Addict's Aids

Addict's Aids

Post by Trudi Marrapo » Sat, 27 Sep 1997 04:00:00


Quote:

> 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.

Glad to hear it. Welcome, Beverley, to what is bound to be an
anything-but-boring skating season!

Quote:
> Onward, I am interested in your collective knowledge.  I want some
> 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?

Wow, where do we start?

Quote:
> It is easy to tell (and repeatedly pointed out) if a jump completely
> 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?

You make good points. I don't think there's any way to become an expert on
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
traveling spin.

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

Quote:
> talk about the jumps was okay.  But now I want more than steak on my
> 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.)

Ah, but they don't seem to realize that, do they? I think they also
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.

Quote:
> Boy, is it ever easy to go off on a tangent.  Thanks for your aid.

> Beverley

Don't I know it! Well, hope this and other comments will help. I would
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
do.

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.

--
Trudi
President for Life, International Skate-Trolling Union

To mail me, replace "forgetaboutit" with "frontiernet"

 
 
 

Addict's Aids

Post by Lori Couls » Sat, 27 Sep 1997 04:00:00

: Onward, I am interested in your collective knowledge.  I want some
: 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?

Smoothness of movement over the ice, how well the choreography captures
(or doesn't capture) the music, flow into _as well as out of_ jumps...

: It is easy to tell (and repeatedly pointed out) if a jump completely
: 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?

For examples of excellent footwork, jumps, and choreography, I give you Scott
Hamilton, Brian Boitano, Paul Wiley, Michelle Kwan, Peggy Fleming, Dorothy
Hamill...

Lousy footwork, little to no edges, awkward jump entrances and exits,
nonexistant choreography -- Surya Bonaly.  Bad music/choreography choices
- Victor Petrenko.  Too much posing and primping - Oksana Baiul.  Nancy
Kerrigan has good technique, but a lot of her performances seem either
forced or lifeless.

As for jumps, just being able to do them isn't enough...the skater should
look good coming out of them.  Elvis has a tendency to "break at the
waist" or bend over when he lands--Scott Hamilton is close in size and
build, but watch how elegantly he comes out of his jumps, and it's
consistent.  Surya Bonaly has no flow into or out of her jumps--just pop!
into the air and comes to almost a dead stop on landing.  Watch Chen Lu or
Michelle Kwan -- there is flow.

Ghods!  This is longer than I intended.

Lori Coulson
--
*****************************************************
...Or do you still wait for me, Dream Giver...  
   Just around the riverbend?            Pocahontas
*****************************************************

 
 
 

Addict's Aids

Post by Beverley Pagur » Sat, 27 Sep 1997 04:00:00

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.

Onward, I am interested in your collective knowledge.  I want some
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?

It is easy to tell (and repeatedly pointed out) if a jump completely
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?

The first few years watching competitions and hearing commentators only
talk about the jumps was okay.  But now I want more than steak on my
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.)

Boy, is it ever easy to go off on a tangent.  Thanks for your aid.

Beverley

 
 
 

Addict's Aids

Post by HILL JANET SW » Sat, 27 Sep 1997 04:00:00

Quote:


>: Onward, I am interested in your collective knowledge.  I want some
>: 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?

Thanks to Lori for starting.  I'll add some stuff.

Quote:
>: cooperative.  Edges, spins, jumps, footwork-what are the insider's
>: guides to "less than perfect" completion of the elements?

In spins, the positions should be distinct and crisp.  Each position
should be held for a minimum of 3 revolutions .... long enough to
"establish" the position, and as the skater changes position, there should
be a sense that they move from one to another because they want to, not
that they can't hold the present position any longer. Russian skaters seem
to have a tendency to "muddy" combination spins .... doing a number of
positions, many of them not held long enough to "establish" and with a
sense of needing to "escape" from one position to another.  Both Bonaly
and Baiul have a tendency, in spins where they hold a blade, to let go of
the blade and come out of the spin with a "kerthunk".

A flying spin should "fly", and not be entered from a "stepover".

Look at the programs for "connecting moves" ....the little stuff that
comes between major "tricks" ..... half-jumps, spirals, spreadeagles, Ina
Bauers, isolated footwork moves (like counters or twizzles).  These things
complicate a skater's life a lot.  If they can do connecting moves well
and not have them interfere with how well they do the big tricks, it's a
real hallmark of competence.  See especially Michelle Kwan for this.  Also
Rudy Galindo.

