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Women's skating


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#16 Melissa

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Posted 20 February 2002 - 01:19 PM

dirac,

What I noticed about the commentators was how they repeatedly stressed how the judges were 'dissecting' each performance and the required elements. They made it sound like the judges were
going to great lengths to mark each skater carefully. Perhaps that explains why it took so long for each lady's marks to come up.

I too noticed them talking about Michelle's new found joy in her skating. Aside from the smile during her spiral sequence, there wasn't much joy to be seen at all.

#17 sylvia

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Posted 20 February 2002 - 03:46 PM

I was disappointed with the judging. If they really were dissecting each element, it would be Slutskaya, Cohen and Kwan in 1st, 2nd, 3rd. Slutskaya had the jumps, the footwork, the speed in her spins. Cohen's presentation and spiral sequence was the best of the night and apart from her slight flutz was very clean. Michelle had too many faulty take-offs and landings. I couldn't believe she got a 5.9 in her technical mark, but there you go. The marks take a little longer to come up because of the instant replay the judges have available to look at the elements again, but it sure doesn't seem like they're using it. I hate to bash skaters but if the judges don't make appropriate deductions then the skaters will never clean their jumps up. And it's another black mark for the 'sport' when favouritism takes hold. I'm relieved that the right skaters made the top 3 as they all have an equal shot at gold but I'm afraid the irregular judging will carry over into the long program.

Eurosport did show Fumie Sugari and she was exquisite. Her program had a similar feel to that of Sasha and Sarah (and a similar costume to Sasha as well!) It hurt her coming so early on I think because she rivals Sasha and co. in presentation and was very clean. Definitely one to watch.

I heard the same rumours about Butyrskaya but I think it emerged that there was no appendectomy. She wasn't really at her best but at least she has nothing to lose now and can hopefully deliver a really good LP.

[ February 20, 2002: Message edited by: sylvia ]



#18 vagansmom

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Posted 20 February 2002 - 07:36 PM

I mostly concur with Sylvia's ranking of the skaters although I'm not sure, having not seen Cohen's short program (was it the same one as her short for Nationals?), I can't rate where she should be. If it WERE the same as her Nat'l short program, then I'd say she deserved the second place too.

Although I've always loved Michelle Kwan's skating, I've seen nothing in the last couple of years to impress me. Frankly, I don't see improvement during that time. Slutskata continues to improve. I have so much admiration for her because of that. Kwan has always had enormous musicality - it's no more evident now than previously. She's skating to her former short program. Nothing new here. And she's not skating it as beautifully as she did when she first presented it. Her jumps are tentative rather than assured and her speed has slowed down. So, where's the improvement?

I agree that there's a lot of TALK, both from the commentators and from Kwan herself, about letting her love for her sport shine through but it's not showing up in her skating. So I don't believe it. I think Kwan is scared of the competition, terrified even, and is trying to use words to psyche herself up and maintain an image she feels compelled to maintain. I feel sorry for her.

By contrast, Sasha Cohen, not known in the past for her invincibility on the ice, looks better than ever. But Sasha's got nothing to lose. Because she was off the circuit for most of last year, everyone forgot about her and so Sarah Hughes's name was promoted. One has to feel sorry for Hughes now. It must be a blow to have someone skate on past you.

I can't wait for the long programs!

#19 dirac

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Posted 20 February 2002 - 08:28 PM

You could actually argue that Kwan deserved first, although I'm not disposed to make the argument myself. She wasn't very fast, but her spins were better centered than Slutskaya's, for example, and although Irina's footwork was more striking there were a couple of dead spots before her jumps. And she has a huge inbuilt advantage in that even on an off night she's easier to watch and has a better line than almost anyone else. I'm inclined to think that whichever one skated last would have gotten the top score.


I'm not sure that I'd call Kwan terrified right now. She pumped her fist as if she'd creamed everyone else, although that may have been bravado, and her demeanor as she acknowledged her rapturous audience was not exactly "Aw, shucks, me?" To me it looked more like, "I'm here, I've waited four years, and I'm ready for my closeup, Mr. De Mille." Pretty cheeky of her to thumbs-down her technical marks, I thought.


