Sunday, December 11, 2016

Soft knees and bent knees are not synonymous. A "soft knee" is a responsive leg.

I googled "figure skating and soft knees" to get a better handle on why soft knees are important in quality figure skating. Other than when landing jumps. (Even then, getting your knee so bent your butt is practically on the ice, a la Megan Duhamel's quad throw landings, is not ideal.)* Ben Agosto spent his Grand Prix Final commentary time swooning over Papadakis & Cizeron's "soft knees."

Papadakis & Cizeron skate with their knees continually bent. Their movements are very bendy and fluttery. However, if one assumes a soft knee is an indicator of excellent stroking and superior skating skills, then why aren't P/C's soft knees getting the job done?

P&C's edges are shallow, they sometimes wobble and often lack unison. Despite meeting level requirements, their programs lack the complexity and difficulty of other ice dancers' programs. They can't extend their free legs to save their lives unless their working knees get low, and their lines seldom match. Their lifts, as with Davis White's lifts, have a widely distributed center of gravity and lots of redundancy. In sum, Papadakis & Cizeron's much praised soft knees appear to be considered an achievement unto themselves. But "soft knees" are only important insofar as they enable the powerful, stable stroking that should undergird the execution of elite choreography.

So, first, my google search produced a short post from a recreational figure skater who, when she began skating, used bent knees in hopes it wouldn't hurt as much when she fell. She had "soft knees" before she could really move on the ice. It looked nice, and she was praised, but she was not initially a strong skater.

Then I found this: The Ice Doesn't Care: Soft Knees.

Like this author, I know how important the leg is in horseback riding - for example, my legs naturally turn out a bit, and it is real work to keep my inner legs lying flat against the horse's side (people who are naturally bow-legged have a big advantage here). This blogger compares the soft knees important to staying in contact with your mount with the soft knees necessary to good figure skating. Applying these principles to Papadakis & Cizeron, we see the important stuff, the skating stuff, is missing.

The Ice Doesn't Care
Figure Skating for Adults.

Thursday, December 13, 2012
Soft Knees

There's two things that horse back riding and skating have in common: soft knees and independence of upper and lower body.
So, let's tackle 'soft knees' first.I did a lot of research on this, and all I could find were a couple of comments that 'soft knees means bent knees'.Mmmmm, no.Well, anyway, not to me.My experience has been in both riding and skating that a 'soft knee' is what I'll call a 'responsive leg'. The casual observer sees the knee bend and how it flexes. That's the obvious part. But really, I believe what's going on is much more complex.From my riding days, I learned that 'soft knees' involved the muscles of the lower back and abdomen, flexibility and strength in the hips and knees, and controlled movement of the ankle. All this has to be balanced and coordinated, otherwise you pull on the horse's mouth as your leg will get in the wrong position and throw off your balance.
Skating's very similar. You have to control the leg relative to the upper body, and to do that you need to get over the right part of the blade and that takes ever single joint below the waist. And as you move up and down, every single joint has to respond together. This is why I think defining 'soft knees' as 'bent knees' is inadequate. That's what the observer sees, but that's only the tip of the iceberg abot what's going on.
As I'm now in my 60's, I'm okay with the muscles of the back and core, the ankle bend and the hip flexion. However, my knee bend is CRAP!Still, I'd like to chime in with my amateur opinion, that 'soft knees' is something that ought to be banned from a coach's vocabulary. It's much more complex, especially in skating. I'm fortunate that my riding background is so extensive and strong, and Coach Cruella is good at getting everything coordinated both mentally and physically.
I propose that Papadakis/Cizeron have tight/weak hips, and lack strength and flexibility there and in their spines. Their bent knees are not coordinated with and moving responsively with the rest of their bodies (including, bizarrely, their ankles and feet).

*I have watched skating video of Russian 1999 World Champion Maria Butyrskaya, and her knees are as stiff and brittle as matchsticks. Observing her rigid progress across the ice, it's understandable that one would believe soft knees = bent knees. However, as the "Ice Doesn't Care" notes above, a so-called "soft knee" is just as much about the hips and the spine. We can see that Butyrskaya's hips are also tight, as is her back.

56 comments:

  1. Maia Shibutani and Eric Radford showing more unison, freeleg extension and close dance hold than P/C ever have or could:

    https://www.facebook.com/eric.radford.10/posts/1370480756303796:0

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    1. That's lovely. And you're right, even in that short segment they're a stronger team than P/C. The unison particularly is an eye roller. Honestly, a super tall pairs skater and a petite ice dancer playing around on the ice should not have closer hold, more powerful glide and better unison than a dance team that was given a World Championship.

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  2. Love the new banner, OC, hahahahaha.

    And a very interesting quote, thanks for that.

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  3. Was pretty sure you'd like to see this, OC:

    http://web.icenetwork.com/news/2016/12/09/210759768/virtue-moir-go-back-to-basics-with-dubreuil-lauzon

    "Moir: When we watched videos from our programs, we were not pleased with what we saw. We found ourselves stiff. Coming back was also a way for us to work on that again. We need to give more life to our knees and work strongly on the relation between the ice and us."

    "Moir: Gabriella and Guillaume do have that, the knee action, the magic. Skating with them is so inspiring."

    "Moir: Patrice and Marie-France have a different approach (to lifts). They are probably the best ice dance lifters of all time. We'll keep improving those lifts, especially the different ways we come out of the lifts. We have so much to learn!"

