Saturday, July 31

Why do some skaters put their tights over their boots? I heard it helps with their lines, but it seems like a fairly new "trend".

I have never understood why. It makes their feet look even uglier if they don't have good lines.

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why is figure skating not on major television networks anymore? i just remembered they had it on espn not to long ago

In the United States, viewership is way down from the glory days in the 90's when people would watch ANYTHING having to do with skating, hence why we saw 500 different variations on rules in pro events throughout the seasons. Now, the major fan base is in Japan and Korea.

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will the figure skating world championship ever be held in korea in the near future?

The World Championships? I'm sure it's coming soon. South Korea has been really close to winning both the 2010 and 2014 Winter Games, and is considered a front-runner for 2018. If that's the case, I wouldn't be surprised if the 2014 or 2015 Worlds was in Korea.

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Have you read Inman's response on FSU? My jaw literally dropped. Do you think people like him read those threads regularly?

I'm not surprised. He used to write on the board every now and then years ago. I tried to explain that he really didn't do anything wrong, but some people just want to put the drama on someone other than Plushenko for that specific incident. If Evgeny never would have said anything, there would be nothing to talk about or quote!

And yes, I think many skaters keep up with what is being said about them, whether good or bad.

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Friday, July 30

When do you think Belbin and Agosto really peaked with their skating?

2006. I think the That's Entertainment free dance that they ended up dumping the next season signaled the beginning of the end, even if I really enjoyed their replacement Amelie free dance and the Chopin free dance from 2008.

While they do have a silver medal from the 2009 Worlds, I wasn't wowed by either of their programs in LA. Same with this prior season, even though I do think they deserved the Olympic bronze. I think Linichuk & co. just sent them in the wrong direction-- especially that original dance from 2010!

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How much do you anticipate ice dancing changing as a whole due these new changes? Will Davis/White begin to beat Virtue/Moir more?

Well, I don't think anyone will know how the whole short dance will pan out until we actually see the competitions start. I think that both teams are so close, however, that it will all come down to content once again next season. D/W did beat V/M in the free dance at Worlds (even though V/M did have twizzle issues), but the CD + OD being turned into one segment might give D/W the advantage they need to start ending up on top.

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How far up the ranks can you see Denny/Barrett reaching?

I don't want to make any judgements before seeing their work with David Wilson, but I think the second-to-last group (5th through 8th) is where they will always end up.

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What I Missed.. And What's Coming Up..

The Quebec Summer Championships take place August 5-8; this competition always seems to draw excellent fields, and this time around is no different.

Among the rosters for the senior events are the following:

In mens: Marc-Andre Craig, Ian Martinez, and, Shawn Sawyer; ladies feature Amelie Lacoste, Cynthia Phaneuf, and Myriane Samson; and maybe the deepest discipline-- pairs: Brodeur/Mattatall, Dube/Davison, the new pair of Duhamel/Radford, Poland's Sulej/Chruscinski, and Japan's Takahashi/Tran.


Skate Detroit took place last week during my birthday, and the only videos of senior competitors that seem to have surfaced are both of Christina Gao's programs, as well as Grant Hochstein's short program. For my thoughts on Gao, read my Formspring response. Hochstein is one of my favorite up-and-comers in the States and he is the one in the 'next generation' that really shines artistically, in my opinion. However, his jumps and overall skating still look a bit small and slow to me so there is plenty of room for improvement. Grant recently was assigned to Skate Canada on the Grand Prix. He also has a shot at the TBA spot at Skate America, but I think Armin Mahbanoozadeh might have made a stronger case at Liberty Open two weeks ago. Armin has yet to receive an assignment this year. Anyways, here are the programs from Skate Detroit:








Entries have been published for the first stop of the 2010 Junior Grand Prix, in Courchevel, France. Among the top names in ladies are Russians Anna Ovcharova and Polina Shelepen, as well as Americans Nina Jiang and Yasmin Siraj. Don't be surprised if the Turkish-- yes, Turkish! skater Sila Saygi turns some heads. I first saw her at the JGP Budapest last season and really took note of her. With Tugba Karademir retired, we will see if Saygi is ready to step up as the country's number one. Also in the ladies competition is Anastasia Kononenko from Ukraine. Probably not going to be a challenger, but I definitely remember her spins from the JGP Budapest.





In the mens field, Canadian Andrei Rogozine, Russians Stanislav Kovalev and Mark Shakhmatov, and Americans Jason Brown and Max Aaron lead the way.

