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  1. #1
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    Sumners in compulsory figures from 81-82 to 83-84

    One thing about Sumners's amateur career which always puzzled me was how she was held way back by doing so very poorly in figures in 1981 and 1982. 11th in figures at the 82 Worlds, 5th in figures when she won her first Nationals in 1982, 8th in figures at Skate Canada in 1980 and 1981. Yet suddenly starting in 1983 she began winning figures at every event until the conclusion of her career. It was the only reason she still very nearly won the 84 Olympics with very subpar performances (for her) in both the short and long programs, and it helped her to her easy win at the 83 Worlds, etc...

    What changed so dramatically and so fast that she went from apparently a horrendous figures skater to being unbeatable in the figures. Much has been made about how Witt's figures placings shot up drastically from 83 to 84, but this seems like an even more drastic change.

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    What was her first world championship? Skaters were almost always held down in figures their first year in the majors. Tiffany Chin had a similar jump from 12 or so in Sarajevo to 2...

    Also there are questions about skaters who placed above her in 1982. How many quit before 1983? Also did Sumners seek out help from a figures specialist? I have no idea but that could also help.

    There's also the question of what figures were drawn in 1982 vs 1983 (and at Sarajevo). I think a lot of skaters had particular figures that they were stronger or weaker at.

    My first guess is it was a combination of not being held down anymore, attrition of better scoring figures skaters and real improvement. The little footage I've seen of her doing figures she looks pretty good, solid edges, speed and posture.

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    Well, 84 olys was a very close split between roz and kat. Kat was always back down in 8th or 10th in figures, when suddenly she miraculously kept to 3rd at Sarajevo. I can't see how you can discuss roz without mentioning kat.

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    The OP does mention Kat There have been a number of discussions as to the reason for Witt's sudden improvement in figures placements here but I don't recall one on Sumners. I'd be interested in hearing any reasons.

    Normally one would assume that winning the US title would provide a boost internationally yet she still wasn't placed that highly in Copenhagen, so that doesn't appear to be the case here. Maybe it was just the maturity factor? Not many skaters were wiz kids at figures in their mid-teens. (I can't think of any apart from perhaps Priscilla Hill who was the youngest ever IIRC to gain her gold figures.)

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    Hmmmm Kristofics-Binder and Cottrill retired in 1982, and Wegelius in 1983. But was Sumners' (new?) figure coach Kathy Casey so good or did she have "clout", as they say?

    Recently uploaded on youtube:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qlNER-BRufg (part 1)
    (a glimpse of Roz's forward inside rocker at 2.22)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y413Q01i9aA (part 2)
    (Zayak, Witt, Vodorezova - only brief glances)
    Last edited by matti; 01-10-2012 at 06:58 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by judgejudy27 View Post
    What changed so dramatically and so fast that she went from apparently a horrendous figures skater to being unbeatable in the figures.
    8th or 11th in figures is hardly "horrendous," any more than it is in free skating. Figures were incredibly nervewracking to skate, moreso than a free program. Any nerves showed up big time.

    I assume you're implying that the judges decided they wanted Roz in the running, so they just started marking her higher. My guess is that she just worked really hard on her figures and got better at them.

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    This thread reminds me of a quote from Elaine Zayak's coach, Marylynn Gelderman, where she said Zayak's figures (at a World level) were worth about 7th place. When the judges loved her, however, she was fourth. When they didn't, she was 13th.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by skateboy View Post
    8th or 11th in figures is hardly "horrendous," any more than it is in free skating. Figures were incredibly nervewracking to skate, moreso than a free program. Any nerves showed up big time.

    I assume you're implying that the judges decided they wanted Roz in the running, so they just started marking her higher. My guess is that she just worked really hard on her figures and got better at them.
    11th in figures is horrendous for a reigning U.S Champion who finished 4th in the short program and 5th in the long program (with an injury at that event that seriously limited her jumping) at those Worlds, especialy one who only a year or two later would become known as much stronger in figures than free skating. 8th in figures at a less than half field international event is horrendous for a World Champion and almost Olympic Champion of later that same quad, and someone who was 1st or 2nd in all the freeskating programs at those competitions. And they are especialy horrendous and shocking for a skater who would be placing 1st in figures in all competitions in a year or two time.

    I am not "implying" anything. I am asking what people think the major difference was, and how her figures and figures placings improved so drastically in such a short time. I cant think of another case where an elite skater had such an extreme rise in figures placing so quickly. I am actually more surprised she was for awhile so bad in figures since she seems like the kind of skater who should excel in figures anyway.

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    Quote Originally Posted by judgejudy27 View Post
    What changed so dramatically and so fast that she went from apparently a horrendous figures skater to being unbeatable in the figures.
    I can't say what her figures were like before 1982, but according to Dick Button, she suffered a serious injury after Nationals in 1982 and didn't have much time to practice before Worlds. I surmise that she was already improving before her injury and that she caught up as she recovered during the following off-season and season.

  10. #10
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    I've read the same about Katarina Witt, who was generously ranked in figures, especially in 1988. But I don't know, since I've never seen the complete competition.

  11. #11
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    The general standard/quality of figures had been dropping drastically for several years by then, and the awarded marks reflected on that (all under 4.0s). It certainly made things easier for Sumners and co...
    Last edited by matti; 01-11-2012 at 06:20 PM.

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