Footwork ..... variety:  turns done both clockwise and counterclockwise,
both turns done on one foot (3s, brackets, counters, rockers, twizzles)
and turns that start on one foot and end on another (mohawks and
choctaws), quickness, control.  Flailing arms, scratchiness, lack of
turns, turns only CCW, etc. are hallmarks of less-difficult and
less-well-performed footwork.  Yuka Sato has spectacular footwork, and
actually gains speed in most of her footwork sequences.  Other footwork
"giants" would include Scott Hamilton, Kurt Browning, and Paul Wylie.
Trudi and others would include Brian Orser here, and I won't argue, but
I've seen so little of him that his name just doesn't spring to my mind.
Minimalist footwork artists would include Elvis Stojko (lots of no-turn
footwork), and Viktor Petrenko (complex footwork done VERY slowly and
pretty much in one place), as well as Surya Bonaly (not much of any kind).
Boitano, over time, has become a kind of "specialist" in footwork
performed on one foot -- it's hard, and he does it very well .... better
than most .... but it tends not to be quick.  Other skaters (Browning and
Hamilton, for instance) have a greater mix of footwork, but theirs is more
heavily weighted toward mohawks and choctaws.

On jumps, look for lack of "telegraphing" ..... that is, jumps should flow
right out of the program, and not require a long nearly straight glide
while the skater gets "centered" and gets up enough nerve to jump.  Most
skaters will do a certain amount of telegraphing (especially leading into
a lutz), but some go in for "REALLY long distance".  Bonaly used to be
quite apalling at this, but has improved a lot.  

Extension and a sense of finishing every move.  If you watch football,
you've heard announcers say "he started to run with the ball before he
caught it" ...... the same problem afflicts skaters .... they'll be
thinking so hard about what next that they may forget to complete the move
before.

Speed and ice coverage are really difficult to judge from TV.  Both are
important, but you may not be able to pick up on them.

Some things that matter very little or not at all:  The costume, the hair,
the skater's height or weight, whether the music is tired and hackneyed,
whether someone else is using the same music, whether the skater is using
last year's program.

        janet

--

 
 
 

Addict's Aids

Post by Monysm » Sat, 27 Sep 1997 04:00:00

Trudi wrote some hints for analyzing the good, the bad and the ugly on TV
(or live skating), but since it's too long to really quote wholesale here,
I'll just say Thank you!  I book marked this to be able to go back and
re-read it later, because I thought the explanations were wonderful and
most helpful!

Monysmom

 
 
 

Addict's Aids

Post by Trudi Marrapo » Sun, 28 Sep 1997 04:00:00


Quote:

> Trudi wrote some hints for analyzing the good, the bad and the ugly on TV
> (or live skating), but since it's too long to really quote wholesale here,
> I'll just say Thank you!  I book marked this to be able to go back and
> re-read it later, because I thought the explanations were wonderful and
> most helpful!

I think everybody has come up with some good stuff to look at. I tend to
avoid terms like "counters" and "twizzles" when describing what to look
for because, heck, I probably wouldn't be able to tell you off the top of
my head what a counter is vs. a rocker, or whatever. I can't tell a mohawk
from a choctaw. The point is, something is going on with the feet, instead
of simple gliding. I'll admit, I'm a lot better at ID'ing jumps than
footwork, which is no surprise seeing as how they are what gets the
attention on TV and is easiest to see.

And Janet...that does it...I'm going to HAVE to send you some Orser tapes,
particularly the short program from '88 Canadians. The footwork is
downright unreal.

--
Trudi
President for Life, International Skate-Trolling Union

To mail me, replace "forgetaboutit" with "frontiernet"

 
 
 

Addict's Aids

Post by Lorrie K » Sun, 28 Sep 1997 04:00:00



Quote:


>>: cooperative.  Edges, spins, jumps, footwork-what are the insider's
>>: guides to "less than perfect" completion of the elements?

>In spins, the positions should be distinct and crisp.  Each position
>should be held for a minimum of 3 revolutions .... long enough to
>"establish" the position, and as the skater changes position, there should
>be a sense that they move from one to another because they want to, not
>that they can't hold the present position any longer. Russian skaters seem
>to have a tendency to "muddy" combination spins .... doing a number of
>positions, many of them not held long enough to "establish" and with a
>sense of needing to "escape" from one position to another.

        An easy way to learn about sit-spins is to contrast the extremes:
Todd Eldredge and Ilia Kulik.  Kulik's look like he is sort of mumbling,
and he's always in a hurry to get up and do something else.  Eldredge's
are as hot and clean as a bullet and give me, personally, an "a-ha!"
feeling of "So that's how they should look."  And he holds them long
enough to give you a good look.  Usually I prefer inspiration over
perspiration, but the quality difference between these two men's sits is
undeniable and instructive.

                                        Lorrie Kim