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Winter Olympics Skating News, part 2 (post-Pairs, men, etc.)

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I watched both the NBC and CBC versions of last night's pairs. Paul Martini and Barbara Underhill were commentating for CBC. These seasoned pairs competitors appeared at a loss to explain the results, and they didn't mention a 2-foot landing...I assume this means they didn't notice it. These two usually notice everything, as does Sandra Bezic. Actually, I thought that Underhill and Martini had some very nice things to say during the skate...Bezic commented that B and S seemed slower than usual and lacked some sparkle.

I do feel that there was too much of an expectation that S and P win the gold...in the end, this may play with their minds and they may question the choice of program. I think they did well with Love Story as they were much more consistent with it than the Orchid. I also worry a little that Canada let THEM down with the expectation of gold.

I thought Ina and Zimmerman were amazing; I loved every second of their program. I am stuptified as to how they were given their result when the Chinese got third. Sure, the Chinese took a risk with the quad throw, and I applaud them for that...however the rest of their program didn't shine last night the way it should have for a bronze with the strong field of other skaters.

I wonder what all the excitement about judging will mean for Bourne and Kraatz...I just hope that the judges will truly call it as they see it.

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Hello all:

This is such a controversial topic! Like many of you, I watched the long pairs program w/baited breath, but unlike many (Dirac and Jeannie excepted it seems) I felt that the right, if unexpected decision was made. While the Canadians did a beautiful program--more consistent, perhaps, than the Russians--the Russians were so much more beautiful (to me) transitionally--they made the "in between" moments into something magical, while the Candians were better at the tricks. Maybe this is also my ballet background coming in too heavily, but I thought the Russians DID win the evening artistically, and the Canadians technically--the rest is for the judges to decide, and they did.

All the challenges frustrate me. It seems unfitting for the Olympics--a time when all nations (yes, I know this is unrealistically idealistic) come together, not further the chasms that separate us. I wish that this decision could be accepted, regardless of the perceived flaws. Skating is more than a sport, despite its presence in the Olympic games, and therefore is subjective, not absolute.

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Re the men's short program: Once again Todd Eldridge broke my heart. I almost didn't watch him because at various times throughout the years I've grown tired of being let down. He's such a gorgeous skater when the pressure isn't too great. I lasted up till his triple axel tonight and had to leave the room at that point. Heartbreak again.

But three cheers for Yagudin who, to me, exemplifies a perfect balance between technique and presentation.

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After thinking about P&S vs. B&S for a full day, and reading all of the wonderful posts both here and on figure skating boards...I've been able to discern why IMO S&P should have won not only the technical marks, but the artistic ones at all.

I am not by any means an expert in skating, so, please tell me where I am at fault.

I keep hearing people talking about the ballet training of the Russian couple...but there are several parts of the ballet training that I find extremely lacking in them. One is Elena's arabesque line. It seems distorted and out of control and completely to the side. Watching her land from the jumps, her back leg seemed to be out of control. In contrast, Jamie's was clean, razor sharp--not high, but perfectly in control. To me that shows a much better grasp of basic ballet technique.

Another fault I found was in the constant breaking of line that Elena experienced through the wrist. In general, B&S's line seemed a bit weak. Yes, it flowed...but it never seemed to straighten fully wether it was behind the knee or through the arm to the end of the fingers. Wtih S&P, on the other hand, I felt that I could feel the energy extend through every limb every time.

I also found that Elena's general placement was lacking. She favored sticking the ribs out in order to achieve an arched back as opposed to extending the back. Again, you didn't see the wacky flexable back in Jamie...but it was controled and extended to its fullest potential without sacrificing placement.

The last point is the fact that S&B, while doing difficult and intricate work, seemed to have one quality and emotion the whole time. S&P demonstrated a range of movement quality, emotion, and expression. Instead of giving in to the excitment of the performance and the arena, S&P kept in the character through the end...showing us this range.

