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Natalia

Figure Skating Competitions...the artistic side

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But the SP is the technical program where you are required to do a specific set of jumps, spins etc. and are marked down severely if you don't. And the LP is the artistic program where you should do some of the same techinical stuff, but you can still fall on your bum and win because the emphasis is on your presentation of the work. That's why Todd Elderidge, as long as he completes all of his jumps, can beat Goebel, because of his style and grace, but he most likely can't beat Yagudin because Yagudin has an amazing 50/50 combo of techinical prowess and brilliant artistry. And usually unless Michelle falls to pieces she does out-skate her other competitors because she can jump but the jumping looks like a part of the overall 'dancing' rather than her skating looking like a series of jumps strung together with footwork. And Maria Butyrskya isn't always smiling because she's usually not coming through on her performance. Back in 1999 (i think) at the World's when Michelle messed up and Maria was the next closest competition and therefore won the gold I can tell you that she certainly was grinning from ear to ear during that performance.

I think that's a really interesting comment/question about pairs skating, because the connection between the couple is really important. When Anton and Elena weren't on good terms it was quite evident in their skating and they weren't winning like they usually did, and when Sale and Pelletier skate Love Story well it's a wonderful sight. And often teams that don't do the romantic stuff or at least do something where their acting comes into play, they sort of plateau. The top Chinese team Shen and Zhao doesn't really do a lot that requires an obvious connection between the skaters beyond the technical elements and they have never gotten past 3rd in an international competition (where all of the top teams were present). So maybe the pas de deux feeling is necessary.

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Thanks for the link to this article, dirac.

Craig Maurizi (Tara Lipinski's former coach, who is quoted here) has it right; despite the mass-exodus of top Russian coaches to the USA, the Russians are actually garnering more medals, overall in all four disciplines of competitive skating, than they did in the days of the Soviet Union! Remember, the old Soviet Sports Machine emphasized couples-skating (Pairs & Ice Dance disciplines) above singles (Mens & Ladies) skating. Now where is the strength of the Russian Federation in skating? Why, in the singles events. Unheard-of pre-1990.

Also, it is interesting to see that, slowly, some of the coaches who emigrated to the West in the 1990s are re-establishing themselves back in Mother Russia, e.g., Moskvina is now officially back in St. Petes, although she still spends some time in Hackensack. Oleg Vasiliev (half of the pair that won Olympic Gold in Sarajevo '84) is back in St Pete. ALL of the top singles coaches of the Russian women are in Moscow.

By the way, the just-closed 'independent' TV network in Russia (the embattled TV-6 of oligarch Berezovsky) has been turned into 'NTV-Plus' by the Government of the R.F., as of three days ago! It is broadcasting nothing but sports -- including Europeans championships of skating -- and ballet. Honest - that's what I read in Russian newspapers...SWAN LAKE was shown on Tuesday. The Russian Government has just begun a big campaign to de-flab the Russian citizens - try to get them interested in sports, ballet & other healthy pursuits. Less 'Big Brother' reality-TV. smile.gif

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Read in the French press: the French skater Sarah Abitbol (silver medal with Stephane Bernadis at the European Championship) injured herself very seriously at the left Achilles tendon last saturday during a rehearsal. She came back to France to go through some surgery, and of course their participation to the Olympics is cancelled. frown.gif

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I'm really disappointed for Abitol and Bernadis. I think they had a shot at bronze if they skated clean, especially with they colourful free programme. It's geared more to the audience than the judges and is probably in preparation for the professional career that awaits. I can't see them lasting another 4 years until 2006.

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I find it hard to choose whom to root for in the ladies' competition. Sasha Cohen is very talented technically and artistically, and interprets her music well. There's also an attack to her skating that's striking. But I love Michelle Kwan too. Her performances at Nationals were wonderful and she has a maturity that Sasha doesn't quite have yet. In any event, the ladies' competition will be quite a horse race, and it would be great if Michelle, Sasha and Sarah sweep the medals.

I don't know what's going on with the men's competition. But I won't be rooting for Todd Eldredge whose skating has never appealed to me. His skating has always been about technique at the expense of artistry. And I totally agree with the comment about his wretched taste in music.

In the pair's, I'm with Salle/Pelletier all the way. They have a complete package: technique, artistry and chemistry. I wish they would perform their exquisite Tristan & Isolde long program, but the Love Story program is wonderful too.

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