Pairs are not included in this stop of the circuit, while in ice dance, Russians Stepanova/Bukin are probably the pre-competition favorites.


The 2010 Japan Open once again features team competition between North America, Europe, and Japan. The final rosters have been announced for the event, which starts October 2. Use Google Translate if you go to the page ;-)

North America: Mirai Nagasu, Joannie Rochette, Jeffrey Buttle, Adam Rippon
Europe: Laura Lepisto, Sarah Meier, Michal Brezina, Evgeny Plushenko
Japan: Miki Ando, Mao Asada, Takahiko Kozuka, Daisuke Takahashi

Wow, five of the top six ladies from the Olympics, three World Champion men plus Rippon, Brezina, and Kozuka? Forget the Grand Prix stops, I wish I was in Japan!


Something I haven't been keeping up with (like a good blogger) is the announcement of music choices for next season. Many of the American team choices have been added continuously throughout the summer on IceNetwork, and Mirai Nagasu has finally listed hers: The Villages of Eastwick for the short, and Memoirs of a Geisha for the long; both composed by John Williams.

Canadian Mira Leung used The Villages of Eastwick for part of her short program in 2009, also choreographed by Lori Nichol. Although I thought it was a tremendous improvement from anything she had done prior, she was already on the way down nationally and received no favors during the competition. Here's her performance:

Thursday, July 29

Do you Nagasu has potential to become next "someone?"

Possibly, but she needs to start delivering all season long in 2011, or I think the USFS is going to try its best to find another lady to be that "someone" leading up to 2014.

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Are you a believer in patterns, as far as history repeating itself?

Not really. I mean it's interesting to look at similarities or patterns but I don't think they are indicative of anything. Was there something that you were referring to specifically?

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I guess I'm saying I'd like to see at least mandatory deductions in P/E for messy programs period. Some skaters should always get huge S/S scores I get that. But it doesn't mean they should always be getting high P/E marks. This would level the field.

If one fall doesn't really affect a performance, then the P/E mark doesn't necessarily need to come down. But I do agree that judges tend to hold up this component in particular when the big names have their meltdowns.

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Is there such thing as a suitable body shape for figure skating? For example, Joannie Rochette and Michelle Kwan have broad shoulders, whereas Yuna Kim and Mirai Nagasu are thin and long-limbed. Who do you think has/had the best body shape?

I don't know about what the ideal body shape is, but I think the whole package looks better with someone like Kwan's body type. I can't explain why, but everything just looks more finished off and 'clean', even down to the simple crossovers. There's nothing wrong with any of the body types, though.

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Sorry to bug you with another Kulik question, but upon reflection, looking at the shape he's in, the great, airy triples, and I don't think he's ever had a major injury....could he, if he wanted to, make a comeback and still be competitive?

I don't mind. I really do miss Kulik and I think his time in the amateur world didn't last long enough. If he could adjust to the new scoring system. I don't think he'd have any trouble being Russia's current number one. Remarkable, seeing he's been a pro for 12 years now.

People like Kulik make me really want to see a few pro competitions come back ASAP. He's managed to keep most of his technical 'tricks', but for what, honestly? To showcase them a few times a year in shows? I believe he still is a guest with Stars on Ice, but I'd love to see him be able to go put together more competitive performances and really shine.

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Do you like Midori Ito?

I love her. That 1993 World Pro technical program with the biggest triple Axel I have ever seen is one of my absolute favorites.

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Technically, Daisuke has been quadless since the injury. It's so puzzling as his other jumps look really good. Do you think he will be able to get it back this coming season?

I believe he is continuing to work on a quad flip, and in all seriousness I could see him landing that before a quad toe, even if he starts attempting the toe again. If Takeshi Honda is still working with him on the technical stuff, I'm sure he has some great tips about the flip; his (triple) was always HUGE.

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Thoughts on Patrick Chan's new 'Take 5' SP?

I wrote about it on my review of the Liberty mens short program, which you can read here:

http://tony-wheeler.blogspot.com/2010/07/liberty-mens-short-program.html

In summary, another great program with the components, but I'm still missing that extra something from Patrick.

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Formspring Questions

Apparently, the Formspring website is having a bit of trouble and reporting that I have answered 0 questions. I didn't delete anything, I promise!

"Obviously with names like Maia and Alex, it seems their destinies were set before they were even born." I don't mean this in a hostile way at all, but I don't get how their names make it seem as if their parents had their careers planned out for them?

Maia Usova and Alexander Zhulin were champion ice dancers right around the time that the siblings were born.

