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  1. #1

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    The expectations of Junior skaters

    I am putting this out there. I have a concern about comments that get made about some of the competitors in the Junior Grand Prix. There seems to be an expectation that these skaters should have the same maturity levels as Senior skaters. However what my concern is that many of these skaters are still quite young and developing skaters and what I am reading in terms of comments that are unfair and sometimes quite nasty. These skaters are doing some amazing stuff for their age and sometimes they are better than the senior skaters they are competing against eg Radionova at Nebelhorn.

    The fact that in the last couple of years the posting by the ISU of the JGP has been a positive step in helping to promote skating and raise the profile of the young skaters. But it has also increased the opportunity for people to be negative and critical (part of the nature of the internet I suppose and maybe the nature of skating fans). I wonder if it is because people are used to seeing Senior skaters so have the same degree of expectation that they think they should be watching skaters who are much more developed than what they are, particularly if they are doing the full arsenel of triple jumps and amazing spins.

    You also have to look at it from the perspective that if you had a child in the sport, would you like to read some of the stuff that gets written? They may never read it, but I know I have steered a couple of parents away from this forum because I tell them they may find some of the comments really distressing if they were to read them about their child. I also look at it from the point of view of member protection and the right to skaters at such young ages to be protected from trollish behaviour in social media.

    These skaters train their little butts off and are out there doing what most of us can't. We probably should appreciate what they can do and not be so quick to criticise for things that may not have happened yet.
    When you are up to your arse in alligators it is difficult to remember you were only meant to be draining the swamp.

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    Re-posting from the Russian news thread in GSD :
    Quote Originally Posted by Jun Y View Post
    Alexandra Proklova has quickly become my favorite among the countless Russian girls on the junior circuits. I find most of the Russian junior girls almost indistinguishable from each other --- they can jump but their choreography tends to be generic and their musicality is immature and superficial. Proklova really stands out. She does not flail or rush. She hits most of the accents in the music. Her expression is precise and purposeful. It doesn't hurt that she also has strong and secure edges and high quality posture. Impressive, especially considering she is only 13. <snip>

    Her most recent performance at JGP CZE:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vo9br...IwotCt2JGySfJA
    Quote Originally Posted by Aussie Willy View Post
    The fact that in the last couple of years the posting by the ISU of the JGP has been a positive step in helping to promote skating and raise the profile of the young skaters. But it has also increased the opportunity for people to be negative and critical (part of the nature of the internet I suppose and maybe the nature of skating fans). I wonder if it is because people are used to seeing Senior skaters so have the same degree of expectation that they think they should be watching skaters who are much more developed than what they are, particularly if they are doing the full arsenel of triple jumps and amazing spins.
    Good points.
    These skaters train their little butts off and are out there doing what most of us can't. We probably should appreciate what they can do and not be so quick to criticise for things that may not have happened yet.
    I think those of us who watch skating at the lower and/or grassroots level understand this. Though we can't dictate what and how people post in this forum/on the Internet, I try and focus on the positive and constructive comments about these young talented skaters.
    Last edited by Sylvia; 10-04-2013 at 04:29 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

  3. #3

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    My issue is with the expectation that junior age skaters show maturity in presentation. I thought RFOS brought up a good point that maturity isn't part of the judging criteria, and it shows bias against skaters who are or look young. Also, how do we even define maturity in skating?

    I'm not sure why we should expect 13/14 year year old skaters (like Radionova) to skate with the maturity and poise that someone like, say, Miki Ando, who is many years their senior and has much more experience in the circuit.

    I personally enjoy seeing young skaters with a lot of joy, fun and enthusiasm that senior skaters sometimes don't show. I also think that some junior skaters can pull of fun numbers that older skaters can't or won't. And I like seeing them develop as well.

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    Aren't the Russian ladies amazing! I remember watching nationals a couple of years ago and some of them were firing off seven triple programs like they were nothing. So many of the girls skate with such freedom.

    I think my favourite lady from that event was Evgenia Medvedeva, who is currently doing very well on the junior circuit.

    Here is her free skate from Nationals in late 2011.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWriPD-MtCk

    Serafima Sakhanovich, who skated in late 2012, was another favourite:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pl_AKA22cG8
    Last edited by essence_of_soy; 10-04-2013 at 07:02 AM.

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    I want to clarify a few things in case this whole thread is targeted at posters like me...

    I respect the opinions of all the posters here, though I admit I felt a sense of different opinions not being welcomed when it came to discussing Radionova at Nebelhorn. Being a devil's advocate, I spoke, though if we actually have an open discussion about skaters, I suspect our opinions are not all that different.

