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  1. #341
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    Quote Originally Posted by LilJen View Post
    Her dress is gorgeous. Dang on the death spiral. They were not that far off the podium. (Also: can anyone tell me why their SBS spins were called a level 1? Not enough revs in position, or what?)
    To obtain Levels 2-4 on a combination spin in both the short and long, all three basic positions must be obtained for at least two revolutions by both partners at the same time. On the front foot, I counted one revolution by Donlan after she obtained the basic sit (it seemed to take her an extra revolution to fully "sit"); on the back foot, both skaters were "short," but it looks like they're using the back sit as a transition to the difficult upright, so I suspect that was likely deliberate.

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    Thanks. I figured it was something like that--I did notice she took an extra rev to finally get fully into "sit" position. Bummer. But glad they did it here rather than on the GP or at Nationals. Between that and the death spiral, there are at least 5 points they could gain on the tech score.
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    Quote Originally Posted by olympic View Post
    D/C's LP at Nebelhorn: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1SpJ2tPpSwY

    POTO. I think it's funny that he points his toes (on the SBS sit spin) and she doesn't. I guess one of them has taken the dance lessons this summer more seriously than the other But seriously, I didn't expect them to handle this music, but they do a pretty good job
    I noticed that too.

    I think they've improved in speed and power and some positions. I'm just that we get that last pole looking position in 2 lifts. I can't say enough how unattractive it is.

    I was impressed by D/S in spite of the hiccups in the program. They seemed nervous, but really attacked the program. I especially like their step sequence. Her dress is beautiful and Andrew doesn't look too bad himself.

  4. #344
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    Quote Originally Posted by orbitz View Post
    I find the choreography that D/C do as they glide to their starting position to be silly.
    There are very legitimate reasons for skaters to include choreography from their introduction into their starting position. One of those reasons is to establish character - in the mind of both the audience and the skater. However, when skaters break character after the intro choreography and do nervous arm rolls/shoulder shrugs/head shaking, it shatter the illusion far more than if the skaters had just skipped the elaborate intro. If you're going to do it, commit to it and follow through.

    Quote Originally Posted by barbk View Post
    She seems very stiff in lifts, and I am not sure why -- more so than in the Olympics season. She was no Evora then, but lifts seem to be an area where there just isn't a lot of position improvement so far this year, and it certainly doesn't seem because he lacks strength.
    The way you phrased this caught my attention: not a criticism of Denney's lifts, but a query why. I rarely watch skating on youtube and I rarely question technique, but because of how you phrased your question, I watched D&C's long from Nelbenhorn with an eye towards WHY. And it was incredibly obvious once I looked for it. Well, okay, there's three reasons that I can identify.

    First, what does an ideal lift position look like? Let's focus on the traditional "overhead" position, because it's both more technically complex and visually simple than the position in a star lift. I spent almost an hour trying to find a picture online of an overhead lift that showed the girl from behind. Not surprisingly, there aren't any. So we're going to go with this for a lack of other options. Let's go top to bottom: the girl's head is right over her shoulders, with a "long neck" created, in part, by the shoulders. The shoulders are "down," but notice that the girl's shoulder aren't just "down" as they would be in, say, first position: they are being forced down: look at the engagement of the muscles in the right shoulder/collarbone and in the chest/neck area: can you see the tension of the engaged muscles? This isn't accidental: this is a very deliberate engagement of some unusual muscles. To the hips: it's difficult to see from this angle, but her pelvis is turned entirely under so that it's nearly parallel to the ice. From that position, her legs are rotated about 120 degrees from the hip joints; I'm guessing on the angle, but it's well past 90 degrees. However, you'll notice that in the picture, it's difficult to tell that her pelvis is that rotated because her upper body appears to be nearly straight up-and-down - due to a serious, serious arch in the back. Moving on, notice how the girl's right/holding hand is (essentially) parallel to the ice; the boy's right/holding hand is (essentially) parallel to the ice, and his head is between his feet, with his body forming nearly a straight line from head to foot. Now look back up and draw a straight line from the middle of the girl's head down to the ice: your line will bisect the boy's torso and end equidistant between his feet. (I just rewrote that sentence eight times to avoid saying "The girl's head is between his legs." )

    Why are these things important? Obviously, it is kinesthetically efficient for the boy's body to be essentially a straight line: muscles are at their strongest, less stress on the back than if he had an arched back, most balanced position. The heaviest part of the body is the head, so the boy's head should be over his feet for balance - and the girl's head should be over the boy's feet for balance. The position of the pelvis, hips, legs, and heavy boots is also for balance: her center of gravity is directly over the boy (good), but she's distributing her weight over as great a distance as possible, which is also increasing balance.

