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Funny Face

Lots of figure skating 1/10/04

91 posts in this topic

Christopher Bowman's coach said that he thought Victor Petrenko gave the weakest gold medal performance he'd ever seen, and that Wylie should have been awarded the gold.

Urmanov fell during his gold medal performance.

Yamaguchi fell during her performance.

Baiul two-footed two landings.

Witt skated for about a minute and a half without doing much of anything during her 4-minute "Carmen" routine.

The list goes on. This is not to detract from any of these skaters. It's just to review some recent Olympic performances and note that I don't recall a performance that was both that technically difficult (two triple triples) and without any major flaws at the same time. There was also an incredible calmness in Hughes' performance that I'd not seen before. I'm all for hoping that some of this quality can be developed in Cohen now. It would be a shame to see that talent not completely realized.

I do maintain there is something I don't understand about younger students not understanding the importance of combining technical ability with ability to reach your audience.

Also, people often tend to fixate on favorites and cannot give credit where credit is due. It's important to keep an open mind and look at each performance on its own merits. I love having skaters surprise me in a positive way.

I think there have been many dance-able skaters along the way. Browing's musicality is, in my opinion, matched by none, no matter what the style. Gary Beacom was an amazing modern dancer on the ice. Ryan Jahnke was fabulous at this competition. Ditto for Ryan Bradley, in his own way. Weiss actually showed a lot more flair at the exhibition -- I'd like to see more of this. Jenny Kirk is really coming into her own with selling her program.

There's a lot of talent out there right now. It seemed for awhile, only a few names were talked about (Goebel, Weiss, etc.). Now there's room for more variation of style, which I think bodes well for the sport.

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Ah well, I still don't like Cohen.

I'm not saying she ISN'T a nice person; she just doesn't LOOK like she would be.

I agree with Carbo that there is a difference between passion and determination. She skates for herself, not for the audience, in my opinion. And she has been around for a while; 19 isn't so young in skating. I certainly don't "want to see her fail", though I am Canadian.... :D

P.S. I'm the mother of a tall skater and therefore biased. I think leggy skaters are so much prettier than little pipsqueaks. :wink:

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Maybe a skater can enlighten me: I've noticed that in the group dances I've seen recently in exhibition skating on TV, the skaters are usually not well synchronized when they're supposed to be dancing in unison. Is the problem that it's just hard to skate consistently on a particular beat or that skaters just don't have the training in synchronized movement that dancers have (unless they're in pairs, of course)/?

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djb, I'm not an experienced skater, but have been a spectator for a very long time. IMO, bad skating technique and skill is more noticeable in skating, not just to the experienced audience, but to everybody. Which means, that if you watch a less experienced couple in pairs you will soon noitce that they are not synchronized either and those lifts that those top skaters pull off without (seemingly) effort are very hard, and you fear for the life of the poor girl. Sometimes, when they do spins you may notice that it is far too easy to be out of sync. Usually only the most experienced couples who have been skating togheter for many years, can pull that off nicely.

In skating you will have to not only do in certain beats, you can take different length in strokes and push off with different force. A small difference in acceleration will sum up to quite big difference in velocity at the end.

If you watch the top teams in synchronized skating, you will notice that they are quite synchronized too, just as in dance. (I am proud to announce that even though Sweden is not a big nation in singles, pairs of ice dancing we are among the top 3 teams in the worldin synchronized skating :D )

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Swiss Chard -- To respond to your post...there is no particular "story" about Inoue and Baldwin. The final pairs free skates were all quite poor. Inoue and Baldwin had some serious errors, but the other pairs, including the 'favorites' Scott and Dulebohn, were even worse. The camera was on them when they learned of their victory (at least if ABCs editing wasn't screwing with its viewers which is not a given) and they looked pretty blank about it, though he did lean over to give her a hug...Later they said, more or less, that it's not really the way you hope to win.

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dancindaughters -- if you like "leggy" skaters, you gotta love Lucinda Ruh. All 5'9" of her and and glorious, unearthly spins. There's a skater I would love to see in person. I showed footage of her to my younger dancer friends and they were IN AWE.

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I just wanted to add, on a slightly different note, that there is a charming photo of Paul Wylie doing a 'partnering' move with Daria Grinkov, daughter of Ekaterina Gordeeva in the December issue of "Blades on Ice." It's hard to believe that child is now 11 years old, and following in the footsteps of her famous parents. Incidentally, Wylie has joined the ranks of skaters (Yamaguchi, Hamilton, Punsalan & Swallow) who have recently become new parents.

