Discussion in 'The Trash Can' started by caseyedwards, Jul 9, 2010.
Knapp makes interesting points in regard to the other sports, and about the football/ DWTS connection. However, from reading what she has to say about figure skating, she obviously doesn't know fs or fs athletes well enough to mix them into her discussion. It may be a good thing whenever figure skating is mentioned in the American sports pages, particularly in the same breath with other sports, however, I wish sports journalists in this country would bone up on their knowledge of fs to actually know whereof they speak.
"Lysacek beat a Russian [Plushenko] who then accused him of being too artistic." NOT! I don't think anyone in the skating world has ever accused the hard-working Mr. Lysacek of "being too artistic." And anyway, is it possible for any skater to ever be "too artistic"?
Plushenko actually complained about other competitors not sucking it up like real men to lay down quads. Not performing quads in fs, doesn't translate to mean you're too artistic, Ms. Knapp. The quad conundrum in figure skating is much more complicated than that. Like Shakespeare's Hamlet, male skaters often ponder "To quad, or not to quad, that is the question. Whether tis nobler to try and master it, take the chance and suffer disaster, or to play it safe and win gold in the end..." Even that analogy is an oversimplification of the quad’s difficulty and impact on the sport.
"Evgeni Plushenko was no proper heir to Baryshnikov." Hmmmm, arguably true, I suppose especially in the latter part of his career. However, by just doing a little research, Ms. Knapp would discover that in the early part of his career, Plushenko was considered state-of-the-art in male fs, and the gushing about his talent (even if sometimes over-the-top) probably did include comparisons to Baryshnikov.
"Plushenko was to put it kindly, a hack ... no speed ... a one-tool player." NO, NO, and NO. It took guts, athleticism, and chutzpah for Plushy to even try to come back for a third Olympics. Yes, the men's field and the rules had changed in his absence, but his rep preceded him, and he still demanded respect. And amazingly, he still had the jumps and the charisma -- yes he faltered slightly in the lp, as nerves and age caught up with him. And maybe he received too much respect from the judges in the eyes of many skating fans. Still I don't think anyone in skating would even consider calling Plushy "a hack." Evan's certainly no Baryshnikov, nor would I call him a hack either, but if you're throwing that term around Ms. Knapp, I think it lands closer to Evan than it does to Plushenko.
In the end, Plushy fell on his own sword, done in by his own admission of having "no transitions." Plus, the judges hadn't spotted him a 10-point lead in the sp, like they did at 2006 Olympics over second place Johnny Weir's iconic The Swan performance. Now that's a performance that will live for the ages. I think we can scrap most of the 2010 Olympic male fs performances (except for a brilliant Daisuke Takahashi, and a resilient Johnny Weir, none of the others bear much repeated watching).
"In the late 80's, U.S. male figure skaters fell into a rut." Really??? Am I reading that right? Wasn't that the time of Boitano, Bowman, Wylie, or am I just hallucinating?
+ 1 to aftershocks
Very insightful and articulate. Did you send a copy to the writer of the article? I hope you didn't just waste the effort by placing it just on this discussion board.
What a bizarre column. I guess I see what she's trying to say (seeing US football players on DWTS might open the door to seeing US athletes as more artistic ... and then they can be stronger in soccer? ), but I have no idea what on earth Plushenko v. Lysacek has to do with any of that other than Evan being on DWTS.
Yeah, thanks. Maybe it would be helpful for the writer to see a critique. Seems like working under deadline, she just threw a hodge-podge together that doesnt hold up. She kinda seems to want to talk about male athletes getting in touch with their softer side which again is a bit mixed up in her terminology and the way she presents it, especially with throwing comparisons and inaccurate information about figure skating in the mix. Knapp actually misses a golden opportunity to really talk about gender stereotyping in sports, using figure skating as a prime example.
