> First, I would like to mention how much I enjoy this newsgroup since
> this is my 1st post. It gives me as a barely-touched-the-ice figure
> skating fan/*** a lot of incite on the sport and its personalities.
anything-but-boring skating season!
> guides for the TV viewing fan. What do we need to pay attention to when
> watching the upcoming competitions to tell the cream of the crop from
> the arm waving pretenders?
> falls apart-especially if full cheek contact is made with the ice. It's
> the other aspects of the programs that don't have the black/white
> obiviousness that I need help with. I know that spins should NOT travel
> on the ice, but the camera positions and angles aren't always
> cooperative. Edges, spins, jumps, footwork-what are the insider's
> guides to "less than perfect" completion of the elements?
these things overnight, and most of us are still learning. Here are some
ideas, though, and I am sure others will add theirs:
1. If you have a VCR with frame-by-frame capability, use it to slow down
jumps so it's easier to tell the number of revolutions (and eventually in
real time it becomes easier to tell a double and triple apart) and to ID
the various jumps. If you can't do this now, you'd be amazed at how
quickly you can become better at it when you slow the jumps down. Get a
skating book with diagrams of the jumps to look at as you replay them
frame by frame and in real time.
2. Edges. The most important aspect of edges you'll probaby ever be
concerned with it telling a "lutz" from a "flutz." If the skater is
leaning "outside the jump" with his or her body on the lutz takeoff (when
sticking the other toe into the ice), it's a true lutz. If the skater is
leaning "inside the jump," it's a flutz.
Edges are also handy to know something about when judging footwork in
singles, pairs or especially ice dancing. The main thing to look for is
leaning and curving. Leaning and curving are good--they mean the skater is
using his or her edges. Straight up-and-down bodies are not as good--they
mean the skater is skating on the flats of both edges, which is easier.
3. Spins. Here are good things to find in spins: centering on one spot,
speed, large number of revolutions, variations in position that are done
with ease, good positions in those variations (such as straight legs in
camel spins, graceful leans in laybacks, true sits in sitspins). All these
things can be summed up in one word: CONTROL.
If you find it hard to tell when a spin is traveling on TV, let the camera
folks tell you. Usually it's pretty obvious when they are doing a lot of
"tracking" to keep a skater centered in their lenses. If you get a feeling
of camera motion from right to left or vice versa (rather than up or down
on a boom), it's a sign of either an incompetent cameraperson or a badly
4. Footwork. This is tougher. Some guidelines: Footwork on edges (with
leans and curves), or that alternates edges with the toepick (which is
very easy to trip on and go sprawling), is easier than footwork on flats.
Footwork that's fast is usually harder than footwork that's slow. Footwork
that employs a lot of twisting and turning and constant shifting and
rebalancing, especially when done quickly, is trickier and harder than
footwork that is more or less straightforward. Footwork that moves across
the ice rather than staying in one place is harder. Footwork executed in
both directions (with many directional changes) is harder than footwork
that turns all in one direction. And, of course, footwork that the skater
executes as if it were nothing, looking as if he or she is just having a
great time entertainin' ya rather than struggling like crazy, is also
better than footwork that looks labored.
Of course, that could be said for all of skating. "Making the difficult
look easy" always beats "making the easy look difficult" or even "making
the difficult look difficult."
Also, look for what the skater does when not doing a jump, a spin, or a
footwork sequence. Does the skater just chug around the rink doing
crosscuts, or does he or she have some interesting ways of making the
transition from one move to another? Little jumps--maybe even in the
footwork? Interesting dance steps or glides on a foot (like the
spreadeagle or spiral)? Does the skater make the jumps or spins hard by
using one of these as an entry into a jump or spin, or an exit? Is
everything the skater does interesting--or does your mind wander? Or is it
all just so predictable?
> The first few years watching competitions and hearing commentators only
> plate - salad and potato would be appreciated. (Side note: it truly
> irritates me that the commentators - SWEEPING GENERALIZATION TO FOLLOW -
> moan and groan that the sport has become a tremendous "jump off" then
> fail to notice that, unless the skaters hair is on fire, the only thing
> they comment on is the jumps! I feel that if they want the viewers to
> place more importance on the other elements, then 'they' need place more
> importance on covering the other elements.)
realize that when it comes to "eligible" competitions at least, there
isn't much way around it: jumps are king, for the singles and to some
extent the pairs. Not that the skater who hits the most jumps will always
win, but 9 times out of 10...so they feel they are betraying the audience
if they don't make a big deal out of the jumps. To some extent, this is
needed to explain the results; there are a lot of people like you who may
not always be able to tell a well-executed double from a triple, and they
want to know why Johnny won when he fell on one of his jumps and Jerry
landed all of his. They need to understand that Johnny's jumps were all
triples (including his failed attempt) and that Jerry doubled all his
jumps. But where the commentators sometimes come up short is also pointing
out that Johnny may also have done more difficult footwork, "in-between"
moves and spins than Jerry as well. Or Jerry may have skated more slowly
than Johnny to boot. Or placed all his elements right down the middle of
the rink with nothing for the corners (this is VERY hard if not impossible
to see on TV, but good commentators point it out).
And one thing very few of the commentators do a good job of is explaining
how the judging works and how the factored placements determine the
winners. Sometimes their "explanations" are more convoluted than the
actual situation was. They need to do a better job of this so people don't
keep on saying "Betty was robbed because she skated better than Bonnie
tonight but Bonnie still won." What people forget is that Bonnie won the
short program and Betty was 6th, so by winning the long program (which she
incidentally did), Betty maybe only pulled herself up to third, and Bonnie
had an off-night but was still second in the long, so she won overall.
Such situations are not "ripoffs," they are merely taking into account the
results of the entire competition.
also say, go out and get skating books and read them. But not _Inside
Edge_; that could give you a lot of wrong ideas. Read books on how to
skate; that'll help you better understand what the skaters are trying to
And if all else fails, word has it that Kristi Yamaguchi is going to write
(or at least have a ghost write with her) the _Figure Skating for Dummies_
book in the "For Dummies" series. This is good. I was just reading _The
Complete Idiot's Guide to Football_ by Joe Thiesmann in the bookstore the
other day and thinking "Figure skating needs a book like this, and it
needs one before the next Olympics." I guess I think like a publisher.
Kristi's book is due out in January.
President for Life, International Skate-Trolling Union
To mail me, replace "forgetaboutit" with "frontiernet"