Discussion in 'The Trash Can' started by judgejudy27, May 23, 2011.
In pro events even the Carruthers regularly beat them which was kind of strange IMHO.
I didn't find any of their pro programs to be memorable, and they let down their technical skills once they turned pro. Granted the Carruthers were no artist on the ice but at least they had some really energetic pro numbers that got the crowd - and the judges - going. I did feel bad for V/V in the Dick's World Pro competitions though; They were former Olympic and World champion but yet were consistently placed in 3rd or lower.
Brasseur and Eisler in their book insinuate all of Dick Buttons events are fixed. The placements are decided before hand, and largely based on appearance fees and popularity of the skaters. Elizabeth Manley does as well. While I would take what Lloyd Eisler and Liz Manley say with a grain of salt only since they are known for the large chip they carry on their shoulders, it still isnt that far fetched to believe they are telling the truth either.
Not just in pairs either. I dont think Hamill and Thomas deserved to win all the pro competitions they won either. In fact Biellmann was better than Thomas almost every year at the World Pros and lost all but once. I like Debi alot but most of the time as a pro she was undertrained and not really into it, her best pro performances were in her final months in fact. While Hamill was doing much easier jumps than Sumners and Fratianne were doing, even though none were doing triples, they were atleast doing double axels and more jumps than Hamill, and yet her marks would always be through the roof and by far the highest. Hamill was the one with an Olympic Gold unlike the other two who missed out on it, and Thomas was the most recent American star made famous by her rivalry with Witt, so I guess they just had to show up most of the time.
I do agree some results at World Pro were "fixed" in the sense that the judges had their favorites. For example, Debbie Thomas competing for the first time since her Calgary disappointment arguably did not deserve to win the title that year, but she got some 10s for one of those generic, boring, pretty princessy LP; However, regarding B/E and Liz Manley, their performances at the World Pro were not worthy of winning at all, in spite of what they thought of their performances.
Well Manley only competed at the World Pros once and admited she didnt skate well so I am pretty sure she never meant she deserved to win there (she complained about never being invited back after her poor debut though). Dick Button had other events besides the World Pros though, he had the Challenge of Champions, and didnt he have one or two others too. The World Pros was the only one I followed annually though so I am not sure how many of these others Manley was in or how she skated. Even if it doesnt relate to her (inspite of her feeling jaded), her comments could well relate to other skaters.
Nice summary. I think what happened to those young upcoming Russian pairs was puberty/growth spurt for the lady. Their bodies could not adjust and they just faded away- particularly Cherkasova-Shakrai and Pestova-Leonovich(later he became famous as G&G's coach). Quite possibly V&V and S&M were the only ones that could handle the growth spurt, or may be they were not that young to begin with (I don't know their ages in that time frame). G&G's arrival on the scene pretty much ended S&M's career. In 1984 they had looked very promising and they were very good even in 1988, but like V&V they seemed to like that little extra something that the other great pairs had.
I think Valova & Vasiliev were an outstanding pair team, it wasn't just their record, as impressive as it was, but also their style on the ice. I do think that in the view of history, V&V have gotten lost in the shuffle between Rodnina & Zaitsev and (especially) Gordeeva & Grinkov. This is unfortunate, because while I don't consider V&V to be "legends" in the same way as the Protopopovs, Rodnina, G&G, M&D or B&S, they were epoch changing skaters in their own way.
All of the great pair teams, in addition to being great skaters, have a unique style that distinguishes them from the others. With V&V, it was their ability to combine athleticism and artistry. As strong single skaters, they were able to perform the difficult (and rare) sbs triple jumps, more importantly though, they were the first pair to really become successful utilizing Moskvina's choreography on the international stage. What I consider to be the hallmark of Mosvkina's style: intricate choreography with a lot of interesting connecting moves and unique elements (such as the Valova somersault) really took off with V&V. V&V, in many ways set the stage for M&D, K&D and B&S to follow.
As it was mentioned earlier, Elena & Oleg were sometimes victims of the weird and sometimes jarring muzak choices that were pretty much the hallmark of much of skating in the 80s, but the occasional music combo aside, they were a pretty great team. Their skate at the 1988 World Championships was amazing, especially since V&V were in G&G's shadow since 1986, what a great way to end their eligible career.
