Thursday, June 24

Take a Bite Outta That Big Apple..

Flutzing Around will be mostly quiet until Monday, as I am doing some promotional work in New York City this weekend. It will be my first time there.. can't wait! Anyways, I am always looking for ideas or suggestions to improve the blog and now would be a great time for you to send me a quick e-mail and let me know what you think-- what would you like to see more of? Less of? I'm open to all feedback.

Thanks!

What do you think of JW as a choreographer for other skaters?

As I replied with the original questions about Stephane Lambiel and his ability as a choreographer, you never know until you actually see their work. My one concern with Johnny and competitive programs is if he really understands all of the rules and requirements. We all know he used to forget to do three jump combinations in his free skates or not even use all of his jumping passes up to begin with, and then we had reports of him taking most of the choreography out of his programs that David Wilson gave him. How could anyone expect high scores if they are taking the choreography out?! But as a show skating choreographer, I'm sure he'd come up with some great ideas.

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Rockne and Drew FTW?

Maybe the ISU can create a whole new discipline while their at it with all these rule changes so they can compete :-)

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Whose everything-but-the-jumps skating did/do you enjoy more: Fleur Maxwell or Mikkeline Kierkgaard?

They are both beautiful skaters but I'll give it to Maxwell for seeming to have much more mental toughness than Kierkgaard, who didn't really last long at all.

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And what about the value of the quads and the abolition of the random draw for judging panels?

As far as the values, that was all published in May. http://isu.sportcentric.net/db//files/serve.php?id=1862

The quad toe is base value 10.3 +1.0 2.0 3.0 and -1.0 2.0 3.0. If the jump is rotated between 3.5 and 3.75 revolutions, the start value becomes 7.2 with the same +/- GOE.

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BGJW on OnDemand today (buried under TV/Sundance Channel)- Tara's response to JW death threats supports YOUR recent impressions (which were spot on!)

Send me a link to it! I'd love to watch it.

And this is just an in general message.. I see comments elsewhere saying that I always trash Tara or never have anything good to say about her, but my mentioning of her at Skate for Hope was the first time I ever spoke her name! She might be the nicest lady in the world, but the only impression I have of her simply isn't great.

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I really love you blog, how would I go about maybe getting mine listed on yours? I started it not too long ago and the idea is to provide a platform for newcomers to skating in a "how to" format.

Send me the URL to your blog and I will include it in my list on the right :-)

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Did you take the overrated question as a version of who gets too high PCS? Because I don't see Van Der Perren or Voronov as being very highly rated skaters but maybe their PCS is too high?

An overrated skater doesn't have to be one that is at the top of the standings. It's really hard for a skater to be overmarked on the total elements score (at least for the most part, as long as the judges don't get +2 and +3 crazy), so yes it mostly comes down to their components, as I mentioned. Van der Perren skates right through his music most of the time and showcases mostly crossovers and simple two-foot skating throughout his programs. Voronov's basics are extremely weak and I don't find his choreography that strong, either. If I were a judge, their components would be in the 5.00-low 6.00 range, if that. Most judges refuse to fluctuate or move components down when the technical score is somewhat high. That needs to change!

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Rule Changes Published -- Here's Some Easier Wording

Oh goodie, time to analyze all of the ISU rule changes from the recent Congress. Read it for yourself here, or check out my cliff notes slash easier to comprehend writing below.

1.a) The half loop is now considered as a part of a three-jump combination and will receive the starting value of a single loop. Only one three-jump combination is allowed per program.
b) The final "wind-up" at the end of a one position spin or flying spin does not count as another position, as long as it has no additional feature such as a change of edge or varied position. This means that when a skater does a flying camel, for example, the final two or three rotations that are done in an upright position of sorts have no effect on the rest of the spin and won't be counted for anything. If there is an additional feature during this upright position, the spin would no longer be called a spin in one position or a flying spin. The flying spin is a required element of the singles short programs.

