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Thread: This is how I like to spend my days.

  1. #1
    Medalist prettykeys's Avatar
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    Oct 2009

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    This is how I like to spend my days.

    I am sitting in the library right now. Gorgeous day out, but I'm not allowed to take full advantage of it except by looking through the giant window panes surrounding me. I'm supposed to become an expert on Diabetes by next Wednesday, and my friends across the table are studiously...studying. (Well, Eve is, armed with three differently-coloured highlighters and Cindi is napping. Napping is work.) Sipping on my half-sweet skinny chai latte from Starbucks, which is still too sweet. A little annoyed that a girl in my class appears to have recently bought the same leather jacket I got weeks ago, and consoling myself with the reassuring thought that I look better in it. I'm aware that I'm an egomaniac, underachieving yet immensely satisfied with my life and my flaws and letting everybody know. I love days like this! It's when I daydream.

    Thanks to Mathman, my head is a happy little marshmallow. A couple days ago, he shared his Interpretation of IJS's Philosophy of Figure Skating.

    This quote originates from this thread in the 2010 Olympics subforum:

    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman
    This is what I think the “philosophy” of the CoP should be. There is a certain base level of expectation for every skater competing at the senior championship level. Ladies at this level should all be able to present all the triples through the triple Lutz (correct edge), and men should show mastery of all six triple jumps. Besides that, all senior level skaters should be required to show competency in each of the three types of spins, with variations and combinations, as well as a full complement of steps, turns, and unscored moves in the field, including spirals for ladies.

    As the IJS puts it, they should show a mastery of "the vocabulary of figure skating."

    To fulfill this aim the CoP should be weighted and structured, in so far as possible, in such a way that skaters who cannot attain this minimum content will not be in podium contention.

    Now we have to decide the medals. To win the contest, a skater must show more than the minimum. There are various avenues available for this. A man can do a quad, a lady can do a triple Axel or a difficult triple-triple. Alternatively, a skater can try to soar above his fellows in terms of quality – don’t just do a triple flip and a sitspin, do an exceptionally good flip and sitspin (hence GOEs).

    Or a skater can try to stand out by putting greater effort into choreography and musical interpretation (hence the PCSs). However, in my opinion, the structure of the CoP should not encourage skaters to substitute these medal-winning extras for basic competency.

    This does put a burden on the judges – is this guy’s quad worth more than that guy’s choreography or the other guy’ spins and moves in the field? But that is why we have judges.

    (Just my opinion – Mr. Cinquanta’s may differ.)
    I know some of you will be rolling your eyes at me for only now appreciating this idea of Figure Skating.

    Ugh, OMG, I see ANOTHER girl who has the same JACKET!!!!!! So annoying. I bought it so long ago, get off my style.

    Anyway. I love the term "vocabulary of Figure Skating." Because when it is put that way, I stopped thinking of Figure Skating programs as assemblies of different elements put together to music so that judges can judge the technical aptitude of the skater and how "pretty" it all looks. A really good program (like an essay, poem, or song) will be better than its individual parts, and it will have an overall purpose: it may be profound, startling, rousing, or aesthetically wonderful. I never consciously thought of it; all I knew was that I liked certain programs better than others. And now that I think about it, it seems that very few of even the elite skaters are/were conscious of this idea, and the more I begin to appreciate some of the skaters that are so widely appreciated for their "artistry". (And yet I think that term is overused and does not necessarily indicate that some skaters seemed to understand or were conscious of the whole process; their choreographers did the composing and they only did the performing...which is a little different.)

    So here are a few opinion questions for anyone out there with these things in mind:

    1) How much credit should go to a skater who wonderfully performs a piece choreographed by someone else? (Is it like a singer who sings songs written by professional songwriters, or a public speaker who hires speech writers?) If a skater choreographed all their own routines and were good at it, should they be held in more esteem than a skater (i.e. nearly everyone) who employs a choreographer? I also know this doesn't really happen, but since there are some masterpiece programs that aren't performed fully or cleanly by a skater during a season, would it be weird if another skater tried the exact same program at another date? (kinda like doing a cover of the same song.)

