Vancouver Ladies Rehash! (Emily Frankel's opinion)

Skatesocs

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This is oooooold, but I think it deserves discussion, and I love these two skaters, so always want to read the opinions of other people on them. Here's the opinion of a critic named Emily Frankel on the Vancouver ladies: https://youtu.be/54p0kFvaO14 (please ignore her calling Mao "Mayo" lol).
(and here's the blog post she's referring to in the video: http://emtalkery.blogspot.com/2010/02/who-will-be-winner.html)

Of course, skating wise, Kim deserved to win, no questions asked, but I have to say that I agree with her on a lot of what she's saying there, with regards to Vancouver. I did think Asada showed some superior qualities to Kim which were simply not regarded in the scores.

Frankel's comments about leg extensions is relevant to the spiral sequence - but Kim tied Asada on this element in the SP, and barely finished below her in the LP. The "actual dancing" part I think is relevant to Asada's transitions in the LP and SP, and also her step sequences - I'm sure I'll be told it's all taste, but in both programs I think Asada showed transitions that were more attuned to the overall choreography, and no doubt her steps were more complex and she always showed better technique on them compared to Kim (but the judges barely noted this in either program, with Kim finishing 0.3 lower in the SP on the level 3 steps despite having a clear stumble).

Of course, we're not really judging "dancing" in skating, and I disagree with her making comments on who is finished more "balletically" between the two (though it's still interesting to note). What I do think she's noting correctly though is the reality of the expression between the two of them at Vancouver (and the 2009 4CC SP videos; the post contains Kim's, here's Asada's: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aokDNpnbV1A). I think Asada actually had more organic programs than Kim in those 2 seasons, with her Clair de Lune, Masquerade Waltz SP, and Bells of Moscow - I don't think Asada was the person to be skating her Vancouver programs, but I think they were a lot more naturally attuned to the music compared to Kim's, who was definitely showcasing programs that were bogged down by CoP rules in those two seasons. This is what I think she means by saying "Mao is a struggling artist". I don't think this was really noted correctly in the PCS scores.

She also says "Yuna is a queen" - and while I am not getting into her analysis of why she's more confident, I do agree again that it's her confidence and ability to change her character based off the music (which is what ended up giving her a more versatile body of work in my book, and why she came off as more musical for me) that really sold those programs to the audiences. If we break down the choreography - you do notice her steps, because you were supposed to, that was the point of her transitions! I generally disagree that Kim was only an amazing performer and not an artist, but it was absolutely true here.

(Totally here for her blasting Bezic's commentary lol)
 
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yume

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Frankel's comments about leg extensions is relevant to the spiral sequence - but Kim tied Asada on this element in the SP, and barely finished below her in the LP. The "actual dancing" part I think is relevant to Asada's transitions in the LP and SP, and also her step sequences - I'm sure I'll be told it's all taste, but in both programs I think Asada showed transitions that were more attuned to the overall choreography, and no doubt her steps were more complex and she always showed better technique on them compared to Kim (but the judges barely noted this in either program, with Kim finishing 0.3 lower in the SP on the level 3 steps despite having a clear stumble).
Kim's GOEs for spiral sequences are a mystery for me.

Asada wasn't enough rewarded for more complexity in steps.
I don't think Asada was the person to be skating her Vancouver programs,
Definitely.
Those programs didn't suit her.
 

Skatesocs

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Kim's GOEs for spiral sequences are a mystery for me.
Can really only think it was because of slightly greater ice coverage and speed. I don't remember the level rules anymore, but I wish she'd stuck to doing the catch positions, and she had a nice Kerrigan in juniors. In that 4CC SP, I think she deserved to lose the COE level, because she couldn't keep her arabesque high enough, and I think you were supposed to maintain the position while doing the COE.
 

Mathman

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I remember the blog article when it first came out. Emily Frankel is a very famous dancer and choreorgrapher, and also a playwright and novelist. At the time of the Vancouver Olympics she was Artist in Residence at the University of Michiigan.

She did make a couple of mistakes. Besides May-o she seemed not to know that Kim was Yuna's family name. Plus she got Kim's age wrong. Both skaters were born in the same month and year and were 19 at the time of the Olympics.

Frankel is a dancer. Her conclusion, "Mao should have won because she is the better dancer" is what one would expect from a dance expert, but it invited the response, "Yes but this was a skating contest and Kim was the better skater."
 

yume

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Can really only think it was because of slightly greater ice coverage and speed. I don't remember the level rules anymore, but I wish she'd stuck to doing the catch positions, and she had a nice Kerrigan in juniors. In that 4CC SP, I think she deserved to lose the COE level, because she couldn't keep her arabesque high enough, and I think you were supposed to maintain the position while doing the COE.
She had slightly better speed yes. The catch positions weren't better imo. They also lacked flexibility.
 