It is hard to say that one style is better than the other. It's like saying that a ballet company is better than a modern dance company. But you can go through and see who performed their own particular style better than the other...and I have to say that after alot of thinking that S&P did this. I love B&S (especially the charlie Chaplin number), but in this instance S&P should get the artistic nod.

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I feel very strongly that B&S ARE the best in the world at this moment, maybe one of the greats of all time in pairs. Normally when it comes to flow, line, carriage and other criteria for presentation B&S are unparalelled.

But when I watched my tape again, I don't think they quite had it that night. Robin Cousins who was commentating kept talking about the 'tension' between them that's isn't normally there in contrast to their short or S&P who were very relaxed. He also talked about things you wouldn't have noticed on tv like speed and edges and said that the Canadians weren't lacking in this respect. I think he thought B&S should have scored lower than S&P on presentation for those reasons. The stumble coupled with 2 very uncomfortable landings should have been more than enough to give the gold to S&P. I do still think that all the connecting steps B&S had was a little better than S&P, more intricate and difficult. But it wasn't skated to its full potential. Better choreography but not better skating is what I think. I can't justify the judging at all.

Jeannie, I had a look at S&P as well. I'm sure that Jamie didn't two-foot the throw triple loop. Her free leg comes VERY close to the ice for both throws but I don't think it actually touches it. A two-foot landing would be more serious than Anton's stumble so I think the news and skating forums would have picked it up if it had been the case.

Alexei Yagudin was incredible in the men's SP. I think his Winter theme, the choice of music, the choreography make his the best SP EVER! His footwork sequence is gorgeous, incredibly fast and complex.

Poor Evgeny. I was really shocked. He was the last person I expected to flub the quad. But he got right back up and the way he skated after you'd never have thought anbthing had happened. His Michael Jackson number looked a lot better. I really enjoyed it for the first time. It felt confident without being cliched. Did he tone it down a little? His costume wasn't quite so garish and it does show off his wonderful lines. His spins are wonderful, and he has the most beauitful line in his camel spin. And while his footwork wasn't as pretty as Yagudin's it was also tremendously difficult. He has to beat Yagudin AND have someone else placed between him and Yagudin to have any hope of gold.

And I felt so bad for Todd. He had such an outside shot for a medal I don't think anyone really expected it of him, so all he wanted was to skate clean and have 2 performances to be proud of. Likewise for Stoijko though he's never been a favourite.

As for Goebel, what wonderful jumps! He looked so delighted when he finished - could anyone have smiled any harder? He's improved his carriage, though his shoulders are still much too stiff. I liked the choice of music. I can understand the placing though - he seemed a bit slower than the Russians or Honda and his footwork was very average, not interesting or innovative at all.

And well done to Takeshi Honda! I certainly didn't expect him to be in 2nd place! I didn't necesarily like his SP. The music cuts were terriblr but then Don Q cuts always sound terribly disjointed. But given the others mistakes I do think he was positioned right.

[ February 13, 2002: Message edited by: sylvia ]

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Regarding B& S balletic style, as far as skating goes it's fantastic and head and shoulders above most of their competitors. ALL skaters do that weird sideways arabesque. In my entire life of watching figure skating, and I watch it fairly religiously, I have NEVER seen a skater with proper ballet placement. Even Michelle's much touted spiral, which I love, is lifted to the side with her hip up, not at all behind her. But since it's skating and not ballet no one really cares. They're just amazed that she can get her leg straight and high.

And neither Jaime's nor Elena's throw landings were perfectly in control. Both of them did the same 'crisp' landing which to me indicated a lack of control. And there were other pairs in that last flight or two(esp. woman who had a light blue outfit, very flexible, can't remember what country) who landed in a nice plié that flowed for a couple of seconds afterwards, and therefore IMO were better than both Jaime and Elena. But it's the overall quality that counts I guess.

