Sunday, October 6, 2013

>>Do you disagree that a lot of the transitions seem like they’re out of the D/W playbook (although yes, executed on another level entirely)? To me, that’s not enough. I don’t think the content itself is somehow elevated to V/M's standard just by them executing it.<<<

Visitor 3:36, Oct. 6, comments section two posts below.
I’m going to post Vancouver’s Mahler and Finlandia’s Seasons later, but first I want to pull from the “discussion” (it’s actually now my monologue) two posts below.

After many comments, I realized my response, and my dismay, pivots off the perspective expressed above and likeminded comments from others. I think that I – finally - got to the core of it in the comment I'm going to repost here.
To the above. I disagree completely. The content itself IS elevated to VM’s standard by their execution. The execution IS the content, first and foremost. Everything else is subordinate.

In terms of competitive athletics, dance and choreography are a medium that, in the ice dance discipline, deliver figure skating. Figure skating is not a medium that delivers dance and choreography. In shows, yes. In Olympic competition, no. Most of the comments here appear to see the skating as a given and also the skating as the medium, and their concern is the choreography. I find that so upsetting (not in a personal way, just upsetting and extremely frustrating).
It absolutely KILLS me that above, the “although yes, executed on another level entirely” is a PARENTHETICAL.

It absolutely kills me that people are taking for granted the almost astonishing development of VM’s power and speed and every aspect of their skating over four years, how their skating has matured and developed over four years, and say that Seasons reflects insufficient development of CHOREOGRAPHY.
If you look at G&G’s 1988 win and their 1994 win, and strip the music, the elements repeat across programs that are executed six years apart. The content is essentially the same. The caliber of skating is night and day in every particular, even though they had also been sublime while winning six years before. Their elements, intrinsically, maintained a competitive level of difficulty in part because of the lack of redundancy in the mechanics, and the power, speed, economy, unison, and control with which they’re executed, and none of the other skaters of the era are using more complex elements/choreography with comparable skating skills/level of execution that allows them to approach G&G.

Despite the fact that many fans have seized on DW repeating elements year to year, causing their fans to retort that VM also repeat, the original post that brought DW's scores into this blog asked how DW's skating has evolved. Not how their choreography has evolved. If they were skating the same choreo as 2009 and it was still skated better and it was harder than everyone else's, more power to them. But they're skating the same as 2009 which was when VM and others were defeating them. Their skating (not the choreography, the skating that the choreography showcases) hasn't evolved, while VM's skating has, and yet magically, DW have passed VM.

Here is my comment, somewhat restated in parts, reposted here, that gets to the core of my frustration with the Seasons critique:

If I've mistaken this, I'll be told, but it seems to me people are looking for VM's choreographic components to be developed four fold from Mahler and they find Seasons falling short.

*I* find VM's skating attributes developed more than four fold from Mahler and IMO that is where the focus belongs.

Their run of blade and depth of edge makes them almost entirely new skaters than the team that skated Mahler. The increase in natural power and speed as well. These are the foundational qualities of figure skating, and the first component of ice dance is still figure skating.

Figure skating is used to express choreography and to (supposedly) dance on ice and execute the elements specific to the discipline, but at the end of the day what is being judged first is the figure skating and that's what separates out the superior skaters. Not the choreo. Choreo is a vehicle.

In fact, one of the arguments in favor of DW, now exposed as false, is that they deserved to win because they were stronger in the foundational figure skating attributes of blade-generated power and speed. (A comparison would be the less complex choreography of VT in pairs versus some of the ambitious choreo among their competitors, an apparent deficit neutralized by the fact that they cover about a hundred miles more per stroke than anyone else and their elements are gigantic). These are not parenthetical attributes or caveats. This is the heart of it.

DW aren't faster and more powerful than VM. They're manifestly not.

In terms of power, VM are barely recognizable as the Mahler skaters. The effortless drive with each stroke. The edge lean. The blade security. Their coverage is HUGE with every stroke. The twizzles (when they actually execute) cover much more ice, are executed with much more attack, and in fact I'm not sure if DW's twizzles have actually gotten more mediocre or if it's that Scott and Tessa's have become so much better they make DW's look mediocre in comparison. They are more complex than Mahler's twizzles - the transitions in between, the way their bodies observe the character of the dance, and most especially, the exit.

People pay so much attention to the poses in lifts - the final line. Look at Scott's blades, look how much ice he's covering, look at the transition in and out and where his edge is and what Tessa's is doing and look at how economical the mechanics are. The lifts are where the pairs comparison can be useful, IMO, as pairs elements are similar across divisions but it's night and day between the execution at the international podium level and the execution lower down, most of it having to do with edge depth, power, speed and security, lack of redundancy in the mechanics, and then all of the refinements that derive (or don't) from that - line, unison, carriage, etc.

So yes, I maintain that this is not a too-weak new iteration of Mahler, because these are not Mahler skaters. I don't take the evolution in their skating as some kind of margin note. Considering what goes into developing their skating as VM have developed it in four years, relegating the skating to an aside almost makes me cry. The skating is IT. That's what it's all about. Not just MY priorities, in this sport. In CoP.  At every competition.


As VM are struggling to be clean, and, unlike VT, apparently can't win with a level drop or a stumble, that is where I focus my concern. The other stuff is value add. I watched a competition where VM lost multiple levels in both programs, the same tech caller that oversaw DW's competition oversaw VM's finish twelve points off DW's debut, on top of that they made visible mistakes, and the comments section is a choreographic critique.

102 comments:

  1. I know this is out of topic but WHOA! VIRTUE & MOIR were soooooo wonderful at Finlandia, they have totally new twizzle, new lifts, new spin,new everything and it was sooooo exited. The step sequences too, they were like floating on ice, so beautiful and romantic. Can't help but watching their fd over and over again <3
    could you please have an entry about their new fd? talk more about it?
    (oh, and I found out how to comment by fb account, hahaha, it got so annoying when someone keeps saying that your blog is full of anonymous and not real and etc. so at least, I am real)
    sorry for my English, good luck to you OC, love you and your blog :)

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  2. If it became a monologue OC, it was because I had to sleep for a few hours. I’m sorry that I'm not superhuman like you.

    I'm really not sure why you're taking what I said to this extent. I didn't say I didn't appreciate the skating V/M were showing here. But V/M's pure skating skills are only one part of why I love them so much - I honestly don't see why appreciating them as dancers and for their unique ways of expressing complex movement, that only they are capable of, isn't just as legitimate. (Please see the next paragraph of what I’m saying below before you take that line out of context.) I didn't see the warning that if we were to discuss V/M's FD here, we had to discuss the very specific skating topic from a standard textbook perspective, sans any reference to choreo, dance or innovation. I misunderstood the specific angle about why you were initially in a snit about people's responses to Seasons, but instead of simply acknowledging that you weren't interested in the conversation I wanted to have, you've decided to instead set me straight as to why the conversation isn't valid for me to want to have. I think that's ridiculous. There can be a discussion about whether this body of work stands up to the rest of their repetoire when it comes to the movement and choreography, as well as a discussion about whether this package still showcases their pure skating beautifully.

    “Some fans, in discussing the merits of a vehicle, the music, the choreography, the style, etc., seem to think that the judges who view visual noise like "Wild Spirits" and and all kinds of random choreography are judging the same things - choreographic meaning, the vehicle, whether something looks like what another skater has done.

    They're not. Not the way fans obsess about it. If they're scoring with legitimacy, they're looking at TES and PCs. The choreographic guidelines are extremely non-nuanced, don't rise to the standard of evaluating meaning, and are far more "don't polka when you're waltzing" (a generic guideline they still manage to ignore with DW).”

    They use their skates to create the dance movement. And unless I’ve been completely misunderstanding the system, that does count for something under CoP. If I wish they were fulfilling CoP in a different way, it doesn’t follow that I’m concerned about aspects that are completely extraneous to the scores. I think you’re categorizing me into a certain group of fans here in a way I don’t think is fair.

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    1. (cont'd, character limit)

      "I really don't give a damn if something is out of the so-called DW playbook - the essence of the DW playbook is faking something - if VM aren't faking something they're not out of the same playbook. "

      Ok, so this was based on an honest misunderstanding of what bothered you about D/W. I thought it was BOTH their cheated skating and their inability to execute any complex or original. If that's not the case, that's fine. Just an example of why I thought so: the two step bit in DF? I thought part of the problem was that it didn't express anything authentically waltz-like. If they had been able to do that bit with actual skating, it would be fine? I know it would have been better, and more worthy of points, but would it have been of equal worth to what V/M were doing in Funny Face? I also thought the two issues were connected - in that D/W weren’t ABLE to do anything else because this content was really the only stuff you can fake. Anything more complex couldn’t be cheated and fly under the radar.

