Figure skating has come to an interesting junction when quality skating matters more in pairs than in ice dance.
Duhamel Radford skated lights out yesterday. Their basic skating has improved exponentially. Their edges are quiet, knees are soft, speed is good. They nailed sbs 3 lutzes - near textbook and the most difficult jumping pass in pairs today. There's all kinds of tricky transitions in their content-packed short. Their 3 twist is a beauty - tight rotation, plenty of air - done easily. The concluding sbs spins were dead on in sync. They're in second place.
First place Volosozhar Trankov don't have sbs 3 lutzes. They do salchows. Volosozhar's salchow was incredibly tilted in the air and it's a miracle it was landed. One might argue their short program isn't as packed with linking moves as DR's. Their pairs spin is glacial.
Why are they in first? Their skating is huge. They cover tremendous amounts of ice with each stroke. All of their elements are linked with unending effortless power and flow. They have better unison than DR. The quality of their skating is unmatched at this Worlds, despite the tremendous program and flawless execution by DR and the less challenging program presented by VT (save the otherwordly split 3 twist) - they are simply the biggest, most powerful team out there.
So ice dance is different. I just watched Davis White and Virtue Moir back to back. Davis White hit their stuff. It's a good program. It's also beyond clear that they do not skate 'big' (compared to VM) - that they are fast scramblers who cover less ice per stroke then Tessa and Scott. Their two part twizzle sequence slows noticably in the second sequence. This "power" mantra and the idea that they're faster is bogus. It was beyond obvious that it's Virtue Moir who have the power in their blades.
I saw the glitches in Virtue and Moir's program. I also saw that their skating was huge. Like VT their elements were connected by power and flow. Their stroking covers ice like no other.
They're in second, more than 3 points behind. Davis White are in first. Virtue and Moir have greater power, cover more ice per stroke, and they bury Davis White when it comes to unison and skating close together.
That doesn't matter. It only matters in pairs.
Make no mistake, Duhamel Radford laid down quality skating. Those blades were quiet. They weren't dawdling, and they nailed everything. They gave the judges no excuse.
VT were a little wobblier. But that basic skating. Sublime.
This pre-Olympic cycle, quality skating counts more in pairs than in ice dance. That's wonderful.
P.S. - where else in figure skating are we or have we been meant to pretend that two top competitors are absolutely equal in skating skills in all the same way - I'm reading from some DW fans that their edge work, etc. has evolved to on par with VM - and it only matters who skates clean? When did this miracle occur and when has it existed in the past?
Michelle Kwan partisans maintain that if Cop existed in 1998 Lipinski would never have won because Michelle's skating was so much better. Really? Are we sure they weren't equal? Lipinski skated with a lot of pep, never stopped moving and hit everything. Michelle skated cautiously, spun cautiously (with wonderful technique) and had to steady the landing of her flip. That seems like a clear win for Lipinski under CoP to me.
Were we supposed to believe Plushenko and Lysacek were equal? Plushenko had the quad. The question was - would the quad trump all that Lysacek had packed into his quadless program? We weren't told they were equal - we understood Plushenko was one-dimensional and Lysacek was 'complete'. But it was men's singles. Without the quad, Lysacek may as well be a lady. Should a quadless Lysacek really beat a Plushenko who stayed upright?
I understand this must be in the rulebook, but it's also just wonderful that Meryl and Charlie can do only 2 sets of twizzles, the same ones for the past 4 years, the second of which slows markedly, and every other ice dance team, including the Shibs who have had the fastest twizzles in the game, must do three to even compete with them. Do we really think Charlie White and Meryl Davis could keep it together through a third twizzle sequence? They don't need to. Only their competitors have to - just to keep pace with them! It's set up like that in the rules. Let's ignore that they grit their way through the second set.
The premise of this post and the truth, is the quality of Virtue and Moir's skating surpasses that of Davis White just as Volosozhar and Trankov's surpasses Duhamel Radford's, Chan's beats Ten.
But wait - wrong. Davis White and Virtue Moir are EQUAL. Miraculously, Davis White have evolved to where their figure skating skills - their ice dance skills - are equal to Virtue and Moir's in every single respect while Virtue and Moir - who used to be ahead of them - have apparently not evolved at all. They stayed still so Davis White could catch up. Virtue Moir have obviously evolved their speed and power since 2009-2010, but we're supposed to pretend they have not. We're supposed to keep them in a straightjacket so Davis White can catch up. And the ISU apparently has decreed they have.
It's one for the record books - two teams who are exactly equal and have the exact same strengths in all the same ways, competing at the same time. It's nowhere else in the sport.