And other things, like the breaking of the wrist, are most likely quite in keeping with the Russian ballet training that B&S received, this opinion gained from the small sample of Russian trained dancers I've seen at my studio. The three girls have many mannerisms in common, one of which is a more affected ports de bras than I'm used to seeing in RAD and I assume it's related to their training (grew up in Russia mostly). It's different than what I'm used to, but it isn't necessarily wrong, and in a skating arena a minute concern.

Also, I find the question of story vs. 'plain' skating interesting. The Love Story program is indeed a story, and Jaime and David tell it well, but I don't agree that this is automatically better than a program that is lovely but doesn't show a range of emotions. Because at the last World's and more recently the Grand Prix final they did programs that were just lovely skating and didn't have the story aspect and weren't marked down for not showing a range of expression. And usually skaters pick a theme and carry it through a program anyway. Even Yagudin's fantastic Winter program is just pure enthusiam from start to finish. True he's supposed to be portraying a child's joy, but really, can anyone really say that 'child's joy' is so different from "i'm having fun performing". So I don't agree that the story that Jamie and David show is necessarily better than Elena and Anton's classical program.

And with regard to the speed and edges etc. the Canadian commentators were very enthusiastic about these aspects of Elena and Anton's program and saw the 'tension' between them as a good thing, as a good connection rather than the indifference to each other that they sometimes/often show. And while Jaime and David's speed was good, it wasn't as good as the Russian's, even Barb and Paul admitted as much. So I think that, coupled with the more intricate footwork gave an edge to B&S in some judges' minds (well, 5 of them actually)

I hope the men's long generates as much interest in skating, preferably positive smile.gif . I think barring some catastrophe, Yagudin will win the gold, but it would be nice for Pluschenko and Honda to win the other two medals. I must say that I'm one of those who can't stand Goebel's lack of style and artistry and while I can commend his improvement I really don't think he deserves good presentation marks for simply skating better than he used to. I generally find his programs should receive the marks that Elvis Stojko used to get for presentation since they seem to have similar deficiencies. Judging seems to have gotten less severe in this respect, giving a good technical program decent presentation marks regardless of the stilted and awkward 'artistry'. If only the judges were former dancers... smile.gif

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Just to add another "vote" to the recent judgement call at The Olympics, I cast my lot with the Russian pair. Although the Canadian duo obviously are their own 'Love Story' and did not have any noticeable flaws to someone like me, I still found the Russians to be more exciting and compelling.

Unfortunately now we have to have the follow-up news about the judges being unfair, etc. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure the judges do make mistakes...as to err is human, but it makes me sad when the media picks up on some of this stuff and magnifies it. A silver medal at The Olympics is nothing to be too upset about. smile.gif

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Yagudin was great last night. His jumps and jump combination were terrific and the footwork sequence is the best I've ever seen from a male skater -- very fast, inventive and intricate. And I liked the panache with which he scooped up some ice and threw it into the air. He's the guy to beat, and he looks pretty unbeatable unless something(s) go very wrong for him on Thursday night.

Goebel's quad was gorgeous -- now I know why he's called the Quad King. But he really needs to work on his artistry. I don't think he'll win a medal on technical prowess alone.

Feel free to throw tomatoes at me, but I didn't care about Todd Eldredge's performance. He's a good jumper and an excellent spinner, but from an artistic standpoint the guy is empty. He's got no personality on the ice.

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I watched this AFTER last night's Kirov opener...I videotaped it, then saw aftermidnight. A good methodology for skipping through commercials, so the Kirov Ballet helped me in that respect, too.

Delighted with Yagudin's first-place performance. Good for him!!!! On the other hand, Plushenko's quad-flop left him mopping the ice in 4th place going into tomorrow's finals....lucky to be in 4th, as it is.

Takeshi Honda FINALLY put it together in the short program. Wonderful!!!

Elvis was DEFINITELY in the house last night, giving us powerful performance that was ridiculously underscored.

Tim Goebel could win it all tomorrow after that picture-perfect short program. WOW - do I see the makings of an artist beneath those quads?

