Saturday, May 8

How are skaters assigned to the Grand Prix events? I know skaters are invited to the series based on their ISU ranking, but who decides which events they attend?

They are invited based on their placement at the previous World Championships, World Rankings, Seasons Best scores, etc. You probably already know that. From the top three in the World, the host nations decide which two each of them will compete in, but none of the top three skaters/teams from the previous Worlds will meet each other before the GPFinal, if they qualify. Same for 4-6. I'm pretty sure after that, the six host nations send out their invites to the skaters based on how many assignments they originally receive from the ISU (although some might be host nation invites?). Host nations obviously get preference on the three skaters or teams they want to skate at their own events.

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Friday, May 7

IceNetwork Off-Season Updates

IceNetwork.com posted an article today highlighting some of the changes the American skating team has made so far this off-season. Among the news, some interesting tidbits:

- Yuka Sato will now coach Alissa Czisny full-time in Detroit. Czisny was a bit of a question mark as to whether she would continue competing on the amateur level. Good move? Sato is a master of deep edges and gorgeous basics, but she also coaches the wildly inconsistent Jeremy Abbott with husband Jason Dungjen. We shall see..

- 2006 World Champion Kimmie Meissner will also attempt a comeback next year, and has announced she will now be coached by Chris Conte. He has previously worked on jumping technique with Tim Goebel, Sasha Cohen, and Emily Hughes using Dartfish. Good move? Meissner went through a growth spurt and it obviously threw off the technique of her jumps. Hopefully she has adjusted to her change in body and is successful in her return. Someone that really understand jump technique is definitely what she needs.

- Becky Bereswill is moving to Canton, Michigan, to train with Johnny Johns and Fedor Andreev. I would guess this means Andreev will not be returning as an ice dancer with Russian Jana Khoklova next season? Maybe he's ambitious and will do both, but I doubt it.

Other coaching changes and retirements can be found on the IceNetwork page.

Please, Skate Gods. Listen To My Request Just This Once!

I always get plenty of Formspring questions, or rather comments, stating how either Yu-Na or Mao is just so much better than the other. If you read my responses, you know I like both of them equally but personally feel that Mao Asada has just been given the completely wrong package the last few years. So, here is my prayer to the Skate Gods that be hoping that whoever she works with for next year gives her a vehicle that really shows off her strengths and how much she loves skating. As an example, I show you her short program from the 2007 World Championships, my favorite program of hers. Even with the pop, this is just exactly the type of thing she should be skating to and I'm really hoping we see a return to this style in 2011. Please please please!


One of My Favorite US Ladies Retires

I don't think it's newsworthy to anyone that I find most of the United States figure skaters pretty boring. I don't know what it is, but I've always thought many of the other nations offer up really interesting and creative skaters while the US is still mostly stuck in traditional skating. However, I was sad to read on FSOnline today that Beatrisa Liang has decided to retire from competitive skating because I always thought she dared to be different and had an excitement about herself. She had a rocky few seasons after making it to the 2008 World Championships and just placing inside the top 10, but she showed some fight at the most recent US Nationals and I thought that would give her the encouragement to continue on. I remember watching the 2001 Nationals and seeing her place in the top 6 in her very first try, at the age of 12! I will really miss her and wish her the best of success.

Here's some of my favorites from her through the years: Her 2003 short program to Duel, her 2005 short program to Harry Potter, her 2005 free skate and her 2006 free skate with different music cuts but both using the great Primavera Portena, and her 2008 short program (she had a great performance at Worlds with it, but it isn't on Youtube. Still, a great program!)..









Speaking of musical secrecy, how did the Battle of the Carmens occur? Who announced their music first?

Interesting question, and I honestly have no idea. I was just a one year old during that season :)

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Do you think you think that the changes will cause a change in how judges score PCS? I feel like sometimes the judges were grading PCS on a curve for those with higher technical content...

I think it is pretty obvious that reputation, skate order and the performance (in a technical sense) do play a big part in the PCS. I don't think there need to be changes to the criteria of them, but I just think the judges need more training and understanding of how it works. In my interview with Patrick Ibens, he discussed how the judges typically know what average score of PCS they need to give (based on the skating order) to be in line with the rest of the judges and inside the "corridor" of marks. There's no reason a skater can't be a 7.50 or so in skating skills but then a 4.50 or even 5.50 in transitions, but we very rarely see a spread between the five scores of more than 1.25 or so.