    Now it's time to try this at home. The quintessential overhead-lift-exercise involves a stable counter that can support your weight without moving (the last part is key!). Put your hands on the edge of the counter: make a triangle with your hands so that your index fingers are touching and your thumbs form the base of the triangle; you kinda want the joint between your index finger and thumb right off the edge of the counter. Now put your thumbs horizontal along the outside of the counter. Next you're going to jump up: you want your elbows bent so that your thumbs end up under your pelvic bone, right along the top of, um, well it's a good thing it's your own hands, right? If you have to - and you'll probably have to - rest your pelvic bone on top of your thumbs. Now I want you experiment, focusing on the weight/pressure that you feel on your hands: try dangling your legs straight down, side-by-side. Now try to pull them to the side: feel the shift in weight? You should feel less pressure on your hands. If you can, hold yourself up so that you're not resting your pelvic bones on your hand: feel the shift in weight again. Are your shoulders up by your ears? Push your shoulders down, actively, while trying to reach the ceiling with the top of your head: feel how the weight/pressure on your hands shifts with each of these changes. Now imagine a grown woman being carried by one hand over the head of a man balanced on a knife's edge, moving at rapid speeds over frozen water. Feel free to ask yourself why anyone thinks it's appealing to do that, and then think about how those shifts in pressure/weight would affect the balance/stability of a lift.

    If you don't have a counter, try lying on your stomach, body flat. Put your hands right above your waist, just to the side of your body, and push up, arching your back. Now rotate your legs from straight behind you/toes-down to legs in nearly a side split, toes rotated forward - and try to arch your back enough so that your head is over your pelvis.

    So let's look at another overhead lift. Some stuff to notice here: the legs are rotated only, maybe 80 degrees? from the hips - but look at a few other things. Let's start by drawing a straight line from the boy's head down to the ice: you should end up in front of his feet. Start at the back of his boots and draw a straight line up: you'll never touch his body again. Next, look at the grasping/holding hands: instead of being parallel with the ice, as in the first picture, the holding hands are almost perpendicular with the ice. This is considerably less solid than the horizontal position, but perhaps more relevant for our discussion, it means that the girl simply can't engage her whatever-muscle-runs-along-the-collarbone. (Sorry, I am two glasses of wine into this post.) In order to engage those muscles that I identified in the first picture, the girl needs to have something to push against: try making a fist with your right hand and placing the fist against your pelvic bone on the right side: hold it parallel to the floor and push into the fist. Now hold it vertical and try to push into the fist: it's simply impossible to engage the chest and neck muscles. (Barrett was a wonderful skater with many positives to his skating, and I admire him deeply as person; his story is incredibly compelling. However, he is probably one of the very worst lifters, if not the single worst lifter, to ever make the Olympic team. Criticism of his posture in lifts was the number one comment that I heard about Jordan/Barrett back in the day; these problems predate Denney.)

    Now, take a closer look at Denney's position in an overhead lift with Barrett and compare it to the comments that I made about the "ideal" overhead position: the arch in her back that so many criticize is actually correct. The "problem" is that Denney may be the single most closed-hip female pair skater that I've ever seen: she is simply incapable of rotating her hips more than she does. Look at Denney in a pair sit, in a pair camel, forward inside death spiral, even in a spiral: her hip bones are always facing straight forward. I would bet decent v-cash that she is simply physically incapable of any meaningful level of turnout.