    Just clarifying my own thoughts here:
    First, I think if 14 year olds do not go to the Olympics or worlds, they should not be skating on the grand prix. ISU should amend the rule so that the same age rule applies to all competitions, and this strange age loophole should be closed. I do understand though that skaters like Radionova need to move up asap so another Russian wondergirl can get on the jgp.

    If a 14-year-old decides to compete against older skaters, then they will need to be judged equally like older skaters get judged. Her age should not matter. That of course means that they can beat the older skaters in pcs. e.g. Radionova is deemed to have better expression, then judges should award high marks for interpretation. However, if that skater uses mainly upper body for her expression, then I'd knock her transition score down a bit. Older skaters who may have deep knee bend and better ice coverage should get higher marks in another part of pcs. But the marks in Nebelhorn did not reflect that. The winner gets to have pcs components within less than 1 point of each other. Miki's PCs should be more than 1 point of each other as well. My issue is with the indiscriminate use of pcs -- I think Radionova's pcs should range from 6.5 to 7.75, and Miki's pcs components should also have more variety. But Miki was 4th in the free, that's saying something.
    I think Ashley Cain's ss should be higher than 6.75.

    I have the same issue with the pcs scores at US Figure Skating classic as well, including the pcs that Max Aaron got. Those scores didn't count towards season's best, however.

    I also mentioned some pcs I quibbled with last season. e.g. Osmond's short should get sky high marks for transitions. Wagner's improvement last season was with performance and exec and interpretation, but her SS went up too.

    Speaking of jr skater gush, I adore Sotskova. She actually has choreography and program that sets her apart from the other Russian girls.

    Now back to jr skater gushing.
    Last edited by jlai; 10-04-2013 at 11:50 AM.

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    jlai, I definitely don't think you said anything "nasty" and don't recall seeing any from anyone that I felt rose to that level recently about junior skaters. You make some very good points and clearly know your skating.

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    Quote Originally Posted by oleada View Post
    I'm not sure why we should expect 13/14 year year old skaters (like Radionova) to skate with the maturity and poise that someone like, say, Miki Ando, who is many years their senior and has much more experience in the circuit.
    Radionova has more poise than Ando.............

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    Quote Originally Posted by jlai View Post
    If a 14-year-old decides to compete against older skaters, then they will need to be judged equally like older skaters get judged. Her age should not matter.
    Totally disagree. Just because a young skater is competing in Senior, doesn't mean are then open to whatever people feel like.
    When you are up to your arse in alligators it is difficult to remember you were only meant to be draining the swamp.

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    For what it's worth, jlai, I haven't read any comment from you that's bad.

    Quote Originally Posted by jlai View Post
    Just clarifying my own thoughts here:
    First, I think if 14 year olds do not go to the Olympics or worlds, they should not be skating on the grand prix. ISU should amend the rule so that the same age rule applies to all competitions, and this strange age loophole should be closed. I do understand though that skaters like Radionova need to move up asap so another Russian wondergirl can get on the jgp.
    This loophole has been closed - skaters like Radionova and Lipnitskaia were grandfathered in. Starting next season, skaters will need to be 15 to be on the GP. That means that we'll see Karen Chen, Alexandra Proklova, Evgenia Medvedeva, etc.

    If a 14-year-old decides to compete against older skaters, then they will need to be judged equally like older skaters get judged. Her age should not matter. That of course means that they can beat the older skaters in pcs. e.g. Radionova is deemed to have better expression, then judges should award high marks for interpretation. However, if that skater uses mainly upper body for her expression, then I'd knock her transition score down a bit. Older skaters who may have deep knee bend and better ice coverage should get higher marks in another part of pcs. But the marks in Nebelhorn did not reflect that. The winner gets to have pcs components within less than 1 point of each other. Miki's PCs should be more than 1 point of each other as well. My issue is with the indiscriminate use of pcs -- I think Radionova's pcs should range from 6.5 to 7.75, and Miki's pcs components should also have more variety. But Miki was 4th in the free, that's saying something.
    I think Ashley Cain's ss should be higher than 6.75.
    I think this is a different issue all together from junior skating. It's clear that the judges stick to the corridor and never differentiate. That bugs me too. But it's not just juniors.

    My issue is with people expecting junior skaters to suddenly step into the senior ranks and magically develop artistic skills & presentation that they (some posters) deem worthy as "mature". IMO, Carolina Kostner is one of the most artistic and elegant skaters today, but she wasn't when she first came onto the stage in 2003; she wasn't when she won her first world medal in 2005. It was a long journey and I feel like some posters want immediate results, and later condemn 14, 15 year old skaters for not being mature enough, when really, they may be very talented, but they're still young teens. I don't think they have that emotional range yet, and they're constantly adjusting to changing bodies

    In the case of Radionova, I think, whether you (generic you) like her choreography or not isn't really an issue. Objectively speaking, she has transitions into her jumps; uses the music well; engages the audience and has good (if not great) skating skills and speed. She checks all the boxes for high PCS, and her elements are excellent, hence her high scores. Whether one finds her senior like or mature isn't really something that should count in the PCS, and it's not something that's really mentioned.

