If her early results are any indication, Tonya was more accepted by international judges than her own country.
The USFSA wanted their skaters to be princess - packaged like Sumners and Fleming. Even skaters like Zayak caught a lot of heat for being too athletic. Tonya, with her fireball presence, was closer to Manley and Ito.
As an aside, I always wondered if there hadn't been the scandal, how Harding would have done in Lillehammer had she skated clean. My guess is that with the amazing short program she produced at Skate America 1993, and with a 5 or 6 triple free, she could have taken silver or bronze.
Yes, and thanks for the clip. As already noted, Tonya did perform transitions during her crossovers, but fine, or not so fine that she could have worked on eliminating her short strides. I don't think this "failing" was due to any lack of "skating skills," but more perhaps lack of attention to improving that aspect of her skating. Same goes for Tonya's footwork, as also previously noted by another poster. In any case, when does a learned habit cross the line from a unique characteristic to a deleterious fault? Wonderful clip of Mao, but again her style is quite different altogether anyway. No one skates like Mao, and despite her absolute loveliness and her light ethereal qualities, Mao is not a perfect skater either. I love her nonetheless. And, I've always enjoyed Tonya's skating, tho' not so much her personality.
Originally Posted by Vagabond
Still, re Vagabond's comments: ISU, rehabilitate, not humiliate!
I wonder if the "poor" young girl cited in the lack of "sureness" clip was ever able to live it down, or at least learn how to be more sure!
I love that Delobel/ Schoenfelder clip. D**n right, they were SURE and confident in their skating! But that side-by-side of good/bad ice dance teams. Oh well, maybe the "poor" skaters cited learn from being singled out so demonstratively. And if it helps train clueless judges ... Still, better to use someone other than Harding for the "poor" flow example. And yeah, stop pickin' on lady backflip!
Last edited by aftershocks; 10-07-2012 at 11:41 AM.
I think the point is that in that particular clip Harding showed weaker flow in her skating than in other skaters we might compare to -- such as Asada -- so we can see the difference between good and not-so-good flow.
That doesn't mean that Harding never showed better flow than in that clip, or that she didn't have other strengths to her skating, or that her skating skills in general were "poor" in the greater scheme of things.
Just that flow is a quality judges should be looking for, and if you're not sure what we mean by that term, here are contrasting clips of two world-medalist skaters, one for whom this particular quality was not a strong point and one for whom it was.
Not to say this is a good skater, this is a bad skater. There are lots of other criteria under Skating Skills not to mention all the other components as well, and they're all on a continuum, not either/or good/bad. Since most of the examples are from elite skaters, in most cases they will be between good and not-so-good, but few as outright bad as would be seen at lower levels.
Surely if the videos had been made in 1991 or 92, Harding would have been included in more clips to make other points as well, hopefully some positive as well as negative.
For examples of good flow among skaters Harding competed against, I guess I'd choose Yuka Sato, or Jill Trenary if we need an American.
Tonya's skating certainly was exciting, and in hindsight, I think her collection of jumps has the most bang of any lady ever. Maybe Midori's triple axel and triple toe-triple toes were more dynamic, but when you account for all six types of triples, I think Tonya had the most height, ice coverage, and speed coming out.
I didn't agree with most people who bashed Tonya's presentation half, though she didn't have the best choreography. As some on FSU have noted, just look at some of her programs from the 80s and marvel at how complete a package she was.
I'm grateful that I got to watch the last few years of Tonya's career on TV as they were happening, and I certainly enjoy turning to her programs more than those of most of her contemporaries.
The U.S. was packed with talent in the early 90s in the ladies' field, wasn't it?!
Just a note regarding abusive parents at the rink. There was a skater, Michelle Cho, the '93 Jr. Camp [and I believe she won the Novice title also], who was being abused by her mother and grandmother for not landing jumps. She was a student of John Nicks. One day she had had enough and asked a skating parent for help. That parent called Child Services and they took Michelle away. She never skated again and I don't know what her future was. But, at least someone had the courage to act.
Yeah, when you can have five different ladies on the podium at two consecutive Worlds, the talent field is obscenely deep
Originally Posted by Plusdinfo
Wow. How old was she? My thought about Michelle Cho is that she sets a good example for youth in taking action when your living situation becomes unacceptable. And good for the other parent she went to for not trying to "smooth things over" but instead taking decisive action.
Originally Posted by muffinbiscuit
Not to mention the American ladies sweeping the Worlds podium in 1991 (partly due to Ito falling out of the rink during her short program).
