst it was clear and transparent, which is something that the US and Russian systems were lacking, it didn’t reward consistency over the whole season and it didn’t take into consideration the short program performances at all. And SP is where big mistakes on the jumps are extremely costly, as was proven in this case. Parkinson is a skater who goes for a high base value so he can score very well when he delivers the goods. He is, however, very inconsistent. He has competed at four international as well as a few national events this season so he managed to have some strong performances. But if you considered all of his scores, and not just the highest one, he wouldn’t be here.
3. Yakov GODOROZHA /UKR/
Tosca (new arrangement) by Giacomo Puccini
3axel  – very solid landing
3lutz [-3] – turnout with foot down, no preceding steps (this was meant to be the combination), slight change of edge just before take-off (the technical panel didn’t call it) (-2-3-1)
scratch butterflies into flying camel sideways twist catch to forward camel catch  – slowed down in the final position
steps into 3loop(half a turn out)/2toe [-1] – poor speed and flow out of both jumps
straight line step sequence [-1] – timing off, edges quite shallow and scratchy
transitions into sit forward cannonball coe/change sit/jump to sit tuck leg behind [-1] – slow in the last position, heavy change of foot
camel/sit/upright sideways cross-foot/change sit sideways/upright straight Y  – decent speed and flow
His basics are quite subpar. Posture and lines were not very good and carriage was lacking with his movements being a little wooden and clunky. His edges were a bit shallow and scratchy. There didn’t seem to be a lot connection between his movement and the music.
He did seem to improve his presentation somewhat since last season but he still has a long way to go.
4. Evgeny PLYUSHCHENKO /RUS/
Tango de Roxanne (from "Moulin Rouge" soundtrack) arranged by Edvin Marton
4toe/3toe  – well balanced but not a lot of speed or flow out (both landings a little scratchy, quad especially)
3axel [-1] – off-balance on the landing, he skidded slightly and had to fight for it (managed to hang on well, however)
3lutz  – well connected with preceding steps, not a great deal of speed or flow out but good position in the air and he showed control on the landing by having his arms close to the chest and delaying extending them to side (usually the skaters do that straight away in order to help them keep the balance)
flying camel upward twist to catch to forward camel catch [-1] – poorly extended positions, not a lot of speed
straight line step sequence  – fast and quite well controlled footwork but his edges weren’t very precise and it seemed mostly off-time
sit/jump to sit/change sit sideways broken leg to tuck leg behind [-1] – slow after change of foot, the last two positions weren’t extended particularly well
camel coe/sit/upright sideways/change camel/sit(very slightly off-centred)/upright sideways cross-foot  – very well extended basic camel position (upright not bad either)
He did his best and executed all of his planned elements but the quality just isn’t there anymore. His basic skating is still quite smooth and his edges secure but he doesn’t have as much speed and flow as currently competing top skaters. The choreography was quite basic with few transitions and not a lot of relation to the music and his movement lacked tango character. In the past, what made Plushenko stand out from everybody else was his incredible projection and confidence he skated with. Nobody else commanded the ice like he did. Whilst he did attack the program and at no point did he seem timid or tense, he didn’t have the command he once possessed (or at least not to the same extent).
Plushenko’s past accomplishments are remarkable and he deserves great respect for once again proving that he can thrive under pressure and land all of his jumps, whilst others falter. Especially considering all of the circumstances (his age, numerous serious injuries and having been out of competitive skating for a while). None of this should have any bearing on how he is being judged for his current performances, though. It feels like the scores he received reflected his reputation and past achievements more than they did what he actually performed on the ice on this day.
5. Jeremy ABBOTT /USA/
Lilies of the Valley (from "Pina" sountrack) by Jun Miyake
4toe [-3] – under-rotated around 1/3, fall
steps to 3lutz/2toe  – good height, solid landings
flying upright straight L to sideways to sideways cross-foot  – good rotation speed and flow, a lot of revolutions
transitions to 1axel [-3] – a big pop
footwork into sit forward cannonball to sideways broken leg/change sit/jump to sit behind 
footwork into camel sideways/sit/jump to change sit forward/intermediate var/upright  – decent flow but very slightly off-centred at the start
circular step sequence  – deep edges, very good glide, busy upper body movement
He showed strong edges and the program featured detailed choreography with pretty much constant upper body movement and connecting footwork throughout, reflecting the character of the music quite well. Performance skills were lacking, however. He seemed tense throughout and skated with his famous puke face (tm). A question mark about the timing of his movement (I thought it seemed off).