Skatesocs

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Plus she got Kim's age wrong.
She did in the blog post! But she got it right in the video.
Her conclusion, "Mao should have won because she is the better dancer" is what one would expect from a dance expert, but it invited the response, "Yes but this was a skating contest and Kim was the better skater."
Yep. Still, I think her insight is useful for the skating that went on. She actually managed to capture what a friend once said to me "Mao is the interpreter, Yuna is the performer" during this period.
 

drivingmissdaisy

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My only complaint is that the GOE difference on successful elements that Yuna and Mao did was too large, and that put Mao out of contention before she stepped foot on the ice to perform her LP. Having said that, Mao really could not have picked a worse piece to perform to given the ethereal quality of her skating; BoM was way too heavy and dark for her.
 

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I was rooting for Mao in Vancouver because she had been prevented from competing at the Olympics when she was 15-- the period when she was delightfully mowing down her competitors. Mao was a warrior who expressed heart and soul in her skating, and she possessed lionhearted risk-taking and courage.
 

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I was rooting for Mao in Vancouver because she had been prevented from competing at the Olympics when she was 15-- the period when she was delightfully mowing down her competitors. Mao was a warrior who expressed heart and soul in her skating, and she possessed lionhearted risk-taking and courage.

Very true. But Yuna was also "prevented from competing at the 2006 Olympics" that year for the same reason -- not old enough. Yuna, knowing that she couldn't go tp the Olympics anyway elected to stay Junior, while Mao sallied forth into the fray with abandon. :yes:
 

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^^ Thanks for the factual details. :) I didn't recall that. Surely they were not exactly the same age though.

While I respect Yu Na's skating and I was happy for her winning gold in 2010, I equally respect Mao's skating, though I wasn't a super fan of either skater. Mao won me over more-so with her enormous passion, her fighting spirit through many ups-and-downs, and through her very palpable love of skating.

Yu Na I respect more for her rare and amazing technical strengths. She was so inspired by Michelle Kwan, and she seemed to have a similar movement style to Michelle's as a junior. But Yu Na's artistry did not develop along the same lines as Kwan's and Mao's, even though Yu Na was a musical skater. Some of her best programs were choreographed by David Wilson. Ultimately, Yu Na's personality was more reserved as a skater, and her lack of pointing her toes along with her very poor positions in the layback somewhat bothered me. But those minor points do not detract from Yu Na's strong and abiding legacy.
 

jaylee

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^^ Thanks for the factual details. :) I didn't recall that. Surely they were not exactly the same age though.

While I respect Yu Na's skating and I was happy for her winning gold in 2010, I equally respect Mao's skating, though I wasn't a super fan of either skater. Mao won me over more-so with her enormous passion, her fighting spirit through many ups-and-downs, and through her very palpable love of skating.

Yu Na I respect more for her rare and amazing technical strengths. She was so inspired by Michelle Kwan, and she seemed to have a similar movement style to Michelle's as a junior. But Yu Na's artistry did not develop along the same lines as Kwan's and Mao's, even though Yu Na was a musical skater. Some of her best programs were choreographed by David Wilson. Ultimately, Yu Na's personality was more reserved as a skater, and her lack of pointing her toes along with her very poor positions in the layback somewhat bothered me. But those minor points do not detract from Yu Na's strong and abiding legacy.

Actually, Mao and Yu-Na were born 20 days apart. In the same year. Feel free to look it up. It's very common for some fans to emphasize that Mao was unfairly kept out of the 2006 Olympics and assuming that Mao would've won -- while ignoring the fact that Yu-Na was also kept out of the 2006 Olympics (and beat Mao at the 2006 Junior Worlds). I find that unfair.

It's great that Mao won you over more. That's cool. What I find perplexing and frustrating about your post, and Emily Frankel's (yes, I read her stuff back in 2010), is that you mix in your opinions (which you are entitled to) with factual inaccuracies and make very debatable conclusions.

Stuff like "enormous passion," "fighting spirit", and "love of skating" is subjective, so if that's what makes you love Mao, great. I certainly don't argue that Mao doesn't have that. But is it that Mao has more of that than any other skater, or you just don't know other skaters well enough to recognize how they expressed their passion/spirit/love of skating?

