Friday, March 22, 2013

I don't think simple physics supports this

Somebody says it's like this:

I don't want to argue either teams twizzles here, but no matter if I agree or not, simple physics is actually saying that you're wrong. Not only does a hop create an extra force thus can throw you easier off-balance (think car in a turn; the faster the more likely it is to get carried out of the turn), it also creates a condratictory force to a turn in many ways. If you hop, you have to land which is actually a break in the movement; your knee needs to bend and then to push up again so you can turn and travel. And the body direction of the hop and the turn are two different ones as well - the hop goes straight, the turn, obviously, rotates. There are a lot of counter-forces at work with the hop.

Wait - we're talking about a car that is balanced and centered over one of its front wheel tires with the car's body aligned vertically above that point, correct? Man, I wish people would stop doing that - it causes accidents, even if their car has been working out and has a strong core.

This whole statement in italics is simply guessing the physics, not simple physics. The actual physics is closer to the step into a camel spin.

Later today I'll use the diagram of a camel spin and then the screen caps of a Davis/White twizzle entry.

Here's an explanation of the dynamics of a camel spin:
The skater steps forward into the center of the circle that was created by the back crossovers, reverses direction, and then pushes into the camel spin.
As the skater enters a camel spin, the skater should step onto a strong and deep curve. The skater's shoulders should be level. The skating knee should bend deeply as the skater leans forward into a spiral position.
Compare it to Weaver & Poje's (slower) twizzles. They do three, so no hop into the first set. But they get into their catch-foot position with no forward tilt and no knee bend. And btw, Tessa and Scott do the same hop into a catch foot in the middle section of one of their twizzle passes but for them that's considered the "easier" of the three twizzles according to Eurosport, with the entry and exit sets supposedly more difficult - even though their free leg is held close to their bodies immediately, their torsos aren't tilted forward, and their knees are straighter. When Meryl and Charlie lead in with that - it's amazing!! Stunning!

Of course.

What it looks like to me - and the simple physics of the camel spin and Charlie and Meryl's twizzle entry appear very similar - is Charlie and Meryl are using basic camel spin physics to get into the fast twizzle rotation. What Charlie and Meryl's entry does is assist the speed of the rotation using angular momentum.

You know what would be super impressive? If they did that and began their twizzle over a narrow axis (harder to stablize). Like, you know, Scott and Tessa do in their "easier" middle set.

This move as DW do it is a bit destablizing but their ability to twizzle despite the instability is less impressive because of their alignment. They distribute their center of gravity over a wider and balanced area - their legs are stretched behind as they reach behind to catch the foot, and their torso is tilted forward - and their knees are bent. That alignment takes much of the difficulty out of the entry. It's compensating for the "difficulty."

Another rotational move relying on a "hop" - a butterfly jump/spin - one of Charlie White's specialities:

This Butterfly Jump is not a true jump, rather a flying jump spin similar to the flying camel spin, the Butterfly Jump is not taken off from the forward outside edge skated in upright position, but usually from short spin-like steps the take-off curve forward outside being very short.
  It seems like hops and jumps into spins are very popular features of SHOW moves. Which means of course they should get Level 4 in elite international competition.


How to Make a Car Spin

The car analogy is only apt if the car in question is balanced on and centered over one of its front wheel tires and the body of the car is vertical. Simple physics.


For example, the increase in rotational speed of a spinning figure skater as the skater's arms are contracted is a consequence of conservation of angular momentum.
Meryl and Charlie are contracting their arms in the second set but they slow down. Their arms are locked behind them which may prevent them from doing a quick balance check should that twizzle go awry, but locking the arms behind them means they don't have to control their arms WHILE twizzling - as they did in the Bollywood program. Moving the arms around in front of you (off axis) in a controlled, separately choreographed pattern while sustaining a strong, tight rotation around your axis in the twizzle, remaining upright and stable is impressive. Think about which is harder - simple physics. You can twizzle - you're a very strong twizzler, good balance, good rotational speed, you're over your skates. Now, what is going to be more difficult - controlled choreographed movements of the arms in front of you while sustaining that rotation around the axis and keeping it contracted, or locking your arms behind you along the axis of your rotation?