Two links:


Costume designer David Draper comments on the fashions at the Olympics this year, for the San Francisco Chronicle:

http://www.sfgate.co.../SPcostumes.DTL

Bill Plaschke comments on Kwan's performance last night for the Los Angeles Times:


http://www.latimes.c...n...s-pe-sports

#20 vagansmom

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Posted 21 February 2002 - 01:15 AM

Thanks, Dirac. I think Bill Plaschke expressed my feelings very well.

#21 Colleen

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Posted 21 February 2002 - 03:27 AM

Althoguh Irina has improved great amounts in the last few years and Michelle has not (an opinion that I disagree with. her skating has matured considerably), I don't believe this necessarily makes her a better skater. Michelle simply hit her peak earlier and became a great skater years before Irina came into her own. I don't think it's fair to criticize someone simply because she became great early and hasn't continued to soar in ability. That would be like punishing your child who always gets straight As simply because she isn't getting A+'s now, and rewarding the C average student for all of a sudden getting As. While the latter achievement is to be commended it doesn't diminish the abilities of the former. When she's on, like the other night, Michelle's skating is as smooth as silk and there is no break between the artistry and the athleticism; that is, or should be, the true mark of a great skater. And as was said of the pair's skate, it's not what has been done on other nights or what was potentially possible for the skater, what counts is what was done on the night in question. I've seen Michelle skate the same SP many times before and while some might think she's skated it significantly better in the past (I happen to disagree) she was lovely the other night and deserved the marks she got (plus a little more for technique). Besides, there have been times in the last year that Irina has benefitted from the save-the-marks campaign (Grand Prix Final comes to mind), so it's just the nature of the beast. I don't think there can be any complaining about the marks though. Michelle was killed on Technical Merit (not too sure why) and properly rewarded for Presentation, then 5 of the 9 judges said (in their ordinals) that they found her overall program to be better than Irina's and Sasha's.

I agree with one thing in that article though, none of them is Michelle Kwan. She's not a baby ballerina like Cohen, or a jumping bean like Slutskaya, she's the mature and complete Prima Ballerina Asoluta. Kinda like Margot Fonteyn maybe...

Knowing that it will likely draw some criticism, I'll leave that daring and bold statement in as evidence of my 'attack' in this post. Wouldn't want to be accused of lacking a finishing punch smile.gif

#22 sylvia

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Posted 21 February 2002 - 05:23 AM

What seems to happen is that if there are a lot of clean skates, the judges box themselves in and run out of marks so maybe it explains some of them are so skewy.

[ February 21, 2002: Message edited by: sylvia ]



#23 vagansmom

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Posted 21 February 2002 - 01:34 PM

Colleen probably expects this smile.gif but I still respectfully disagree with her, especially with, "Michelle simply hit her peak earlier and became a great skater years before Irina came into her own. I don't think it's fair to criticize someone simply because she became great early and hasn't continued to soar in ability."

Yes, Kwan peaked early, but she hasn't maintained that peak technically. She certainly has maintained her artistic sensibilities - they're an immutable part of her skating, and I'm very grateful to her for having those qualities because they're what make me love her skating so much. I wouldn't say she's grown artistically over, say, the last two years but I agree, that's OK. It's just that, because Olympics is about winning and it's about who's best right now, I'd like to see Michelle's skating be at its very best and I'm concerned that it's not.

That said, her jumps haven't been secure enough in the last few years as they were earlier on. And that's what's dogging her now. I DO think it's fair to hope that she'll improve rather than regress in that area. I have tapes of her earlier performances - her skating, and here I'm talking about her jumping, WAS technically stronger than at present. She shouldn't win a gold medal based on her past skating but on her performance in the here and now. I'm rooting for her all the way - I think she has it in her to put together a really great skate but she has to believe that of herself. I WANT her to win the gold. But fairly.

It's ironic that I'm trumpeting Slutskaya because she's got a style I've never cared for. But I admire her tremendously. And I do think that the American media dismisses her accomplishments because she's not "one of ours". But if she WERE American, you can bet that there'd be reams of stories about her indomitable fighting spirit, incredible work ethic, constant growth as an artist. I just want to see her get the credit she deserves for all this.

