Thursday, June 17, 2010

The ISU's Middle Finger

The ISU Congress is going on this week and they are continuing their continual ''enhancement'' (aka slaughtering) of the sport. By nature, I am a purist. I don't necessarily like change. Bring back compulsories in gymnastics. Hell, bring back figures.

As of right now, the ISU has officially eliminated the Compulsory Dance and the Original Dance. We've known this was coming for a while. I don't love it. I think the compulsories certainly had merit, but they also used them to bury teams. It was interesting to rank the teams against one another, but that doesn't sell tickets or get television ratings. The new combination dance is basically a natural evolution of the continual evolution of the Original Dance/Original Set Pattern. It is what it is and the good teams will continue to make interesting programs.

My big gripe is with the elimination of the spiral sequence for the ladies short program. There are certain elements that are iconic in figure skating and the spiral is one of them. A gorgeous layback is another. These are marketable, stunning, iconic images that separate the good skaters from the great skaters. Is the world supposed to shun spirals because Yu-Na sucks at them? One needs to really wonder why they are eliminating the spiral. Outside of North America, the world has never taken the element all that seriously. As it went on, nations began campaigning for the focus to be on the edge of the spiral and not the position (yes, major eye roll over that bullshit logic). Some even complain that they need to eliminate it because the patterns are all the same under the IJS. If that is the issue, then change the criteria, not the elements.

There comes a time when enough is enough. Who is running this joke of a sport? What exactly is their vision?

Call me old fashioned, but I live for Kwan's smiral, Cohen's perfection proportion between leg and back, and Bobek's hand over her heart.

Apparently, eliminating the footwork sequence was briefly discussed but did not go over well.


  1. Wow, really?!?! No more spirals in the short program! WTF! I guess the ISU doesn't want a TV audience in the long run. Perhaps Slutskaya should make a come back! (shudder). As for ice dance, I never cared for the compulsory dance but understood its importance. But this was sad to read, the ISU is really trying kill the sport. (sigh)

  2. Suzanne Bonaly is over representing the US in Italy and says that many of Ottavio's proposals have not been approved. Speedy is said to not be a happy camper right now.

  3. Spirals were fine when the skaters were able to hold them as long as they wanted and do whatever pattern they wanted. Now, one skater finds a good (and relatively easy) level 4 pattern and then you have 30 more doing the exact same pattern. That means most of them were getting a 0 or +1 anyways, with the occasional +2 (or extremely rare +3) every now and then. That's boring IMO.

    If a skater really excels at spirals, they can now include them as part of the transitions or choreography with the extra time and not worry about holding them for a certain length or any of that. I'm sure the flexible girls will still be including one or two, while the ones with less stretch will pass them up and include other MITF. It'll all work out :-)

  4. There was a certain joy seeing Irina struggle to hit something that remotely looked like an arabesque position. It was quite fun to blast some of the obscure European ladies (and not obscure) who really ate shit on that element.

    I think the 'strength of the edge' argument is bullshit. I love Yu-Na Kim, but there is no way that spiral ever deserved to even be a +1, let alone the +2 she was sometimes pulling.

  5. I'm withholding judgment until I see how it shakes out -- I agree with a lot of your points, but I also agree with Tony that it might be better to avoid the pain of watching the Irinas of the world try to stick their legs in the air. The spiral sequence was stale under the CoP because everybody was doing the same damn spiral sequence; sure, some of them made it look exquisite, but perhaps under the new rules we'll keep the exquisite spirals as part of transitions and avoid the cringe-inducing ones.

    I am not in any way defending the ISU. If they managed to improve the sport by this change, I'm sure it was unintentional. :P

  6. I don't think the strength of edge argument is totally without its merits. Whose sequence did you prefer, AJ? Caroline Zhang's or Carolina Kostner's?

    Out of the remaining required elements, most of them make sense: such as combination spin, flying spin, jump combo etc., but I wish they would consider changing the requirement on the layback and the axel.

    Now that they are getting rid of the spiral (a feminine move) perhaps the layback is next. The man's requirement of sit change sit + flying camel or camel change camel + flying sit makes sense and should apply to the ladies too.

  7. Um the idea that they even DISCUSSED eliminating the footwork sequence sends me into a raging fit.

  8. Is there another element replacing the spiral, or was it just eliminated? If nothing is replacing it, skaters should still have enough time to do one (if they're good at it), right?

  9. I think they are leaving the space open for more chreo and individuality which is a good thing. I think the sequence should be elinated from Freeskates but at least one spiral position should be required for the SP.

  10. I agree with the above poster. While it's horrible that they've dropped it, in a lot of ways it will stop our eyes from bleeding for 20 seconds of the program. Only a handful of ladies have beautiful spirals. Caroline Zhang has the best COE spiral since the Kween; Mao gets great extension and edging on her leg-up-and-out spiral (IDK what to call it...); Mirai had some beautiful positions as well. I would perfectly fine doing without Miki's painful spiral, Rachael's boring one, Yu-Na's inadequate one, and the host of other "oh hell nah!" spirals that we're subjected to.

    Let the ones who do it well do it and hold it for one position for maybe 3 seconds unstead of 3 seconds here, 3 seconds here and 6 here. It's too much. I'm sure most of the skaters will continue to incorporate some form of a spiral in the SP, but hopefully it will be shorter and leave more room for choreography.