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Well I would have scored the artistic side (or whatever they call it now) very, very differently.  IMHO Zagitova looks wobbly on the ice and her edge qualities look like she she is a Junior class skater.  

But the new scoring system baffles me.  I would have scored the men’s artistic side very differently as well.  And the Sochi women’s performances too.  

I think the sport is moving in a direction (due to the scoring system) that may not interest me in the future.  

The women’s hockey competition was tremendous, and I’ve enjoyed the X-games this time!  Maybe because their scoring system is so unknown that I don’t try to evaluate it.   Instead, I just enjoy the high flying tricks.    

Edited by Jayne

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2 hours ago, Jayne said:

Well I would have scored the artistic side (or whatever they call it now) very, very differently.  IMHO Zagitova looks wobbly on the ice and her edge qualities look like she she is a Junior class skater.  

But the new scoring system baffles me.  I would have scored the men’s artistic side very differently as well.  And the Sochi women’s performances too.  

I think the sport is moving in a direction (due to the scoring system) that may not interest me in the future.  

The women’s hockey competition was tremendous, and I’ve enjoyed the X-games this time!  Maybe because their scoring system is so unknown that I don’t try to evaluate it.   Instead, I just enjoy the high flying tricks.    

Given how things have gone for women's gymnastics, it's really not a surprise that skating has moved towards more athletic 'tricks' over aesthetics. Medvedeva actually did win the Free Skate, and I think the sentimentalists were pulling for her  - if one can feel sentimental about an 18 year old.  ;)
But her technical scores couldn't quite match her teammate's. It's interesting that Zagitova and Medvedeva share the same coaches: that has to be a little weird at this point.

It's nice of you to mention the 'X-game' events - they've added a big dose of excitement to the Winter Olympics. "Maybe because their scoring system is so unknown that I don’t try to evaluate it" - I think the snowboarders and aerial skiers would love your attitude. I still remember back to the 2006 Torino Olympics, and the defining moment  when snowboard-cross racer Lindsey Jacobellis was about to win the gold medal in snowboard-cross by a comfortable margin when she decided to perform an unnecessary trick on a jump and took a tumble. She got up quickly but lost enough momentum that she was passed by the number 2 racer and had to settle for silver. Snowboarders often 'styled' their movements to please themselves and their friends, and she made the bad split-second decision to do something irreverent near the end of an Olympic race. The non-snowboarder audience took this behavior very badly. And snowboarding as a sport was never the same: it's all much more serious and all about the points now. The snowboarders were once very much a separate sub-culture of the sports world - different even from the alpine skiers. Their sense of competition was very different from that of athletes in other long established sports. But when it comes to competitions now, they've all learned to affect a different attitude in front of the cameras, so no one has to go through the media beating that Jacobellis has endured. The Olympics have never gone well for her, but otherwise, she happens to be the most dominant athlete in her sport, hands down. It's tough to be in a sport like snowboard-cross where everything can come apart in an instant, and there are no second chances. At least in figure skating there are multiple parts to the competition and various opportunities to score points and impress the audience.

Edited by pherank

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I too find Zagitova to be rather raw. Her arms and legs are all over the place and her movements look rushed.When Lipnitskaya was training with Eteri Tutberidze, the coach of both Medvedeva and Zagitova, there was a former Bolshoi corps member (Galina Potdykova, the wife of Batyr Annadurdiev) who worked with her skaters. I don’t think she works with them anymore, which is a shame because she could have really helped a lot with getting Zagitova’s arms and posture  

As far as Don Quixote’s go, the Spanish dance team of Hurtado and Khaliavin had a more polished piece, although theirs was more flamenco than Ballet, having chosen to work with a famous flamenco dancer for the choreography. 

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I agree with others above regarding Zagitova. She has amazing jumps for sure, but just like in ballet, I don't like it when tricks become the end-all-be-all. She has enormous skill, but she skates like a gangly teen-ager. I mean, she IS a teenager, but either she isn't getting the ballet training (I believe) or she just hasn't gained control of her limbs. She also lacks the presentation and artistry of Medvedeva. I've had this opinion of other skaters too (men and women); the lack of ballet training is really obvious in some. Their upper bodies lack strength, control and extension, as if their arms are just along for the ride, and their backs/core aren't leading the way. If they don't/can't get ballet training, their coaches should still instruct them in how to use their upper bodies. For me anyway, it makes a big difference in whether or not I'll enjoy the performance, along with their presentation skills and artistry. The big, difficult jumps are icing on the cake, but I need more filing.

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Agree with ABT Fan completely. Zagitova reminds me of Boylston at ABT.  Lots of technical skills, but no aesthetic beauty or lyricism.  I long for the days of Mao Asada at her peak.