    For once Scott is shoveling the most bullshit.

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    1. I did read that. All it means is that they're going to "show" soft knees.

      Apropos of something else - politics, in fact - I recall reading that FBI Director James Comey is an official who loves to be "seen doing his job" versus actually doing it. That's similar to Papadakis & Cizeron's knees. We can see the softness in Virtue and Moir (and the Shibs) action simply by watching the responsiveness of their bodies as they move (not only do they move as one with each other, but with their own bodies), "hear" the silence of the blades and observe the power of their stroking. I'm looking at one of the images in the new blog banner and just check out Maia's hips and back. You will never see that in P/C. They can only extend their legs by opening them to the side, or by tilting their bodies backwards and lifting their hips if the leg is being raised in front - and even then they can't hold the position.

      Any, Scott and Tessa are playing the game. As is David Wilson. When The Skating Lesson asked Wilson about working with Virtue and Moir, we learned nothing about that but did learn about the wonders of Marie France.

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    2. Just so you're aware, OC, I know of multiple people who are having an issue of the blog re-directing to a spam page called Toolater. I haven't had the issue, so I'm not sure what's going on?

      Anyways, I understand that V/M are betting that sucking up to Gadbois and implying that they used to have problems with their technique that are now being fixed will allow them to win things. It's still really hard to swallow after watching the damage Gadbois has caused to the sport the last two seasons. I hate them throwing the quality of their past skating under the bus, pretending that they used to have exactly what P/C have now - stiff unresponsive knees. "We need to work strongly on the relation between the ice and us" says the team with the most naturally and effortlessly attuned blades in recent memory.

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    3. Thanks 7:50PM, I removed toolator from the blog. It's an ISP blocker I put up when the blog used to get trolled, but apparently it's now a spam site.

      Although it's hard to do sometimes, I try to hear what Scott says as comparing himself and Tessa to their best potential selves versus to other teams, although in this case he specifically said that P/C have what he and Tessa lack - that soft knee action, that "magic." Obviously part of this entire charade is that Gadbois is so miraculous it can locate deficiencies in and improve even the likes of Virtue and Moir. I really wish the training center luck after Virtue and Moir retire. They are fortunate that P/C have a particular way of moving - set it to music and fans think they're watching art, even though the way they move has little to do with strong skating. And V/M are V/M.

      Rethinking David Wilson's most recent interview with The Skating Lesson, he really didn't speak about working with Virtue and Moir at all. He assured us that Marie France is the creative force behind the programs and that he's just there to contribute his small little whatever. And, of course, "Patch" is the Johnny Johns of Gadbois. I'd love to know who is really on VM's team - I of course suspect Mike Slipchuk has a lot to say.

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    4. I'm curious if you're basing your suspicion that Wilson is much more involved than D/L on the programs themselves or just a feeling that V/M would never rely mostly on D/L because they seem to be incompetent?

      You've already noted the programs are safe, and to me they are - apart from the life V/M give them with their skating, which is considerable, obviously - pretty much what I would expect if Marie-France was responsible for most of it with Wilson contributing a few things here or there.

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    5. The second - that V/M would never rely mostly on D/L. You don't train for over 10 years w/Zoueva, take choreography from ballroom dancers, modern dancers, and then rely on Marie France Dubreil for your choreography. Her choreography gets in its own way as often as not, isn't especially coherent, and sometimes forgets to choreograph for both partners.

      While their programs are not Canton-level, they are intelligently and coherently put together, they show a confident musical understanding, and I've never seen that from Maria France but see it all the time from Wilson, across disciplines.

      Yes, the programs are safer than we've come to expect from Virtue and Moir, but the short dance in particular has a musicality I don't see in Maria France. David Wilson has musicality down to his fingertips, so do Virtue and Moir, so does Marina.

      There's more "wrong" with Marie France's choreography (if indeed it's all her) than safe programs. Just look at Papadakis & Cizeron's short. It's asinine.

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    6. P.S. as well there is far too much marketing of Marie-France (the only one to get a coach cam at GPF), and we know with ice dance that when a narrative is promoted this strenuously, the truth is the opposite.

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    7. for sure VM are using other choreographers. FOR SURE. Tho I do believe Marie France is involved in the lifts bc her and her hot husband had some good ones. that's the only good thing about their fds from yesteryear.

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    8. maybe Marie choreographed VM's disaster of an exhibition Sorry.

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    9. The lifts VM are using in their short and long are nothing like the ones D/L used. D/L's were always trying to re-invent the wheel. D/L as skaters and as choreographers were always more interested in posing than skating.

      I feel that if you're not musical - and what I recall from D/L as skaters is they were not; they were particularly awkward if they needed to follow a beat - you're going to be more interested in the non-musical aspect of choreography, and if you're not a fantastic skater and therefore focused on the potential inherent in superior blade work/unison between the partners, you're going to be more interested in the non-skating part of choreography, and that's what I see in Gadbois's product.

      A word about the safety of VM's programs - at the end of the day, the ISU came down on VM with a heavy foot when they tried to show what could be done with ice dance choreography/superior skating. From the original goose (which, ok, you could argue it was a jump) to the choreographic twist at the end of their 2010 short through Carmen through Seasons, the ISU did its utmost to get VM to remove everything from their programs that showed up the sport and showed up other skaters.

