Saturday, February 18, 2017

Have been binge watching Crazy Ex Girlfriend on Netflix. In Season 2, the disordered protagonist

"Rebecca Bunch"
thought she was in the center of a love triangle, but ended up dumped by both guys. So she hit re-set with a complete makeover:

Pairs skater Kirsten Moore-Towers
"Rebecca Bunch"
Now I won't be able to watch MTM II without waiting for chunks of Kirsten's hair to come unglued and litter up the ice.

I followed Four Continents on Goldenskate, learning that, as usual, the best skating is a combination of appealing program, a musical selection that doesn't depend on musicality for fans to appreciate (in fact, for some fans, the less rythmic, the better), and undefined performance attributes. The reality that so many fans critique ice dance programs while ignoring the skating explains why so many fans side-eyed the fact that the Shibs pcs came so close to Virtue and Moir's. I'd be down with that if a) the Shibs' skating in the free dance wasn't exquisite and b) if the opinion weren't accompanied by the comment that only Papadakis & Cizeron could deservedly approach Virtue and Moir's pcs. In reality, Papadakis & Cizeron's skating skills should have them off the podium, and probably in the bottom part of the top 10.

I love the integrity of the Shibutanis' skating. I lacked the motivation to create gifs of Davis White and Papadakis Cizeron's own knee slide transitions, but they're slop. A blatant stratagem to reset by not skating. But with the Shibs, as Alex swings Maia into her set up for her transition out of the spin, she is set down on an inside edge, slides out on an inside edge and transitions in the slide to an outside edge. She doesn't have to. She's on a knee. She can be as sloppy as she wants, but she's not. This is why I love Zoueva, this is why I love the two of them. The reason so many fans don't appreciate the Shibs is skating is the last thing they're looking at when they watch ice dance. And the commentators mash-up skating skills with performance values that's just a projection of their personal taste and shit they make up. Unlike with other sports, even gymnastics, the goal of the figure skating commentator is to make sure we know less, not more, about what's going on, and what factors into results, once the event is over.

I think everybody has a good idea where Worlds is heading, and I hope I'm right about it. But I also hope that the Shibs are standing on the second tier of the podium. The gap between Virtue and Moir and the rest of the field (placing the Shibs behind them) is nearly matched by the gap between the Shibs and the rest of the field.


Mirai Nagasu wins bronze at 4CC
Mirai Nagasu remains, by far, the biggest ladies singles talent in North America. I don't know the reason why she has struggled to keep her head in the game, but certainly the USFSA has treated her as expendable despite clutch performances that outdo its pets Gracie Gold and Ashley Wagner. Gold is the definition of a talent that can't keep herself together long enough to put together a successful season, but the USFSA is always willing to start fresh with her. Nagasu they have been pushing out the door since 2013. So this makes me very happy.


Bronze medal 

Last year I figured between Dylan's injury, and what I had begun to figure was Lubov's ability to enjoy pairs skating without being intense about the result, they would end up 6 or 7 and never push to podium contention, which is where their combined talents appeared to position them when they first teamed up. Everybody says Ilyushechkina doesn't have her triple jumps, but she did have them once she and Dylan got their inaugural feet under them. This outcome says they can podium in Korea.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Human Error

I've been watching and rewatching figure skating - US Nationals, Canadian Championships, European Championships, but
Prince Regent and Guardian of the Sovereign
Steve Bannon
mostly I've been watching the end of the United States. I thought the U.S. had a shot of lasting as long as the Roman Empire (507 years) but the world has speeded up (both "sped" and "speeded" are correct).

From following Europeans on the skating boards, I realized a lot of P/C fans couldn't spot these errors:

I felt the judges were prepared to leave P/C third if not for rocky outings from Cappellini Lanotte and Bobrova Soloviev in the fd. P/C are still protected some, what with being out of sync, non-matching lines/angles and slightly off time (most of this happening during direction changes) still being viewed as a feature with them. As well, there was a lot of peculiar two-footing from Gabriella in P/Cs fd, but, bygones.

