Saturday, May 1

Dissecting the ISU Congress Agenda - Part One

[Updating in small bits.]
What a pain some of the "official" and proper language through the Agenda is! I must be in a real charming mood today :-)

Anyways, the proposals start on page 51 and here are some of the highlights so far:

43-1-c. The ISU Council is proposing that if a skater competes in senior ISU Major/Team events (Olympic Games, World/Four Continents/European Championships/World Team Trophy?) two or more times (even through different seasons), then they can no longer be eligible for junior competition. The Grand Prix series and other senior international competitions only count as one event towards their total, no matter how many times competing in each. In pairs and ice dancing, if a team that is ineligible for junior competitions by this criteria splits, then the new team may return to the junior level if they are both age eligible. 
Thoughts: I am confused by the wording through a lot of the Agenda, and it already starts here. It mentions that the Grand Prix series, no matter how many times competed, is only counted as "one" total event out of the two maximum. But it doesn't really address other senior international competitions and whether they also count as one, or are thrown in with the Grand Prix "series". As far as the proposal, I guess I like it. I think it's funny when skaters like Elene Gedevanishvili, as an example, can finish in the top 10 at the 2006 Olympic Games but then three years later be sent to the World Junior Championships as an extra practice for the senior Worlds. This means that ALL skaters who compete in, say, the Four Continents or Europeans, as well as the World Championships, are no longer junior skaters as they have competed senior two times.

43-3-a. ISU proposing to move the senior age requirements back to 15 years old by the July 1st prior to the current season.
Thoughts: I'm too lazy to look it up for sure, but I believe for a few years they lowered the age to 14 for senior minor internationals as well as (maybe?) the Grand Prix series. It didn't make much sense to me, so I'm fine with changing the rule back to stay consistent with all other competitions.

43-3-b-i. ISU proposing to limit junior skaters to be minimum 13 by the July 1st prior to the current season, and cannot yet be 18 by the July 1st prior to the current season.
Thoughts: So they want to take away one year for junior skaters. It used to be that they could compete as 19 year olds if their birthday occurred after July 1st. I don't really have an opinion on it. I think the only thing it should really effect is those that are pairs and ice dancers, but that gets addressed in a bit.

43-3-b-ii. HOWEVER, in the World Junior Championships, skaters must be 14 by the July 1st prior to the season and not yet 18 in order to compete.
Thoughts: Well, they want to change the senior internationals to all be 15 but now they want to be inconsistent with the juniors and make them be at least 14. Doesn't make much sense to allow 13 year olds to compete on the Junior Grand Prix all season but then not allow them to compete at World Juniors. Hopefully this doesn't get passed.

43-3-c. ISU wants rules to change in 2011/2012 season, but still to be slightly more lenient for pairs skaters and ice dancers, so that there can be a wider range of ages between partners. Skaters that are 13 or 14 can form a pair with a skater that is 18 or 19 (and no longer junior), and compete in any ISU senior major event and international competition except the Olympic Games. 
Thoughts: So basically the only difference I interpret through this language is that a girl who is 13 or 14 gets the benefit of the doubt in pairs and ice dancing and may compete at the senior level as long as their partner is already too old to compete as a junior.

43-3-d-i. ISU wants to change the novice age requirements to be at least 10 by July 1st prior to the current season, but not yet 13.
Thoughts: I don't follow the novice level at all, so I have no thoughts on this.

43-5. If a skater who is too old to compete junior still needs more time to "compete effectively with more seasoned skaters", they can be assigned to one of two categories at a national level: SC1 and SC2. Skaters that are 18 or 19 will be assigned to SC1, and skaters 20, 21, or 22 will be assigned to SC2. They can take part in all senior international competitions (including major events and Olympic Games). In pairs and dance, the skaters in the SC1 and SC2 categories can participate with a partner of junior age in competitions that mention those categories, but they cannot compete in junior competitions. The organizers of events may permit all skaters in the categories to compete with the other entered skaters, but the results for these categories may be separately reported. 
Thoughts: This is really confusing. I interpret this as saying that if the skaters, on a national level, need more time at the lower ranks to really develop, then they are allowed to compete, as an example, as juniors as 22 year olds. However, I always thought this was up to each individual federation to determine age limits in national competitions, so I don't know what the ISU's point was with the first half. It also might just mean that skaters in international competition that are not really up to the level of what a senior skater should be might be entered as an SC1 or SC2 in the results to denote that. The point- who knows.

48-5. Nations can't just import skaters in hopes to build up a national team. They have to stay within the spirit of the rule and not use extraordinary and speedy methods of skaters gaining citizenship.
Thoughts: Good. I know some skaters are more than capable of finishing in the top 20 at a World Championship, but due to the depth of the skaters within their own country, they don't even qualify to the event. It doesn't particularly mean that they should just go look for another country to represent, as unfair as that might seem to them.