I've always respected Gwen Knapp, especially since during the SLC scandal she was one of the few sportswriters who didn't cry wuzrobbed for S&P and made an effort to explain the judging criteria . However, she is off-base here, and I've never been much of a Plushenko fan
Why isn't anyone entertaining the possibility that Takahashi deserved to win? Who cares about blah vs blaher.
There are a corp of columnists at the Chronicle that work in the same fashion. Some have really made fools out of themselves. It's like throwing darts blind-folded. Sometimes you hit the bulls-eye, most of the time you don't. In the case of the latter, in a few days it's old news, off the pages, and all is forgotten.
I am not familiar with Gwen Knapp, but I would also say go ahead and send this to her!
Not by many who've seen Baryshnikov. For one thing, they had completely different body types. (Stojko was closer in body type to Baryshnikov than Plushenko.) For another, Baryshnikov was almost equally excellent at everything-- jumps, turns, pirouettes, petite allegro, grand allegro -- with the possible exception of partnering, and Plushenko was not. Baryshnikov was Mariinsky. There was nothing Mariinsky about early or late Plushenko.
I wouldn't compare Plushenko positively to any of the great Bolshoi men, like Vasiliev, either: he's not a classicist.
Respect for the comeback, getting to the point that he did in Vancouver, sure. Faltered "slightly"? He was in the bottom half of the field for power and speed -- the North Korean skater who just missed the Free Skate was equally fast -- and he had faults on his jumps that would have been scored more harshly had he not had a reputation. His spins, which were significantly improved in the SP -- two of three had speed among the best -- were back to slow in the FS. This was all very evident in the arena. There was little charisma to compensate, without the power and with the pandering choreography.
At the time? The coverage at least made an issue of "the top three are within fractions of a point! It all comes down to tonight!" POST-Lp, I don't think Takahashi really gets considered as wuzrobbed for gold because he had a massive splat on the quad while Evan skated clean and Plushenko only wobbled a bit, not fell. PERSONALLY, I feel Takahashi wuzrobbed of silver, as with the fall I can't really justify him winning but the REST of it was better than Plushenko's fall-free but otherwise wobbly and uninspired program. If he'd landed the quad, though, I think he would have won and no one would have argued the point, assuming Lysacek and Plushenko skated exactly as they did (and would have been silver and bronze, respectively.)
The way I look at the "was robbed" talk is like this. Evan beat Evgeni by 1.31 points. Let's say for the sake of discussion that Evgeni won by 1.31 points. Would anyone be saying that Evan was robbed? Possibly. But the fact is, their performances were so close that there is no way to objectively tell whose was better.
I think there definitely would have been call of wuzrobbed if Plushy had won with that performance. There were just one too many tilted jumps with abrupt landings in his program, whereas Evan's was smooth as buttuh in a program filled with transitions.
You might be right. But why did Evan's "smooth as buttuh" performance just win by 1.31 points? Just one judge, looking from a slightly different angle, could have tipped the scale in a different direction. The judges did not see Evan as clearly superior to Evgeni.
Do you really want to start that discussion?
I agree with some of your points. Let's remember tho' that Plushenko is not trained as a dancer, and the moves you mentioned in comparison are ballet moves, which would be different in any case when performed on ice. Yes, I agree that Baryshnikov had superb technique and unequalled artistry as a dancer, and Plushenko is definitely unpolished and not in that same mold of a classicist with beautiful technique, line and artistry. However, Plushenko is a bravura jumper/ athlete and a dynamic competitor -- he has been a real force in the sport. He also has an undeniable Russian flair, and even though I'm not enamored of his pretty posing and his poor posture (hunching forward on jump landings), he does command the audience to watch. In any case, I would have placed Plush 3rd or 4th in sp at 2010 Olympics -- with Dai in 1st after sp, Weir in 2nd, and Evan in 3rd or 4th.
