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Thread: Yukari Nakano on the quad era in ladies skating

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    Yukari Nakano on the quad era in ladies skating

    Hi all! I have quite a bit of free time, so I thought I'd translate this blog/column from retired skater Yukari Nakano.
    https://sportiva.shueisha.co.jp/clm/...t_15/index.php

    Even though she mostly talks about the Russian ladies, I decided to start a new thread because she also talks about Rika Kihira. Although I'm reasonably fluent in Japanese, it's not my native language, so if there are errors, please let me know!

    ***
    Yukari Nakano talks about technique in the ladies' quad era. "The jump with different dimensions is..."

    Yukari Nakano became the third lady to successfully land a triple axel and is known for the "world's most beautiful" donut spin. After retiring in 2010, she started working at a TV station and has been living a normal life [i.e., not as an athlete]. She talked to us about jump technique in the quad era of figure skating. First is the rise of the young Russian skaters who have brought about this sudden upheaval.

    In this season, ladies figure skating has changed dramatically on the technique side. I never thought I would see a time when ladies would need a quad to win. Up to now, if you could do triples, then the typical step-up would be triple-triple combos, and then a triple axel, but now there are skaters who have jumped over that and can do several types of quads.

    I think the #1 reason why the Russian ladies are leading the charge is because it's truly the "Russian force." The idea that if you do a quad you will win was born, and when one person succeeds, the other skaters practicing at the same rink begin to think, "Maybe I can do a quad too." It's important to have an example close to you. It leads to the desire to try new types of jumps.

    Of course, it's also thanks to the comprehensive training/coaching they've received while they're still young. For women especially, when your body matures, it becomes more difficult to do high-difficulty jumps. Before you grow, you can train your body to do hard jumps and make it stick. In other words, the amount of practice is tremendous. When I was skating, our off-ice practice was pretty much just muscle training and ballet, but now it's common to practice rotating off ice.

    When I see ladies' quads, I feel like they are not jumps with height, but rather jumps that use rotational speed well. They are jumps that take advantage of a girl's small frame; they use the fact that the body is thin and like a string.

    To me, it seems like because of this Anna Shcherbakova and Alexandra Trusova can use strength to jump even though they are small. The fact that they can do this in competitions is without a doubt because of considerable training.

    For these girls, from a physique point of view, now is probably the best time.

    However, these jumps involve taking off and starting to rotate at the same time, or rather, while rotating, taking off [i.e., pre-rotation]. Setting aside whether this is good or bad, if you can train your body this way, then the possibility of completing 4 rotations becomes great. However, if the judges were to take a strict view and call this "underrotation," then the skaters would need to address this somehow.

    In contrast, the dimensions of Aliona Kostornaia's triple axel are different. This is reflected in the fact that she's received the highest scores by far in the short program, in which you aren't allowed to do quads--the height, distance, rotational speed, everything makes sense. In my view, the reason why she is able to do the triple axel so easily is because of her innate talent/ability.

    Speaking of her [Kostornaia], I was shocked by her speed. She carries speed through her entire program, and in recent times, I've never seen a female skater like her. It's the quality of her skating, which makes good use of her talent/ability. Even when she jumps, she doesn't lose speed, so she doesn't break the flow, and the triple axel just seems like a [seamless] part of her program. She has something that allows her to beat her rivals even if they do quads.

    On the other hand, Rika Kihira has a textbook example of a a triple axel.

    The most impressive part is the trajectory. When you try to jump a triple axel, you think "I have to rotate, I have to rotate," and you try to get to the center, but she does not cut to the center, she jumps straight forward and starts rotating after she takes off. It's not a very high jump, but she uses the span and doesn't lose speed, and takes off rhythmically. The trajectory is beautiful, and her air position is wonderful.

    Rika Kihira also uses the correct technique for her quad salchow. Surely, if she succeeds it will be a wonderful jump. I think that if she gains more strength, she will get the height and power she needs [to do it].

    ***

    You all are free to agree or disagree with her assessment.

    I have only seen Anna skate live, so I won't offer an opinion, but I did think it was interesting that she feels like Aliona can do a triple axel because of her innate ability, while Rika does it thanks to perfect technique.

