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Jayne

Winter Olympics, Vancouver 2010

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I haven't been on hte boards as much as I used to be, and I have to say, Jayne is a VERY WELCOME addition to all these conversations. Thanks for starting htis topic, and thanks for all your thoughtful and informed comments.
Couldn't have said it better!
Back to the subject of costumes. I have a pet peeve - too much frou frou on the shoulders and neck that shorten the line. Some of the skaters don't naturally possess a beautiful long neck/shoulder line but instead of helping to disguise this flaw with a v-line neck you will often see added business on the shoulder tops, or large collars or too much ornamentation on the neck. Even the choker-style neck pieces on Asada and Kim's costumes detracted from the overall line. Anyone agree?
In principle I fully agree. That's why the short-necked Rachael Flatt's costume, with the very deep V, was so intelligently designed for her. On the other hand, Kim is not short-necked, and she can afford to wear the collar. I thought her SP costume was the most beautiful costume of all the skaters' so far. In fact, the Women's Competition has been far and above more tasteful (or less revolting) than any of the others to this point. I wonder why this should be so.
A major aspect of Olympics tv coverage that hasn't been discussed: the frequency and placement of commercials. Has this bothered anyone very much?
Not here, for two reasons. First, it's pretty much what I expect; and second, because my cable feed comes through a DVR, which has a picture-in-picture function even though my tv does not, allowing me to half-watch my usual program of choice while keeping half an eye on what's going on in Vancouver. When we're in the BC Center, I switch.

The DVR also stores, without prompting, about an hour's worth of whatever channels I have on, so I can rewind to the skaters' performance during the commercial break (since it seems that even for the Olympics, they occur nearly simultaneously across the networks).

Figure skating is competition, and the music has to suit the rules of the competition and the special requirements involved with sporting arena performance. This doesn't always make for pleasant listening (or pleasant viewing). It used to be far worse, though.
Yes, FAR worse. I remember programs with chopped off phrases and programs comprising many bits and pieces of totally unrelated music. Yikes!!! :):wink: While some competitors (or their advisors) may choose jarring music, at least it's one or two pieces that are jarring rather than the juxtaposition of pieces that grates.

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Paul - thanks for the kind words, hopefully you won't take them back!

If anyone wants to read an online blog of the ice dancing costumes, I give you this LINK.

No time today to discuss the ladies short program from Tuesday, but I'll just say that while I enjoyed all the performances, the hyperbole of the announcers is getting on my nerves. Regarding Joannie Rochette's bravura performance, I only wish the cameras had not done close ups that nearly went up her nostrils. They should have omitted any close up facial shots out of respect. God knows NBC sports journalism is pathetic, definitely the entertainment division runs the show in Vancouver - but still. Discretion is the better part of valor.

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I thought the network handled a difficult situation pretty well and no voyeurism was intended. Everyone seemed to be aware of the gravity of the moment. (They did apologize later for showing a fellow in the stands who was not Rochette’s father, although he was a relative.)

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...no voyeurism was intended.

??? With the camera within kissing distance of Joannie's face? Absolutely voyeurism was intended!

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Re costumes -- I like Moir's simple white and black, with the very well-cut pants. i see he wore something identical for the Valse Triste and something similar for Umbrellas of Cherbourg, with a white-collared brown shirt. Very becoming -- simple, elegant, capable of molding to his body when a line is called for -- his grands plies in second are like the tall girl's I Rubies -- while draping in a looser, breezy way when the image calls for less detail. VERY smart costuming.

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...no voyeurism was intended.

??? With the camera within kissing distance of Joannie's face? Absolutely voyeurism was intended!

The extreme close up is very common in sports broadcasting these days. It was a genuinely stirring moment, I thought, and I was moved. Reasonable people will disagree, of course.

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Figure skating is competition, and the music has to suit the rules of the competition and the special requirements involved with sporting arena performance.

Would you say more about this? Thanks. I have only a very casual interest in this sport, and derived mostly from admiration for the hardworking skaters. I do enjoy the choreography and the technical feats, but the music tends to turn the final product into kitsch for me. What am I missing?

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...no voyeurism was intended.

??? With the camera within kissing distance of Joannie's face? Absolutely voyeurism was intended!

The extreme close up is very common in sports broadcasting these days. It was a genuinely stirring moment, I thought, and I was moved. Reasonable people will disagree, of course.

It was extremely affecting, which doesn't preclude its being voyeuristic. As moved as I was, I also felt that, through NBC as my agent, I was intruding on a very private moment and a little bit dirty for that.