2.a) All short programs in senior and junior singles events now consist of 7 elements, as 1 element has been dropped from each program.
b) In senior and junior mens short programs, one step sequence has been dropped leaving one total. It can still be done in a straight line, circular, or serpentine sequence.
c) In senior and junior ladies short programs, there is no longer a spiral sequence requirement. Spirals in short programs now count towards the transitions component mark.
d) Senior ladies may now attempt a triple Axel as their Axel requirement in the short program. Previously, a triple Axel was only allowed to be attempted as part of the jump combination requirement (ex. triple Axel/double toe loop).
e) Senior men may now attempt two quadruple jumps in the short program: one as part of the jump combination requirement and one as the solo jump. Previously, only one quadruple jump was allowed to be attempted. Skaters must have two different types of quadruples (ex. toe loop and Salchow) if they wish to try this.
f) For senior men, the landing of the flying spin and the change-foot one-position spin in the short program must be different. Therefore, if a skater is doing a flying camel spin, they must do a sit/change/sit spin. If they are doing a flying sit spin, they must do a camel/change/camel spin. This rule is extremely interesting, as most male skaters last year opted to do both a flying sit spin and a sit/change/sit spin. Back to work on the spins!

3.a) The double Axel can only be included 2 times in a senior or junior singles skaters' free skate. The previous rule allowed for 3.
b) For senior men, the second step sequence (in the order it is performed in the free skate) will have a fixed base value (2.0) and the judges will only score it on GOE. It, again, can be in any of the straight line, circular, or serpentine patterns. 
c) For senior ladies, each spiral sequence will have a fixed base value (2.0) and the judges will only score it on GOE. There must be at least 2 positions held for at least 3 seconds each, or one long spiral held for a minimum of 6 seconds. If this requirement is not met, the value of the spiral will be 0. 

4.a) The short program for pairs in both senior and junior levels now consists of 7 elements, as 1 element has been dropped from the program.
b) The solo spin combination (side-by-side spins) and pairs spin will alternate as the required element each season. The solo spin combination will be the requirement for 2010/2011.
c) The step sequence is now a required element in the short program each season. This used to rotate with the spiral sequence each season.

5.a) The jump combination requirement in senior and junior pairs free skates now may consist of 2 or 3 jumps. Prior, pairs were only able to do 2-jump combinations.
b) For senior pairs, the death spiral performed in the free skate must be different than the one performed in the short program. This is an interesting change much like the senior men having to complete different positions in their spins. I like it.
c) Same as with the senior ladies, both junior and senior pairs will now have a spiral sequence requirement in the free skate each season. Each sequence will have the same fixed base value (2.0), and the judges will only score it on GOE. Both partners must complete either 2 spiral positions held at least 3 seconds each, or both must complete 1 spiral held at least 6 seconds. If this requirement is not met, the value of the spiral will be 0.

6) If there is an illegal movement during the execution of any element, the deduction for an illegal movement will apply and the element will receive Level 1 if the requirements for at least Level 1 are fulfilled. Otherwise the element will have no level and receive no points.

Changes in Special Regulations
2. There is no longer a 2.0 deduction for skaters having to use a "fresh start", due to equipment failure or any other temporary pause. The judges are instructed to keep in mind that a "fresh start" may negatively influence components scores, though. The may definitely needs to be stressed here, as a break in the skaters program isn't always necessarily at the fault of the skater. If they can get right back into the character after the break, then there shouldn't have to be a negative influence in the scores.

3. All about deductions
a) For costume, prop, or music violations, the referee and judges panel will decide as a group whether to take the 1.0 deduction for each. A majority is required, and in the case of a 50/50 split, no deduction will be taken.
b) For falls and illegal elements, the technical panel (controller, specialist, assistant specialist) will decide whether to take the deductions. A deduction will be applied when at least 2 of the 3 agree.

5. Entries to ISU Championships
For senior competitors in mens, ladies, and pairs skating to be able to compete at any of the ISU majors (Worlds, Europeans, Four Continents), a minimum total elements score must be met in both the short program and free skate at a recognized ISU international competition:
Men: Short Program: 20.0; Free Skate: 35.0
Ladies: Short Program: 15.0; Free Skate: 25.0
Pairs: Short Program: 17.0; Free Skate: 30.0
The World Junior Championships will not have restrictions on minimum scores.

How is it possible that Mclaughlin seems to have put all the eggs in the Olympic basket and is still so devastated, while Brubaker is already over it? i expect to see her back skating, but i am surprised she is taking this long to snap out of it.

We don't know if not making the Olympics was the only factor in determining their break-up. When I saw her last week, Keauna looked like she had really filled out and probably grown a few inches between then and now. That could have thrown off the timing for the team, and Rockne might have struggled as he is already on the short side to begin with.

I really think it's something more than not making the Olympics, because if it was, they probably should have called it quits right after Nationals or Four Continents and allowed Rockne to possibly find another partner right away. Then again, Keauna might have just realized she wants to live more of a "normal" teenage life without the stresses of having a strict training schedule.. it happens.

