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  1. #1

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    Article on Dance Lifts (& how dangerous they can be!)

    Article about dance lifts and the challenges and risks involved in learning and performing them - quotes by John & Sinead Kerr, Melissa Gregory, Evan Bates, Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier, and Logan Giulietti-Schmitt: http://www.icenetwork.com/news/artic...&vkey=ice_news
    "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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    Thank you. Really interesting. And it does look dangerous. I don't get how some people who know nothing about figure skating can't understand how difficult it is even when seeing it.

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    Pairs lifts and throws have always been the most dangerous ones but IMO recently dance lifts started to catch up with them. Dance has become acrobatic sports somehow.

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    The technical rules for determining the levels for dance lifts have forced skaters and coaches to use more and more dangerous lifts, which do not necessarily encourage lines and extension and interesting and beautiful shapes. The current trend is contrary to the ideology in ice dance judging body in the 1990s, which did not consider lifts pure blade-on-ice skating and therefore discouraged dance lifts. Lifts are eye-catching and get most applause from nonskating audience, but they have less to do with skating skills than other elements of ice dance.

    Ice dance is always considered an opaque and incomprehensible sport, but ISU's ice dance technical committee is not doing themselves any favors in the way they are handing the rules since IJS implementation. While other disciplines have increased transparency for all parties, ice dance has not been able to achieve the same.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jun Y View Post
    The technical rules for determining the levels for dance lifts have forced skaters and coaches to use more and more dangerous lifts, which do not necessarily encourage lines and extension and interesting and beautiful shapes.
    Nor thematically coherent choreography of the lifts.

    Ice dance is always considered an opaque and incomprehensible sport, but ISU's ice dance technical committee is not doing themselves any favors in the way they are handing the rules since IJS implementation. While other disciplines have increased transparency for all parties, ice dance has not been able to achieve the same.
    Oh, I think the judging for dance is a lot more transparent under IJS than under 6.0 . . . at the expense of so many of the unquantifiable subjective aspects that made the best 6.0 dances so engaging. And, perhaps, also at the expense of danciness.

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    Agree. Dance is pretty much like pairs without the jumps. They're even allowed to do spins now. I remember there used to be a rule that said you can't be apart for more than 5 seconds. I do find it, as a fan, a lot more exciting to watch. But it is not really pure dancing and the line between that and pairs is so blurry now.
    Last edited by leafygreens; 07-13-2012 at 08:00 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gkelly View Post
    Oh, I think the judging for dance is a lot more transparent under IJS than under 6.0 . . . at the expense of so many of the unquantifiable subjective aspects that made the best 6.0 dances so engaging. And, perhaps, also at the expense of danciness.
    Perhaps it is true that ice dance judging under IJS is more transparent than 6.0, but I'd say it is still not transparent to the degree that would inform knowledgeable fans as singles and pairs have done.

    And I agree with you about "the unquantifiable subjective aspects" of the best dance programs. All good skating programs have that quality, but dance tends to have more of them, which is precisely why it is always more difficult to judge ice dance clearly and fairly. Still, can we find a sweet spot between athleticism- and precision-based judging standard and the inevitable subjective judging standard to encourage and reward those unquantifiable but individualistic and personal expression?

    The philosophy of judging ice dance has moved farther and farther toward the goal of objectivity and fairness, which is admirable, but does that mean farther away from aesthetics? Under today's rules, one can choreograph a highly scored free dance program without partners' clean, matching leg and body lines. In fact, to achieve the highest levels in all elements, it seems often preferable to forgo extended and matching lines for the most number of steps and twists.

    I am not even a huge fan of the "danciness" based primarily on ballroom dances. I prefer to see diversity of styles and, most important, a joy of dancing that certainly does NOT equate narrowly defined "uplifting" music and themes. These seem to be missing in what is rewarded as "good ice dancing" by today's rules.
    Last edited by Jun Y; 07-13-2012 at 09:13 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jun Y View Post
    Perhaps it is true that ice dance judging under IJS is more transparent than 6.0, but I'd say it is still not transparent to the degree that would inform knowledgeable fans as singles and pairs have done.
    Doris Pulaski put together some informative posts over at Goldenskate about IJS scoring in ice dance (see http://www.goldenskate.com/forum/for...319-References) that can make us more knowledgeable about how ice dance is scored. The information is in the ISU documentation (http://www.isu.org/vsite/vnavsite/pa...v-list,00.html) but it helps to break it down in fan-friendly examples.