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It was extremely affecting, which doesn't preclude its being voyeuristic. As moved as I was, I also felt that, through NBC as my agent, I was intruding on a very private moment and a little bit dirty for that.

We can certainly agree to disagree. :wink:

Would you say more about this? Thanks. I have only a very casual interest in this sport, and derived mostly from admiration for the hardworking skaters. I do enjoy the choreography and the technical feats, but the music tends to turn the final product into kitsch for me. What am I missing?

The music has to be suited to a routine that will run only for a few minutes and there are rules about the nature of the music. Singles skaters can’t use vocal tracks, for example, and Helene has mentioned the requirements for ice dancers. A long program for a singles skater will have three sections, fast-slow-fast, and the music may have to be cut to fit, which will be painful to the ears at times even if the same piece of music is used for the entire routine. (Choosing a great and difficult piece of classical music can actually make this effect worse.) Arrangers working with the skaters will tweak the music so it meets the needs of the program, if necessary. The music is canned, of course, and usually comes out over a public address system, so a robust orchestration is helpful and may help cover up small bloopers; even with the altered arrangement noted by volcanohunter the Adagietto used by Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir in the dance final was actually rather risky for ice dancers – a single wobble will really stick out in a number like that one.

Figure skating is often kitschy - but not always - and if you love the sport and the special appeal of moving on the ice you put up with it or enjoy it for its own sake. So I don’t know that you’re really “missing” anything – it may not be your cup of tea. Mark Morris has said in two recent interviews that he’s not a fan – loves the costumes, hates the music. He didn’t elaborate but I can guess at what he means.

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Thanks for that explanation, dirac. There is much food for thought in this NY Times piece by Gia Kourlas, In World of Figure Skating, Winning Leaps Over Art

At the Olympics, figure skating is more exposed to the world than ever in all of its tacky, high-def glory. The garish costumes, the canned music, the kiss-and-cry routine as skaters wait for their scores — it’s easy to make fun. I can still see the Belgian skater Kevin van der Perren’s skeleton costume without closing my eyes. (When will that stop?) But as an amateur who had professional coaching, I loved being part of that world, or what it once represented.

Figure skating exists in a murky place — it’s tempting to find parallels to dance. Both forms feature movement in space and time set to music, and some skaters even study ballet. Still, when a certain recurring question crops up — is figure skating a sport or an art — I’m reminded of the jokes, and the answer is clear: it’s a sport with delusions of grandeur.

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Regarding the music, I recommend a 20 year moritorium on the following overused pieces:

Carmen

Sheherazade

Requiem for a Dream movie soundtrack

Tosca

Otonal

Anyone want to add one?

Yu Na Kim just flew over the ice and she has the uncanny ability to make her choreography look like the most natural thing in the world to do whilst skating at high speeds. Loved her music choice, I've always wondered why Gershwin's Concerto in F was not used more often. Now I hope no one else uses it! Nice dress as well, nice to see she covered her midriff (another trend that needs to die - one does not have to resemble an egyptian or biblical bikini to enterpret music well). She had lovely serpentine footwork. Wish they would revise the points / requirement for the spiral sequences, which mostly look awful nowadays.

I enjoyed the rest as well, but felt Asada's music choice was too heavy for her style of skating, and made her efforts look labored. Joannie Rochette must have steel inside her bones, because she performed beautifully considering the circumstances.

Waiting to see if Plushenko will carry Asada's flag and publicly state that she should have won gold, because she performed two triple axels, while Kim performed zero. perhaps he will continue his argument that the sport if moving backwards, etc.

Nick Verreos of Project Runway adores figure skating and has been commenting for Universal Sports' weekday broadcast. He does really understand the lines skaters try to achieve and his comments are all to the point and respectful of the art in the sport.

http://nickverrreos.blogspot.com/2010/02/f...eos-figure.html

Will be interesting to see what the organizers do with the closing ceremonies, as it is usually a great party.

A shame that Karolina Costner's nerves continue. She is a lovely skater, and hopefully will find employment skating beautiful exhibitions in the future.

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Yeah, her choreography is TERRIFIC! I agree, I wouldn't mind seeing what she could do for a ballet company somewhere, and before too long.
This is what I've been able to find out regarding the choreographer, Marina Zoueva (I think that's the correct spelling)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marina_Zoueva

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This is a fascinating thread. Thanks to all.

Regarding the music, I recommend a 20 year moritorium on the following overused pieces:

Carmen

Sheherazade

Requiem for a Dream movie soundtrack

Tosca

Otonal

Anyone want to add one?