    I also think it's okay to be critical of some aspects of juniors skating i.e. saying that Skater A could improve her positions on her spins or that Team B could work on the unison in their spins. This is a discussion board, after all. I just think that those criticisms have to be grounded in the reality that they're developing skaters and they're not skating at the top level yet. I also think it's absolutely NOT okay to demean skaters about things they can't help (for example, I remember a poster calling Polina Shelepen a giraffe, which really bugged me). It's hard being a teen as it is without people picking you apart on the internet.

    It's also really frustrating when skaters do a fun, lighter program and they're called "young". Then they do something more adult, and some feel it's inappropriate. Skating fans are a difficult bunch to please.

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    Maturity lies not in the height or size of the skater, nor her age on paper or the lines on her face. It is the ability to hear the music and express it with meaning and intention that move the audience. We've seen plenty of senior skaters in their 20s who skate without this maturity. However, it is indeed more common for junior/young skaters to blithely rush through music without acknowledging its variations, and that is why rushed and superficial expressions give one the impression of "immaturity." As skaters get older, they don't rush as much, even if for some the expression of music is superficial or unconvincing (I hesitate to call it "faking it"). This is about maturity in skating to music and not about maturity of personality or sense.

    Although I'm no fan of random snarkiness about skaters young or old, I think we'd be wasting our time frowning on snarkiness about young skaters on the Internet. A lot of commentators on the Internet have the maturity of a mosquito (not referring to anyone or any post in particular). We can't expect too much of Internet comments. I think even older skaters should avoid reading random online comments about themselves, because it's completely a waste of time and energy. Young skaters should be utterly forbidden by their guardians and coaches to read about themselves online. What good can possibly come of it? I think it is more than enough that they are judged all the time by real judges at competitions and by people who watch them skate in life and say things to their faces.

    Actually I serious doubt young skaters get on forums like this at all. It's kind of a relic from the "early" Internet age.
    Last edited by Jun Y; 10-04-2013 at 11:32 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aussie Willy View Post
    Totally disagree. Just because a young skater is competing in Senior, doesn't mean are then open to whatever people feel like.
    All I meant is all skaters in the same event are judged by judges under the same criteria. In that sense, age does not matter. Either the skater is skating faster (or more expressive, etc.) than another skater or she's not. It's sport. Older skaters use their bigger frame to their advantage (e.g. more power). Young skaters also can use their bodies to their advantage (e.g. easier rotations, possible fun numbers, etc). Whoever does it better wins.

    I know you have strong feelings about underaged skaters. when it comes to remarks, I think all skaters under 18 should be treated the same way. I don't see how criticizing a 16 year old is any better than criticizing a 14-year old. They are all underaged. So in that sense, my comments on Liza and Radionova or Courtney Hicks would be similar, and I wouldn't say anything about one that I wouldn't say about another. But it wouldn't be because one skates jgp and the other isn't.

    Anyway, since Oleada says the age loophole has been closed (Thx Oleada for the clarification), so to me this will be a total non-issue next year, since juniors will be compared as a group from now on.

    Quote Originally Posted by oleada View Post
    My issue is with people expecting junior skaters to suddenly step into the senior ranks and magically develop artistic skills & presentation that they (some posters) deem worthy as "mature".
    To me judging a younger skater against much older skaters is tough. For me, the classic example is Nathan Chen. When he competed in novice against older skaters, I thought his lack of power and speed stood out, and with his mistake he was lucky to win novice in 2010. But next year, he acquired a lutz, a flip and a triple loop, and he got all those crazy transitions in that piano long program. He blew everyone away, hands down, despite his size and lack of power.
    Next year, he did a fun number in the short in jrs but he really skated like a kid who accidentally competed in jrs. He lost that short to Dolensky, but he turned around and did an amazing Godfather program with all those jumps and supercrazy footwork towards the end. He deservedly won, despite age, power, or whatever issue.

    Thx for the info, again.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jun Y View Post
    Maturity lies not in the height or size of the skater, nor her age on paper or the lines on her face. It is the ability to hear the music and express it with meaning and intention that move the audience. We've seen plenty of senior skaters in their 20s who skate without this maturity. However, it is indeed more common for junior/young skaters to blithely rush through music without acknowledging its variations, and that is why rushed and superficial expressions give one the impression of "immaturity."
    Maybe that could change though if the young ones wouldn't be "slapped" with all that heavy classical music but with music they can actually relate to? I do recall there were people critisizing Lipinski for using Anastasia for her SP as they considered it too childish... She was fifteen for heaven's sake. She was still a child. And I think she did a fabulous job of relating to the music.
    There certainly are skaters who can relate to classical music from an early age on but there are also those who can not and no one, I think, can then expect of them to actually express the music.
    I wonder though how much of that is the fault of the media and judges, expecting that (wrong) kind of maturity of skaters?!