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ISU has just published their Communications no. 1611, detailing the scale of values, levels of difficulty and guidelines for marking the GOEs. I hope you'll be sharing your thoughts on these.

I indeed will be. Maybe later today :)

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Thursday, May 6

Why do some skaters made such a point of keeping their music secret? If anything, wouldn't it be better to announce it early, so as to stake a claim to that piece of music?

I sure feel that way. :)

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If you were a top-level skater, what would your "strategy" be on picking/announcing music? Save your favorite piece for an Olympic year or use it right away? Announce it early in the season or keep it a secret as long as possible? Etc. etc.

I think you should ideally try to make your best programs the ones you perform in the Olympic years, but some skaters aren't in line to have their peak years during the Olympics, so it depends for each of them.

As far as music goes.. I got a lot of heat about this a few years ago when I shared some top skaters' music choices without them wanting it made public. I really don't see the huge deal about the listing of music, though.

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Do non Grand Prix events count on the season's best list? If not, how do skaters without placements move up?

No. It's kind of a vicious circle, isn't it? The skaters on the Grand Prix, Junior Grand Prix and finishing high at the ISU Championships are the ones in line for Grand Prix events the next season, while skaters with the senior-B events, because they aren't ranked high enough in these standings (and along with that the World Rankings), have to hope that they have some amazing showing at Euros, Worlds, whatever to have even a little bit of consideration for the Grand Prix (or high enough points in the World Rankings to skate later in the day in the Majors). In all honesty, though, I like the Grand Prix selection process now. I think that almost all of the skaters who deserve spots do get the spots.

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Are you as tired as I am of the Mao and Yu-Na fans who can't acknowledge the brilliance of both skaters? Also, how excited are you that we will get to witness the rivalry of Voir and Marlie over the coming years?

I actually don't get bothered by it. I get a lot of Formspring "messages" about one or the other and how they are so great, but I just delete them and go on with my day. I think that both do have great qualities, and I truly hope that next year Asada will be given the right vehicle for her skating. At the same time, if Yu-Na stays in and competes, I hope that she still finds the motivation to really make it a serious competition once again between the two. I've said it before and I'll say it again-- I like both of them at an equal level, so there's no chance in convincing me to lean one way or the other. I know it is a lot to ask for many others, but rivalries are obviously great for the sport.

Same thing applies to Virtue and Moir. I think if they have any hint of being not as motivated as they were at the end of this season, then the potential for Davis and White to end up on top is surely there. The question really will be if any of the other teams will be able to catch up. Probably not.

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Do you think the Joubert - Orser team, if it is more than just for the summer, can be fruitful in any way at this point?

I tihnk there are a few different factors that will determine it more than anything else. I know he has the motivation, and we have to remember besides Vancouver, he really didn't have that bad of a four years. He needs to really go back and work on his basics, such as showing more one-foot skating and more transitions than just crossovers and two-foot skating around the rink. Also, he's always been scored pretty generously in my opinion in the choreography mark, but a move to Orser would probably get him in with David Wilson. Definitely the possibility of some big changes, and Brian obviously has the potential to be at the top again with some work on the second mark. I'm not that concerned about the technical side. Yeah, he has the occasional lapse of concentration and makes a silly mistake, but he still manages to be right near the top every year. The last time he wasn't on the World podium was 2005-- that's a pretty consistent track record versus many of his competitors.

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Wednesday, May 5

What was the best year in skating this decade? Your answer for mens can be different from ladies

Tough tough tough. I think 2007 was really exciting for the ladies, since it was a rebuilding year following the Olympics and Yu-Na and Mao had their first shots at the big events, yet Miki was able to sneak in to win the gold medal at Worlds after the disaster the previous season. 2001 was also a really good year, that would probably be my second place.

As far as the men.. I loved 2002, and really all of the years since the last Olympics have really produced some great programs and many of the men really showcasing their own unique styles. It's definitely been my favorite discipline for a few years now!

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Wouldn't it be better for Ladies Figure Skating if Yu-Na DOES retire?

So it lets other people win? I mean, I see how that could be more exciting and interesting to see who is battling for the top position, but I also think that now Yu-Na has won everything she can, it might be extremely hard for her to keep up her work ethic and have the same motivations that she had before. I think many of the other ladies need some time before they get into the Kim/Asada/Rochette/occasional Ando tier that has been around the top for the last few seasons.