Alexander Abt --- a personal fave of mine -- was hampered by a dopey costume & tiny errors tonight...but still made the top 6 (as did all three Russians). His long program is a masterpiece of beauty, though, so I look for him to improve tomorrow if he can land all of his jumps fairly cleanly.

How very, very sad for Todd Eldredge. Four years of additional training, just for an Olympic medal, up in smoke after three minutes. My heart goes out to him.

[ February 13, 2002: Message edited by: Jeannie ]

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Cheers for Timothy Goebel. He has a very long way to go with his upper body work, but he gets an A+ for effort, and as Scott Hamilton noted, his jumps were effortless; with everyone else you bite your nails as they go for the quad, but on a good night, like this one, Goebel just tosses it off. I'm sorry for Todd Eldredge, but not sorry that in future we will be spared the quadrennial display of Todd crashing and burning at the Olympics.

Re: the pairs controversy. I'm increasingly out of sympathy with S&P. First, you'd think it never occurred to them that skating scores are occasionally inconsistent and subjective, with political overtones. I guess it's only a problem when you're on the receiving end. Pelletier behaved well during the medal presentation, but Jamie began weepy and whiny and continues so. During the interview with Bezic last night, Sale explained that they didn't want to "rain on [the winners'] parade." The two of them then went on to assert, in effect, that the medal is really theirs and B&S have a gold they don't deserve. They also seem to be willing to say this kind of thing to anyone with a microphone. I think the parade can expect a few more showers.

Parenthetically, Jamie keeps saying they skated "perfect" and "fabulous." Perhaps one of her handlers should explain to Jamie about adverbs.

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dirac - I agree with you about Bezik's interview. Jamie Sale is quickly becoming the biggest whiner since Shae-Lynn Bourne (Canadian ice dance champion, with Victor Kraatz) was interviwed by Tracy "Let's Find a Conspiracy" Wilson, at the 1998 Nagano games. I'm just happy that the Kirov Ballet is in town, eclipsing the Olympics in my mind. I'll still watch the tapes, though. wink.gif

In the meantime, the skating order for tomorrow night's Men's Finals has just been announced. GREAT draw for Yagudin!

1 RYLOV Sergei AZE 22 11.0

2 TAKEUCHI Yosuke JPN 24 12.0

3 DMITRENKO Dmitri UKR 21 10.5

4 ZHANG Min CHN 19 9.5

5 CHIPER Gheorghe ROM 23 11.5

6 SKORNIAKOV Roman UZB 20 10.0

Warm-Up Group 2

7 LAMBIEL Stephane SUI 16 8.0

8 van der PERREN Kevin BEL 13 6.5

9 MURVANIDZE Vakhtang GEO 18 9.0

10 LI Yunfei CHN 14 7.0

11 DAVYDOV Sergei BLR 15 7.5

12 JOUBERT Brian FRA 17 8.5

Warm-Up Group 3

13 ELDREDGE Todd USA 9 4.5

14 STOJKO Elvis CAN 7 3.5

15 WEISS Michael USA 8 4.0

16 DAMBIER Frederic FRA 11 5.5

17 DINEV Ivan BUL 12 6.0

18 LIU Anthony AUS 10 5.0

Warm-Up Group 4

19 LI Chengjiang CHN 6 3.0

20 HONDA Takeshi JPN 2 1.0

21 PLUSHENKO Evgeni RUS 4 2.0

22 GOEBEL Timothy USA 3 1.5

23 ABT Alexander RUS 5 2.5

24 YAGUDIN Alexei RUS 1 0.5

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I have always been a fan of the Russian team and I think they skated beautifully, but there's no denying they made mistakes (the fall out of the jump was a big mistake) and the Canadians did not (I don't think Jaimie two-footed that landing).

The gold should go to the couple that skated a clean program. Three of the judges awarded the same technical marks to both teams and that's just plain wrong.

