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Thursday, February 28, 2013

2013 Junior worlds and moving from junior to senior

Junior worlds are currently taking place in Milan; the results page is here. Fans often like to speculate about the future success of junior skaters (or even younger skaters). It's worth keeping in mind, however, that while many skaters have found success at both the junior and senior level...

Monday, February 25, 2013

From the Desk of Mr. Y. Speed: A New Agenda - Learning from other sports

To all members,

as is my duty as dedicated official, my attentions are constantly tangent to all kinds of other sports. Watching them in close proximity, I've since come to resolute that drawing from other successful sports and implementing their innovations into the disciplines we administrate, is the best way to secure the future of the athletic endeavours we govern. 

One of the factors of today's success is providing a spectacle that meets the demands of exiting competitive sport and a televisable format that appeals to sponsors and audience as well. So far, we have been working hard on effecting change in that regard. With the look towards the other sports, we can advance this agenda even more.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Kiira Korpi withdraws from 2013 Worlds

This is not a huge surprise, as Korpi had withdrawn from the European Championships with an Achilles tendon injury. Now comes word from Finland that she will be unable to compete at this season's Worlds (she also missed the event last season).

Korpi had a wonderful start to the 2012-13 season, with her first-ever Grand Prix Final. Hopefully she can build on that as she works toward the Olympics next year. Get well soon, Kiira!

Edited to add: Ice Network now has an English-language story about Korpi's withdrawal.

From the Desk of Mr. Y. Speed: Suggested Reading

Dear members,

as is common knowledge, I devote extended periods of my time to surfing the information super highways. This I do in order to broaden my horizon and find inspiration for my labours in sport administration. I cannot say how delighted I was, when I discovered a certain publication from a governing body that features each issue a great editorial piece by a fellow administrator.

Upon reading, I immediately recognised him to be a kindred spirit. From the way he administers his sport, one can tell he is always working hard to implement progress and develop the future in all disciplines.

You can access current and back issues here:

Be sure to everytime read the enlightening editorial pieces. It will help you comprehend how the minds of people in sports administration work.

I myself already am inspired by several of the ideas that I've read about, and surely with the further percolation of said ideas in my head, it will lead to astonishing new developments in the future.

With the kindest regards

Y. Speed

Friday, February 15, 2013

Skaters, Take Note of Misha Ge!

You know how we keep discussing how restricting and generic IJS is on many elements? I think the level step sequences are especially gruesome to watch. They are mostly generic, monotonous, slow, take forever and usually are in disconnect with the music. In my opinion, the worst part of the level requirements for the steps was the upper body involvement/movement bit. Because, once that was put in, we got the flailing windmills and the "kissing/saluting the ice" ladies, to say the least.

The arms flail so much, you can hardly see them
I guarantee you, there is nothing that interesting on the ice to require such close inspection.
I think it is not impossible to actually tick this box and still do something original and perform to the music, instead of flailing like crazy while some music is playing in the background. Lambiel was always so good at that. His step sequences were so fluid and musical, you barely noticed he was doing them, while also ticking the boxes. Takahashi is also another good example. And you don't even need to be a top class skater like Takahashi or Lambiel to be able to pull it off. You can even beat them at their own game, with not a world class choreographer either but your mum choreographing no less. How, you ask? Behold and pay special attention to the step sequence starting at 2.47:

 Just brilliant!

Now this is what performing flamenco should look like, while still getting a level 3 on steps and great GOE. I loved it!

Another thing Misha is so great at is exhibitions (which is natural given his flair for performance). If you haven't watched his gala from this year, you are really missing out on one of the greatest skating fun moments. 

Is he a natural, or what!

I don't know how many skater and group numbers were done to this number but none came close to this. This is what performing a gala should be about, not skating a copycat and watered down competitive programme to a slow, annoying pop tune or skating around without any feel for the music. His performance is directed to the audience from start to finish and incorporates a fantastic feel of music and great dancing. Absolutely wonderful!

Skaters, please take note! This is what performing really looks like. And if a middle of the pile guy can do it so effortlessly, I'm sure some of you can rock it too, Misha Style.

Hanyu sure has the Misha Style down.