      Just another example because it’s been discussed to such an extent on here – D/W’s twizzles. Back after Worlds – first you were upset that D/W had never changed their twizzles. THEN you brought up CoP and the character of the dance. And THEN the discussion turned to how crappy D/W executed the twizzles in the first place. It was in that order. Forgive me if I thought it bothered you that D/W don’t try anything new, and don’t have their choreography authentically express the type of dance they’re doing. If it’s because that’s a clue they can’t skate – guess what, ME TOO. It doesn’t have to be either/or.

      I'm not saying V/M aren't dancing or being inauthentic in Seasons, but I don't really understand why such a basic vocabulary is being used to communicate something that is presumably complicated and multi-layer (their story).

      “I'm worried about the skating and I'm worried about the way the tech caller is employed to pull the level out from under VM.”

      Why do you assume I’m not? Why can’t we be worried about two things at once?

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    2. (cont'd)

      “To amplify my attitude towards this vehicle, when it comes to vehicles, I LOVE rhythm and I love momentum shifts. I also love strong, accessible melodic lines. I can talk all day about the components of the Carmen choreography and how brilliantly it was integrated into the skating and how brilliantly Scott and Tessa executed (as a whole)
      ...

      When it comes to Mahler, as a VEHICLE, I'm as meh as it gets. It was a brilliant vehicle, clearly, but to my personal taste, it was not.”

      Why are you allowed to have this opinion about Carmen and Mahler, but I’m not allowed to have this opinion about Seasons vs the rest of their recent programs? If you thought that by my comparing their transitions to D/W’s handbook, I was saying they were of equal worth under CoP, you were not listening to what I said. I was saying the transitions don’t do anything at all for me as a fan of movement and music. Because my tastes have to do with innovative and complex movement, I was asking if you could convert me by showing me where that happens. If it's not there, I wish they had something different. If it is there, you should be able to show me without us having to define the terms within an inch of their lives.


      “I also need to acknowledge that the term was "meaningful", not meaning, but the point still said "communicate something specific". And again, I believe Moonlight Sonata (G&G's) is a brilliant program whose "story" is only important to the people skating it. It can also be viewed just as successfully as an abstraction, as G&G harmonizing with, weaving in and out of the melodic line, and responding to its subtle increases in intensity, with G&G just a three dimensional component and part of the whole. Rather than the music supporting a story or some meaning G&G are carrying with them that they want to communicate to the audience. I don't know if it's possible to take pieces of that choreography and identify what is being communicated in specificity, other than how they're using the music physically and rhythmically and expressively (expressing energy, rhythm, pace, etc.), and I don't think that is a deficit in Moonlight Sonata.
      ...
      There are other programs where the intention is to communicate something specific in the sense of "what it means", but it's not, IMO, a principle of dance or choreography.”

      You’re taking what I meant by meaningful far too literally. I wasn’t referring to something that can be than translated into words, or very clear cut narrative stories, or taking a notepad and parsing it move by move. I'm talking about something I presumed WAS a principle of dance. You actually captured much of what I'm talking about above. I’m not getting what V/M are trying to communicate with movement in half of this program. I’m not seeing them consistently connect to the music physically and rhythmically and expressively. If it's just that I'm missing it, that does not automatically equal that I'm not valuing those characteristics or that I'm confusing those characteristics with something more superfluous. Sometimes an untrained eye can learn to appreciate something when given some guidance. Sometimes there can be valid variations in opinion as to what fulfills a certain aspect, (even though I do know that skating, and dance really, is less subjective than the average fan believes).

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    3. cont'd

      That being said, two things I’m realizing though is that – since there is their first lyrical program since Mahler, it's partly that I'm not a fan of lyrical anymore, and I wish they weren't caving to the ISU by moving ice dance back in that direction. And this kind of subtle and simplistic (not meant as in “simple”, but as in ..very uncluttered) isn’t something I connect to. And that I’m surprised it connects with them after everything else they’ve done. The whole point of anything I said was I don’t find the movement they’re using here, primarily in their transitions, as something that interests me. I find it empty*, I find it generic*, I don't find it V/M.
      *relative to what I know they could do

      And just so you know where we’ll go from here, I’m finding your aggressiveness very tiring, so it's quite likely you'll end up monologuing again. (That isn’t meant to be passive aggressive whining, it’s just the truth. This intensity of debate is not something I enjoy doing on an ongoing basis).

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    4. A couple more thoughts based on this particular post though.

      “It absolutely kills me that people are taking for granted the almost astonishing development of VM’s power and speed and every aspect of their skating over four years, how their skating has matured and developed over four years, and say that Seasons reflects insufficient development of CHOREOGRAPHY.”

      You have a point, but the middle ground of where I’m coming from is – does this program showcase the FULL EXTENT of how every aspect of their skating has improved? That's my hesitation about this program.

      “Despite the fact that many fans have seized on DW repeating elements year to year, causing their fans to retort that VM also repeat, the original post that brought DW's scores into this blog asked how DW's skating has evolved. Not how their choreography has evolved. If they were skating the same choreo as 2009 and it was still skated better ”

      Yes, but I don’t think V/M would have evolved their skating to the extent they have if they had chosen to repeat the same program year after year. And I think many fans use the repeating elements bit not simply as a way to score a point against D/W, but as evidence that D/W’s position is precarious. As in, if they changed their twizzles, for example, the difference between them and V/M would become even more noticeable, to a degree that jeopardizes their narrative. They CAN’T change their choreo because their skating HASN’T evolved. It works both ways.

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    5. Actually my comment about "monologuing" was a comment on myself, not a comment on your absence, and the comment acknowledged that the "monologue" reflected how I feel about this topic, and it also is a comment about my habit of working something out out loud (live on the blog) until I arrive at something that crystallizes my perspective. That is something I've referenced many times before, because I've done it many times before, in posts and in the comments.

      Where I didn't read some of the commentary properly was I assumed that when Virtue and Moir debuted their Olympic programs, the Olympic programs are going to be evaluated for their competitive potential. I read most of the commentary inside that framework. In that regard, I was very surprised how most of the commentary went straight to choreo instead of the tech calls and the mistakes. The latter is going to influence the outcome at the Olympics a whole lot more than the choreography.

      What I should do is parse out the commentary (not being sarcastic, just obviously, what I should do) from those who were anticipating both choreographic innovation that builds from Carmen and are disappointed on that level (despite that fact that after Worlds last year VM pretty much announced that wasn't going to happen), and those who say the program is garbage because they hate the choreography, it looks DW-ish, and on that basis they'll be lucky to beat W&P at Canadians and may finish off the podium in Sochi, and goddamn that Marina.

      To clarify re DW, I don't care about originality and innovation as a first value. That Carmen had innovation (and its innovation was tied to CoP, it raised the standard of the criteria specifically laid down in CoP) is unquestionable, that DW got the scores Carmen ought to have gotten was a travesty, but that is because scores are supposed to be comparisons. Who is better. That DW' s pcs, that DWs scores across the board, were scored better than Carmen was a scandal, for all the reasons that the Carmen program demonstrated VM's obvious skating superiority in every category. That superiority is also easily expressed in more conventional programs, but that the sport had the balls to pretend Carmen didn't put it in their face and went ahead and overscored DW instead was particularly egregiously scandalous, with unhappy implications for Sochi.

      (continued)

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    6. continued from above:

      And yes, skaters are meant to use the skates to express the dance movement, but as it's laid down in CoP that is a far more rudimentary standard than those who object to Seasons acknowledge. VM raised that standard last season and the ISU said no thanks. They're very happy with "using skating to dance" where "dance" is sort of gesticulation, apparently.

      You ask - can't I be worried about both? What is worrisome about the choreography in Seasons vis a vis the potential for Olympic gold?

      Re DW, no, I don't care how innovative they are if the choreographic complexity doesn't directly challenge their skating. These are not separate issues (originality, innovation, etc.), they all address the skating. I care about fake complexity and fake difficulty as relates to their skating skills or lack of same. All of the fake is faking skating skills. That's what I care about. I care about fake skating. I care about fake technique. That's where my issue with DW rests.

      I care that there is a specific CoP rewarding GOE of twizzles executed in the character of the music or dance and DW don't bother and get the GOE anyway. I care that their twizzles are level 4 due to a "dance jump" into it. My issue there is along the lines of "the food sucks, and such small portions." One, I don't think a dance jump should elevate twizzles to a level 4, I think that jump is a rotational aid, not a challenge to the twizzle rotation. IOW, it makes it a bit easier. My dispute there is with the ISU rulebook. In that regard, I line up with the skater/coach I referenced from the manleywoman.com interview, a man with many opinions I've mentioned already, and another opinion being that skating needs to go further to objectively define what is difficult. I think defining that dance hop or leap as level 4 is a crock. Two, given that DW get level 4 for that dance leap, it pisses me off that half the time it's more indicated than executed, if that.

      I think this went off the rails because, as you said, I read a number of comments in one context and put yours in with them when you were coming from a different perspective.