Why do you say that "Yu Na's artistry did not develop along the same lines as Kwan's and Mao's"? Look, both Mao and Yu-Na had amazing artistry but they had different styles. It speaks volumes that one of Mao's most successful programs ever was her Chopin Nocturne piece -- when she skated at age 16 *and* at 23. Soft, balletic, pretty music fit Mao beautifully. But I would say on that topic, based on the facts, that she is the skater that didn't develop as much artistically -- for much of her competitive career, many of her most successful programs were mostly variations on the same theme (Nocturne, Ladies in Lavender, Clair de Lune, Nocturne again). Her most successful program for her entire senior career was a re-choreographed version of a piece that she had already skated successfully to right out of juniors. FWIW, her "Bei Mir Bistu Shein" is supposed to be somewhat flirtatious and sensual and Mao TRIES, but IMO, she just doesn't hit those notes and the SP just ends up being playful. Yet Yu-Na Kim DID hit those notes in James Bond and her Fever routines. So...

I guess I have no idea where you get that "Yu-Na was more reserved" because her Danse Macabre and James Bond lit the ice on fire. Reserved skaters can't pull off those programs. Her Les Miserables got every single person in the stadium standing by the end (I should know -- I was there). Reserved? No. And in terms of artistic development, Yu-Na had far more variety in programs within a season and mixed it up and pushed herself artistically to try new types of programs from season to season. From Tango de Roxanne to Lark Ascending to Danse Macabre and Scherazade and Gerswhin and Bond and Homage to Korea and Les Miserables and Send in the Clowns, etc. That's a pretty amazing body of work and I have no idea why you say that her artistry did not develop like Michelle Kwan or Mao's. Love Michelle Kwan, but her body of work was different, and honestly, we're talking apples and oranges here. Michelle did a Bond girl routine once, btw. Look it up. I prefer Kim's. If you prefer Michelle's, fine.

Also, Yu-Na only had a weak free leg position in her layback, but for most of her career, through 2011, she had an amazing back positions and kept her shoulders perfectly parallel to the ice in the classic position. Mao had a better Biellmann but struggled with her other back positions and in particular the classic position. Fun fact: If Mao hadn't botched her layback spin in the 2007 Worlds SP (level 2 only), she'd be a 4-time world champion.

It's great that you say that Yu-Na's minor flaws don't detract from Yu-Na's legacy. But I just don't agree with most of your supporting points. And the same is for Emily Frankel, too. She's more into classic dancing, great. She finds Mao more to her liking, great. But she didn't really value Yu-Na's skills as a skater, because she just doesn't value that. So I take her argument with a grain of salt.
 

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Actually, Mao and Yu-Na were born 20 days apart. In the same year. Feel free to look it up. It's very common for some fans to emphasize that Mao was unfairly kept out of the 2006 Olympics and assuming that Mao would've won -- while ignoring the fact that Yu-Na was also kept out of the 2006 Olympics (and beat Mao at the 2006 Junior Worlds). I find that unfair.

Hey, I wasn't aware that Yu Na was so close in age to Mao. It was Mao who was the prominent one winning against the veterans on the GP and at GPF in her debut season. And it is Mao whose early competitive story has been so often and popularly discussed within the skating community. It is what it is.

I'm happy to learn more nuances about these ladies' early competitive histories of which I was not fully aware.
 

BlissfulSynergy

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Why do you say that "Yu Na's artistry did not develop along the same lines as Kwan's and Mao's"? Look, both Mao and Yu-Na had amazing artistry but they had different styles. It speaks volumes that one of Mao's most successful programs ever was her Chopin Nocturne piece -- when she skated at age 16 *and* at 23. Soft, balletic, pretty music fit Mao beautifully. But I would say on that topic, based on the facts, that she is the skater that didn't develop as much artistically

Let's be honest. We have differing opinions. That's the way it goes in the figure skating fandom. As I noted earlier, I am not a superfan of either skater. You have made some interesting and worthy points! Debating their qualities, attributes and competitive careers is entertaining and enlightening, but I'll have to pass for going further at this moment. Other matters are calling for my attention. Take care. :)

ETA:
Yu Na's material was on fire and she had a fire within to win at her crowning glory Olympics, and I totally enjoyed her performance, as she expressed more emotion than usual. But that does not negate that her personality is still very reserved. In general, she's not as visibly emotive as some skaters. And there's nothing wrong with that. Still waters run deep.
 
