Friday, August 6

"...and I think we really need to keep an eye on Rippon this year-- quad or not" How about Brezina?

If Michal has worked on his spins, maybe. His jumps are all so huge and I believe he was doing quad Salchows in practice last year. The thing that worries me about him is that his sit positions were all mediocre to terrible last year, and now he has to include either a camel/change/camel or flying camel spin in the short this year. That could be absolutely DISASTROUS.

It sucks that pretty much every one of his jumps is capable of even a +2 but then his spins should be getting -1 or -2.

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Now that a lot of young skaters (Brezina, Amodio, Chan, Rippon, Kozuka, Reynolds, Schultheiss, Fernandez, etc) will have quads in their programs this season. Is there any quadless skater left who can beat them this season?

Great question! And we know that Takahashi, Joubert, Abbott, Van der Perren, Verner, Voronov, etc. already have or attempt quads, and I know Oda can do them in practice. That's every single skater in the top 12 at Worlds aside from Contesti, plus a few.

While all of them say they are going to try the quad, it doesn't mean most of them will be successful. We have seen examples of quads losing out to non-quads (short program at Worlds with Joubert), and the rest of the program has to be just as good if they still want to win or be near the top. The only skaters that can probably win without attempting the quad are (still) Takahashi and Chan if everything else goes well, and I think we really need to keep an eye on Rippon this year-- quad or not. I hear it's a beauty in practice, though. Joubert is the wildcard here. If Wilson can do enough to make Brian comparable in terms of the components, he might even be able to dominate once again.

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Do you think there was a possible way for Mishin to keep both Plushenko and Yagudin under his tutelage? Or was it always going to fall apart somehow?

Probably not. In 1998, both were already on the World podium and I think that Yagudin probably sensed that Plushenko (who had just turned 15 at that time) was going to have a really quick rise to the top and he needed a change of coaching to ensure that he had enough attention for himself, as he was already on top. I think I've read that they already had a rivalry brewing in training, anyways.

I liked Yagudin's move to Tarasova and eventually Morozov, and I think he really came into his own starting the very next season. I didn't think Carmen or Snowstorm were terrible, but I didn't think they were anything amazing, either. I actually like his Broken Arrow free skate from 2000 probably the best of anything, but he dropped it before the World Championships.

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How does one tell the loop and salchow apart? They're the only jumps I can't get straight.

The loop takes off from the right skate if the skater is jumping counter-clockwise, as most do. The Salchow takes off from the left skate while the right skate swings up to get the momentum into the jump.

This doesn't happen 100% of the time, but an easy way to differentiate between the two is that a loop usually takes off from a skater gliding backwards, while a Salchow take-off follows the skater doing a three-turn. There are, of course, variations that add to the difficulty of the jumps (such as three-turns into a loop), but most of the time the skaters follow the above patterns when entering the two jumps.

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Thursday, August 5

Does Tara Lipinski even skate anymore?

Fellow blogger Vladislav Luchianov recently did a quick interview with Lipinski, and she says she might return to the ice eventually. You can read that here:

http://worldskating.blogspot.com/2010/07/tara-lipinski-never-give-up-on-your.html

During the World Championships ladies free skate wrap-up, she mentioned that Lepisto's performance (that won the bronze) made her want to come back and compete. I think she definitely misses it. And remember, she's only 28! It's crazy to think that she could have competed at the 2002, 2006, AND 2010 Olympics and still would have been younger than Maria Butyrskaya and Tatiana Malinina were in 2002, and even this year she would have been younger than Fumie Suguri, Julia Sebestyen, and Anastasia Gimazetdinova!

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Do you think eating disorders in men's f/s needs more attention? I mean look at Plushenko calling himself fat during last season (his onesie was loose in Van), Lysacek turning into a stick after Van, Weir complaining about his weight (he looked healthy)..

It's hard to make a judgement without actually seeing them up close in person. I see people thinking all the time that some skaters that have muscle definition or fuller bodies must be 'bigger', but in all actuality they are just as tiny as the others.

As far as your three examples, I think Plushenko was probably sarcastic with calling himself fat. Maybe he had a little bit of a chubby stomach coming on? :-) Lysacek, who knows.. if anything I thought he would gain weight after being off the ice for a while. Weir, to me, looked like he had much more muscle definition about three years ago. I saw him at Skate for Hope and he looked like he was fine, but I know plenty of people that put on three pounds and think it makes a huge different to their appearance. Maybe that's what happened..

As far as eating disorders, I don't think those three examples are really serious enough to think that it's a huge problem in skating. I'm sure it exists to some extent, but it's really hard to tell when the guys wear outfits that cover most of their bodies.