      Too, my assumption was that people were waiting to see VM's programs and evaluate how they answered or stacked up to DW, especially vis a vis how the judges could potentially look at it, and when I read the comments all focused on choreography I didn't see the relevance to their Olympic gold potential, but apparently what happens at the Olympics is not where the focus was for some who disliked this program.

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  3. >>Yes, but I don’t think V/M would have evolved their skating to the extent they have if they had chosen to repeat the same program year after year.<< Actually I think they could have. I used G&G as an example. They evolved and matured as skaters via the same elements. This worked because the elements were honest, quality elements executed with skating skills, not fake technique, and were from the start. That was my entire point about using pairs as an example. You can use the same components and keep elevating the level of execution. VM were always actually skating their programs, they were never faking it, and since they were always authentic, they could have grown their skating simply by continuing to raise the level of execution.

    That's not the case with DW. They will never evolve if they continue, to fake their skating and fake their technique. I say fake as opposed to cheated or improper. Their problem is they are hiding.

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    1. Furthermore, I have to ask how, vis a vis Olympic competition vis a vis DW, why it's relevant whether or not VM's Seasons program shows the FULL EXTENT of how they've evolved. Carmen did so and the ISU told them to take a step back. From my perspective, the relevant questions are all comparative. Not comparing VM to VM, but VM to DW. That is how I approach my critique of their program, even though I always know they're going to skate better than DW, so my focus really is - how difficult does this program make it for the judges to score DW over VM?

      Carmen made it extremely difficult but then VM gave them an opportunity (as did Canadians) by making mistakes. We all know how many members of the public think "mistakes" = shouldn't win - at least when it comes to certain skaters.

      I always know VM are going to skate better than DW, no matter what the vehicle, VM will demonstrate superior skating skills to DW's skating skills, superior technique to DW's technique, a higher level of difficulty than DW's. It's built in because VM are brilliant and DW are fake.

      So, because of the egregious overscoring of DW, my focus is on mistakes, and what the tech caller does, and re the tech caller, any other ISU fuckery.

      Here, my concern was that instead of this season launching as a reset, it launched as a continuation of 2012-2013, with VM losing levels and stumbling, so that in their debut their total score was what? 19 points short of DW's full debut? Absolutely ridiculous.

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    2. I was one of the people who reacted with outlandish statements yesterday, and I apologize for that. Sometimes when I'm feeling stressed, fearful, anxious, worried, and angry about a situation, I react by flipping out. I say and think things I really don't believe deep down, and my emotions about various aspects get misdirected from how they should be. These moments obviously tend to not be my finest. I watched the program after I knew the score and was upset over it, and I think that heavily influenced my perception of the program. I liked it better when I rewatched it earlier today.

      "Here, my concern was that instead of this season launching as a reset, it launched as a continuation of 2012-2013, with VM losing levels and stumbling, so that in their debut their total score was what? 19 points short of DW's full debut? Absolutely ridiculous."

      That's my biggest fear too. The total point difference was around 16, not that it's much better than 19. I think everyone was hoping that last season was last season and we could all put it behind us. Instead, it just feels like a continuation of the nightmare.

      If it weren't for this stupid fake rivalry and the gross overscoring, a few bobbles this weekend would have been nothing-just early season kinks to be worked out, no biggie. Mass hysteria and worry should not be sweeping through the fandom due to a not-so-perfect early season outing. When DW are being thrown scores that they don't deserve on even their best days at an early season senior B, it's something else though.

      One of my long-held fears--for a couple of years now--is that this fake rivalry would eventually take its toll on VM mentally. They are by far the superior team, one of the greatest teams ever, if not the greatest. Yet they skate with the pressure of having to be foot perfect if they want the scores. That is an incredible amount of incredibly unfair pressure. It's harder to be absolutely perfect knowing you have to be than it is to be sort-of cleanish when you know monster scores will be thrown at you no matter how you skate.

      If there's ever been a team that have the skills to rise above that, it's VM. I know they have it them. I'm not joking when I say I think they could absolutely be the greatest ice dance team ever. They've just got to learn to relax a little and not push themselves so very hard. Right after the FD at 4CC in 2012, Tessa made a comment to some press that they needed to skate for the 2, not the 12. That's what they need to be doing right now--just skate for themselves and enjoy it. We all know that they have the ability to do what they need to do, they just need to believe that and trust in themselves and their amazing skating. Get in that bubble, work with a good sports psychologist, and just back off of themselves some--settle down.

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    3. "Mass hysteria and worry should not be sweeping through the fandom due to a not-so-perfect early season outing. When DW are being thrown scores that they don't deserve on even their best days at an early season senior B, it's something else though."

      There's no reason mass hysteria has to occur at all. That's on the fans, many of whom do what you did. I'm not saying that to insult you, but rather to point out that often times, fans want to react emotionally first, thereby setting off hysteria. Then when they go back and watch things a second, third, fourth time, and start to break down what they're seeing, they realize the problem is not with V/M's programs but with the continued overmarking of D/W. But by that point, the hysteria is in full swing and it's difficult to stop it from spreading.

      >>One of my long-held fears--for a couple of years now--is that this fake rivalry would eventually take its toll on VM mentally. They are by far the superior team, one of the greatest teams ever, if not the greatest. Yet they skate with the pressure of having to be foot perfect if they want the scores. That is an incredible amount of incredibly unfair pressure. It's harder to be absolutely perfect knowing you have to be than it is to be sort-of cleanish when you know monster scores will be thrown at you no matter how you skate.<<

      I think another question to ask is, *how* is the rivalry taking a toll on V/M? *Who* is putting the pressure on them and why?

      While V/M should always focus on their jobs and block outside distractions from affecting them, I have a hard time believing the hysteria and other pressures that run rampant through the skating world aren't partly why they're struggling. They want to succeed, they know they have to be perfect, and they seem to be letting some of that pressure get to them right now (and did last season as well, to some extent).

      Everybody - insiders and outsiders - have a piece of advice or a solution for them. Get the programs out as early as possible, come out polished and at full throttle or there's no hope for you, pull back on the innovation/difficulty but not too much or that will hurt you too, etc., etc.

      They're sort of damned if they do, damned if they don't at all times, because someone will not be happy with whatever decisions they've made. They can't worry about that. The only thing they can do is build programs they're confident in, take what feedback they're given, and follow down the path to Sochi they feel is best for them as a team.

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    4. From 6:38
      "I have a hard time believing the hysteria and other pressures that run rampant through the skating world aren't partly why they're struggling."

      Tessa and Scott have talked a lot about putting themselves in a bubble but I have to wonder if the fans' hysteria has a great negative effect. The fans all say they want to be supportive but then they turn around and declare VM are screwed, they cannot possibly win. The program is horrible. Their coaches are horrible. And all of this with paragraphs of advice. Unless VM really are ruthless about a bubble, the negative fan-talk is most probably affecting them.

      From oc 6:50
      "at times I do wonder if the sham plays havoc with their mental game."

      I wonder about this as well. How does this not clutter up the mind? They have to constantly be on guard so as not to let the truth come out. Some could argue it's so habitual it doesn't affect. I beg to differ. Living out a deception is toxic. Therefore - it is having a negative impact in some fashion.

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    5. 5:52, I agree with much of what you say and I also wonder a whole lot about VM's mental game leading up to Vancouver and their mental game leading to Sochi. Although I don't have outside validation for this assumption, it seems to me that leading up to Vancouver Scott and Tessa believed in CoP. They believed the team that executed would prevail. They were always saying they grew up with CoP, and CoP legitimized ice dance. Within that of course were concerns, such as the scoring at Worlds 2009. Still, overall, I thought Scott and Tessa's focus was on execution. If they executed, they'd get the placement they deserved, which was gold.

      I wonder to what extent the subsequent quadrennial has unseated that confidence in CoP. As others have mentioned, DW aren't that good and are scored first competition out of the gate at Olympic performance levels. VM threw down with Carmen and it was that bullshit Notre Dame that got huge scores while every nuance of Carmen was scrutinized and held to CoP account.

      If you believe in CoP, and you're the best, then really all you have to do is train and then execute. If there's a whole lot of shit out of your control, that can impact your mental game even if the reality is you can't control it. Remember the old 6.0 mantra of after the short program, you control your destiny. If politics are in the mix, you don't. I think VM have plenty of evidence to teach them that how they skate is only a portion of what determines the outcome, that they are scored against their best selves and not against DW, and DW get the scores, period, as long as there are now mistakes discernible to the casual viewer, and even when they are, the deductions are contained, instead of domino-ing as they seem to do when VM make a mistake.So the temptation may be to do a lot of second guessing.

      Not to be self-serving but at times I do wonder if the sham plays havoc with their mental game.

      I don't particularly agree with compartmentalization. For the most part, compartmentalization really means focus on what you need to focus on now, then later put it behind you and focus on the next thing. Don't let issue A distract from your performance in Issue B.