      Even the Shibutanis, as wonderful as they are, are doing, I suspect, less than they can do, because all the training centers want to keep the competition close. At least Alex Shibutani is still permitted to finish the rotational lift by rotating on one foot himself. I'm surprised the sport let him do that.

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    10. Virtue and Moir's exhibitions are always a disaster. Maybe these exhibitions are doing it for somebody. Maybe it's - here, we've taken the pesky skating out!

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    11. Double checked D/L's skating and I wasn't completely fair. Based on their 2007 FD they did have a nice straightline (Patrice showing more skating skill than Guillaume can muster 9 years later) and a nice spin. The skating itself is small and slow.

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    12. Far be it from me to defend Marie-France on any charges, but I think Haguenauer might've choreographed P/C's SD, or at least he's usually the one credited with that segment for them, plus they worked with a swing teacher either for "movement" or actual choreography. But even for him it's an aberration because his non-P/C rhythmic dance work is usually much better. (His lyricals are another story.)

      Sam Chouinard should also be given a long hard look. He did "Sorry" and the hip hop parts of H/D's mess of a short dance.

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    13. I wonder what Marie-France actually does in that case.

      Her appearances rink-side at practices and at competitions don't convey the intensity one usually sees from coaches - you know, living every step with the skater because they are as familiar with every inch of the program as the skaters are - but maybe that's just her.

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    14. Sam Chouinard- enough of him

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    15. What does Sam Chouinard know about ice dance? What does Derek Hough know about ice dance? I often think these collaborations are publicity, and, where they aren't, they are simply teaching the movement style/rhythm to the skaters, and it is the coach-choreographer-former skater who translates it to the ice. Or vice versa.

      It's funny - over on the skating forums, some comments assume P/C didn't do hip hop because Gabriella couldn't pull it off. After all, we saw Guilluame do it on the floor. I'd pay money to see Guilluame try hip hop on skates, and take bets to see how long he stayed on his feet.

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    16. You say it's the second but then say the programs are better, so I guess you're basing it on both?

      "There's more "wrong" with Marie France's choreography (if indeed it's all her) than safe programs"

      Oh you'll get no argument from me there. I haven't found the FD at least to be as coherent or consistently musical as I guess you have. Certainly it's above Marie-France's average but also not something I see as so competent throughout that it can't be Marie France contributing a lot with Wilson and V/M themselves making small adjustments. I think it's hard to sort out what is V/M being able to not let choreo get in the way and being able to find musical nuances (iow making lemons out of lemonade) versus what is good smart choreo. I respect your opinion that it's the latter, but I'm having trouble seeing that. (As a complete piece, certainly some sections are good, but they're not denying at all that Wilson had a hand).

      Re: Chouinard, I will say two differences with Derek Hough are that he's heavily involved with the camp more akin to a ballroom teacher than a celebrity, and that he's learned to skate so that he has a better idea of helping translate things. If I'm not mistaken there's video of him helping H/D choreograph things on ice.

      I can't recall where, but I've definitely seen video of Marie France heavily invested when watching a skater skate, and certainly in interviews her favourite topic is her own genius as an artist. There are cases where she's the only one credited for a program. If she doesn't seem invested, yeah perhaps that is a sign that she didn't do much of something.

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    17. Lemonade out of lemons, I mean lol

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    18. Re: lifts, I'm not very familiar with what D/L did as skaters, but after watching them as choreographers the last couple of years, a few of V/M's lifts do look pretty typical to me -particularly the stationary (the cool entrance is from Mahler), the second part of the rotational, the original straightline.

      I think 10:07 makes an interesting point that D/L are not responsible for everything bad that comes out of Gadbois. Romain has done some solid work, but is not very good at packaging P/C smartly or doing lyrical for a very skilled team like P/I (this season's FD), and Chouinard seems to be partly responsible for poor hip hop programs although otoh if he's involved in Prince that actually does him credit). But nothing is coming to mind where D/L are the ones credited and the piece is quality choreo. H/D's programs and P/I's FD from last two seasons are not good and there is no excuse that those teams are limited in skill.

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    19. I respect Derek Hough, but despite the fact that he learned to skate, I'm still suspicious of the ability of a non-skating choreographer to actually choreograph a skating progam. Work with a skater on movement, yes. There's just too much really specific technique, time limitations and requirements involved that have to be prioritized in a skating program.

      I still believe it's your second suggestion (that VM wouldn't rely on D/L for their choreography) DESPITE my also thinking that their programs are better than Gadbois's other product. It's really because Virtue Moir's free dance doesn't remind me of anything that's come out of Gadbois - it reminds me of stuff that VM themselves did circa 2010 and prior - the supplication bending at the waist, the seeking arms, the more open layout and the side by side stuff, just with more powerful (speaking technically) execution. I concede the original entrance to the free dance's straightline lift was not very VM-ish nor Wilsony - but that was such a what the fuck was THAT?? to me when I really went back and checked it out, that it doesn't appear to be characteristic of the rest of the program.

      VM have only said one thing about David Wilson that I can recall, and I can't remember precisely what it was, except it had something to do with skating a curve/lobe. That VM had a specific way they were used to doing it as ice dancers and Wilson had another way, but I wasn't left with the impression they were in conflict. I don't know which program this was. But as limited as the remark was, it was specific to Wilson's skating sensibility and technical chops. It didn't have that "Oh, he's so AMAZING, he's so CREATIVE and magic." stuff that makes you roll your eyes when they toss it out about Marie-France.

      oc

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    20. I looked back today at D/L's old videos. Nothing D/L did in the mid-0s reminds me of VM at all, but some of it reminds me of P/C. For one thing, Marie-France couldn't really straighten her free leg to save her life, and neither she nor Patrice had flexible hips. If their legs were extended behind them while gliding, their torsos were pitched forward parallel to the ice, instead of stretching upward through the hips, abdomen, chest, shoulders, neck and head.