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    Maybe Aliona’s innate talent/ability helps her with landing the triple axel so consistently in competition, but the technique she was taught at a very young age is what set her up for the 3A. She correctly steps up and out of the circle when jumping her axel - without this technique it would be impossible to do the 3A, no matter how talented she is. So it has to be a combination of both. I agree with her that Aliona does a good job of integrating it into the program with her complex entry and shorter set up vs others.

    I do find her analysis of Rika’s axel to be interesting, and I would agree. Rika has very efficient technique, which maybe leads to a visually less exciting/explosive jump (in my opinion) but she is so precise in her takeoff, air position and landing that the jump is still deserving of high GOE. And as we have seen from iscope (although it is a limited sample size) Rika and Aliona’s axels are comparable in size, both in height and in length. So it’s just an optical illusion based on different technique and placement of the jump on the ice in relation to cameras.

    In my opinion, both have good height and length, but Rika has better air position and a more controlled landing most of the time. That said, she often doesn’t hold her landing for very long and has a low free leg position. In contrast, Aliona has a more difficult entry/exit, and when she nails the jump it has a better landing position which she “sells” more (and she tries to sell it even if it’s a little out of control). Both are deserving of high GOE when they execute it to their best abilities.

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    Thanks for your thoughts, SkateSkates! I'm sure you know more about technique than me.

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    I had only seen one lady jump quadruple jumps live, and that’s Trusova at Skate Canada, and the height/energy that projects every time she takes off the ice is jaw dropping. She is something else.

    Kihira that I saw in the same competition looked aggressive/sure in her style, perhaps thanks to the perfect technique described in the article. You was a bit less distinctive, but also memorable.

    I am very sorry indeed that I did not get the chance to see the other ladies who jump quad/triple axel in WC. To me they certainly were the big attraction in the ladies’ division.

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    Notes:
    1. Sasha Trusova has very solid height of her quads, not much different from men. So, it's not only the speed of the rotation. Anna has not so high jumps, but still high enough.
    2. Distance of the jump. Axel generally has bigger length than the backward jumps, it's the mechanics. and not just 3A vs. quads, 2A is usually longer than triples. So it's not fully comparable as the axel is too different.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SkateSkates View Post
    In my opinion, both have good height and length, but Rika has better air position and a more controlled landing most of the time. That said, she often doesn’t hold her landing for very long and has a low free leg position. In contrast, Aliona has a more difficult entry/exit, and when she nails the jump it has a better landing position which she “sells” more (and she tries to sell it even if it’s a little out of control). Both are deserving of high GOE when they execute it to their best abilities.
    Disagree.
    Alena is the one who has better air position, more controlled, more efficient which help her to build great flow and speed on her landing. Rika's air position is very shaky, always off axis, that's why she doesn't have any speed through her running edge, she loses a lot of momentum on her landing.

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    Well, I mostly agree but Yukari Nakano dares to talk about jump technique?

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    i also think her analysis of Alena and Rika's 3As is interesting. to me Alena has more of a "textbook" axel. she gets much more lift on the takeoff and follows through completely with her free leg resulting in a higher jump, where Rika relies more on rotational speed and snappy hips which results in a longer jump that covers more ice surface. this also works for Rika with air position. since she has less distance between her feet on the takeoff, she gets into air position faster than Alena, which makes Alena look like she has a worse air position, which isn't true- it only takes her longer to get there because of how far her feet are apart in the lift off. her final air position is just as tight as Rika's. you can everything here in this comparison. slow the speed down to .25-

    https://youtu.be/80ahRwqg4Vk?t=17

    not saying Rika's isnt good, it absolutely is beautiful, the technique for both skaters is just very different. one goes up, one goes across.

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    I’m not sure if my point got across correctly about Aliona’s air position - when she hits it right, like at Nationals, it’s great. But sometimes her air position is still a bit “loose” and throws her off axis, which can be seen in some of her landings where she’s leaning back to try to control it - see the solo axel in France, GPF and Euros. But the fact that she’s still able to land it without perfectly tight legs gives me hope that she will be able to retain the jump post puberty.

    It would be interesting to understand max rotation speed of Aliona and Rika. Since iscope has their height and distance about the same, but Aliona’s jump is more delayed, I wonder how much faster her maximum rotation speed in the jump is vs Rika. Maybe this can be added to iscope in the future.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SXTN View Post
    Well, I mostly agree but Yukari Nakano dares to talk about jump technique?
    Now, now! [smile] If you mean the leg wrap, I don't think it was always as frowned upon, as it was in Yukari's time, and is now. But I don't think it was formerly. Never bothered me much, anyway! It was like the only thing said about Yukari -- the leg wrap -- when there was much to love about her performances.

