Thursday, May 31, 2018

Virtue and Moir attempting one of
Papadakis & Cizeron's L4 competitive lifts.

Virtue and Moir in the Globe and Mail

Concluding paragraph.
They’ll have other projects to announce soon, they said, and new collaborations to begin. The next act for Canada’s Tessa and Scott may look a lot different from what we’ve seen so far.
These bitches. No it won't. Even if they decide to lift the veil on their more compelling unseen collaborations, new is not the word for any of them.

I'm discussing this article out of order because I did like this part near the end:
Moir and Virtue are a little less eager to do their own choreography. They skated one of their pieces at Pyeongchang – a flowing, elegiac tribute to Gord Downie, set to The Tragically Hip’s Long Time Running. But “we tend to steal from ourselves,” Moir said; and when working alone, they miss the perspective of what Virtue calls “the outside eye.”
Good. Long Time Running was, to me, as meh as most of their show dances, and the Gord Downie backstory was no help.

The article's author, Robert Everett-Green, observes that ice dance inhibits dancing, because you can't "stop and dance."

No worries. Ice dance rules and criteria have worked hard to get us to where teams are mostly stopping and "dancing". Our current world champions, Papadakis & Cizeron, seem to feel that the skating part of what they do is a pretty unfair expectation of Olympic athletes as extraordinary as themselves. That's for show boaty, cheap ass vulgarian panderers like Virtue and Moir (right, Madison Hubbell?).

Ice dance rules and regulations have developed to where teams are incentived to ignore as much as possible the fact that the medium is ice. Ice dance has eaten its own tail at this point.

Tessa says:

The impetus for our movement as a pair should be quite similar to that of the ballroom world. But we have just that forward-backward plane of motion with our blades. It’s very tough to transfer ballroom technique onto the ice, to give the illusion of the proper hip motion and position, with the speed and glide of the blade.

I don't know why Tessa bothers. Except that Virtue Moir have to execute proper technique to have a prayer, and other teams do not. Well, the Shibs have to do it too.* If it's not done perfectly, we hear from analysts - who have just cribbed the info from something they've overheard - that the reason the Shibs and/or Virtue and Moir didn't win was flawed execution of a technical detail. Other teams can ignore the whole translate dance into that forward/backward plane of motion bit, and break world records. Other teams win via creating "a special feeling." Virtue and Moir had to perform per archaic technical standards that don't apply to ice dance anymore, that have been stripped from the game.

When Virtue and Moir were not awarded the gold medal they won at the Sochi Olympics in 2014, we heard that they were artists, but Davis White were the technicians. When, via a magical, perfect storm that thwarted political intent, they crushed the field in 2018 Pyeongchang and were allowed to eek out a win, the narrative positioned Papadakis Cizeron as perhaps not the strongest technicians, but divinely gifted artists. Denied acknowledgment of both technical and "artistic" high cards over the course of 8 years, Virtue and Moir are currently positioned as cunning performers who win by hiding careless execution behind a cold, bold, and somehow unfair confidence. They're scary. And kind of cheating. They're practically Russian.

I don't think Virtue and Moir care, though. They have the gold, they won gold, even though it's the only gold medal win I can think of that is both deserved, and sticks in the craw. It's pretty much living in my craw.

You have to figure out how to incorporate the lateral movement and still keep the flow and integrity of the skating,” she said. “We try to give the effect of ballroom, but we often have to get there through very different means.

Well, they have to. Others, no.

Article:
In dance terms, their Moulin Rouge routine had a ballroom base, a lot of balletic movement in the arms and bits that looked more contemporary. It’s the last category – the one least favoured by the conservative standards of their sport – that they most want to expand in their non-competitive ice dancing.
"Bits that looked more contemporary" is one of my favorite ice dance terms.

Those are descriptive generalizations. But, as we all know, ice dance is now whatever you want it to be, as is only proper in an elite Olympic sport. Conservative, it ain't. If the right deals are in place, you can slop it up out there however you want.

P.S. - are we still describing Papadakis & Cizeron as humble flower childy skaters too sensitive for the competitive world who somehow win because they summon magic, but it's all about the feeling for them, or can we jump on ahead to where they actually are - we deserve it all, and any contrary result is inherently unfair?


*Which makes them both better off than a number of other teams who are never going to get on the podium no matter what they do.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Degrees of separation

I've had a few weeks with sporadic access to wifi, and when I've been on the web, my attention has been diverted by this:

WTF with the arm.


Yikes.