As I said - oddly, the contraction is supposed to increase rotation but Meryl/Charlie slow down. Maybe adding arm styling would slow them down even further.

Rotation is a key feature of Meryl and Charlie's choreography, but I don't think it's as controlled as it could be. It's a bit wild. So how do you capitalize on their fast rotation and keep controlled? I think getting the message out that sloppiness and wildness means something is harder and better is one way to do that. Who reads CoP anyhow? That approach can be applied throughout the judging of the program - just assign levels of difficulty to features that ASSIST the skater in performing the move, and the sky will continue to be the limit for Meryl and Charlie's scores. As seen in another example down below.

Scott Moir used to have a little bit of an uncontrolled free leg in his forward inside twizzle. (I think it was forward inside).  His rotation was tight, speed was good, leg straight, but that leg would begin to drift a bit away from where it was crossed over his working leg. In the Olympic year I believe they addressed this by using a catch foot. He's got the best balance in ice dance, IMO, so it was better to make the leg look a bit neater.

FF and his free leg is stable when he's not in catch foot. How did that happen? He improved it. He can do things like that - you know, get better.

Meryl and Charlie's dance spin: Meryl and Charlie's "The Awesome" dance spin always begins with the back outside camel position.  Here's some words about back outside camel spins from

The back camel spin is a difficult skill to learn for a number of reasons.  First, nothing really “swings around” to help create rotational energy for the spin so the skater needs to create all of the spin energy directly from the edge on the ice.
Very interesting. I may presume, then, that if something IS swung around - say, your partner's entire body while she's in camel position  -  that will help create rotational energy for the spin, especially if the force of her swinging around is generated by your big, strong arms?

gif to follow in a new post.

I think must be mistaken, as at least once this season a commentator said that Charlie and Meryl's entrance into their dance spin was impressive/hard.

The screen caps below just show alignment, not Davis White's twizzle entry sequence vis a vis hop and jump entrances to spins (which will come in a new post), but have a look at alignment:

Most difficult, perfectly executed twizzles in the world by God.
You know what increases the difficulty? Charlie's butt jutt and the pronounced
30 degree angle of his forward tilted torso, his bent knee, wide stance, and
how perfectly disparate the lines and angles of his body are with Meryl's.
Meryl: from this perspective it appears her left leg is at a 30 degree angle from her hips,
she's also pitched a bit forward, and, like Charlie, the bottom of her calf is some distance behind the hamstring. She's got a wide stance, and even from this angle it looks as if her knee is bent.
The easier twizzles (per Eurosport) done by Scott and Tessa in the middle
of their twizzle sequence in Carmen.
I wonder how come Davis & White's
inside edge, catch foot twizzles
makes their two set twizzle pass just as Level 4 as Scott and
Tessa doing the same twizzles bracketed between

two more difficult twizzles.

Both screen caps are from Worlds. We can see how much more polished Meryl and Charlie become by the end of the season.


  1. I love your analysis of everything ice dance. You make the ISU, the technical panel & the judges look like shit, which they are.

    1. What's clear with Meryl and Charlie is everything depends on the impression of power and they have to work around their (relative) lack of control.

      It would be very impressive if they jumped/hopped into those twizzles remaining vertical with their leg pulled in tight behind them, because the momentum they create with the jump would also be a challenge to control over a narrow rotation, as it creates good speed.

      But instead they decrease the amount of control needed by tilting forward in the torso and having their free leg stretched out, and with a bent knee.

      It just kills me how Eurosport can mention that the MIDDLE of VM's twizzles in one of their programs - the same as the first set Meryl and Charlie do - is of lesser difficulty than the entrance and exit twizzles, and then they turn around and fawn over Meryl and Charlie doing the same damn twizzle as the first of their two sets.