He missed his triple axel for four times in a row in the warm-up and only managed to land it on his fifth attempt and he looked like he was very nervous before going out to start his program.
6. Peter LIEBERS /GER/
Clocks by Coldplay performed by Two Cellos feat. Lang Lang
4toe/2toe [-1] – quite a long entry, the quad was slightly underrotated and he pitched forward on the landing slightly so he didn’t have enough momentum for the planned triple toe; the double was well executed though
3axel  – telegraphed entry, landed on the wrong edge initially but held the landing well
sit to sideways broken leg/jump to change sit forward pancake 
steps into 3lutz  – directly connected with preceding footwork, good position in the air, very solid landing, accentuated well with good speed and flow out
flying camel coe to donut to forward camel catch [-1] – positions poorly extended, not a lot of speed
straight line step sequence  – quite good speed and flow
camel/jump to sit to sit behind/upright/change camel(slow)/sit/upright sideways cross-foot (off-centred) [-1] – decent rotation speed at the start but he lost speed after the change of foot
He skated with good speed and flow throughout. He still lacks performance skills somewhat, having skated with a blank facial expression but he put more energy and more effort into his movements than he used to in the past and it looked quite neat and controlled.
The choreography was bland, however. His gentle movement seemed appropriate to the music but it lacked variety and highlights.
He has improved his Personal Best by 2.19 points.
7. YAN Han /CHN/
Minor Waltz Michael Poral
Viper's Drag by Fats Waller
3axel  – incredible distance covered, landing a little over the toe but he held it well
4toe [-2] – landing a little scratchy, very few preceding steps followed by a very long break (0-2)
kneeling to scratch butterflies into flying camel to sideways twist to coe to catch  – nice entry, decent rotation speed
steps to sit sideways twist/change sit sideways to tuck leg behind  – good flow, decent rotation speed
steps towards 3lutz(slightly over the toe)/3toe(slightly under-rotated, step out) [-2]
straight line step sequence  – sharp footwork
steps to camel/jump to sit/upright forward cannonball/change upright sideways cross-foot  – decent rotation speed but he was off-centred a little between the jump into the sit and the change of foot (+1-1)
His basic skating is very strong and he showed long edges and great glide throughout. The choreography reflected the character of the music decently enough but the playful quality of his movement could have been emphasised and brought out more, both in terms of making it more varied and interesting and him delivering it with more conviction. He’s still a little introverted and doesn’t seem emotionally involved and hopefully he can improve his performance skills and develop more of a presence with time (he has already improved in this regard since last season).
8. Florent AMODIO /FRA/
La Cumparsita arranged by Sebastien Damiani, F. Larage
three-turns to 3salchow  – high and solid; he could have accentuated the landing better, though, instead of moving out of it so quickly
3axel  - good speed out
3lutz(high and solid)/3toe(landing a little shaky) 
flying camel sideways twist to catch 
circular step sequence  – strong edges, quite fast footwork, great attack, busy upper body movement
steps to camel/sit/jump to sit/change intermediate var/up sideways cross-foot  – fast rotation
sit forward cannonball to coe/jump to sit leg behind  – decent positions and rotation speed, touch down with free foot coming out of the spin though (+1-1)
His edges were quite smooth, his posture and lines were good and he showed great charisma and projection during his step sequence. Unfortunately, it was lacking from the rest of the program. His upper body movement performed elsewhere lacked energy and conviction and in comparison to what he showed he is capable of during the circular steps, it looked like he was just going through the motions.
The choreography wasn’t particularly complex with him doing the usual skating around the rink into the first jumping pass and then around the rink into the second jumping pass and then to the opposite end of the rink for the third jumping pass. Very 1999. His movement didn’t have a lot of tango character either. His basics are strong all round and it’s a shame not seeing them put to better use.
