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Artistry v. technique in skating


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#1 Alexandra

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Posted 12 February 2002 - 12:15 PM

Although I generally fall on the "artistry" rather than "technique" side of the spectrum for ballet dancers, I'm confused about the proper role of artistry in skating.

I attended many of the World's Professional championships (because they were in DC and I sometimes reviewed them) and I always fell for the artists (this was okay, since I was there to write about Torvill and Dean as dance, or something like that). The skating fans around me never fell for them. I'd learn later, watching the TV coverage, that the skater I'd admired had done all doubles and not triples -- and that makes sense to me.

But in a sport, if someone falls, or does doubles instead of planned triples -- or triples instead of planned quads -- doesn't that count more than artistry? Is it completely subjective, or is there something in the rules about how much weight "artistry" is given?

(I'm always amazed/amused to hear skating commentators say things like, "Well, finally. She's doing a rock and roll number instead of just that same classical stuff over and over again -- good to see some artistry." Like "content" (number of triples) the words have different meanings smile.gif

#2 dirac

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Posted 12 February 2002 - 06:19 PM

My understanding is that there's a lot of internal debate within the skating, uh, community about this as well. There are other posters who'd know more about that than I would. I don't think there's a hard and fast rule where artistry always trumps athleticism, or vice versa, (or even what constitutes artistry, I sometimes think). In last night's Loopout at the OK Corral between the Canadians and the Russians, for example, presentation does seem to have trumped tidy technique.

As far as I know, the judges do not mark you down if you plan a triple and then change your mind; however, if you do only five out of seven planned triples and do two doubles instead, and a competitor does all seven equally well, you're in trouble. (Personally, I prefer doubles to triples and quads because it's easier for a non-expert to see the different shapes the body takes in the air and note the different landings. However, triples and quads well jumped are exciting to see, and they are harder, after all.)

For myself, I dunno. I value grace and a well integrated program, but I also respect energy, daring, and athletic prowess for its own sake.

#3 Alexandra

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Posted 12 February 2002 - 06:39 PM

In sport, I'd actually go for athletic prowess trumping presentation. But I was curious as to what the rules and traditions were.

There was a sportswriter for the Post who had a wonderful way of covering skating events. Artistry never entered her reviews -- and she groused about dance critics taking over skating coverage smile.gif She'd just go through the routine triple by triple, lutz by whatsit. You never knew if they were wearing a cowboy suit, or skated to Rachmaninoff.

I also wondered if a triple was a triple, or if those clean edges Dick Button always talks about (I guess I'm the only one who misses him) matter for anything.

#4 dirac

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Posted 12 February 2002 - 06:50 PM

You are NOT the only one who misses Dick Button. How fondly I remember his disdainful dismissal of Surya Bonaly: "Her legs dangle like sausages!"

#5 Alexandra

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Posted 12 February 2002 - 07:06 PM

Thank you, dirac! In my first Olympics (1984) he pretty much demolished one female skater ending with "even her skates are dirty." The man has an eye for the finer points. smile.gif

#6 Melissa

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Posted 12 February 2002 - 08:01 PM

Alexandra,

I miss Dick Button terribly. And, dirac, I loved your quote about Surya Bonaly. LOL! What's great about Dick is that he has very high standards and he calls a spade and spade. How I'd love to hear his opinion about last night's competition.

#7 vagansmom

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Posted 13 February 2002 - 12:44 AM

I'm so glad that others were pining for Dick Button's commentary. I really missed not having him announce last night. Although he can be as jingoistic on occasion as the other announcers, he also has a profound respect for the presentation and I truly wanted to know how he'd have called it.

Now tonight the talk was all of collusion among judges, with the French judge stating she was told if she voted in favor of the Russians, they'd vote in favor of the French in the ice dance competition. Yikes! I hope that something really good comes from all this, perhaps a restructuring of the voting system.

Interestingly, my daughter, the ballet dancer, says she believes ice skating shouldn't even be in the Olympics, especially since the presentation marks are the deciding factor. She feels strongly that one can make the case that ballet should be in the Olympics and she's firmly against that. She doesn't see a whole lot of difference between dancing on ice and dancing en pointe when it comes to sport. But she hastens to add that she's selfishly glad ice skating is a sport because otherwise she'd never get to see it!

#8 Colleen

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Posted 13 February 2002 - 01:09 AM

Well skating does attempt to answer this dilemma by having the two categories of technical merit and presentation. The SP has required elements that you must execute cleanly to earn the points and it is very clear how marks are deducted (i.e. 0.3 lost for missing a jump). But for the long program there are only 'guidelines'. So like dirac mentioned, if you do 5 good triples or doubles you wouldn't be penalized per se, but if other people do 7 great triples your technical mark wouldn't be as high. But while the SP is the technical program, the LP is clearly the artistic program. And the fact that the LP is worth 2/3 of your overall score, it seems to me that the ISU also favours artistry. And the 'rule' is that a blunder in the LP
that doesn't detract from the performance won't be reflected in the presentation mark, and therefore likely won't be reflected in the ordinals (although you could lose technical merit points for it).
And, although it isn't always clear to the viewer, proper execution of jumps and spins is (usually) reflected in the marks. Certain jumps take off from an outside edge, others from an inside edge. So just as an examiner would mark you down for a pirouette from fifth that landed in third, a 'flutz' as Dick Button correctly tells us, is a similar mistake. And two-footing a landing is also bad, just like a spin that doesn't stay centered and travels across the ice (see tonight's men's programs--good spins Tood Eldridge, bad spins--most competitors ranked lower than 5th). And damnit 'layback' spins are attitude turns and the leg should be supported and turned out not dangling! A noodle like layback should lose at least 0.5 IMO tongue.gif
Whew, that was long! I personally feel that all things being nore or less equal (technically), artistry, nice lines, good edges etc. should win out, even if a program has lots of sentimental value (of course i wasn't referring to any program in particular smile.gif ).

#9 drval01

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Posted 13 February 2002 - 12:09 PM

Several years ago (more than I like to remember) gymnastics went through the same conflict of artistry versus athleticism. As everyone knows, artistry lost that battle. Let's hope the same thing doesn't happen with ice-skating.


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