      I re-watched Weaver & Poje's short program and free program. What they lack, IMO, is power to challenge the top two teams. As far as their twizzles are concerned, by any measure the twizzles in their Sound of Music program are in the character of the dance and their twizzles in The Statue program are also gorgeously (and differently) in the character of the dance.

      I think speed is a good thing. But with Meryl and Charlie, who aren't just rewarded for speed, but apparently earn non-speed based GOE just because of it, the question I ask is

      Are they faster than Virtue Moir? I don't think so. But if that is ever questioned the entire rivalry falls apart.

      It's ice dance. Is it okay to sacrifice skating skills for speed and power, especially if the speed and power isn't obviously better than the speed and power of your closest competition?

      Davis White don't have to worry about it. The ISU says - keep up that speed and power and we'll take care of the pcs.

    2. I also find it weird that when they put their arms behind them - contracting the rotation - they don't pick up speed. That's the set that slows down. Imagine how much it would slow down if they moved their arms in front of them.

  2. I want to ask if anyone notices that the shibs are now doing the dw entry to their twizzles?

    I really prefer them to dw and wish there was a way to get that business in order. I wonder if some of it is because they are young asian's rather than a masculine charlie with magical hair?

    1. I think it's because a couple of years ago they came close in TES to DW and the USFSA promptly did a reverse G&P - held down the Shibs so nobody would think they or anyone else was remotely competitive with Meryl/Charlie. It's hard not to wonder if the promotion of Chock/Bates and the demotion of the Shibs isn't an effort to push forward a team that clearly can't compete with Meryl/Charlie. The Shibs TES score got quite a bit of publicity back then.

  3. Thanks for going into the real physics of it all.

    Do you think that D/W believe their own hype? Do they think they're good as V/M? Or, do they know they're not as good, thus the full court press to win titles anywhere but on the ice?

  4. "It just kills me how Eurosport can mention that the MIDDLE of VM's twizzles in one of their programs - the same as the first set Meryl and Charlie do - is of lesser difficulty than the entrance and exit twizzles, and then they turn around and fawn over Meryl and Charlie doing the same damn twizzle as the first of their two sets."

    Oh, that cracked me up. Virtue Moir start with a left back outside set, then move into the right forward inside with the catchfoot, and finally into a right forward outside set before moving into their ridiculously difficult exit. And Eurosport guy correctly points out that the right forward inside with the catchfoot is the least difficult of the three.

    Meryl and Charlie do the same right forward inside with the catchfoot twizzles as their first pass (covering less ice) and he was going gaga over them. "Look at that, defies belief!"

    That it does, haha.

    1. I feel like that calls for a gif post.

  5. Anon 10:21
    I don't know why they wouldn't believe the hype about themselves. The judges are saying so plus many "experts" all over twitter and other social media. Besides the fan discussions on skating boards, no "expert" is speaking up to contradict any of it. As long as only "uberfans" of VM are pointing out these things, it's easy to dismiss it as so much sour grapes.

    1. I'm anon 10:21. Personally, I also come down on the side that they believe their own hype. I was just interested about what others thought.

      It is so frustrating that no one is speaking up to contradict any of this, except for here and for the V/M fans on the message boards.

      Speaking of V/M fans on the message boards, a word of advice: stay out of the secret threads on FSU unless you have a very thick skin. Making fun of the crazy V/M uber fans is a favorite pasttime for the cliquey, bitchy "inner circle" that doesn't know anywhere near as much as they think they do about anything happening on and off the ice. Nevermind that there's actually relevant skating discussion going on, it's giving them fodder to poke fun at others.

      Up until very recently, the V/M fans have spent years mostly placating to the D/W fans that the two teams were equal, largely to keep the peace. Now, the V/M fans are speaking up and explaining and showing why V/M are better. The D/W fans expected to get their way as usual: the V/M fans would cave, admit the teams were equal, that D/W were better, etc. It's not happening this time. Instead, the V/M fans are shouting at the top of their lungs that D/W have no clothes on. The D/W fans are not happy about that and are coping by calling the V/M fans delusional, etc. rather than actually give any consideration to the skating-based arguments being made. It's not going to get better anytime soon, the your best bet is just to ignore what they're saying.

