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    Gwen Knapp Revisting Plushenko Vs Lysacek

    http://www.cbssports.com/columns/sto...h-to-big-dance


    Through ballet and figure-skating, Russians have always expressed masculinity and artistry as if they were inseparable. But Evgeni Plushenko was no proper heir to Baryshnikov. He was, to put it kindly, a hack. He and his quad mirrored too many American baseball stars over the past decade -- big bat, marginal glove, mediocre arm, no speed, no eye at the plate. A one-tool player.
    Lysacek delivered everything but the home run. Then he left Vancouver and went where no male figure skater had gone before: He competed in Dancing with the Stars. He followed the football players there.

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    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?

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    + 1 to aftershocks

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    Quote Originally Posted by aftershocks View Post
    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?
    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.

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    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.
    "Liking this sport is ridiculous, so you’re a little different for liking it, she explained. But you’re allowed to like what you like." - Robert Samuels

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gene View Post
    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.
    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 doesn’t 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.

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    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

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    Why isn't anyone entertaining the possibility that Takahashi deserved to win? Who cares about blah vs blaher.

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    Quote Originally Posted by aftershocks View Post
    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 doesn’t 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.
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by aftershocks View Post
    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?
    I am not familiar with Gwen Knapp, but I would also say go ahead and send this to her!

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    Quote Originally Posted by aftershocks View Post
    "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.
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by aftershocks View Post
    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.
    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.
    Last edited by kwanfan1818; 07-10-2010 at 07:57 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Triple Butz View Post
    Why isn't anyone entertaining the possibility that Takahashi deserved to win? Who cares about blah vs blaher.
    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.)

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    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Polymer Bob View Post
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by orbitz View Post
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Polymer Bob View Post
    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?
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    Quote Originally Posted by kwanfan1818 View Post
    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 ... -- 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. ... There was little charisma to compensate, without the power and with the pandering choreography.
    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=wQH8E...eature=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=mDXuX...eature=related Hip Hop Russian style
    Last edited by aftershocks; 07-14-2010 at 06:35 PM.

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    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 two World champions and the past Olympic champion not performing quads, and still being able to win.
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by aftershocks View Post
    ...
    In any case, the only "proper heir" to Baryshnikov, IMO, should be a Russian ballet dancer, not necessarily a Russian ice skater.
    But then again, maybe the skater in below links is the "proper heir", in terms of skating, to Baryshnikov.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NPHEBjBFbHE

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DsYSR...eature=related

    The below program is not only gorgeous, it's practically perfect -- no mistakes, but alas, he was in 14th place going into it. Enjoy!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-w872...eature=related
    Last edited by aftershocks; 07-14-2010 at 08:28 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Polymer Bob View Post
    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.
    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....
    Last edited by Jaana; 07-14-2010 at 07:01 AM.

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