Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Caroline Zhang Changes Coaches



Caroline Zhang has changed coaches and left Tammy Gambill after working with her for about eight months.  Tammy Gambill is the coach who really displayed the most improvement in eliminating Caroline's mule-kick technique.  Caroline was not showing any improvement on her double axel entrance or her overall speed.  Gambill is known for being a disciplinarian, while Caroline is known for being headstrong.

Whenever Caroline enters a new season or switches coaches, she talks a good game in terms of improving her overall speed and her jump technique.  It never materializes, but there were glimpses of improvement during her depressing run on the Grand Prix this fall.  It is unspoken that Zhang has gone through enormous physical changes over the last four years.  While she started out as a waif, it was hoped that her speed would improve as she grew taller and matured.  The maturation and growth spurt took place in earnest, but the improvements to her jumps and speed did not.  Skating with speed is as mental as it is physical and Caroline's jump technique remained largely unchanged since her days in pre-juvenile competition.

At this point, any coach would be understandably reluctant to take on Caroline Zhang.  As the years go on, she is quickly descending to 'whatever happened to...?' status.

Peter Oppegard is currently coaching Caroline Zhang.  He already has his hands full coaching the international celebrity known as Yu-Na Kim.  Correcting Caroline's technique and dealing with her is a full-ti job and requires a Herculean effort.  Caroline trained at the East West Ice Palace for years and skated a few sessions a week there while training with Tammy Gambill.

Caroline is at a point in her career where the reality is that any coach is a mere figure head.  Like Sasha Cohen, it is clear that Caroline and her mother run the show.

16 comments:

  1. I had hope but I think I’m going to just put that to rest. She's use to getting what she wants and those days are done. She is not the next Michelle Kwan like she thought. Caroline will never see that she is the problem…not the coach.

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  2. Peter Oppegard is getting quite the reputation as the wimpy back up coach who will fill the role while letting power-hungry moms rule the show and talented girls do whatever they like doing. Caroline just wants a piece of the action that Yu-na is getting. I don't see either one of them competing after this season, espically the unfortunate case of miss Zhang. Unlike her likewise talented and flexible peer Naomi Nari Nam, Caroline does not have the loveable personality to allow her to have a fan base 10 years after leaving her career.

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  3. Those "glimpses of improvement" had given me some hope. Her new flip was actually pretty, if I recall correctly. All her other jumps still looked like a corkscrew trying to pop. About all that's left for her now is to put her out to the mediocre ladies singles' pasture that is U.S. pairs. She can do a triple toe, can't she? OR, she could move someplace like Moldova or Belarus and reign as their champion for the next decade.

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  4. "Peter Oppegard is getting quite the reputation as the wimpy back up coach who will fill the role while letting power-hungry moms rule the show and talented girls do whatever they like doing."

    Since when? And what talented girls? Besides Yuna and Caroline, that is.

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  5. This seems a bit like a panic move. She didn't give that Tammy Gambill coaching change very long did she. She made remarkable improvements on her mule kick 3F. I'm not sure if Caroline is ever going to skate with speed/power, but perhaps other jumps would have improved with more time as well. With all the technique problems she has, it really requires a lot of patience, and no quick fixes.

    Perhaps she chose Oppegard because she is familiar with him after skating in Artesia for years. Maybe he can help her with her presentation, but she also needs someone who's can try to help her with technique.

    In looking at her bio to see the coaching change, I was surprised to see she is 5'5'! Wow, she's very tall. She's grown almost a foot in about 3 years! That makes the need for good technique even more necessary.

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  6. She would kick ass at with a hot pairs partner like John Zimmerman or Mervin Tran.

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  7. She changed coaches with Nationals in, what, 3 weeks? Is she insane? (Wait, yes) Guess we're in for another extremely disappointing showing from Caroline.

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  8. At least Sasha Cohen has an Olympic medal, as well as National, Worlds, and Grand Prix medals under her belt. She was far more successful than most athletes including Caroline Zhang could ever hope to be. I'm sorry to say this as I used to be Caroline fan-but she's done imo. She's not ever going to improve and it's frustrating to follow her and keep hoping year after year.

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  9. Westerners are so quick to right off ingeniues, which is precisely why the next batch of mediocre sheeple are desperate for jobs anywhere but in the collapsing Americas; either live below the poverty line or risk their hides for paltry benefits in imperialist wars, while closeted Baby Boomer hick moms and pops gloat at sacrificing expendable sons and daughters at the burning cross.

    oh, well.

    Ms. Zhang will be making a fine Yuan in shows throughout The Far East, while The West's children sweat it out in Theatres in foreign countries where they are not welcome, so don't worry about her healthy Retirement Fund.

    However, I'd be more worried if I had to commute to a job I hate and coworkers I could care less about on a day in, day out basis.

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  10. sorry. got carried away: been receiving a flurry of friend requests from nazi stalkers lately. the price of gas increasing exponentially is not cute, either. i miss caroline's pearl.

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  11. This is a typical story of kids peeking up too early. There is no flair and joy in her skating any more. Sometimes I wonder if this would ever happen to my daughter, all I can do is to make sure she has a good balance of school and skating, not overdone with anything.

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  12. My coach had high hopes for Zhang, but her technique is horrible and every time she performs, her facial expression is just disgusting. I think that she has gone as far as possible in this sport and should really look into focusing on her education because in 5 years, she is going to need it.

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  13. She's becoming a bit reminiscent of Nicole Bobek who also changed coaches as frequently as she changed her panties.

    Caroline's time is just about up. Unless she makes some big improvements next year--and I mean BIG--she can go ahead and toss in the towel. She started at the top of the heap doing better than Rachael, Mirai, Ashley, all of the US ladies but in the last 3 years she's steadily declined.

    Tammy's work with Caroline proves that she can be taught but chances are she's out of time. While her flip is 10 times better, her spins are slower, all of her jumps look tinier, she looks chubby and out of shape...there's nothing enjoyable about her skating anymore. Even she looks miserable out there.

    There will be no time for her to get her act together when the new wave of talent gunning for Soichi in 2014 shows up. I don't know enough about Peter O. to say he's what Caroline needs, but let's hope she'll give him at least a year before dumping him and moving on to the next coach...

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  14. From my encounter with Peter O., I can say he is a very nice, gentle and engaged coach, but I am not sure if he is tough/strict enough for Caroline.

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  15. It's REALLY close to Nationals to be doing this, but it IS the rink she's used to, so maybe it's not as uncomfortable as it seems. I think she has should miraculous improvement in her triple flip, and if that could trickle into her other jumps, it would do wonders. She needs to break away from the pretty princessy programs though, but I don't know if she has the speed and presentation skills to do it. Hopefully she just does her best and has her fun. The coaching change timing is strange.

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