BTW: the story of Valova competing in Calgary with a hole in her foot is freakin' impressive. Not, to mention, their rivals & teammates, Selezneva & Makarov were also dealing with the effects of a bad injury at the Calgary games-talk about your bad ass pair teams.
So, to answer the original question: V&V, underrated & under-appreciated (?)-IMVHO, yes. In the same league as the very top tier pair teams, IMVHO-no, but still a great pair team, with a unique style that helped set the stage for the other pair teams to follow.
I think why most people like them less than the other pairs teams is because they miss the emotions, they don't bring across that special bond between people, romantically involved or not, there is always this special connection that audiences can feel too between the pairs skaters (and ice dancers) who are the most popular amongst more people. V/V lacked that imho.
However, when I watched their programs for the first time (thanks to fsvids and later YouTube), I was surprised by their original choreography and they pulled it off well. It's one thing to have someone do the choreography for you, but you have to be able to perform it well or else it still doesn't work. V/V executed all their elements very well and performed the choreography very well too. I still enjoy watching their programs every now and then. Every time I watch I discover something new.
If they could have let the audience feel their own emotions too, they could have been one of the greatest ever like G&G, M/D, K/D, B/S, etc. Now they are simply a great pair. Even that is an amazing accomplishment. How many people have won worlds and euros and Olympics?
Valova and Vassiliev look MUCH better to me in hindsight on YT now. Their 83 Worlds LP was pretty strong, and doing sbs 3toes put them over. Elena might have been a really nice person, but back in those Cold War-ish 80s days she looked like the stereotypical mean communist right out of central casting. I swear Uta Mueller played a communist spy in a James Bond movie, she also was straight out of central casting. Also, IMO they didn't skate with each other either as much as against each other. I laughed when Dick Button referred to her in Calgary as being "plump", she was ripped and couldn't have been more than 105 pounds. I mean, sure anyone compared to an 82# Gordeeva will look bigger, but plump? Gillian was always fighting her weight, but I didn't get that sense with Elena Valova. Their choices of music were so 80s, too bad.
I like them better than G&G and I always will.
I don't think V/V are underrated just under acknowledged.
That's probably more accurate.
V&V had some really excellent programs, besides their Olympic season programs, I also enjoy their 1987 LP, 1985 LP (from the excerpts that I've seen on youtube), and this beautiful program-their very last performance together from 1994: http://youtu.be/WhCG3MoIuxA
V&V did a twist lift that wasn't the same as everyone else. It's been a lo-o-o-ng time since I've seen any of their programs, but IIRC it had a forward entrance, like an axel. Anyone remember/know?
^^ Was it this ?
Yes, that's the move I remember. Thanks, orbitz! Is that considered a twist lift, like the triple (and occasionally quad) twist we're used to seeing now that has, IIUC, a lutz takeoff?
I always really enjoy this program.
Valova & Vasiliev (URS) - 1984 Sarajevo, Pairs' Short Program
IIRC when this move came about in the 1970's it was thought of as a throw double axel catch but became known as a twist lift from an axel entrance. Rodnina did it in the early 1970's but dropped the move after 1975 as she had the triple twist by then. Cherkasova/Shakhrai and Pestova/Leonovich took the move a stage further and did triple axel twists.
Thanks for the info, and video clip floskate.
I remember seeing those on tapes. It looked a little like a throw 3A, but not quite (a throw).
Cherub721 may be a rarity.
But I am just as rare as she/he is:
I actually stopped watching pairs once G/G started winning competition after competition. I got so tired of watching one and a quarter people dominating the scene. It was years before I resumed watching pairs.
I do enjoy a lot of G&G's professional programs, and Moonlight Sonata as well. In fact their pro routines such as Vocalise, Requiem, OOT, Medi and Scharenzade (too lazy to look up the spelling ) are among my all time favorite pair programs. But, yeah, head to head G&G vs. V&V-I much prefer V&V.