      Compartmentalization doesn't mean act contrary to who you are and ignore that you're doing it. For the Vancouver quad, as perverted as the rationale for the sham might have been, if you bought into the point of view, you could sort of see how it would fly, particularly with everybody on board - Skate Canada, Ilderton, VM, other skaters. They may have been misguided but it had a certain authenticity. Now, I feel in some respects they have to know better, but they continue anyhow, and I wonder about the subconscious or psychological impact on their decision making.

      And that said, 6:58 nails it. They can only control what they can control. Even if the environment "outside" has altered (or revealed itself) there's nothing they can do about it. They can't train in reaction. They have no hope if they second guess, hedge, over analyze.

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    6. Thank you for clarifying some of the tone-of-discussion issues (eg. monologue comment).

      "From my perspective, the relevant questions are all comparative. Not comparing VM to VM, but VM to DW. "

      I think that pretty much sums up the difference. I'm more interested in the conversation about why V/M are amazing completely unrelated to D/W. I am also extremely pissed at the scoring, and think it's beyond ridiculous that D/W are being scored the way they are, completely unrelated to V/M. The topics are VERY connected, obviously, but while I think the intersection is a very useful discussion, I don't think it's the only one that's relevant.

      "In that regard, I was very surprised how most of the commentary went straight to choreo instead of the tech calls and the mistakes. "

      I think while many of us are outraged by the unfair scoring and interested in discussing it, we know there’s nothing we can do about it except....well, collectively monologue as to why it sucks. I think that's worth doing, but my first priority was to discuss the program for its own merits, because I really wanted a program I loved completely enough to get me through what will still probably be a very aggravating season.

      I'm done.

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    7. @7:12, I want to be careful not to blame fans for anything, because V/M are ultimately responsible for what affects them. Meaning, they can choose what they want to hear and what they should block out. Nor do I think all fans should be expected to circle the wagons if/when they're concerned or upset about something. They should be free to say what they want/how they feel.

      That being said, the problems in ice dance are structural, and reacting with a lot emotional-based hysteria does nothing to fix those issues. Also, oftentimes the fans who add to that hysteria are the same ones who claim fan opinion has a direct impact on how judges score programs. I don't think that's necessarily true, but let's say for the sake of argument that it is. In that case, are they not reinforcing the very thing they claim to hate about the sport?

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    8. >>They can't train in reaction. They have no hope if they second guess, hedge, over analyze.<<

      That's exactly it. It's like the Jonathan Swift quote: "You cannot reason someone out of something they were not reasoned into."

      Solutions meant to try and provide V/M with the means to get ahead will fail them because the application of the system itself is what is fucked up. Trying to build on that is like building on quicksand. The more you try to fight against it, the faster you sink under the surface.

      If V/M try to change who they are as a team in order to meet unfair standards placed upon them, it will cause them to second-guess things and put more pressure on themselves. The best thing they can do is continue to be who they are and trust in the process, as Tessa said.

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    9. 7:42pm, the only way I believe fans influence the scoring is the same way I believe the media influences the scoring - there is widespread ignorance about skating. The public isn't really informed and the media isn't informed. The media knows nothing about technique and often thinks the most flaily, strenuous-looking skaters are the best, and much of the media also thinks a stumble means the skaters shouldn't win. The fans aren't focused on technique - look at all the focus on the S/S lift. I can understand those who dislike it aesthetically, but it is not the lift done in juniors because of Scott's edges and the difficult exit. I know I keep pushing the pairs comparison but IMO that's the easiest way to understand how something that basically looks the same is not the same, is in fact, of much higher quality and a much more difficult.

      Anyway, because the judges are not accountable, because the court of public opinion (fans and media) isn't informed, it's very difficult to make the sport accountable. Add in agendas and it's especially upsetting that the greatest ice dancers in many many years, perhaps all time in terms of skating skills, are getting conveniently scored against themselves and a faked out team like DW may well end up with an Olympic gold and three World titles while in terms of their resume, VM's best years will be considered to have been left behind them two years ago.

      The slapping down of a CoP master class like Carmen is outrageous and has been remarked many many times. But even then, I wish there were more focus on the scores DW are getting versus the scores VM are not getting.

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    10. I understand what you're saying, OC. And I agree. I think my larger point is that it makes no sense to maintain V/M should change who they are as a team (which includes how they grow their programs) in order to meet the standards of a system that is unfair to them to begin with.

      There is NO VALID REASON (based on CoP as it is written) that a team should be required to hit on all cylinders and make no mistakes in the first outing of the season. Yet that's what some fans want to see from V/M because they feel it's the only way to fight back against the unfairness of the system. But it doesn't fight against the unfairness, it merely reinforces it. It's "well, those standards are bullshit and damn near impossible to achieve! But you'd better kill yourself to try and meet them, and if you don't, say goodbye to the gold medal!"

      Fuck that. V/M shouldn't have to be who they are not, especially since who they ARE is why they've been so successful over the years. They can't react to unfairness by legitimizing it. That won't do them or anyone else any good.

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    11. 10:47 - yes.

      I've been guilty of frustration myself - most recently when Tessa acknowledged that the second rotational wasn't ready and so they substituted the one that got level 1. I started wondering why the hell they were working with a lift that was such a problem solving challenge it wasn't ready by Finlandia.

      When the reality is exactly as you say - they cannot control the unfair system, and they cannot fight back against it by fighting back on that system's terms, because, in part, if it's built in to be unfair to them, that is going to be a futile fight no matter what approach they use, and second (and not in this particular order), if they fight back on those terms they're also working against themselves, and hurt themselves far more than they'll ever succeed in making headway against a system that's almost structurally rigged against them, as currently applied.

      Figure skating does involve post-season input and and feedback from the judges. If that means the judges influence the program they deliver in a given season, that is in part how the sport has operated. It's another thing to try to out-politic the sport in a way that works against who they are. I said somewhere above that the only approach is to serenity prayer it - IOW, know the difference between what you can control and what you can't, and then leave it alone.

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    12. So then what should they do? If it's all so futile, shouldn't they just retire?

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    13. It's not futile. To succeed, V/M have to be totally clean. They can certainly do that.

      V/M need to take the feedback they're given and keep growing things the way they feel best fits them as a team. Their programs are specifically designed to be so difficult and intricate that it takes them months to perfect, and that's okay because they don't have to be perfect until Sochi. Lots of people are screaming otherwise, that they have to be perfect NOW. No they don't. D/W will continue to be overmarked no matter how well V/M are skating early in the season. V/M can't react to that, it's a waste of time and will only result in them working against themselves in the process.

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  4. Truthfully, I'm more than a little disappointed with the free dance. They've already touted it so much as being their story but where is the story? I'm not seeing it, aside from the few random throwbacks to Mahler. If Mahler was about an engagement and marriage, and this dance continues the story, then shouldn't there be more joy and love in the program? Has their story taken such a drastic turn that it's all torrential storms with a fleeting glimpse of happiness?

    That's all aside from the skating itself. They're lovely skaters, we know, the best of the best and this program definitely gives them a chance to showcase their gorgeous lines but I do hope that some of the lifts change.

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    1. I'm a fan of the lifts, including the s/s lift. They got level 1 on the second rotational but I don't know if the problem was the lift itself failed to meet level 4 criteria or if it was timing that dropped it to level 1 - there was a gap between Tessa arriving in position and Scott commencing rotation. That second rotational was, per Tessa, a substitute for the rotational which they've been training, which wasn't ready. She allowed having second thoughts, since the substitute only got level 1.

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    2. I love the S/S lift, Tessa's body control is stunning and I think it fits nicely with the music. The sl lift is gorgeous but if Scott is going to wobble, it takes away from the aesthetics of it. I fear it might be changed like that one lift in Funny Face was. I would love to see the rotational that they took out of the program. What are the chances it would be ready for Skate Canada?

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    3. v/m aren't the only ice dancers who has done the s/s lift
      http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:2011_WFSC_6d_497_Vanessa_Crone_Paul_Poirier.JPG

      fucking 'ell marina why do this?

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    4. Huh. Were C/P the first ever to do this lift? Because there have been variations of it for years now. If they weren't, then it's a matter of a relatively common-ish lift being done to show off core strength, line, and absolute command of edges.

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    5. But Scott holds a more difficult edge, and their exit is much more difficult....he rotates out if it, where as C/P exits in a spread eagle.

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    6. Delobel/Schoenfelder used to do this lift also.

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    7. The point is what 4:36AM is saying. It's not the same if Scott's edge is more difficult and the exit is more difficult. A lift is more than the pose.

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    8. the point is V/M ARE OLYMPIC CHAMPIONS not juniors or whatever marina shouldn't be giving them lifts that are sooo overused. god i feel with this fd v/m will be going into the olys with "handicaps" and yes im talking about the Harrison Bergeron type of handicaps. this is NOT the right FD for them if they want to win the olympics because its so sloppily put together. lets hope they tweak it beyond recognition. are d/w really that bad that marina has to dumb down V/M's skills so d/w can win?