52. France proposes that there should be no entrance fee to the ISU Championships, but there might still be a fee for other international competitions.
Thoughts: The ISU agrees with this. I think that is fair.

63-3-f. ISU wants to rid of the small medal ceremonies for the top three skaters or teams for each segment (short program, free dance, etc.) of the ISU Championships.
Thoughts: While it was a "nice" idea and a good way to show recognition of a great skate in one portion of the competition (example Mirai Nagasu 1st place short program at the 2010 World Championships), it really didn't make much sense or have a real serious point.

And then into the figure skating-only proposals..

161. Put the scale of values as well as the elements required for each program in one single package.
Thoughts: Perfect. It is somewhat difficult to find all of the up-to-date information on judging because it is in several different documents and communications.

163. Austria suggests removing the random draw of the judges and use all of the scores, rather than throwing some out. They note that studies have shown that the results between the top five in many events have been determined by the way the draw happened, and it shouldn't be a coin toss. 164 has Canada basically suggesting the same thing. 165 Russia also agrees, but suggests that the protocols should again be random when listing the scores of the judges. There should be one random judge in case of illness or other reason that makes a judge unable to score a competition. The random judge would be used in cases of judges not entering a Grade of Execution score or component score on accident. If there is more than one original judge that is unable to score a segment of competition, then there will be less than 9 judges on the panel. Other internationals besides the ISU major events should publish the protocol scores in the order of the judges placement on the panel. As far as the major events, the protocol scores should be published in random order to protect the judges from external pressures. 
Thoughts: If you read my blog at all, you should know that my opinion on secret and random judging is that it sucks. I think the ISU should appoint judges from member nations to events, rather than Federations themselves assigning the judges. That way, they shouldn't have the pressures from their own countries. As far as all scores counting, I agree with that as well. There's no sense on having only five of nine scores count. That means that it was quite possible that in the beginning, six of the nine judges had skater A higher than skater B, but with the throwing out of scores, it could realistically turn into the three who had skater A lower having all of their scores counting. That sounds confusing to read. Sorry.

166-f-i. USA wants there to be 12 judges plus one alternate for all ISU major competitions including the Grand Prix Series/Final as well as the Olympic qualifying competition that takes place in the fall of every Olympic season. If more than one judge is unable to score the competition, then there will be a draw of qualified judges in other disciplines panels to replace the original judge. And, as with Russia, the substitute judge will take part if a Grade of Execution or component score was not entered by a scoring judge. Trim the high and low score.
Thoughts:  I don't really like it and would rather just prefer a nine-judge panel where all of the scores count. Sure, that could mean that judges would know they could hold up certain skaters and their scores would definitely count, but there are enough scores that it shouldn't have a huge effect.

167-1. Mentioned prior throughout the Agenda, but the new proposed ice dance segments are the pattern dance and short dance, replacing the compulsory and original dances. The short dance and free dance are the two segments at all ISU major events, the Olympic Games, and the Senior and Junior Grand Prix Series. 169 France wants to keep the compulsory dance, but also use the short dance as the second portion of competition. 
Thoughts: Until I read more into the exact concepts of the dances (which will probably come later in the Agenda, I don't have an opinion either way.

172. Canada agrees about having a short dance and free dance in senior competition, but they want to keep the compulsory dance and a free dance in junior competition. They suggest that compulsories are a big part of developing the younger teams. 173 France is in agreement for the same reasons.
Thoughts: Again, no real opinion either way yet but it might be a good idea to build strong foundations for the younger skaters.

183. The technical committee suggests that jump combos should now be scored by adding the base values of the jumps and multiplying them by a factor of 1.1, and then applying the Grade of Execution. This gives the combination jumps more credit than what the jumps would get in isolation.
Thoughts: This was needed a long time ago and it better pass.

184. Get rid of the bonus. It's never been used.
Thoughts: Yup, it is kind of pointless.

185, 186, 187, and 188. Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden suggest that the singles disciplines short program base values of jumps done after the 2-minute mark should be multiplied by 1.1. In pairs, the base values of throw jumps, jump elements, twists, and lifts should be multiplied by 1.1 if done after the 2:20-mark.
Thoughts: This is actually really interesting, and it comes from a bunch of countries that don't really have much power in skating aside from Finland in ladies skating and somewhat Sweden in mens skating- who would have thought?! I like the idea because, more than anything, it makes the opportunity of seeing programs with different element layouts than all three jumping passes in the very beginning a possibility. I'm all for that.

More later after my head stops spinning :-)

Barcelona Congress Agenda

The agenda for the upcoming ISU Congress has been posted on the federation website. It is 202 pages, and goes through many changes for the upcoming skating season. I'm going to be highlighting the changes as I read through the agenda, so stay tuned!