Image by courtesy of Misha's twitter

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Coulda Woulda Shoulda

There is no denying Figure Skating is a challenging sport. More so than some sports because;
a) You actually need to have an interest in figure skating to begin with, which (let's face it) is not very likely in most countries for the young male. Even in young females, the interest can be very little to non-existent if we are talking about a non-skating country (surely I would have had no interest in skating, hadn't it been for my mum and her obssession with Katarina Witt),
b) Even if you have interest, you/your sponsor must be able to finance the training costs, which are quite high, and
c) Even if you have met the above criteria, you might still end up not taking up skating because there are no decent rinks in your city/country (like in my case).
So, I think it is safe to assume that in terms of shining skating talents, we probably have a huge pool of lost opportunities on a global scale. I guess it is no wonder we get wunderkinds like Yuzuru Hanyu or Javier Fernandez once in a blue moon.
So, back in the day when I was following the TV competition Buzda Dans (Dancing on Ice, version Turkey), I have come across Ilhan Mansiz, who, in my opinion, was a shining skating talent gone to waste. He is a retired footballer (early retirement due to knee injury) so clearly he had some advantage, being an athlete, but his progress was still remarkable. To quote Samantha from SATC, he was a perfect case of Coulda Woulda Shoulda.

Monday, February 11, 2013

From rink to rink, blame Canada!

Picture me on my chaiselongue, wearing my favourite dressing gown, notepad in hand, a crème de menthe within reach, scribbling away at his post, and lackadaisically (as is customary these days) glancing over at the skating broadcast now and then. Thus was I happily, if somewhat idly, putting something on paper, when suddenly, in a strange twist of fate or rather an act of utter synchronicity, Kevin Reynolds took the 4CC Championship in quite remarkable fashion. Vouchsafe me a word with you by clicking on "Read more".

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Expect the unexpected - and then some

We all know that ice is slippery, that no result is guaranteed, and that even with PCS and GOEs often used to prop up favorites, there can be some surprising results. But what happened today in Osaka really does take the cake.

This actually happened. 

Congratulations to Kevin Reynolds, your 2013 Four Continents champion - who really did deliver a strong performance today (not as strong as the score suggests, but very good nonetheless). Also to Han Yan, who was able to hold on to a medal in his senior championship debut. I don't think Yuzuru Hanyu will be very pleased with his skating in the LP, but at least he managed a silver - which is considerably more than can be said for Daisuke Takahashi. Will the very unexpected results affect the skaters, and thus the outcome, in London (the Ontario one) next month? How does all this set up the guys for next season? Is global warming the culprit? Will the apocalypse - zombie or otherwise - soon be upon us?

Also, Mao landed her 3A and skated a fabulous SP! This certainly calls for a celebration.

Friday, February 8, 2013

An Open Letter to Jeffrey Buttle from his Fangirl

Dear Mr Buttle,

When I first laid eyes upon you, it was sometime in 2006. I am ashamed to say I didn't even really notice you before that. I was too involved in my love for Plushenko/Lambiel/Joubert. You won the bronze in 2006 games. I said meh.. Then you went on to win the gold at worlds in 2008, over my favourite at the time no less. I said more than meh but I will not utter those words here. Overall, I was pretty much indifferent to you as a skater. Sure, you had lovely skating skills and some interesting stuff but I was not sold at all.

Nice but still meh..

Then you retired after  the 2008 worlds. To be honest, I didn't feel too bad about that. I figured I probably won't come across your work much after that. I was ok with it.

Then you started working on shows. First, I said meh.. Then you kept on working in shows. I tried to say meh but I was getting more and more unconvinced with my indifference. I was becoming a fan.

Meh? Not so much.. In fact, quite yay!!!!
But the breakthrough really came when your choreographic work really started to resurface in the competitive arena.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Random thoughts about the IJS and its future

The IJS is now in its 10th season (9th full); following the Olympic season, it will have been in place for an entire decade. I have written here before about some of the effects I feel it has had on skating, both positive and negative. I view the off-season after the Olympics as a good point in time for the relevant people at the ISU to take a step back and look at what it’s accomplishing and what it isn't, and make a more serious effort to put together a system that can reward great skating without overly constraining it. The current approach of minor off-season tinkering and making changes as new problems arise has resulted in a system that’s too complex, and is reactive rather than proactive when it comes to promoting good skating. In my opinion, the core should be retained – element values, the idea of GOEs and PCS, rewarding rather than punishing – but there’s a lot that can be improved. Below are some of the questions I think should be considered; note that I’m not necessarily advocating any specific solutions.

Preface: I think skating is both a sport and an art, and much of this has to do with how to best combine and balance these two aspects, which can be contradictory at times.