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    9. also please don't take my use of the word "handicaps" as an insult its not my fault kurt vonnegut used such an ugly word for his short story. also i am NOT referring to tessa's injury i just want to make that clear im not insensitive like the whiny american D/W fans that were whining about tessa's cramp at 4CC. what i meant to say is that with this FD v/m might as well be dancing with 300 pounds of metal and ugly masks like Harrison Bergeron and his empress ballerina. and if V/M ever do complain they'll get 'shot' down scott will get called an ass again because god forbid he speaks out against the injustice and flaws COP.

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    10. The FD is not "sloppily put together" nor has Marina "dumbed down" any of V/M's skills.

      The FD is highly intricate, nuanced, and requiring of a tremendous amount of speed and power to perform. Nothing they're doing is "juniorish."

      And nothing and no one could ever "dumb down" V/M's skills. That's simply not possible. Those skills are ingrained in them. Ever heard a professional singer try to "dumb down" their performances by breathing incorrectly or putting themselves in any position to ruin their voice by not adhering to the techniques ingrained in them by years of vocal coaching? You probably haven't because it doesn't happen.

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    11. The real problem for me in this FD is that I don't see the story...and I don't see the emotion and the connection between them...

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    12. Ditto 11:47, I have the same problem.

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    13. Not being clear on the storyline I can get behind, but no connection or emotion? As always, their choreography is intricate and requiring of completely interdependent skating - that is connection. And what kind of emotion are you wanting to see from them? I see plenty of it between them. People who saw it live in Finlandia were blown away by the beauty and intensity of everything, and that included how V/M related to one another in the program.

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    14. 10:32 a.m., I love the analogy. And I feel by claiming these aspects of Seasons are DW or juniorish, the actual point of questioning DW's scores got by a lot of people. I already knew it got by many DW fans, who thought the blog was criticizing the repetition in itself, rather than the evolved skating skills they were demonstrating - or not demonstrating - year after year. It's how, not what.

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    15. I thought the blog was criticizing both the repetition and the execution, no? I remember one of the first posts criticizing the evolution of DW's skating included photos of old BA lifts and many reiterations of Meryl in the same lift position in different programs. The idea was that if they are doing stuff from 2006 and their own program is the same one from 2009, where is the improvement?

      I thought it was... this stuff is not innovative (others have done it before) AND it's old (for DW personally) AND it's not even well done, which it really should be considering it's so old.

      Only now am I reading into it that doing the same elements, but better (which is not what VM are doing; most of their stuff IS different in substance, although some poses are similar to old ones) is good, as in your example of GG 1988/94. But I am right there with the people that didn't understand this was your point all along; I took it that the repeating of the elements was an inherent part of the problem.

      I do think many VM fans have come to use DW's repetition as shorthand for the lack of growth in their skating and in their ability to inrerpret music. Kind of like in SLC, where people criticized SP for using an "old, cheesy" program. Using an old program is fine; Viktor Petrenko won with a 3 year old long program. But people were using old and cheesy as a shorthand for saying SP were using a program from very early in their career with lacked transitions and lacked the sophistication of BS (a sophistication that came from their blades and body lines, not from the use of classical music). If the program had been just as old, but equal to what BS did, it would have been deserving of high marks.

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    16. >>I thought the blog was criticizing both the repetition and the execution, no? I remember one of the first posts criticizing the evolution of DW's skating included photos of old BA lifts and many reiterations of Meryl in the same lift position in different programs. The idea was that if they are doing stuff from 2006 and their own program is the same one from 2009, where is the improvement?<<<

      I definitely was saying from the start, whether it was clear enough or not, that the repetition and execution are facets of the exact same problem and it was that problem at which the blog took aim. I think that was said in the original post, and also in the post comparing B&A and DW.

      IOW, when the blog deconstructs the problem or asks questions, the question is, how did DW get better so as to justify defeating not just B&A, but then Virtue & Moir, when they haven't altered their skating? Not just not altered their elements (which is not, in itself an issue absent other issues) but how did their skating grow? Have they grown these elements (the repeated elements) by displaying stronger, superior skating skills while performing them? Are the entrances and exits done on strong edges, are the transitions into them difficult, etc. Is the power into them generated by blade run or core strength, or is it yanking and climbing or swinging into them?

      It wouldn't actually matter if they were repeating, if the components of what they were repeating were still more advanced than their competitors, still demonstrated superior skills, and somehow the execution had improved so much they'd surpassed VM, who were also improving. This is what you are saying but I believe that is also what the blog has always been saying.

      When it was B&A and DW being compared, in the comments one person observed that back in 2006, B&A weren't pasting their cores together and Ben wasn't doing her leg extension for her. Yet DW went past them.

      So I believe the blog has made that point from the start. I wouldn't have even started if the issue were just that they were repeating elements. The fact that the elements were pedestrian back in 2009 and suddenly best in the world now was the question that informed the introduction of the topic. And what made them pedestrian? How they were executed. The blog then demonstrated that nothing had really evolved in the execution. There were a gazillion gifs of two footing, clutching, knees, climbing, pinned torsos, pinned limbs, to illustrate that point.

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    17. One reason it's difficult for DW to actually improve their execution AS SKATERS is they haven't altered their mechanics. They can climb/scramble up faster and switch which hand is clutching quicker than they did before, Marina can use choreographic sleight of hand to fool people visulaly, but they're not using edges in and out of elements, and they're not using core strength to sustain position in their elements, and they're not challenging their centers of gravity. There's no good technique there to improve. There's just finessing cheap mechanics.

      So, it's not even about better with them yet, so much as properly. As I said, you can climb faster, clutch quicker, scramble more quickly, but that's not a core improvement if you're still clutching, climbing, scrambling and two-footing.

      The lift in Seasons, where Tessa steps onto Scott's leg and then does what I think of as prow of the ship or statues of liberty in Seasons - Scott begins in a besti squat, she steps up into position, and then by GOD, Scott straightens up and changes his orientation towards Tessa (usually it's the liftee who changes orientation) so that he and Tessa are traveling the ice facing in the same direction in which they are traveling, and on an extremely narrow plane. Charlie and Meryl would both be in the trauma ward even attempting that and Tessa and Scott are doing it with pure skating skills and superior control of their bodies in space. It's not some non-skating acrobatic feat.

      Scott gets up out of a besti squat, CHANGES HIS BODY's ORIENTATION vis a vis Tessa, who his balanced on his thigh, while Tessa remains perfectly controlled/fixed, and then his and Tessa's bodies are both facing the same direction they're traveling (very dangerous). It's Scott's position that is most dangerous in that lift, for a skater less accomplished, and the amazing part is he transitions into it. This is a whole lot more difficult than for the liftee to change while the lift-er remains stable, and Scott and Tessa execute this using their skating.

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    18. ^^^ THANK YOU, OC. Maybe your breakdown (which is correct) will shut up the ignorant "it's a hand me down not worthy of Olympic champions!" arguments about that lift.

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    19. Yeah, look at Scott, will you please people. That is sensational. Furthermore, Tessa doesn't have to adjust herself at all to the fact that human being down below is changing from a stable point that is horizontal and covers a wide (i.e., much more secure as far as gravity is concerned) plane and is traveling perpendicular to her position (the besti squat) to a stable point that goes vertical, onto one foot, and re-orients to face the same direction she's facing.

      There's a book on art called "The Artist's Eye - Learning to See". I wish there was a book like that on figure skating.

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    20. And speaking of artists, look at the aesthetics of that lift. After he changes orientation, their lines mirror each other's. Even the position of his arm supporting her leg echoes the position of her arm in the lift.

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    21. I'm going to start referring to the "it's not worthy even though I clearly don't understand why it's superior!" arguments as being clear manifestations of "BMTL syndrome" - BLAME MARINA, THINK LATER.

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    22. If fans here bring up anything to do with repetition of elements and that they thought from previous blog posts it bothered you, you keep putting them in the same category as clueless D/W fans:

      "I already knew it got by many DW fans, who thought the blog was criticizing the repetition in itself, rather than the evolved skating skills they were demonstrating - or not demonstrating - year after year. It's how, not what."

      And then these fans explain that they DO understand that the repetition of D/W's elements is problematic only because it's a reflection on the quality of their skating:

      "I do think many VM fans have come to use DW's repetition as shorthand for the lack of growth in their skating"

      But then you keep responding to them as if they're wrong and you're right even though you are saying the exact same thing

      ""I definitely was saying from the start, whether it was clear enough or not, that the repetition and execution are facets of the exact same problem"

      And then the conversation goes on and you kinda sort acknowledge that you're on the same page as some of us:

      "Then we agree completely. If you weren't saying that variety or diversity in itself is a value, YEP."

      And yet it seems certain that this process will repeat itself shortly.