      IMO effective choreographers are effective not because they have this endless choreographic vocabulary, but because they're perceptive about their skaters' strengths and weaknesses (particularly their strengths), have a really strong musical sensibility, particularly with highlight placement and extending momentum, and they know how to create a dynamic impression with music and movement even if the skater isn't the most dynamic in the world. And then there are other coaches/choreographers with a "here is my bag of tricks - this set might work for you." approach, and they can't really adapt it/develop it to the needs of a specific team. I think DL's (and I guess Romain's) choreographic bag of tricks is mediocre and kind of "pat" to begin with.

      I think more choreographers are like DL than like Marina Zoueva. In Katia Gordeeva's book, she talks about working with Tatiana Tarasova in their pro career, and where she and Sergei were used to stepping on the ice with Marina and the music, and starting from there, Tarasova had the entire program in her head before G&G even showed up, and didn't adapt it to how they skated.

      Again, it's not because Marina is pulling inspiration out of the sky. But I do believe she and her best skaters need to see how their bodies move to the music to work out issues of timing, placement, elongating this, hesitating on that, going left when the audience expects right, etc., and that's what the work is about. And she's a culture vulture, so she's always drawing inspiration from other art forms. I think David Wilson is also observant about skaters.

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    21. I don't understand this fixation on proving that Gadbois is THE ice dance training mecca. I can only imagine that Skate Canada was butthurt for ten years as Marina Zoueva won all the things, as they say. She's a damn Russian working in America. Was there a "magic" training center for ice dance before Marina? I don't think so. Marina was atypical. So what is this whole - it USED to be Detroit/Canton but now it's US! So there! fixation. It does remind me of when D/W were so desperate to appropriate everything VM were known for and we were railroaded with a narrative claiming they'd acquired every attribute VM had had, only better. It makes me think that instead of Skate Canada thinking about its skaters in this last quad, it was stewing about Canton.

      I think Marina succeeded because she's Marina, and because she knows how to pick the people to work with her and get the most out of them, despite endings like the one with Igor. I think Skate Canada is stupid to want to "get back" at Marina and soothe its hurt feelings that a Russian trained their gold medalists in ice dance, if that's what's going on. But this Gadbois push is simply bizarre, and unprecedented, and sour grapes. There are very few Marina's, there are far more Gaboises out there. Hell, Lori Nichols is also a one trick pony. If her tricks suit you, you're in business, if you're Mirai Nagasu and she has no idea what to do with you other than to give you Michelle Kwan's old material (despite you having plenty of talent and individuality) -you're out of luck.

      If you're lucky you have a training center like Krylova and Carmelengo's. They were inconsistent, but they produced some strong work for P/I and for W/P. I think they were most succesful when they matched the music with the skaters and the skaters' natural style of movement and dance, and steered clear of genre, heavy drama or the sort of strenuously "fun" program that makes you want to jump out a window. So perhaps they weren't as versatile and clever as Zoueva, but they were better than Gadbois.

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    22. "I still believe it's your second suggestion (that VM wouldn't rely on D/L for their choreography) DESPITE my also thinking that their programs are better than Gadbois's other product."

      Ok. I appreciate you explaining your reasoning!

      "It's really because Virtue Moir's free dance doesn't remind me of anything that's come out of Gadbois - it reminds me of stuff that VM themselves did circa 2010 and prior - the supplication bending at the waist, the seeking arms, the more open layout and the side by side stuff, just with more powerful (speaking technically) execution"

      I must admit I'm still perplexed just because all those things you listed are exactly what I think of with Gadbois choreo, far more so than early V/M choreo. Although Mahler, Umbrellas and Valse Triste (though not Pink Floyd) were more open and emotive, I think the actual movement in them is much more classic and balletic (and in Valse Triste there's also the waltz rhythm) than this vaguely contemporary bendy emo genre that's been created by Gadbois. Have you had a chance to watch many of the FDs credited to only D/L the last few seasons? If you already have and just disagree, that's of course totally fine, but if you haven't, you might want to watch the FDs of FB/S, H/D, P/O etc. I guess you probably already have watched H/D's from this season, but to me it does bear some stylistic similarities to Latch despite being done entirely by Marie-France.

      (But I understand that you would suspect they weren't working with D/L even if you felt the choreo did indeed look like their work.)

      To be clear it was Chouinard who learned to skate, not Derek Hough. I agree it's not necessarily adequate training to choreograph a team's skating for a program, but considering how awful the hip hop out of Gadbois other than Prince has been, I'm not sure that hasn't been happening to an extent and it is the impression that's being given.

      "VM have only said one thing about David Wilson that I can recall, and I can't remember precisely what it was, except it had something to do with skating a curve/lobe. "

      There has been at least two instances, and maybe more, where this was said about D/L rather than Wilson. One was Tracy during SC, the other... maybe also Tracy, at NBC NHK? Or maybe just in interviews with V/M? I'm not sure. But that's definitely not something they're saying only about Wilson. If it's something legitimate they're working on technically, D/L are getting credit for it... since it was about D/L in the contexts I encountered the claim, I just figured it was bullshit.

