2020-21 U.S. Men's Figure Skating

Seren

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LOL! These are your words and interpretation, based apparently on taking offense from genuine observations not meant to denigrate other fans.

As I mentioned, those who closely follow a skater from very early in their career may be able to understand and enjoy the full spectrum of that skater's talent and career better. Sure, that may not always be the case. And there are huge fans of Nathan who didn't follow his novice or junior competitions. I just feel weepy and sentimental about having seen Nathan when he was just a cute whippersnapper. So I feel extra dimensions attached to my understanding of his skating and his personality. But as you said earlier, we are all different. And I too wish to emphasize the great thing about sharing our passions and perceptions, even when we don't agree.

* Note, I came back to edit and rephrase my initial final sentence above because what I said initially shows that I too was getting my buttons pushed and being on the defensive about what seems to be misinterpretation in your bolded comments. So, I need to practice what I preached earlier about being cool and calm like Nathan, and kind like Jason! LOL!

I appreciate your kind words in your post #79 above!
My comment was not directed at you, please don’t take offense! I have been skating since I was 7 and followed skating since the days of my idol the Kween! Unfortunately there is a level of pretension in skating, as there is in all forms of art. I don’t like the idea that only “some people” have taste refined enough to appreciate a certain skater (or certain form of art). And that if you can’t see it you don’t have good taste. There are people who think like that (in not just skating). It’s something I’ve never liked.

Again, it was a general observation not directed at any poster or specific skater.
 

BlissfulSynergy

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^^ Aha, I get what you're expressing @Seren.

Plus, I'm a total Kween fan from back-in-the-day and for all time, so in that respect we see eye-to-eye! Woo hoo! Go Kween! :love:

There's a lot of great insights in the comments in this thread. Thanks to everyone for sharing.
 

ice coverage

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News re Joe Klein:

" ... To push his skating career to the next level, Klein is moving to Colorado train at the World Arena.

'It's a big step toward where I want to be with my future in skating," Klein said. "There are a bunch of great skaters to train with, so I'm excited to have those experiences and opportunities.' ..."

"... His short program is to 'Don't Speak,' while his free skate is set to the soundtrack from the film 1917 ..."​

Source: Joseph Klein Lunges into 2020-21 Season Full of Positivity

Although Joe previously has trained in Colorado on a part-time basis, making it his full-time base is something new.

Go, Joe!
(Side note that my personal hope is that he will get to do some work with Josh Farris. I usually do not like to compare skaters to predecessors, but when I have watched the talented Joe skate, he sometimes has reminded me of Josh -- in a good way, of course.)

The new article is worth reading in entirety -- lots of good stuff about Joe.

BTW, this indefatigable skater is entered in this week's Illinois Grand Prix (a competition for free skates only).

Will take this opportunity to send early Happy Birthday wishes to Joe, before he turns sixteen on Sep 30.
 
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1111bm

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Predictable straw-man response. There are qualities that are very translatable between the two. The ability to stretch, to move the limbs fluidly, the carriage of the body, the ability to hold positions.

Um, that’s pretty much what I said though: We can look at certain skills that have a place in both disciplines, amongst others the ones you’re mentioning, and surely a highly trained ballet dancer (comparable in level to an elite skater) will outshine every skater. That’s because there’s a bigger emphasis on these qualities in ballet, i.e. ballet has higher standards for stretch, posture etc., therefore more time is spent on perfecting them.

Meanwhile there’s a whole bunch of other skills skaters have to acquire. Nevermind that ballet has a more narrow spectrum of movements, where skating offers more freedom in terms of possible styles.

So again, it doesn’t make sense to compare an actual ballet dancer to a skater, when skating doesn’t even necessarily aspire to satisfy the same standards as ballet does. The same way some dance styles borrow a lot from ballet, but they’re not as rigid in form and allow for more freedom to create a different aesthetic and different shapes with their bodies. Judged by ballet standards such a dancer would naturally pale in comparison to a ‚proper‘ ballet dancer.


The ability to stretch, to move the limbs fluidly, the carriage of the body, the ability to hold positions. Chen does not measure up. Nor does he do much else that qualifies as any sort of top-notch artistry or refinement of movement.

There are qualities in the way Nathan moves and utilises his body and limbs while skating, that are likely influenced by having been exposed to ballet at a young age (and that’s not some outrageous assumption or fabricated narrative by USFS, it just seems plausible).
The fact that you don’t recognise these qualities is on you, it’s just your personal observation, others disagree.