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Skatesocs

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Also, Yu-Na only had a weak free leg position in her layback, but for most of her career, through 2011, she had an amazing back positions and kept her shoulders perfectly parallel to the ice in the classic position.
This is true. I can't find the level rules for the 2008-09 or 2009-10 season, but I wonder why she dropped the "speed up" feature that she used in the 2006-07 season on her layback. Her Biellmann wasn't that great, and I don't think she'd have worked on her free leg all that much on the attitude position, but she could have emphasised her back position as I think she didn't need the free leg in attitude for the position to count even in those seasons, the speed up feature she did really well, and the sideways/haircutter (edit: sideways/backwards!) that were quite strong from her in general (well, before 2013). I don't really know why they didn't do this. But I was never a fan of Orser's coaching of her. She won loads of things, and she seemed very happy and confident, and she needed to be away from all the home town pressure, and she needed rest and recuperation from injury/boots that didn't constantly break and injure her - all important - but for the actual skating I think her best came before and after him. He really knew what worked for the judges though.

It's worse in the 2012-14 seasons though, since here I *know* that the free leg position isn't needed, the speed-up feature exists, and the clear change between sideways-haircutter (edit: sideways/backwards!) exists. Yet they only did a level 3 šŸ˜…

Coming back to this though:

Asada wasn't enough rewarded for more complexity in steps.
I checked skatedb once, and apparently Mao's circular step sequence in Clair de Lune *was* to be level 4, she achieved that twice that season, although both in fluff competitions (one was the 2009 WTT). Don't have the level rules, and lack the patience to really see what went wrong anyway, but now I am not sure where she kept losing a level the rest of the season. (Could also be that the fluff events handed out candy, but this step sequence really was hard)
 
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yume

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Actually, Mao and Yu-Na were born 20 days apart. In the same year. Feel free to look it up. It's very common for some fans to emphasize that Mao was unfairly kept out of the 2006 Olympics and assuming that Mao would've won -- while ignoring the fact that Yu-Na was also kept out of the 2006 Olympics (and beat Mao at the 2006 Junior Worlds). I find that unfair.
She beat Mao not because she was the absolute best but because Mao bombed.
People assumed that Mao could/would have won olympics because she had proven that she could get high scores and beat the entire olympic podium.
 

drivingmissdaisy

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She beat Mao not because she was the absolute best but because Mao bombed.

Mao could not have done anything to win the LP. Her first four jump elements were clean but still scored low:

3A-2T - 9.70, which is 2+ points less that Yuna's 3Lz-3T and I think that's fair
3A - 9.0, which is 0.5 less than Yuna's 2A-3T and I think that is not fair
3F-2Lo - 7.60, which is less than Yuna's 2-2-2 combo
3Lo - 6.10, which is less than a point higher than Yuna's 2A

The judges killed Mao on GOE and, even if she delivered everything else perfectly, she wasn't going to come anywhere close to 150. The GOE Yuna got on her jumps also rose substantially from 2009 Worlds (http://www.isuresults.com/results/wc2009/wc09_Ladies_FS_Scores.pdf) to 2010 Olympics (http://www.isuresults.com/results/owg2010/owg10_Ladies_FS_Scores.pdf). It's not a big deal because Yuna was so much better that the rest of the field in the end, but if Mao ended up a few points behind Yuna I think the result would have been problematic.
 

jaylee

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This is true. I can't find the level rules for the 2008-09 or 2009-10 season, but I wonder why she dropped the "speed up" feature that she used in the 2006-07 season on her layback. Her Biellmann wasn't that great, and I don't think she'd have worked on her free leg all that much on the attitude position, but she could have emphasised her back position as I think she didn't need the free leg in attitude for the position to count even in those seasons, the speed up feature she did really well, and the sideways/haircutter that were quite strong from her in general (well, before 2013). I don't really know why they didn't do this. But I was never a fan of Orser's coaching of her. She won loads of things, and she seemed very happy and confident, and she needed to be away from all the home town pressure, and she needed rest and recuperation from injury/boots that didn't constantly break and injure her - all important - but for the actual skating I think her best came before and after him. He really knew what worked for the judges though.

Good observation on the acceleration feature. Clearly accelerating during a spin was a very difficult feature to get credited by the technical caller, and in the 2006-2007 season, you needed it to get level 4 -- and very few ladies were able to get level 4. Even acclaimed spinners like Alissa Czisny found it difficult to get. Yu-Na, as far as I know, was the only skater that season who actually got level 4 on her layback spin twice at ISU events -- 2007 Worlds SP and 2006 Canada FS.