I don't follow figure skating much, so I can't answer. But I look forward to hearing responses to this question.

Also, as regards music: what musical qualities (as to rhythm, melodic line, tempo variations, etc.) work best for the performance and judging demands of figure skating? are the musical criteria the same as in dance, or slightly different? is familiarity considered to be a plus?

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I couldn't agree with you more, bart. It's Scheherezade, Carmen and Requiem that drive me crazy. The Samson & Delilah Bacchanale is also overused by skaters, as is the 18th variation of Rachmaninoff's Paganini Rhapsody and Nessum Dorma.

Yu Na Kim was wonderful. Gershwin's Concerto in F was a fresh, terrific choice and she did a great job of skating to her music with lovely choreography, technical prowess and a gorgeous costume. It's a shame that most skaters are so focused on executing their jumps/spins/footwork that they tune out their music.

I felt bad for Asato who looked very disappointed with 2nd place. The girl could barely smile -- she probably felt she let down her countrymen who have put relentless pressure on her to beat Yu Na Kim.

Joannie's skating was so moving. She embodied such inspiring bravery and determination in the wake of a devastating loss.

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Can someone here explain the requirements for 'on ice'? I feel like the jumps are so emphasized that we miss out on understanding anything else. I'm guessing there are required positions for the spiral sequences. Is that also to for the spins? (How many spins, different edges, positions, rotations?) And the footwork?

Sorry for all the questions -- I'm truly interested. And to some extent, I find the focus on jumps similar to what I see amongst the younger dancers at my studio -- you may dance beautifully, but if your triple pirouette became a double -- HORRIFIC! I know a lot of people who watch dance in the same way -- all flash and splash.

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I actually really love Asada and feel very disappointed in how she is being presented this year. She's being made to fit a certain aesthetic (dramatic, heavy, flinging about ala Russe) rather than being who she really is (light, joyful, youthful and full of hope). There's no joy at all when she steps on the ice now. It's heartbreaking.

She needs a new coach ASAP. She's a lovely and talented gem who needs a new setting to really shine. I hope she sticks around until 2014.

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Waiting to see if Plushenko will carry Asada's flag and publicly state that she should have won gold, because she performed two triple axels, while Kim performed zero. perhaps he will continue his argument that the sport if moving backwards, etc.

I don't think he's going to go there. In the move to training with Tarasova, Asada lost both her triple lutz and her triple salchow. She has a fantastic trick in the triple axel, but her array of jumps is the narrowest of the top ladies; she's also stopped doing a triple-triple combination. To be competitive, she has to hit her triple axels or else she tumbles down the standings now because there's nothing else to fill out her scores.

I was at the finals of the Ladies Event at Worlds last year in Los Angeles when Asada missed her triple axels, and her program is almost completely empty without them. It's very obvious live. It was really sad; without the axels, the judges had nothing else to score her on, and she fell of the podium when she had been World Champion the year before.

Asada desperately needs a new coaching situation, whether in Japan or elsewhere. I know her family is very reluctant to have her leave the country, but triple axel aside, her jump technique is really suffering under the current situation.

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Can someone here explain the requirements for 'on ice'? I feel like the jumps are so emphasized that we miss out on understanding anything else. I'm guessing there are required positions for the spiral sequences. Is that also to for the spins? (How many spins, different edges, positions, rotations?) And the footwork?

Yes, there are on-ice requirements.

The short program is really an exercise in hitting 8 required elements so the judges can compare among the skaters. For example, for senior men's singles, I think they are: double or triple axel, combination jump, jump out of footwork, flying spin, combination spin, camel/sit spin, and two step sequences.

The long program is much more fluid, but there are requirements there as well. I haven't looked at the rule book recently, but for senior men's singles, I think the requirements still include a combination jump, an axel jump, a flying spin, etc. There are also maximums as well, such as only one jump combination can include three jumps, etc.

Of course, there are requirements within those requirements. Spins must include at least 6 rotations, but a fantastic spinner like Stephane Lambiel is getting many more than that, and Lambiel garners extra points for his exceptional spinning (speed, rotations, positions, etc.).

The interesting thing with the new scoring system is that in some ways there are "requirements" where there aren't really requirements. The flying spin requirement has been around for a long-time, but in olden days many skaters would do a death drop for the requirement. Now, since the COP point system rewards the flying sit spin more, I feel like I see many flying sits now and very rarely any death drops. Similarly, a centerpiece of Michelle Kwan's programs under the 6.0 system was an inside-out spiral (transitions from forward inside edge to forward outside edge), but at the tail end of her competitive career she gave it up to do a spiral which would garner more points under the new code of points. If you think a lot of ladies' spiral sequences look alike, they do, because that sequence garners a lot of points, although it's not per se required.