Btw, an actual straw man argument is this one:

There are different styles, but when people claim Nathan deserves top PCS because of "ballet training", well...

No one claimed that he deserves top PCS because of his ballet training, so not sure who or what you’re arguing against here.

It’s just that some people always get their panties in a knot whenever anyone dares mentioning that he did some pretty extensive ballet training as a kid.

I get the sense that some people expect sort of very obvious and literal ballet type movements from him, like 'proper posture' and spirals, reminiscent of an arabesque, things like that. I think that’s a very simplistic and narrow view. It’s more subtle than that and more organically integrated into his skating.

It’s not unreasonable to assume, that having a background in ballet influenced the carriage of his arms, free leg positioning, toe point and turn-out (as has already been mentioned). That it has also developed and helped with his rotating and jumping abilities and gave him what I would describe as 'quick feet' (which I think is one of the defining features of his skating style).
 
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oly2018

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There is a strange new school vs. old school train of thought in skating that I think leads to a lot of these disagreements. There is a desire to go back to the "good old days" of skating and Nathan has explicitly said that isn't his style. For a skater, he is more plugged in with what's going on in the real world and in pop culture and I think his skating reflects that. I may prefer one over the other, but they both have merits. At the end of the day, they are both world class skaters, they just bring different perspectives to the ice.
 

tosca

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There's no point in having PCS anymore if people think Nathan Chen deserves almost the highest score possible in that area. Give it a rest about his "ballet training". Put him next to actual top ballet dancer and then compare. That will tell you what PCS he deserves in comparison. At least in terms of form anyway; there's so much more to artistry (where he still lags behind as well).

As someone who has danced professionally, I think it is really a narrow perspective to hold ballet technique as the echelon of artistry above all others (and this is coming from someone who did mostly ballet!). There are other forms of dance that if anything, I find more artistic than dance - a great example is looking at the works of Netherlands Dance Theatre, considered by many to be the best professional dance company in the world (I might be biased since many people I know ended up there).

I think this goes to a broader idea that some people have a definition of what it means to be "artistic". Is the work of Richard Serra any less artistic than that of Van Gogh? Of course, with the new judging, we can really compare skating skills, transitions - but in terms of performance that is something that is more qualitative and we can all agree that people have different affinities - just like it other creative mediums!
 

Blades of Passion

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No one claimed that he deserves top PCS because of his ballet training, so not sure who or what you’re arguing against here.

I get the sense that some people expect sort of very obvious and literal ballet type movements from him, like 'proper posture' and spirals, reminiscent of an arabesque, things like that. I think that’s a very simplistic and narrow view. It’s more subtle than that and more organically integrated into his skating.
People did claim that about his PCS. Otherwise there's no reason to bring up "years of ballet training" in relation to the PCS he deserves and the supposed elegance and sophisticated of his movement. You're doing it too, making empty statements about how that ballet training has given him some kind of great usage of body and limbs in his skating, which you claim factually exists and anyone who disagrees simply doesn't recognize it.

There is hardly anything "organically integrated" about ballet into his skating and you are trying to use another straw-man by saying he shouldn't be expected to be literal balletic. Of course he shouldn't have to do that exactly, but the lack of quality in how he moves is constantly apparent, and if he were supposedly incorporating those qualities in his skating, then the posture and extension and arm placement would be better. Let's look at his 2019 GPF Long Program. From the very start the shoulders are somewhat hunched, the left arm is slouched and lazily dragging at his side during that first turn he does at the end of the rink, and his left leg barely extends at all in the cross roll he does. Then look at how he strokes across the ice afterward, building up for the first jump. Quite hunched, pumping the back almost, and no real sense of rhythm to the stroking. All of this could be executed with more refinement, and better musical sense and choreographic sense of purpose, and should be taken into consideration with PCS.

Those lacking qualities continue throughout most of the performance. He is constantly in "athletic stance". This is something that's happening with most skaters these days. They are not carrying themselves with enough purposeful form, because the judging and state of skating has lost the sense of how people should be performing, becoming complacent with rewarding people for simply throwing themselves into random positions. The way they are moving across the ice is dictated by a technical sense of simply getting through an element, rather than skating in a manner of "I am going to hold my body in an attractive way, and go into and out of my elements like this."

