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Figure Skating Competitions...the artistic side


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#16 BW

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Posted 13 January 2002 - 08:27 AM

I think you've hit on it, Vagansmom! "Coltishness" is the right word - I am wondering if because she is tall(or appears to be) that this might be a growth spurt thing...just like what can happen to dancers?

I'll await the experts. smile.gif

#17 Victoria Leigh

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Posted 13 January 2002 - 08:34 AM

Watching Sarah Hughes last night I felt the problem is primarily her shoulders, which go up in a lot of positions she takes, especially her spirals. But you are also right about her body just not quite coming together with the length of her arms and legs. Perhaps she is still growing! There is a lack of coordination right now in terms of her upper body, but that makes it even more amazing to me that she pulls off all those jumps so well.

I thought Kwan was totally amazing last night, and Sasha Cohen is certainly right up there, with incredible potential and so much natural talent. I thought Ann Patrice McDonough was very lovely, but did not care for her mixed up R&J music arrangement. Also liked Jenny Kirk very much. Nikodinov had a disappointing performance, which is really too bad, as she is also very lovely. But what a wonderful group of young American skaters in the Ladies field right now!

#18 Allegro

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Posted 13 January 2002 - 07:11 PM

IMHO,
the biggest artistical problem with skaters is their shoulders, which sometimes are up around their ears. And I am not talking about when they are up in the middle of a triple flip/axle/loop etc. It really bothers me to watch a skater who has some good choreography not use it. Someone needs to tell them how awkward they look!
I really liked Sasha C., who looked like a little Russian ballerina. I thought she outperformed Michelle Kwan. I was also rooting for Jenny Kirk, becuase of her Boston ballet training, and because she has been through a hard year, with her mother passing away. On her arabesque spiral, (gliding penche arabesque) her knee was the straighest, and her leg more behind her than any other of the skaters. And her shoulders weren't up! Actually, I thought most of the girls didn't have the shoulder problem, except for Sarah Hughes...

#19 Natalia

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Posted 13 January 2002 - 08:07 PM

Whew...that was a great Ladies finals, wasn't it? I saw it last night but didn't want to come & read your comments until I knew that most of you had the chance to see it on the ABC rerun this afternoon.

Kwan - totally deserved her first place....and I don't always say this about her! (Worlds 2000 is case in point.) This time, she really put it together with great jumps and an ease of presentation. She certainly had the 'excitement factor.'

Cohen - the true ballerina on the ice. Exquisite...but that final flop-over pose must have been improvised!

Hughes - ummmm....I guess that I don't get it. I would have loved to have seen Nikodinov above her (had Nikodinov not doubled all those triples in the last third of the program). Hughes pumps her back up & down doing cross-overs which makes me think of (shhhh...not too loudly) Surya Bonaly a bit. I don't feel relaxed seeing her skate. *But, I agree with all of you, that she continues to improve. I am especially glad that she is no longer flashing her howdy-doody grin all the time, like she used to. It took away from the dignity of the slow sections in last year's DON Q.

Nikodinov - like Dick Button said, 'liquid gold'! How very sad to see her drop her concentration after that one fall. It is a joy to see her skate.

Kirk - yeah...she moved up a place to 5th! Her balletic training really showed throughout the program.

McDonaugh - another wonderful skater!

Pairs finals -

Ina/Zimmerman - They really look like champions now, although this was far from their best program. After four years of training with Tamara Moskvina (who also coaches Berezhnaia/Sikharulidze of St. Petes, Russia), it is finally showing. Bronze medal in Salt Lake??? Well...I'd love to see it but 5th is probably more realistic.

Scott/Dulebohn - well...nice lines; a bit of the all-legs-and-arms gawkiness of Sarah Hughes. I honestly would have placed them behind the younger, 3rd-place team, who (to me) were far more polished in technique, artistry & had the 'oomph factor.'