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Tuesday, July 27

I think PCS simply serves as a placeholder just like the second marks used in the 6.0 system. If this is the case, don't you think it will make things easier to just use an ordinal system for this portion of the scores while keeping the TES as it is?

I always refer to my interview with Olympic judge Patrick Ibens when I get questions like this, but I promise it is for a good reason.

http://tony-wheeler.blogspot.com/2010/03/i-would-say-10-of-judges-are-completely.html

Ibens also discusses how he feels the components have become placeholders, and in the heat of the moment many of the judges don't really have accurate time to really come up with perfect scores for each, so they try to remember which scores they gave for previous skaters and mark the current skater in comparison to that, rather than in comparison to the 10.00 that it should be. Is that how this system is supposed to be used? Obviously not. Some judges might say that remembering scores from earlier skaters is their way of trying to play "fair" in the components, but it could also be a way to try to cheat the system and make sure that certain skaters receive components high or low enough (at least on their own scorecards) to put the skater in question above or below someone else.

I think that the only way any of this is truly going to be solved is if there is a separate panel scoring the elements/GOE and the components.

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Multi errors affects performance and somewhere PCS should reflect this. I.e look at Kim getting way higher PCS than Asada @ worlds. Yes Kim had more chor/trans. But Asada's performance way better. Surely the system should balance it out more.

I understand what you are getting at, and that problem would be in the fact that all five of the components in singles and pairs skating (Skating Skills, Transitions, Performance/Execution, Choreography, Interpretation) are scored at the same factor. In ice dance, the factors towards which each component counts differ slightly between programs.

I guess you would like something like this for the ladies (where the factor right now is 0.80 for all in the SP and 1.60 for all in the LP):
SP: SS 1.00; TR 1.00; PE 0.80; CH 0.60; IN 0.60
LP: SS 1.20; TR 1.20; PE 1.60; CH 2.00; IN 2.00

Something along those lines would result in much more of a technical (short program focusing on skating skills and transitions) vs. artistic program (long program focusing on choreography and interpretation), and I'm not quite sure how it would work out.

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What Music would you suggest for caroline zhang?

I have no idea. Oddly enough, I was just watching her Skate Canada free skate from last season a day or two ago and I thought to myself how miserable she looked throughout the entire "Pas de Deux", which usually leads to some gorgeous programs. I think she has yet to find a style because her skating has gone next to nowhere since she first made a name for herself. Hopefully this coaching change will produce some big improvements and allow Caroline to start figuring out who she is as a skater.

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Do you think the height difference between Alex and Maia will hinder their ability to challenge for the top? Has there been a case of a top gorilla/fly dance team? Obviously we've seen such success in pairs, but dance?

I haven't really seen a difference as big as theirs. I was going to bring up Delobel/Schoenfelder, but it was definitely less severe than these two. The fact they are both skinny (especially in Maia's case) also adds to it.

I don't want to cause drama by this statement, but I always wondered about this team and if they have truly found a passion in skating or always got a push from their parents. Obviously with names like Maia and Alex, it seems their destinies were set before they were even born. We all remember how Ann-Patrice McDonough's mom had her career laid out, and the second A-P turned 18, she competed for that final season and then was never to be heard from again competitively. If Maia and Alex always wanted to skate and shared the same passion as their parents, then it's great for them and sorry that I ever alluded to anything else.

Anyways, back to this team-- they had similar results internationally as juniors last year as they did in 2009, except for when they dropped to 4th at Junior Worlds after being the reigning silver medalists. I have a feeling they will get lost in the shuffle of up-and-coming teams, as I have yet to be wowed by them.

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And what's your take on sibling pairings in both dance and pairs? Some people find it limiting/unsettling when they select romantic music, others don't mind. What's your opinion?

I do think it is kind of weird sometimes, but it doesn't bother me to the point that I am "unsettled". It's a performance, and it's not like they are making out on the ice :-)

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And while we're on the subject of Kulik, what do you think the Salt Lake City result would have been if he'd kept going? I think it would have been all-Russian podium, but in which order?

I think that Plushenko was a little lucky to be 4th after the short so an "on" Kulik probably could have gotten the silver. Remember at the 2001 World PROS (which were just a few months before SLC), Kulik reprised his Rhapsody in Blue and I believe he landed everything until he doubled a Salchow at the end, or something like that. Whatever the case, it was still an amazing performance.

We also have to remember that Plushenko was the reigning World Champion during the 2002 season and skipped Euros, while Yagudin and especially Abt both skated brilliantly. Who is to say Kulik would have been able to edge either one of them and earn a spot to SLC to begin with?