Thursday, April 29

Have you thought about posting new video commentary onto your blog? I just watched your Olympic commentaries, and I quite enjoyed hearing your thoughts.

If you check the post right below this one, I'm actually planning (in the very early stages) a little segment every week where some of the bloggers get together and video a conference-type of thing where we discuss the big stories. So yes, new video commentary is definitely in the works :-)

Ask me a question about figure skating!

An Idea.. PLEASE Share Your Input!

What does everyone think of some of the bloggers coming together and creating a video much like the ESPN show "Around the Horn" where we discuss some of the big stories each week and share our opinions? This is just a wild idea I have while I was running at the gym and saw the program airing. I haven't even asked any other bloggers if they were interested yet, but I think it could be a lot of fun and want to know what you think before I get further into it. Think of all of the fun it would be to watch us disagree on the oh-so-important figure skating scandals and drama. You likey?!

Seriously though.. if you read this blog on a somewhat frequent basis, please reply and let me know what you think of the idea.

What are some of your favorite choreographic elements? (Not an entire program, but an individual choreographed move/sequence.)

My absolute favorite is probably a backwards spiral that is used effectively with the music. I remember Fumie Suguri did one, albeit not the best position, but so perfectly to the music in her 2001 Jupiter free skate. Michelle Kwan also did one in Fields of Gold towards the end that was my favorite part of the program.

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Wednesday, April 28

I know he's not your favorite but what Plushenko program would you say is your favorite?

I always liked St. Petersburg 300..

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How did you know that Michelle was planning to skate to Rachmaninoff in 2006?

Lucky guess :-)

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What do you think of the more outlandish/garish costumes: simply an expression of the skater's personality or another hindrance in keeping the public from taking skating seriously?

I don't always understand them, but everyone has their own style, I guess. In dance (more than anything) we see these over-the-top costumes, and even though they are supposed to fit the character of the program, I think they detract from actually watching the quality of the skating (Belbin and Agosto's original dance from this season comes to mind as I type this). Maybe that's what the coaches are hoping to do when presenting the skaters like that, though, as a way to hide the weaknesses. It's always been like that within ice dancing and I don't see it changing any time soon. I don't really think the other disciplines really suffer from that. A few cases here and there, but as a whole I think the skaters are dressed well.

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Which discipline(s) do you think will emerge as the most exciting/competitive this next quad and why?

Men, for sure. I went from really liking the ladies, by far, to thinking the men in the last Olympic cycle were 50000 times better and more exciting. Many of the men have their own style or performance quality even with the IJS, and it's a lot of fun to watch. and it's also probably going to stay really competitive and unpredictable near the top (as it has been). Pairs have become pretty boring and a lot of the ladies look the same to me. With the dance changing a bit, it could become interesting again but for me a lot of it has to do with the theme of the original dance/new original set pattern or whatever they come up with..

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Monday, April 26

If you were a choreographer to work with a skater heading for the Olympics, which current male/female skater would you want to work with, to what kind of music?

One day, I hope this actually happens!

For the men, I'd want to work with Takahiko Kozuka and hopefully have some of my personality rub off on him so that he can really express the music throughout his whole body, including his face and the way he creates tension. I'd also want to keep showcasing his amazing basics, though. Adrian Schultheiss would be another one I would love to work with. He always dares to do something a little bit different, and I like that. I'd really push him to skate a whole lot faster than he does right now and he probably wouldn't like that so much :-) I think I'd also have a lot of fun working with Florent Amodio, but I think he already "gets" the whole feeling and selling of a program and his interpretation is strong no matter what the style.

As far as the ladies.. hmm... I'd actually love to share some ideas with Mao Asada to get her back on the right track. I've said it a million times and many people probably think I am a big hater (which I'm not.. at all!), but her packaging the last few years, IMO, has just been all wrong. I also think I could come up with something cool for Viktoria Helgesson. She seems to always get these pretty, light programs yet she skates with just as much power and height in her jumps as any lady.

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Do you think this team works? Mao Asada and Brian Orser. Quite a few major South Korean newspapers started discussing that Mao Asada offered coaching position to Mr.Orser and he is considering it as Kim Yuna might retire soon.

I've heard that this rumor is false, so I won't go into any deep elaboration about it..

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Is it unfair or fair to say that the year after an Olympics is a bit premature/a mislead in terms of predicting who will contend in the following Olympics?

Not necessarily, but at the same time you can't look too far into the 2011 season. I think many skaters will really start getting the push to be the top contenders for the next cycle, but anything can happen..

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Do you have any thoughts about the possibly medalists at Sochi 2014? If you had to make a prediction, who would you pick from men's and ladies'?

I have NO idea. Too much happens in the span of four years!

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