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Thursday, June 27, 2013

That's Entertainment: Jazzy Tomáš

I miss the days when Tomáš Verner would at least skate well occasionally - the example below being one such occasion. After his breakthrough 2006-7 season, Verner went with a fun and jazzy short program, which he would keep for two seasons. Probably his best performance of it was at the 2009 Europeans, which remains his PB for a short program. Sadly, he faltered in the free to finish off the podium.

 Verner in Helsinki, 2009

This SP proves two things: that Lori Nichol is capable of choreographing the occasional entertaining program (at least, I think that was Nichol's work), and that Verner is capable of landing jumps of more than two revolutions. If only he could do so more often... Verner at his best is a wonderful entertainer, and a welcome addition to any gala. At his worst, well, let's not go there.

Starting in the post-Olympic season, competitive skating programs may go the (musical) way of gala numbers, as music with lyrics will be allowed in all disciplines. Here is Verner's take on the use of music with lyrics and how to improve skating without that sort of change:

"The ISU wants to leave more freedom for the skaters, so after the Olympics, they want to allow the use of vocal music. I think it would be crazy. Even now some skaters choose music which are not very suitable for figure skating. I don’t want to decide what is suitable for our sport and what isn’t, but imagine, poor judges will have to survive 24 songs by Britney Spears or some heavy metal… I wonder how they will manage. I would give more freedom to skaters in other aspects: concerning spins, steps, so that the judges could really see who can really skate, not only who have read the rules the most carefully." 

As to the last part, I couldn't have said it better myself.

The concept for the "that's entertainment" posts was explained in the first entry in the series. If you have ideas and further suggestions, please feel free to share them! 

Monday, June 10, 2013

A thought experiment

Some time ago, I discussed my thoughts about the emphasis that many skating commentators and fans place on transitions, and why this is an unfortunate approach, in my opinion. This has gotten to the point where one wonders if some people remember that transitions, by their very nature, should be linking between other (more important) things and serving the program rather than the other way around. After running into yet another discussion of how a certain skater was Lacking In Transitions, always an indication that a skater only Cares About Jumps, I have come up with the following experiment:

Whenever you feel the need to argue that skater X may be unworthy of his marks because his program does not have enough transitions, or that she should finish lower because her transitions aren't difficult enough, or that pair Y is vastly superior because they have more transitions than pair Z, swap the word transitions for one of the following:

1. Spread eagles
2. Spirals
3. Salchows
4. Style and individuality
5. Sequins or sparkles

Does your evaluation of the skaters' merit and the program quality still make sense? No? Well, let that serve as a reminder that you should not judge skaters, or their programs, based on just one component.

Kevin van der Perren never neglected point no. 5

Monday, June 3, 2013

Grand Prix, not final

The Grand Prix assignments have been published, signalling that the 2013-4 season is right around the corner! Okay, so that might be overstating things just a bit, but there's actual skating news to discuss, and we can't be choosy in our time of need the off-season. The usual disclaimers apply: skaters will withdraw by choice or necessity, new assignments will be made, and at least some events will leave us wondering - where have all the skaters gone?

Nonetheless, here are some quick thoughts about the assignments and how the events stack up with the current entries. The full assignments can be viewed here.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

From the Desk of Mr. Y. Speed: TV coverage - A new audio-visual Agenda

Dear Members, Fans, Skaters, and Officials,

a long time ago, I concluded to myself that the key to success is information and in logical conclusion the conveyance of it. I have since tried to excogitate ideas on how this can find application in our broadcasts.

It is with much pleasure that I now announce the termination of this thought process regarding new technology and its benevolent use with concern to the TV coverage of our sports events.