Christine Brennan's Article on USA Ladies: "U.S. women's skating lacks dominant star"

Discussion in 'Great Skate Debate' started by TheIronLady, Jan 25, 2013.

  1. kwanfan1818

    kwanfan1818 I

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    Both. What he said was situational. Before a gymnast would start, he would say general things, but mostly score-based: he might compare the base (on paper, at that point) to gymnasts that had gone before. He might say that a gymnast was likely to go into first, but there were others coming with higher content coming up. He might say that a gymnast generally had higher bases going in, but generally didn't get the quality scores or vice versa. He might mention to expect a creative routine, or, historically, how that gymnast used to do certain skills, but now doesn't, or how a gymnast has added skills. As the competition went on, he'd also discuss how the gymnast did in other phases, for example, in the Team Competition, he left out X, but expect him to do X or to add Y in it's place, or that the gymnast was having a tough competition so far. I had context for what was about to happen in termsn of the sport, not the gymnast's favorite hobbies, or that she had a twin in synchronized swimming.

    During the routine, he'd point to specific skills, why they were of good quality -- the rings didn't shake, she held the position steadily -- or not so good quality -- the judges will deduct .1 for this form break, .3 for that error -- and he was particularly vigilant about explaining when he thought a gymnast might score lower because s/he wouldn't get connectivity points, which would hurt the score, and when the skater would get credit for the connections, and how many. He would explain why a skill was harder, in terms of risk, strength, flexibility, and what made the combination of skills harder. He would explain the impact to the score when something might look nice, but didn't meet a requirement, or when a requirement was missing, or when a skill had been downgraded. He might mention a gymnasts strength and weaknesses, and when his or her size might impact her ability to do specific things.

    He would say when he was surprised by a score, but he was pretty accurate. I don't know many details about gymnastics any more, and of course, this doesn't prove he didn't leave out critical things along the way, because he's so familiar with how things are scored, but that would be for a knowledgeable gymnastics person to determine. What I know is that I, an occasional gymnastics viewer, was engaged, did not feel condescended to, felt I had a lot of good information and context, and, in this case, actually looked forward to the commentary, and not just to snark at it or use it for a drinking game.

    He was also the rare commentator who did not show bias for or against specific athletes, and, considering it was for a Canadian TV station, nationalistic bias, although he was clearly happy for the Canadian athletes when they did well. He seemed genuinely thrilled for the athletes, and there was none of the "back in my day, this/that was so much better" attitude. He sounded like he truly respected what they did, and he had a lot of empathy for them. (It might help that he's not that much older than the men competing.) While he had stylistic preferences, I didn't get the impression that he was slagging athletes who didn't have his preferred qualities or harping on specific things as if they had more weight in the overall system than they did. For example, you wouldn't have concluded that gymnastics equivalent of a layback spin was the be all and end all of gymnastics excellence.
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2013
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  2. algonquin

    algonquin Well-Known Member

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    Kyle Shewfelf did an excetional job and he is new to the broadcast booth. We should email the CBC to hire him for the next summer games.
     
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  3. LilJen

    LilJen Well-Known Member

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    HELLSTOTHEYEAH.

    It just.wouldn't.be.that.hard to actually spend a few moments EXPLAINING the system and reinforcing what you've told the audience throughout the broadcast. It just isn't that complicated! Try harder stuff, do things with a better quality = more points; try easier stuff, do things poorly = get fewer points. Now, of course you can argue that what is considered "harder" and a bigger point getter is NOT in fact harder (for some skaters a lutz is easier than a loop, say), and you can argue that a plain beautiful layback held for a while should get more points than a bendy-twisty L4 layback. I would never argue with someone who says that there are judgments built into the system, because there are and always will be. But just failing to explain anything? Is lazy.
     
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  4. giselle23

    giselle23 Active Member

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    I do, too. Look at the what the current ladies are doing--3Toe-3Toes, if they are doing triple-triples at all. And she always did two triple lutzes in her programs. How many skaters are doing that nowadays? She would have been at the top in most PCS categories. She certainly could have won gold at the 2006 Olympics, given what transpired. Really, the only skaters in the era up until now that would have consistently knocked her off the top spot would be Mao and Yu Na. And both have made mistakes that have cost them gold medals at various events, so who is to say that Michelle wouldn't have come out on top at least some of the time. And can there really be any doubt that a healthy Michelle could have won more National titles, given the level of US ladies skating we have seen since she left the scene?
     