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Thanks sidwich -- This is the first Winter Olympics I've been able to watch for about a decade, so definitely the first one under the new scoring system, and I definitely felt that the overall choreography had more of a 'cookie cutter' feel. I appreciate you taking the time to explain the system. I'm guessing that jumps are the most heavily weighted component?

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I'll speak up for Asada's program. I appreciated that it was going for something different and give it brownie points for that even if they probably should have gone with someting safer in an Olympic year. The range of expression for the women isn't very large these days. Tarasova may not be the right coach for her but I hope Asada isn't too unhappy with this result. Too bad she wasn't allowed to compete four years ago.

Thank you for posting the link to the article by Gia Kourlas, kfw. The 'athleticism v. artistry' debate in figure skating has been going on forever and so many of the points she makes are familiar ones. (Every Olympic season you get an article from someone complaining about too many jumps. This has been going on for decades.) Informed opinion tends to differ about the effects, for better or worse, of the elimination of the school figures, which Kourlas makes much of. Some think it's an irretrievable loss, others aren't bothered by it.

(Is anyone on BT watching anything other than figure skating? Hockey? Curling? Skiing?)

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Yes! I've been sick for about 2 weeks (but still had to work), so I missed dance classes -- timed nicely with the Olympics. I mainly remember the moguls, snowboard cross, and the halfpipe (holy cow!!!!!!!). I also saw some aerials, ski jumping, curling, speed skiing... a bit of bobsledding/luge, but that track freaks me out.

Again, I recognized I'm rather a novice in following all this, and appreciate the discussions here. I enjoyed the Kourlas article as well.

I'd also be interested to hear who those of you in the know think are the 'ones to watch'. I really enjoyed Mirai (ladies) and Takahashi and Lambiel (men -- I realize he medaled in Turin). I felt less enthused, overall, by the pairs. Loved the Canadian and American ice dancers.

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I've watched a lot of Olympic snowboard competitions. A former student of mine injured herself a few days before the Olympic trials in December - such a heartbreaker as she would probably have made the team. Because of her, I've taken a keen interest in the sport. However, I'll admit that it terrifies me, and I don't think I would've been able to bear watching her in action! As an aside, a sibling of hers was taking ballet a couple years ago as a way to crosstrain for snowboard. Don't know if it was kept up once she moved up to Stratton Mtn. to train full-time.

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I haven't seen much that I haven't gone to live, between the commuting, the waiting on security lines, and the competitions themselves, not to mention a household where usually two of three people have to be at work at 5am, and it's quiet here after 9pm.

But live, I saw two men's curling preliminary games -- 3 or 4 sheets in play at a time -- the men's and women's bronze and gold medal games, the women's gold medal hockey game, and women's 3000m and 5000m and men's 1500m and 5000m speed skating.

As far as the figure skaters to watch, Nagasu made a splash, but expect Flatt to fix the underrotations in her flip. Laura Lepisto is definitely one to watch, especially since she managed to land a triple toe/triple toe combination and triple lutz in the same program for the first time. Ksenia Makarova of Russia is a lovely skater. I'm not sure how much farther Alena Leonova will go; she had a stronger year last year, and there are some juniors coming up the ranks that could knock her out of the running before Sochi.

For the men, it's a treasure trove: Takahiko Kozuka for some of the purest basic skating around, Denis Ten of Kazakhstan, Jeremy Abbott of the US (late bloomer), Florent Amodio of France, Italy's Paolo Bacchini, one of the finest spinners in Men's competition today, the young Czech Michal Brezina, Spain's Javier Fernandez, and Russia's Artem Borodulin if he gets more stamina for the free skate, along with Canada's Patrick Chan. Sweden's Adrian Schultheiss is also coming along, adding speed each year.

For ice dance, Russia's Bobrina/Soloviev, the European silver medlists, Faiella/Scali, Samuelson/Bates -- Emily Samuelson has superb toe-point, turnout, and extension -- both young Canadian teams, Crone/Poirier and Weaver/Poje, and many people's favorites, the young Italian team Cappelini/Lanotte. I've been disappointed with her, but the Olympic Free Dance was the strongest I've ever seen her skate. He's terrific. Maxim Shabalin's knees are beyond repair at this point and they've said that the Olympics are their last competition; I'm hoping Oksana Domnina will continue with a new partner. She's young and as her Tango Romantica showed, she has amazing line and precise feet.