Originally Posted by Proustable
I appreciate your comments gkelly. The clip used by ISU is not as bad in context as Aussie Willy's comments implied. Certainly, Tonya's skating skills are not as "poor" as implied either. Interestingly, I don't think such videos would have been utilized circa 1991 and 1992, because in my estimation the sport was in a holding pattern of sorts. TPTB seemed to never address issues re rules, training, judging practices, etc., over the years until scandals hit the fan and they were more or less forced to make changes.
For example, creation of the short program in 1973 to deal with the outcry over Janet Lynn's singles skating majesty vs Trixi Schuba's genius at tracing figures. And, the infamous 2002 Olympic scandal which led to all the current problems with CoP. If they had paid attention much sooner to the inadequacies of the former judging system (which had not been substantially changed or thoroughly examined for decades), there would have been more time and opportunity to address and apply changes with a great deal more analysis, testing and foresight, rather than ramming a system into place so fast that it has adversely impacted the sport. Yes, IJS/CoP is not completely bad, but it is disastrous in subtle and not so subtle ways. They made a mistake rushing a revolutionary and untried system into place that has had to constantly be retooled, rethought and re-legislated season after season.
In 1990, largely because of the demands of television, the sport completely did away with figures. I feel they should have considered keeping it as a separate discipline, and also requiring skaters to continue practicing figures as part of their training, and simply eliminate figures as a singles event in competitions. Why is Patrick Chan so scary good with his edges, stroking and flow? As we all know, because his coaches made him practice figures (and also because he just has a gift too, of course ). But still he might not be so stratospherically great with skating skills if he hadn't been made to practice figures. I doubt there would be so many current problems with skaters flutzing and lipping, if they all had been required to practice figures as part of their overall training.
During Tonya's era and even decades before, there wasn't that much detailed scrutiny IMO by either judges or fans, as there is today re the finer technical aspects of skating. Fans are so much more knowledgeable (largely because of the explosion of the Internet, and as well the startling consistency of the legendary Michelle Kwan -- her consistency lent itself to a detailed examination by fans of the finer points of her skating). Being able to watch and re-watch videos allowed us to distinguish more clearly between all of the jumps and the in-betweens, the spins, the stroking and edging, and the technical requirements of launching into jumps. We have also been able to look back at skating through the years which has provided us with an even more profound perspective.
Obviously, the new rules and scoring fluctuations require that judges be more knowledgeable and that they learn how to assess what skaters do on the ice with greater insight and clarity. And again, in fs, the challenge of judging fairly will always be complicated by subjectivity and politics.
Overlong post but I have a lot to say on the subject ...
Last edited by aftershocks; 10-07-2012 at 10:34 PM.
Still, I wonder why it was necessary to make a comparison between skaters who skated in different eras for this particular demonstration of flow. Also, why the emphasis on the "poor" example having to be that of a former medalist? Again, IMHO, historically and currently there is not a great deal of good judgment being utilized by TPTB in their decision-making processes, even on the level of simply putting together training videos for judges. They should correct their mistake by actually showing the aspects of Harding's skating where she excelled, or just don't use her at all as an example of anything. After all, if I was "banned for life" from a sport, believe me I would NOT be happy about old videos being shown of my skating to demonstrate "poor" flow. At best, it was "poor" judgment to use a clip of her skating in a negative light. At worst, it could be described as "petty."
Thanks muffinbiscuit for sharing that story. A good thing that the young skater was able to find the courage to ask someone for help and that she was removed from her abusive home. Perhaps she never wished to skate again due to the possible bad memories she may have associated with training at the rink. Too bad for Tonya that she was not "removed" from the dangerous abuse she suffered. Yes, it was a different era that Tonya grew up in.
Originally Posted by muffinbiscuit
I don't recall if it was ever proven that Tonya encouraged the "whacking" herself, or whether her former husband came up with the idea and talked her into it. Either way, she was victimized throughout her young life, and she seemed to respond with toughness, rebelliousness and sheer stupidity. Skating was likely a port in the storm for her. It could have been a way out and a ticket to salvation, but in the end that possibility was thwarted for her too. In a complicated way, altho' she felt threatened by her competition, it was her abusive mother, replaced by her abusive husband who was the real threat.
I don't know whether Tonya has learned anything by what has happened to her either. It may have been better not to "ban" her, but to embrace her, to forgive her, and to help her forgive herself; to help her discover that she was/ is worthy, that her life had/ has value and meaning, that she didn't have to distrust everyone and fight with everyone and throw away her gifts. The exploitative nature of our culture combined with the fears and disdain of the skating community helped seal the lid on the trash can.