The Jan/Feb. 2004 issue features a cover story on Cohen.

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I think it's fair to say Lucinda Ruh is the greatest spinner in the world. she looks as if she's on ball bearings. :D she no doubt is an amazing turner on dry land as well. re great performances (not to take away from Hughes, who I agree gave the performance of her life at the Olympics-- and has never given a comparable one again--) what about Boitano at the Calgary Olympics? Flawless and much more difficult than Hughes' program (more triples including the axel).Wylie many times, including the Albertville Olympics? Ito at the 89 World Championships? Thomas AND Witt (surprise, lol) at the 87 Worlds?

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A few brief comments. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Cohen's technique is not obviously superior to Kwan's in several respects. This is not to say she is a bad skater, or a perfectly legitimate world champion candidate capable of outskating Kwan on a given night. But I don't know where this "greatest woman skater ever" hype is coming from. Although Kwan is better in some areas, Cohen in others, Kwan is still in technique and presentation the better all-around skater. Lengthy explanation available upon request. That said, there's no reason why Cohen can't improve – I've never seen her skate better than she did in her short program, and she may still beat Kwan at worlds. She actually seemed to be at ease out on the ice, unusual for her. In the long program, she still doesn't seem to be listening to the music, among other things.

As for "disliking" Cohen, it is true, as Drew points out, that athletes are competitive types. I'd also add that the bar for "bad" behavior is considerably lower for women athletes than it is for men. That said, I never fail to marvel at Cohen's consistent gracelessness in defeat (she's not too gracious in victory, either). I also understand she still has a tendency to get into Kwan's face during practices. Not an attractive trait. I'd also add that no one, as far as I can tell, is "attacking" Cohen. She's consistently praised over Kwan these days, often for virtues she does not possess. I don't mean to minimize those fine qualities Cohen does have, but since the weight of opinion on this board regards her has the greatest thing since sliced bread, I feel an obligation to be a little contrary.

Good news for Cohen: On both nights, the judges gave her very high marks very early in the evening. That was not only a message to Cohen, but one to Kwan, I think: You better be brilliant, Michelle. Well, we know what happened. :D

Jenny Kirk: Glad to see the Giant Beehive Bouffant gone. It's most unfortunate that she didn't skate clean in the long. She had a clear opportunity to shoot past Cohen and sweep into second place, and wasn't able to do it. It's too bad, because the ability to take advantage of openings like that frequently marks a future champ, and I hope this is not an omen for the future.

Regarding Olympic performances: It's been observed frequently that, because of the intense pressure, skaters rarely perform their best at the Olympics. The exceptions like Boitano prove the rule.

Look forward to seeing a healthy Ye Bin Mok next season.

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I forgot to add to what Drew said about music, much of which I agree with, that there can be a big difference between music that is good and music that is good for skating. I can see why skaters often turn to movie music, because it is simple to follow and yet has lots of sweep and flow. (Also, you need a big beefy orchestration that sounds good over a public address system.)

I really think that these days we don't have too much to complain of, though. The cuts in music these days are nothing compared to the brutal hacking of disparate pieces of music that was commonplace a decade or so ago. The vogue for "Tosca" does puzzle me -- it's not really great music for skating, and difficult for skaters to express well. Kwan gets as much out of it as anyone. This is nowhere near her best program, though.

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Susanne, thanks for your input about synchronized group skating. I suppose the problem is that skaters don't get practice early in their training in timing their moves to match what others are doing, so each skater is allowed to do what's comfortable for her/him.

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dirac et al, thanks for all comments and updates on recent skating events in the USA and the Grand Prix circuit.

I was still in Russia last week and missed US Nationals, but saw parts of Russian Nationals. Alas, Russia's pool of elite ladies has evaporated to a level so low that I would be surprised to see anybody make the podium at next month's Europeans. Yelena Sokolova (2nd to Kwan at last year's Worlds) won the national title for a second straight year despite having gained a significant amount of weight in the summer and battling injuries in the autumn. It is a miracle that she won the gold at her Nationals; she would barely qualify for US or Japan Junior Ladies top-20, were she skating in those countries. Yulia Soldatova was second to Sokolova; Soldatova is a Russian who won a bronze at Worlds 4-5 years ago, before switching nationalities, representing Belarus at the 2003 Worlds, in which she came in 20th or so. Fast-forward to Russian Nationals 2004, in which Soldatova (20th at 2003 Worlds) almost beats Sokolova (2nd at 2003 Worlds); what an odd situation. As for Viktoria Volchkova (5th at 2003 Worlds), she has deteriorated to a level so low that she barely made 10th place in sia. Lyudmilla Nelidina -- a teenager seen as Russia's great skating hope just one year ago, when she nailed 3-axels in a couple of Grand Prix circuit events-- did not even make it to Russian Nationals, suffering an emotional breakdown this autumn. The 2002 World Champ, Irina Slutskaya, is still recovering from the illness that kept her out of the 2003 Worlds; great mystery surrounds her status & ability to compete at the elite level ever again.