      Here's the first example, the discussion about curves is around 0:50
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzBKB4tHR4Q

      "I think DL's (and I guess Romain's) choreographic bag of tricks is mediocre and kind of "pat" to begin with."

      I don't want to be too hard on Romain because he's done some quality stuff that I think is far superior to D/L's - P/I's 2012 rumba, P/I's ballet last season, P/I's swing this season, even P/C's paso actually wasn't too bad... but yeah, it appears as if he struggles with transferring his skills to all skaters or all styles. Certainly I found his lyrical FD for P/I this season to be a let down, although still better than D/L's work.

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    23. Your observations about choreographers needing to understand how their skaters' bodies move reminded me of how Marie-France has said (her TSL interview, maybe?) that she likes her female skaters to wear beige boots because it makes their lines longer, LOL. She never gives any indication that she understands how choreographing (or coaching) works on a deeper level than creating pretty pictures, but at the same time, she comes off as having a huge ego about her abilities.

      If SC were that offended by Marina's success, it's especially weird since she's a Canadian citizen. Maybe they felt she should have set up shop here instead. Very much agreed that the elevation of Gadbois has been and continues to be bizarre.

      Re: K&C, and of course they are currently responsible for H/B's loveliness! It's a crime they lost H/D and P/I to Gadbois, and now W/P to Morozov. They did some really excellent work with all those teams. I'm so glad H/B are seeing some success so they don't have a motivation to leave like the rest.

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    24. I feel like this has been posted in the past, but an excellent source on more about Gadbois's coaching methods and personalities is in H/D's profile in Skating magazine last year. If you click the cover it takes you right to their feature: http://content.yudu.com/web/y5b2/0A1uvwc/Nov.2015.SKATING/flash/resources/index.htm

      I don't think V/M are working with the Gadbois acting coach discussed in here, but the anecdotes on Marie-France, Patrice, and Romain tell a lot about how that system works that's helpful to know. Including Marie-France telling H/D at an early meeting that she didn't know they were tall because they looked so small on the ice when they skated at DSC. Madison then had to switch to tan boots just like Marie-France's!

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    25. Oh gross with tan boots. Marie-France had proportionately shorter legs, just like Megan Duhamel. It has nothing to do with her height - it was her proportions. Tan boots didn't help. It made her look dingy and juvenile.

      I haven't seen much DL choreography other than P/C and DL's fd for P/I a couple of years ago.

      From what I've seen, and just on first impressions, the best put together fd this year in terms of choreography is Hawayek & Baker.

      Interesting that the curves issue was credited to Marie France. Wonder if that was another appropriation - that it WAS Wilson, but immediately put to M-F.

      Maybe Canada approached Marina about working in Canada and she declined. Although she's a Canadian citizen, can't help still believing that she is, in the minds of Skate Canada, still RUSSIAN. She got her training in Russia, she made her mark in Russia, Russia, I guess, gets the credit.

      "She never gives any indication that she understands how choreographing (or coaching) works on a deeper level than creating pretty pictures, but at the same time, she comes off as having a huge ego about her abilities."

      YES - that is what I see in the Gadbois choreography, and it just jumps out and screams at you with P/C. "Look at the pretty pictures!" That's the only idea she has, and none of the pretty pictures are achieved via the actual skating.

      I intend to watch more D/L Gadbois choreo on other teams, and will read the Skating magazine article, despite the irritant factor connected with DL and all things Marie France.

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    26. Ok, I read the Skating article and the family stuff was pretty funny.

      I actually still don't get a particular sense of what Gadbois does differently than other training centers, other than they claim to get their skaters more physically fit. The acting coach stuff is fine - she seems to be using acting exercises to get skaters out of their heads, stop thinking and just move. That's what the screaming exercise with the Spanish team seems to have been about, and, God knows, plenty of people love that approach.

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    27. Am watching HD's GPF free skate, which I hadn't before, and am enjoying their skating. Underneath, in the comments is "I'm really sick of Lauzon/Dubreuil style. Such a one-trick pony.

      This pair are gorgeous skaters though. Way underrated."

      I'm wondering if this season will kill the pretty pretty skating trend. If so, P/C will also be toast. I mentioned in another post that a lot of this season is a comparison of apples to apples, and P/C look a WHOLE lot less "special" when stronger, more powerful teams are doing basically the same thing.

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    28. "Interesting that the curves issue was credited to Marie France. Wonder if that was another appropriation - that it WAS Wilson, but immediately put to M-F."

      I remember now that the other instance I was thinking was M-F herself saying it in her TSL interview. She does talk about using your abs, but otoh talks about how as a team they created their own skating technique (around the 16:00 mark) and that she hasn't needed to study dance styles because she was born with understanding them.

      https://youtu.be/yYzHThiinwc

      "The acting coach stuff is fine - she seems to be using acting exercises to get skaters out of their heads, stop thinking and just move. "

      Having read all the coverage about Gadbois, as well as the acting coach's activity on Facebook, I have found the acting issue to be a problem. The tone of it is very new agey, which although weird wouldn't necessarily be a problem in itself, but the camp really pushes the idea that the way teams emotionally project is what makes them ultra special and deserving of success. Having the full context of following the previous two seasons, I don't feel that it's even a strategic PR choice (which I would still find irritating when it justifies CoP being ignored), but that it's something the camp actually believes is a good thing.