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Just watched Kulik's new show programs, and am amazed that he still has so many beautiful triples (axel to die for). He's in great shape. Could he do well as a coach, do you think?

Absolutely!

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Here, I found a video of Plushenko practicing the 3A-4T. Incredible stuff, he doesn't even two-foot...is he actually human? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WBVM8NB27WI

It might not be two-footed, but it's somewhere from 1/2 to 3/4 of a rotation short on the landing. In essence, the triple Axel had more rotation than the attempt at the quad toe. Not taking anything away from him, but it just really wasn't close :-)

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Thoughts on Denis Ten working with Frank Carroll?

He's gained several skaters over the summer, and I think it will work out well for all of them, as long as they are determined and able to work very hard. I believe I've heard Ten was somewhat lazy is his practices in the past, but obviously working with Carroll will change that habit.

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Do you have any thoughts on the WC 2009 Free Dance placements, in particular the placement of Domnina/Shabolin over Belbin/Agosto?

I was fine with it. I wasn't really moved by either of the programs, but I liked D/S better. My favorite program of the night was Davis/White, followed by Virtue/Moir.

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Do you think a fast, well-centered, long-held, one-position spin is given enough credit?

Not really. I miss seeing classic layback spins or quick, perfectly centered sit/change/sit spins. With all the twists and variations, most of the spins these days lose speed and have no relevance to the music. But why would a skater attempt, for example, a classic layback that is perfectly done in every sense, and then only receive a level 1 with a +1 or MAYBE +2 GOE when they know they are capable of a level 3 or 4? I think that is one of the most unfortunate things about the IJS.

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I like transitions and choregraphy. But I'm also tired of seeing skaters with jam packed programs that they skate very messy & getting huge PCS. The system needs a balance. Rather see a little less transitions & cleaner skates

There are also skaters that don't really have any transitions or difficult choreography and they also skate extremely messy. It all comes down to their basics. I do agree that the skaters with weaker basics that are trying to jam-pack their programs just make their flaws even more apparent, but at least they aren't taking the easy way out..

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We've seen the past season how the judges gave +1 GOE (+2 GOE just sometimes) to Adam Rippon's 3lutz with both arms above his head. How much GOE would you give to it? Do you think that being innovative is worthwhile under the COP?

Under the new rules, it should definitely be capable of a +2 (and I think I scored it that way at Worlds). If he can increase the height and distance of his jumps as well as precede it with some steps or transitions, we might even see some +3 from the judges!

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It appears that Mao is having a difficult time finding a full-time coach. There have been speculation of Takeshi Honda being a candidate. Do you think he can take over the job despite his relative inexperience?

I have no idea. He works as a technical coach with Daisuke Takahashi and that obviously seems to have helped, but I don't know about Honda being the sole full-time coach to a skater yet. He used to struggle with consistency in his own career, and I'm not sure that he would be able to give Asada that confidence that she was missing all last season.

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What are your thoughts on Gao's new long program?

See the question prior to this one!

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What do you think Christina Gao's progress and her recent performances at Skate Detroit?

I think she's definitely improving, but I still see a lot of areas that need work. I had been hearing how beautiful her triple flip/triple toe has been coming along, and she landed a great one in the free skate there. However, some of her other jumps continue to look 'just' rotated to me, and some of her spins look like she has yet to really reach that sweet spot and rotate quickly. Same for her overall skating-- it's not bad, but she can have more refinement and speed.

I usually don't care for the "Yellow River Concerto" free skate music that she has chosen, but I surprised myself and enjoyed the program. The short program is just okay, but it is the first outing for both and I'm sure she will continue to improve throughout the year.

I know she was 5th at Nationals last year and probably would love to make her way up to the podium this year, but I think another year on the Junior Grand Prix/Junior Worlds is the best call for right now. She doesn't quite yet look like a senior skater in my opinion.

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Monday, July 26

Why don´t you like show skating?

I just feel like so much of it is over-the-top and contrived. I always end up liking the competitive programs that are skated in exhibitions more than the exhibition-only numbers! Maybe I'm weird.

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I asked this earlier, but you never answered. Do you think Yu-Na Kim can be counted as "one of the greats"?

Of course. She has four World medals in four attempts and an Olympic title.

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Mirai is now listed on the roster for Japan Open, so she can't be too heavily injured, hopefully.

Yeah, I don't think that her injury was anything big. Probably something just enough to keep her out of one show.