Russia remains strong in the other three disciplines, especially Men's. Pluschenko is World Champ & has a great 'Tribute to Nijinsky' long program this season. Russia is also strong in Dance; Navka/Kostomarov won the Grand Prix recently & are now the big faves to win their first world title in March. Pairs champs Totmianina/Marinin are ranked #2 in the World and can challenge Shen/Zhao -- China's World titlists -- with their new classical long program, debuted at Nationals.(Thank goodness that their Cotton Club LP has finally been put to rest!)

From what I have seen of the international scene on TV, Fumie Suguri is this year's great artistic lady -- much more musical & naturally lyrical than the robotic & uncharismatic Cohen, IMO. [Cohen should be obligated to sit & watch old tapes of Janet Lynn...or not-so-old tapes of Kwan...then again, charisma & warmth usually come from within, do they not?)

I have yet to see Kwan's 'Tosca' LP...so I'm not predicting World gold for Fumie Suguri just yet.

Sen/Zhao have a masterpiece of a new LP this season, with their 'Nutcracker Adagio'. This will become a hard-to-beat 'classic'!

Canada's Emanuel Sandhu was brilliant at the Grand Prix finals in Colorado, last month....classically elegant, yet charismatic & 'giving' to the public! Yet another skater whose tapes should be made compulsory viewing for Ms Cohen, IMO.

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Thanks very much for that report from Russia. It sounds as if we've seen the last of Slutskaya, more or less.

Maybe I should note for the record at this point that all points of view on skaters are welcome – if there's no debate, things can get dull indeed. I mention this only because figure skating often seems to inspire very strong emotional reactions, and people will take criticism or praise of a given skater VERY personally. :)

I think Kwan's Tosca program is all right, but far from her best -- the level of difficulty is not that high, and there are long sections where little is going on. She may have to raise her game a bit to prevail at worlds.

Suguri is indeed lovely to watch.

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That said, I agree that Hughes gave the best performance of the night, and of her life, at the last Olympics but I could never say it was
arguably the strongest, most flawless performance in figure skating history).
Too many legendary performances to choose from.

I agree with you. At least one of Hughes' 3/3's was underrotated, and the second one was very close. She also flutzed, which is a substantial flaw that Cohen shares. (Kwan often enters the lutz on the flat instead of the outside edge.)

It was a gutsy performance, but a clean one by Kwan or Slutskaya would have beaten it hands down -- Slutskaya's very flawed performance nearly did -- despite the 3/3's.

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Pairs champs Totmianina/Marinin are ranked #2 in the World and can challenge Shen/Zhao -- China's World titlists -- with their new classical long program, debuted at Nationals.(Thank goodness that their Cotton Club LP has finally been put to rest!)

Do you know what music Totmianina/Marinin are using for their new LP? I thought last year's SP to Grieg's "Peer Gynt" was one of the most beautiful programs I've ever seen, and this year's Rachmaninoff was also lovely, especially the ending in arabesque penchee. I hope their new long has the same lyrical quality.

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Kwan may take off on the flat of her blade occasionally, but I would suggest that she doesn't do it often. Cohen's flutz is actually not as bad as it once was, it seems to me. I liked Sarah a lot better than many people, but the underrotation and flutz issues were very serious for her -- really obvious even on television.

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Regarding my comments about Hughes' Olympic performance, I'd like to add that, again, this is an opinion of mine and I don't hold it up as gospel. Also, I have to emphasize that I was not a particularly big fan beforehand. However, her performance on that night was void of any of the typical tension associated with Olympic performances, now matter how they turn out. It had a magical, transcendent quality. You didn't hold your breath and wait for something untoward to happen while the elements were being ticked off, one by one. Instead, you just became caught up in the pure joy and beauty of it. That is what I meant about that performance standing out in a way that I'd never seen before at that level. Of course, I am speaking about my reaction alone. And I am not going to discredit anyone else's opinion about memorable Olympic performances. Certainly, there are many valid comments made above.