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Tony, I log into yr blog so often that I'm thinking of signing in as a follower. However, tell me, what are the specific merits of doing so? Will I get notices whenever you add new posts? Is there a special feature exclusively for followers or something?

There are no special features by becoming a "Follower".. I'm not that high-tech with computers to figure out how all of that would work! In your Dashboard, it will show you some of the latest posts quickly which may be convenient for some people. :-)

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Do you know if Brian Joubert has arrived in Toronto or not?

I do not know :-(

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Are you correct in saying that M&B were attempting throw triple Lutzes in that show this weekend? If yes, i wonder why they would try a new element they just learned during an emotional last performance. Why would u learn a new throw & then quit anyway?

I know I should have written some quick notes! I'm not 100% sure, but I think so (for once I was trying to just enjoy the skating and not all the little details...). I believe they attempted one in the opening number and then another in one of their programs. Maybe they had been working on them for a while and figured it was their last chance to put them out there.

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Wednesday, June 23

Canac/Bonheur Set to Compete

Originally, the new pairing of French skaters Adeline Canac and Yannick Bonheur was for the purpose of summer skating exhibitions. You can see two of their performances from the Dammarie Gala here





Not so bad for such a short time together, right?! I heard today that they will also compete as a team. They are currently training without a coach at Paris-Bercy, and will create new programs with Lynn Haddad starting tomorrow. Expect them to make their competitive debut at the French Masters in September.

Still no news whether Bonheur's former partner Vanessa James' icepartnersearch profile was actually her creating or a fake.

Who do you think are the most overrated and underrated skaters right now?

This usually comes down to me not agreeing with the components scores..

Overrated-- Brian Joubert, Kevin Van der Perren, Sergei Voronov, Min-Jung Kwak, Kavaguti/Smirnov, Pang/Tong to a very slight extent, Zhangs to a very severe extent, the Kerrs only slightly, and the now-retired Domnina/Shabalin (in 2010) and Zaretskis.

Underrated- Florent Amodio, Adam Rippon, Fleur Maxwell

I'm sure I am forgetting some skaters. And before I get all kinds of hate replies-- I love Brian Joubert, for example, but I can definitely realize his lack of one-foot skating and minimal choreography vs. the other top men. So there :-P

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Do you think Patrick Chan is overhyped? He has skating skills, but not "omg he's the best ever" as some are proclaiming. He has no individual style nor does he skate w/ passion like a Kwan or Lambiel, he seems to skate to get points for elements sometim

Your full question/statement got cut off. I think Chan and his team know how to work the system and I think he's judged pretty fair. Do I get that intensity about him that I get with some of the other skaters? No. Johnny Weir said during the World Championship broadcast that he thinks everything is a little "put on" with him, and there's nothing that feels like it comes from within. I can totally see where Johnny is coming from, but as long as the difficult choreography and transitions are there, he can't really be held down on any of the components.

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How many Turns and Steps should be included in a level 4 sequence?

(From the ISU's most recent rules):

Five complex turns and three complex steps all executed at least once in both directions.

Types of turns (executed on one foot) : three turns, twizzles, brackets, loops, counters, rockers.
Types of steps (executed on one foot whenever possible) : toe steps, chasses, mohawks, choctaws, curves with change of edge, cross-rolls, running steps.

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Do you know if Drew is actively looking for a partner right now? Would like to see him competing again in addition to Rockne...

I don't know, but I honestly hope so. He's too talented of a skater to (as far as I know) only be writing blogs about the latest news in the sport. I'm writing blogs because I'm not talented! :-)

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Do you think anyone would consider leaving their current partner to skate with Rockne? Amanda Dobbs maybe?

There's only about a five inch (or even less) difference between the two, so I doubt that would work. As far as anyone else leaving their current partner.. it might have happened if their break-up would have been official by the time the Olympics or at least the end of the season came around. It's summer now and many teams have already most likely started work on their new programs. That would be a lot of extra work to start skating with a new partner and try to get the timing and elements down and create new programs on top of that.

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Tuesday, June 22

What do you think will be a bigger determining factor in Rockne's partner search: the lack of viable options (hindering the search) or his status as one of the top U.S. male pairs skaters (helping the search---everyone clamoring to find him a partner)?

The lack of viable options, I'd say. Unless there are plenty of girls that I don't know about with at least a double Axel and maybe one triple that are desperate to start skating pairs. I really hope he is able to find someone quickly, but I have my doubts.