Yu-Na was seen in practices at 2013 Worlds doing a wonderful acceleration during her layback spin, but the fact of the matter is -- it's a difficult feature to get, the skaters also simultaneously have to count revolutions, change positions, and try to do everything in tune to the music, keep enough stamina for everything else. Yu-Na and her team understood IJS very well -- they did the best they could with her abilities and strength at the time while simultaneously maximizing her chances for a clean program. At 2012 Korean Nationals, Yu-Na actually mixed up her final spin because she was so excited (due to the crowd's reaction). These things happen and Yu-Na might have just forgotten to attempt it.

I'm skeptical that Brian really knew what worked for the judges because the system was so new to him -- Yu-Na had an IJS-friendly program figured out long before she met him, which included but was not limited to having the 2A/3T in the second half of the FS and +GOE friendly transitions for jumps. Brian had never competed under IJS. Brian also credited Yu-Na for wanting to level up her program for the 2010 Olympics (he blamed himself for not having done that in 1988), which resulted in all of the transitions to maximize GOE in her Gershwin program.
I checked skatedb once, and apparently Mao's circular step sequence in Clair de Lune *was* to be level 4, she achieved that twice that season, although both in fluff competitions (one was the 2009 WTT). Don't have the level rules, and lack the patience to really see what went wrong anyway, but now I am not sure where she kept losing a level the rest of the season. (Could also be that the fluff events handed out candy, but this step sequence really was hard)

Level 4 step sequence was in general very difficult for the ladies to get during the 2006-2010 quad. They loosened up the rules after 2010. The fact that Mao only got that at fluff competitions prior to 2010 speaks volumes.


She beat Mao not because she was the absolute best but because Mao bombed.
People assumed that Mao could/would have won olympics because she had proven that she could get high scores and beat the entire olympic podium.

Yeah, that's a nice little fantasy, if not entirely supported by the facts.

Yu-Na skated wonderfully at 2006 Junior Worlds, as she did the entire season, with outstanding, mature programs. She was the absolute best at 2006 Junior Worlds.

Your phrasing there is interesting -- yes, Mao "beat the entire Olympic podium"...but let's break that down. Mao beat Shizuka twice, at TEB 2005 and Japanese nationals (but before Shizuka brought back her magical Turandot FS...). Mao lost to Irina at Cup of China 2005 and defeated her at the Grand Prix Final...in Japan. Mao defeated Sasha Cohen at TEB 2005. And Mao lost to Fumie Suguri at Japan Nationals -- Fumie placed 4th at the Olympics with very good performances.

So, Mao was 1-1 against Irina (with the victory on her home field), 2-0 against Shizuka (before she changed her Olympic programs), 0-1 against Fumie, and 1-0 against Sasha Cohen. This is hardly overwhelming evidence that Mao was going to 1) repeat her magical GPF performance that was completed with home field advantage) and 2) repeat her GPF win at the Olympics and defeat all of those skaters again.

Did you know that Mao never defended a single title outside of Japan? That's right, she defended an NHK title, her many Nationals titles, and the 2013 GPF title -- in Japan. Japan is where all three of her world records as a senior were earned as well. She obviously derived a fair amount of comfort and familiarity skating in Japan that resulted in better performances and higher scores. But that wasn't going to apply at the 2006 Olympics.

Finally, 2006 just wasn't a great year for Mao in terms of FS performances overall. She was clearly going through growth spurts and issues with her technique. Her 2006 Junior Worlds performance wasn't just a result of poor motivation, it was really bad -- and it was the first of three disastrous FS (the other two being 2006 Skate America and 2006 GPF) in that calendar year, even though across different seasons. So yeah. Mao lost 2006 Junior Worlds fair and square, and no, don't think the evidence is that clearcut that she was going to dominate the 2006 Olympic podium (I love how you left out Fumie! lol).

The judges killed Mao on GOE and, even if she delivered everything else perfectly, she wasn't going to come anywhere close to 150. The GOE Yuna got on her jumps also rose substantially from 2009 Worlds (http://www.isuresults.com/results/wc2009/wc09_Ladies_FS_Scores.pdf) to 2010 Olympics (http://www.isuresults.com/results/owg2010/owg10_Ladies_FS_Scores.pdf). It's not a big deal because Yuna was so much better that the rest of the field in the end, but if Mao ended up a few points behind Yuna I think the result would have been problematic.