I remember Michelle - was trying to recall her name a couple of weeks ago! I trial judged at 92 (?) Sectionals, where she was one of the top Novice ladies. She was breathtaking. I figured her for one of the new stars. Much more exciting than Kwan, who I think was a Junior that year.
Originally Posted by muffinbiscuit
I remember being devastated when I heard about her home life, and that she'd left the sport. But glad she was rescued.
Back to Tonya, she may have had shorter stride in her crossovers, but the power she generated in them was unreal. They never worked with her on lengthening them because, IMO, they didn't feel they needed to. It wasn't an issue back then, if one could display the power she did.
Well, if you look at the Harding video RFOS posted earlier, she had much deeper crossovers at the beginning of that program, going into her spiral sequence. So I really do think it makes a difference which performance, and which part of the performance, you look at.
^^ Sure, but once again why use Tonya Harding at all as an example in contrast with a skater from the current era? If anything, they should be contrasting Mao's lovely "flow" with an example of a current skater who has "poor" flow, and not reach back into the 1990s to pick on a former World medalist who actually did not have "poor" skating skills. Yes, Tonya's short stride tendency was an aspect of her skating that could have received more attention, but it wasn't considered important to correct back then. In particular, why not just leave Tonya Harding alone at this point. News flash: She was banned from the sport for life.
Originally Posted by Jasmar
I saw Cho skate live at the 1994 National Championships in Detroit, and she was wonderful. I always wondered why she disappeared almost immediately after that event.
It reminds me of the gymnast, Dominique Moceanu, and how she gained legal independence from her parents at 17. Her autobiography is quite the read, too.
^^ Was it emotional or physical abuse that Moceanu suffered, as the reason why she sought legal independence from her parents?
According to Wiki:
Originally Posted by aftershocks
In late 1998, Moceanu left home and sued for legal emancipation from her parents in order to regain control of the money she had earned as a professional gymnast. In the resulting court case and television interviews, she stated that her father had squandered her sizable earnings and had an abusive, controlling nature. The court approved her petition for emancipation and control of her finances.
She eventually reconciled with both of her parents.
Because you would be hard pressed to find a subsequent singles skater of either sex with similar accomplishments whose flow was as poor as Harding's. The only one I can think of off-hand is Bonaly, who is also used as an example of a skater with weak skating skills.
Originally Posted by aftershocks
Because it shows that even highly accomplished skaters can have particular weaknesses. If you watch those ISU videos, you'll see that most of the examples of skaters "poor" component skills are former World or Olympic medalists.
Originally Posted by aftershocks
By the way, I strongly suspect Tonya Harding is a big girl now and can take being used as an example of someone whose had one or two deficiencies without getting unduly upset.
Last edited by Vagabond; 10-08-2012 at 03:55 PM.
- Rep Power
I don't think it's realistic to compare a 90s video of Tonya/Surya to a 00's video of Mao. Tonya may not have been a Mao but I don't think she was a horrendous skater. In fact, Nancy's choreo was pretty cheesy at times.
Originally Posted by aliceanne
I read her book which goes into much greater detail of the abuse she suffered. She was physically and verbally abused by dad, verbally abused by Bela, and her father took almost all of the $1 million she earned from tour, built the "Taj Mahal" of gyms. Nobody wanted to train there because of all of their family problems, so Dom found a lawyer to help her barely rescue the gym from foreclosure (it was rented to a corporation then sold) but all the money was lost. When Dom moved out her dad stalked her and would follow her home from classes and call her nonstop. At one point her father even put a death threat against her and her coach and they had to go into hiding. It turned out to be hot air but they thought he might be serious because of his history of abuse. It was really heartbreaking to read about how Bela treated her. One time she was caught with Mentos (candy off limits) hidden in her dorm room. Bela called dad, and dad hit Dom in the face, in front of both Bela and Marta, who just stood there smirking.
Originally Posted by aftershocks
Last edited by leafygreens; 10-08-2012 at 03:25 PM.
Last edited by bardtoob; 10-08-2012 at 08:26 PM.
Originally Posted by leafygreens
Not to mention her INCREDIBLY strong edges, wonderful MITF, and fast and exciting spins for her time - some of her spin positions were so unique. I loved Tonya's skating and I am surprised that she would ever be used as an example of poor flow. And I agree that comparing skaters from different eras with completely different judging systems is ludicrous.
Originally Posted by lulu
Last edited by pollyanna; 10-08-2012 at 07:19 PM.