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What about Beatrisa Liang? I suspect she loved skating more than the results (why else would she stick around so long?), so maybe taking up pairs might be an attractive option to her? She's short enough for Rockne, has strong spins, is past puberty...

So long? Remember, she was 12 when she made the final group at her first senior Nationals in 2001, so it seems like she was around longer than most skaters but she's only 22 years old! I think her body really changed to the point that she really had to rework the technique on her jumps and never got them back as consistent as they used to be. At least she was able to have a nice final skate at this years Nationals, but I'm pretty sure she's just done.

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Hello For the ladies competition in 2002 I have for a long time believed the following ordinals should have been the result: Short-Long Final Slutskaya: 1-2 1 Hughes: 4-1 2 Kwan: 3-3 3 Cohen: 2-4 4 What do you think of my ordinals?

Hmmm. I think Kwan received a gift of 1st place in the short, because the triple flip was clearly not fully rotated. I know that many people hated the "Serenade" look on Slutskaya, but I actually liked her effort and agree with 1st for her in the SP.

I'd have to watch Kwan and Slutskaya closely again in the LP to make a final decision under the 6.0 system, but under IJS I don't even know that I'd have Hughes 1st in the LP. She probably would have been 9th-11th or so in the SP.

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How do judges decide on awarding grade 2 or grade 4 for elements like serpentine? Do they get together and decide as a group or individually? Therefore if it's unanimous or just a plurality.

Two of the three members of the technical panel of that competition (the Technical Controller, the Technical Specialist, and the Assistant Technical Specialist) must agree on the level if there is some type of dispute. The judges have no say in the levels of the elements, they only give the Grades of Execution that determine the quality of how each was performed.

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What are your thoughts on Weir's career as a professional skater?

I think he can be very successful, and it'll help keep his name in the media. In my opinion, he doesn't have confidence when he is skating competitively, but he is able to completely relax and really sell the skating when he is performing in shows/exhibitions. I don't care if he waters down his jumps as a pro.. if he keeps coming up with fresh performances to modern hit music, the casual skating fandom will keep coming back for more.. I guarantee it.

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Who do you think would be a good match for Rockne? Seems like there's already a supply of U.S. male pair skaters in search of a partner.

Honestly, I don't know at this point. He's on the shorter side and would obviously need to find a girl that is also short, and probably already gone through puberty completely. It seems like a lot of the swapping of partners and retirements have already happened, so he might have to rely on a singles skater that isn't making any further progress and wants to give pairs a short.

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Who Wants to Take a Trip? The Grand Prix Spots are Already Opening..

In the first wave of probably many withdrawal and retirement announcements, a few of the Grand Prix spots are now up for grabs.

McLaughlin/Brubaker (USA) had events at Skate Canada and Skate America. The latter will be filled by another American team of the USFS' choosing, while the Skate Canada spot does NOT have to be a US team. If they actually plan on competing, Inoue/Baldwin might actually have a good shot at receiving one of the now-two open Skate America spots (they are only assigned to the NHK Trophy), while Yankowskas/Coughlin are in a tough position because they have the Cup of China event scheduled right in-between Skate Canada and Skate America. Being assigned back-to-back events with distances that great are surely not ideal.

If the icepartnersearch.com listing by French skater Vanessa James was authentic yesterday, then it is probably safe to say that she and new partner Maxim Coia have already called it quits. They were assigned their home event, Trophee Eric Bompard, and will possibly be replaced by another French team. However, the FFSG already gave back one of their maximum three spots (due to lack of elite pairs, I'm sure) and giving back another isn't out of the question.

In ice dance, Israeli team Sasha and Roman Zaretski have officially retired, opening spots at the NHK Trophy and Skate America competitions.

Skate or Skip?: The Results

I've had six polls up for the last week asking whether certain skaters/teams would skate in the 2010/2011 Grand Prix series, or withdraw from their events.

Here are the final results:

Yu-Na Kim 159 Skate (49%) / 162 Skip (50%)
Evgeny Plushenko 84 Skate (27%) / 227 Skip (72%)
Johnny Weir 97 Skate (32%) / 201 Skip (67%)
Virtue/Moir 221 Skate (85%) / 37 Skip (14%)
Pang/Tong 151 Skate (68%) / 71 Skip (31%)
Kevin Van der Perren 105 Skate (47%) / 114 Skip (52%)


Thoughts? Kim was 50/50 almost the entire time the poll was taking place. I have a feeling she will end up withdrawing from the series but compete at later events. Plushenko seems surely out for the entire season, and probably out until the 2013 Grand Prix series (a la 2009/2010). There are no other real surprises. Pang/Tong have apparently stated they now want to compete until 2014, which seems a bit ambitious to me but they are at the top of their game right now, so why not?