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Is it me, or does Caroline Zhang appear to be skating faster than usual after the spiral in this performance? What happened? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F0VWf7qEaHA&feature=related

I don't know, maybe she got a jolt of energy because she was skating so well. However, I think you might have the illusion of her skating faster because the first half of the program was skated probably even slower than her usual.

Watching this and her 2010 free skate, it still makes me wonder why they give her the soft, slow romantic pieces like Ave Maria and Pas de Deux. I get the slow part, but the problems she has technically (the high kicks and twisting of the body into the Lutz and flip and the way she really twists her upper body ahead of her lower body in the Salchow) just throw off the supposed 'beauty' of the program. I do have to say that the footwork sequence at the end was really nice in this program, though.

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Wednesday, August 4

What do you think of Kostner skating to Debussy's "Afternoon of a faun" for her FS? I don't think anyone can top Lynn's version but I think Mao could do a better job as her "Clair de Lune" by the same composer was wonderful.

Can you send me a non-private link to the program? I'm curious to see it.

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How does the Champs Camp work? Is it a real competition? I guess we won't see any videos from it but, Will we have the scores?

This year it is set up to be like a simulated competition. The skaters will almost definitely receive protocols of their programs, but it's not a competition. It's more of a run-through set up to show them what levels they would be receiving, and how much the panel seems to like their programs. Skate Canada has done this for many years and I'm sure the athletes really appreciate having the early feedback.

I don't think that the Camp is open to the public, so there won't be any videos. I remember with Skate Canada's simulations, the first year or maybe two videos surfaced from spectators, but then they closed it off to the public in the following years.

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How would you rate Shnapir's success rate with the SBS jumps. Seems like every time I've seen a vid of his skating, he's making a mistake on the jumps, but I don't know if I've just a habit of watching his worst performances.

Not very good. At 6'4", he has to be one of, if not, the tallest skater competing right now. The taller you get, the harder it is to jump, and what I see with Simon is a really loose technique where he doesn't pull in all the way, so the possibility if getting off axis in the air becomes very high.

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What do you mean by 2-footed skating? Especially Joubert's name being mentioned when people talk about 2-footed skating, why? I get that his skating skills are avg & he's all about jumps, can older skaters like Joubert can improve their skating skills?

It's not that his skating skills are average, because he's actually quite smooth and powerful. It's just that he chooses to do a lot of crossovers and simple moves throughout his programs rather than incorporate edges and turns; you can see that in the top group of men, he really suffers in comparison. His vehicle is his intensity and his true emotion that comes out in his performances, and I think that it is wonderful to see-- it's just not particularly beneficial for the IJS. I know David Wilson gets picked on plenty, but I'm really, really interested to see if he can give Joubert something that breaks the trend and really challenges him more than just with a quadruple jump.

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But all Plushenko and Joubert want to do is advance the sport, make it stronger. What Inman did was a blatant attempt to bias the judges. And looking at a certain Vancouver placement, it worked. Isn't that rather immoral and wrong?

Are you referring to Joubert? He said he had off ice issues that he had to deal with, so the last thing I'm going to do is assume that Plushenko's mentioning of Joubert's name caused his total meltdown.

If you're referring to Plushenko, like I've said over and over (and this will be the last time), if there was something wrong with Plushenko's comment that inman copied, then I want examples of his transitions from the people that think it was such a biased move. For many, Plushenko was just pointing out the obvious.

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I don't think a U.S. ladies WC would automatically cement FS's popularity again. It would take someone with star quality and uniqueness like a Kwan. Or a rivalry. Or maybe a whack on the knee or two.

I don't think it would automatically revive the sport here, either (as I mentioned Meissner). It's sad that the whack heard around the world did tremendous things for the sport. Now we are subjected to much less drama, such as a judge copying and pasting quotes by skaters and sending them to his skating friends for discussion ;-) How boring!

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But do casual fans know who Yuna is? and is it possible that the US will ever have their own Yuna or at least another Michelle Kwan?

Yeah, I think most casual sports fans can at least tell you that Yu-Na is "that Korean girl who won the Olympics", kind of the same way that most people could tell you Oksana Baiul was the Ukrainian orphan who upset Nancy Kerrigan for gold, etc. And yes, I think another Michelle Kwan is possible.

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Tuesday, August 3

So in other words, we need our own Yuna Kim to help boost the popularity of FS in the states...?  

Yeah, we need someone that dominates the top of the standings or at least is medaling consistently in the events for a few years. I don't think that most casual sports fans could really tell you much about Nagasu, Flatt, Czisny, Meissner, Wagner, or Zhang. They definitely aren't household names at this point, and Meissner was even once World Champion!