      Of the top of my head, here are two articles that give a further idea of the role acting classes play.
      http://web.icenetwork.com/news/2015/01/30/107914490/papadakis-cizeron-bubbling-over-with-emotion
      http://web.icenetwork.com/news/2015/11/14/157301518/hubbell-you-dont-create-magic-by-playing-it-safe

      Also, it's only visible to friends of Guillaume but the acting coach posted on Facebook the following after the GPF about P/C:

      "FD which reveals that you're still and always the best skaters in the world because you submit and dare"

      I guess V/M told her her services were not needed, LOL.

      And another article about M-F's approach:
      https://europeonice.com/2015/11/08/marie-france-dubreuil-and-romain-haguenauer-our-success-is-down-to-our-collaboration/

      H/D's skating is very nice indeed. I think the Gadbois mold hasn't been as poor a fit for them stylistically as it has been for P/I, and like V/M they can elevate the choreo to some degree with their skill, but they could be doing so much more.

      Sad news about P/I, although it's probably for the best, they were only going to keep getting screwed.

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    29. Oh meant to give the time about being born with dance understanding - at 18:30.

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    30. "remember now that the other instance I was thinking was M-F herself saying it in her TSL interview. She does talk about using your abs, but otoh talks about how as a team they created their own skating technique (around the 16:00 mark) and that she hasn't needed to study dance styles because she was born with understanding them."

      Dear God. I wonder how VM keep straight faces.

      Papadakis and Cizeron talk the way actors/dancers (and DWTs contestants) talk who are better at talking/analyzing than actually performing. Truly capable talents tend to speak more of how they come at problems or challenges presented in the role, the material, the environment etc. P/C are talking like the sort of performers who never get out of their heads and actually communicate what it is they claim to be experiencing while they perform.

      A lot of acting exercises sound new agey, but are practical. For example, just as this comment is saying, there are skaters (and performers) who get locked inside their bodies because they're locked inside their heads. Or they FEEL as if their bodies are doing more than their bodies are actually doing - an experience pretty common to recreational skaters who feel themselves gracefully floating along, only to see on video playback that they're moving like a plank of wood. So an exercise like screaming while skating has, as its intention, to get the skaters out of their heads and moving less self-consciously. For me, I think it makes a lot more sense to do the sort of work we saw Corky Ballas doing with the Shibs. They were treated like intelligent, experienced athletes/skaters/dancers who shared a common vocabulary with Ballas as he worked with them to make their movements bigger, cleaner, sharper. WHY saying "Bigger, cleaner, sharper!!" isn't sufficient, and new agey stuff is used instead, I don't know. Except I often think a lot of that sort of bullshit is applied when the people working that way aren't very good at what they do.

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    31. I watched the NBC broadcast of the GPF, featuring Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski. Lipinski marvelled her head off at P/C, but she's always been perverse, and the actual skating has never been her passion (some of her favorite skaters reveal that, IMO). Weir was interesting, because I presume he is working from at least some sort of inside knowledge. He mentioned that P/C need to be able to skate something other than "Oh the emotion! Oh the passion and the feels!" the way he said that was deadly. He then mentioned the D/W v. V/M situation at Canton, and hypothesized that P/C were not thriving in a similar environment. He described them as sensitive and eccentric.

      I'd have more tolerance for the sensitive and eccentric aspect of things if there were skating skills to match, but this comes across as if they are accustomed to being coddled, and wilt when asked to actually step up and skate at a truly superior level. I wonder they don't ask themselves how come they jumped 12 places in a matter of months. Packaging can't accomplish that. I guess they can tell themselves their special gifts flew past the judging panels until Marie France figured out how to showcase their superiority, but that's a pretty strong level of self-delusion if so.

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  4. I just watched Navka/Kostomarov's gold-winning barf, excuse me, free dance at the 2006 Olympics. I wanted to gouge my eyes out. It was a total case of 'the emperor's new clothes'. So much posturing/posing and awful posture/carriage. What little skating there was, was done on shallow edges. Labored lifts and manic expressions. Utterly stiff. But hey, who cares? The Russians were serving up so much (cliched) DRAMA to Carmen--so what if this version of the old warhorse was wholly unimaginative?

    Compare and contrast with V/M's Mahler a mere four years later, it really drives home the f**kery of ice dance and ISU judging.

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  5. According to fsuniverse at the time, Navka was the greatest ice dancer who'd ever lived, and certainly nobody as white bread as Tessa Virtue could ever aspire to occupy the same universe. A number of fans on fsuniverse (pani) appeared to be actually frustrated that Scott waited for Tessa while she recovered from compartment syndrome surgery, when he have been forming a new team with Madison Chock, who was clearly a far better match for the smoking hot hunk of emotive masculinity that was the 21-year old Scott Moir on ice. "Guitar-shaped" body, aggressively dramatic facial expression, heavy make-up and the impression of taking oneself extremely seriously are hallmarks of ice dance superiority.

    I didn't pay attention to ice dance in 2006; didn't pay much attention to the winter Olympics. But one afternoon, visiting family, I realized "skating was on." It was ice dance. I knew about the code of points, and I knew something had been done with ice dance to make it "more of a sport." What I saw was a succession of female ice dancers becoming unhooked from their partners and crashing into the boards, all on the same move, it seemed. I thought whatever had been done needed tweaking.