Kalasevich/Parcem - I had them as clear silver medalists. So confident & polished. Although very young (I think that this is just their first year in the senior level?), they seemed more sophisticated that the more seasoned #2 team who will go to the Olympics.Ah, well...

Sorry that TV didn't show the Ganabas (brother & sister of Iraqi or Iranian heritage). Year after year, they put on an amazing program & get ditched by the judges...and the crowd boos the judges like crazy. Maybe next year...they're still very young (mid teens).

- Jeannie

#20 vagansmom

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Posted 13 January 2002 - 10:13 PM

I saw the women's free skate as a rerun today. I paid really careful attention to Sarah Hughes's shoulders, thanks to having read Victoria's comments before watching. I agree - her shoulders really are up much of the time. But I also think now that she bends too much from the waist and her neck is strained forward more than the other skaters. All that, taken together, gives a rather gawky look. She may conquer it yet though; she's certainly improving very quickly. Because of that, I suspect she's a joy to teach.

Nikodinov is, like Hughes, tall yet there's none of that upper body gawkiness. I noticed that she didn't pitch her upper body forward as much as did Hughes. I felt sorry for N. She's such a lovely skater, but she's another one, like Eldridge, whom I often steel myself against liking too much. Too often, her nerves seem get the better of her. This competition must've been a terribly hard one for her to lose though - I do feel for her.

Jennie Kirk shows so much promise. Her ballet training gives her a clear advantage to my eye over, say, Hughes. But Kirk, like Hughes, has a way of hunching her shoulders up terribly during jumps. It drives me crazy to watch.

Well, I really looked forward to seeing Sasha Cohen's long program...and I was disappointed! Not in her execution of her program, but in its content. I didn't think it was a well-choreographed piece at all; in fact, it was the least interesting skate of hers that I've seen. She did it justice but I'd have liked to have seen more variety in between the jumps; this is a skater who's capable of infusing everything with her own special magic.

Had Cohen's program been more interesting, I'd have said she deserved the gold over Kwan. I really think it was her program that prevented that. However I have to wonder if the judges would've allowed Kwan to NOT win the gold, given a clean, solid performance. In any case, it was well-deserved. Kwan skated cleanly and incorporated much more interesting choreography than did Cohen.

#21 sneds

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Posted 14 January 2002 - 08:33 AM

[quote]Scott/Dulebohn - well...nice lines; a bit of the all-legs-and-arms gawkiness of Sarah Hughes. I honestly would have placed them behind the younger, 3rd-place team, who (to me) were far more polished in technique, artistry & had the 'oomph factor.'

Tiffany (Scott) and Philip (Dulebohn)have only been back in training for a little over two months because Philip had a stress fracture in his hip which kept him off the ice and on crutches for a long time. Nationals was their first competition of the year, so their programs were not as polished and perfected as those of the other teams.

It's probably not so apparent to those not familiar with skating and skating judging, but
Scott & Dulebohn got more credit from the judges because their program is much more sophisticated and complex that Kalesavich and Parchem's: S&D's cheoreography&footwork are more difficult, and I think they had more difficulty in lifts and jumps. I'm not particularly fond of this program, but the performance definately deserved 2nd place. S&D definatley have a much better chance at the Olympics than K&P.

Kate (who is a little biased since she knows Tiffany and Philip redface.gif )

#22 Colleen

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Posted 14 January 2002 - 03:28 PM

Wow, I thought that I was going crazy re:Sarah Hughes, but I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who isn't crazy about her skating. I find her incredibly awkward to watch, with her jumping ability her only saving grace. I find her footwork decent but her upper body positions painful, and her bent knee and dog-at-fire-hydrant leg in her spirals make me cringe (they all do that to some extent, but her's are particularly ecarté while she's supposed to be in arabesque). When she first came on the scene 3 years ago I was really excited to see such a nice crop of young skaters, and although she's progressed a great deal I find it's only been in one area--athletic not artistic. I've been watching skating for a really long time and I totally agree with a previous post, she's perhaps in the same league as Midori Ito, Suriya Bonally, Irina Slutskaya (more in the past than lately) but she's certainly not the next Ekaterina Gordeeva, Kristy Yamaguichi, Michelle Kwan or the budding Sasha Cohen. IMO, I think you should have to have a 50/50 combo or close to it to win major competitions which is why the LP is worth so much.