While I understand what you're saying, Colleen, about an A and a C student, the issue once again comes down to who is the A student right now? By your argument, Michelle ought to win because she used to get A's even though she doesn't now. And Slutskaya should be punished for getting an A because in the past she used to get C's. But that's not how the judging works and I'm just trying to place my remarks within the context of how the judges will see it.

#24 Natalia

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Posted 21 February 2002 - 02:30 PM

At the risk of being called 'racist' I cannot help but point out the REFRESHINGLY WONDERFUL ethnic mix within the top six ladies skaters (the top group of competitors going into tonight's Ladies finals): at least THREE ladies of Jewish heritage, one Chinese-American, one Slavic Russian orthodox, one Magyar. I'm old enough to remember when only 'WASPs' competed in Olympic-level figure skating. The new diversity has been noticeable since the 1980s (Debi Thomas, Kristi Yamaguchi, Surya Bonaly, etc., competing at the top of the sport).

I think that it is something nice to keep in mind as we watch these skaters tonight. How far the world has come! Maybe one of these years it won't even be cause for amazement smile.gif ...but for now I, for one, am happy to be amazed.

Similarly, wasn't it great to see the first African-American, male or female, win a gold medal in a Winter Olympics, two nights ago, when Veneta (sp?) Flowers of Alabama won gold in the two-person women's bobsleigh event?

Vive la difference!

[ February 21, 2002: Message edited by: Jeannie ]



#25 dirac

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Posted 21 February 2002 - 02:49 PM

Michelle Kwan is the best of her time, the compleat skater. There isn't any argument about that, and when she's at her best no one combines athleticism and artistry as she does, or did. But I'm seeing an awful lot of artistry right now, and not nearly as much genuine athletic excitement as Kwan used to provide for us.

And there's a sense, harsh though it may be, in which it doesn't matter that Kwan has dominated for years. The gold medal, or first place in any competition, is not a body-of-work award, although the judges sometimes seem to treat it as such. But that's skating. smile.gif


Jere Longman and friends judge the short program, for the New York Times. Yes, it's a chick thing:


http://www.nytimes.c...ics/21FANS.html

[ February 21, 2002: Message edited by: dirac ]



#26 sylvia

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Posted 21 February 2002 - 04:10 PM

I'd argue that we're not even seeing Michelle's artistry at her best. I wanted her to win so badly in Nagano but I've been disappointed in her programs since. Her presentation of programs is always excellent because her basic skating abilities are of such quality. But it's been a exactly 4 years since I've been moved by one of her skates. I feel like she stagnated after Nagano. As for her technical abilities, she hasn't pushed any boundaries. I don't feel she has advanced the sport in the last few years the way Slutskaya has, or Cohen is trying. Silly I know, but I'd love to see them taken risks in the SP with some triple-triples the way then men did with quad-triples in the SP.

I guess it's just a matter of preference again. Am I one of the few that really enjoys Slutskaya's style? She may not have the balletic style of Cohen but I still see grace and flow in her skating and she's exciting and sparkles in a way that the others don't.

[ February 21, 2002: Message edited by: sylvia ]



#27 dirac

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Posted 21 February 2002 - 05:14 PM

I enjoy watching her, too. She's a little too hearty to fit into the waif or princess mold, but energy, daring, and enthusiasm go far with this viewer. In the past her lack of musicality was a little oppressive for me; one of the things I always admired about Kwan was her unfailingly musical skating, and frequently to music whose rhythmic impulse was not at all obvious. Slutskaya was better with things like "Don Quixote". But she can really light up an arena.

#28 sylvia

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Posted 22 February 2002 - 12:21 AM

Robin Cousins made an interesting dance analogy after the ladies final, saying again it was a matter of taste and that not everyone had to be balletic. He said Irina would never be 'Royal Ballet', that she was more 'Mark Morris' and that was ok.

