Saturday, April 3

My Skating Memories: 1993 World Championships and Nancy Kerrigan

The 1993 World Championships were actually the very first time that I found figure skating, and I'm sure that I stayed up way past my bedtime one night as a 6-year old to watch the ladies free skate. Of course one of the big stories was that of Ukrainian Oksana Baiul surprisingly winning the gold medal, but the big shock was that American Nancy Kerrigan fell from first place in the short program to fifth overall with a mess of a free skate to "Beauty and the Beast". (And this ties in with the recent World Championships as Mirai Nagasu became the first lady since Kerrigan to win the short program and then not end up on the podium at all at Worlds-- she finished 7th.) Filled with the agony of Kerrigan's disaster was her reaction in the kiss and cry, in which she exclaimed, "it doesn't matter.. I just want to die." Oh figure skating, how I knew I was going to love you from that very moment. Where else do you get that kind of drama? Just kidding.. I liked skating for many different reasons, and I felt really bad for Nancy at the time. After the Olympics drama the next season and her reply to waiting for Baiul at the medal ceremony and then her whole Disney debacle, I didn't feel so bad anymore. But that's a story for a different time, yes?

Watch the program for yourself:

Many years later, when I really got into figure skating very seriously, Kerrigan competed at the 2000 Goodwill Games (which was a "winter" edition of the event and featured a pro skating competition). She skated to "Great Expectations" in the artistic program and won the bronze medal. l absolutely loved this program; easily her best in my opinion. I guess I became somewhat of a fan again. :-)

Mukhortova and Trankov Memories

If you didn't know the news, this team is done and Maxim Trankov will now skate with Tatiana Volosozhar, formerly competing with Stanislav Morozov for Ukraine. But in memory of Mukhortova and Trankov, I share with you my favorite program of theirs-- from the short program at the 2009 World Championships.

Friday, April 2

Which exhibition programs from throughout the years are your favourites? (Haha...and have you seen Plushenko performing Sex Bomb?)

Yes, I saw Plushenko perform Sex Bomb way back in the day. Every time I think about any of the skating between 1999 and 2002, I really can't believe how long ago it was. I guess once I started college, everything really just flew by!

As far as which exhibitions are my favorites, hmmmm.. I really liked Drobiazko and Vanagas' 2002 exhibition, Butyrskaya's Carmen and Forever Tango, Kwan's East of Eden and Winter and Dante's Prayer, Bobek's Motown Medley and Cabaret, Sawyer's How Much is the Fish? from 2002 Canadian Nationals, Witt's I Belong to Me... I'm thinking of all of these off the top of my head. I'll reply later with a more comprehensive list! I don't really watch much exhibition skating anymore, though..

Ask me anything

Thursday, April 1

as of this day, in your opinion, who has had the better senior career, mao asada or kim yuna?

Obviously Yu-Na at this point. Mao might have two World Championships compared to Yu-Na's one, but Kim obviously has the Olympic gold as well as medals at every Worlds since 2007, while Asada was off the podium last year.

If Mao can get better packaging and REALLY make her programs stand out again (and Yu-Na stays eligible), I think things could get interesting again.

Ask me anything I had DVR the Thin Ice competition on ABC on 3/21/10 and the end with the results was cut off for a new bulletion about Obama Care. Who won and the results ???? Thanks Gary

Dubreuil and Weiss won, and then Bourne/Zimmerman, Arakawa/Lambiel, Sale/Lauzon, and Berezhnaya/Pelletier in that order.

Wednesday, March 31 Have read that Japan's Skating Fed will be proposing 1.bonus pts for difficult/original elements 2.adding 3A as an axel choice for the ladies SP 3. setting required jump elements for FS. What's your take on the possibility of their being actually adopted?

1.) There used to be that one point bonus if anyone came up with an original move. I think one person might have ever gotten the bonus, and then they did away with it. But maybe I'm remembering incorrectly and it's possible no one ever got the bonus.

2.) I think that should definitely be an option, even if Mao Asada is the only one to attempt it. I'm all for it.

3.) Tell me more about these required elements. I haven't read up on what the Japanese Federation would like to do, but this sounds interesting to me.

I think number 2 has a great chance of being adopted over the summer. Number 1, probably not. I think that a good idea though is to give some kind of bonus to any lady, for example, that can land any five of the six different triples in a program and not receive a downgrade or edge call. Maybe even a bigger bonus for any lady that can do all 6 triples (obviously just Asada at this point)..