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What do you think about the new Khokhlova/Andreev partnership? Some are really excited! (http://allofthemomentsthatalreadypassed.tumblr.com/post/574356134/la-khokh-andreev) But is the Russian fed going to discard them as they previously did with K&N?

I wrote about it very briefly a few weeks ago and I don't know what to think, besides that it seems Andreev is very, very determined to get back into skating internationally in some way. I've never seen him as an ice dancer, so I can't really comment on how I think this team will turn out, but in all honesty I'm really surprised Khoklova couldn't (or chose not to?) find a different partner that has years of experience in ice dance. However, their coaches (which include his mother!) have the top two teams from the Olympics and I'm sure they will find a way to get this team out there and noticed quickly, if it indeed works out.

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Joubert to Canada?

I know small pieces of this have been suggested elsewhere already, but I'm also joining in on hearing from different sources that the plan is for Brian Joubert to go to Toronto for the summer and work with Brian Orser. He is currently without a coach and it sounds like this might have been a decision made by French Federation President Didier Gailhaguet. What I wasn't told is whether this pairing is meant to be temporary for the 2011 season or just for the summer. As always, more if I hear it.

Some More About the ISU Proposals

Not published in the Agenda are some of the finer details of what the ISU has planned if certain proposals pass. Two things I have heard: the ladies spiral sequence and the mens second footwork sequence in their respective long programs will all start at a 2.0 base mark. I don't know for sure, but I am guessing the grade of execution becomes -0.3, -0.6, -1.0 / 0.5 1.0 1.5. Under that assumption, at maximum, the skaters will only be separated by 2.5-- and that's if skater A completely screws up their sequence and skater B has the best sequence ever, or pretty close to it. Maybe the GOE in the + will be 1.0, 2.0, 3.0. We will see. If it's the former, it's going to probably end up where nearly everyone that can make a free skate at an ISU Championship is scoring a 0 or +1, and barely having any separation in points (just as the spiral sequences have become in the ladies event-- almost everyone with similar patterns).

Second, as far as the combination jumps go and the whole 1.1 bonus to all jump base marks that are done within the combination, this also applies to the short program, where a combination jump in ladies and mens singles is required.

More as I hear it. Sorry about the lack of updates lately.

do you think yuna kim will retire this year?

No, I think she'll be around a while still..

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Tuesday, May 4

Has there been such an identical case of music sharing as Denney/Barrett and Evan Lysacek's Firebird/Scheherazade programs this past year?

I didn't even think about that! What a fun little fact. But to my knowledge, probably not. I can do some research on that, though. I really love the music choice side of the sport and finding the really obscure pieces, so it would be fun. :-)

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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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Hi from Japan. Sorry if someone has asked the same question before. How does the technical panel decide the level of a spin or step sequence? I just personally don't get it why Takahashi's circular step sequence in SP didn't get Level 4 at the Olympics.

There are requirements to achieve levels of each spin that are published in a communication somewhere on the ISU website. I'll post a link to it after I reply to this message if I can find it. As far as the footwork, there is also obviously a list of criteria to determine the level, but it's much more subjective and up to the technical panel to decide, Many times, it is a level three one day and then a level four the next.

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Dissecting the ISU Congress Agenda - Part Three

Continuing...

We now get into the technical rules of single and pair skating.

266. A jump sequence with a half loop linking two other jumps is now considered a three-jump combination. The half loop receives points equal to the value of a loop jump. 
Thoughts: I'm taking it that jumps with the half loop will no longer get the 0.8 factor, but rather a 1.1 factor for being in combination. I always wondered why skaters doing a half loop to link jumps got it called a sequence even though the rhythm had to be kept constant throughout, but much simpler linking steps and longer pauses also resulted in the same calling. I like this change.

