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Thread: The athletic Artist vs. the artistic Athlete

  1. #1
    average opinionated skate fan
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    The athletic Artist vs. the artistic Athlete

    I just watched the video of Yags Farewell at Skate Canada and it got me to thinking about his and Plushy's rivalry. In a time where they pushed each other to be great, I see Yags as the atheltic artist and Plush as the artistic athlete. When you compare styles (and if you do, it is often "apples to oranges") I beleive that Yags is one the overall better "presenters" of modern skating , while Plushy seems to have it all over almost everyone on jump technique.

    I begin to ask myself, who do I prefer. The answer surprised me...both! At different times I've prefered one style over the other. Though I adore Kristi, I was so hoping that Midori Ito would win the Olympic Gold. I knew there was a good chance that Kristi would have skated in Lillihammer and still won over all the participants there,IMHO. I think you begin to get my drift. I'm not attempting to say that Midori should have won, but rather that in that head to head, my preference was the artistic athlete over the athletic artist, that being Ito over Yamaguchi.

    Oppositionally, there have been many times when I prefered the athletic artist over the artistic athlete, such as Kwan vs. Lapinski. Now don't get me wrong, in many of the cases I really liked both skaters (such as MK and TL) it's just at a competition I really prefered one style over the other.

    Which category do you fit into, or are you like me and are plagued with indecision? Hope this makes for a good topic, I always love when posters can talk about a skater's strengths in relation to others without tearing the other skaters down.

  2. #2
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    Looks like this is the "old" Fred Astaire vs Gene Kelly preference.

    I like both but think that Kelly had the advantage of better technology for his dances.

    So, would very much like to see a list of the various skaters as to which category they would fit:

    Athletic Artistic------------Artistic Atheltic.

  3. #3
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    Great topic, Sk8m8! I am definitely plagued with indecision, but I will throw another variable into the mix. A lot of it depends on whether I'm watching the skater live or on TV. Live, I tend to prefer the artistic athlete, eg, Irina with her damn the torpedos speed and power; even Surya Bonaly (what?!) yes, Surya live looks NOTHING like the skater I saw on TV. Live, Surya looked graceful and powerful, nothing but lithe muscle, totally commanding the entire arena. (Surprised the heck out of me.)

    On TV, I prefer athletic artist skaters like Kristi, Michelle, and Sasha, but seeing them live, sometimes they don't have the "punch" that I see with artitistic athletes live. But on TV, their line and detail of movement is often entrancing. However, when such skaters, athletic artists, do pull it all together live, man, there's nothing like it. Oksana Baiul's performance at COI just after Lillehammer was one of those for me. Ironically, at the time I thought, "This is too good to be true. It can't last." And it didn't.

    Among the men, at least in the mid-to-late-'90s there were, IMHO, several who skated in the best of both worlds: Paul Wylie, Kurt Browning, Brian Boitano, and Ilia Kulik. Their artistry and athleticism were equal, at least for me. Kurt could still do a quad at 30 and his artistry, once he got past his first two years as a pro, was amazing. Paul Wylie--need I even say? Although perhaps his athleticism was not up to 3Axels, his other jumps, not to mention his spins and footwork, were so superb that I still put him in the equal category, with a slight edge to artistry. As for Kulik, as an eligible skater, his artistry was there, but not nearly as strongly as it was once he turned pro and thank God a'mighty, he smiled a lot. Especially as a pro, I felt his artistry and athleticism were equal.

    ITA with you re Yags and Plush, so won't add anything. It will be interesting to see where the new guys gunning for Plush, as well as the up and coming ladies, end up. Will Joubert go for athleticism or artistry as the dominant element of his skating? Personally, I think he needs to beef up the artistry, but that's just me. If Miki Ando could pull her artistry togther in the next couple of years, WATCH OUT! Same with Carolina Kostner. Bebe Liang could be an equal threat if her hip stays healthy.

    Great thing to watch for in the development of today's young skaters, Sk8m8.
    Rgirl

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    I don't equate "artist" with "balletic," so I think there are three Ladies who are a blend of both -- Shizuka Arakawa, Viktoria Volchkova, and Julia Sebestyen. All generate blade speed with deep knees and without sacrificing posture or pumping their backs to generate it. They also have wonderful curved edges and flow, power in their jumps, along with speed and edges in and out of them.

    Poykio in Dortmund doesn't have the long legs that the other three use to great effect, nor quite the same speed, but she is graceful and strong at the same time.

    Now if only Miki Ando and Carolina Kostner could channel what is best in the other...

  5. #5
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    When it comes to the men, I want an artistic athlete (or a Paul wylie/Illia Kulik) which I agree were pretty balanced in both areas.

    I am such a perpatrator of double standards here however, I really prefer an athletic artist in ladies skating :( I know bad elizabeth bad.

    In pairs I vaule teams like G&G and S&Z who were perfect balances of the two.

    But honestly what I enjoy most is a clean program performed with passion and spark. I enjoy watching 99% of the elite skaters perform, and value different things about each one.

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    Arm Chair Skate Fan show 42's Avatar
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    Great topic, Mate.........I tend to lean towards the artistic athlete, and would much rather see a beautiful program with double jumps than a power house of triples, skate, triples with little flow or edgework inbetween. That doesn't mean that I don't appreciate the powerful skating of Elvis or Lloyd and Isabelle.......42

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    Generally I prefer the artist, but there are some athletes who simply blew me away. Midori Ito and Tonya Harding were two who I loved in their prime and have always stood out in my mind for their unprecedented athletic prowess. I liked the dynamic energy and 3/3s of Debi Thomas. Miki Ando and Carolina Kostner are two young jumping beans who I think have the potential to go far. I am picky when it comes to athletic skaters.

