Vancouver Ladies Rehash! (Emily Frankel's opinion)

yume

Record Breaker
Joined
Mar 11, 2016
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

Final Flight
Joined
May 16, 2020
@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!
 

jaylee

Medalist
Joined
Feb 21, 2010
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

Final Flight
Joined
May 16, 2020
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

Record Breaker
Joined
Nov 21, 2015
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.
 

Tolstoj

Record Breaker
Joined
Nov 21, 2015
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.
 

jaylee

Medalist
Joined
Feb 21, 2010
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.

But those are pretty minor changes -- incremental improvements, if even -- that overall doesn't change the fact that Yu-Na's 2005-2006 Tango de Roxanne SP was already a wonderful program that received much acclaim when it debuted. If you really think that those changes made it that much better, ok, but we'll just have to agree to disagree. (Also, again, the juniors had different program requirements and limitations than seniors, so you don't know what it would've looked like if Yu-Na had to bring it to the Olympics.)

In its original form, it was still waay better and more memorable than Mao's Carmen SP, which many people -- including Mao fans -- called "Kindercarmen" (the ponytail flipping is particularly cringeworthy). And it would've stood out in a sea of boring ladies SPs at the Olympics, with the exception of Sasha Cohen's Dark Eyes SP. Shizuka's SP was also pretty forgettable, it was a last-minute remix of that season's FS.

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.

lol. Stuff like this is what really does make me laugh and shake my head. You say that Mao is a better skater than Yuna even though she was slower across the ice? Even though it's pretty much understood across the board that better skaters typically generate more speed, maintain it, and are able to vary their speeds and accelerate easier than others. Speed is a very difficult skill for skaters to master. It's very obvious when you see skaters like Patrick Chan, Yu-Na Kim, and Carolina Kostner live, the difference was huge compared to other skaters. It's not the only important skill, but it is a significant one and important in assessing their level as a skater, and Mao came up short in that department at many events, not just 2010 Olympics, but events like 2013 Worlds as well.
 

drivingmissdaisy

Record Breaker
Joined
Feb 17, 2010
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.

Yuna's GOE scores for well executed jumps were the same regardless of whether she had transitions into it (see: 3Lz-3T). Yuna had more speed but objectively fewer transitions than Mao, so I think it's a bit misleading to dismiss Mao's program from that perspective.
 

jaylee

Medalist
Joined
Feb 21, 2010
Yuna's GOE scores for well executed jumps were the same regardless of whether she had transitions into it (see: 3Lz-3T). Yuna had more speed but objectively fewer transitions than Mao, so I think it's a bit misleading to dismiss Mao's program from that perspective.

It is objectively NOT true that Yu-Na had "objectively fewer transitions," and either you didn't watch the programs recently, or don't know what qualifies as a transition. Or perhaps you don't know how GOE works? +GOE can be earned in a variety of ways and doesn't have to be the same way for each element, so Yu-Na could get +GOE for her 3/3 without a difficult entrance for different reasons, but get similar +GOE on a different jump that had a difficult entrance.

Yu-Na beat Mao hands down in terms of quantity, difficulty, and quality of transitions. ESPECIALLY on quantity. I'm not sure how anyone who watches those programs can say that Yu-Na had "objectively fewer transitions" than Mao. Mao's FS was short on both choreography and transitions because of all the time that her 3As took. Her jumps were a struggle that season and actually, if you compare Mao's 2009-2010 FS to her 2007-2008 FS, you will see a huge difference in the amount of transitions -- they greatly watered it down to improve her chances of going clean with two triple axels.

Joannie Rochette also significant outscored Mao in transitions (8.3 to 7.85; Yu-Na got 8.6) because...her program had more transitions! It's easy to verify that this is correct, all you have to do is watch the programs and even if you can't identify elements, you can SEE the difference in transitions that is typically reflected in GOE (though again, you can earn GOE with different qualities for each element).
 

Tolstoj

Record Breaker
Joined
Nov 21, 2015
lol. Stuff like this is what really does make me laugh and shake my head. You say that Mao is a better skater than Yuna even though she was slower across the ice? Even though it's pretty much understood across the board that better skaters typically generate more speed, maintain it, and are able to vary their speeds and accelerate easier than others. Speed is a very difficult skill for skaters to master. It's very obvious when you see skaters like Patrick Chan, Yu-Na Kim, and Carolina Kostner live, the difference was huge compared to other skaters. It's not the only important skill, but it is a significant one and important in assessing their level as a skater, and Mao came up short in that department at many events, not just 2010 Olympics, but events like 2013 Worlds as well.

Saying one is faster than the other doesn't mean the other is slow necessarily and most importantly speed is not the only factor, especially back when there was the spiral sequence, extension and how stable are these positions was very important. Range of movements also very important.

If you look at the scores Mao's strenghts on the spins, on the spiral, on the steps sequence were rarely rewarded properly (meaning higher GOE than Yuna Kim).

It's funny you mention 2013 cause it was yet again held in Canada with similar style of judging.

As previously stated i don't think it was outrageous Yuna getting the gold in vancouver, having cleaner jumps was her key to success, however the difference in scores made no sense to me, there are aspects where Mao was better than Yuna, scores should have been closer in the short in my opinion.
 
Last edited:

gotoschool

Medalist
Joined
Mar 5, 2014
Of my four favorite skaters currently competing, two were inspired by Mao, Rika and Mai Mihara, and two were inspired by Yuna Kim, Young You through her mother according to her in an interview and Haein Lee. Though I prefer Mao's skating, I am beginning to enjoy Yuna Kim's performances more because of these skaters and because of Mao's assertion that Yuna Kim helped inspire her to be a better skater. In Vancouver, Mao made more mistakes, but the scoring in the SP seemed so unjust and the commentary so biased going into the LP. This sense of underscoring is one of the legacies I always felt with Mao's performances. I agree with a lot of what Emily Frankel says. It was the strong balletic qualities, elegance and emotional resonance in Mao's skating that first attracted me to her performances, and in these at Vancouver I think she has some of the most beautiful spirals and spins I have seen, especially the arabesque, fan spiral, I spin, one handed Biellmann and extended leg sit spin, and outstanding posture. Mao was also the tallest woman to land the triple axel with any regularity before Young You and to land three was remarkable on such a grand stage. She also sweeps deep into the corners right to the boards and has deceptive speed with minimal pumping and lifting of the skates yet still has great rink coverage. Her slight loss of speed was mainly on the triple axel but is compensated by smooth crispness of her edges with those moments of spontaneous dancing in the step sequences where her edges seemed superior to me. I think Mao's 3 triple axels would have factored in much more during 6.0 but admittedly she did make a couple of mistakes in the LP. Without the demoralizing scoring and the over training forced on her by the Japan Skating Federation according to Tarasova against her wishes perhaps her nerves would have been more steady in the LP. Yuna Kim skated really well and maintained composure with fine loft on a lot of jumps, minimal pre-rotation and she had an engaging expression with some smooth flowing transitions and impressive straight line speed, though to me Mao was more impressive with better edges and fluidity in the step sequences and more impressive spirals, spins, posture and expression, all things which I value a lot in a performance, but I realize that expression is a subjective quality that depends on the opinion of the viewer.
 

Skatesocs

Final Flight
Joined
May 16, 2020
I think it is allowed since 2010-2011 season. Not before.
Just did a sanity check now that I have the handbook for 2009-10. Says "any triple jump" is allowed for senior ladies - would interpret that as having 3A as an option. Required axel jump was 2A.
 

Skatesocs

Final Flight
Joined
May 16, 2020
Do agree with this:

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,
Not only 3A+2T, but the 3F+2Lo she did was undervalued too.
 

Ballade88

On the Ice
Joined
Apr 19, 2017
I feel like i woke up a dragon.
My apologies.
Tbh this is much tamer than I expected. Back in 2010, when Emily’s blog post was first discussed here, it caused an uproar. There was so much Emily (and Mao) bashing at the time. All the woman did was have a different opinion and it was no more radical than what Dick Button was always pointing out about skaters.
I don’t feel the need to delve into the rabbit hole of who’s the better artist because it’s so subjective. But I just want to concur that Sandra Bezic has always been a lackluster commentator. Her bias is very obvious and she offers little insight despite being an influential figure in skating world. Tracy Wilson also had a conflict of interest when she was a commentator, but she at least tries to be somewhat objective.
 
Top