In pairs, the Olympics are the last competition for Volosozhar/Morosov, who are an off-ice couple, and Volosozhar will have a new partner next year, likely from a new country, since there are no known pairs skaters in Ukraine at the senior level. Morosov will expand his coaching career, continuing to assist Ingo Steuer, and I'm assuming Morosov/Steuer will be the coach of the new team. Skaters who have skated for one country must sit out a year before skating for another country, and by missing Worlds, she and her new partner can skate at Worlds in Tokyo next year, assuming they qualify for whatever country they skate for. She's a beautiful skater, and one to watch. There are a number of potential retirements and splits in the making, so this is a bit of a "Stay tuned."

Evora/Ladwig are a US pairs team that missed the podium before this year, and even in Grand Prix events, fell and/or got downgrades. They held it together this year, placing higher than Denney/Barrett, the US National Champions, in the Olympics. (Evora and Barrett are an off-ice couple, and it was nice that they could share the Olympic experience as fellow competitors.) Among the other young pairs, Vera Bazarova's style is widely lauded, but she needs to get the jumps and a bit more maturity. I think she can grow to meet partner Yuri Larionov's strengths -- he's underrated, in my opinion -- but it may take another year or two. My favorite among the young pairs is Della Monica/Kocon of Italy. They are not pretty or refined, but they had excellent speed, power, and flow in Tallinn and in Vancouver. I love Murhortova/Trankov, but their on-ice relationship has been volatile, and it's hard to know where they'll land in the future.

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There is ice hockey, skis and ski jumping and all other ways of skiing - OK, I know people here are interested, but there is actually a big interest in figure skating here as well. As far as Sw.TV. this must go down in history as the most badly organized broadcasts of all times :wallbash:

It's not just Swedish television -- NBC has been playing all kinds of games with their coverage. They don't think that there's much of an audience for the Olympics, and so they don't want to dislodge any of their usual programming. So everything is on time delay -- events that happen in the middle of the day get broadcast at 11:30 pm. I live in Seattle -- very close to Vancouver -- but I don't get the Canadian station that's broadcasting the games, so I've been staying up to all hours to watch curling and other stuff.

And to answer dirac's query, in my house we like to alternate watching curling and snowboarding, especially the half-pipe, where everyone flies so high up and does so many complex rotations that I get a little nauseated trying to keep track. And then switch to a close up of someones fingers gently peeling away from the handle on a curling rock.

And since Apolo Ohno comes from my part of the country, we have to watch speed skating.

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I'd also be interested to hear who those of you in the know think are the 'ones to watch'. I really enjoyed Mirai (ladies) and Takahashi and Lambiel (men -- I realize he medaled in Turin). I felt less enthused, overall, by the pairs. Loved the Canadian and American ice dancers.

I haven't been following along as much as I used to, but of the young American singles skaters I've seen, I think Adam Rippon, Mirai Nagasu and Christina Gao have a lot of potential and will probably be among the U.S. contingent for Sochi. Jeremy Abbott is actually my favorite of the current U.S. contingent, and I think he can be one to watch if he stays injury-free for another 4 years and especially if he can get his nerves under control.

Christina Gao just switched over to the Orser/Wilson team last year, and is blazing her way up the ranks like a Yu-Na Kim mini-me at the moment. She's very technically secure, but she's still physically under-developed at the moment. I expect that after Kim retires, Orser and Wilson will be grooming her as the next one to watch, along with Adam Rippon who moved over to Orser/Wilson a couple of years ago.

I'm not sure what's going to happen to Rachel Flatt. I suspect she's maxed out her current coaching situation, and I think she's going to have to move one to someone else to help her reach the next level. Her jumps are very secure, but she's very slow across the ice, her positions are mediocre and she's really not a great performer. At the same time, she's planning to go to college next year, and I'm not sure how much she's planning on training during that time or who she's planning to train with since she's not planning on staying in Colorado. I think Abbott really started to bloom when he left Tom Z. who is Flatt's current coach, so I think the change may actually be good for her.

U.S. pairs are kind of a mess at the moment. McLaughlin and Brubaker were the ones to watch a year ago, but Keauna McLaughlin had the audacity to start going through puberty and they had a disastrous nationals and missed the Olympic team altogether. Denney and Barrett have been doing pretty well, but I'm not sure they're going to be competitive for another four years since it looks like Cady Denney may have started puberty as well. Honestly, my money is on either Zhang and Zhang or a Chinese pair to be named later to win the gold medal in Sochi. You really can't beat a totalitarian sports system for sports like pairs skating.

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