And BTW, I think the comment about adverbs is mean-spirited and below the belt.

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One would think from the tone of the Canadian coverage on Tuesday afternoon and evening that S&P had been ritually slaughtered at center ice. We wanted to see live coverage of speed skating and cross country skiiing. Instead we got the umpteenth rehashing of how terrible it all was and what could be done about it and don't you fell horrible and won't this have a bad effect on all the young skaters coming up.

Enough. I don't know a toe pick from a tow truck, but do know any sporting endeavor in which the outcome is based completely on the decision of judges will be subject to the incompetence or corruptibility of the judges. And ice skating may be the only sport that is so based.

Diving is judged, but each dive is assigned a degree of difficulty that serves as a multiple of the judges's scores. Prizefighting (my favorite sport) has judges, many of whom are corrupt in one way or another, but a fighter can preempt them by knocking out his opponent.

All three medalists were great.

For what it is worth, Sale said she brushed a toe pick on the ice during one landing--this may be the "two footed" one that is under discussion here.

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I feel the need to stick up for Shae-Lynn and Victor because I honestly believe that they were robbed of a medal in Nagano and at the World's (2yrs ago maybe) where there was actual physical evidence of judges' midconduct. I don't think there's any denying (and we've even discussed it on this forum) that ice dancing has big troubles where fairness is concerned.

And I too am getting tired of Jaime and David's 'scandal'. If there is actual evidence of wrong doing I certainly hope it is brought to light. But until that day, I think it's rude and offensive to publicly claim that the medal is theirs.

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OK, but let's not blame the athletes here. They are now just puppets in a huge media game. This is a STORY and the media is milking it to the hilt. And if there is proof of corrupt judging, I agree with Scott Hamilton who said it would throw all results, past and present, into question. These kids -- all of them -- work too hard to be treated this way. There's a rumor now that those “whiners” Shae-Lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz will place fifth in the ice dance competition and that it has all been decided behind closed doors a week before they've even set foot on the ice. This sport is turning into a joke! Give me speed skating any day, where the winner is the person with the fastest time, not a judged mark.

And Mr. Waffle, if you now are unhappy with the CBC's Olympic coverage (which you praised to the hilt before this fiasco) may I kindly suggest you switch channels to Mr. Costas at NBC. CBC is heavily funded by Canadian taxpayers who are probably very interested in this controversy. At least until the hockey games get going…

~Lillian (who is suddenly feeling extremely patriotic)

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Lilian et. al. - Oh, Canada! It is unfortunate that the examples that I and others cited as 'whiners' & 'whiner-interviewers' are Canadians. Just a coincidence & not meant to be a slap against a great nation.

I'm rooting big-time for Elvis Stojko to continue his brilliant performance tomorrow night. I was so excited for him in last night's SP. And what did Elvis do when the ridiculously low marks came up? He shrugged his shoulders, smiled & looked at the audience of admirers as if to say, 'Folks, this doesn't matter. In the end, I'm a champion & it's YOUR marks that truly count!' Three cheers for a true non-whining champion, Elvis Stojko.

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Just to point-out the absurd scale to which the Sale/Pelletier Silver Medal story has been taken...now there is speculation as to whether or not the Prime Minister of Canada will lodge a formal complain to President Vladimir Putin, during an upcoming State Visit to Russia. Give me a break! What would Putin do - yank the medals off B/S's necks & hand them to Canada? As if heads-of-state don't have more important things to discuss.

source - The Moscow Times, Feb. 13, 2002

Canada's PM unlikely to bring up Olympics scandal - source


. Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2002, 10:28 PM Moscow Time

MOSCOW. Feb 13 (Interfax) - Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien is unlikely to raise,

during a planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday, a recent

scandal involving Russian and Canadian figure skaters, a Canadian government source

said on Wednesday.

The source was speaking at a briefing in Moscow.