  6. I really hope for Tessa and Scott to win their second Olympic Title, and I hope they will also win their first GPF (which I think, because of ISU's shameful rivalry, is quite impossible)because they truly are the best ice dancers of all times. I'm faithful ISU knows it, and I'm faithful it will award who deserves that title, but frankly I'm starting to feel worried about this whole situation.

    1. Given the way the 12-13 season went down, I have zero faith that the right team will end up with the title.

    2. I'm 2:45, and sadly I agree with you. I decided that I'll do my best to don't care about the medals anymore, though the situation is really a shame. I think TS did something extraordinary for the sport, so it really doesn't matter what people think about.

  7. It took me a few reads to get what you were saying in this post, but I now think you've made a brilliant observation here with with the bent knee/camel spin thing.

    1. I know it could be said better but as I work through these topics it will come to me how to make the point more concisely, and then I'll edit.

    2. That sounded more critical than I meant :) I'm loving what you're doing here.

  8. I don't understand the point of this blog. You seem to hate Virtue and Moir, or at least have an extreme personal vendetta against them both, and Skate Canada as a whole. Yet you can't stand Davis and White either, and their win has sparked an endless series of rambling sore loser posts. You hate the teams that are, for better or for worse, defining ice dance right now, and you hate the ISU--so why are you still watching? Shouldn't you get a different hobby? You're wasting your energy on something that certainly will never change.
    I doubt you ever skated at a reasonably high level yourself. I wouldn't bother asking if you are currently a skater, since this blog seems to consume all of your energy. It seems that the crazies who latch onto certain skaters--you/many Canadians with V/M, the South Koreans with Yu-na--waste their time obsessing and picking over the smallest details of skating mechanics (as evidenced by this post, which is incoherent) without ever understanding the sport itself.

    1. Man, the fact that you can't understand this blog makes me feel fantastic.

      I know your experience probably tells you that when you announce you don't understand something, the other person is just CRUSHED.

      What's that now - batting 00000 for people coming here completely unable to refute the premise of an argument so they resort to ground zero of the loser's approach?

    2. "picking over the smallest details of skating mechanics (as evidenced by this post, which is incoherent) without ever understanding the sport itself."

      Incoherent? I don't think so. You can't have taken the time to read or you would see there is actually a great understanding of the sport.

      Are you implying a judged sport is NOT supposed to pick apart the details?

    3. How can both be true - that you can deconstruct the mechanics but not understand the sport?

      What is it that the blog doesn't understand about the sport?

      It's weird how people who object to this discussion can never say. They on the attack because there's no defense.

    4. LOL. Genuflect when you say that, why don't you?

      This is the kind of post that represents so much of what is wrong with the sport of ice dance: the elitist, contemptuous, "I can't get out of my own way" type of attitude that defines some of its biggest longtime defenders. Many of whom, I might add, like to scream about how the sport is losing fans (or can't bring in new ones) but can't provide any suggestions for how to right the ship that aren't filtered through their own biased intellectual frameworks developed over years spent in their insular little world.

      For them, breakdowns of the skating are nothing more than sour grapes or sore loser posts. OMG, someone is actually looking at the details of skating mechanics in an attempt to see if they match up with what judges are marking on the ice! What a ridiculous notion! Who cares about those things? Because God forbid the application of the scoring system be called out or questioned. Egad!

      My favorite part though is the "I doubt you have ever skated at a reasonably high level yourself," which is nothing more than a transparent attempt to shut down discussion by belitting others as "less thans." First comes the assessment that there's no way the blog writer could have skated at a high level. This isn't based on any kind of concrete evidence but is merely a pathetic excuse for a put-down.