Look at the specifics of how he goes into and out of that opening jump. He is staring down at the ice, rather than presenting out to the audience, and the arms are held downward with no purpose in the hands, just preparing to clench into rotating position. At the end there is no presentation or sense of majesty to the jump. He is slouched, and the free leg lazily held low and swinging down, and the arms just hanging there. Compare this to Ilia Kulik in 1998 for example and there is a CLEAR difference in how they carry themselves and who has more "balletic influence" to the movement. Kulik keeps his head up, his arms up, the hands extended, the blade stroking has a full movement to each push and the back is held straighter. He enters into his quad with cleaner body line (and doesn't exert such a strain when launching into it), and exits it with his head up, the arms extended, the free leg purposefully raising up after the landing and the blade completing an actual curve on the ice, instead of doing a truncated and purposeless little squiggle like Nathan has on pretty much every jump (he rides up on the toepick and nearly grinds to a halt on almost every jump landing, which is also part of why his GOE's are very overscored).

So again, it doesn’t make sense to compare an actual ballet dancer to a skater, when skating doesn’t even necessarily aspire to satisfy the same standards as ballet does.
Skating COULD aspire to show those qualities, if that is what the program is trying to do. Zagitova clearly tried to do that style with her Don Quixote, and there are numerous problems with her posture and extension that showed a clear lack of quality in comparison to how a SKATER who is specifically trying to move their body in a "fully refined ballet manner" should execute the moves. The ballet dancer is a point of reference. Someone like Sasha Cohen was able to achieve more qualities in that regard.

As someone who has danced professionally, I think it is really a narrow perspective to hold ballet technique as the echelon of artistry above all others.
Obviously, there are many ways to show skill and artistry. The point is, whichever style it is and whatever the reference of quality is, Nathan Chen is not showing a high degree of excellence in terms of his overall form and artistic merit. Hence the example of comparing his entire movement and performance quality to a top ballet dancer...or a top tango dancer, or breakdancer, or "modern" dance, it doesn't matter. Ice skaters, if they are to be deserving of top PCS, should performing at that level, with purposeful and attractive and musical movement throughout an entire purpose. THAT is the point of assessing the PCS (the majority of the categories anyway). The comparison can just be to other skating performances as well, and Nathan is not achieving the heights of the best performances, or the refinement of what others have done. He is simply doing many jump rotations.
 

skylark

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And to say that "some people" are refusing or in denial may put me on the defensive, because I don't know if you are referring to me or not.🤷‍♀️
Sorry about that. I try not to word things to put anyone on the defensive, but I've slipped up more than once I'm sure. As for to whom I was referring, I have this trait I learned in my cradle by example ... to remember the good things about things (an experience, a book, a forum:)) ... and I tend to forget bad things, unintentionally most of the time. But also, including almost willfully forgetting who said what, if someone says something that pushes one of my buttons. It does push a button when someone says Nathan has no artistry or doesn't deserve as high PCS scores as [fill in the blank], partly because both are matters of perception and subjectivity. So I recall the remark, especially since it continues after all these years to appear so often on the forum. But I don't know who said it and I do try not to "keep score." As to why I don't respond in the moment when I see such a comment, I have to let many comments go as much as I can. I am not a lawyer like you :), and I'm neither trained nor talented in arguments. Furthermore, arguments aren't fun for me. I mean, obviously on this and other forums, arguments are lots and lots of fun for many people. I get more fun from trying to find what I like or admire or find absolutely fabulous as much as I can.
 

tosca

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Wait why is this in quotations? It's a real genre!
That's what I was wondering too! Graham? Cunningham?

The comparison can just be to other skating performances as well, and Nathan is not achieving the heights of the best performances, or the refinement of what others have done. He is simply doing many jump rotations.
This is an example of a qualitative critique. Let's use ballet dancers (since this began the discussion) as an example and compare. David Hallberg vs. Angel Corrella. Both were principal dancers, was one a better performer than the other? There is no tangible benchmarks to argue one over the other. Hallberg, IMHO was a quieter, more "cerebral" performance. Corrella provided a more buoyant performance. Maybe one's style was better for a Don Q whereas another would be better for Ashton's Symphonic Variations. But again, it is each viewer's personal preference.