Shocker for American Pairs

The USFS has issued a press release that two-time US National Pairs Champions Keauna McLaughlin and Rockne Brubaker have split; McLaughlin will focus on high school for a year while Brubaker plans to search for a new partner.

Blah. Even though they were a very disappointing fifth place at last years Nationals and missed competing in the Vancouver Olympics, this team still had a spark and an unfulfilled potential that excited many in the skating community. It is so weird having to type this, as I just saw them skate what I am guessing was their final performance together on Saturday at the Skate for Hope show. McLaughlin was falling all over the place on the throw jumps, but I thought her somewhat somber mood was brought on by the mistakes. Now I am thinking that they knew this was the end and no matter how they skated, it probably was going to be emotional. Here's to hoping Keauna enjoys her time away from the sport and maybe someday comes back, and also I hope Rockne can find a solid partner in time to at least enjoy part of his season next year.

What do you think of Tomas Verner's chances for placing higher in 10/11 than he did in 09/10? It probably depends on his health, but what would you say is the potential from growth by the next season?

You never know with Verner. I think the huge thing for him was to try skating under a different coach than Michael Huth, which has happened this spring. As far as I know, he's been trying out different training locations and atmospheres in the USA and Canada but hasn't made a final decision about a permanent location yet.

Remember, in 2008 Verner beat Lambiel and Joubert for the European title. The potential for him to be on top, or at least very well near it, will always be there I think. But, yes, he had health problems last year, and it definitely doesn't help to mix that with a wildly inconsistent track record prior to 2010. I hope he is healthy next year and wish him all the best.

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Speaking of Villages of Eastwick..

What do we all think of Mira Leung's 2009 Canadian National short program? Honestly, I think she improved greatly as far as her style and understanding of the music went, but it came at a time when Cynthia Phaneuf was making her comeback and I'm sure Skate Canada no longer needed Mira as their somewhat-reliable second skater behind Joannie Rochette. Don't get me wrong, Mira had decent finishes at the 2006 Olympics as well as two of her three World Championship appearances, so it wasn't like she was completely horrible. BUT, too bad she apparently didn't listen to anyone in the 2010 season and finished 15th in the short program at the National Championship. She withdrew before the free skate, but the components scores from the event seemed to be a strong message that things needed to change if she were to ever show up to another competition.

Your thoughts about Mao Asada's music for next season? Alfred Schnittke's Tango for SP and Franz Liszt's Liebesträume for FS.

I had many updates yesterday, so you probably didn't see this page that got pushed to the second page:

http://tony-wheeler.blogspot.com/2010/06/what-i-missed-part-two-mao-asada.html

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Nagasu Calls a Fan Out, Reveals More Music Details

Mirai Nagasu is never at a shortage of words-- you probably know this if you've ever seen one of her press conferences or interviews. See this press conference from the 2010 World Championships as an example:



Reports online in the past few weeks had suggested Mirai will be skating to the soundtrack "Villages of Eastwick" for her short program. A GoldenSkate message board poster replied to this, saying, "but I wanted to see her doing something different, more mature."Mirai is very active on her Twitter account and when she was made aware of the comment, she came back with her own personal message to this particular poster:
You know what Goldenskate forum lady, my short program is mostly liszt anyways. I hope that's mature enough for you...
Ha! I think I love her a little bit more, and I'm quite sure that Mirai said this with a humorous tone :-)

More on the New Short Dance

Goodbye compulsory and original dances, hello short dance. Thanks to a source for sending me this information that highlights the changes.

BASICS:

Length will be 2:50 +/- 10 seconds.


At least one minute of the music must meet the same tempo and rhythm specifications as the compulsory dance element included in the dance (i.e., for Junior the tempo and rhythm of the program must be at least 1 minute Viennese Waltz at 52 measures of 3 beats per minute (i.e., 156 bpm), for Senior the tempo and rhythm of the program must be at least 1 minute Golden Waltz at 62 measures of 3 beats per minute (i.e., 186 bpm).  The music during this 1 minute is at the choice of the team – it DOES NOT NEED TO BE official compulsory dance music – only the correct rhythm and tempo.


The remaining program can use up to two additional rhythms from the list: Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot or Quickstep.