Her stylist and BFF is Jessica Mulroney, as if one couldn't tell:



Never been a particular
Royal Family (or Harry) fan
but Mazel Tov to the happy couple.
Jessica Mulroney is married to Ben Mulroney who has interviewed Virtue and Moir at least twice, so there's that.

I know instagram posing has bled into video. All that matters is the 2D shot,so the walk is really a pose. Ivanka Trump is the avatar of this trend. This, though, is a whole new level.

I can't decide if HRH really believes he's engaged to a Michelle Obama/Emma Watson hybrid, or is just marketing it like that. All I know is the posing, duckface and Mulroney-fication of her wardrobe has intensified since the engagement announcement, when one would have anticipated that sort of thing would be on the wane. And the astro-turfing is beyond belief.

Ok, that's off my chest.

 *******

I did a drive by to the skating forums and I just can't with the debate between P/C and V/M again focused on non-skating issues and complete skating ignorance. It's predictable but each time it grates. I can't with the oh so surprising latent sour grape-iness in Papadakis and Cizeron becoming manifest. These two wouldn't be in the top ten without the deal making favor swapping bullshit of the past eight years, but they've already developed an enormous sense of entitlement. It still kills me watching Virtue and Moir's absolutely brilliant, knife's edge skate at Pyeongchang while P/C assed their way through, and Virtue Moir barely barely eeked out a win.

I really wish Virtue and Moir would pull the plug already but maybe they think they can milk a few more drops out of will they or won't they. I hope no atom of them is contemplating remaining in the sport. Just let P/C be the 7-8 time in a row World Champions and 2022 Olympic Champions and see how the sport thrives. To tie in the British Royal Family, everybody wonders if the Monarchy will survive after Elizabeth II, and I'm wondering how figure skating is going to sustain any type of interest in ice dance when Virtue and Moir disappear from the competitive scene. P/C have a devoted internet fandom, and figure skating wouldn't be the first organization to confuse internet fanaticism that with actual popularity and the ability to draw a crowd (Virtue and Moir have it all).

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Worlds

As an FYI, I am in the middle of (trying to) travel, and I don't know what the internet situation will be when I arrive at my destination, although it's supposed to have WiFi. But it's also a very outdoorsy trip. I'll be away from my reliable internet, IOW, during most of Worlds.

Here's a placeholder:

10th place. Sheesh. No matter what my attitude has been, they're better than that.

Notable head styling on Marinaro. A little Evan Bates-ey.

I see Virtue Moir are still being cagey re their status AND have yet to go one way or the other about retirement.

We know how ice dance will play out, goldwise at Worlds. Enjoy it, P/C.

Kostner ahead of Zagitova? I need to check that out.

P.S. - re MTM 2, noticing the streamlined presentation. Wish they (and MTM V.1) had gone that way from the first.


Wednesday, March 7, 2018

You be the judge

canadablue's clear, bite-sized, apples to apples PC versus VM comparisons

Someone should retweet to @LynnRutherford. It's a safe bet Rutherford would respond that canadablue is partisan, which is why someone should ask Lynn if she thinks the actual skating on evidence is partisan. I doubt she'd be able to say. We all know you need to be a super expert to discern these things.

Me, I love the butt jut call outs on Cizeron. Tired of Gabriella getting saddled with the role of the skater dragging down the team. No fan of her, but he's nowhere near top drawer. He's ragged. Show me a case of his sublime edgework, stroking, and beautiful, un-enabled glide. Just show me.

In the comments section of the preceding post, there was some discussion of 2002 Worlds and what a brouhaha ensued when the Israeli team beat the Lithunanians to the bronze.

Setting aside that outrage in figure skating is always super selective and ultra hypocritical, here is the Lithuanian free dance.




Here are the Israelis:




Who can tell? The Lithunanian program is exactly like most of the programs skated by most teams from 1999-2002, or it feels that way. It's bravura in style, with a lot of hair work by the woman, but how much skating is going on? He's on two feet much of the time, on a flat a lot of the time, and mostly uses his edges for stroking, working up the momentum for his next bout of flinging her around.

I'm not saying the Israeli skate deserved to finish ahead of the Lithuanians, but it's one of those cases where, if it WAS rigged, I can't get bent out of shape. Chait is unsteady at least once during her skate, but she's not being dragged and flung around as much as Drobiazko. In fact, they do more skating than the Lithuanians, more non-stroking skating. Assessing skating bona fides amidst the flinging and running, rotating and sliding, posing and presenting by Drobiazko Povilas is challenging. There's less gratuitous non-skating with Chait Sakhnovski, but yes, I'm left with the impression that if I sent the two teams stroking around the ice, the Lithuanians would be stronger. But with the content being what it is, how can all of those who protested the outcome assess who deserved to win. The good skaters who didn't do a whole lot of skating, or the lesser skaters who skated quite a bit, at least comparitively?