    It's possible to do that for ice dance under IJS in a more systematic way than under 6.0 (except probably for compulsory dances).

    Even the experts under the old system -- officials and coaches and high-level competitors ready to become officials or coaches or commentators after retiring from competition -- had to learn new knowledges to understand the new system. So just being knowledgeable about ice dancing as it had been practiced for decades didn't make one knowledgeable about how dance is judged under IJS.

    But once we inform ourselves of the rules and what we know about the judges' and tech panels' thought processes, we can understand better where the numbers come from in scoring the elements and PCS. More specifically than we ever could under 6.0.

    Of course we might not agree with some specific calls or with specific GOE or PCS numbers that the judges put up.

    And we certainly might not agree that the places where teams can earn the most points are the most important aspects of the programs.

    If we apply 6.0 knowledge to IJS scoring we might disagree more often than we disagree. Even if we understand the IJS scoring completely on its own terms, we might think it values the wrong things and encourages bad dancing or even bad skating.

    But the information is out there to understand much more transparently what's going on than a string of 5.7s and 5.8s and a list of mandatory or discretionary deductions in the rulebook that may or may not have actually been applied in the scores we saw on the scoreboard.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gkelly View Post
    Doris Pulaski put together some informative posts over at Goldenskate about IJS scoring in ice dance (see http://www.goldenskate.com/forum/for...319-References) that can make us more knowledgeable about how ice dance is scored. The information is in the ISU documentation (http://www.isu.org/vsite/vnavsite/pa...v-list,00.html) but it helps to break it down in fan-friendly examples.

    It's possible to do that for ice dance under IJS in a more systematic way than under 6.0 (except probably for compulsory dances).
    First, I do not disagree with the last statement. The 6.0 system was impenetrable and more subjective than IJS. I agree.

    Whether subjective judgment is less fair or less able to accurately assess "good dancing" and "good skating" than a more meticulously articulated and presumably more quantitative system ... I cannot say for sure. A while ago I wrote a post about the limitation of conscious and articulated analysis compared with unconscious snap judgment, which is still not well understood in neuroscience research. There is evidence to suggest that conscious and language-driven analysis may interfere with information processing in the brain and make judgments less accurate instead of more so. But that is perhaps another discussion altogether.

    Second, the meticulously articulated rules, which Doris Pulaski so nicely explained in her post on Golden Skate, does not increase my understanding of some (not all) of the actual decisions from real competitions. The rules themselves are understandable, but that does not necessarily make actual scores from real competitions more understandable or transparent. Many edge calls, level calls, and GOE calls remain unclear to my mind even after reading the rules and dissecting the actual occurrence. It can perhaps be easily explained by the fact that I have not been trained in ice dancing or learned through abundant experience to see the minute details that ice dance judges/specialists see. Glaring differences in quality or mistakes I can see, but there are plenty of scores and decisions that I cannot understand, like the calls on key points in the compulsory patterns that I found utterly baffling at this year's nationals.

    That is what I meant by less transparent than singles and pairs. I can read the words in the rules and they string together nicely and with meaning. However, how these rules are applied by judges and technical panel in real competitions with real skaters, in which the difference is not glaring --- I find the meticulously articulated rules to be not too helpful or clarifying. Perhaps it is not possible to be clear when the difference between competitors is not large. I don't know. Competitions may be too close to call but we never get ties.

    And the rest of what you said about things we might still disagree remain true, but those also are a different conversation from the transparency issue. Whether the IJS rules (even if accurately and correctly applied all the time) encourages or reward wrong things or bad dancing remains unclear. Or perhaps ice dancing itself is a different beast from the sport that these rules are trying to define --- larger, richer, more complex, more vague, more unconscious in its nature. The beast is changing its nature and characteristics under these rules once they are imposed on it. It's not for me to say whether it is growing better or worse. But there is no denying that the rules shape and change the beast. It is not the same beast it was. (Oh yes, please pardon me for calling ice dancing a beast.)
    Last edited by Jun Y; 07-14-2012 at 12:05 AM.

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