Wednesday, June 16

Op-Ed: The Ladies Triple Axel Debate and Mao Asada

I receive many comments or questions on my Formspring account asking whether I think that the Japanese Skating Federation is bribing the ISU or trying to change some of the rules to benefit only one skater: Mao Asada. I think I replied only one time regarding the situation and then deleted the rest of the similar comments that followed because they get so repetitive. However, in my last post I relayed the following update from the ISU Congress:
Senior ladies competitors have the option of doing a double OR triple Axel as the required Axel jump in the short program, which now means that they can do a possible of four triples in this portion. Prior, a triple Axel would have to be done in combination.
So, what do I think about this rule? Honestly, I am sick of people saying that this one change is going to make Asada start winning every competition as it gives her an advantage over the other competitors. Last time I checked, it's still a very huge risk and the chance of a downgrade remains extremely high. I don't even care if she's the only lady attempting the triple Axel for the next twenty years. Let me take all of you back nearly nineteen years ago to the 1991 Skate America competition:



Tonya Harding completed a triple Axel/double toe loop as her combination, back in a period of time in skating when most ladies couldn't even do the full set of 5 different triple jumps (minus the Axel), so their required solo jump from steps was a DOUBLE. They couldn't even do a triple until the 1996 season! Should she have been held back (as she was) from attempting a triple Axel on its own back then?

The men saw changes throughout the years from not even letting them try quadruple jumps in the short, to allowing them to do the quad out of steps, to letting them do the quad in combination, and just recently to possibly allowing TWO (different) quadruple jumps to be performed if the skater is capable. And what have we seen lately as far as quads and the men? I'm pretty sure the ridding of 6.0 also saw the reduction of quadruple jump attempts we saw, but that didn't equal the ISU reducing the maximum jump content that the men could do within the short program. The only time that happened, in a sense, was during the 1989 and 1990 seasons, thanks in part to an error by the ISU when it came to the wording of required elements. The men were able to do a triple Axel as their triple jump out of steps, and also repeat the triple Axel as part of their combination in the short program. The double Axel was still a requirement, so you saw the top competitors performing a triple Axel/triple toe, triple Axel, and a double Axel. That is harder or at least equivalent content to what many of the men were doing the rest of the 1990's! Here's Todd Eldredge's short program from the 1990 Worlds:



Now watch his 1991 Worlds short program. The rule change required that he do a less difficult jump out of steps than what he was doing in 1990!



Anyways, getting back on the actual topic rather than analyzing the ISU's silly mistakes. Two ladies showed 20 years ago that it was definitely possible to do the triple Axel. Yes, there was a 10 year break in ISU competitions before we ever saw it performed "cleanly" again (2002 Skate America: Ludmila Nelidina and Yukari Nakano), but that's besides the point; the bar just seems to have been raised so much slower with the ladies, and that might very well be why we haven't seen many skaters working on the difficult jumps. I understand that the IJS really has penalized under-rotated efforts, but the situation was the same in many of the years leading to the end of the 6.0 system. I think the only skater that attempted the triple Axel in the short between Harding and Asada was Nakano, and she had a very close attempt at the 2003 Four Continents Championship:



In closing, I'm all for the rule change and I'm excited that it has passed. Asada can now go back to working on her triple/triple combinations and include one (along with a triple Axel) in her short program if she so chooses, and good for her. Readers know I favor neither Kim or Asada as far as that battle and my own personal preference goes, but you better believe I am completely in favor of a skater taking huge risks if they are capable of the content. Now, I just hope that Mao has more enjoyable programs next season!

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

When you see axels like Tonya's, you have to wonder how many more you could've seen if they weren't held back. Just amazing.

Anonymous said...

I watched the ladies competition in Olympics and Worlds' this year, after many years of not following the ladies' event, so I had - and have - no favourite in the competition. It struck me as ridiculous, however, that Mao Asada was required to do an easier jump than she was capable of - I thought that the rule should be that the ladies do at least a double axel, not required to do a double axel, so I'm happy. I like to see people pushing the envelope - whethet this is Mao Asada or anyone else.

LRK

Anonymous said...

Absolutely right! If Mao or another lady is able to jump 3A, ISU should give them the opportunity to do it. Mao is also planning a quad for Sochi, it would be fantastic!

Anonymous said...

I agree wholeheartedly ! Although this rule change might only benefit just one player at this time, it opens a up a whole new dimension to all the other skaters in the future as well. Just think of all those SP jump options it provides ! Won't it work to make others try for 3As more seriously?

ISU is right in revising rules that were just acting as impediments for skaters from challenging difficult jumps for the sake of receiving decent scores.
Along with the mid-way base points and others, I look forward to seeing these changes serve as incentives for other skaters besides Mao to strive for perfecting those difficult elements. It'll make following the sport that much more interesting as well.

Anonymous said...

I wonder what Kim thinks of all these rule changes

Anonymous said...

hahaha..Maobots!!

Anonymous said...

KIM is the OLYMPIC CHAMPION. No matter what people doing dirty thing behind to make the rule against her. She still can win under any rule because SHE is the REAL CHAMPION. She can still get a better FS scores than her Olympic record if she decides to throw in another 3-3. She can get up to 165+. Therefore, you don't have to worry about "What Kim thinks of all these rule changes" OK.

Anonymous said...

KIM is the OLYMPIC CHAMPION. No matter what people doing dirty thing behind to make the rule against her. She still can win under any rule because SHE is the REAL CHAMPION. She can still get a better FS scores than her Olympic record if she decides to throw in another 3-3. She can get up to 165+. Therefore, you don't have to worry about "What Kim thinks of all these rule changes" OK.

Anonymous said...

KIM is the OLYMPIC CHAMPION. No matter what people doing dirty thing behind to make the rule against her. She still can win under any rule because SHE is the REAL CHAMPION. She can still get a better FS scores than her Olympic record if she decides to throw in another 3-3. She can get up to 165+. Therefore, you don't have to worry about "What Kim thinks of all these rule changes" OK.

Anonymous said...

How can Yuna get 15 points by a 3-3?
I thought her combo was worth 11 points or something, and isn't GOE up to two or three points?