  5. TheIronLady

    TheIronLady New Member

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    No offense, but this opinion has has been voiced in here 1000 times. If Michelle had been healthy... LOL. I think you raise a valid point about her jump content in her prime being enough to wipe the floor with some ladies (of course the spins they did back then took little energy by comparison), but she was not healthy 7 years ago, and that story is over. I don't think the issue is about Kwan, except that she is a ghost who hangs over US skating, and the old powers in US skating sometimes seem unwilling or unable to help the athletes and the public adapt to changing times.
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2013
  6. iarispiralllyof

    iarispiralllyof Active Member

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    I don't think any of the responses in this thread from Kwan-fans have been so insane as to suggest she would've beat Yuna in 2010. They've all been pretty realistic. We don't necessarily mean to drag Michelle's ghost into every skating thread, but a user on here (Alex Forrest) straight out claimed that all of Michelle's elements were so weak and inferior that she never could have dreamed of getting level 3's on any of them (Wrong, as I detailed on the last page). They even implied that her legacy was due to politics and a "perfect princess package" rather than any actual skating skills outside of the norm. Now that is just a joke!
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2013
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  7. TheIronLady

    TheIronLady New Member

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    I mean it's a fine line we want to walk. One wants to encourage American skaters to emulate the artistic dimensions of Kwan's skating without undercutting today's athletes and contemporary international skating when they don't match her record of American dominance.
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2013
  8. aliceanne

    aliceanne Well-Known Member

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    I haven't read the whole thread so maybe someone has already said this, but I don't see how the present system is any more confusing to the casual viewer than the 6.0 old system with the ordinals. Under that system a skater with no first place mark from any judge could win simply because 3 other skaters split the first place marks, leaving the skater with the majority of second place marks to come in first.

    At least under the current system the person with the most points wins. I think that is pretty easy to understand.

    I'm not sure how the anonymous judging prevents collusion though. Judges could simply agree among themselves beforehand what range of PCS marks they want to place each skater in. The skaters in particular seem unhappy with anonymous judging.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2013
  9. overedge

    overedge Well-Known Member

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    It doesn't prevent collusion. If anything, it encourages more lobbying and :bribe:, because there's no guarantee that any one judge's marks will be included in the total. So anyone who wants to influence the outcomes has to lobby everyone, rather than a select few.
     
  10. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

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    There's no more random selection -- the ISU did away with that several years ago. All the judges' scores are included in the calculations now.

    The calculations still drop the high and low marks for each GOE and each PCS. So a judge who is always too high and/or always too low could get all their marks dropped. Such a judge wouldn't last long in the face of the statistical reviews.

    If an individual judge wants to try to manipulate results beyond what they honestly feel the performances deserve, they would do better to shade their scores toward the high end of what they think their favored skaters would be earning anyway from the rest of the panel, and to shade their scores toward the low end of the range for the skaters they want to hold down. But they would want to be still in range and not be the outlier on a regular basis.

    If a group of judges wanted to game the system together, they could agree to inflate marks for a favored skater and to deflate marks for the rival(s). If there are enough of them in on the conspiracy, then they would determine what the range or "corridor" is so it would be the remaining judges who would look like outliers.
     
  11. kwanfan1818

    kwanfan1818 I

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    They might not even have to talk about the general range or corridor: they've all had plenty of international experience, and the protocols are there. Skater X is a low 6's skater, Skater X is a high 6's skater, etc. They might be called out on the corridor if they do historical marking, but if they are at all numerically apt, they'd be able to tell within a few important skaters if the corridor was running high or low and adjust. To treat PCS like ordinals, they just have to keep relative distance, as the scores themselves aren't as important, and by now, they all know if they need to compensate for a favored skater's relatively poor technical performance. Once a ranking is decided, it's a matter of starting with one mark, for argument's sake, skating skills, with the others driven closely to that mark in general, and upping or lowering that "ground" mark in .25 or .5 increments.
     