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    23. No, I disagree, 2:08pm.

      Where 11:08 and I (or I, re 11:08) had an understanding gap was in this paragraph:

      "For D/W it IS part of the problem. The reason they repeat elements is because they don't have the capacity or technical ability to come up with new and innovative lifts every season. V/M DO have both the ability and capacity to do so. However, that does not mean that when V/M decide to use iterations of previous elements or pieces of choreography it is because they are incapable of doing something more innovative. Even when they "repeat," what they're doing is always more complex or requiring of more speed, power, and technique to properly execute. "

      Which, IMO, although it says "technique" isn't clear enough as to what is meant by capacity, because the comment says capacity or technique, which can be read as lacking two things. And then says that if they did, they'd have the ability to come up with new or innovative lifts every season.

      (I'm not sure I agree even as far as VM (that they could come up with lifts both new and innovative each season), just as I'm not sure I ascribe a high value to either one of those terms.)

      What does new and innovative mean? Or creative? A lot of fans have used those terms to mean different shapes, basically. Just as they believe showing diversity in a program means different themes. And that's also where I sometimes pull up short, because what do people mean when they say those things? I've seen a lot of meaning attached to them that IMO have no relevance to superior skating.

      So when 11:08 said capacity, I was not clear they meant "capacity" and "or technical ability" as meaning the same thing. (IOW, "capacity" was just another way to say "Technical ability". When they clarified, I understood.)

      The bottom line is, when I read that, it's possible to interpret that comment as saying DW do the same elements because they lack the imagination (capacity), vision, as well as technical ability, to diversify their elements season to season, as if diversity is important on its own and as if a lack of capacity (say, capacity in imagination) is really relevant.

      Turns out we both were talking about technique. DW lack the technique to grow their skating. When they reaffirmed that's what they meant, then it was clear we were saying the same thing. I say it wasn't clear the first time.

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    24. I also don't know if VM themselves could come up with "new and innovative" lifts each season if they chose, not that we are all agreed on the definition of innovative, or where "new" is supposed to show itself in the lift.

      There's a technical vocabulary in skating and there's a movement/technical vocabulary in dance. It would be wonderful I suppose if VM could add to that vocabulary but most of the time they're using what's there and I think it would challenge them to come up with new and innovative lifts (or other elements) each season, but they are certainly capable of raising the bar on the elements they do, and they do.

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    25. So to clarify, it was the use of capacity that caused me to say I disagreed. With DW it was "capacity or technical ability", with VM it was "BOTH the capacity and the ability to do so."

      WHAT capacity apart from ability? To me that suggested something other than the skill to do so. In skating skills, there really is no capacity apart from the ability to do something. Marina has enough other capacity (conceptualizing a move and then translating it) for any team with the ability.

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    26. I want to add something about innovation in Carmen because as I look at Seasons I'm actually seeing "innovation" in Seasons, so for me, and I think I said this when Carmen was discussed, the brilliance of Carmen was it took CoP's own criteria/standards and elevated the standard. If you look at how a superior twizzle is exited sustaining an edge, look what Scott and Tessa did sustaining their edge in the Carmen twizzles - they sustained their edge and arrested the momentum in unison, in the style of the character of the dance. IOW, they took the standard and made it harder. They raised the difficulty bar.

      I haven't completely deconstructed Seasons yet but I certainly see them raising the standard of difficulty in a lift with that first lift. My current response to Seasons is that the package appears more stylistically conventional because it is lyrical and the music works very differently with the program than the music of their three previous free dances, but the skating skills this package showcases has not taken a step back from Carmen.

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    27. This may be helpful:

      http://www.dancestudiolife.com/2009/12/lyrical-dance/

      I started hunting for definitions of "lyrical dance" because when I hunted for definitions of modern dance, I came upon specifics right away.

      Articles that come up when one googles for the definition of lyrical dance generally start by calling it a ballet/jazz fusion and then devolve into describing it. The above link was the most useful I've found because it's a dance web page that canvassed many dance studios/dancers and reprinted what they said. None had the same definition - most got descriptive - but some of the descriptions had examples that were both entertaining and useful.

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  5. OC already talked about this--I think a big mistake was using Mahler costumes. Even Tessa's hairdo was almost the same, if not the same.

    I understand they want to convey this is Mahler-2 but it was more important that from the get-go this FD stand on its own. Somehow the harking back to 2010 is not doing the perceptions of this FD any favors. They need new--completely different--costumes. And Tessa should not wear a bun again for this new Olympic FD. There shouldn't be anything in the costumes/hair that's the same.

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    1. The costumes/hair (same as Mahler) made it look and feel recycled.

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    2. Totally agreed...I have a feeling they'll both be wearing all navy costumes, similar to G&G in 1994.

      Whatever way they go, Scott shouldn't wear another white shirt/black pants combo, and Tessa shouldn't wear a pastel-coloured dress.

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    3. All-navy? Please, no. Maybe ok for Scott but definitely not Tessa. So dreary.

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    4. no pastels? imo they should dress in the colors of the seasons - tessa in pink/peach for spring/summer scott in off-white/brown for winter/fall.

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    5. They need to visually dissociate as much as possible from Mahler. That means no pastel or light colored dress for Tessa and no white shirt/black pants combo for Scott. Tessa also needs a different hairstyle--down, french braid--no bun.

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    6. Scott wore brown for UofC. It's a horrible color on most people. I hope to never see him in brown again. Yuck.

      All-black would be fine. Black is always classic and elegant and Scott does look great in black.

      Tessa always looks beautiful but I love her hair down.

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    7. I loved Scott's brown shirt a whole lot better than the blue shirt. Also loved a darker brown cut velvet (or burnt out velvet?) shirt he wore in the cd.

      As to lifts:

      IF, as part of the critique of DW, some fans were lording it over DW fans, I had no idea they thought the pose was the thing worth disparaging. For me, at least, as with all DW lifts, the point of criticizing the way they repeat their lifts is what they're doing in the lifts - climbing in many of them, and in the ones where they don't climb, they're pasted together with all limbs on deck, pinned to each other with their arms hooked across each other's bodies and limbs, and their centers of balance glued together. Furthermore Meryl poses without engaging her core, partly for security, partly because she and Charlie have much more of a poverty of movement in general than VM.

      If they'd executed this lift all along as legitimately as VM are going it, then there would have been less to criticize. As ever, at least as far as my perspective is concerned, the reason the DW lifts are worth criticizing is the level of skating skill they don't show, and yet they are able to use these elementary mechanics year after year and be rewarded for it. It's their skating that hasn't developed, meaning, they aren't executing advanced technique, which means relying on their edges.

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    8. If we're talking about the lift where Tessa is facing forward on one leg with her arm raised, Charlie performs this in a spread eagle while grabbing up Meryl's leg above the knee. They're facing the same direction - they're on the same stable plane from the waist down. They are also traveling counterpoint to where they're facing.

      Not only is Scott balanced on his edge, he and Tessa are traveling in the same direction they're facing, on a much narrower plane of stability and the lift is extremely dangerous. Consider if Meryl fell from hers versus if Tessa fell from hers.

      If this is not the lift some are saying is "junior", then which one is junior.

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    9. "Only now am I reading into it that doing the same elements, but better (which is not what VM are doing; most of their stuff IS different in substance, although some poses are similar to old ones) is good, as in your example of GG 1988/94. But I am right there with the people that didn't understand this was your point all along; I took it that the repeating of the elements was an inherent part of the problem."

      For D/W it IS part of the problem. The reason they repeat elements is because they don't have the capacity or technical ability to come up with new and innovative lifts every season. V/M DO have both the ability and capacity to do so. However, that does not mean that when V/M decide to use iterations of previous elements or pieces of choreography it is because they are incapable of doing something more innovative. Even when they "repeat," what they're doing is always more complex or requiring of more speed, power, and technique to properly execute.

      And perhaps I'm wrong, but I've been under the impression that part of the reason we're seeing some "repeated" yet more complex aspects of their previous program choreography/elements in V/M's new FD is because it is an homage to their skating career.

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    10. ^^^ Sorry, I posted that in the wrong spot. It's a reply to @10:23 am.

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    11. I actually disagree, 11:13. First, we'd all have to define what we mean by innovative, do we mean diversity for diversity's sake, do we mean raising the bar - what do you mean.

      I don't think variation for variation's sake is meaningful in skating - it's not right up there, not for me, so the blog wasn't trying to say that the fact that DW didn't change it up was an issue. It's all about what skating skills are they actually demonstrating, when you clear away choreographic and gesticulation and non-skating athletic hoo ha?

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    12. I meant raising the bar. I should have specified.

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    13. An example of repeating an element but that element reaching a higher standard, becoming more difficult, deserving higher scores in TES, is the Goose. When Tessa and Scott did the Goose in 2009, Scott got down in a squat, took Tessa's hand, and she held his hand while balancing her knee on his back, and then she let go. When she dismounted, she took his hand again, and it was a step down off his thigh.