    Tangent - you know how if you look at even the most spectacular sustained lift, it can be deconstructed and you can see how they're doing it, the skill that's required that makes it work? However spectacular the lift, it is cooperating with physics (i.e., the original straight line from the Seasons program worked as long as Scott and Tessa's centers of gravity aligned with exquisite precision).

    The rotational "lifts" causing teams to crash and burn were doing battle with physics and physics was winning. I think Navka got huge scores because she and her partner stayed on their feet. They were assisted in that respect by not doing much actual skating.

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    1. Interesting note about lifts and physics. That's something I've noticed about Gadbois programs for teams other than P/C (whose lifts are very simplified) and V/M (who are V/M). The lifts have often appeared to me to be unrealistic to do smoothly in how they've been crafted. I assume because that's what Marie-France was ~inspired~ to create. She's complained before about Patch ruining her artistic fun by telling her things need to meet level requirements. And V/M's original straightline was causing a problem for even them.

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    2. Scott and Tessa's straightline lift was reality-based though - if you had absolutely extraordinary skating skills as well as the other requirements - awareness and control of your body in space, perfect balance. They pulled it off at Canadians, I believe. It was a lift that, if they hadn't been picked apart and forced to duck tripwires all season, would have been secure and a showstopper at the Olympics, which is why, I'm sure, they were prevented from performing it there. It is not a lift you can execute without a bit of a struggle at the start of the season - it takes time to get all that's required into muscle memory.

      The 2006 ice dance catastrophes seemed to happen with a rotational lift that had the woman hooked onto her partner's arm with one arm. The first time I saw it, I thought - and said aloud - man, that doesn't look like it would work. It looks like she'll come straight off. And she did! I only said it because I was curious about how something that looked "wrong" would actually work. But it didn't work.

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    3. Could be wrong but 7:58 might be referring to V/M's Latch straightline, which they changed for NHK. The original version included a purposeful kind of false start, but it really just ran the risk of looking like they started and failed on the lift entry. Gadbois does that sort of thing. P/I last year had a rotational choreo move that was called a lift if Alex's feet accidentally left the ice, which happened at a club comp (as strong lifters at the DSC and Mariposa before it, they were also the biggest victims of M-F's attempts to defy the laws of physics and proper weight distribution, which bit them on the ass more than once last year).

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    4. Ok, got it, thanks. Just saw it and I see what you both mean. I don't think physics has anything to do with the problem with that original false entrance, but that false start not seeming to have a point, while appearing cluttered and precious (and throwing cold water on the program's momentum) sure was a problem. Talk about getting in the way. Glad it was changed.

      OC

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    5. I'm 7:58 and yes to confirm, I meant the Latch straightline, not the Seasons one. The Seasons one was glorious, and I hate that they pulled it at the last minute. The original Latch was just not smart on a couple fronts and to me seemed typical of Gadbois' strategic missteps (for teams who don't get passes on such things). Gadbois doesn't tend to edit much. Very glad V/M are doing so.

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    6. Gadbois doesn't appear to choreograph with the big picture in mind.

      I don't know who choreographed D/L's program when they competed but I always hated them.

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  6. Continuing the convo from the last comments section, re: The Shibs and the lack of respect they get on FSU boards and commentators. Reading the boards and watching the coverage by various channels (Eurosport is the worst offender), I am continually amazed by the ignorance; clearly, the Shibs have the best skills and programs, second only to V/M, but we're told that they don't "emote" like P/C. Are you kidding me? It's interesting to me that NOBODY can ever talk technical about P/C, because they know they can't, because they are shit. Everybody can talk about the Shibs have text book skill, but that's somehow a liability. It makes no fucking sense.

    Also, I'm sick of hearing that the Shibs can't tackle certain themes because they are brother and sister. After V/M, the Shibs have tackled more dance rhythms (and executing with excellent technique) more than any other team currently competing. P/C have done the same junior-level FD for the last three seasons, but because they look like a pre-Raphaelite painting (as per Bev Smith's tweet), then they get a pass.

    Also, we're supposed to believe teams like P/C, G/P and the most cringe-worthy team of all, Chock/Bates, radiate white-hot heat because they're not siblings.

    How is this a fucking sport again?

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    1. I've read that Cizeron is the greatest male ice dancer of all time because he has impeccable control of his blades and can vary his speed in a single glide. Clearly these people are talking out their ass, excuse the expression. The man is challenged to skate any sustained glide on one edge. Not sure I've seen him actually do it.

      The fs boards are an echo chamber. If I were you I'd look at the "thumbs up" or whatever "like" icon exists in the corner of a comment. On the rare occasion someone comes along with a reality-based comment, often as not that "like" icon blows up. There are a lot of non-participants/lurkers who don't agree with the fan-fiction-esque ridiculousness surrounding P/C.

      But again, it is the sport's fault fans can talk like this. The sport talks about itself in a mash-up of "magic" "momentum" "Oh yeah, technique" "Did they get the level"? and "It factor" so that fans think the sport is whatever you want it to be. You get fans who imagine themselves writing for an art magazine who enact lengthy essays on how P/C interact with, not their music, but the universe. That's a long way around to talk about how much they like Cizeron's ass.

      They have no freaking clue about the actual skating.

