Janet Lynn: A Measured Fall from Freedom | Golden Skate

Janet Lynn: A Measured Fall from Freedom

Sharon Whitlock

Rinkside
Joined
Nov 30, 2015
I've enjoyed reading the thread about "what we're looking forward to in the upcoming season," and I'm frankly surprised at how many posters mentioned looking forward to "more quads, especially from women, and the triple axel from women."

I'm interested in reactions and commentary on this article by Janet Lynn, which, I'll admit, I kinda go along with, skating friends. The article was written several years, BTW, and I have no idea if Janet has changed her views. If anyone knows, I would be interested in seeing any followup articles or comments from Janet. Thanks!

 

readernick

Medalist
Joined
Dec 5, 2015
Janet was absolutely one of the most naturally musical, artistically talented skaters who has ever skated. I think for her the modern scoring system would have been limiting. However, for less naturally artistic skaters I think the COP has improved the non-jump elements. So it took away some creatively, but it added quality for less naturally artistic skaters.
 
Last edited:

katymay

Medalist
Joined
Mar 7, 2006
I've enjoyed reading the thread about "what we're looking forward to in the upcoming season," and I'm frankly surprised at how many posters mentioned looking forward to "more quads, especially from women, and the triple axel from women."

I'm interested in reactions and commentary on this article by Janet Lynn, which, I'll admit, I kinda go along with, skating friends. The article was written several years, BTW, and I have no idea if Janet has changed her views. If anyone knows, I would be interested in seeing any followup articles or comments from Janet. Thanks!

I guess Janet has forgotten how corrupt, political and ripped off figure skating was in her day. It is far less subjective, far more fair today, with objective measurements. Is it perfect? Of course not. But it is a far sight better than it was 'back in the day'.
 

noskates

Record Breaker
Joined
Jun 11, 2012
The safety of growing skaters is no longer on the radar screen. If it were, skaters would not be dictated to perform contorted positions or maniacal jumping. It is unthinkable that a skater can perform even a single revolution jump with safety without the proper muscle map built into the body. Officials who are in favor of safety would promote the concept of, and incentivize, the intelligent developmental system used for almost a century. Nothing else can simulate these fundamental exercises for skating securely, with impact, on a thin blade with a lean on a curved edge.
Thought this was a very interesting comment. I agree to a certain extent and have probably been criticized for being anti-quads. There are skaters like Nathan and Hanyu who have the body types and athleticism to perform multiple rotations in a jump successfully. Then there are many, many skaters who try to do these jumps and are really putting their bodies at risk....especially the younger ones whose bones are still developing and they're still growing. While the little Russian ladies are throwing these jumps right and left at a tender age, how long do you think they'll be in the sport?

I don't have an answer to the issue other than to say as long as skaters are getting points for falling on quads, they'll keep attempting to do them. I would like more emphasis put on musicality, interpretation and smoothness.
 
Joined
Jun 21, 2003
I really liked Janet Lynn as a skater. I read some comments from Rudy Galindo, that she was Homo-Phobic and it would effect her scoring when he skated. I hope it wasn't true as I really did love Janet's skating.
I doubt that Janet Lynn had much influence over scoring by the time that Rudy came on the scene. I don't think that she was active as a judge or USFSA official after her skating career was over in the mid-seventies. Possinbly she retained some unofficial influence as a former skating great.

As for Lynn's laments about the code of points judging system, I believe that the majority of skaters who were successful by 6.0 standards. held similar views. De-emphasis on artistic expression, etc.
 

mrrice

Record Breaker
Joined
Jul 9, 2014
I doubt that Janet Lynn had much influence over scoring by the time that Rudy came on the scene. I don't think that she was active as a judge or USFSA official after her skating career was over in the mid-seventies. Possinbly she retained some unofficial influence as a former skating great.