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    Quote Originally Posted by macy View Post
    i also think her analysis of Alena and Rika's 3As is interesting. to me Alena has more of a "textbook" axel. she gets much more lift on the takeoff and follows through completely with her free leg resulting in a higher jump, where Rika relies more on rotational speed and snappy hips which results in a longer jump that covers more ice surface. this also works for Rika with air position. since she has less distance between her feet on the takeoff, she gets into air position faster than Alena, which makes Alena look like she has a worse air position, which isn't true- it only takes her longer to get there because of how far her feet are apart in the lift off. her final air position is just as tight as Rika's. you can everything here in this comparison. slow the speed down to .25-

    https://youtu.be/80ahRwqg4Vk?t=17

    not saying Rika's isnt good, it absolutely is beautiful, the technique for both skaters is just very different. one goes up, one goes across.
    Thanks for that video, macy!

    I see what you mean about Aliona's final air position being very tight.

    But what struck me the most from watching this video (and also the 3F+3T comparison) is that Aliona takes a lot more time in between her jumps in a combo (and covers a lot more distance as a result).

    Quote Originally Posted by SkateSkates View Post
    I’m not sure if my point got across correctly about Aliona’s air position - when she hits it right, like at Nationals, it’s great. But sometimes her air position is still a bit “loose” and throws her off axis, which can be seen in some of her landings where she’s leaning back to try to control it - see the solo axel in France, GPF and Euros. But the fact that she’s still able to land it without perfectly tight legs gives me hope that she will be able to retain the jump post puberty.

    It would be interesting to understand max rotation speed of Aliona and Rika. Since iscope has their height and distance about the same, but Aliona’s jump is more delayed, I wonder how much faster her maximum rotation speed in the jump is vs Rika. Maybe this can be added to iscope in the future.
    I'm also hopeful that Aliona will be able to retain her 3A post-puberty because her air position isn't super tight.

    I can't remember what the estimated height/distance for Rika's 3A was, but I recall that at GPF in the SP, Aliona's 3A was 52cm high, whereas the solo jump in the FS was 57cm, which is a decent difference. Too bad we don't have stats on her jumps at Nationals...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Batsuchan View Post
    Thanks for that video, macy!

    I see what you mean about Aliona's final air position being very tight.

    But what struck me the most from watching this video (and also the 3F+3T comparison) is that Aliona takes a lot more time in between her jumps in a combo (and covers a lot more distance as a result).



    I'm also hopeful that Aliona will be able to retain her 3A post-puberty because her air position isn't super tight.

    I can't remember what the estimated height/distance for Rika's 3A was, but I recall that at GPF in the SP, Aliona's 3A was 52cm high, whereas the solo jump in the FS was 57cm, which is a decent difference. Too bad we don't have stats on her jumps at Nationals...
    For what it's worth, I think Rika's 3A at Nationals clocked at around 58 cm, so their heights are pretty similar. But yes, Rika's 3A seems to not go very high because it travels REALLY far. There's more contrast between height and length for Alena's.

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    Which gets more points, vertical distance or lateral distance? :P

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    Quote Originally Posted by lzxnl View Post
    For what it's worth, I think Rika's 3A at Nationals clocked at around 58 cm, so their heights are pretty similar. But yes, Rika's 3A seems to not go very high because it travels REALLY far. There's more contrast between height and length for Alena's.
    I don’t know how to upload pictures here, but I have screenshots from iscope:
    Aliona LP GPF solo axel
    Height 57cm
    Distance 2.56m
    Landing Speed 16.8km/h

    Rika Nationals LP axel
    Height 58cm
    Distance 2.51m
    Landing Speed 14.5km/h

    Not sure how accurate or what the range of accuracy is for these stats, but Rika’s axel is actually slightly higher and covers less distance than Aliona’s in this instance. But Aliona's landing speed is significantly higher. So maybe the speed is actually what makes the difference? That and the camera angle I think, because their jumps are almost identical in size but look very different due to technique.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rollerblade View Post
    Which gets more points, vertical distance or lateral distance? :P
    Both