      That's followed by the "*obviously* the only way to properly understand how the scoring works and whether or not it's being misapplied is to skate at a high level" assessment. It simply isn't possible to educate oneself about the sport in any other way. It's the same reason people should never discuss the details of other sports if they haven't played them at the highest level either, right? Because, the nerve of them, to question or claim they understand what's going on out there!

      Please. Is that all you've got? You're gonna have to do better than that.

    5. 'Picking over the smallest details' is what Cop explicitly meant to do. Breaking down the mechanics so as to determine the level execution and GOE is why it was created.

      How interesting that a person who insinuates they know better dismisses such an exercise. It's totally in keeping with what's observed among judges, many skaters, and others who work in the sport. They've been trained in how the sport is judged, they claim to understand the system, then when it's time to apply it out the window it goes and the same old personal bias bullshit and agenda comes into play. So arrogant, such awful ignorance and stupidity misunderstood as elitism. It ain't elite.

    6. Maybe the way they believe the blogger has never skated at a high level is based on this conversation's willingness to see if the sport is actually judged the way it claims it's judged, to see if CoP is anything more than a fig leaf.

      People who understand the sport obviously understand some very interesting things about the way the "sport" actually works versus how it pretends it does.

    7. "I don't understand the point of this blog. You seem to hate Virtue and Moir, or at least have an extreme personal vendetta against them both, and Skate Canada as a whole."

      It will come as no surprise to OC (she will identify me from my IP address) that I too hate the premise of this blog.

      However, I am pleasantly surprised by her recent analyses on ice dance. I agree with her opinions and comparisons. Whether she was a high level skater or not, her analyses are correct. And oddly enough, an ISU judge does not have to have been a high level skater to Judge. In fact OC, maybe you should become a Judge, LOL. At least you have a clear understanding of how IJS SHOULD be applied and the current Judges seemingly do NOT.

    8. This is anon 11:49 a.m. These are the minimum requirements to enter the world of judging in Canada:

      "To become a judge or evaluator, you must be 16 years of age, a former skater and meet one of the following criteria:

      2 Jr Bronze Test categories in any discipline (ie Junior Bronze Dance, Skills etc…)
1 Senior Bronze test category in any discipline
1 Juvenile competitive test
 in any discipline:"

      These are not high level requirements. Obviously to move up through the ranks to an ISU Judge there is a lot involved and it takes years to do so and a lot of internal politics to muddle through. However, the above criteria is all that is required to get you in the door.

    9. 11:49 - I haven't checked your IP but I'm going to take the opportunity to just repeat (and not directed at you personally at all) that the word premise isn't = to 'hypothesis' or 'theory'. I guess the word premise is being used in the sense of - given that "A" is true/a fact (in this case the fact that Vitue and Moir are a married couple) - then "this" follows. Over and over (and again, not necessarily from you) I read on the web that the blog is promoting a conspiracy THEORY, or that the blog is speculating. The blog's premise is a fact. I don't know if they just don't read or if they don't understand that premise, theory and speculation aren't homonyms. People who don't buy it can do so based on several responses - blogger is lying, blogger is crazy - and different combinations of those opinions. That's it. The blog isn't presenting theory or speculation as to its premise/basis.

      About how the sport is judged - what has thrown me over more than a few figure skating seasons is, I'll read about CoP, pro and con. I will understand that the judges have to be trained in the scoring system and undertake refreshers, the equivalent of continuing education, to stay up to speed.

      But then when they freaking JUDGE, and, in some instances when they speak to the media the training goes out the window. IOW, even when they're trained, even when they've passed whatever certifications are required, even when they've had the education they don't apply it when they freaking judge. There's this weird disconnect where at times it feels as if 'well, I've been trained, so now my emotion and biased-driven responses/scoring are credentialed - but they're not applying their training to the judging!

      CoP has not actually changed the criteria for the best skating - it's simply more closely defined the criteria and broken it down. A good twizzle under CoP is the same as a good twizzle under 6.0 in its fundamentals. CoP has addressed some things that were slipping through the cracks, such as pre and underrotated jumps, or jumps on the wrong edge. Deep, powerful, controlled edges were always the gold standard for quality basic skating. I think CoP was meant to help weigh a program's components for the fairest result, and also to codify how a program is weighed and make the standards more consistent.

