Newbie and/or dumb questions

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Figure skating is a sport that can be difficult to understand. Even if you know the basics such a moves in the field and how tell jumps apart it's still very complex and there are many things that you may not know if you haven't followed the sport for a while, or maybe you've been following for so long that it's embarrassing to ask at this point, whatever the case let's ask without judgment :)

I personally have lots of questions and I figure I'm not the only one so I created this thread in hopes everyone can ask without feeling embarrassed and people who know the answers can share their knowledge :)

I'll start: why is the ladies' component factor lower than the men's? shouldn't they be the same?
 
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gkelly

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I'll start: why is the ladies' component factor lower than the men's? shouldn't they be the same?
My understanding of the reasoning is that the ISU wanted the total points available in TES and PCS to be approximately equivalent. Some skaters might excel in one significantly more than the other, but on average a balanced skater would have similar totals in both scores.

The PCS factors were set 15 years ago, and the base values haven't changed that much since then although quad and 3A values have gone up and down a couple of times.

The jump content that the top men have been including only in the last 3 or 4 years has started to far outstrip what the IJS developers anticipated, so the TES is often far higher than PCS for the top men even if they are well-balanced, well-rounded skaters. (And also for the mid-range men who are better at jumping than at skating and performance.)

So far there has been some chatter about raising the component factor for men, but no serious move to do so. Removing one of the jump passes from the freeskate may have been one way to mitigate the imbalance.

For any ladies who are including 8 triples including 3A, or any quads, the balance can also tip significantly toward the TES for well-rounded skaters.

If more ladies start including that kind of jump content, and/or if the factor is raised higher for the men, then there may also be a move to raise it for the ladies.

In general, though, if the average male skater at each general skill level continues to include more difficult technical content with higher base values than average female skaters at comparable levels, and if the component factor were the same value for both disciplines, then PCS with equal factors for both sexes would end up constituting a larger proportion of the total score for women than for men.

Would that be a good thing or a bad thing?

Is it appropriate reward men more, relative to other men, for more objective, more athletic and technical skills and women more for more subjective performance-oriented skills? Such unequal emphases for men and women would reinforce stereotypes about which kinds of skills are most valued for each gender.

On the other hand, using the same higher PCS factor for women would make their total scores higher across the board and thus make it seem, looking at total scores or total PCS only, as though there is more parity between the sexes by scoring them on the same scale.

Of course, if men and women ever compete head to head in the same competition, such a co-ed competition would need to use the same factors for all.
 
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Tony Wheeler

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I think the idea was to make it as close to 50:50 as they could—as @gkelly has already mentioned. We are seeing a few ladies eclipse the 80-point mark technically, although Kihira with her two triple Axel-skate at NHK was only at 87 so I think the factor for the ladies is still fine as the majority fit into this 80-or-so being an absolutely amazing technical performance.

The problem with the men is that there is such a big difference in content between the top group or so of men and the rest of the field. Some guys can and will land 5 quads in a free skate this season, while others are going to make the free skate at Worlds without a quad at all. You can’t increase the PCS for the men to 1.2/2.4 or whatever to only benefit the 2 or 3 men with potential to be way over 100 technically.

In all honesty, I think I’m alright with where the PCS is at currently.
 
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gkelly

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You can’t increase the PCS for the men to 1.2/2.4 or whatever to only benefit the 2 or 3 men with potential to be way over 100 technically.
The competitive benefit of increasing the men's PCS factor would be to help the guys with only quad toe and/or quad sal but top-notch skating and presentation vs. those with four or five quads.

Or those with no quads and strong skating/presentation vs. those with one or two but only average skating/presentation.
 

Tony Wheeler

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The competitive benefit of increasing the men's PCS factor would be to help the guys with only quad toe and/or quad sal but top-notch skating and presentation vs. those with four or five quads.

Or those with no quads and strong skating/presentation vs. those with one or two but only average skating/presentation.
But then again, we know that multiple quads/skating near the end/etc. leads to judges sometimes seeming to go overboard with their PCS.