However, one area in this thread that I think I HAVE been soft on, and actually feel more vehemently about is the issue of musicality, which as many of you know, has been discussed at length in other threads. In this respect, I'll say that if someone wants to argue the merits of Cohen's skating, that's fine with me in that there is a lot of talent there. But when I hear that one of the reasons dancers prefer her to others is because of her musicality, I really have to take issue here. Skating to beautiful music does not make you musical. It just means you're skating to beautiful music. Period. There are some incredibly musical skaters out there, with Browning, in my opinion, being numero uno. But Cohen? No, I'd put dozens ahead of her in this regard.

Even without the musicality, I can't grant her icon status among dancers. There are too many female skaters I'd urge young female ballet dancers to watch in addition, such as Hamill and Sato for their gorgeous backs and arms, Ruh for her spins, Katharine Healey for gorgeous flexibility and presentation, Fleming for elegance, etc., etc.

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:rolleyes: Boy - this thread has taken off - great to see so much discussion about skaters. Funny Face - when you refer to Browning, were you refering to Kurt Browning, Canadian male skater? If so, I heartily agree with you - he is absolutely amazing to watch and can do so much with a song and/or music. He was performing in a 4 country competition on the weekend as well. Don't know if anyone else saw it - the skating was fabulous, at least from the pairs side. Canada just edged out Russia - it was a pro event I think.

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dancermom, I'm sure Funny Face was referring to the one and only Kurt. (Now, there was a man who had lousy luck at the Olympics. :flowers: )

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What FunnyFace said -- me, too. One of the reasons Hughes was able to give her amazing Olympic LP was likely that her disappointing SP had appeared to remove her from Gold Medal contention. She was able to "just go out there and have a good time."

Once (if) Cohen learns how to open up to the audience, submit to the music, stop fighting against herself to crank out her elements, then she will have crossed a critical artistic threshhold. I hope she can do it -- she'd be quite something.

Oh, and Dorothy Hamill? As far as I'm concerned, she is still the gold standard for a harmonious, balanced, gorgeous layback. :flowers:

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So glad to hear that Suguri continues to skate so well. I look forward to watching her skate in the Worlds. She has very lovely qualities on the ice; I wish I could see more of her.

One more comment about Cohen before leaving that topic alone for awhile :wink: . I think that when she rose to the senior competition level, her nerves increased proportionately. I remember seeing her skate while she was still a junior. She had a quiet calm about her back then. It may be possible it was simply a very good day for her, but I remember thinking that she had the whole package - with musicality galore - and I looked forward to seeing her skate at the senior level.

Soon afterwards she incurred the stress fracture in her back and was out of skating for many months. I haven't yet seen her skate with the same aura as at that earlier junior competition. I do wonder, once a skater has reached 19, if it will ever be possible for them to permanently break that mold of blowing big competitions (Todd Eldridge, another favorite who broke my heart regularly, comes to mind). But I can hope.

I agree about Kurt Browning's musicality and overall superior technique. I've always felt so sorry for him that his back was never healthy when Olympics rolled around.

So many skaters with musicality: Janet Lynn, an all-time favorite. Robin Cousins. The late John Curry whom I still miss. The "two Brians" - Boitano and Orser. Elizabeth Manley. The very lovely Chinese skater, Lu Chen.

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Look out for the Japanese supertalent Miki Ando. She is only 16 but just won the Japan Nationals beating Suguri, Arakawa and Onda. She landed a quad Salchow and earned a place at the Worlds. A Torino 2006 gold aspirant I think.

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I do wonder, once a skater has reached 19, if it will ever be possible for them to permanently break that mold of blowing big competitions

Yes, it can be learned and Paul Wylie proved it! :grinning:

Don't forget to add Yuka Sato to the listen of musical skaters...

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A little late,as I didn't see this thread, but OMG Michelle Kwan, was amazing. I think she is by far one of the most talented skaters around, if not ever. She has so much grace and quality and is so strong and powerful. She really draws you in. She is so, consistent too! I do like Cohen, but for me, she doesn't compare to what Kwan does! :-D

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It's never too late, dansuer85. :wink:

True, Cabriole, but in general the men mature later than the women. In times gone by before the rules about amateurs earning money changed, most top women skaters retired from competition after one, or sometimes two, Olympic cycles -- usually between age 19 or 21 at the outside. So I don't blame Cohen if she is feeling some pressure at this point. (In re Wylie, although he didn't make the horrid mistakes he was often prone to, his Olympic program was far from perfect, contrary to legend.)

I would love to see Arakawa pull it together. There's a lady with a lot going for her -- beautiful edging and a powerful, airy jump, and I really like her program this year.

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