268.1.a. The short programs for singles skating, in both senior and junior, drop from eight elements to seven.
268.2. The senior mens short program drops one of the footwork sequences and now two different-type quadruple jumps may be performed (one in combination and the other out of steps).  The senior ladies short program drops the spiral sequence. The ladies may also now do a double OR triple when satisfying the Axel requirement. The 2010/2011 junior short programs pull from "Group C" and also follow the seniors in dropping one of the footwork sequences. No quadruples allowed yet. The junior ladies also follow the seniors and there is no longer a spiral sequence requirement. Requirements for the juniors throughout the 2014/2015 season are also listed here.
Thoughts: I just answered a Formspring about this, and I'm glad to see that the spiral sequence has been dropped. Many skaters found a simple way to get a level 4 sequence and then all of a sudden 80% of them were doing the exact same thing. Boring! Sure, it shows flexibility and depth of edges, but you can show that throughout other linking moves and transitions into jumps, etc. I always liked the men doing two footwork sequences because many of the top men really went all out with them, but I suppose they had to balance it somehow. More time to sell the program-- that works for me.

269.d/e. Any type of flying spin is permitted with landing position different than in the spin in one position. For the men, they may either choose a camel or sit position to be executed during the spin with only one change of foot, and it must be a different position from the landing of the flying spin. If the men do the same position in both spins, then the later spin will not be counted, but included as a "box" for the element.
Thoughts: This wording is confusing, but I'm interpreting it as if a man is going to do a flying sit spin, then the change foot spin with one position now MUST be a camel spin. Many of the men were only doing sit positions for both the flying and change foot spins last year, so that will be a real push to get them to do both. I might be confusing what is actually meant, though.

270.2. A Double Axel cannot be included more than two times in a single's free program. In the mens free program, the second step sequence will always be awarded a fixed Base Value and evaluated by the judges in Grade of Execution only. Example, the sequence will be worth 4.0 points for every skater, no matter what the level, and the Grade of Execution will reflect the differences in difficulty and quality between skaters. In the ladies free skate, the spiral sequence will follow the same pattern as the mens second step sequence. Now, though, they may either do two spirals for at least three seconds each, or one spiral for at least six seconds.
Thoughts: I like that the double Axel is only allowed to be done two times now. It has a base value closer to that of the triple jumps than it does the rest of the double jumps. You can only repeat two triples, so why not do the same with the double Axel? As far as the mens second footwork sequence and ladies spiral sequences all starting out at the same value-- it's basically like saying if you can do the element with any level of competency, then all of the scores are going to be pretty similar. It was always like that with the spirals in the past, anyways.

272.1.a. The pairs short programs at both the senior and junior levels now also drop from eight required elements to seven. 
272.2. The senior short program now follows a pattern on a three year cycle. Removed in 2010/2011 is the pair spin combination with one one change of foot and at least one change of position. The spiral sequences are now completely removed and the pairs teams will be doing step sequences to the pattern of their choosing each year. The junior short program follows exactly in line with the senior short program, but also keeps the specific requirements with certain elements (double twist lift, throw jump must be a double or triple toe loop, solo jump must be double loop or double Axel). 


274.2. The senior pairs free skate now must include a death spiral that is different from that of the one performed in the short program, and a spiral sequence is now a requirement. The junior pairs free skate also now includes a mandatory spiral sequence. 
274.4. Jump combinations in the pairs free skate now may consist of two or three jumps, just as in the singles disciplines. The spiral sequence must have two positions held at least three seconds each, and there will be a fixed base value for the element, just as in the ladies free skate.


275. The base values of jump combinations will be added together and multiplied by a factor of 1.1, and then the Grade of Execution is applied. This is true of both singles skating and pairs skating.
Thoughts: Already mentioned this in one of my earlier posts, but again I really like it. What I don't see is whether the same thing will happen in the ladies and mens short programs, where a jump combination is one of the seven requirements.

Again, more later... almost done!

Dissecting the ISU Congress Agenda - Part Two

Here we go with some more of the key issues being covered at the Barcelona ISU Congress.

189. The ISU Council wants to change the deductions for certain violations. 3.0 for each costume or prop violation; 3.0 for violation of music restrictions in the Free Dance; and a 1.0 deduction for part of the costume or decoration falling on the ice. The reason being so that the public is more focused on the skating than over-the-top costuming.
Thoughts: No real opinion. The music restrictions being referred to in the free dance will be noted later, but basically the music cannot be gloomy or depressing anymore.