Brining it back to figure skating and comparing Jason and Nathan - I would say that I felt that Jason had a stronger performance than Nathan at the last nationals but that is from the impact of their performances on myself - an intangible feeling. So do I think that Nathan was overscored in the performance category in PCS? Yes, but thats my opinion, and my opinion is not fact. With any art form, there is always technique that can be criticized and ranked but the emotional impact on a viewer/participant is an intangible experience in my opinion - but that's just me!
 

skylark

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With any art form, there is always technique that can be criticized and ranked but the emotional impact on a viewer/participant is an intangible experience in my opinion - but that's just me!
Well said. (y)
 

el henry

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Sorry about that. I try not to word things to put anyone on the defensive, but I've slipped up more than once I'm sure. As for to whom I was referring, I have this trait I learned in my cradle by example ... to remember the good things about things (an experience, a book, a forum:)) ... and I tend to forget bad things, unintentionally most of the time. But also, including almost willfully forgetting who said what, if someone says something that pushes one of my buttons. It does push a button when someone says Nathan has no artistry or doesn't deserve as high PCS scores as [fill in the blank], partly because both are matters of perception and subjectivity. So I recall the remark, especially since it continues after all these years to appear so often on the forum. But I don't know who said it and I do try not to "keep score." As to why I don't respond in the moment when I see such a comment, I have to let many comments go as much as I can. I am not a lawyer like you :), and I'm neither trained nor talented in arguments. Furthermore, arguments aren't fun for me. I mean, obviously on this and other forums, arguments are lots and lots of fun for many people. I get more fun from trying to find what I like or admire or find absolutely fabulous as much as I can.

And I didn't think you meant to put anyone on the defensive, I was just trying to explain my feelings. I know how difficult it is when we think a skater we like is criticized. :) But in the end, for example, if someone doesn't agree with me on what I see as the subtlety and refinement of much of Jason's skating, for example, well they don't agree. And the same for Nathan. He is not my favorite, but neither do I dislike him (and for what he has achieved while studying at Yale, as a person, I admire him). Every skater deserves their passionate fans:D

And I don't know if my profession increased my argumentativeness, or I went into it because I'm argumentative. :LOL:But IRL, when I go to a comp, I watch skating and clap for everyone and I don't argue. Even if my special faves get just a tad extra applause;)
 

jenaj

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Which PCS component is “balletic artistry?” For that matter, which component is artistry? I think Nathan is a fantastic performer who deserves his 9+ in P/I and E. The other components have technical aspects and he does very well with those, too.
 

Seren

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And I didn't think you meant to put anyone on the defensive, I was just trying to explain my feelings. I know how difficult it is when we think a skater we like is criticized. :) But in the end, for example, if someone doesn't agree with me on what I see as the subtlety and refinement of much of Jason's skating, for example, well they don't agree. And the same for Nathan. He is not my favorite, but neither do I dislike him (and for what he has achieved while studying at Yale, as a person, I admire him). Every skater deserves their passionate fans:D

And I don't know if my profession increased my argumentativeness, or I went into it because I'm argumentative. :LOL:But IRL, when I go to a comp, I watch skating and clap for everyone and I don't argue. Even if my special faves get just a tad extra applause;)

When I get to watch live elite skating everything is basically the best thing I’ve ever seen and I cheer for everyone too. I think seeing something live makes us remember how hard everything they are doing is. It’s all impressive!
 

jenaj

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You must realize those are all your opinions, subjectively? Your tone makes them all sound like fact. Nathan had years of ballet training is fact, you don't see it in his skating is your opinion.
I don't remember "USFS, attempting to portray him as the greatest artist of all time", didn't he lose to Adam Rippon and Max Aron with 4 quads?
I don’t remember that, either. He has been promoted as one of the best skaters presently, which he is. Why wouldn’t the USFSA promote him? And people seem to be unable to let go of a 6.0 type of totally subjective artistic scoring for the second mark. Not only is the second mark no longer equal to TES, it rewards things like transitions that can make skating look busy and detract from overall artistic impression.
 

karne

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No one claimed that he deserves top PCS because of his ballet training, so not sure who or what you’re arguing against here.

Actually, that was pretty much the whole foundation of the USFS' propaganda campaign for him.

Regardless of the ballet argument, there is also SS, transitions, choreography as considerations for the PC mark. And when all of those are taken into consideration - well, I said it then and I'll say it now - every single judge who marked Nathan Chen's FS at 2020 US Nationals higher in PCS than Jason Brown's needs to be barred from judging ever again until they take remedial courses. It was offensive to my integrity as a judge that that could have happened.

At US Nationals you always expect some kind of shenanigans, whether it's the tech panel closing their eyes during certain skaters, or certain skaters being given huge PCS gifts - but that was beyond the pale.