In the next few weeks I want to talk to some skaters and former officials and other people involved in the sport and ask about the things they would like to see changed and throw in some of my own ideas and write a little blog entry about all of it. What's your opinion on this, though? Do you think that it's a positive move or not?

I am guessing you asked about the downgraded jumps receiving half credit. I don't know what I think. Sometimes, I think it sucks that skaters are attempting difficult jumps and because it is just around .25 cheated, they get even less credit than they would trying a double jump (if it was a triple) and doing it cleanly. I would have to see what the exact plan of scoring is and how they determine how much credit each under-rotation receives.

Judge the Ladies Yourself I really love reading how you would score certain competitions if you were a judge. Do you think you could share your Google Code of Points spreadsheets so that your readers could do the same?

I'm actually working with a friend who is really great at programming to create some kind of script where you can also fill in the scores and then submit them right after competitions, and then we could come up with averages and then all discuss why we marked how we did, and learn from each other. For now, I'm sure I could figure out how to make blank spaces for GOEs and components that you can submit. I'll look into it now!

2010 Worlds - My Ladies Short Programs Scores

52 ladies short programs-- done scoring. The only lady I haven't scored yet is Tugba Karademir, as the Universal Sports video I was watching cut away while she skated to preview the ladies in the top groups. I'll eventually add her in after I see her on YouTube or somewhere else, but everyone elses scores can be found here:

Ladies Short Program Spreadsheet

So who was robbed in my opinion? I don't think Rachael Flatt received any favors, and the same thing for Alena Leonova.. I would have had them both a bit higher in the components. Lower on down the ranks, I would have had Tamar Katz and Fleur Maxwell both qualifying to the free skate, in 18th and 23rd places, compared to the 27th and 33rd they actually received. I had Manouk Gijsman, who finished the day in 24th place, quite a bit higher in 19th. She and Cheltzie Lee were the only two skaters from the earlier session who qualified to the free skate.

Overmarked? I would have had Yan Liu and Anastasia Gimazetdinova a bit lower. The two skaters that actually did qualify that wouldn't have qualified on my score card were Sonia Lafuente (21st) and especially Min-Jung Kwak (23rd), the latter being the most overmarked of the day in my opinion. I had them in 26th and 31st*.

*- Again, without having scored Karademir, who was 28th place according to the judges.

A big surprise for me is how high I had Rachael Flatt ranked. I'm not a huge fan, but I think this particular program of hers is 1000 times better than anything else she's ever skated, and she really related to the music very well. As far as Nagasu vs. Asada-- obviously you can see from the way I even scored it, that a downgrade on a triple toe is obviously less costly than a downgrade on a triple Axel. Nagasu also had the best spins of the night and really had a great performance. All-in-all though, I don't think the judging was too terrible. I had the same exact skaters in the top 10 that the judges had, with some slight changes of position. Carolina Kostner's levels and grades of execution puzzled me-- she was the only lady to receive a level four footwork sequence, and very, very good grade of execution on top of that. Home country effect with the GOE's after she doubled the loop, to make sure she still was in contention? Maybe. I had her 6th.

Okay, share your thoughts, questions, or hate mail. I'm ready! :-)

What song did Berton/Hotarek skate to at the Exhibition Gala in Torino? Can´t find it posted anywhere...thanks!

Un Giorno per Noi by Josh Groban. It is the theme from Romeo and Juliet, the 1960's version; the original score was by Nino Rota and has been used many times in skating.

Ask me anything

Is it true that ISU is considering setting mid-way base points for downgraded jumps so that skaters won't lose so much points over cheated jumps? Or is it just a rumor?

I have heard that this is in the works, although I haven't read up on any of it yet. As I find out more news about the changes planned this summer, I'll let you know.

Ask me anything

Tuesday, March 30

Ladies Short Program: My Scores Update

Almost done with my scoring of all 53 of the ladies short programs from the World Championships. I'll almost definitely put them up sometime tomorrow afternoon, and let those of you that really get into the judging and results side of the sport analyze my scores and add your own comments or questions about why I assigned the scores I did, vs. the judges scores. I love discussions about judging and I hope there are some readers that also enjoy it! if there was one rule in figure skating that can be changed, what would it be?