  12. attyfan

    attyfan Well-Known Member

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    I don't recall a lot of events where that happened, though. I think one reason why 6.0 was easier to understand is that the items punished were highly visible (falls), whereas the camera at skating events often make it difficult to see a UR or other downgrade on the TV screen. The real problem, IMO, is that the history of judging scandals means that current judges aren't given the benefit of the doubt. For example, when marks look low because a UR wasn't clearly visible, many people don't think "there must have been downgrades for something", but instead they think the judges are biased, etc.
     
  13. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

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    Where what happened? Someone won with no first-place ordinals? That was indeed rare. The closest I can think of was Berezhnaya/Sikharulidze's short program at 1998 Skate Canada -- they had 3 or 4 mistakes in their SP and pretty much all the judges put them 2nd in that phase (maybe a couple had them 1st or 3rd) -- but the judges didn't agree at all on who to put ahead of them, so they did win that SP. And then they got over whatever their problem was and won the LP convincingly.

    Someone won with only a minority of 1st-place ordinals? Less rare. And not rare at all for lower placements below the podium.

    I think this was true with 6.0 as well. There were plenty of occasions when a better skater fell or made other obvious mistakes and lost to someone who didn't fall. And fans and media often accused the judges of bias, protocol judging, etc., etc.

    Often in those cases more knowledgeable fans could see that the person who skated cleaner but didn't win had made less obvious mistakes like UR, two-foot landings, etc. Or their basic skating was just weaker.

    But the newspaper reporters often had no more of a clue about what judges were judging than the average casual viewer, and even some of the knowledgeable TV skating commentators put more weight on superficially clean jumps than the judges did. And the media love controversy. So a lot of times they drummed up scandals about judging that wasn't really all that scandalous.
     
  14. overedge

    overedge Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the clarification. See, if Scott and Sandra did a better job of explaining the marking system, I would have known that :)

    And this is still a problem because, as you suggest, the highest or lowest marks could be the most honest/accurate marks if the rest of the panel has agreed to fix their marks.
     
  15. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

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    For any specific skater, or specific element or component, sure.

    But not consistently across all the marks for all the skaters, so that the one honest judge never has any of her marks count. An honest judge will not ALWAYS be either too high or too low, and neither will a dishonest judge who isn't flat-out stupid. I.e., all judges' marks will count sometimes.
     
  16. overedge

    overedge Well-Known Member

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    Agreed. It all depends on what part of the evaluation or the competition the fix has been arranged for.
     
  17. UGG

    UGG Well-Known Member

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    6.0 can be confusing though too. remember how confused everyone was at SLC Ladies long Program? Before Irina skated, the Standings were Michelle, Sarah, Sasha. And then after she skated the standings were Sarah, Irina, Michelle. That was probably really confusing to the casual viewer.
     
  18. mag

    mag Well-Known Member

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    It was very confusing ...
     
  19. Alex Forrest

    Alex Forrest Banned Member

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    Did you ever see her try even a forward outside camel? She'd never get the levels on spins, her jumps were small and compact though admittedly consistent, like Tara Lipinski, and her footwork was more arms and smiles than rockers, counters, etc. I just think that if Brennan wants legitimacy as a skating journalist she has to know the sport she is writing on, which it seems she doesn't. I'm really not trying to bring back the ghost, so to speak. It's just that's all Brennan seems to focus on, that there isn't another Kwan... Well, under 6.0, it really lent credence to a "Kwan". She can win over the audience with a smiral and interesting arms and facials expressions in her 'footwork'. Under the new system, a judge can't hold up a Kwan with a 5.7/5.9 even if she bombs.
     
  20. TheIronLady

    TheIronLady New Member

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    The OBO system--and I'm not sure when it was introduced--probably put the nail in the coffin of 6.0. It assured that the calculations used to determine a skater's rank were beyond the mathematical grasp of most of the audience. The SLC ladies FS program was a mess.

    When I look back on it, skating's judging has been a mess since at least the late 90s. I wonder why people who wring their hands and cry about skating not being what it used to be didn't have much constructive to say about the problems with OBO, the overemphasis on jumps, or the future of the sport post-boom when they had the chance and still had power. I am harsh, but they should learn lessons from the past to have influence on the sport in the present and the future, and I want them to have influence. Instead I hear them in Brennan articles complaining and over-romanticizing the past.