191. Italy wants to remove the rule that deducts 1.0 for vocal music in singles and pairs skating.
Thoughts: I'm taking it that they are doing this because vocal music isn't permitted in the first place, so why have a rule that says if, by chance, you do use it, you will just receive a measly 1.0 deduction. Sometimes there is questionable music used (Brian Joubert's All For You short program that was fine all season until the World Championships, where he received the deduction), but obviously, most of the time there are no issues.

192. The Ice Dance Technical Committee proposes the new factors for the portions of the ice dancing competition. For the Pattern Dance, all of the components will be in line with how they were in the Compulsory Dances: 0.75 Skating Skills, 0.50 Performance, 0.50 Interpretation, 0.75 Timing. The Short Dance, which replaces the Original Dance, has the following factors: 0.80 Skating Skills, 0.70 Transitions/Linking Footwork/Movements, 0.70 Performance/Execution, 0.80 Composition, and 1.00 Interpretation/Timing. The Free Dance component factors would not be changed.
Thoughts: Again, until I read more about what these dances exactly comprise of, I don't have much to say. Sorry!

195.2.b. The Ice Dance Technical Committee notes that if there are two pattern dances in a competition, then the score from each dance will be multiplied by a factor of 0.5. 
Thoughts: I don't think there will ever be two pattern dances in one competition, so this is just a what-if scenario, I suppose.

203.5 The Ice Dance Technical Committee proposes that ice dancing events at ISU Championships should take no longer than three days to complete.
Thoughts: I'm still not certain, but from the sounds of it there will only be two dances at ISU Championships. Therefore, the prior four days to complete the event is no longer necessary.

205. This is a big one. 
2a. The qualifying round is back, but not everyone will skate it. 
2b. There are now also minimum requirement scores for skaters to compete at ISU Championships. As long as a skater reaches that score, there is still the minimum one entry per member Federation allowed to compete. Also, if a skater is in the top 10 in the qualifying round or the short program/short dance but there is unexpected damage to the equipment during the warm up or performance, they will not be considered entered in the Championship and the points earned and spots allotted for the country towards the following years competitions. 
2d. The Four Continents Championships will still allow every country to send three entries per discipline, as long as they meet the minimum required score. 
3. The minimum total result score to compete in ISU Championships can be achieved in the current or prior season. There is no minimum score requirement for the World Junior Championships.
4a. The total number of entries into the first segment of the European and Four Continents Championships are as follows: Men and Ladies: 28 (18 direct, 10 qualifying round), Pairs: 18 (12 direct, 6 qualifying round), Ice Dance: 20 (12 direct, 8 qualifying round). If there are only one or two total entries more than what the total entries into the first segment (short program/short dance/etc.) are, then all competitors will compete in the first segment. Example, 30 ladies are entered into the Four Continents Championship. There will be no qualifying round and all 30 will skate a short program.
4b. For the World Junior and World Championships: Men and Ladies: 30 (18 direct, 12 qualifying round), Pairs: 20 (12 direct, 8 qualifying round), Ice Dance: 25 (15 direct, 10 qualifying round). Same rule applies if there are just one or two competitors or teams over the amount that skate in the first segment.
5. The skaters that directly qualifying to the short program/short dance are based on the results of the same competition from the prior season. For example, if you used the 2010 World Championships to determine the ladies skaters who will not have to skate the qualifying round in 2011, you have Japan earning three direct spots, South Korea earning one direct spot (two spots total), Finland with one (two spots total), Canada with one (two spots total), Italy with one (two spots total), The United States with two, Russia with two, Sweden with one (two spots total), Germany with one, Great Britain with one, Hungary with one, China with one, Australia with one, and Georgia with one. 
Thoughts: This is interesting, but sometimes it might not always be fair. An example would be that of Canada, who has two spots total for the ladies at the 2011 World Championships. Only one spot is automatically qualified, while the other skater will have to skate in the qualifying round. If Joannie Rochette decides to come back and compete next season, assuming that she wins Nationals, that would mean that Cynthia Phaneuf would then be thrown into the qualifying round and have to skate one more program than her teammate, even though it was her 5th place finish at the 2010 World Championships that earned that automatic qualifying spot. Maybe it should be the skater, and not the Federation, that earns the spot. If they don't compete again the following year, then there are more spots up for grabs in the qualifying round.