Not a rule, but I wish the judges would really look into how the components scores are supposed to be used rather than just assigning general averages for each. I'm not saying that the scores I would give are 100% correct, but skate order or world ranking has NO effect on how good ones skating skills or transitions are. A skater with great basics might not have the strength to rotate triple jumps cleanly, and on the other hand, a great jumper might not care about the basics or in-between skating. The judges should really reflect that, rather than only differing .50 or .75 from one component to the next.. Why Patrick Chan and Yu Na Kim are always sooooo overscored? Why judges love them so much? And also Virtue&Moir. they didn't deserve the title, they had mistakes, their performance wasn't so emotional and flawless.

I don't think they are always so overmarked. Kim at the Olympics, yes, but when else has she been so overscored? And I thought that Chan was marked pretty honestly in the recent World Championships free skate, while most others thought that was a gift. I don't know as much about ice dancing basics so I can't really give an exact answer about that one. What two single skaters would make the perfect pairs team?

I'd have to think about that one for a while.. I have no idea. How about you? Why isn't a triple toe worth more as a second jump in a combination than as a stand-alone jump? It seems like it should be since it is so much more difficult; thus I don't see why it's such a huge advantage to go for the triple-triple...

The 'advantage' of doing a double Axel/triple jump combo or triple/triple is that you are able to do all 7 triples and earn full points for each (in the ladies event). You can also do a sequence and only earn 80% of the base value of the jumps. But if you do not include a triple/triple or double Axel/triple jump combo or sequence, you can only do 6 triple jumps. Then again, doing another double Axel instead of a 7th triple isn't going to lose you that many points vs. the 7 triples... so I think the system needs to be changed to maybe give 110% to the base value of the whole combo or sequence, like they do with jump elements after the half-way mark in the free skate. Hope that makes sense, it sounds kind of confusing as I type it.

Monday, March 29 Do you follow any lower-level/up and coming skaters or do you prefer to stick with skaters who have made an international debut?

I haven't really been into the American up-and-coming scene, such as summer/fall club competitions and regionals/sectionals.. as far as the international scene.. somewhat but not as much as I used to. With YouTube now, I suppose I could follow a lot of the stuff over the summer if that would be of interest.

Sunday, March 28 Who is your favorite pairs team?

Savchenko and Szolkowy. I've always had a soft spot for Pang and Tong, though, and I also enjoy Shen and Zhao. So obviously, I was a very, very happy man during the Olympics.

Berezhnaya and Sikharulidze's 2002 Olympic short program ranks right up there with my favorites of all-time, in any discipline. I've just read your blog entry about Thin Ice, which I was a bit disappointed by.. [the competition that is.. not your blog]. Did you get to get a chance to watch Battle of the Blades? It was shown on CBC in January.

I didn't. I'm in the States, but I've definitely heard plenty of comments saying Battle of the Blades was so much better. Thin Ice was fun, but I'm really not a fan of show skating, especially in a concept like this. If you were picking 2010/2011 programs for your favorite skaters, what would they be skating to?

Get back to me in a month or two about this. I always download a lot of the newer modern classical and movie score soundtracks and come up with some ideas. I've actually had some success in the past choosing music for a skater and then having them use it the following season, and I'll try the same again this year.

Back to Real Life

Well, the season is basically over besides a few smaller internationals, so I was wondering what you would like to see on the site over the summer? I'm working on completing my own judging of the events in Torino, and I will put up spreadsheets for all of you to see my scores-- if that kind of thing interests you. Also along with that, I'm going to write a little synopsis of why I think the judges score the components how they do, and what needs to be changed with the system to really balance the technical and artistic sides.

Please comment on this post or send me an e-mail and let me know what else you want to see-- memories from past events? More WTF judging moments? What else could I add to the site? And of course, news about next seasons programs and retirements during the summer will all end up here as they become available! Could you briefly explain how the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating works? There are 6 events [ie: Skate Canada International], and a final, right? How do the points add up, and how many events do the skaters need to compete in? Thanks!

6 events, in USA, Canada, France, Russia, China, and Japan. The order of the events changes every year. That is something that started this season, as it used to be the same order every year. In every event, the scoring system is 15-13-11-9-7- 5-4-3, which is the top 8 skaters, except in pairs where it stops at 5 points (6th place) because there are only 8 entries maximum to begin with. Max 10 in dance and max 12 in singles compete. The top skaters in the world rankings/seasons best scores get 2 events, and then the rest is up to how the spots fall. The top 6-scoring skaters and teams in each discipline make the Final. Tie-breaks in total points are broken based on set criteria, the first being the higher-placing skater wins the tie-break. Example, someone who finishes 1st and 3rd will beat someone who has two 2nd place finishes. If the skaters have the same results, I believe it comes down to total overall points from the two events, and then so on.