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    Quote Originally Posted by jlai View Post
    All I meant is all skaters in the same event are judged by judges under the same criteria. In that sense, age does not matter. Either the skater is skating faster (or more expressive, etc.) than another skater or she's not. It's sport. Older skaters use their bigger frame to their advantage (e.g. more power). Young skaters also can use their bodies to their advantage (e.g. easier rotations, possible fun numbers, etc). Whoever does it better wins.

    I know you have strong feelings about underaged skaters. when it comes to remarks, I think all skaters under 18 should be treated the same way. I don't see how criticizing a 16 year old is any better than criticizing a 14-year old. They are all underaged. So in that sense, my comments on Liza and Radionova or Courtney Hicks would be similar, and I wouldn't say anything about one that I wouldn't say about another. But it wouldn't be because one skates jgp and the other isn't.
    I totally agree that if you are competing with senior skaters you get judged under the same criteria. My problem is what people expect a junior skater to be and that they should be the same as a senior skater when in fact they are not. However I do think that some people don't understand about the development process and are then too quick to criticise. And I agree with how skaters under 18 are viewed too and I think you make a very good point in that regard.

    Being involved in the administration of the sport here I am very aware of member protection too and the use of social media. As I said if you had a kid skating, would you like to read some of the stuff that gets written? As a judge too I deal with skaters all the time and you have to be very careful about how you give feedback. Of course you have to talk to a young skater differently than you can talk to an adult skater. And also here in Australia people on this forum do know me. That makes me ever more careful about what I write about skaters because you never know who it can get back to.
    When you are up to your arse in alligators it is difficult to remember you were only meant to be draining the swamp.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ballettmaus View Post
    Maybe that could change though if the young ones wouldn't be "slapped" with all that heavy classical music but with music they can actually relate to? I do recall there were people critisizing Lipinski for using Anastasia for her SP as they considered it too childish... She was fifteen for heaven's sake. She was still a child. And I think she did a fabulous job of relating to the music.
    There certainly are skaters who can relate to classical music from an early age on but there are also those who can not and no one, I think, can then expect of them to actually express the music.
    I wonder though how much of that is the fault of the media and judges, expecting that (wrong) kind of maturity of skaters?!
    I totally agree with and much prefer age-appropriate programs and music selection and choreography. When a young skater really relates to the music he or she skates to, the youthful exuberant is infectious. For adults to impose their concept of superficial maturity that comes with a label of classical music, I say it is the adults who don't understand what maturity is. It's potentially creepy to have a young person express/perform to music or theme that is too adult, sort of like little girls' beauty pageants.

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    The fact that in the last couple of years the posting by the ISU of the JGP has been a positive step in helping to promote skating and raise the profile of the young skaters.
    I don't see promotion of juniors as a positive step at all. So many skaters who were competitive as juniors have not succeeded as seniors that I don't see any point, as fan, of getting very interested in any junior skaters (beyond watching the medalists at jr worlds). I especially think coaches do them a disservice to think that success at juniors means they will be ready to contend for a senior podium in a year or so. Sure there have been some examples, but more often than not they struggle for a top 10 finish (or to even make the national team), which must be pretty discouraging.

    It also saddens me to see these kids subjected to international scrutiny and criticism. I especially dislike the notion that juniors should skate with the polish and presentation of seniors, especially since it seems to have led coahes and choreographers to ask them to look, pose and vamp like adults. I don't want to see 13 yo girls looking like they want to get laid, nor to I want to see them flapping their arms like they think they are Pavlova. I agree with something Dick Button said years ago. At this age they should be working on getting their technique solid. The frills and furbelows can be applied later.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jun Y View Post
    I totally agree with and much prefer age-appropriate programs and music selection and choreography. When a young skater really relates to the music he or she skates to, the youthful exuberant is infectious. For adults to impose their concept of superficial maturity that comes with a label of classical music, I say it is the adults who don't understand what maturity is. It's potentially creepy to have a young person express/perform to music or theme that is too adult, sort of like little girls' beauty pageants.
    Precisely. I see the same thing with younger groups of dance competitors. Bad choices make for weird disconnects between the skater/dancer's maturity and what would really work with the music.

    OTOH, when there is a complete disconnect with the music -- or trite -- "Egyptian" choreography, then the routine can reasonably be criticized for this whether or not the skater is a junior.

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