Oh, come on, it's clear you didn't even watch the performances and just looked at the protocols. The judges didn't kill Mao on GOE -- she didn't have the transitions, the height, the distance, the speed, flow. She bet on base value and she lost that because of her failed elements (3T, 3F/2lo/2lo). She spent most of the program stalking 3As and she was skating so slowly when she went into her 3T attempt, it's no wonder she tripped and couldn't pull it off. Btw, her 3F/2lo/2lo pass deserved -3 across the board according to the rules, but she got off lightly. Yu-Na's 2010 FS was PACKED with transitions and creative entrances and exits (see her salchow and her second 2 lutz), far more so than her own 2009 program, so she earned every bit of GOE and the increase in GOE over 2009.

Someone on the old Michelle Kwan forum did an element-by-element analysis at the time and his conclusion was that he would've given both Mao and Yu-Na +2 MORE than the judges did, but that Mao deserved -3 for the 3F/2lo/2lo for the multiple errors.
 

Skatesocs

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in the 2006-2007 season, you needed it to get level 4
Wow. Now I *have* to find these older communications. (Maybe @gkelly has them? ETA: Or @Blades of Passion? Don't think I've seen either post in a bit!)

Yu-Na, as far as I know, was the only skater that season who actually got level 4 on her layback spin twice at ISU events -- 2007 Worlds SP and 2006 Canada FS.
I have to fact check that, and I'll have a look at why the others failed there, but for Yuna specifically, I think the acceleration was particularly clear, because she did it in the transition between the sideways position to haircutter. They were such clean (and musical!) spins that season. I think you usually only notice that in other instances like Akari Matsuoka's haircutter, when the speed becomes just too great to ignore.

don't think the evidence is that clearcut that she was going to dominate the 2006 Olympic podium (I love how you left out Fumie! lol).
That may be, but Mao had amazing tech content, which is where I personally think it could have been amazing to see her have a try. Maybe nothing would have come of it, but if she'd landed everything, for me she'd have beaten everyone else by a small margin - this despite me agreeing that Mao wasn't skating in a senior way that season even though she'd transferred to it. I think she would have been held back more than deserved though, compared to the powerful flow of Arakawa, the masterpiece programs from Cohen, and the command that Slutskaya brought at her best.

Of course, given what really happened at Torino, a clean Mao should have won, in my book. The other side is Yuna, who *was* already skating like a senior that season, but probably didn't possess the tech content for the judges to place a junior in gold position, nor the programs (the SP was better next season). Given what really happened, I'd place a clean Yuna at bronze for sure though.
 
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yume

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Yeah, that's a nice little fantasy, if not entirely supported by the facts.

Yu-Na skated wonderfully at 2006 Junior Worlds, as she did the entire season, with outstanding, mature programs. She was the absolute best at 2006 Junior Worlds.

Your phrasing there is interesting -- yes, Mao "beat the entire Olympic podium"...but let's break that down. Mao beat Shizuka twice, at TEB 2005 and Japanese nationals (but before Shizuka brought back her magical Turandot FS...). Mao lost to Irina at Cup of China 2005 and defeated her at the Grand Prix Final...in Japan. Mao defeated Sasha Cohen at TEB 2005. And Mao lost to Fumie Suguri at Japan Nationals -- Fumie placed 4th at the Olympics with very good performances.

So, Mao was 1-1 against Irina (with the victory on her home field), 2-0 against Shizuka (before she changed her Olympic programs), 0-1 against Fumie, and 1-0 against Sasha Cohen. This is hardly overwhelming evidence that Mao was going to 1) repeat her magical GPF performance that was completed with home field advantage) and 2) repeat her GPF win at the Olympics and defeat all of those skaters again.

Did you know that Mao never defended a single title outside of Japan? That's right, she defended an NHK title, her many Nationals titles, and the 2013 GPF title -- in Japan. Japan is where all three of her world records as a senior were earned as well. She obviously derived a fair amount of comfort and familiarity skating in Japan that resulted in better performances and higher scores. But that wasn't going to apply at the 2006 Olympics.

Finally, 2006 just wasn't a great year for Mao in terms of FS performances overall. She was clearly going through growth spurts and issues with her technique. Her 2006 Junior Worlds performance wasn't just a result of poor motivation, it was really bad -- and it was the first of three disastrous FS (the other two being 2006 Skate America and 2006 GPF) in that calendar year, even though across different seasons. So yeah. Mao lost 2006 Junior Worlds fair and square, and no, don't think the evidence is that clearcut that she was going to dominate the 2006 Olympic podium (I love how you left out Fumie! lol).
I feel like i woke up a dragon.
My apologies.
 