    You’re supposed to need both good height and distance to qualify for that bullet point, and it’s one of the requirements for above +3

    And this is why Aliona gets such high GOE on her jumps - she has both.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SXTN View Post
    Well, I mostly agree but Yukari Nakano dares to talk about jump technique?
    I don't see why she shouldn't be allowed to.
    Many people know what good technique looks like, even if they don't execute it. Infact, some of the best figure coaches had bad jump technique themselves. Shoma might be able to perfectly explain good jump technique even if he doesn't do it.
    You don't need to be a good mishlin star chef to critique food.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SkateSkates View Post
    Both

    You’re supposed to need both good height and distance to qualify for that bullet point, and it’s one of the requirements for above +3

    And this is why Aliona gets such high GOE on her jumps - she has both.
    i also want to point out another quality Alena has that helps her get nice GOE, which Batsuchan mentioned- the pause between 3A and 2T in her combo. she demonstrates masterful control over the 3A by holding and completely finishing the landing before picking for the toe.

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    So Yukari Nakano also did a video interview in which she talks about many things, including expanding on what she said about the Russian ladies:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4st--MdrLJQ

    I probably won't translate the whole thing, but here are some highlights:

    1) She feels bad for the skaters that Worlds was canceled and thinks it will be hard to train when you don't know if there will be a Worlds in October, and also that it will be hard to do two Worlds in October and March.

    2) In her column, she kind of lumped Anna and Sasha together, but in the interview she compared them a little more. She said that she has never seen Sasha skate live, but from what she's heard from other people who have, Sasha skates unexpectedly fast, and that she's able to use strength and that speed to generate the rotation for a quad. In contrast, she thinks Anna's distinct characteristic is her rotational speed, which she considers an innate ability.

    3) She said that Aliona's jumping power reminds her of Midori Ito, and that she thinks that if Aliona matures and improves further, she will be very hard to beat. As a result, she considers Aliona "scary."

    4) She thinks it's possible the rules will change to emphasize skating skills and artistry more.

    5) If the rules don't change, she thinks the Japanese ladies will need quads to have a chance to win. She thinks that if Rika gets a quad, she may be the first senior lady with both a quad and a 3A, and then she'll be able to win.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kolyadafan2002 View Post
    I don't see why she shouldn't be allowed to.
    Many people know what good technique looks like, even if they don't execute it. Infact, some of the best figure coaches had bad jump technique themselves. Shoma might be able to perfectly explain good jump technique even if he doesn't do it.
    You don't need to be a good mishlin star chef to critique food.
    Agree - for one to execute good technique you must have knowledge and understanding of good technique; ergo, one can be able to explain good technique but not had much success executing it

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    Quote Originally Posted by Batsuchan View Post
    So Yukari Nakano also did a video interview in which she talks about many things, including expanding on what she said about the Russian ladies:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4st--MdrLJQ

    I probably won't translate the whole thing, but here are some highlights:

    1) She feels bad for the skaters that Worlds was canceled and thinks it will be hard to train when you don't know if there will be a Worlds in October, and also that it will be hard to do two Worlds in October and March.

    2) In her column, she kind of lumped Anna and Sasha together, but in the interview she compared them a little more. She said that she has never seen Sasha skate live, but from what she's heard from other people who have, Sasha skates unexpectedly fast, and that she's able to use strength and that speed to generate the rotation for a quad. In contrast, she thinks Anna's distinct characteristic is her rotational speed, which she considers an innate ability.

    3) She said that Aliona's jumping power reminds her of Midori Ito, and that she thinks that if Aliona matures and improves further, she will be very hard to beat. As a result, she considers Aliona "scary."

    4) She thinks it's possible the rules will change to emphasize skating skills and artistry more.

    5) If the rules don't change, she thinks the Japanese ladies will need quads to have a chance to win. She thinks that if Rika gets a quad, she may be the first senior lady with both a quad and a 3A, and then she'll be able to win.
    Kihira landing 4S was one of the things I looked the most for in WC2020. Overall, among all the losses, personally for me, the biggest one associated with the WC, is that it did not happen, so it didn’t seal the deal that ladies will now jump. I am afraid that the momentum of this groundbreaking year would be lost, and the rules indeed would be rewritten to encourage skating in slow circles for another decade or two.

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