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Before the Evan/Johnny fans jump on you, I think a top lady skater in the U.S. will always be a bigger draw than a male simply because it's "safer" and more acceptable. It'll always be easier to market a female athlete in an artistic sport, no?

Yeah, that's what it probably comes down to in the States.

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What is your take on the 2002 Worlds ice dance fiasco? Do you think that the new scoring system has helped to eliminate these kinds of judging calls?

I was one of those that really felt for D/V. If you look at the judging all year, there were certain judges that always placed C/S ahead. The problem was that it was never really close until the Worlds free dance, when it ended up 5-4 in favor of C/S. Drobiazko even tripped in the original dance and they still managed to beat the Israelis in that portion.

I know that D/V had some construction issues with their free dance (the amount of circular sequences they did and the pattern really focusing on the middle of the rink, etc) and her posture wasn't anything remarkable, but the feeling and intensity behind that program just really blew me away. C/S had a great free dance that year, but I don't think they were good enough for the bronze.

As far as eliminating the suspect judging.. I think it's getting there. The technical side all receiving levels and GOE has helped tremendously, but I think I sound like a broken record when it comes to getting the judges to better understand/score the components. I don't think it's too awful in ice dance, though.

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Favorite piece of David Wilson choreography?

Dubreuil and Lauzon Somewhere in Time free dance, Rochette Il Etait Une Fois.. free skate, and a handful of Buttle programs if I had to think of stuff off the top of my head.

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Do you think a US pair team that would podium regularly internationally could revive skating a bit in the US? What about if the female had IT FACTOR extraordinaire? Maybe only would work for singles lady. What are your thoughts?

Nah, pairs skating has been really unsuccessful compared to the singles disciplines and lately the ice dancing. Many would say that Tanith Belbin has that "it" factor, but did she and/or Agosto help to revive the skating here? If anything, they may have gotten more young skaters to switch to ice dance, but I don't think they attracted more fans to the sport.

I still think it has to be a ladies singles skater, but then again, with all of the forms of media and communication we have now, it's not like the ice rink is the only place to see the skaters. You can even talk with some of them via Facebook or Twitter, and I think the result is that the only fandom that figure skating will gain is from those that are truly interested in the sport itself, rather than for a star skater.

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You've said that the U.S. needs a top ladies skater for making the FS relevant again. If the men (Abbott, Rippon...) start getting good results as world medals, could it help? Both are charming and look like the "perfect son"

Lysacek didn't really draw more attention to the sport in the USA, and he's the World and Olympic Champion. Weir made himself popular but he didn't really draw that many more people to competitive skating, at least in my opinion. I know some people from the bar I work at who watched the Olympics to see Johnny, only watched him, and then proceeded to go tell everyone that he is so underrated. LOL. So to answer the question, I don't really think that Abbott or Rippon being extremely successful will help the sport.

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Wonder if Inman was involved in the creation of the "before" version of the ISU video about TRs? http://www.usatoday.com/sports/columnist/brennan/2010-02-10-evgeni-plushenko-videos_N.htm

Even if he was, he had nothing to quote until Plushenko himself made the comment. Let's remember that :-)

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How much emailing about specific skaters goes on between judges? Do they talk about marks often?

I know some international-level judges besides Patrick Ibens, and I can tell you that it's nothing out of the ordinary for them to discuss skaters or programs and share their thoughts by exchanging Youtube links, etc. These people are some of the most passionate about figure skating, and of course they want to be able to talk about it. Nothing wrong with that.

As far as them talking about specific marks, I doubt they are saying things like "Well I clearly will be giving a 4.25 for transitions for this skaters' upcoming performance." Getting others to see things that you see (such as strong choreography, lack of transitions) might definitely happen, though.

If I were a judge on a panel and I scored someone a 5.00 in skating skills for their two-foot skating and mediocre posture and carriage, I'd really want the other judges to see that their 7.50 and 7.00's were way out of line so that I wouldn't appear to be the clueless one. Yet, it happens!

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What was so bad about Inman's letter? Is what he said much different than Joubert or Plushenko rallying for the quad?

Inman didn't say anything except questioning how judges should reply to/mark a skater who is flat-out saying that he doesn't have any transitions. As I've written elsewhere, Plushenko dragged Joubert into this all by himself.

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What do you think would need to happen to help make figure skating relevant again in the U.S.?

I think we just need a ladies skater who is very likable and starts producing results at or near the top. Nagasu would probably fill this position well, but like I said in previous discussions, I think she needs to get to the podium (or at least really close to it) by the end of next season.

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