      When the did it in 2009-2010, Tessa took his hand to step up but immediately let go. When she was on his back in competition her balance point was her knee on his back, while her hips, pelvis, torso, shoulders, arms and hands were her own lookout. If you use your imagination, you can imagine the type of body control it takes to keep your hips squared and stable after stepping up off on edge onto the back of somebody who is traveling down the ice. If her hips were somehow secured externally, the move would be a lot easier. Just consider how much of her body was on its own in space, relying only on Tessa. Then Tessa dismounts independently. In the first version, she pivots off Scott's thigh onto an outside edge. In the amended version, she leaps off into his arms, he sets her onto an edge. She's not taking his hand and being assisted back down onto the ice, as in 2009. This advance is an advance in the level of skating skill The Goose now shows, while still being The Goose in both seasons.

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    14. The skating skill shown by Scott, obviously, is he maintains his balance and his stability while only using one hand to assist Tessa onto his thigh. He's not clutching onto her to help girdle himself vis a vis the challenge of maintaining his position with another human being perched no his thigh on one leg. Tessa's balance is reliant on his stability, his stability is reliant on her balance - there is mutual interdependance that relies upon each of their independent abilities. That's pretty masterful in that move. She couldn't do it if he weren't that secure down there, he couldn't do it if she weren't carrying herself so perfectly up there - do it with "no hands". Further as the program evolved Scott would extend his arms. In earlier versions his hands were on his knees, which helps lock in his core stability.

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    15. Correct. That's what I meant by D/W being incapable of and not possessing the technical ability to do new and innovative lifts each season. In order to execute the ones they've created they have to cheat and utilize improper mechanics. Yet with each passing season, their lifts are scored higher despite never improving their execution.

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    16. Then we agree completely. If you weren't saying that variety or diversity in itself is a value, YEP. When you deconstruct what DW are doing, they are not executing with skating skills, so at the end of the day, they're stuck in place, and yet their scores climb.

      Even the showcase lift of their 112 free dance uses, I am fairly sure, tension/resistence to create the momentum that Charlie uses to swing (of course it's a swing) Meryl's pelvis up onto his shoulder (he actually has to sort of nudge her in place with his arm on top of that.). They're not using skating power. He's on two feet, he swings/pulls her past him while she rides her skate in shoot-the-duck position (she's not skating, she's balancing while being pulled across the ice) and she's past him at arms' length, he swings her up to his shoulder, and when he starts traveling in a squat, he is still on two feet (obviously, but there's nothing that challenges the blade here, compared to VM). She's up on his shoulder and rolls to lie across his neck and shoulders. Then she transitions to Charlie's front in a crouch whose silhouette resembles a position Tessa has used in a lift transition, but Meryl has to support her own knee on Charlie's knee.

      It's still their non-skating basic, i.e., SWINGING Meryl up. Still so much redundancy in how Meryl's position is supported, with Charlie's arm pinning her legs to his shoulder (and Meryl's own arms sprawled across Charlie). And of course, all of this is taking place across the most stable parts of each other's bodies, and those parts pasted together. Nothing's going on with their bodies in space.

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    17. OC, not that it's much better, but DW's FD score in SLC was actually 110.02, not 112. It's still a completely ridiculous score for DW. Even on their best day, they don't skate anywhere near that.

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    18. Good reminder to re-check, thanks. That's why I had the overall point differential between VM/Finlandia and DW's comp up at 19 as well (although yes, I know the difference between 16 and 19 is 3 points).

      It's a ridiculous score, it's on part with the 77 points for the Worlds short, and it's extremely depressing.

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  6. reason number 1 why V/M needs to axe the choreographic lift
    http://youtu.be/GkLwFvvu6fE?t=4m41s

    http://youtu.be/T9vFXcnKGBs?t=3m57s

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    1. Kill it. KILL IT NOW.

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    2. IKR^^ V/M are so much better than this FD and they have proved that countless of times. they are so much better than hand-me-down lifts.

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    3. Only the entrances and first position are the same (or very similar), Tessa holds that first position longer and with better extension. The rotational positions are different.

      I'm curious what has some of you more upset. That you think using a choreographic lift similar to part of one D/W have done isn't "complex" or "innovative" enough for V/M (their lift is MORE complex, by the way), or that you've spent so many months lording it over D/W fans and seeing something like this has hurt your pride?

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    4. Think of it another way: V/M are doing a choreographic lift somewhat similar to D/W's last season, but they've made it more complex and they execute it FAR BETTER.

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    5. idc if v/m preform it better. for marina to give them hand me down lifts means she cares more about d/w than v/m. v/m are OLYMPIC CHAMPIONS and they should be treated as such. they shouldn't be given hand me down lifts from lesser teams.

      and yes perhaps i have too much pride in v/m.

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    6. If anything, this lift is an evolution of the last lift they did in UofC, so if anything, D/W inherited the bastardized version of the original V/M lift.

      I think this lift is glorious...the way Tessa gets into position (by herself, using her core) to the crescendo of the music...I can totally see the Russian audience standing in ovation at that moment.

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    7. @ 7:02, I think your answer explains it all. You don't care if V/M perform the element better. Congratulations, since their performing the element better is what matters.

      There's nothing "hand me down" about that lift. It is NOT some less difficult lift because D/W performed a similar one last season. Again, with the exception of the first position, V/M's lift is different than D/W's, is more complex, and is better executed.

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  7. Unpopular opinion perhaps but I love the new FD. I loved it even more after watching the shit that DW are doing. Scoring aside, there is no question who the better ice dancers are here.

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    1. It's always fascinating to me that the DW fans immediately claim to be crying in joy no matter what DW have just skated - BAM - cue the swooning. And the VM fans immediately pick VM's programs apart like carrion in the road. Not the skating - non-skating components of the program. Which they often seem to confuse with skating.

      When I say fans, I'm speaking only of the vocal fans on line.

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    2. i guess the current lowballing of v/m's scores has made us fans become like the judges.

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    3. It's as pointed out (not by me) in the comments, fans are buying into what the judges are doing and demanding that Virtue and Moir beat the judges at their own game. If Virtue and Moir do that they will sabotage themselves.

      It's not the lowballing of VM's scores that are the issue really, even though that, too, is unfair, as they're scored against their best selves versus what they're actually putting on the ice. It's like the dark underbelly of DW's situation, who are getting astronomical scores no matter what they put on the ice. As soon as DW got 112 for a senior B, beating their score winning worlds last season, attention was turned to VM, demanding VM up the ante. The focus, IMO, should be on what the HELL are the judges doing throwing those scores out at DW as if those scores are DW's baseline, without actually evaluating the components of that program. If they did, the score would be nowhere near 112.

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    4. I was thinking that the slight nudge built into the showcase lift of 112, is the sort of thing that would have fingers pointing at VM. Look, they have to struggle a little - they got stuck a bit. It's not perfect.

      This is what happens when sloppy is your style. Sloppy is NOT a style.

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    5. D/W did not beat their Worlds score - their first outing of Scherz received 110.02, which is also lower than their 2011 Worlds Championship and their 2010 Phantom FD victory. I'm not saying it's any less wrong or ridiculous.

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    6. Oh, I see someone already corrected that above.

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    7. "It's always fascinating to me that the DW fans immediately claim to be crying in joy no matter what DW have just skated - BAM - cue the swooning. And the VM fans immediately pick VM's programs apart like carrion in the road. Not the skating - non-skating components of the program. Which they often seem to confuse with skating."

      I think you are misunderstanding some fans. Some points:

      1. V/M has a way, way bigger fan base than D/W.
      2. Many V/M fans are actually fans of ice dance, more than just fans of V/M -- real ice dance, where skating is not secondary to dance, but that *both* skating and dance mastery are required to be truly great -- a la T/D, K/P, U/Z, etc.
      3. These fans tend to focus on choreography rather than skating in discussions, because the excellent quality of the skating is already evident. There's no way you perform truly excellent choreography without excellent skating skills. Now we want to see the sublime -- skating elevated to the art that only ice dance can bring. Every other discipline is nothing but skating. G&G's Moonlight Sonata? An excellent display of pairs technique, but nothing more. G&G couldn't hold a candle to the greatest ice dancers. Not by a longshot. It's not enough simply to be a great skater in ice dance. To be the best ice dancers, you must have mastered the technique enough that you can just give into dance.

      People who are fans of D/W tend to have no understanding of quality skating, and definitely no understanding of dance at all. To them, any crap looks good, so of course they're always raving. Too bad the ISU is such a corrupt group of scoundrels that this junk is actually being rewarded.


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    8. I agree with 5:59 completely and would also add that VM's fans have been spoiled by excellent choreography and originality over the years. I swear, DW fans hold their breath hoping the material is not *too* crappy this year and are thrilled when it is only 99% crap. VM fans have much larger expectations, are purists, and will therefore be a lot pickier - as in the discussion here, where the choreography is great and displays the most dazzling skating skills, but is not as original as they have done in the past, so the feeling is one of disappointment for some of the fans.