    2) "Rousing" vs. "Profound" vs. other: Rather recently (just this past season--I think it was NHK Trophy 2009 but I'm not 100% sure) there was quite a stir here when Brian Joubert and his super-energetic (but pop-ish) SP beat out Jeremy Abbott's more sophisticated SP. They both skated very well, but I didn't think the judging was too out-of-hand. While I preferred Jeremy's SP, I thought Brian did a good job of getting the audience excited (and I don't think it was just the hip thrusts ) so I couldn't fairly object just because of my preference. I think there is enough room in the general IJS Philosophy to allow for different styles to be judged on their own merit, but I know others will disagree and say that one is clearly superior to the other. This attitude of mine is reflected in my musical tastes (e.g. love everything from classical to pop to progressive metal), as well as my other interests, friends, wardrobe. It would be nice to hear someone else's explanation of why they think giving credit to diverse programs is good, but if someone can also give an argument for saying why one is superior and should be judged accordingly, I'd like to hear it. Also, I gave the example of Joubert's "rousing but less complex" program; maybe you don't think that's a good example of what a good "rousing" program can be?

    3) "Busier" and "more complex" isn't always the best interpretation. Often, there is artistic beauty in simplicity. And when the music is in a lull, you don't necessarily want someone doing a lot of arm waving or even blade stroking. In addition, some jumps with less rotation (usually incorporated into programs of the past--a lot of posters here said they liked the delayed single axels?) are lovely in themselves; level 1 footwork, or level 2 spirals (according to the guidelines of the current CoP) can be exquisite. Clearly, the IJS has erred on the side of technical difficulty (vs. interpretational simplicity). Do you think this is a good balance between technical and art, and good for Figure Skating in general? What about in terms of practical concerns regarding competition? (e.g. maybe this decision is reasonable, since it is most objective: a quad jump iis unequivocally harder than a triple of the same variety)

    4) Do you actually prefer "well-rounded" skaters, or would you rather see skaters who are exceptional at 1 or 2 things and see them push that aspect of Figure Skating?

  2. #2
    Tripping on the Podium
    Join Date
    Dec 2003

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    Thank you for bringing Mathman's post to my attention, prettykeys (I had not gotten into its original thread, and so was not aware of it.).

    Mathman asserted two things that are close to my heart.

    1) ""There is a certain base level of expectation for every skater competing at the senior championship level....To fulfill this aim the CoP should be weighted and structured, in so far as possible, in such a way that skaters who cannot attain this minimum content will not be in podium contention." -- Mathman

    2)"However, in my opinion, the structure of the CoP should not encourage skaters to substitute these medal-winning extras for basic competency." -- Mathman

    Bless you for articulating this, Mathman. Basic all-around competency should be a requirement. One of the things I have hated most about CoP was that it did not require basic competency in all the elements. Another thing I have hated about CoP is that it has allowed and even rewarded substitution for that competency. The word "champion" no longer seemed to mean anything.

    Now I'll go to your questions, prettykeys.

    1)The idea that skaters get actual points for the choreography that someone else has made, has irritated me. I kept thinking, why don't they just give the medal to the choreographer, then?

    2)Artistic merit is not necessarily dependent upon sophistication/complication. Real artistic judgement, as shown in oil painting, sculpture, dance, all the arts, does not confuse clutter with beauty. Sometimes less is more. It is all about integrating the elements into an artistic whole. CoP has produced an excess of frenetic, pseudo-artistic clutter.

    3)There have been claims that CoP would reward artistry more than 6.0 did, but if the programme is not worth looking at, then what is the point?

    4) Yes, I prefer well-rounded skaters. I can respect the thing that a skater does well, even if it is the only thing they do well, but I cannot regard them as a true champion if they practice avoidance of what does not come easily to them.

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