    Before something says, "Duh, get thee to ballet class": some people are extremely open-hipped, some are extremely closed-hipped, and the vast majority are in between. Within one's natural physical limits, obviously training can help - but this isn't "flexibility" as much as in-born anatomy. There's really only so much one can do, especially for someone like Denney who appears to be at the far-extreme of closed-hips. Although there are obviously disadvantages to being closed-hipped, there are also advantages. It's widely accepted in skating that athletes are very open-hipped (Czisny, McLaughlin) have a harder time maintaining stability on the landing of jumps , while athletes who are closed-hipped (Kwan, Lipinski) have an easier time maintaining stability on jump landings and are less prone to injury. So on one hand, Denney's anatomy likely makes her more consistent on jumps and throws, and less prone to injury, but also unable to achieve the "ideal" turnout on lifts.

    To recap:
    - Denney learned lifts with Barrett, and a number of her habits on lifts are either compensation for his posture (McLaughlin's position would have caused Barrett's weight to be so far over his toes that - without question - she would have fallen forward, over his head, with both skaters going down) or habits that date from that partnership
    - She is innately closed-hipped and nothing she could do in this lifetime is going to change that.

    To add:
    - Some of the positions that Denney obtains, such as in the third/carry lift in this year's long program, are ugly because she's being asked to obtain ugly positions: there's nothing anyone could do to make that transition position in the third lift not look ugly: let's not blame Denney for the stupid "difficult feature" bullet or for doing what she's being told to do.

    Denney could improve her positions, certainly - I think the arch in her back (which is largely "ideal") highlights the lack of rotation in her hips; a straighter position through the back would help disguise it; this is a situation where one "right" and one "wrong" look worse than two "wrongs." Denney and Coughlin's hand position is okay, but I suspect Denney could make friends with a 3-pound weight and strengthen her wrists/forearms. Moreover, I suspect that she doesn't quite "get" the technique of pushing through the parallel fist/collarbone/neck. This isn't something that she could do with Barrett, and honestly, it would be really difficult for a coach to pick up on this by watching real-time practice. I noticed it tonight - for the first time in my life - by looking at still pictures of skaters wearing flesh-colored plunging necklines; I was kinda aware of it, it was something I kinda did because someone kinda told me to do it, but I didn't understand its impact on the entire balance/weight of a lift until tonight when I saw that picture of McLaughlin and started experimenting on my kitchen counters - I would desperately love to try a real lift right now!

    I just realized that - after writing a novel on the girl's overhead lift position - I didn't answer the other part of your question. Why does Denney look stiffer in lifts than she did three seasons ago? Because she is being told by her coach, her monitor, judges, fans, internet message boards, to arch her back and turn out her hips, and she is desperately, desperately trying to do so. Unfortunately, she has a great deal of flexibility in her spine, and while she's able to obtain an "ideal" arch (and is arching harder and harder as the years go by), she'll never be able to obtain "ideal" turnout in her hips. I'd love to see her attempt some lift positions that flatter her anatomy: her platter position is quite pleasing, and I bet a sideways star or a modification of Hinzmann/Parchem's reverse lasso/back layout would look great on her.

  5. #345

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    5Ali3, your analyses are SOOOO helpful and so detailed. You'll make experts of us all if you don't watch out!
    BARK LESS. WAG MORE.

  6. #346
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    5ali3,

    Thanks for the education! Could you please send an email to Dalilah and co. in Colorado Sprs?

  7. #347
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    Donlan/Speroff's 3rd place Nebelhorn FS (102.14): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oev9MmPtaPY
    "Randy [Starkman (1960-April 16, 2012)] lived by the same motto as the rest of us. The Olympics isn’t every four years, it’s every single day. He just got it." --Canadian Olympic kayaker Adam van Koeverden

  8. #348
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    5ali3,
    Thank you.

    I hope you are a coach or a mentor to younger skaters, Your knowledge is incredibly good!

  9. #349

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    Quote Originally Posted by LilJen View Post
    5Ali3, your analyses are SOOOO helpful and so detailed. You'll make experts of us all if you don't watch out!
    ITA!!!

    Thank you for the lift education.

  10. #350

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    Caydee Denney's body is the way it is and there is no changing it now. She has the partner she wants, what she needs it a coach and choreographer who will give her lifts and spins that will play up her strengths and play down her weaknesses. Any good coach would know that; she just doesn't have one. Trying to brand her as the petite ballerina will not work, it's not the body she was born with, John either. Recycling old lifts from their pasts or pasts skaters work either they need to be far more innovating and find what will work for each other. She has really qualities that shine is many of her movements they just aren’t showcased enough.