As for Lynn's laments about the code of points judging system, I believe that the majority of skaters who were successful by 6.0 standards. held similar views. De-emphasis on artistic expression, etc.
This happened at a ProAm after Rudy had retired from Competitive Skating. He said that Lynn's low score for him was "Personal" I'm not sure what happened between them but, it effected Rudy.
 
Last edited:

el henry

Fangirl of men’s spirals and split jumps
Record Breaker
Joined
Mar 3, 2014
Country
United-States
I guess Janet has forgotten how corrupt, political and ripped off figure skating was in her day. It is far less subjective, far more fair today, with objective measurements. Is it perfect? Of course not. But it is a far sight better than it was 'back in the day'.

I am afraid I disagree.

Did judges align back in the day, particularly re-enacting the Cold War, they sure did. Is it sooooo much fairer and objective today, with a point system that requires advanced statistical degrees, has an unwarranted quad bonus for PCS, etc.?

Not by my lights.:shrug:

Like everything else in figure skating, it was and remains subjective. :)
 

moonvine

Record Breaker
Joined
Mar 14, 2007
I am afraid I disagree.

Did judges align back in the day, particularly re-enacting the Cold War, they sure did. Is it sooooo much fairer and objective today, with a point system that requires advanced statistical degrees, has an unwarranted quad bonus for PCS, etc.?

Not by my lights.:shrug:

Like everything else in figure skating, it was and remains subjective. :)
I agree with you on disagreeing.
 

moonvine

Record Breaker
Joined
Mar 14, 2007
Janet was absolutely one of the most naturally musical, artistically talented skaters who has ever skated. I think for her the modern scoring system would have been limiting. However, for less naturally artistic skaters I think the COP has improved the non-jump elements. So it took away some creatively, but it added quality for less naturally artistic skaters.
I've gotten to where I loathe women's skating. So tired of hearing about 3A and quads. When Gracie retires I'm done watching it.
 

moonvine

Record Breaker
Joined
Mar 14, 2007
I don't know or will comment on her personal views such as views about homosexuality. The article itself I agree with 1,000%. It would be one thing if a skater could be a great artist OR a great jumper and be equally rewarded for either. But a woman needs no artistry anymore, just jumping.
 

Lzbee

On the Ice
Joined
Sep 25, 2016
I really really disagree with a lot of her points.

A lot of little girls these days don't want to just be pretty princesses to be ogled at. They want to be known as strong and athletic and able to compete with the best of the boys and I think the quad revolution is showing girls that they don't have to be constrained by what society says they can or cannot achieve. Just see how many skaters (yes even "grown women") are now achieving what they were told to be impossible for most girls except the once in a generation talents.

Janet appears to be advocating for judged exhibitions and I strongly disagree that this will regain the popularity of the sport. People want to watch their athletes do things that they cannot do. If all we're going to be watching are slow mournful one foot glides then I could go to my local rink for that.

She also mentions more than once that CoP is too complex for the audience and coaches. I believe this is doing the fans and sport a disservice. Fans have shown that they can and will dissect, analyse and "measure" the minutiae of scoring so I sure as heck hope that coaches and choreographers will take the time to do so too as part of their job. This is not a rhetorical question but is the gymnastics scoring system much simpler than figure skating's? It's a similarly judged sport but is much more popular (particularly in the US).

Furthermore, is she proposing that we go back to the 6.0 system? Because I would argue that that is even less comprehensible for the general fan. Once someone gets past the sparkly costumes and movement soaring to the music, they'll want to learn about the technical details of scoring. Why did this skater get a score higher than another skater but with 6.0, the journey ends with "this looked pretty and this did not". That's not to say that CoP doesn't also have its biases but there is a lot more information for people to discuss and strategise.

However, I do agree that CoP doesn't allow for expansion of the sport except in the form of more rotations in the air. Having a greater variety of scored elements would increase the complexity but I don't think we should be afraid of complexity in the scoring system as there will always be someone willing to lay it out in layman's terms for people.