    Shizuka Arakawa seems perfectly balanced on the line between artist and athlete. The high, beautiful true lutz and powerful 3/3 combinations are there as well as wonderful artistry -- note her spreadeagle and Ina Bauer. She does have some weaknesses in both areas (spins for tech, sometimes a slight disconnect with the music for presentation) but overall I don't see her as being in one camp or the other. This season I found myself liking her as much as I like Michelle and Sasha -- two skaters I've been a fan of for years because of their unprecedented artistic abilities.

    Because I prefer artistic skaters I sometimes fail to evaluate their skating objectively. I was so entranced by Chen Lu's delicate way of moving that I failed to notice her spins were poor. I would imagine some people overlooked Oksana's constant two-footed landings for the same reason.

  8. #8
    ~ Figure Skating Is My Passion ~ Ladskater's Avatar
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    I am one of those skaters who appreciates both artistic skater and athletic skater.

    While I love to watch Kurt Browning "dancing" across the ice and doing amazing footwork at the same time give me Elvis - skating powerfully across the ice and then leaping into the air in a quad or triple combo. Both can thrill me.

    That's the great thing about figure skating - there are so many types of skating - and what keeps us from getting bored. Just think if every skater looked the same?

    I think it's marvellous we have such great skaters.

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    I normally favour the more artistic skaters and when they strike the perfect balance between artistry and technique it is outstanding. Thinking along the lines of MK, Curry, Wylie,Yamaguchi etc. But my all time favourite skater was Midori. It didn't matter to me that she wasn't a "ballerina" on the ice, she generated more excitement and energy and emotion in her audiences than practically anyone I've ever seen. I guess in my early teenage maelstrom I was in love with her LOL

  10. #10
    Thank God for Stephane Lambiel and Matt Savoie! shine's Avatar
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    Originally posted by hockeyfan228
    I think there are three Ladies who are a blend of both -- Shizuka Arakawa, Viktoria Volchkova, and Julia Sebestyen. All generate blade speed with deep knees and without sacrificing posture or pumping their backs to generate it.
    To me, Joannie Rochette qualifies for this catagory far more than any of the three mentioned here.

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    Originally posted by shine
    To me, Joannie Rochette qualifies for this catagory far more than any of the three mentioned here.
    I didn't add Rochette to the list because, to date, she's limited herself to "pretty" music with much of the same dynamic range. I think she has the potential to be among them, but hasn't shown enough range yet.

  12. #12
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    I usually prefer the athletic artist (Cohen, Yags, Kristi, Peggy...) but I did always prefer Tara. So...I guess there is an exception to every rule.

  13. #13
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    Originally posted by hockeyfan228
    I didn't add Rochette to the list because, to date, she's limited herself to "pretty" music with much of the same dynamic range. I think she has the potential to be among them, but hasn't shown enough range yet.
    That I agree. I thought you were just talking about pure presentation skills such as having good posture (no back pumping) while stroking with good power and flow, because that is the only thing you mentioned. She also one of the best carriage.
    But now you are talking about music choice and choreography, yet none of the three skaters you mentioned are particularly impressive in choreography or intepretation of music IMO. Volchkova has chosen mostly very generic music and her choreography could be painful to watch. And good basics or not, she is really slow sometimes. Sebastyen finally showed some attitude in her Tango LP this season, but just some; I find her posture so so and she actually pumps her back while stroking. I also haven't been impressed with any of Arakawa's programs of the past 2 years, either. Aside from the techno Swan Lake, they all seem pretty generic to me. I'm pretty puzzled by your choices.

    Although Suguri has poor extension most of the time, I'd think she qualifies better than these three skaters, especially in program choreogrphy and presentation as a whole.

  14. #14
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    Originally posted by shine
    That I agree. I thought you were just talking about pure presentation skills such as having good posture (no back pumping) while stroking with good power and flow, because that is the only thing you mentioned. She also one of the best carriage.
    But now you are talking about music choice and choreography, yet none of the three skaters you mentioned are particularly impressive in choreography or intepretation of music IMO. Volchkova has chosen mostly very generic music and her choreography could be painful to watch. And good basics or not, she is really slow sometimes. Sebastyen finally showed some attitude in her Tango LP this season, but just some; I find her posture so so and she actually pumps her back while stroking. I also haven't been impressed with any of Arakawa's programs of the past 2 years, either. Aside from the techno Swan Lake, they all seem pretty generic to me. I'm pretty puzzled by your choices.
    I'm not talking about specific music choices or choreography, but that all three skaters have had varied music and choreography, and have showed that they hold their carriage and gain speed through various musical tempi and different choreography. Volchkova has skated to Bach/Vivaldi and Gone with the Wind, two very different kinds of music. (Live, she's never seemed slow to me when she's moving, except for the very end of her Euros '02 program, when she was sick as a dog. Only in some spins.) Sebestyen showed much different physical character in her Shostakovich waltz SP and her Jalousie LP. Arakawa's Techno Swan Lake and Turandot had different impetus.

    The programs I've seen by Rochette have been one-note, mostly pretty piano riffs. When I see her skate to something musically fast and lively, to an orchestra or rock band, and keeps her form, I'll add her to the list. She's one of my favorites, and I think she was undermarked at Worlds this year.

  15. #15
    Thank God for Stephane Lambiel and Matt Savoie! shine's Avatar
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    Well, I cannot disagree if you want to put it this way. However, skating to different genres of music is a completely different thing than skating well to different genres of msuic.

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