The Israelis probably are a cut or so below as far as skill level, but to balance that out, I prefer their costumes (the black and white is really refreshing for that era) and their skate-y (for 2002) program. And they're pretty.

Speaking of pretty:



And the team I understand is ice dance's latest wunderkinder:



We can see the difference, right? Anyone can. Yet among the internet fandom I believe Saucise Firus are gearing up for a PC-esque cult.

Is "ironic" the word for the prevalence of figure skating/ice dance fans who are bored to death by both skating and dance and prefer as little as possible in their ice dance programs? Whatever, they're in luck - the ice dance world agrees with them.


Skating. So nice to see in a skating program.
Please please don't let them
be Paul Islam'd. Somebody give them a
Fix You.

ETA - as I've done a lot, I again googled "lyrical contemporary, origins of" because, as our academic in the comments below surely realizes, "Modern" is relative. In certain historical contexts, it can mean a mere thousand years ago. In other contexts, "modern" can mean my Fitbit.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Same same same

Here's a chat from Chock Bates:

Chock Bates chat

They describe two of the requirements in ice dance (other than, you know, skating skills):

"You must have a beat, in both programs, that is one of the many rules."

So when it comes to Papadakis Cizeron, is the rule that the music have a beat, and it doesn't matter if they, the skaters, do?

And

"You have to have a change of rhythm, change of mood."

Okey doke. Obviously, an exception has been made for PC, this record-scoring free dance team.

My favorite comment:

"Picking music is definitely the most challenging process. You want to pick something that will stand out, and be different. Also, be different for you. You don't want to keep doing the same style of dance every year." Setting aside that Chock Bates themselves only really changed it up this year, Davis White and Papadakis Cizeron beg to differ.


 Let's look at 2014:



Of note, the supposedly sublime Cizeron wobbles like a son of a bitch when he attempts any type of one-foot when lifting Papadakis. Even on a flat. Oh I know, he is the god of skating skills, as long as he's on a flat. And even then it's iffy.

Notice how much skating is in this 2014 program. It's a lot of skating. They both keep their blades on the ice for extended periods of time, criss-crossing that rink. They finished in 13th place. There's a reason.

Been reading in the previous post's comment section that PC fans point to this program as evidence they can be versatile. Come on people, get a grip. The reason they don't DO programs such as this anymore is they don't want to end up in 13th place, or, more to the point, have skating fans think they should. Skating fans don't notice when a team two-foots throughout a program, does things one at a time, doesn't sustain, and performs dumbed down elements. As long as it looks smooth. Skating fans do notice when things are awkward and wobbly.

Their skating skills are the same as they were in 2014. Their programs changed, and the rules altered to help them out, so as not to expose them. They're fake.

Finally, my favorite program from when Virtue and Moir were juniors:


How many podium contending senior teams could do that today

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Oh so innovative


Papadakis and Cizeron are innovative, ground-breaking, all modern things, at least that's what their fans claim. Reinventing the wheel whenever they take the ice with their very very very very modern way of ice dancing.

Here's 57 year-old Sergei Ponomarenko, whose son Anthony is an ice dancer. Sergei won the 1992 Olympic gold medal in ice dance (in Albertville) with his partner/spouse, Marina Klimova.

The Artiste today(ish). So his gold
medal-winning days are awhile back.
There's a whole lot of lead up to this exhibition, but the point will be clear when they begin skating.



Papadakis & Cizeron's so-called breakthrough program was based on Le Parc, a 1990s "Modern" ballet that is more representational than dynamic, just what you want for an ice dance program. Looking at old Klimova/Ponomarenko, I'm wondering if PC's team went back to the 1990s for more than just Le Parc. But it just kills me that this lyrical arms stuff is seen by ANYBODY as avant garde (which, google tells me, means new, experimental. It means unusual ideas, particularly in the arts). Skating aside, in all of figure skating, including ice dance, lyrical ballet-ish is common as mud and has been for over thirty years.  One reason ice dance established specific elements for the free, IMO, was that, since the 1980s, lyrical ballet was taking the "discipline", at least where the free dance was concerned, into amorphous mush, where the sport piece of it could hardly be located. There was later some encouragement, for one hot second, to bring ballroom back to the free for a needed re-set before ice dance found itself sliding into complete irrelevancy. Particularly as the compulsory dance (required pattern) portion of the competition was being cut. The compulsories are where these 1990s ice dancers like Klimova Ponomorenko established their "ice DANCE" bona fides before venting their inner Isadora Duncan, or borrowing myopically (but innovatively!) from indigineous dance traditions in the free. So no matter what this show program looks like (or their 1992 Olympic championship program looks like), we know Klimova and Ponomorenko had to skate in closed hold and show mastery of a number of pattern dances/steps and footwork, in order to place themselves into contention before the free. Which is not something Papadakis & Cizeron have ever had to do.