#23 Natalia

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Posted 14 January 2002 - 03:40 PM

sneds - Thanks for enlightening us on Scott/Dulebohn. Although I still prefer the 3rd-placed couple to them, from an aesthetic point-of-view, I agree that S/D have a better opportunity to score well at Olys, as they represented the USA at last year's Worlds...and placed amazingly well (top 10) for a first-time pair at that championship! My hat's off to them and to the entire US Olympic Figure Skating Team. It's a very strong delegation of skaters. On to Salt Lake City & may the best blades win!

[ January 14, 2002: Message edited by: Jeannie ]



#24 dirac

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Posted 14 January 2002 - 08:15 PM

I'm not sure about a pure 50/50 ratio. This is a sport, not an art form, and finally it must be judged primarily, although not exclusively, on athletic terms unless it wants to lose credibility as a sport. Isn't that part of the reason for the emphasis on jumps in recent years?

Maybe Hughes' slight awkwardness and lack of polish is largely owing to growing pains, as Victoria suggested, and she doesn't have the elegant slender line that Kwan exploits with her Vera Wang camisoles, and that natural grace that never seems to desert Kwan even when she's down on her butt. Hughes does smile too much, but then many skaters do, or so it seems to this non-expert. I used to enjoy watching Kwan throw her arms open and beam during her spirals, but now it's starting to look like a shtick. ( Maria Butyrskaya is not necessarily my favorite skater, but at least she's not always grinning like the village idiot.)

To go by the behavior of American judges, I don't think it really matters how well Hughes or Cohen do. Kwan has a lock on the top spot, unless she does something really disastrous. (I'm not saying she doesn't usually deserve the top spot, but there have been times when I've gotten the feeling "the fix is in.") They'll just have to wait until she retires or gets injured or something. (Of course, the Olympics are another matter, as Tara Lipinski knows.)


Jeannie, I saw their "Meditation" program and thought it was OK. I was just listening to Anne-Sophie Mutter's recording of this warhorse, and reflecting that she plays it as passionately if she'd never heard it before. So I suppose it is possible to breathe new life into the familiar.


Are the pairs skaters actively encouraged to put the romantic stuff into their programs? It would be interesting if skating choreography used the pas de deux format in different ways. I'm thinking of the Agon pas de deux, for example, where yes, it's a man and a woman and it's sexual, but there are other meanings tucked away in there as well. Christopher Dean has made a few attempts in this direction, I think.

#25 vagansmom

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Posted 14 January 2002 - 08:46 PM

Re the pairs skating and romantic displays: I remember that, years ago, back when Peter and Kitty Carruthers, brother and sister USA pairs team were competing, that was a big problem for them. They were siblings. It was felt by the various commentators that the Carruthers team suffered in their choreography. What do you do as a skating pair when you can't feign romance? - was the overriding question. Good question. What kind of chemistry between the two skaters should be reflected? I assume lots of thrilling lifts and throws, of course, but what story do you tell with that routine?

I was looking forward to seeing the choreography pf the current US pairs team featuring a brother and sister but they had to pull out of the comp due to injury.

#26 Colleen

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Posted 15 January 2002 - 11:10 AM

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.

#27 dirac

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Posted 24 January 2002 - 06:35 PM

Associated Press report on the state of "the Russian figure skating machine" by Mara D. Bellaby:


http://www.washingto...-2002Jan24.html

#28 Natalia

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Posted 25 January 2002 - 10:11 AM

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

#29 Estelle

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Posted 05 February 2002 - 04:05 AM

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

#30 sylvia

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Posted 05 February 2002 - 07:39 AM

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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