My out there suggestion would be to hire a game designer to help with creating layers in the scoring that would encourage creativity. :biggrin:
 

jenaj

Record Breaker
Joined
Aug 17, 2003
Country
United-States
I really liked Janet Lynn as a skater. I read some comments from Rudy Galindo, that she was Homo-Phobic and it would effect her scoring when he skated. I hope it wasn't true as I really did love Janet's skating.
I don't think it is true. She skated with John Curry as a professional and he was maybe her biggest fan.
 

jenaj

Record Breaker
Joined
Aug 17, 2003
Country
United-States
I guess Janet has forgotten how corrupt, political and ripped off figure skating was in her day. It is far less subjective, far more fair today, with objective measurements. Is it perfect? Of course not. But it is a far sight better than it was 'back in the day'.
I think the judging is no less "corrupt" than it was under the old system. In fact, there are many more ways to manipulate the scores than there were under 6.0--GOE, 5 categories of PCS for the judging panel; edge calls, URs for the technical panel. It was easier for the audience to see scores that seemed to be manipulated with the old system. It was easier to compare a 5.7 to 5.9 than it is to see a total score. Even the PCS number has to be mathematically parsed to understand who got what (for example, 72 is an average 9 for ladies, 90 is for men. How many people besides uber fans know and understand this?).
 

noskates

Record Breaker
Joined
Jun 11, 2012
I think that a young woman can be athletic and strong without having to jump quads. The pretty little princess schtick is , IMO, totally dependent on whatever costume they're wearing...and has nothing to do with how they skate. Again, just my opinion. I think there aren't too many among us that don't have friends who are casual skating fans. Quads mean little or nothing to them. They want to see beautiful skating. And those casual fans are the ones that figure skating needs to attract and keep to gain a better acceptance among all the other sports to compete for attendance at competitions, viewership on television and then eventually a resurgence of the great skating shows that give skaters somewhat of a career after they're finished competing. I don't necessarily agree with Ms. Lynn on judging. I think several doctoral theses could be written about the pros and cons of the 6.0 system versus the point system now. I don't think the 6.0 system was flexible enough and it didn't give the judges enough leeway to compare skaters. The point system or any judging system is always going to be criticized just like any other judging system in any sport that's controlled by human beings. And quite frankly, I find that the people who criticize it the most are those whose personal favorites aren't winning.
 

SpiffySpiders

On the Ice
Joined
Feb 19, 2014
Lzbee's post speaks for me.
I think there aren't too many among us that don't have friends who are casual skating fans. Quads mean little or nothing to them. They want to see beautiful skating.

I guess that depends on who your friends are and why they might choose to be casual figure skating viewers or Every Four Years fans. Among my friends and acquaintances there's less interest in the beauty of the sport but the axels and quads, and, depending on the individual, other challenging elements which can and do include intricate spins and displays of precise blade control, are eye catching. Sometimes, unique chorography and music grabs their attention - and that music is usually upbeat and atypical. More than anything else, it is the big jumpers and the fun skaters who break conventional expectations they ask about or mention to me in passing.

As an interesting side-note, among young casuals I know the Russian women in general get a lot of mention for not only jumping but also being relatable, pretty and seeming fun when shown off the ice. Yuzu and Nathan get a lot of love both for their skating but also their completely opposite styles - theatrical versus cool casual - and, like those Russian girls, their good looks. Older casuals all seem to enjoy Jason Brown and remember him immediately as "That Riverdance guy". It's funny, but also informative about how changes in the sport are being received, when you listen to which things different groups of casual fans point out in conversation.
 

mrrice

Record Breaker
Joined
Jul 9, 2014
I don't think it is true. She skated with John Curry as a professional and he was maybe her biggest fan.
This is a great comment. If she was friends with John, her problem with Rudy must have been something other than his being gay. I truly don't know what happened between them, but Rudy is not a fan of hers
 

el henry

Fangirl of men’s spirals and split jumps
Record Breaker
Joined
Mar 3, 2014
Country
United-States
Because Janet Lynn is the reason I'm even here, :clap:I will always be interested in what she has to say.