REQUIRED ELEMENTS


Junior:


One short lift (may include two, in which case the second receives no value and is considered as transitional)


One Midline No-Touch Step Sequence


One sequence of Twizzles


Two full sequences of the Viennese Waltz – with the defined steps, holds and timing (may be skated at any point in the program, but must be skated sequentially without interruption and must start at the defined step 1)


Senior:


One short lift (may include two, in which case the second receives no value and is considered as transitional)


One Midline No-Touch Step Sequence


One sequence of Twizzles


One full sequences of the Golden Waltz – with the defined steps, holds and timing. This sequence will be scored as two elements (the first starting at step 1, the second starting at a step number to be confirmed) (may be skated at any point in the program, may start either at step 1 or at the first step of the second element – step number to be confirmed) 


A draft of the changes should be expected as an ISU communication sometime this week.

Monday, June 21

Is the quad a more dangerous jump to practice in terms of more injuries to skaters and so on? And if so, should skaters accept the risk as they do with other jumps, or focus instead on upping the ante on other elements of the program?

I think it is more dangerous in a sense that most men don't land the quad on a consistent basis, so therefore every time they go into the air, it is somewhat of a gamble on whether they are going to come down and land the jump perfectly or crash to the ice face first. Many of the men can do all of the triples with a decent consistency ratio, but I'm sure there are skaters that still fear doing certain other jumps, as well. It all just depends what you are comfortable with.

I remember an Austrian skater by the name of Christian Rauchbauer who nearly qualified to the free skate at the 2007 World Championships. In the short program, he landed a quad toe, triple toe/triple toe combo, and a double Axel. You can tell the toe jump just comes easy to him as to where he might not even have a Lutz and doesn't seem to have a triple Axel.

If you can't do the quad, it's not the end of the world. Many of the men today have developed their own styles and flow across the ice effortlessly with plenty of difficult transitions and choreography. But if your skating skills are weak and you really like jumping, you better be doing quads all over the place if you ever want to contend!

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Where are the Yagudins of today?

I don't know where they are living, if that is what you mean. I know that Alexei is still doing some shows.

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How do figure skaters make enough money to break even?

Many don't, I'm sure. I can only imagine how expensive it gets for the elite level skaters that don't really have sponsorships or funding from their Federations. I think that many (but not all) families that get their kids into skating have enough money in the first place that it might make a small dent, but they still live somewhat comfortably. It isn't cheap!

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Could you explain what a cheat jump is? How can you identify them? Also, can you cheat a throw jump? I really enjoy your blog!

A jump that is cheated doesn't get the full rotation, and therefore it is not landed on a perfect back outside edge. Many skaters do a good job of masking the cheat by being able to show full control with their upper bodies while their skate has to slightly turn a quarter or so of a rotation on the ice, and that is why you really have to look at the blade when it hits the ice more than anything else. It is something that you will start to be able to catch with your own eye after some time, but don't get me wrong-- sometimes even the judges and technical panel (the people who decide whether a jump is rotated enough to be called a triple, etc.) might not be 100% confident whether a jump had enough rotation until they watch it in slow motion.

Throw jumps usually aren't cheated. I think that since there is so much force coming from the throw, the lady knows as soon as she gets into the air if she's going to be able to muscle out the full rotation. If she doesn't, it'll usually be popped into a double or she will rotate the jump completely but crash hard to the ice. I am sure some of the younger skaters might tend to cheat their throws, but it's definitely not seen too often at the elite level.

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mao asada or yuna kim? personally?

I like them both for different reasons, and I root for both about equally. I think Kim had better programs during the Olympic season, but I wasn't blown away by either skater last year. Hope that changes in 2011!

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Karma in France? And Elections are This Weekend