In regard to Gwen Knapp's statement: "Plushenko was no proper heir to Baryshnikov ..." I said that's arguably true. I do feel that Plushenko is more of a male Slutskaya, and not in the mold of Russian skaters such as Alexander Abt, Alexei Urmanov, and Ilia Kulik. Again, Plushy is not in that mold largely because he doesn't have the beautiful line nor the intricate choreography and aesthetic sensibility of a true artist. In any case, the only "proper heir" to Baryshnikov, IMO, should be a Russian ballet dancer, not necessarily a Russian ice skater. I'm not understanding your reference to Stojko having same body type as Baryshnikov. I totally disagree with that. Stojko has a unique body type and a completely unique style as a figure skater which suits his unusual body type.
In reviewing some past videos of some of the skaters mentioned above, and also vids of Alexei Yagudin, I must say that both Yagudin and Plushenko are actually fairly similar in their more athletic approach to skating (which was traditionally associated more with North American skaters such as Dick Button). I think Yagudin did progress artistically under the influence of Tatiana Tarasova (more than Plushy did under Mishin). TAT, of course, also helped Kulik harness his athletic and artistic powers to win 1998 Olympics. Kulik was still young and also still a bit rough around the edges, but having won the ultimate prize he retired from eligible competition (maybe just as well, because he might have suffered injuries if he'd stayed in during the quad-obsessed years). Kulik mastered the quad, but even his skating shows how much mental and physical energy it takes from a program in the attempt to master the quad. For me, the interesting thing is that Alexei Yagudin's Winter sp at 2002 Olympics has choreography reminiscent of Russian folk dance, and it reminds me of similar choreo that Plushy has performed. However, Yagudin just seemed more polished than Plushy by 2002, but still just as athletically rather than artistically inclined. After 2002, Yagudin succumbed to injury* and began to further explore his budding artistry in the professional ranks. *Hint: quad-induced injuries.
In fact, IMO, the emergence of the quad in men's figure skating has actually limited the focus on artistry, because skaters have been forced to put their energy and attention toward mastering quads and preparing mentally and physically to try and perform them consistently (plus CoP has adversely affected artistry as well). The rash of injuries and the mental energy expended by placing quads in programs (plus the inherent inconsistency associated with performing quads -- unless you are Joubert or Plushenko), has led to the past three World champions and the past Olympic champion not performing quads, and still being able to win.
I think I'm in love with Alexander Abt, and I can't resist posting the below links to some of his programs. Abt definitely wuzrobbed of gold at 2002 Europeans (the win there for Yagudin was definitely a result of Yags being the up-and-comer, politically preferred skater). Abt's career was hampered by injuries (could it have been injuries sustained in practice while trying to perfect the quad?) Abt did have a beautiful quad, but I don't think he needed one, because it took such a toll. If the quad hadn't been so necessary in those quad-obsessed years of the sport, and had Abt been able to focus on his gorgeous triples and on his artistry instead, maybe he might have been able to win more championships. It was a small window for him -- and he was usurped by the emergence of Plushy and Yags.
Love Abt's long legs, drop to ice in modified split, and what looks like triple death drop sequences:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XdgAIamDJgg '02 Europeans
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wQH8EnPS9uI&feature=related '02 Olympics
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ex-6HoVIcKI&NR=1 '99 COR
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FcLVLNpVvrQ sexy superb fun
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDXuXU0TODc&feature=related Hip Hop Russian style
Takahashi didn't actually do the quad flip. So you do have to add him. I mean no one knows what would happen to a Takahashi program if he landed a quad. So you have the model of Buttle Lysacek and Takahashi. But if you ignore the gold medalist and look at the past two silver medalits it is Patrick Chan and he has never done a quad and gets hudge marks for aritistry. So with Patrick Chan beating Joubert all the time for that silver medal-that says something. Abt sans quad would do totally well now if his hurdle was his undoing. Also quad consistency comes from doing one so this idea of putting one in free skate and expecting to do it seems far fetched. I mean as of right now I can't think of a skater who can do great quads in Long programs only. This is totally a down time for quads. The best young ones now don't do one. I mean only Chan is considered great artistically of the ones who don't do one. Then you have the skaters like Brezina and Rippon and name? LOL.
