Don't get me started on all the skaters who do solo quads as their out-of-steps jump in the SP, with no steps whatsoever leading into it. And the judges still give them +GOEs! If you can't do a quad out of steps, do a 4-3. Bummed about no second half bonus for your combo? Deal with it.
That said, I am not opposed to skaters putting more effort into transitions and linking movements. However, skating skills and TR are the more objective, easily quantified components. That means that it's a better return for a skater's (time) investment) to focus on that - but that means that the more subjective components, IN and P&E, are given less focus and less weight, and a lot of programs these days reflect this. I think we can all agree that a skater will usually get good marks on the latter two if they have strong skating skills (and good jumps), even if their IN and P&E isn't all that great. The same is not true in the other direction - your interpretation and performance can be top-notch, but if your tech isn't as strong, good luck getting out of the sevens (if that). To give an example from another discipline, nobody will persuade me that Hurtado/Diaz did not give one of the best performances in Sochi, even if technically they are not there yet. Now look at their IN mark. How is that right?
How can we ensure that skaters develop not just their technical skills and difficulty but also their abilities as performers who truly interpret the music? Skating can't survive on TR alone. The artistic side shouldn't be relegated to second-best status, it's not a cherry on top or secondary to the technical. Yet to me, it often feels that way these days, especially in the men's event where everyone is so busy on cramming in the tech.
This is why I'd rather watch the ladies. You actually see a lot more style and range of performances than you do in the men's competition.
Attempts =\= cleanly landed though.
Neither Hanyu not Chan had 2 clean quads in the FS, and those are their opening jumping passes just as most did it under 6.0. The highest number of clean quads among medalists is still 2002 by a mile.
In 6.0 you wouldn't be deducted for simply stroking into a quad, but you wouldn't be rewarded for doing a quad or triple axel with a tricky entry. So why risk losing the speed for the sake of a more difficult entry that won't be rewarded anyways. So in that sense, CoP is great, and athletes like Hanyu and Chan are responsible for pushing the field (and themselves) to attempt more creativity.
However, my point is that I don't like to see couples try so hard to do a new intricate lift, and as you said some painfully laboured death spirals, when some of them clearly are not able to them properly, but they might be much better in doing a simple lift, for example.
All this because of the system.
To quote Sonia Bianchetti: " The appeal of figure skating, as we all know, was its beauty, its art. This is what made it unique. AND IT IS LOST! The skaters now have been turned into robots, struggling to fit everything in and especially trying to get the highest "level" for each element, no matter how ugly the result may be.
A level 1 skating move might be the best way to express a phrase of music, but it has become a poor competitive choice. Instead of good choreography, we now see just repetitions of the same elements in the short and the free programs, or positions held long enough for the eye to process. "
While watching the skating and the marking at the Lombardia Trophy, though, I could not refrain from making some considerations on the inadequacy of the present rules especially for lower-level events, both for the skaters and the judges.
I was really suffering seeing most of these youngsters falling down in the absurd attempt to execute difficult double jumps and double-double jump combinations far beyond their capabilities, or executing complicated spins with no speed but a lot of travelling.
Not to speak of the quality of skating! With very few exceptions, the quality really suffered because basic skating, gliding on the ice, was simply neglected. The skaters just cannot skate. And this is due to the fact that the national and international regulations impose too many difficult jumps and jump combinations, overly difficult and complicated spins, in both short and free programs. And this is wrong. The main purpose of these events should be to create a solid technical basis that will allow the young skaters to evolve and slowly reach higher levels. Exactly as it happens in primary and secondary school, where the children, before being asked to write a poem, are taught to write and read, to learn grammar and syntax. Without these bases, nobody can expect any of these children, as gifted as they may be, to one day write The Divine Comedy. The same applies to our sport.
It would seem logical that the skaters be taught first to execute in the best possible way all the basic elements: solo jumps with a proper takeoff and good landing on long backward edges, and upright, sit and camel spins, without changing foot or positions, or grabbing the free leg after half a turn in a painful attempt to get some more points. This would push quality over poorly executed features.
I remember when Chan first added a 4T to his programs, he tried some tricky setups and eventually gave up because the jump was not working - a change that I applauded, BTW, because it allowed him to get it right. Even if he now sometimes does a rocker before the jump, that's one move and not immediately before he takes off. As I wrote earlier, if anyone does deserve credit in this area, it's Fernandez, who really upped the ante technically more than Chan did and before Hanyu added extra difficulty to his programs. And unlike them, he has two consistent quads (obviously, he does not have their skating skills).
I don't particularly care whether someone does a choctaw before a quad, because I care about how the jump looks, and not so much how the jump entry looks. It's not a feature of the IJS that I much care for, or the transitions out of jumps instead of holding a running edge with good extension on the free leg, or the difficult air position, which leads to 'Tano and Rippon arms (they can't be that difficult if every other skater can do them!). This is a good quad, and so is this one. I'm not inclined to look what steps led into them; there are plenty of opportunities in a program to have rockers and choctaws and mohawks, not nearly as many to get the most difficult jumps right.
Re lifts, I think most of the difficult ones look awful even when they are well executed. Do I need to see someone with divine positions like Tatiana Volosozhar hit ugly ones? Why should I want guys wobbling on one foot or Stefania Berton upside down or Morgan Cipres going down to one knee and barely holding up Vanessa James? Just because something difficult can be done doesn't mean it should be done.