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Do you think it's somewhat of a farce that a male skater can win a competition without having a triple axel/consistent triple axel?

Well it depends on their abilities otherwise, because there is enough to focus on now that one (or two) jumps aren't the end of the world. However, if they aren't going for a quad and their hardest combination is a triple/double, then I'd imagine this skater would have to have 10.00 components across the board..

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Sunday, July 25

What do you think of Yu-na's new program? I like that she did something different choreographically with a current song choice even, but her expression and dance moves seemed so out of sync with the music

Eh, I wasn't thrilled with it but if you refer to my previous answer, I just really don't like show skating in general. Meditation was gorgeous as always, though.

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I want to hear your impression on All That Skate Summer (http://www.youtube.com/user/YunaFan1984#g/u).

I actually started live blogging the show and then I got so bored of it that I took down my first half review and watched the rest as the video was in the background while I worked on my computer. I just can't get into show skating.. as hard as i try.

I liked Kwak's new short program more than anything she's done prior, while I'm still undecided about Abbott's program but I think he looked very, very awkward with some of the movements. There should be this fire in his eyes, and he always ends up looking scared.

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people are saying not alone is being done with the set value second step sequences in mens-why is that?

Do you mean not enough is being done with them? If not, I'm not sure what your question was.

I haven't seen enough mens free skates for the 2011 season yet to have any thoughts about it..

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Do you think that there has ever been a definitive Carmen program in any discipline? What about other overused pieces of music, such as Romeo + Juliet, Malaguena, Requiem for a Dream, etc.?

Obviously Katarina Witt's program was revolutionary for the time, because most skaters back then (from what I can tell.. I was barely born!)) decided to use random mashups of pieces that had no relevance or storytelling whatsoever.

I don't know about the other pieces (Requiem hasn't seen anything amazing yet), but I have to give an honorable mention to Maria Butyrskaya's Habanera exhibition that she used during the 2000 season. I might be biased when it comes to her, but that program was amazing-- especially the footwork in the middle that was timed so perfectly to the music.

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Plushenko is inventing a 3A-4T combination and apparently has already landed it in practice. Do you think it's possible for competition or not, and what kind of value would it have?

I think it is possible. I remember very vaguely hearing that Chengjiang Li was doing quad toe/quad toe combinations in the practices at, I believe, the 2001 Worlds but I never heard much afterwards so that might have been an error in the original reporting.

Under the most current code of points, the combination would be worth 18.8 points. Kevin Van der Perren's quad toe/triple toe/triple toe combination (from the 2010 Worlds) would now be worth 18.5, as a comparison.

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Why do people say Plushenko has no artistry? "Tribute to Vaslav Nijinsky" and "St Petersburg 300" are two of the most beautiful programs I've ever watched.

Plushenko has a way of drawing you in and making you watch him. I see so many of the younger Russian men try to emulate that and it looks silly, but when Evgeny does it, it just works.

Both programs you mention were during the 6.0 days (Nijinsky might have been performed on the Grand Prix the very first year IJS was being tested.. I don't remember), so things like transitions and great choreography were overlooked a lot of the time by the judges rewarding high marks to top skaters when they skated well. I'm not taking anything away from him and how he skated back then, though, because there were no such things as components and what he did was certainly very good.

My favorite program of Plushenko's actually is St. Petersburg 300 but I wouldn't say either of them were artistic masterpieces. Two really great pre-IJS programs that would fit in very well today are Takeshi Honda and Alexander Abt's 2002 free skates, if you want good examples IMO.

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Don't you think it's rather hypocritical of Patrick Chan to be making statements such as "you don't need a quad to win" and yet now he's jumping quad toes?

No. I think he was saying a quadruple toe loop shouldn't be the only thing that vaults skaters to the top of the standings. You have to have a great package overall... some skaters with quads fly around the ice on two feet almost the entire time and have no attempt at really showing off any of the program components aspects. Going for (and landing) the quad just adds to Patrick's strengths in my own opinion.

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Any thoughts on Alissa Csizny's future?

We will see what Sato is able to do with her, but I think it is too late for her to have a major re-work of her technique.

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With talk of top skaters getting inflated +GOE based on reputation, how do you think someone like Lucinda Ruh would have fared on GOE for her spins? Given her lack of rep (and jump content), do you think she would've received +3s?

If someone excels so much at an element as Ruh did with most of her spins, there would be no reason she couldn't pull off +3's. I'd have to re-watch her stuff but I'm pretty sure it would all be level 1 or 2 (which I'm sure she could have upgraded very easily).

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