But then again, maybe the skater in below links is the "proper heir", in terms of skating, to Baryshnikov.
The below program is not only gorgeous, it's practically perfect -- no mistakes, but alas, he was in 14th place going into it. Enjoy!
Are you new in figure skating? Never heard of reputation??? Plushenko was an Olympic champion and silver medalist plus 3-time WC-champion, skaters with that kind and even lesser reputation are getting better scores than they deserve (don´t you remember that in WC 2008 Joubert´s PCS was higher than that of Butler!!!). As in Vancouver Plushenko got way too high scores e.g. for his non-estisting choreography and transititions, LOL. That is why the difference in scores between Lysacek and Plushenko was not bigger. It should have been bigger, but, well, this is figure skating....
I thought the whole context of that discussion was jumps. I don't see how with Plushenkos's jumps negative GOE coud have been any more than what a lot of the judges gave him which was -1. I mean he is not going to get a -2 when that is reserved for step outs or two foots and -3 is only given for falls really.
Takahashi has performed quads before (perhaps the cause of injury he suffered and had to come back from). Since coming back, I don't think he has performed quads in his programs. Dai is a dynamic skater both artistically and athletically, but he doesn't have a "classic" style. I think his style is more modern and edgy.
You say that now is a "down time" for quads, which is actually the point I was making. Because of the mental and physical energy expended and the necessity to perfect quads in practice, in order to be consistent in competition, which is difficult for many skaters, we are not seeing them performed as often. In fact, it was Johnny Weir circa 2007-2008, who questioned the insistence upon the necessity to perform quads in order to win. Thereafter, the trend has been against having to perform them to win, and I hope that trend continues.
Patrick Chan has gorgeous edges and musicality, but he still needs to grow artistically and athletically, plus he also needs to mature as a person. I know judges and fans love his skating, and I was intrigued when he came on the scene, but right now he's not one of my favorites. I like Rippon, Kosuka Takahashi, Amodio, Ten, Schultheiss, Gonzalez (even Kevin Reynolds of Canada seems to be growing artistically and athletically -- he has always been a good, if not consistent jumper). Brezina is beloved by judges and some fans, but I don't like his skating -- still too amateurish, old-fashioned, and jump-focused, but he has good potential. Of the veterans, I like Dai, Verner (and I have a sentimental feeling toward Joubert, but let's face it, men's skating underwent a sea change when Johnny Weir came on the scene, thus Joubert did not become the uncontested heir to Yags and Plushy -- the crown was shared by the more artistic Lambiel and briefly by Buttle who miraculously found his 3axel and skated perfect programs at 2008 Worlds). Lysacek is a hard worker who tries hard, competes well, has solid, if boring programs, loving fans and is supported politically, and that combined has garnered him wins -- he's just not part of the "artistic" conversation.
Since Evan isnt that great a skater. And his performance wasnt even that great. He has skated better than that atleast 5 times I reckon. Someone like Takahashi skating his best if judged fairly would have probably beaten the Vancouver version of Plushenko by alot more. Or even Lambiel had he somehow landed all his jumps cleanly (even without a triple axel).
Got to love 'em both. Both so beautiful to watch. Savoie, I just want to hug. Abt, I want to hug very tightly, and then some... yummy
"Evgeni Plushenko was no proper heir to Baryshnikov."
Plushenko never wanted to be a heir to Baryshnikov. Yes, he likes ballet, but when he had to choose between being ballet dancer at Mariinsky and figure skater he preferred figure skating. I know he enjoyed very much his "Tribute to Nijinsky" but he is an actor, an entertainer not a classical dancer. He likes to be sometimes Nijinsky, sometimes a dumb stripper, sometimes a seductive girl, etc. That´s his style, if people expect him to be Nureyev on ice just because he is Russian, they will always be disappointed.