    They do have great elements like their twist (7.00 to V/T's 6.70) throws and jumps-although I wish they would move some around for more points, this is a sport where points win after all. They got all their levels except for a level 3 lift so they really have nowhere to go in terms of their base value in TES. Not so with the other teams including V/T who were clearly not at their best in Germany.

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    Call me crazy, and I do not want to make this a big issue, because it is so much better, but I think I noticed a difference in both C/D from last year when they stepped on the ice, without even moving. I think Coughlin and Denney have dropped a few pounds, maybe he a little more than her, and they look much much better and are skating better because of it. And yes, their costuming is improved to bring this out, he has a waist! They do need to keep visiting the choreo doctor or ballet school to fix their issues, but I think overall they are improved over last year. She does need to lose the self tanner.

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    Donlan/Speroff are exquisite, and, on a good night, could easily top D/C, the main problem being jump consistency over two, not just one, days of competition. I am sure they are training their brains out.

  13. #353
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    Quote Originally Posted by olympic View Post
    I think it's funny that he points his toes (on the SBS sit spin) and she doesn't. I guess one of them has taken the dance lessons this summer more seriously than the other
    She probably couldn't take enough time away from tanning for dance.

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    5Ali3,
    Superb analysis. Sure wish I could sit beside you at an event. Holy-smoly I would learn a ton!!!!
    Thank you for taking an unbelievable amount of time to make a complex concept so clear. WOWOWOWOW

  15. #355

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lacey View Post
    Donlan/Speroff are exquisite, and, on a good night, could easily top D/C, the main problem being jump consistency over two, not just one, days of competition. I am sure they are training their brains out.
    No offense, It's going to take more than a good night. D/S don't come close to having the difficulty needed to get the points D/C are already pulling in. In Germany in the free skate, they only got a base value twist to D/C Level 3. A 2T, 1A+2T+SEQ, and a Level 1 death spiral. Their TES base value was 48.32 to D/C 56.83. Their jumps are far from their only problem. They even scored 8 points less on PCS. On a perfect night, they still won't beat D/C, not yet.

  16. #356

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    I haven't seen these pairs live. How do the American pairs compare in terms of speed, edge quality, etc., to each other and to the top teams in the world?

  17. #357

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    Quote Originally Posted by julieann View Post
    Their jumps are far from their only problem. They even scored 8 points less on PCS. On a perfect night, they still won't beat D/C, not yet.
    I do agree that they need to sort out their SBS spins and the death spiral, but the PCS deficit is purely due to reputation and lack of technical execution. If the jumps and death spirals came together, those PCS scores would rocket up at least to D/C level. Granted, getting those jumps together is easier said than done...

  18. #358

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    Quote Originally Posted by haribobo View Post
    I do agree that they need to sort out their SBS spins and the death spiral, but the PCS deficit is purely due to reputation and lack of technical execution. If the jumps and death spirals came together, those PCS scores would rocket up at least to D/C level. Granted, getting those jumps together is easier said than done...
    Yes, the PCS will skyrocket once they get some exposure.

    sbs jumps are hugely concerning though. Gretchen just can't rotate a 3t or a 2a. So they are always going to get a UR call on both.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gkelly View Post
    I haven't seen these pairs live. How do the American pairs compare in terms of speed, edge quality, etc., to each other and to the top teams in the world?
    Based on what I saw in January at US Nationals, Denney and Coughlin were noticeably scratchy and slow. Donlan and Speroff were neither slow nor exceptionally fast. Actually the fastest pair there was Evora and Ladwig despite substantial choreography.

  20. #360
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    Alexa Scimeca/Chris Knierim's international debut as a pair team at Cup of Nice/Coupe de Nice was published on USFS' International Assignments page today. This will be Scimeca's first-ever international.

    Also, Castelli/Shnapir and Donlan/Speroff are listed as the 2 pairs being sent to Ice Challenge in Graz, Austria in November.
    Last edited by Sylvia; 10-03-2012 at 12:44 AM.
    "Randy [Starkman (1960-April 16, 2012)] lived by the same motto as the rest of us. The Olympics isn’t every four years, it’s every single day. He just got it." --Canadian Olympic kayaker Adam van Koeverden

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