Edited by abatt

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10 hours ago, pherank said:

Medvedeva actually did win the Free Skate,

No, it was a tie. The short program scores made the difference for Zagitova.

I didn’t care for all the open-mouthed miming in Medvedeva’s free skate and the train whistle was kitsch, although that performance would win at many Olympics. Zagitova showed the nerve of a champion by throwing in the difficult triple-triple combination she missed earlier in the program and hitting it. Neither was at her best last night.

“Zagitova is a ballerina on the ice.” – Dick Button.

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A tie in the FS is broken by total PCS, and Medvedeva is listed as having won the FS (rank=1) because her total PCS were higher.  A tie in the SP is broken by TES.

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Yes. I meant that they got the same number of points in the free skate.

Quote

Medvedeva's score: 156.65 points — a tie in the free skate with Zagitova, who had come into the final skate leading her by less than two points: 82.92 to 81.06. That sealed the gold medal for Zagitova, with 239.57 total points.

 

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Edited by maps
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Evgenia Medvedeva and Alina Zagitova 

Could I chime in for a moment not having had a chance yet to read other comments, which I look forward to. I just watched my recording from last night. I used to watch figure skating religiously until I switched completely to ballet about 15 years ago. Fortunately I saw almost all of Michelle Kwan.

You have to love them both, in fact, maybe all of them.

I’d never heard of either until a few days ago. I watched Alina Zagitova on the internet perform her team event. I never saw Evgenia Medvedeva until the final skate last night. I was sure I would prefer the youthfully vibrant and athletically amazing Alina and last night she was amazing. Then Evgenia started and I loved her immediately. When she was done I applauded softly from my easy chair and had tears in my eyes when she did. My first thought when she started was “She’s lovely.” Then one of the commentators called her Soulful and that word remains the key.

Who won ?

For me, they both did — probably they all did. 

It was beautiful to see.

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Just watched the free skate.  I agree with many who have already posted, Medvedeva should have won.  It bothers me (though I realize it’s within the rules) that Zagitova  beat her because she put all of her jumps in the second half of the program.  Had she not done that, I think Yevgenia would have won.  I just thought Medvedeva’s artistry was head and tails better than Zagitova’s, though both are obviously amazing.   

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Taken-by-surprise Zagitova fan here.

On paper, I'm for the Medvedeva's of the world when it comes to figure skating and much else. A little older ... a little more mature. I prefer watching adults skate and wish skating would move its age requirements for senior competitions up to 16.

But on television, when I saw Zagitova in the team competition I was just blown away. In the free skate of the team competition and, later, the short program of the Singles competition --the speed and height and seeming ease of everything she did was just dazzling--and the lines in spins just beautiful too. Also: speed and huge airy jumps have aesthetic value in my eyes when I'm watching figure skating. I love raw excitement too and the "it" factor Zagitova seemed to me to have in those first two programs especially. I enjoyed her in the  singles free skate, but it was a tighter, less thrilling performance. Even so, I found many aspects of her skating just "read" better to me than the very appealing Medvedeva in her Anna Karenina skate.   I also love GRIT which Zagitova definitely showed in the singles free skate, especially when she got her combination done, and with a very narrow window of time. (Dirac mentioned this above.)

Medvedeva is surely more mature and delicate in her way of moving. In her case, though, nerves affected the singles short program, which to me was much more enjoyable to watch during the team competition. But I was very impressed and rather touched with how Medvedeva pulled it together for the final skate in the singles competition and I could have easily lived with her getting the gold just for HER show of grit--She skated as if leaving the nerves behind...looked freer, more lost into her program (and its story) than Zagitova had done that same evening. That said, however lovely she is, I don't find Medvedeva a gorgeous artistic skater let alone one whose skating for the sake of skating creates a special beauty of its own kind. (That would be Patrick Chan.) I know others see many things I miss.

As for back-loading--I prefer it to the old front-loading skaters used to do. But if the ISU (or whoever is in charge) wants to revisit its rules, by all means. In the meanwhile if Zagitova's 'buckle up' final two minutes is what won her the gold--more power to her.  I find her kind of terrific.

 

Edited by Drew

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The skater's exhibition gala was interesting too. Both Zagitova and Medvedeva skated very well and didn't really hold back - in the past, skaters stayed away from doing any difficult jumps or partnering holds, but not this time.

Here's Medvedeva's segment (it may be geo-blocked):
http://www.nbcolympics.com/news/figure-skaters-close-out-pyeongchang-olympics-final-performance-exhibition-gala

Unfortunately there's plenty of useless gabbing from the 'expert' commentators.

If anyone can find footage that is from a neutral third party, please add the video here.

Perhaps on the Canadian Olympic website?
https://olympics.cbc.ca/video/todays-events/figure-skating-feb-gala-exhibition/index.html

 

Edited by pherank

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Musicality. Artistry. Evgenia Medvedeva’s the first woman skater (the male being, John Curry) whom I’ve appreciated as much as a dancer, even a ballet artist. When you include the extremely difficult athletic demands, the Olympics, no less, it’s quite mind-boggling. Having just watched her short program for the first time I’m really taken by the way that she flows. More so even than a ballerina because she literally flows — on ice. She flows with the music and through the very difficult technical elements, such as the jumps, as if they weren’t there — like a ballerina. Even her spins flow to the rhythm of the music. Then she does it in the final program which is essentially all about athletics, extremely difficult jump combinations.

And she ‘Dances’ from within. She reaches into her heart and embraces your's.

Maybe, someday, if not already, she’ll be the female equivalent or her own answer, to John Curry. 

It would be wonderful to see a great 'Artist' on the ice again. And a lovely Heart.

Edited by Buddy

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Buddy, I couldn’t have said it better! I’ve been watching Medvedeva since she burst on the scene as a 16 year old and the first words that came to mind was ‘old, Russian soul’. She had the jumps in spades but always managed to integrate them in her performance, never jumping just to jump or dropping style or musicality while jumping. I don’t follow skating but she made such an enormous impression I did start keeping up with her and in all honesty she was really what motivated me to watch this year’s olympics. I was disheartened when she broke the bone in her foot in Nov, then livid at the thought that the Russian ban would keep her out of the olympics. Her letter to the IOC was incredibly heartfelt and passionate, way beyond what I hear from most 18 year olds! I do think she should have been scored higher in the free skate, and had she not switched her triple to the first half of the program she probably would have regardless. I don’t think her Anna Karenina program is the best one she has had although I loved it! I think it may have been a touch harder to relate to for many, especially those that don’t know the story (the horror 😱)! Zagitova was fun to watch although I hated the ‘tutu’ she wore for both. It looked too much like the Tutus my 4 year old students wear! I also felt that she could have done herself a huge favor with some ballet coaching for her Don Q. It shows that dressing up as a Ballerina does not one make. Just ask the teammate that needed no tutu to convey true balletic artistry on ice!

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On 2/24/2018 at 10:46 PM, Drew said:

 That said, however lovely she is, I don't find Medvedeva a gorgeous artistic skater let alone one whose skating for the sake of skating creates a special beauty of its own kind. (That would be Patrick Chan.) I know others see many things I miss.

I tend to agree. Allowing for the difference in age and resulting differences in approach, I'd say Zagitova beat Medvedeva on her own ground.

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Thanks, everyone, for your thoughts.

This is somewhat off-topic, but what would be the future of a person like Evgenia Medvedeva ? With apparently a wealth of  athletically amazing young skaters from Russia emerging, where would an artistically fine skater go ?

John Curry was able to start his own company and also enter the 'Western world' entertainment network.  What would Evgenia Medvedeva's options be ?  Hopefully she can maintain a level of athletic proficiency that allows her to stay in the public eye through competition. I don't know of a show company that has anything comparable to the competitions in basic quality and exposure. If she wants to nurture and continue to display her, in my opinion, very fine artistry, does she need agents, sponsors and above all a type of 'venue' that I don't see existing at the moment ?  Does anyone have any suggestions ? 

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It's noteworthy that neither of the two Russian singles women figure skaters from the Sochi Olympics skates competitively anymore.  One has abandoned skating entirely due to an eating disorder.  The other (who won the gold medal in Sochi) is apparently injured, although she may skate in shows. 

If you listened to the commentators, they mentioned that there are 14 year old girls in the junior Russian singles figure skating ranks who can do quadruple jumps successfully..  I suspect that within 4 years, both Zagitova and Medvedeva will be replaced by the younger generation of teenage phenoms who can do quads.

 

 

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1 hour ago, abatt said:

If you listened to the commentators, they mentioned that there are 14 year old girls in the junior Russian singles figure skating ranks who can do quadruple jumps successfully..  I suspect that within 4 years, both Zagitova and Medvedeva will be replaced by the younger generation of teenage phenoms who can do quads.

 

 

Quite possibly, but maybe not, Abatt. Carolina Kostner, much to my amazement, although not top ranked, is still hanging in there. The commentators cite her artistry. Sasha Cohen was able to do quads, but never used them. I would guess that she or her coach didn't want to take the chance of a failure undermining the rest of her program, which did have a respectable amount of artistry.

Things have changed. The new scoring system, that I haven't tried to decipher, apparently heavily favors athletic prowess over artistry, although it's interesting to remember that 'figure' (as in figure skating) comes from the art of being able to carve exact shapes in the ice.

In regard to skaters such as Evgenia Medvedeva, maybe artistry can be nurtured, if the skater can remain athletically competitive. The rules could also be modified. 

Since I'm here, I'll get up on my soap box for a moment. I truly believe that figure skaters should wear helmets and almost always add this to any statement that I make about the pursuit. They could be minimal in appearance, like a transparent headband, which would be much better than nothing. I've been a perpetual beginner figure skater for almost 25 years. I hit my head once on the ice without a helmet and have worn one ever since. 

Edited by Buddy

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I wouldn't compare Carolina Kostner's situation with the Russians though. For starters, she represents Italy, which has never churned out Olympic podium skaters like Russia, the US, and some other countries. She continues to compete at the Olympics because competition to get on Italy's team is nowhere as difficult as Russia's. She is a beautiful skater and I love watching her, but she doesn't have the technical elements like Medvedeva or Zagitova that are favored by judges and the scoring system. However, she finished fifth, which is still an accomplishment!

Given the emphasis on quads for the men this year, I wouldn't doubt at all if quads are the make-or-break element in four years for the women. I also heard the announcers say that Russia has tweens practicing quads already. Not surprising. If Zagitova isn't already, then she better get on that pronto if she wants to claim gold again in Beijing.

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I agree with ABT Fan re Kostner.  She would never have been to three Olympics if she was competing for Russia. IN fact, she might never have been to one Olympic game if she were Russian.   Kostner seems to either be given special treatment in Italy, or else the singles skating prospects in Italy are extremely weak. That's certainly not the case in Russia, which has an overabundant number of technically marvelous young girls competing against each other for medals at Russian nationals.

In fact, the competition in Russia is so fierce that anyone who is Russian who has a parent with a connection to another country, such as Israel or a former Soviet republic, tries to gain citizenship elsewhere just to have a chance to compete.

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Did anyone watch the closing ceremonies?  I loved it, especially the dancing! Republic of Korea is really having a rennaissance right now. 

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7 minutes ago, Jayne said:

Did anyone watch the closing ceremonies?  I loved it, especially the dancing! Republic of Korea is really having a rennaissance right now. 

Yes, I did. Best use of drones, aside from sending them into flood zones to survey damage and look for survivors. Otherwise, I hate drones.

The now ubiquitous electronic effects and projection art mostly leaves me cold - but I understand why these things are used at such a massive event. I'm looking forward to an Olympics ceremony that is more personal and intimate, and more about the choreography of the live humans than laser lights and drones.

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2 hours ago, Buddy said:

Things have changed. The new scoring system, that I haven't tried to decipher, apparently heavily favors athletic prowess over artistry, although it's interesting to remember that 'figure' (as in figure skating) comes from the art of being able to carve exact shapes in the ice.

 

Interesting that you mention this, because NBC aired a documentary about the 1988 Calgary Olympics and talked specifically about the battles between Brian Orser and Brian Boitano, and Katarina Witt vs Debi Thomas, and they talked about how the compulsory round (where they were responsibile for skating figures in the ice) often played a huge part in deciding who medaled.  In fact, they mentioned at the World Championships the previous year (I guess it would be '87) that Scott Hamilton beat out Orser because he placed first in the compulsory round, even though Orser placed first in the short and long programs (but 7th in the compulsory).

They got rid of the compulsory round soon after that.

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4 hours ago, Buddy said:

Quite possibly, but maybe not, Abatt. Carolina Kostner, much to my amazement, although not top ranked, is still hanging in there. The commentators cite her artistry. Sasha Cohen was able to do quads, but never used them. I would guess that she or her coach didn't want to take the chance of a failure undermining the rest of her program, which did have a respectable amount of artistry.

The TV commentators have never been really good at explaining what makes Kostner special.  Carolina Kostner is a special case in a lot of ways.  She has an incredible ability to generate speed and flow across the ice that really can't be appreciated on television, but is spectacular live.  It gives her a big advantage in her skating skills score.  When she is on and hitting her jumps, that incredible speed and power makes them immense.  That package keeps her competitive.

In that way, Kostner's not unlike Patrick Chan.  When he was on and still had a consistent Triple Axel and Quad, he was basically unbeatable even if he missed jumps in a given program.

I haven't seen Zagitova or Medvedev live, but from what I can judge on the screen, it doesn't look like they're generating that kind of speed or power.  They're getting a lot of jumps and fully-rotated rotations in, but their skating skills don't look as top-drawer (as Dick Button would probably put it) as I'd really want to see in an Olympic Champion.  

 

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