Judges were corrupt in Vancouver end of story. Watch SP again, TT said Plushy must be ahead about 4-5 points.
Tak needs to do good jumps to win, some his jumps in Vancouver questionable. He is lucky to be third, it was Lambiel medal anyway.
But great karma outcome, more to come!
There are so many beautiful and funny gems of posts on this page of the thread that I'm tempted to print and frame it. aftershocks, judgejudy27, senorita, and ciocio!
I didn't realize that Plushenko was accepted into the Vaganova school and that he chose figure skating over ballet. Thank you for the information.
I somehow doubt that Knapp expects all figure skaters to look like John Curry or Baryshnikov, nor do I think that Plushenko aspires to a classical style. I doubt she's seen him in exhibition where the dance quality he does have -- generally not classical, although he can be delicate and graceful -- comes out much more than in his competitive programs, and certainly more than in his Olympic programs.
People who say "He's no Baryshnikov (or Nureyev)" usually mean that he lacks grace, finish, and impeccable overall technique (in their own field, if they are not ballet dancers). They're hardly expecting him to do seven revolution jumps with his toe pointed, but they are expecting very good posture, pliant back, stretched knees, neat blades, and the perfect coordination of arms and legs for which Vaganova schooling is known. (Although Najarro in his Absolute Skating interview points how a dancer doing seven pirouettes is extraordinary, while a skater doing seven revs in a spin is not.)
The funny part is that Mishin and other people said that when Plushenko came to train in St. Peterburg he didn't impress throug his jumping abilities or strengh but throug flexibility, posture, elegance,artistry, that's why they tried to convince him to quit FS and prepare for a ballet dancer career. I don't understand why did he neglect this part of his olympic programs, because in his past interviews (2003, 2004) he was always saying how important is to improve constantly the presentation.
My opinion is that he prepared everything in a hurry, that's why his olympic SP was so bad. I didn't like the long either, but it was better.
Well...somebody agrees with you.
"Q - Evgeni, who, in your opinion, is the strongest skater today, you or Olympic Champion Evan Lysaceck?
Plushenko : - Lysacek, of course, is a very good athlete. Poor athletes do not become Olympic champions. But I would not call Lysacek the strongest . Japanese Takahashi, according to my ideas, is much more professional: owns quads, is charismatic, he has a great choreography. That’s the skater of the future.”
Best summing up of all the faux controversy, in less than 13 words even!!!
New information to me as well, and probably not well known by most skating fans either. Plushy should write a book too -- his life story is probably fascinating. In one of the early skating vids I watched, the commentators mentioned that Plushy came from a poor family, and thus he was determined to win in a hurry so that he could provide for his family. I think Plushy is an exemplary person and does not deserve all the bad press he has received. Yes, he didn't handle stuff well at the Olympics, but I think it is more the fault of skating judges having held him up so unrealistically high at 2006 Olympics. After the resulting criticism, I think Plushy felt the necessity to come back in 2010 in order to prove he was really the best and could win fair and square. JMHO.
I don't think Knapp is a good barometer of anything concerning figure skating. It's good to see figure skating mentioned generally in the media, but it ends up being pointless if journalists continue to make numerous errors of fact and interpretation. However, it's par for the course, or business as usual I suppose, especially in online blogs and columns.
IMO, Plushenko does not exhibit delicacy, nor would I call him graceful. He's more sharp, rough-edged, manly, full of bravado and energy (although his nerves and age showed uncharacteristically in 2010 Olympic lp), he has a distinct Russian flair, and he incorporates choreography meant to show feeling and artistry, but it doesn't come close to the delicacy and grace of skaters like Matt Savoie, or Johnny Weir. Nor should it, since as ciocio pointed out, that's not Plushenko's style or intention.