It was difficult for anyone to outshine G&G in the LP in Calgary. They were sublime (even with the big fake flowers on one side of their costume, LOL).
G&G, IMO, absolutely deserved to win the OGM in Calgary, no question. Their LP performance was one of best Olympic performances in skating, and Katia Gordeeva was absolutely adorable. But, for me, as far as program content & choreography is concerned, I much prefer V&V's programs that year, and in 1987 as well (I haven't seen V&V's programs from 1986 yet, but from the programs I did see from 86 Worlds, my favorite was Selezneva & Makarov's.)
Also, Elena Valova not only skated in Calgary with a hole in her foot, she also rocked out in a headband years before La Navka.
I am also a rarity if that is the case. I have always found G&G dull as hell, and I found their pre-professional choreography to be non-existent. Give me a Moskvina pair anyday
G&G's strength was their consistency and clean performances, which were way more rewarded under the 6.0 system than the IJS ... and I like clean performances.
However, I can now, with IJS hindsight, appreciate and DESCRIBE the innovative and intricate choreography of V&V and see how they could have thrived as competitors with S&S rather than G&G, and the failing of the 6.0 system to reward programs in a similar way that it failed to reward difficult programs in other disciplines. Although the 6.0 system did not fail V&V as much as, let us say, Midori Ito but more like Brian Orser.
Moskvina in a genius. Even her "2nd tier" teams, like Bechke & guy-she-skated-with-before-Petrov had really interesting moves in their programs. V&V had wonderful qualities to their skating, I'm watching their 1987 LP and they appear to have great speed and a smoothness to their skating.
Did Moskvina continue to choreograph for V&V as pros?
I think the early G&G programs had a very "paint by number" quality to them. I did like their 1987 SP, and they had superb unison, skating skills and pair skills and all that, but I found their early programs to all be pretty much interchangeable with each other. I'm getting a bit off topic here (poor, V&V, overshadowed by G&G, even in their own thread! ), but I think going to Tarasova early in their pro career was a great decision by G&G, and if Requiem was any indication, I think they were really moving in a whole new direction artistically before Sergei's death.
"Paint by number" ...
1. Short Programs, which originated in pairs competition, have always been paint by number.
2. Carefully calculating how to win is hardly shameful when the goal is to win.
I don't think calculating the best way to win is shameful at all, it's smart; but I still found their early programs dull from a choreography standpoint.
ETA: Did Moskvina choreograph all of V&V's programs, or did she seek outside help? I know with B&S, M&D, and K&D and of course her later teams she worked with other choreographers such as Aleksander Matveev, etc.
^Dull ... fair enough. Circa 1988, I don't even think G&G had the maturity to pull off the choreography of a Moskovina pair. Instead of intricate, it would have looked busy.
I think they could have pulled it off, but there was a big difference between the Moscow school and the St.Petersburg school of figure skating. The latter was always more innovative than the Moscow one. G&G's strength was in their perfect technique, and their consistency. With their strong basics, they could have mastered different moves, had they been required in order to win. The 6.0 system was structured differently from IJS, with each system having its own positives and short comings. I complain about the IJS taking away the simplicity and musical expression. The 6.0 system had those positives. Now it's hard to see a perfectly done move (e.g. a simple camel spin or a simple spiral). G&G thrived under the 6.0 system, but there is no reason to believe they would not have succeeded in the IJS. As pros they experimented more, and developed more as a result. I never found them boring as eligible skaters because I appreciated their great basics.
OTOH, I always enjoyed the creativity of the St. Petersburg pairs, and particularly Moskvina's pairs. Even Bechke & Petrov who were a notch below G&G and M&D at that time, were a very good pair. M&D and B&S were the best pairs she coached and they both thrived with her creativity, regardless of who the actual choreographer was (Matveev or Bobrin or Tamara herself). In 1988 I found V&V's choreography more interesting, but their technique was not as perfect as G&G's and they were not as pretty to look at as G&G. I was happy that they won the 1988 world title, and that the judges did not deny them in that competition. because they clearly skated better than G&G. I do believe that V&V laid the foundation for future St. Petersburg pairs to become strong both technically and artistically.