9. Patrick CHAN /CAN/
Elegie in E-Flat Minor by Sergei Rachmaninov
4toe(pitched forward on the landing)/2toe [-1]
3axel [-3] – heavily overrotated
transitions into camel/change camel to sideways to coe  – quite good positions and flow
3lutz  – skidded slightly on the landing
flying sit to sideways twist to sideways broken leg 
straight line step sequence  – deep and precise edges, fantastic flow throughout; timing looked off however (I don’t think that it was choreographed to the music in the first place)
camel/jump to sit/up cannonball/change sit to leg behind/up  – very good flow and rotation speed
Chan has the strongest skating skills, currently on display in competitive skating, by far. Deep and secure edges, very good speed and flow throughout. Because he generates speed so easily, requiring relatively few cross-overs, the program featured a lot of connecting footwork. His upper body movement was very controlled and reflected the character of the music quite well but I think it could have been a little stronger and he could have projected a bit more and shown more emotions.
10. HANYU Yuzuru /JPN/
Parisian Walkways by Gary Moore
steps to 4toe  – very solid landing, good speed and flow out
scratch butterflies into flying camel sideways twist to donut  – quite good flow and rotation speed
sit forward/change sit sideways broken leg to tuck leg behind  – good flow, well extended positions, very controlled throughout
steps into 3axel  – very solid landing, extended well, good speed out, transitions going in and out
3lutz(leaning a little forward in the air)/3toe(not a lot of flow out) 
straight line step sequence  – fast footwork, quite good energy and control
scratch butterflies into camel coe/intermediate var/change sit/jump to sit/up cross-foot  – decent to start but lost a little speed after landing the jump into the sit and was a tiny bit off-centred in the last position
Hanyu showed strong basic skating, with very good glide throughout. There was a fair amount of connecting footwork in the program and he made very good use of his whole body (not just moving his arms up and down). His movement had a cool and effortless quality, reflecting the character of the music well. His posture and lines are still quite poor, however.
Florent Amodio. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. I swear he's been doing the same program for how many years now?
Peter Liebers--well that really was a personal best for him, wasn't it? I wonder if the ginormous German cowbell had anything to do with that...
Han Yan's axel looked like it could have set some distance records.
Plushenko. I've never been a fan, but when has his "choreography" had much of anything to do with his music? Like Amodio: lather/rinse/repeat. Otherwise, I agree completely with your assessment. He's an amazing competitor.
Chan's presentation really has improved tremendously under Kathy Johnson (even if it wasn't so evident here). Nerves, nerves, nerves--he "thought" his way through that program. And it really is a gorgeous program. But my gut feeling is that he is going to make the same kind of mistakes in the individual competition.
Jeremy. Well, I do love the music...
Hanyu always makes me think, so this is what Jimmy Stewart would have looked like as a skater. He's got that awkward adolescent-ish gangly quality JS never lost. Amazing jumper and for once I thought he actually brought a bit of 'rock god swagger' to the performance. But yeah, his posture and lines are uhm not very good.
Always enjoy reading your assessments. Hope you continue to post them throughout the Sochi Experience.
ISU, stop promoting 2-foot skating!
That would lead me to ask, so just who IS doing Amodio's choreography reeeeeeeeeally...
ISU, stop promoting 2-foot skating!
I seriously think he might be employing the 'Let's focus on landing my jumps and remove everything that might impede that' strategy.
Originally Posted by WeakAnkles
Thanks for the very detailed analysis. I would have given Yan +2 for the axel and just -1 for the quad.
I suggest you add in your recommended PCS per category for each skater.
Thanks so much for your analyses of the skaters! They really help me understand what I'm watching.
Originally Posted by WeakAnkles
Is that too harsh?
Oh I think Ziggy is probably closer to the truth: there's more "strategy" than "choreography." But YMMV of course...
One does not simply skate into Sochi
Gosh, I could watch Yan Hans triple axel all day. He is so good at it!
Thanks for the analysis! You're a tough GoE judge but that's what the judges need to be more like.
I'm gonna Customize the CRAP out of this Title!!!