Skatesocs

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@jaylee A friend says you're confusing the required acceleration feature in that season for step sequences with the optional one for spins. Would be great if you have the handbook and can show us though!
 

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I have to fact check that, and I'll have a look at why the others failed there, but for Yuna specifically, I think the acceleration was particularly clear, because she did it in the transition between the sideways position to haircutter. They were such clean (and musical!) spins that season. I think you usually only notice that in other instances like Akari Matsuoka's haircutter, when the speed becomes just too great to ignore.

Actually, I am happy to help you with fact-checking my own post. I have no problem making corrections and admitting I was wrong about one detail. I did the original research 10+ years ago, and while I have a pretty good memory, it's not perfect, so hope it's understandable.

So to correct my previous post: Yu-Na was actually one of three ladies skaters who got level 4 layback spin twice at these ISU events (GP, GPF, Four Continents, Europeans, and Worlds) -- still very rare company. Others being Yea-Ji Shin and Elene Gedevanishvili.

I remember discussions on the level 4 layback issue back in 2006-2007, but in order to really dig into this, I went through the protocols for each of those events and search for who got level 4 layback spins, so you can easily fact check against that, and then I looked at the videos too. I did it again today (in a hurry), but here they are for 2006-2007 season -- and I even linked a few of the videos directly to the layback.

Skate Canada FS - Yu-Na Kim, Binshu Xu
NHK Trophy SP - Yukari Nakano
2007 Four Continents SP - Yea-Ji Shin
2007 Four Continents FS - Emily Hughes , Yea Ji Shin, Emily Napthal, Ami Parekh
2007 Europeans SP - Elene GEDEVANISHVILI, Tamar Katz
2007 Worlds SP - Yuna Kim, Kathrin FREUDELSPERGER
2007 Worlds FS - Elene GEDEVANISHVILI

Unfortunately, I could not find all of the videos, but if you find them, please share. When I watch the videos above, pretty much all the skaters have clear acceleration in their spin (Emily Hughes is the one that I found most subjective -- she has good speed, but she doesn't clearly accelerate as much as the others -- btw, Four Continents was in the US that year...).


That may be, but Mao had amazing tech content, which is where I personally think it could have been amazing to see her have a try. Maybe nothing would have come of it, but if she'd landed everything, for me she'd have beaten everyone else by a small margin - this despite me agreeing that Mao wasn't skating in a senior way that season even though she'd transferred to it. I think she would have been held back more than deserved though, compared to the powerful flow of Arakawa, the masterpiece programs from Cohen, and the command that Slutskaya brought at her best.

Of course, given what really happened at Torino, a clean Mao should have won, in my book. The other side is Yuna, who *was* already skating like a senior that season, but probably didn't possess the tech content for the judges to place a junior in gold position, nor the programs (the SP was better next season). Given what really happened, I'd place a clean Yuna at bronze for sure though.

Mao's tech content got a lot better in later seasons, actually. In the 2005-2006 season, she had a 3A in the FS but didn't have a triple/triple in the FS.

I'm not sure why you assume that Yu-Na didn't possess the tech content to be competitive. In the 2005-2006 season, juniors were not allowed to do triple/triples in the SP, so her SP didn't have it. But if she was skating on the senior level and at the 2006 Olympics, then yes, Yu-Na would've added her triple/triple to the SP. She had an incredibly consistent triple/triple. Yu-Na also even successfully skated multiple 7-triple programs this season with the triple loop (though she had boot issues closer to junior worlds and pulled it there).

Also, she kept her SP that season and next, and even the same costume...it's one of the iconic figure skating programs of all time, frankly. It got an incredible reception at the junior level. Why wouldn't it have done well? I'm just curious at the comment that the "SP was better next season" -- it was awesome both seasons.

I think fans are totally allowed to indulge in fantasy scenarios, and wish that Mao was allowed to skate at the 2006 Olympics, and speculate what the result would have been -- and imagine her winning gold. But ultimately some people go a little too far with that fantasy and insist that she would have won simply because she beat the Olympic podium in previous events. Which is a load of hogwash (again, see my point about Fumie, and being 1:1 against Irina is hardly being unbeatable). As skating fans, we know that competition results are unpredictable, and that nothing is locked in until the competition is over. Sometimes favorites win and sometimes they do not. Never thought Alina Zagitova would win the Olympics by winning the SP and getting a tie in the FS. Never thought Virtue and Moir would win by winning the SP and not the FS. etc. Mao is pretty much the most unpredictable skater I've watched over the past few decades. I always felt you could never count Mao out -- but you could never really count on her, either. You can see that as glass half-full or half-empty.

