Sunday, May 2

If both Kozuka and Oda skate their 09-10 programs perfectly (with a 4T in each LP), which skater do you think would get the higher score? Will they be able to beat Takahashi before he retires? Sorry, two questions at once.

Interesting question! I love it. And honestly, I don't know. If it was the way the judges scored the two, I think it would end up with Oda being on top. He scored pretty well this year for a really flat short program, BUT his jump landings are just amazing almost every single time. He also has decent spins and he had a great free skate this year. Kozuka is my favorite but I still see where he has a lot of room to improve. He needs to start taking command and have the judges really want to push him to the top rather than always just being satisfied with whatever result he earns. His jumps are nice, but he would probably earn slightly lower GOE on each of them in head-to-head competition with a perfectly clean Oda.

Takahashi is still a bit inconsistent, so it's definitely possible. It looked like Oda might have even had a chance earlier in the season to really be the leader of the Japanese men going into the big events, but Daisuke got his act together and really started delivering again. However, he has plenty of pressure on him now as the reigning World Champion and obviously it won't be any easier with Worlds in his home country in 2011. The judges showed if Kozuka is clean they are willing to put him right up there, and Oda showed that he can have his moments of brilliance as well. It also excites me that he's going to work with Lee Barkell again, because I think he was at his best back in the day while training part-time in Barrie. Anyways, back to answer the question-- Daisuke has to keep skating with consistency or I'd say he's definitely beatable.

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Anonymous said...

Personally why do quads if the Olympic champion doesn't need one. Remember that Oda has a great quad triple and he abandoned for 2009/2010 because it makes more sense to do triple jumps after the halfway point. Quads were for 6.0 because the judges just didn't deduct that much from the tech if you had a quad. Lysacek shows that under COP quad is a loser.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for answering my questions! You said Takahashi is a bit inconsistent, but actually, none of those Japanese skaters are consistent, are they? I'm excited to hear about Oda's coach change too. I really liked his 05-06 season. As you said, his jumps and spins are amazing, but I kind of feel that he won't be able to beat Takahashi in the future unless the latter fails completely, while Kozuka has more potential.

Watching Takahashi this season (or last season?), what surprised me most was he really was a good actor/dancer. Don't you think that factor compensated him a LOT for his technical difficulties? I'd also forgotten how good his jumps were until I saw him at Worlds. When he performs like that, it might be a bit difficult for someone like Abbott or Kozuka, a skater with purer musicality, to beat him. I read somewhere, though, Takahashi is going to skate to jazz next season. Skating to jazz means less acting and more musicality/skating skills, I guess. So, I'm really looking forward to the match between Takahashi and Kozuka as well as Takahashi and Abbott next season.

And of course, Chan and others! There are too many interesting male skaters out there!

Anonymous said...

I agree that Oda has better jumps than Kozuka. On the other hand, I feel that Kozuka's skating skills and transitions are not fully credited by judges, which I can't quite make sense.

Marco said...

1st anonymous: There are many ways one can maximise points. Quad can be one such way but is not the only way. No one stopped Plushenko from doing other ways such as putting more triples in the second half of his program, having better jump and spin quality, and having transitions and complex choreography.

Plushenko didn't lose the Olympics because he did the quad, he lost because everything else he did sucked. And Lysacek won because even though he didn't do a quad he did everything else he was supposed to do to maximise his points.

Peronsally I prefer how they reward the quad now instead of in the 6.0 era. Under 6.0, as long as you have the quad, nothing else mattered and the whining would become "why have spins, why have footwork, why have triples at all?".

2nd anonymous: I think Oda has everything he needs within him to become a world champion. He just needs a good coach to handle the strategies and the nerves and a good choreographer that can highlight his strength (his effortless flow and deep kneebends and edges).

IMO Takahashi's musicality and presence helps a lot with hiding his simplistic programs and below-average spins. And skating is still a judged sport, so unless Oda re-establishes his status near the top with consistency and beating other top contenders, I would say Takahashi still has about a 10 point advantage over him in PCS. Oda has been on the right track since his comeback, alas his Worlds skate would put him back to ground zero.

3rd anonymous: I think judges are reluctant to score Kozuka appropriately because he is forever pegged as the 3rd Japanese guy. Unless Takahashi/ Oda retired or he started to consistently outskate them I don't think he is going to get higher PCS no matter how hard he tried.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Marco for proving my point about the quad being the worst thing a skater can do now. Because if you stop training for a quad of course other things become better which is why Lysacek won. He dropped the hardest jump and now it will not be done anymore.

Marco said...

If leaving out the quad is all it takes for everyone to focus on quality and difficulty of everything else that matter in skating, then I absolutely support everyone going quadless.


When Lysacek was training the quad in 2006-9 he already had very high quality and difficulty on his elements. Same for Lambiel in 2003-8. And same for Oda and Abbott and Kozuka and Verner.

Nearly all the top skaters trained or had been training the quad going into Vancouver. They decided to do it or not in the actual competition depending on how consistent it had become. The quality and difficulty of the elements and programs, or even consistency do not magically increase just by dropping the quad in the last minute. Look at Weir and Oda.

mikeko said...

While the current scoring system discourages skaters to try difficult jumps, there are still people who believe that champions must be able to jump quads. Otherwise, the line between amateur figure skating as a sport and professional skating as entertainment will be blurred and amateur figure skating will lose its identity as a sport. Takahashi and Kozuka are among them. It’s totally up to you if you agree or disagree.
I thought Oda abandoned quads for the last season because his coach Morozov told him to do so. They’ve parted their ways so that Oda might try quads for the next season. Correct me if I’m wrong. I have no idea why Oda imploded at the final moment of the last season. It seems like lots of things have been going on in his personal life recently, and I wonder if it has something to do with his performance on the ice. I have no idea about him for the next season either.
I agree on that Takahashi has been inconsistent, but want to separate him before and after the injury. Before the injury, he was really poor at dealing with pressure, and his performance often fell apart after one mistake. But the injury/surgery/rehab seems to have made him a much stronger person. He struggled with jumps for the last season because he had not fully recovered. He said in a recent interview that he wasn’t even sure last December if he was going to make it to the Olympics. He knew that there was only a small chance to succeed the quad, and he was prepared for a fall. That is why he could put the rest of the performance together and even managed to enjoy it. It was a very beautiful and moving performance despite of the fall. Then he even tried a 4F at the World even though he didn’t need it to win. Many Japanese fans believe he’s finally learned how to cope with tremendous pressure and even manage to enjoy performing under it. Takahashi is the most artistic skater at the moment, but as an athlete, he will not totally depend on his artistry by abandoning quads even though it would be much easier for him.
If you just want to see his flawless performance, you can see in exhibitions (“El Tango de Roxanne” and “Bachelorette” are my favorites) and he can show us after he retired and became a professional skater.
Sorry for a long post and my imperfect English.