But this also comes back to the argument that quads should not automatically equal big PCS, and that's a separate issue.
 

Makemi

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As I mentioned, those who closely follow a skater from very early in their career may be able to understand and enjoy the full spectrum of that skater's talent and career better. Sure, that may not always be the case. And there are huge fans of Nathan who didn't follow his novice or junior competitions. I just feel weepy and sentimental about having seen Nathan when he was just a cute whippersnapper. So I feel extra dimensions attached to my understanding of his skating and his personality. But as you said earlier, we are all different. And I too wish to emphasize the great thing about sharing our passions and perceptions, even when we don't agree.
I had an epiphany when I read your post. Because I realized what makes me really love a skater isn't that skater's particular performance on that particular day... but the JOURNEY that it took to get to that performance. Having seen them from the beginning and watching them develop and grow through all the trials and tribulations just makes that one performance so much more impactful and validating. Because everyone has to start from somewhere.

I won't pretend to have seen Nathan from the beginning, I didn't discover him till Nationals 2016 when I happened to catch his free skate while flipping channels (I was pretty casual back then). Maybe it was his quads, maybe it was his precociousness, maybe it was because he'd done something no one else had done before, or maybe it was something else... but whatever it was I found myself fully immersed in his journey after that. And it's been gratifying to see him get better step-by-step. I feel the same about Jason. The skater he is today is certainly not the same skater I first saw (and fell in love with) in Riverdance. And knowing his own struggles I will be jumping and screaming when he finally lands that pesky quad because I know that will be a great personal achievement for him.

Speaking of journeys, I think I'm quite invested now in Joe Klein's and Ilia Malinin's journeys. I was really impressed with Ilia in the ISP (kid's got guts!) and can't wait to see more of him.

Switching gears... don't think this was posted yet but according to this article from teamusa.org, Vincent has parted with Lee Barkell and is back with Christy Krall and Tom Z. Sounds like he was supposed to enter the ISP but didn't for some reason? (Actually not sure why Camden didn't either when Tomoki did).
 
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jenaj

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Actually, that was pretty much the whole foundation of the USFS' propaganda campaign for him.

Regardless of the ballet argument, there is also SS, transitions, choreography as considerations for the PC mark. And when all of those are taken into consideration - well, I said it then and I'll say it now - every single judge who marked Nathan Chen's FS at 2020 US Nationals higher in PCS than Jason Brown's needs to be barred from judging ever again until they take remedial courses. It was offensive to my integrity as a judge that that could have happened.

At US Nationals you always expect some kind of shenanigans, whether it's the tech panel closing their eyes during certain skaters, or certain skaters being given huge PCS gifts - but that was beyond the pale.

But this also comes back to the argument that quads should not automatically equal big PCS, and that's a separate issue.
Calling the USFSA's promotion of Nathan a propaganda campaign is a little extreme. I would like an example of the federation promoting his artistry based on his prior ballet training. Terry Gannon's color commentary doesn't count.
 

skylark

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Every skater deserves their passionate fans:D

And I don't know if my profession increased my argumentativeness, or I went into it because I'm argumentative. :LOL:But IRL, when I go to a comp, I watch skating and clap for everyone and I don't argue. Even if my special faves get just a tad extra applause;)
You and me both. (y)

Every skater does deserve their passionate fans. I read the last few pages of this thread today (I had to skip some posts last night). This whole conversation has made me realize that a big part of what gives me trouble is when posters state their subjective preferences as fact and use that as a bludgeon.

In my opinion, that's just rude and specifically goes against the standard that here, everyone's opinions are respected.
 

shine

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Actually, that was pretty much the whole foundation of the USFS' propaganda campaign for him.

[Regardless of the ballet argument, there is also SS, transitions, choreography as considerations for the PC mark. And when all of those are taken into consideration - well, I said it then and I'll say it now - every single judge who marked Nathan Chen's FS at 2020 US Nationals higher in PCS than Jason Brown's needs to be barred from judging ever again until they take remedial courses. It was offensive to my integrity as a judge that that could have happened.

At US Nationals you always expect some kind of shenanigans, whether it's the tech panel closing their eyes during certain skaters, or certain skaters being given huge PCS gifts - but that was beyond the pale.

But this also comes back to the argument that quads should not automatically equal big PCS, and that's a separate issue.
You act like that's the worst crime ever in figure skating when it really isn't. There are many incidents you should be madder about where placements are actually impacted but you aren't because they didn't negatively affect your personal favorites.
 
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