@jaylee A friend says you're confusing the required acceleration feature in that season for step sequences with the optional one for spins. Would be great if you have the handbook and can show us though!

I no longer have that stuff downloaded, sorry -- I did a quick search and the ISU site is such a mess. But I think this disagreement is about wording. I wasn't thinking about footwork at all. It's true that accelerating during the layback spin wasn't required...but more often than that, when you look at the very few examples of the level 4 layback spins from the ladies that season, what do you find in common? Clear acceleration. If you find examples of ladies getting a level 4 layback spin without clear acceleration, please share. Again, it's a very subjectively rewarded feature. But if all of the ladies who achieved level 4 laybacks that season demonstrated clear acceleration, and no one else was able to achieve level 4 without it, then I think it's fair to say it was the only feasible way to get level 4. (I never called it a requirement -- my original wording was "You needed it to get level 4," so I don't think this is that far off.)
 

Skatesocs

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I can't find documents on this further back than the 2009-2010 season.
Same :( thanks for trying for me. :thank:

Acceleration *was* a feature in 2009-10 though. It counted as a "difficult variation" of a basic position.
 

Skatesocs

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I'm not sure why you assume that Yu-Na didn't possess the tech content to be competitive. In the 2005-2006 season, juniors were not allowed to do triple/triples in the SP, so her SP didn't have it. But if she was skating on the senior level and at the 2006 Olympics, then yes, Yu-Na would've added her triple/triple to the SP. She had an incredibly consistent triple/triple. Yu-Na also even successfully skated multiple 7-triple programs this season with the triple loop (though she had boot issues closer to junior worlds and pulled it there).
Will have to circle back to the rest of your post, especially after I get the level features for this season, but for this, I just don't think Yuna's 3+3 would have been considered enough by the judges and they'd have held her back. Just tinfoil, much like I think Mao's presentation wouldn't have been considered enough and they'd have held her back more than deserved.

Also, she kept her SP that season and next, and even the same costume...it's one of the iconic figure skating programs of all time, frankly. It got an incredible reception at the junior level. Why wouldn't it have done well? I'm just curious at the comment that the "SP was better next season" -- it was awesome both seasons.
I see specific changes in choreography in the lead up to the 3F combo, the flying entry to the sit spin, the sit spin itself, the step sequence, and the final combo spin between 2006 junior worlds and 2007 worlds that make it better. I'll let the combo itself go since that would have changed at the Olympics.
 

Tolstoj

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I've to say i agree with her opinions.

Yuna had that sexy look, more eye catching for sure, and cleaner jumps too, they worked on that but if we analyze the actual skating, Mao has: better spirals (extension and positioning), better extensions on the spins, she also has the 3a, the steps sequence from Asada has more difficult contents than Yuna. Mao has performed some of the most difficult steps sequences in Ladies Figure Skating, which is still true today.

Mao Asada is a better skater than Yuna, always believed it, with less clean jumps yes of course, perhaps even slower across the ice yes, but more skilled.

I could see why Yuna won gold, the difference in scores in the SP was complete nonsense however and not allowing Mao to do the 3a as solo in the short was some dirty play.

On Sandra Bezic, well there was a lot of bias towards Kim and against Mao. Sandra was heavily involved on Kim's SP, and there was that narrative of canadian Brian Orser's success as a coach, so all Canada wanted Kim to succeed and Mao to fail.

It was a giant conflict of interests but unfortunately we are so used to see that in Figure Skating at most events.
 

Skatesocs

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not allowing Mao to do the 3a as solo in the short was some dirty play.
Asada could have played the 3A as her solo jump in the SP, along with a 3+3 combo, and the 2A as a solo axel element. Blame TAT.
 

Tolstoj

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Asada could have played the 3A as her solo jump in the SP, along with a 3+3 combo, and the 2A as a solo axel element. Blame TAT.

no it was only allowed in combination, you had to have 2a solo anyway.

Yes she could have done 3a-3t, however judges at the time were scrutinizing all her jumps always, Miki Ando's chances to medal also completely vanished because they called her lutz-loop in the short, which she turned as 3-2 in the free to at least have it clean in the protocols.

In the end it was a bad decision anyway cause somehow 3a-2t was worth the same as 3ltz-3t so they didn't even give her credit she was attempting the most difficult element in ladies figure skating at the time, and they also called the flip if i recall correctly.
 
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