I'll catch you up quickly on the situation with Vanessa James and Yannick Bonheur. The team split, he says that he arrived to a practice one day to find her skating with Maximin Coia with no prior knowledge of this happening, she says that they talked following the World Championships and he was well aware of the try-out. Vanessa even went as far as to post her side of the story on Figure Skating Universe, the internet's most popular forum on the sport, saying:
After worlds we had reached a breaking point! We both talked to the federation about our feelings and the federation was very understanding! I took the decision that I didn’t have the motivation to continue working the way we had been for the last year and a half! I didn’t believe things would change! [...] It’s an amazing experience but when skating gets to a point where it is not fun anymore because we don’t work together, we don’t listen, we don’t get along EVERY DAY… it gets very hard! I love skating and I want to love it every day, even when it is hard, or frustrating. Yannick and I were far past this point! It was made clear to the federation and Yannick that I did not believe in our partnership. The federation said they would find a solution to help us both! We decided together to finish the galas because we had responsibilities to those clubs!
Maximin and I had a tryout last week, yes! It was one of the solutions the federation found because Maximin was without a partner also. They thought it would be a good idea to see how we looked together and worked together! Of course it was something new and fun and my motivation had returned but no decision was made! I assure you Yannick was told about this tryout! He was told that Maximin would be skating with me at Bercy and that he was free to come, but perhaps it was better that he did not! So I wish people would not talk about things they do not know! 
James and Coia were already nominated to skate at Trophee Eric Bompard, the last of six events around the world in the 2010/2011 Grand Prix series, while Bonheur found a new partner in Adeline Canac-- the former partner of Coia.

And then it all became calm, until James posted her information today on icepartnersearch.com, a popular website that helps pairs skaters locate others around the world who are also looking for partners. Does this mean that James and Coia are already finished after all of that drama? While we can't rule out the possibility of someone playing a mean joke, the fact that Vanessa lists her e-mail address and also links to videos on Facebook makes this seem like the partnership is over.

So, now we have poor Yannick Bonheur. I talked to a respected French source today prior to even hearing about James' listing on the website, and he informed me that Yannick would be holding a press conference in a few days to discuss the situation and once again reiterate that he had no idea he and James were splitting. The story, according to the source, is that Didier Gailhaguet (President of the FFSG) arranged the try-out behind Yannick's back, and he indeed walked into the rink one day to find the two skating together. Obviously, someone is completely lying about what happened. However, I really trust the person I spoke to about the situation, so I'm leaning towards it being James. If she really is already looking for another partner because she and Coia didn't work out, it looks like there was some definite karma against her!

One of the reasons that Bonheur might plan to hold a press conference now rather than when everything happened is that the election for President of the FFSG takes place Saturday, and he might want to strengthen a case versus current President Gailhaguet and encourage people not to vote for him. Also running are infamous judge from the Salt Lake City Olympics Marie-Reine Le Gougne, former dancer Alexandre Piton, and Michel-Ange Marie-Calixte, former bobsledder. Running with Piton for Vice-President is two-time Olympic bronze medalist Philippe Candeloro, while Marie-Calixte is scheduled to speak but support Le Gougne in her efforts to become President.

As always, I'll post updates as I hear them.

Daisuke Had So Much Fun With Stephane That...

While in Switzerland, Daisuke Takahashi completed work on his short program with Stephane Lambiel so quick that they worked on a second program. While I hear that the step sequences in particular make it seem like this might be another option for a short program, it may turn out to be a possible exhibition number. Not meaning to play the "name that tune" guessing game again as I did with the first program they created, I can tell you that this program is a modern movie score that has had quite some popularity in skating since its release, and it is actually one of my absolute favorites. If I had to choose between the two programs solely based just on the music, I'd probably lean towards Daisuke competing with this one. I am sure, however, that both programs will be great and it will be the start of a very successful career for Stephane "behind the scenes" of skating.

On June 18th, Takahashi was added to the cast of the Japanese exhibition show Dreams on Ice, while Lambiel has been listed in the cast for some time. It may be possible to see one of these newly choreographed programs at the show, which takes place the 25th through 27th.

With the backlash regarding their continuing snub of Johnny Weir, how did Stars on Ice do, financially?

I have no idea.

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what man currently skating do you think could win a world championship by being a good all around skater and performing a quad?

Several. Daisuke Takahashi (obviously), Patrick Chan, Jeremy Abbott, Nobu Oda, and maybe Takahiko Kozuka would have an outside shot. Michal Brezina looks like he'd be plenty capable of doing a quad, but he really has to work on his spins before he can get to the top IMO. And as for Brian Joubert, it depends on what type of content he comes up with for next year. I have hope since his free skate is choreographed by David Wilson (as long as he doesn't simplify it afterwards) :-)

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What I Missed - Part Two - Mao Asada Programs

Mao has announced her competitive programs for the 2011 season: the short program being a tango by Alfred Schnittke, which I expect to be the music starting at 2:50 in this video:



This particular "Tango" is on the same CD as the widely-circulated "Tale of Wanders" that was first used by Maria Butyrskaya during the 2002 season, and Ksenia Doronina also uses it in the above video. We shall see. Tatiana Tarasova will be choreographing.