      It wasn't intended to make the scoring so complex that the public and the media understood it even less and the corrupt elements in the figure skating "industry" could get away with more.


    10. "But then when they freaking JUDGE, and, in some instances when they speak to the media the training goes out the window. IOW, even when they're trained, even when they've passed whatever certifications are required, even when they've had the education they don't apply it when they freaking judge. There's this weird disconnect where at times it feels as if 'well, I've been trained, so now my emotion and biased-driven responses/scoring are credentialed - but they're not applying their training to the judging!"

      It really is like all of the training goes out the window when it's time to actually judge an event. It's like they all end up with amnesia. My thoughts as of late have been that when it comes to judging V/M and D/W, it's not that they judges don't know any better or understand what they're looking at. They're just purposely choosing to ignore it to mark according to politics.

      "I think CoP was meant to help weigh a program's components for the fairest result, and also to codify how a program is weighed and make the standards more consistent."

      That was my understanding as well in regards to what CoP was meant to do.

      I've actually thought of CoP as working sort of like a balance scale. Skaters get points for what they do well, they lose points for what they don't. What is done well offsets what's not quite perfect. In the case of V/M, they do so much so well--so much better than everyone else--that a couple of minor bobbles should have been easily absorbed instead of burying them at worlds. I guess it's hard for things to work like that when the other team are getting point after point thrown at them for things they didn't do while none are taken away when they should be.

      "It wasn't intended to make the scoring so complex that the public and the media understood it even less and the corrupt elements in the figure skating "industry" could get away with more."

      This. One of the big reasons CoP came about was to "clean up the judging." If you're looking at it from that POV, this system did nothing to address corruption. Having anonymous judging and so many different individual numbers go into the final score has made it easier to cheat while the complexity is so great that it's harder for the public and media to see the cheating. Easier to cheat, harder to catch it. Lovely. Meanwhile, one of the greatest ice dance teams ever is getting f****d over time and time again in favor of a lessor team...

  9. That screencap of DW is straight up embarrassing. Would be good if you could match that with similar pics of low-ranked and junior skaters doing that position better or the same.

    1. lol that would be an awesome post! Their lines in that picture are god ugly. lmao and Ice Network had the audacity to say that V/M need to work on their lines?! Bullshit. Look at D/W! Their lines are damn horrible. JFC.

    2. The worst. I think that even G/P might have better lines than that. :/

    3. I believe DW are scored high on their twizzles because of the impression of fast rotation. I believe the rotation (which is legitimately fast, but not, I believe faster than VM's), creates the impression that they're fast across the ice. That part, I suspect is as much impression as reality. I wonder if DW had neater, more controlled twizzles, and cleaner body lines, and better unison - and executed them at the same speed, if they'd look as fast.

      The fact that their body lines aren't in unison almost doubles the impression of speed IMO - because there are two elements whirring instead of a smooth unit, creating a "flying" impression.

      IOw the wildness of the twizzles - or the wild look - and wildness is supposed to be a flaw - actually enhances the impression of speed.

      Because the judges are awarding them for speed, it appears the points for unison and character of the dance are triggered automatically, even though DW are clearly not meeting the criteria for those points.

    4. Yup, I get you OC, i didn't intend to get into blog itself but the above commenter's statement that you couldn't have been a high level figure skater which is irrelevant because it is not a requirement of judging to have been a high level skater. I don't agree w/ the blog on many fronts but I very much agree with your current analyses and I think they are well presented and accurate.

    5. ^^oops, this should have been posted above in response to OC 12:29. Apologies.

  10. It seems like d/w have found a loophole in the system (COP) and they are using it towards their own advantage

  11. I just rewatched UoC, and I noticed that V/M kept the character of the dance even in their twizzles back then. After the first set, they both grab their heads and it was in character of the dance. Too bad we can't say the same for D/W.