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  7. Blech. I believe most fans lack musicality themselves, so they're unable to recognize it in figure skaters. Musicality isn't in everyone, or maybe not even in most people. I've seen singers come on Dancing with the Stars, sure their musical experience would help them, only to discover they have no rhythm whatsoever, can't feel the beat. These people are often pissed when their partner tells them they don't have rhythm. "I'm a singer!" If a fan can't really feel the musicality in a skater (and if they can't, I don't know what they're doing watching ice dance), then they have to be getting off on something else. The looks, the costumes, the "style". The sport enables this. The Shibs, as you say, have tackled more rhythms and dance styles than any team out there (save VM) and are able to do them all because not only are they wonderful skaters, they have natural musicality. However, this diversity is probably a one-note blur to fans who lack musicality themselves.

    I think these fans are the same ones whose response to ice dance is primarily visual, and who actually dislike music with a beat or a strong melodic line. There's also a lot of drama queens on skate boards, getting off on their own feelings.

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  8. the only team that gives me the same feelings as VM -a team that was so underated- but had excellent speed ice coverage and innovative lifts and choreo was:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QaCVtgs02sE

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    1. Well you're not alone there; they have many fans. The only ice dancers I enjoy from that era are Anissina Peizerat, although I just can't with anyone's costumes and hair. Everybody looks fifty years old (not that there's anything wrong with that).

      oc

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    2. the lithuanian's 2006 FD esp their lifts are where many of the VM lifts are inspired

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  9. https://skatecanada.ca/2016/12/olympians-alexandra-paul-and-mitchell-islam-retire-from-competitive-skating/

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    1. That is really a shame but sadly not surprising, given they were tossed under the bus driving G/P to the podium. So gross.

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  10. 1) I disagree with the OP about V&M's exhibs always being a disaster. I completely agree that "Sorry" is gross and is an EPIC disaster, but they've had some decent humorous exhibs in the past (like "Everybody Dance Now") and have even had one really lovely one that always stands out in my mind - "Tennessee Waltz". Of course, that one stood out because in a time when V&M were being very Igor-and-Marina-ized, Suzanne Killing choreographed that program and it just looked different from everything else they were doing at the time.

    2) I'm also not certain that SC secretly vilified Marina or thought of her as "RUSSIAN" and therefore EVILLE. I'm sure they were definitely not thrilled about her sudden switch in loyalties from VM to DW, but for years, she openly favoured VM and would wear the Team Canada uniform at competitions, march with Team Canada in the Olympic opening ceremonies, etc. As someone above mentioned, she IS a Canadian citizen and her son (Fedor Andreev) competed for Canada for many years.

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    1. "she openly favoured VM and would wear the Team Canada uniform at competitions, march with Team Canada in the Olympic opening ceremonies, etc."

      Could you give other examples of how she clearly favoured V/M? She is a Canadian citizen. Igor is an American citizen. It was a no brainer that they split the march duties along those lines when they were co-coaches in 2010. In 2014 she very rightly marched with the Shibs because neither V/M or D/W marched due to the team competition and it is utterly ridiculous that V/M ever blamed her for that.

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    2. I believe SC has a Russian is evil mindset because they appear to hold these coaches at arm's length. This is the impression I've gotten over the years. They were a necessary evil, but never embraced. By this I mean just Skate Canada, not the skaters.

      I don't believe Marina ever "switched loyalties." First of all, VM have a public habit of throwing people under the bus when it's expedient - at least in terms of what they say publicly. There is no way Marina Zoueva switched loyalties - the Carmen program was brilliantly designed to shut down the perception that DW were the more technical or athletic team. There was no answer DW had to a program that married VM's SS with the conspicuous athleticism and dynamic approach of Carmen. At the time, Marina Zoueva said it was a 200 point program. I believe as the 2012-2013 season progressed, she became aware that forces larger than she were controlling this game, and that the game had changed. In the past, she told the media that more was expected of Olympic champions. It was her way of explaining the double standard. Olympic champions needed to do more.

      She never "switched loyalties." She was deployed as a scapegoat to distract attention from what was clearly a sportswide deal to award DW the gold medal, a deal in which Skate Canada VERY obviously participated.

      I don't know if VM ever actually blamed her, or if they simply decided to tar her in the media. I don't even know how much of this is real and how much of it is theatre. VM are treacherously fickle - but is it really how they are, or is it just how you play the game, and everybody understands their role?

      I have often been hard on Tessa, who strikes me as ice cold once she's adopted a position. At the same time, I've had others explain Tessa to me in a different light, one not nearly as brutal as she can seem to me, and the way it's explained to me makes sense. Tessa will say something like "we have history with the Shibutanis" at a GPF press conference in a way that sounds sort of bloodlessly and easily detached from the friendship and affinity that existed before 2014. It's been reported that Kaitlyn Weaver has stopped following Tessa's instagram - not certain what that means. WP have certainly followed along with the media messaging in the past, so how much of their social media behavior reflects their real feelings and how much enables a narrative is difficult to ascertain.

      In any event, Marina participated in the reality show (as we recall, the Shibs did not). I dont' think she's going to do that to let her team dump on her, even though they appeared to dump on her at times during the show.


      oc

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  11. Ну и компашка собралась.( Все такие знатоки хорео, куда там Мари-Франс. Видимо, фигуристы, тренирующиеся в Гадбуа, под страхом смерти рассказывают, что танцы им ставит Дюбрей. Интересно, чего все к ней ломанулись, если она такая бездарность?

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