****


Wanted to do this gif of their gala Goose. The bad ass
way she puts her arm behind her head, and the even
badder ass way she steps off without an assist.
You can see Scott drop the mic with his facial
expression (that's how I choose to read it), even if
it looks so easy many people just don't get it.
More than how they execute the elements, which is superior, it's how Scott and Tessa transition into and out of them that sets them so far above every other ice dance team.

Followed the gala on Goldenskate, then watched videos later. When P/C skated, one fan said "The GLIDE."  They are on two feet 90% of that skate. Scott and Tessa's exhibition was lift-centric and position change-centric in lifts, yet they were on their edges far more.

Some speculation on the boards as to who can possibly challenge PC in the next quad. (Provided VM retire, and please please please.) Well, good luck, ice dance. The reaction to them, generally and IMO, this entire competition, was a yawn outside their fan base. If they win everything from now til 2022 nobody's going to be watching. I don't know if I can stand another "actual skaters versus non-skaters" rivalry - in fact, I pretty much couldn't stand it this last go round. Maybe they'll come up with another non-skating team to go against PC's non-skating. Going by the judges, the US has made its bid in the deal room, but it probably won't be the Shibs.

P.S. - a truly wonderful fan cam of Virtue and Moir's fd. Most fan cams flatten out the performance, but this one is visceral:


Friday, February 23, 2018

These are their good twizzles

I'm not kidding. These are decent twizzles. If you stop motion any set of twizzles, you're going to catch small out of sync moments where one partner is slightly ahead, and it's the same here. However, essentially, when they are mid-twizzle, when you stop-play, they are at the same point in the spin.

The trouble happens during transitions.


This happens (image above) because Gabriella and Guillame's free legs are held at different angles, which is typical for them. He opens out of twizzle before she does, and clearly so, in real time. She's quick enough to catch up by the time they finish the turn, and their free legs hit the ice at the same time. However, him opening up before she does is very obvious. It's not because they're out of sync during the spins. It happens during the transition - she's behind, and it's because their angles don't match. Whoever has the issue, the other one should be matching it, but nobody bothers. Why should they. It's 10.0, L4 and + 3 regardless.

OK, this is a little obvious, but only if you look.
They really do match most of the time
when they're spinning (in this performance). By "match" 

I mean where they are in the rotation, not how they align their
bodies. Because that never happens. She's got her way,
he's got his way, but as long as they're both limpid and
relaxed, who cares.

Even some of their fans are calling on them to do
a different sort of program, as if they have genius
versatility they've been holding out on us. But I
really don't care. I just want them to quit this shit.
This is their go to move. I think it's over 50% of their
choreography. Squat, squat, squat (which is, of course,
a two-footed move. But they are two-footed "skaters")

Ok, look at the angle of her working blade look at his.
Look at her arms, look at his. Look at her free leg, look at his.
Look at his carriage, look at hers. No wonder they're
extolled for their unison. (And not to mention, what

magnificent deep edges from both, am I right?)

More twizzling. Here's what happens. He
obviously catches his foot before she does.
She doesn't catch her foot until she's rotated, so she
pre-rotates this twizzle, not adding the feature until
she's half rotated, but who's paying attention, right? These
are their good twizzles. If VM had done these, it would
have been yellow boxes for days. As I said, once they're
spinning in this particular performance, they are as in 

sync as any other good team executing a strong twizzle 
pass, and she usually gets where she needs to be when the 
twizzle is underway, and when it ends. But transitioning? 
This keeps happening. But it's them, so let them set a WR.
A squat, plie or crouch also, of course, lowers the center of balance, and center of gravity, and the very wide foot stance makes their gravitational centers enormous, which everyone knows is a defining attribute of quality skating skills and top notch athleticism. It's a favorite stance of the supposedly sublime Cizeron. He loves to go low.

It pretty much takes any high level skill out of the equation, particularly using an inside edge, as they both do in the image further up. I once saw a grandfather on a train instructing his small granddaughter to plant her feet far apart when she wanted to stand.

Just looking at this performance called to mind Madison Hubbell saying that Virtue and Moir make "lots of little bobbles." Jesus, gaslighting is just a way of life these days, I guess, because her French friends have made a whole bunch of little bobbles their calling card.