6. The qualifying round will include the free skate or free dance. Scores in the qualifying round do not transfer to the actual competition.
7. If a Federation doesn't use all of their entries in either the direct competition or qualifying round, then the skaters ranked highest in the ISU World Standings would move into the direct competition. Example, if Elene Gedevanishvili would retire before the 2011 Worlds and Georgia doesn't send any other lady to the competition, then her spot that she directly qualified is now open and the highest-ranked skater in the qualifying round would then move up into the direct competition rather than having to skate three portions. 
8. Host nation skaters are back to being allowed to compete in the short program/short dance and long program/free dance if they are the only entries and do not qualify into the event. That rule was taken away for a year.
10. The all-important minimum qualifying scores to the ISU Championships:
Men: Short Program: 40.00; Free Skate: 70.00
Ladies: Short Program: 30.00; Free Skate: 50.00
Pairs: Short Program: 35.00; Free Skate: 60.00
Ice Dance (with the new rules in mind) Compulsory Dance: 20.00; Short Dance or Original Dance: 35.00; Free Dance: 55.00.


207, 208, 209. Denmark, Finland, and Sweden want it so that every skater in an ISU Championship must have competed in a senior or junior international competition in the last 24 months.
Thoughts: That usually does happen, so I don't think it will be a problem. If they haven't competed, then odds are that they probably won't reach the minimum qualifying score, anyways. Well, unless you're Azerbaijan!

213. Austria wants it to be that the skaters that place within the top 24 in singles, top 19 in ice dance, and top 16 in pairs at the World Championships in the season before the Olympic Games automatically qualify THEMSELVES into the Olympics, rather than qualifying their nations the spots. I assume this comes off the fact that Kerstin Frank of Austria was in the top 24 at the 2009 World Championships, but because skaters that placed higher earned additional entries for their own nations, the 24 spots were filled by the time they got to Frank's 23rd place, and Austria had to send a skater to the Nebelhorn Trophy at the beginning of the 2010 season to earn the spot.
Thoughts: I understand how frustrating it must have been for skaters like Ana Cecilia Cantu to finish in the top 24 at the 2009 World Championships, but due to the same process, she missed out on qualifying an automatic entry for Mexico to the Vancouver Olympics, and then failed to qualify the spot at the Nebelhorn Trophy. At the same time, if you use Austria's method and then some country like Russia maintains two entries to the World Championships each year until 2013, and then finish well enough to qualify three entries the next (Olympic) year, then I do somewhat think that the third Russian should be able to take the Olympic spot. I wonder if Austria would want it to where the third Russian could compete at the 2013 fall Olympic qualifying event and earn their spot there, or if the event just remains the last chance for six countries (in singles) with no entry to earn their spots.


The next few issues are all about each country's proposals as far as the judging panels and how many judges there should be and whose scores count and whose don't. It's too much to highlight, but if you're interested they are numbers 215 through 221.


And then for a while, it is all about the judging and the requirements and such. All boring stuff to me. It goes all the way up to 265.

Has the level of artistry among younger skaters gone down in recent years? I think back to how artistic Lu Chen, Sasha Cohen, Michelle Kwan, and Oksana Baiul were in their early-mid teenage years compared to young skaters now.

Yeah, but I think that a lot of it has to do with the scoring system and the way that certain things that have nothing to do with choreography now have to be done if you want to get high levels or high grades of execution. You have to throw all kinds of moves into the footwork that hardly relates to the music, and you have to add twisted variations to spins that aren't always the prettiest to look at, etc. It's more like a mechanical skate now rather than coming up with a bunch of fresh and entertaining programs. Every so often there is a skater that really shines and just GETS what it means to sense the music and pour their emotions out, but not nearly like there used to be. They just simply don't have the time! Hopefully that will start to change a bit next season by removing the spiral sequence. etc.

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what's your take on the latest Lysacek/Weir drama in the press?

I don't follow it. I don't think they've ever really liked each other and I think that it's really silly that the press (USFS..) is (or was) portraying one as the definition of masculine and the other the definition of feminine and/or flamboyant. I think they are both pretty flamboyant in their own ways honestly, and they obviously like to make the catty remarks back and forth.

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How likely do you think it is that the spiral will be eliminated as an SP requirement? I hate the sameness of spiral sequences these days, but I think they need to be revised not removed.

I say take it out. It always looks the same with a very few skaters doing different variations. The time it takes to do that will give the skaters more time to fill the program with in-betweens and other choreography that they didn't really have time for.

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