Mao is using "Liebestraum" by Franz Liszt for the free skate. A beautiful piece that I used to play on the piano back in the day, it actually hasn't been used too often in skating.. at least not lately. One of the most successful programs in recent time to the music was Jennifer Robinson's 2002 free skate, where she had a 7th place finish in the Olympics and an 9th place finish at Worlds, with this skate:



Lori Nichol will be choreographing the free skate. I begged the "Skate Gods" some months ago to let Mao return to her Chopin-esque light classical style that she skated so well a few seasons ago, and this sounds like a step in the right direction. I'm definitely excited to see this program.

I had to edit in this performance to "Liebestraum" by Ilia Kulik from the 1997 Art of Russian Skating special. It is choreographed by Tarasova!

2013 ISU Major Event Locations

The ISU has announced the locations of the four major international competitions during the 2013 season.

European Championships- Zagreb, Croatia

World Junior Championships - Milano, Italy

World Championships - London, Ontario, Canada

Four Continents Championships are yet to be determined


London is about as close as a World Championship is ever going to get for me. See you in 2013 :-)

Is it true the 6.0 system is useless as a standalone measuring stick (i.e. the "6.0 perfect score") because it was only used to rank skaters relative to each other in the order of skating on any particular day?

Yeah, it was totally useless especially in the free skate. In the short program, there were required deductions on the technical mark, but it was easily compensated by pushing the artistic mark higher if need be. In the free skate, though, there were so many cases of judges "boxing" themselves in by the time the last skaters came on the ice, that the marks had no relation to the performance. One of the most perfect examples of this is Carolina Kostner's free skate from the 2004 Worlds, as the final skater. Watch the performance, and then check her marks. :-)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGZ8Gu_shO0&translated=1Play

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History does not seem to be kind to the ladies 4th-place finisher at the Olympics: Chin, Trenary, Harding, Bonaly, Butyrskaya, Suguri... Only Cohen has medaled at the next Olys. Should we fear for Nagasu's fate?

We should start fearing Nagasu's fate if she has a rough fall season and then either doesn't make the World team, or does make the World team and has another somewhat disappointing outing. The USFS needs a consistent ladies skater to lead them into Sochi in four years, and someone needs to jump on that ASAP.

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what do you think the effect of the olympic champion not having a quad means to younger skaters?

I don't think it should mean anything. The IJS has shown (or has tried to show) that you need more of a complete package than a quad toe loop to win competitions. It's great if you can combine both, but the simple things like basics and the ability to showcase a variety of transitions throughout the program and complex choreography now mean much more than a 5.9 for a clean skate. Some skaters will always like taking risks, and I'm sure if the rule is changed to give skaters more credit for a near-fully rotated jump, then we will see more quads attempted. But again, it should be all about a good package overall!

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Now that the ISU Congress is over, bit and pieces of random information have already been posted in the media. But how will ISU officially announce which proposals have actually passed? Will they be publishing a comprehensive Comm. soon?

I don't know the official answer to this question. I am sure within the next few weeks, an updated rule book of types will be published to the ISU website with all of the changes.

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I can tell you kind of don't like Yuna Kim that much. Why so? I mean, you gotta admit she is something

I do like her.. a lot. I just wasn't overwhelmed with her programs this year. I thought it was a pretty boring year for the ladies in general, actually.

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Hello Tony, I'm a Japanese figure skatin fan. I have a blog concerning FS in Japanese. Would you mind if I translate some of your articles, which is very interesting, into Japanese and post it in my blog? Thank you.

I don't mind! Thanks for asking :-)

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Sunday, June 20

What I Missed - Part One - Bobek Pleading Guilty

What another train wreck of a former skater, and this one to the extreme. 1995 National Champion and World Bronze Medalist Nicole Bobek pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. We all remember her sexy July 2009 mugshot, and if we don't, it can be re-lived it here. The page itself is screwy, as it goes into news about a tornado touch down after the first paragraph, but she faces up to 10 years in prison.

Now let's remember back to happier days for Nicole. Talk about skating under the new system long before the new system existed (HUGE flutz aside). She had spins and spirals to die for, and an amazing ability to sell the skate. Here is her interpretive free skate from the 1998 World Pro Championship. If you aren't familiar with Nicole, they should give you a very good idea of how much flair and personality she brought to the ice once upon a time. Sigh.

Johnny Weir's Skate for Hope Performances

A not-so-big skating fan was recording these with my IPhone. Obviously not the best quality or greatest videos ever, but it's something!

"Heartbroken"



"Bad Romance"