#29 sylvia

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Posted 22 February 2002 - 12:49 AM

Wow, that Ladies long program was a HUGE surprise. I'm pretty crushed that we didn't get Irina-Michelle, 1-2 or vice-versa. It never once occurred to me that Sarah Hughes could be Olympic champion but she really did have the best LP of the night. I've been a big critic of hers - I'm not a fan of her skating. It looks awkward at times and her jumping technique drives me nuts. (preparations are the strangest I've seen). But she really delivered. Gotta admire her for skating her heart out, doing those triple-triples and skating pretty clean. I'm surprised Irina didn't slot in any herself though she did look really nervous. So I'm disappointed she held back because I love her Tosca though I think she overdid the drama a little. (Wish she'd take a note from Yagudin's book - his Tosca in Worlds 2000 was pure genius.) And she's capable of doing those combinations but deserves to be 2nd in the LP. And I guess that the SP did make a huge difference in the final placements after all!

Michelle was disappointing, program wise and technically. She was beautiful throughout but this program isn't one of her masterpieces. I can understand the low presentation marks - the fall on her flip really brought her program to a halt. And her jumps were tiny - only a few inches off the ice. I guess nerves just got the better of her. I really hadn't expected her to skate clean with the season she's had. I feel awful for her - to be beaten in the Olympics by yet another teenager. I think she was prepared to take home silver but not bronze. She looked so devastated on the podium. Irina was in tears too when the placements were announced but she looked her bubbly self when she came out for her medal. Sarah's reaction to her win was priceless - worth every disappointment I've felt in Olympic skating this year - really wonderful!

Sasha - loved the attitude she had throughout her skate! Carmen's been done to death though - I guess it must be like a rite of passage for all skaters but enough already! The poor music edits didn't help.

Maria seemed so tense throughout her skating, like she was gritting her teeth on every jump. Kudos to her for landing them all! She didn't have the grace she usually brings on ice. She also looked a little out of shape (that costume wasn't flattering at all). And I really disliked her screechy music - I can't believe this was the best she could come up with for the OLYMPICS. It's a disappointing end to an amateur career.

And Victoria Volchkova self-destructed in spectacular fashion. She's one of the top 6 skaters and the best jumpr in the world when she has the confidence. But it was one bad jump after another. She also needs a decent chroreographer. She's so tall with lovely long limbs but she doesn't skate 'big' and all I could see were elbows, pointy elbows. So much for Russian ballet training.

Fumie Sugari was lovely - not so sure about the music edits.

I'm a little dissatisfied though I shouldn't be since I've been the only trumping that jumps matter (clean jumps would be nicer though!). It's been a disappointing Olympics. The only competition that really did it for me was the men's. Oh well. I wonder if we'll see all 3 at the worlds in Nagano - I'm still inclined to put Michelle-Irina as co-favourites if they do. More thoughts later - it's 5am in the UK!

[ February 22, 2002: Message edited by: sylvia ]



#30 vagansmom

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Posted 22 February 2002 - 12:50 AM

Well, I am laughing, laughing, laughing. I truly never expected Sarah Hughes to win but it was fair. She had the skate of her life and it was clearly better than that of the others. The 3 ahead of her after the short program all were nervous and tight while Sarah's skating was loose and free. What a difference when you don't feel as though you have anything to lose!

I think it was fair that Slutskaya took second and Kwan third. But it could've gone the other way, with Kwan second, and still seemed fair. I'd have had a hard time choosing one over the other based on their skates.

And Sasha, well, she LOOKED frightened even in the warmup. She was taking those short, short breaths we take when we're really scared. I was hoping she could use that energy to really attack her program but it wasn't to be. After her fall, though, she skated beautifully.

Both Kwan and Slutskaya seemed nervous. I was surprised to see it from Slutskaya who's usually up to a performance. I especially expected her to have a strong skate because she would've known that Michelle's performance was less than perfect. It was unusual to see Slutskaya's jumps shaky - I don't recall ever seeing her so rattled.

But hooray for Sarah Hughes! I'd never have picked her, didn't think it was her time, but she did everything right. I just hope she doesn't disappear ala Lipinski; I'd like to see her grow into her skating even more.


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