    Here is an online source regarding OBO.

    http://www.frogsonice.com/skateweb/obo/score-obo.shtml
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2013
  21. IceAlisa

    IceAlisa Port de bras!!!

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    I was one of those not terribly thrilled with Gracie's sour face on learning she was 2nd nor the "deserve to be here with me" comment. Since then she tweeted a really nice message:
    So while the choice of words was unfortunate at the presser, she may be learning.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2013
  22. Alex Forrest

    Alex Forrest Banned Member

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    Or like Tara, she is getting HEAVY pr. HEAVY. If she places at Worlds, I would bet she's the golden girl for American Olympic skating and commercials. Forget Wagner, especially if she goes back to her two foots and falls. I would not be surprised if Gold now has PR in her training costs. Gold just HAS to nail Worlds. I would not be surprised if she places higher than Wagner now. If she does, then look out for the Gold hype. And frankly, I like her skating. She is Yuna with more turnout and toepoint as far as I'm concerned. The jumps are even, but Gold doesn't flex her ankle awkwardly like Yuna does, and her spirals have a clean line, her spins are more determined, and the jumps are just as huge. I really don't get this Yuna as bestest evah thing. She's a strong competitor, but she's not a compelling skater, if that makes any sense. I was on the phone during Olys with a skating blogger some probably know, and I was like "Yuna has a gorgeous face, a thin, sometimes flexible body, but why in the hell does she skate like she has club feet?" To total agreement. I am not looking forward to Yuna's return, seriously. She can land the jumps but the crazy marks she gets??? Call her Plush2.0 or is it 3.0 at this point?
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2013
  23. TheIronLady

    TheIronLady New Member

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    Why do you want her to learn to be gracious if it's all phony? She is 17, and I think her true personality is formed. What she said at the press conference wasn't awful. It was just a little arrogant. It wasn't like she was being a bad loser. A bad loser is Sluskaya running off crying after her 2006 Olympics FS (and reportedly throwing her bronze medal on the floor or in the garbage).

    Personally I think US skating should allow people to be real and say what they think as long as they aren't being mean-spirited or nasty to others or insulting to the sport (which throwing your medal away, even in semi-privacy, would be).

    I'm not a fan of Johnny's attitudes toward the sport, but I think there is a lot of room between Johnny's constant "candidness" and "I just tried to do my best and don't care what happens" phoniness. I think we should be more tolerant of real attitudes in between these extremes. Some skaters really are perfect, but most aren't, and I think it's what makes life and sports interesting.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2013
  24. IceAlisa

    IceAlisa Port de bras!!!

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    wow, you got all that from my post? :scream:
     
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  25. TheIronLady

    TheIronLady New Member

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    I tend to read too much into posts. LOL. I apologize. I think we should not judge her too harshly for thinking highly of herself and even being a little over the top about it. As long as she is respectful to her competitors and the sport as a whole... I think it's better to see her be real, than totally perfect and insincere.

    Few will ever be the sweetheart that Michelle Kwan by all accounts truly is and was (except maybe Alissa Czisny).
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2013
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  26. Alex Forrest

    Alex Forrest Banned Member

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    I am not speaking for anyone, but I do think the LP that Gold laid down was par excellence for like what the last 8 years of USN?

    I don't care about the Jade nicenessness. I'd rather hear "I should have kicked her butt had I not imploded that damnSP".

    I like honesty. I like bite. And IceAlisa I have given you ZERO thought in how I feel about it, as I'm sure IronLady has not either. Get a grip. Your ego......
     
  27. kwanfan1818

    kwanfan1818 I

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    As to whether Kwan could have, in her prime, before back and hip injuries stymied her, have been competitive under CoP, she did one championship under the system, the first time it was used for Worlds in 2005. USFS was still using 6.0 at 2005 Nationals, and so were the cheezefests she competed in. Cohen skated in two GP's and GPF's in the 2003-4 season, Arakawa in 5 GP's and 2 GPF's in the 2003-4 and 2004-5 seasons, and Slutskaya 2 GP's, a GPF, and a European Championships in the 2004-5 season under the new system coming into 2005 Worlds. According to Tarasova, Kwan had upgraded CoP-friendly programs for 2006, but, Tarasova had skin in the game when she said that as Kwan's choreographer and could have been blowing smoke, and Kwan never showed those programs. It's hard enough for skaters set in their ways to change -- see almost any Joubert program -- but when they're physically broken, it's nearly impossible.