The scandal broke out during a competition that was part of the current Winter

Olympics in Salt Lake City, when one vote on the jury tipped the balance of favor of a

Russian figure skating couple, leaving the silver medal to a Canadian pair

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In defense of Elvis: There's no way I'd compare his skating with that of Timothy Goebel. Goebel is a jumping machine - little else, reminiscent of Elaine Zayak, an American some years back, and more recently Midori Ito, who could jump incredibly but that was it. I've always thought that Stojko is vastly underrated because he's not balletic. He's a wonderful example of a skater who stays within himself. He's taken his un-ballet body and whipped it into incredible athletic strength. His presentations, in my opinion, are powerful and jam-packed with choreography and speed throughout, as compared to Goebel who is just killing time in between the jumps.

I've always thought it unfair for judges to insist on ballet as the personification of artistry in figure skating. I happen to prefer it myself, but I can appreciate a masterful performance that isn't ballet-based. To me, Stojko fulfills that.

Without having seen Sale's interviews, I can't comment. But if you must search for a comparison, use Nancy Kerrigan. She's a great example of a bad sport when she lost the gold (rightly or wrongly) to Oksana Baiul.

And finally, I'm so looking forward to the men's long program which hopefully will go to Yagudin. While I'm also a fan of Pluschenko, I still think that even when they both skate cleanly, Yagudin's is the more mature performance (not to mention costume). I was sorry to see Pluschenko fall though. I'd been looking forward to seeing them both skate their best. Theirs is the finest male skating rivalry since the Brians.

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I agree that ballet is not the be all and end all of artistry, but there is a quality of expression in the face and body that Alexei, Todd etc. have that Elvis lacks. And there's no way you can equate Pluschenko's programs (esp. Michael Jackson) with ballet, but the way he delivers the program is superior to Elvis. And I don't even particularly like the Mike program, so I'm not speaking from an admirer's p.o.v. And a Chinese skater, Li Chengjiang, had a martial arts-inspired SP which was wonderfully presented and he got good marks for it. So I don't think the judges are necessarily predisposed to marking down non-balletic programs, I just don't think Elvis (generally) sells the program to the audience or the judges. He "stays within himself" a little too much.

[ February 14, 2002: Message edited by: Colleen ]

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One of the points in the way a figure skating program is supposed to be judged is not by what was attempted but by what was achieved. If you try something tremendous (eg. a quad) and fail - especially if you two foot the landing or fall (as opposed to doing a triple instead and landing successfully, you lose credit for the jump altogether. Therefore, in the case of the pairs, the fact that the PLANNED and CHOREOGRPHED program of the Russians was better than that of the Canadians, they made several easily visible errors and did not perform perfectly. The Canadians did. They deserved the gold medal.

And now we have the French judge admitting that she had been pressured by her Olympic Committee to vote for the Russians a) to 'revenge' a French defeat by the Canadians in Dec. (don't know the details - no doubt Jeannie can provide them) and B) in exchange for higher marks for the French ice dance couple that are in serious medal contention. Back in the days of the Soviet Union we all knew that all the Communist countries were expected to vote for the Russians - with some "wiggle room" to vote for skaters from their own countries - because the Russians gave them money. So now we know that they are still being pressured. If the statement by the French judge proves true, both the Russian and French skating federations should be penalized - and their skaters banned from international competition for a period of time.

It certainly was clear that more than the Russian win was rigged: those Chinese in third place looked totally outclassed by skaters far below them in the ranks. The Chinese have worked hard, but technical prowess (defeated by the failed quad throw in any case) did not compensate for lack of artistry. And, IMO, the American pair far outshone both the Chinese and the fourth-placed Russians. Well, we will see when it comes to the ice dancing: will the Canadians wreak revenge on the French? When it comes to the singles, will the Russians have "bribed" other nations to mark down the American skaters - currently possible contenders for all three medals? I don't think we've seen the last of this scandal in this Olympics - whatever may happen to the enquiry into the judging of the pairs competition.

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