Thanks for taking the time to put all this together, that was an excellent read!
- Parr: really happy for him, his honest smile when he finished -and even in some places during his last moves- made for such a great opening to the competition. He had 3Lz3T listed as planned combo, but given his overall level, it was close to the best he can do. I like it when a skater can smile and not put on this artificial "damn about the 2T"-face on at the end.
- Parkinson: I'm so angry at the Italian Federation for being irresponsible in choosing him over the much, much stronger Righini(Bariev). Irritating for me to see the "cool swagger" facial grin throughout the program given the mediocre performance. I know "selling the program" should never be forgotten, but in this case, grinning like he's so cool just didn't work for me, it would have been more honest not to. 2 falls, scratchy 3-2 combo, but still way above his average SP, since he didn't pop, <<, or fall on a spin. Unbelievable they sent him, esp after confirming again at the Euros.
- Godorozha: very bland, but a nice 3A.
- Plushenko: I've been very critic of his current skating and the decision to send him, but he delivered the jumps. You can't really blame him for his "just like jump practice" approach to the program since he knows that's how his jumps are most likely to be landed, and he gets GOEs without earning them. He went to the middle of the rink, and when the music started, he started building speed for the 1st jump. Just like pure jump practice without music. Then building speed for 2nd jump. Then building speed for 3rd jump. Nothing else before all the jumps were done. ANY OTHER SKATER would be told, "man, you just cannot do that in this day and age, you'll get 3 in TR." A no-name skater having this choreo WOULD get a 3 in TR. He does ooze confidence, which should increase his presentation score. But ONLY that.
- Abbott: Such a shame. As you pointed out, judges should be able to mark each category objectively, and they didn't: his program is stuffed with difficult connecting moves, and he still got a lower TR mark than Plushenko who had none at all for the 1st half of the program, and far less intricate ones in the second half.
- Liebers: I like the guy, and I'm happy he landed the quad. True, he still doesn't project well to the audience, but here too, the program was filled with transitions. I first thought he should have planned to do the quad individually (even with no steps before it) and do 3Lz3T which is very consistent for him, but the protocols showed that it was probably worth more to have a single jump with real steps leading into it. Still think he was again marked quite low, I'd have had him above Amodio.
- Yan: His 3A is so representative of his overall skating: great potential, "wow! factor", but also the potential to go very wrong if a mistake happens. His choreo seems like sth that a more confident skater (or a skater that's less focused on the elements) could fill with life, here it seemed like going through the motions without actually believing in them too much.
- Amodio: I know he always uses the same kind of moves, but I don't get why he can't even switch up the FIRST 3 SECONDS! Every year, every program, he opens up with this same move "raise the arm, do a turn and start skating" every year. Unbelievable, and so annoying.
- Chan: Not exactly the confidence builder going into the individual event he'd have hoped for, but I agree, he has the best overall skating and stroking quality. I'd still have had him way above Plushenko even with the mistakes.
- Hanyu: Well deserved win. The entry into the 3A always amazes me! I'm slowly getting tired of that program though...
ISU, stop promoting 2-foot skating!
Frenchie, thanks for sharing your thoughts and observations.
Yeah, that would definitely be justified as well given the positive features. I know I'm very much a stickler. As CanadianSkaterGuy said, it's like I'm trying to counter-balance to the judges' usually trigger happy GOE.
Originally Posted by marcolee925
I have to say that for all of my criticism of the judging, I have to acknowledge the fact that with the system being as poorly developed and loosely defined as it is at the moment, it is very difficult to come up with the marks. There just isn't much of a framework to go by. With the GOE it's not that bad (although I think that there's a lot of room for improvement) but as far as PCS go, there's absolutely no system for coming up with the marks and no definitions of what each mark means. All that you get is that, for example, 8.00 means 'very good' and that doesn't help much. There's a lot of factors to consider and no way of translating things you perceive into scores. I guess you just have to go with your gut.
Originally Posted by marcolee925
So I don't envy the judges and being a perfectionist, I would have had a very hard time trying to come up with suitable PCS marks. So I'll try but it might end up with me sitting there, musing for 30 minutes on which scores would be appropriate for a particular skater.