Quite a lot to expect from most figure skaters. For example, look at the acclaimed champion, Yuna Kim (extremely poor stretch and flexibility, particularly in her lower body -- she never points her feet, and that's one of her main flaws but only to people who expect that quality in a skater). I'm sure the qualities you mention are very desirous especially for those who love ballet and would like to see skaters perform in a similar aesthetically pleasing fashion. Most figure skaters probably never heard of Vaganova school, unfortunately. Watch videos of the gifted Katharine Healy in that case ... she was a ballerina and a figure skater extraordinaire!
Of course, because the ballet dancer is doing that only with his own muscle power, while the skater is aided by ice and skate blades. BTW, I'm not familiar with Najarro. Can you provide a link to Najarro's Absolute Skating interview? Thanks!
Wow, that's interesting. Hopefully, Plushy will write a book. Maybe it's like what I heard the commentator say when Plushy was performing as a 15-year-old at Worlds ... that Plushenko was focused, determined, and in a hurry to win, in order to provide for his family. Perhaps he was always in a hurry and simply liked skating better than ballet, and wasn't interested in the rigorous ballet barre practice required to become a successful dancer. Maybe he felt there would be more money and international prestige in figure skating?
When Plushy started preparing for the 2010 Olympics, he had first sought assistance from Denis and Melissa Petukhov, but I heard they didn't continue working together.
Again, wow! And, kudos to Plushenko for honest assessment.
I'm guessing what she means is that after Boitano turned pro (the first time) in 1988, the US men didn't win any more Olympic gold medals until 2010. For casual viewers who don't follow the sport except during the Olympics, anything less than Olympic constitutes a rut. Wylie's and Goebel's silver and bronze don't count. Eldredge's and Lysacek's world golds don't count. OGM is the only title worth celebrating.
Obviously, most of us disagree.
I often find myself endeared to Evgeny's assessment of other skaters. We tend to value the quality in the same skaters. For example, he has complimented the skating of Lambiel, Takahashi, and Abbott in the past, my 3 favorite male skaters currently. I like his personality too even if I think his skating often leaves A LOT to be desired in terms of presentation. His athleticism in the jumps is arguably greater than any other male figure skater in the history of the sport. My favorite ever Plushenko LP was his 2004 program Tribute to Vaslav Nijinsky. I've always found it strange that this was not selected as his LP for one of his Olympic appearances (obviously he would have needed to make it COP friendly for 2006 & 2010 though) as I think it exceeds all of his Olympic skates and I think it's his best program ever, short or long. While I wasn't a fan of his SP or LP this season, you have to admire a man who can come back from a 3 and a half year retirement at the age of 27, win Cup of Russia, win Europeans, and come within less that 1 point of missing out on a 2nd Olympic gold medal. Very impressive!
In the exhibition he did I think in 2004, where he did both the male and female parts (and transformed his costume), I thought he showed grace and delicacy when doing the female part. He is one of the best exhibition skaters I've ever seen, because while he can make fun of himself, he doesn't make fun of the material.
The link to reut's interview with Najarro is:
from the link reut posted in the Joubert & Abbott to Try Flamenco thread in The Great Skate Debate.
That was his tribute to pairs skating right? Hilarious.
I think the last skater to truly carry that "Russian flair" was Alexei Urmanov. Kulik was a beautiful skater, but not in the classical, dignified way that Urmanov was. Abt was always a little rough around the edges.
This article posted during the Olympics by Russian journalist Igor Poroshin talks in-depth about Plushenko's skating and his problems. Although I do agree that Plushenko is a skating genius to begin with, but thought it was a fabulous and interesting analysis. http://www.fsuniverse.net/forum/showthread.php?t=71949
Sandu is one more lost talent, more than Abt. Imagine if Abt was born a little later and was competing after yag/plu years!!!!
savoie's sp in Olympics 2006 was what transitions which serve the choreo should be about, i looooooooooooved it. And he started with a flying spin
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