      It's a heavy burden being the only ones in their discipline right now who can truly skate AND have dance ability (I love the idea of "just give into dance").

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    9. Well, I won't debate or inquire further into what is meant by terms such as "original" so that I understand "not as original", but my opinion only, I think it's a shame that we have skaters like VM who have such a widespread, passionate fanbase, who love ice dance, who display extraordinary skill. and instead of appreciating what they're doing, some of it, frankly, seeming to get completely past many of these fans who love ice dance (getting by some fans, not all fans). To me that demonstrates an insufficient appreciation for what VM do in every single program, as if any time they're less than absolutely killing themselves out there, they're pandering. When no other dance team can approach them, and they're not pandering because they're not compromising their technique, they're not stepping back and skating an easier program.

      They are extraordinary talents but they're still of this earth.

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    10. I also believe that uniting skating and dance is not something that relies upon being new and innovative, or original, however different participants here envision that, and in another set of comments maybe that can be hashed out so everybody has the same definitions of all of the terms. I am not sure everybody recognizes it. I think sometimes people see the package and not the content in terms of what is being achieved in a program.

      Uniting skating and dance requires uniting your skating with your dancing. I don't see how VM fail to do so in this program, or fall short of their own standards.

      oc

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    11. I don't think they're failing in this program. Right now, the FD to me is like the SD was at the beginning of last season. Excellent skating, and V/M were definitely trying something with the choreography, but something seemed off. V/M acknowledged as much at the Finlandia press conference (Scott mentioning that at times he felt on top of skates, at others, he had no idea what was going on, and Tessa saying that it took time to cut the music, and they're just now developing the characters etc.). Let's see how this develops over the season.

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    12. Even though they weren't their best selves in terms of their own execution, when I'm looking at the different program segments, and the skating skills required to execute exactly as they executed here, even below their own polished best, the skating skills on display are such that for the judges to give this barely over 100 is almost unspeakable.

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  8. lol http://www.theskatinglesson.com/this-and-that-107/

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  9. "Even though they weren't their best selves in terms of their own execution, when I'm looking at the different program segments, and the skating skills required to execute exactly as they executed here, even below their own polished best, the skating skills on display are such that for the judges to give this barely over 100 is almost unspeakable."

    Yes. It is unspeakable. That is the nicest possible way to describe the marks from Finlandia. The judging in this particular discpline is absolute bullshit.

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    1. I actually thought VM's scores in Finland were appropriate for what they actually did on the ice in the early season. Where it gets unfair is in comparison to DW. Comparatively, if DW were at 110 for what they did, VM should have been around 120 in the FD. If DW were 73 in the SD, VM should have had 80.

      If DW had been given appropriate scores for their programs in SLC--scores that would have put them behind WP, to be honest--then no one would be worried about VM's scores from Finland or calling them low.

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    2. You know, even granting the basic truth of your point, I think that program, as skated, deserved more than 100.02.

      And as well, at last season's Worlds we saw that the judges were prepared to carry the scoring double standard into a competition where VM and DW actually met. I think some people, including myself, see the huge disparity in these separate competitions first out of the gate, and see the same thing repeating at Sochi. There's the tech caller, there's the scores. There's the precedent for it. There's how VM are going to be pushed down.

      AND, that vented, and, as others have repeated, they can only control what can be controlled. This is the sport's, the ISU's decision, to make ice dance what it has become in this quad. Despite my own frustration, I do see the wisdom in, and am in agreement with, the commentator who says VM can only be themselves and not try to remake themselves, and a) sabotage themselves in the process, because you can't skate as VM skate on the express track, and b) legitimize what has become corrupt in ice dance scoring.

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    3. i think the fd score was justified but the sd? even with the mistakes it deserved a 70. it looked so much smoother than it did on its first outing.

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    4. I'm just waiting for DW to participate in a "low scoring" competition where they aren't miraculously the exception.

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  10. I think this from fsuniverse is a worthwhile link from somebody who has, in the past, presented as worth reading:

    http://www.fsuniverse.net/forum/showthread.php?89425-Virtue-and-Moir-número-31-The-Best-Is-Yet-To-Come

    Especially as they've taken the trouble to both describe what they're seeing overall in Seasons as far as impressive choreography that points directly to superior skating, and has also linked to examples in the program.

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    1. For me, I thought these observations were especially interesting from this poster on fsu:

      >>>I have already said a lot about V&M's SD but I would also like to point out how interesting their pattern is. They move inward, curve around and move outward again in sections. They don't continue a straighter path throughout the program to gain or maintain speed and momentum. And in their FD, not only are they both constantly changing direction but they are often doing it on one foot. have picked out a few moments to illustrate this from just the beginning of their program (I could find numerous examples throughout).

      Have a look at this nice set of turns (thanks for the link to this video, Braulio ):

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9vF...youtu.be&t=18s

      And then moments later, Tessa changes direction on one foot, coming through the space between them and remaining on one foot in her new direction. While she does this, Scott bends his knee and changes feet, rising on the ball of the new skating foot. Look at how detailed that one moment is. This stuff blows me away.<<<

      Because the pattern of movement she is describing shows how this pattern itself correlates to the music they're using.

      I was thinking today how ice dance has component-ed itself to where you can get record-breaking scores without ever skating your program. The skating is just another component you can display at set points, without how much actually being quantified and then scored (whose sustained edge is longest out of a move? Does it matter- shouldn't it matter or does it just matter that it's sustained, whether for a fraction of a second or less, or a bit more - both weighted the same, often GOE'd the same.).

      With DW we have a team that are often miles apart in a program, do a great deal of posing in a program, are frequently on two feet, are frequently skating, even in hold, with their torsos apart and a lot of space between their feet, who do an out and out trick move instead of a real lift using their skating (Charlie planted on two feet pulling Meryl past him til she's arms' length, then swinging her up - neither of them skating to set it up), do all kinds of trickery to AVOID skating, and yet the scoring system is apparently not set up to call this to account.

      So the skaters who manage to do the least skating get the highest scores. That's an interesting perversion of the system but it seems to me the system isn't set up to correct it.

      And that's not taking into account high scores awarded based on the system as it currently is supposedly applied, but awarded even though the skaters haven't actually earned the points on the ice.)

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  11. hey OC i was wondering if you were going to make a post comparing their new fd to mahler? because people keep on saying its the exact same thing but i dont see it.

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    1. I might. I want to look at the new fd more, get as much out of it as I can at this point, and then at that point, if people still think it's like Mahler in substance, not just style, I might break them down and do a comparison as a comparison is done with DW versus VM.

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    2. I've watched the FD too many times now, and I just love it more with every viewing...it just has such an epic quality about it...the way the music crescendos at the end, I can just picture the Sochi crowd on its feet.

      Marina said that this program was her thanks to Russia, and Tessa and Scott have done the music and her vision proud.

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  12. I've also been watching for "musicality" and, while I don't have time to do it now as far as posting pieces of video, already it's very easy to segment it out and ask how are they not specifically responding to the music here, here, here. When the music swells, for example, their bodies do, that little lying back kicking move Tessa does supported by Scott is timed to answer a phrase of the music that has the same rhythm as her kick.

    All of the turning they do is in response and in some relation to the specific ebbs and flows of the music.

    It's also covering ice like I can't believe. Each stroke sails across the rink, and as the fsu poster pointed out, it's turning in on a huge inward curve.

    There's a section where Scott turns her (dance turn, his move is assist her supported turn under his arm), but they break as he turns himself as well, the same number of turns she does, and they come out of it with their free legs identically extended behind them and they re-take hands. There's so many versions of this with good skaters where the woman does "x" turns and the guy turns once and they reconnect with a change of hold, and it looks great when they reconnect. It's easy to miss how Scott and Tessa have upped the ante here. Scott initiates her turn and then does the same rotations the same way and arrests his rotation as she does using the same body line as she does, and they join hands and of course, keep going. No "ta da!" flourishes for them.

    They are not selling this program as in hyping it while skating it. There's no drum roll, no pause for applause.

    I think people may be constantly watching to see if they're doing extended segments in a classic closed dance hold, but what they're doing is constantly turning and edge changing and direction changing INTO closed hold and back out again and without pause they sail on. This has been pointed out by another commentator here (more than once, at that), and that registered with me the first time they pointed it out, but I didn't look at the program with a focus on that until later. It's very obviously intentional. Connect, reconnect, connect reconnect - no matter what they're doing apart, no matter how many different edge changes or direction changes or turns, they come back into hold seamlessly, as easily as they separate. I think showing that is the point of this choice.

    Amended to add that the turns mentioend above are done out of footwork. Not the footwork section (as in that element) but out of footwork/choreography.

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