I found some of her assertions interesting, such as if the present scoring system were in place, the axel, lutz and salchow would never have been invented. I think I agree that the health of young skaters must always be a priority, and "progress" cannot be used to impede that priority.

For the omnipresent "Why do people watch" and "Is scoring too complicated" questions:

1. We don't know why the every four year fan watches and without controlled surveys we never will.

I can say for the people I know, young, old and in-between, revolutions in the air mean zippo. That includes the real young 'uns. Jumps are exciting, but they have no idea and could care less what is a "big jump". A landed jump. with cool choreo before and after, to them is "big".

But why is that? Because they are my friends, do they think like me? Do they absorb from me that revolutions in the air are boring compared to the thrill of a spin or edge work? Maybe:biggrin:

And how do we test? Count my friends against your friends? Sigh.

2. Scoring needs to be understandable to someone just clicking on the video.

The capacity to understand, to me, is irrelevant. I have the capacity to cook dinner tonight, but it's too much work and I'm not doing it.:laugh:

Popular sports appeal to *both* fans who know nothing and fans who follow the intricacies. Lots of football fans love the Xs and Os. But all you need to know is get the ball across the goal line and kick it through the uprights. So the NFL attracts *both* fans. If skating only appeals to the Xs and Os, it will remain a niche sport.

All of this is of course US based. So is Janet Lynn:)
 

Flying Feijoa

On the Ice
Joined
Sep 22, 2019
Country
New-Zealand
My out there suggestion would be to hire a game designer to help with creating layers in the scoring that would encourage creativity.
Great suggestion! Encouraging creativity calls for creative solutions :D

About complexity, I don't think the system is hard to understand. It takes maybe half an hour of reading the Wiki page to get the basic gist of things. Specific instances of scoring (not the system itself) can be hard to understand sometimes, but that's basically because judges are human. This source of error would only be worse under the 6.0 system.

I appreciate IJS for making people actually bother to do difficult steps and spins. When I watch older programmes, rather than the jumps or lack thereof, what stands out the most for me are how some skaters got away with basic step sequences and iffy spins. And it wasn't like they couldn't do them, because skaters in the 2000s caught between two systems did eventually adjust. I don't think a bunch of toesteps performed with a beaming smile should be rewarded similarly to a cluster of pristine rockers and counters, even if the skater might look a bit preoccupied while doing the latter. Plus there are people with top-notch skating skills who can make hard steps look easy and still have room to perform - neither IJS/6.0 rewards them adequately but IJS at least recognises their technical ability a bit.
 

BlissfulSynergy

Medalist
Joined
Sep 1, 2020
Country
Mars
What Janet Lynn has written is still very true. Notice that she said, "some skaters are defying the odds" imposed by the overly measured, overbearing, and confounding rules and judging system. She didn't reference particular skaters in 2011, but such skaters today surely include Nathan Chen, Jason Brown, et al, as well as a number of pioneering choreographers who are trying to overcome the challenges presented by the incessant and heavy-handed rules and rules changes.

I completely agree with Lynn's points of view, and with the problems she wrote about which still exist. Note that she spoke about the importance of skaters learning proper foundational blade techniques in order to stave off injuries. The focus in skating continues to be more on the numbers game and acrobatic maneuvers than it is on ensuring the health and safety of athletes. Lynn is not saying that everything about the older era in skating was better. She's saying that skaters need to learn proper technique before attempting multiple jump revolutions and trying to do crazy acrobatic maneuvers for points before truly understanding what skating is about and how to incorporate freedom of expression with sound technique and athletic skill. Skaters need to learn how to skate to music, not skate over music with moves that have no connection to the music.

Contributions by some extraordinary skaters, coaches and choreographers who try mightily to overcome the limiting rules and problematic judging system, are the only things keeping the sport of figure skating alive and viable in the 21st-century.
 
Top