    Perhaps if CoP had been around when Kwan first started, she would have taken her football and gone home, but I doubt it. Kostner had weaker levels than Kwan at 2005 Worlds, and now, at Euros, she had L4 steps and 1-L3 and 2-L4 spins in each program.

    Here are the levels from 2005 Worlds, where the maximum level was still 3, I believe, with Kwan doing her 6.0/CoP lite programs, i.e., without really trying to maximize everything:

    Short Program:
    1. Slutskaya: L3 spiral; L2 steps; 1-L1, 1-L2, 1-L3 spins.
    2. Cohen: L3 spiral; L2 steps; 3-L2 spins.
    3. Kwan: L3 spiral; L2 steps; 2-L1, 1-L2 spins.
    4. Kostner: L2 spiral; L2 steps; 2-L1, 1-L2 spins.
    5. Arakawa: L3 spiral; L2 steps; 2-L2, 1-L3 spins.
    6. Sokolova: L3 spiral; L2 steps; 3-L2 spins.

    Free Skate:
    1. Slutskaya: L3 spiral; L2 steps; 2-L2, 2-L3 spins.
    2. Cohen: L3 spiral; L2 steps; 3-L2, 1-L3 spins.
    3. Kwan: L2 spiral; L2 steps; 2-L1, 2-L2 spins.
    4. Kostner: L1 spiral; L2 steps; 3-L1, 1-L2 spins.
    5. Suguri: L3 spiral; L2 steps; 2-L1, 2-L2 spins.
    6. Poykio: L2 spiral; L1 steps; 3-L1, 1-L2 spins.

    Everything was watered down in the quali rounds, and I won't bother to list them.
     
  28. IceAlisa

    IceAlisa Port de bras!!!

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    No problem. :p For all I know Gracie is being sincere in that tweet of hers.

    As to Gracie vs. Yuna: I agree that Gracie already has a better body line than Yuna and jumps as good if not better. If she gets trained up and gets good programs with good choreo, she could definitely challenge Yuna.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2013
  29. Alex Forrest

    Alex Forrest Banned Member

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    But don't you think the judges were shitting bricks? Like this skater should only be 14th except she been our world champion or silver medalist for like what 16 years? So HOW AWFUL if they used this new scoring system to put Michelle Kwan down in 14th like she deserved even though she really didn't MAJORLY mess up? It was a PR nightmare. And thankfully Kwan just walked away from it, since you really don't want to see your "Can't Miss" girl for the last ten years suddenly show up OBJECTIVELY (and not the Linda Fratianne/FrankCarroll subjectivity) as the fourteenth best skater in the world? No wonder she pulled out of EVERYTHING the next season. She pulled out of Nats and expected a golden ticket. The fact that her tryout was not available for media, well, not unsursprising, but TOTALLY DANNY. Not even that agent she had since before she had a period (which Brennan was well known to knock Lipinski for, so it's not playing bad, it's just playing honest. Chelle had an agent at 13 just like Tara, except Brennan would never write that since it screws up her locks and her plays for the season. So Brennan is a joke, always has been, and by the looks of her writing always WILL BE. I'd say, just go away Christine, your sophomoric, overly negative and obnoxiously STUPID (I'll say it, Sarah Palin is STUPID, and so are you, Brennan) comments just don't read. I think we look at that newspaper who still pays you, what is it USAToday and they deserve better than you Christine. Get real. Get involved. Life is not a 1996 Kwan Fest thought that's what got you back into USFS's graces. Go further. You are capable Christine. At one time I thought you were a legitimate sports reporter????? Or was that my imagination?
     
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  30. kwanfan1818

    kwanfan1818 I

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    Actually Kwan was 7th after the quali rounds, but why let facts get in the way of a good rant :lol: