Friday, December 16, 2016

Paul Islam Retire

The Future of Canadian Ice Dance

Wonderful as Virtue and Moir are, I have always felt that Gilles Poirier were way more up Skate Canada's alley. If it could clone Bourne & Krantz Kraatz from now through eternity - ice dancers who aren't that good but who strenuously display  "personality" - that's what Skate Canada would do.

Although by all appearances Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam did everything they could to get Skate Canada to give a shit, and nothing worked, is there nothing else they could have tried?

Who knows.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Soft knees and bent knees are not synonymous. A "soft knee" is a responsive leg.

I googled "figure skating and soft knees" to get a better handle on why soft knees are important in quality figure skating. Other than when landing jumps. (Even then, getting your knee so bent your butt is practically on the ice, a la Megan Duhamel's quad throw landings, is not ideal.)* Ben Agosto spent his Grand Prix Final commentary time swooning over Papadakis & Cizeron's "soft knees."

Papadakis & Cizeron skate with their knees continually bent. Their movements are very bendy and fluttery. However, if one assumes a soft knee is an indicator of excellent stroking and superior skating skills, then why aren't P/C's soft knees getting the job done?

P&C's edges are shallow, they sometimes wobble and often lack unison. Despite meeting level requirements, their programs lack the complexity and difficulty of other ice dancers' programs. They can't extend their free legs to save their lives unless their working knees get low, and their lines seldom match. Their lifts, as with Davis White's lifts, have a widely distributed center of gravity and lots of redundancy. In sum, Papadakis & Cizeron's much praised soft knees appear to be considered an achievement unto themselves. But "soft knees" are only important insofar as they enable the powerful, stable stroking that should undergird the execution of elite choreography.

So, first, my google search produced a short post from a recreational figure skater who, when she began skating, used bent knees in hopes it wouldn't hurt as much when she fell. She had "soft knees" before she could really move on the ice. It looked nice, and she was praised, but she was not initially a strong skater.

Then I found this: The Ice Doesn't Care: Soft Knees.

Like this author, I know how important the leg is in horseback riding - for example, my legs naturally turn out a bit, and it is real work to keep my inner legs lying flat against the horse's side (people who are naturally bow-legged have a big advantage here). This blogger compares the soft knees important to staying in contact with your mount with the soft knees necessary to good figure skating. Applying these principles to Papadakis & Cizeron, we see the important stuff, the skating stuff, is missing.

The Ice Doesn't Care
Figure Skating for Adults.

Thursday, December 13, 2012
Soft Knees

There's two things that horse back riding and skating have in common: soft knees and independence of upper and lower body.
So, let's tackle 'soft knees' first.I did a lot of research on this, and all I could find were a couple of comments that 'soft knees means bent knees'.Mmmmm, no.Well, anyway, not to me.My experience has been in both riding and skating that a 'soft knee' is what I'll call a 'responsive leg'. The casual observer sees the knee bend and how it flexes. That's the obvious part. But really, I believe what's going on is much more complex.From my riding days, I learned that 'soft knees' involved the muscles of the lower back and abdomen, flexibility and strength in the hips and knees, and controlled movement of the ankle. All this has to be balanced and coordinated, otherwise you pull on the horse's mouth as your leg will get in the wrong position and throw off your balance.
Skating's very similar. You have to control the leg relative to the upper body, and to do that you need to get over the right part of the blade and that takes ever single joint below the waist. And as you move up and down, every single joint has to respond together. This is why I think defining 'soft knees' as 'bent knees' is inadequate. That's what the observer sees, but that's only the tip of the iceberg abot what's going on.
As I'm now in my 60's, I'm okay with the muscles of the back and core, the ankle bend and the hip flexion. However, my knee bend is CRAP!Still, I'd like to chime in with my amateur opinion, that 'soft knees' is something that ought to be banned from a coach's vocabulary. It's much more complex, especially in skating. I'm fortunate that my riding background is so extensive and strong, and Coach Cruella is good at getting everything coordinated both mentally and physically.
I propose that Papadakis/Cizeron have tight/weak hips, and lack strength and flexibility there and in their spines. Their bent knees are not coordinated with and moving responsively with the rest of their bodies (including, bizarrely, their ankles and feet).

*I have watched skating video of Russian 1999 World Champion Maria Butyrskaya, and her knees are as stiff and brittle as matchsticks. Observing her rigid progress across the ice, it's understandable that one would believe soft knees = bent knees. However, as the "Ice Doesn't Care" notes above, a so-called "soft knee" is just as much about the hips and the spine. We can see that Butyrskaya's hips are also tight, as is her back.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

"They figured out how to feature their closed hold rather than being ruled by it."

So glad Scott and Tessa are getting rid of crutches like closed hold. Maybe they can get rid of the skating too, and then actually get somewhere.

"Scott seems to have more core strength."

Ah, that extra core strength Scott needed to manage fat Tessa.

Scott's previous core strength. Tsk.

Now Charlie White's core strength; he
could support all of Meryl Davis's weight if
her center of gravity were distributed across
the strongest part of his back, his legs
were braced AND he was bent over. That's
the core strength ice dance is looking for.
"Both appear to have more stamina now."

Davis White in Sochi.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Setting this up because the comments section on the other post is becoming unwieldy. I may plug more things in here later on.

Goldenskate said this about Papadakis & Cizeron at the NHK Trophy (Virtue and Moir back on top with Record Scores):

First to skate the free dance of the top three were Papadakis and Cizeron. They opened their routine to “Stillness”, “Oddudua,” and “Happiness Does Not Wait” with a stunning straight line lift that covered the whole ice surface. 

Hawayek Baker

The Shibs
Cappellini & Lanotte
Virtue Moir
Small non-element lift. Compare to
Papadakis Cizeron's entrance to their straight line
Virtue Moir

Clearly, Papadakis/Cizeron's lift is nonsense.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Signs of the Apocalypse

At the beginning of November, I anticipated that very soon I'd be too (happily) distracted to focus even the teensiest bit on the figure skating Grand Prix and its Orwellian mind-fuckery. Because:

November 7, 2016

But instead:

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Skate Canada

Just leaving this here:

this here:

this here:

“I think we’re trying to show there are different kinds of love,” said Donohue, 25, of the skate’s theme. “Obviously, there is romantic love which everyone in figure skating goes through in a way, but there is a lot more to love than just what you give to someone else. There is a lot of love surrounding yourself. We have a lot of movements in this program that are kind of about enjoying ourselves and our own space, so I think it’s a global kind of thought.” *Hubbell Donohue


Tracy: "Their new coaches were able to help
Virtue and Moir technically because that's why they
lost the gold in Sochi, they were a little bit vulnerable
technically, substituting a lot of above the waist
bullshit and posturing for actual skating skills."
ETA: VM were defeated on PCs, TRACY.
Fuck her. I don't care.
One of the unbearable parts of the last Olympic cycle was Davis White outscoring Virtue Moir on freaking pcs and then the media saying despite Virtue and Moir's matchless skating Davis and White were technically more consistent. Well, now they're neck and neck to Chock Bates, aren't they. At SKATE CANADA.

and this:

Shawn Rettstatt, Skate Canada
"technical controller"
The more things never change...

ETA - Following the fd with my side eye. Edited. Virtue Moir rules still apply. Papadakis Cizeron can still get astronomical scores with twizzles that can best be described as negligible, but Virtue Moir are scored against their best selves, a "best" self that still gets scored in the neighborhood of the scores awarded crap teams. The only other team with those special rules are the Shibs.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

More later

I'll expand on this post tomorrow, but for now - Virtue and Moir remain light years ahead of everyone else competing. There were glitches that, for every other team save VM, are hand-waved, but VM are measured against their best selves. This is especially true of Papadakis and Cizeron - glitches, stumbles, slightly off-time - who cares.

I don't think ice dancing, as a sport, cares anymore about unison, or how close a team skates together. Nor does ice dancing care much about direction changes and close hold.

Tessa VIRTUE / Scott MOIR FD 2016 Autumn... by diodio0013

I'm currently reading through the skating forums.

I don't know what the ISU was setting up by putting a journeyman team on the top of the world championship podium two years running, whether it was in anticipation of Virtue Moir's comeback or not, but for me, personally, the idea of actually having to discuss Papadakis and Cizeron vis a vis Virtue Moir and their respective chances is exhausting. One theory, I supposed, is that all of the other teams were soundly defeated by Virtue and Moir in the past, while Papadakis and Cizeron weren't even in the picture, and so the sport can pretend anything it wants about them. That's the depressing angle. The angle that these teams will take turns beating each other until the Olympics is another depressing angle. The somewhat not depressing angle has to do with something like - Skate Canada sold out Virtue and Moir from 2010-2014 in exchange for establishing, post-2014, a Canadian rink as the top ice dance training center in the world, which was done using P&C. Now VM are there to legitimize this deal.

So far, reading the forums, I see some participants think already Virtue and Moir look happier compared with how they looked skating the music Marina Zoueva of course FORCED upon them in 2013-2014.