Eric Radford and Meghan Duhamel think their TES should get higher scores, myopic to the fact that if their TES actually showed off their skating or was at least accompanied by skating, it might. Their quads don't do that, not to mention their quads are more jumps than throws. That said, I found this quote from Eric interesting:
......"I believe there are specific people in the skating world and the [International Skating Union] who are afraid of a runaway effect — of a skater coming along that can do so much technically that they're going to beat the most artistic. But if you eliminate that aspect of it and you say 'Oh no, the artistry has to be the most important,' I would be the first person to say that you should take figure skating out of the Olympics. Because it's not a real sport if you take that away."
Let's set aside the part about "artistry". There is no "artistry". There is TES and skating skills and it's really ok if skating skills are the most important part of the sport of figure skating.
This part:
......"I believe there are specific people in the skating world and the [International Skating Union] who are afraid of a runaway effect — of a skater coming along that can do so much ...
*I* suspect a reason Davis White were railroaded to gold is because specific people in the skating world disliked that Scott and Tessa were in another universe of ability than anyone else in the sport and, if scored correctly, would have run away with every gold medal for ensuing ten years. These specific people did their utmost to let Scott and Tessa know their showing off was unwelcome, which is why VM now have the programs they have, with TES that accessible to other skaters, but it's ok if VM win on execution. When an ice dance team had unobtainable, unreachable TES, as VM had, seamlessly wedded to nearly unreachable execution, as VM had, the sport saw that as a problem. It didn't want the team to run away with everything, even though that was what VM earned on the ice.

As to the recently concluded European Championships, I believe the French Fed complained, either inside the hour that the rules allow or perhaps outside the time limits, that the judges had failed to properly deduct for an over-rotated choreographic lift from Cappellini and Lanotte's score. I read this:
4. Protest restrictions
A. Figure Skating
i) No protests against evaluations by Referees, Judges and the Technical Panel (Technical Controller, Technical Specialists, Data & Replay Operator) of Skaters’ performances are allowed;
ii) Protests against results are permitted only in the case of incorrect mathematical calculation. A wrong identification of an element or of a level of difficulty, although it results in a lower or higher score, is a human error and not an incorrect mathematical calculation;
Even if it's 8 years where in every single competition a particular team that skates two footed on wobbly edges and just as often on flats is scored higher than a team that is brilliant, do not protest. It is human error. This must be why we don't get to see the video the judges use.  If a skater consistently is scored as if he/she made the key point when they didn't, it doesn't matter. It's human error, so it's really pointless for fans to see the that video.

The regulations were posted by a fan on one of the skating forums. I'm taking them at face value and will be very happy if that's a mistake on my part.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Et tu Tracy doesn't quite cut it

And Marie France and Patrice Lauzon have helped make them better.And they’ve done a terrific job of finding what is it that’s going to make that little difference. You know, technically Tessa and Scott used to get back on the blade a little bit and it robbed them of power and it also robbed them of control and that was the first detail that Marie France went after, getting them a little bit more forward on the blade to give them that power and control and that showed off in the stability … There’s no doubt, when I watched them in Sochi I was sort of hanging on for them but I don’t do that naymore. Totally relaxed and confident.

They now have that unshakable technique to back up that superb artistry.*

Tracy Wilson after Virtue and Moir's Canadian Championships 2017 free dance.

I can't take this shit.

Here's Virtue and Moir's Sochi free dance:

Man if only they'd had some power and control they may have been able to defeat the team that "skated" on its flats.

Poor Virtue and Moir. How did they ever accomplish anything before Marie France?

Tracy tells us that Weaver & Poje couldn't be happier for the return of Virtue and Moir. They elevate everyone's skating, and isn't that what all competitive figure skaters want? It's not about medals. Who cares about demotion. And by Virtue and Moir, Tracy means Marie France, but we all know that.

I think Tracy Wilson is getting to be a little senior to be this much of a full on propagandist at this stage of her career. I always have the fantasy that as one gets older, one has less patience for bullshit, and more strength of character. Time shouldn't turn you into a weasel, but there she is.

*Again, Virtue and Moir were "bested" by Davis White in pcs.

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.