One thing IMO that needs to be looked at is the cap on PCS scores this season for programs with a major error and/or fall. I get the premise, but dropping all of the scores to a 90.50 max FS score (45.25 SP) means we are actually seeing the top men clumped even closer together than before. My theory is that the excellent skaters that were going to get mid to high-8’s will still get those scores with mistakes, but the few skaters who were maybe 9.50 or so get hit really hard for the same errors, and then the separation might only be a few points PCS-wise.
 
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Let's see if I get it. Since men tend to have higher TES because of quads and triples and everything else, the factor for men needs to be higher so the PCS can match the TES in a sort of 50-50 way.

Is that right?
 

Tony Wheeler

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Let's see if I get it. Since men tend to have higher TES because of quads and triples and everything else, the factor for men needs to be higher so the PCS can match the TES in a sort of 50-50 way.

Is that right?
Yes, that’s what the ISU was going after in 2003- obviously there have been a lot of changes since not only in the values of the elements but the way they are scored, and the technical bar has also recently been raised in a big way in the last three years. I think they are always trying to find that balance and, for the most part, it’s in a good place right now.
 
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Thanks @Tony Wheeler and @gkelly for explaining.

This actually leads me to my other Burning Question: why is it that the ladies field has lagged behind the men's in terms of technical difficulty?

As far as I understand the triple axel has kind of been a "requirement" for the top men in the field since the 80s maybe? Whereas in the ladies field it was kind of a rarity until recently and certainly not a requirement (yet) to be among the top in the field.

Obviously part of the reason is exactly that, since it's not necessary to have it to win, many ladies don't need to train it.

I guess my real question would be: is there something about being a woman that makes it particularly challenging to do the three rotations? Why aren't more ladies doing them?
 
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gk_891

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Thanks @Tony Wheeler and @gkelly for explaining.

This actually leads me to my other Burning Question: why is it that the ladies field has lagged behind the men's in terms of technical difficulty?

As far as I understand the triple axel has kind of been a "requirement" for the top men in the field since the 80s maybe? Whereas in the ladies field it was kind of a rarity until recently and certainly not a requirement (yet) to be among the top in the field.

Obviously part of the reason is exactly that, that there aren't as many ladies that can do a triple axel and thus it's not necessary to have it to win.

I guess my real question would be: is there something about being a woman that makes it particularly challenging to do the three rotations? Why aren't more ladies doing them?
In the youtube video below, there's a comment about how men's centre of gravity is higher than women's which enables easier turning. I have no idea if that's true but if it is, that could be one factor.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jvz3F4HP170
 

oleada

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Unrelated to any of the above, ilovecatsandfs is the most appropriate username for this forum. After skating, cats are the single most unifying love for members of this forum.
 

Japanfan

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Thanks @Tony Wheeler and @gkelly for explaining.

This actually leads me to my other Burning Question: why is it that the ladies field has lagged behind the men's in terms of technical difficulty?

As far as I understand the triple axel has kind of been a "requirement" for the top men in the field since the 80s maybe? Whereas in the ladies field it was kind of a rarity until recently and certainly not a requirement (yet) to be among the top in the field.

Obviously part of the reason is exactly that, since it's not necessary to have it to win, many ladies don't need to train it.
I think you answered your own question.

During the Kwan era there a number of years when women weren't commonly attempting 3-3s - for the same reason: they didn't have to.

I guess my real question would be: is there something about being a woman that makes it particularly challenging to do the three rotations? Why aren't more ladies doing them?
In the youtube video below, there's a comment about how men's centre of gravity is higher than women's which enables easier turning. I have no idea if that's true but if it is, that could be one factor.
If what gk_891 says is true (not convinced of that - a lot of women land a lot of triples successfully), then I would think a training regime different to that of men would be required.

The ladies have demonstrated that it is entirely possible for women to land the 3A. IMO it again comes down to training.
 
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Skate Talker

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iirc it may also have something to do with mechanics and the shape of women's hips as they mature being less than ideal for achieving the additional 1/2 rotations of the triple axel, and full rotation of the quads. If this is true, it also explains why we see more of these jumps from the very young ladies.

Since men don't have that happening, the increase in muscle power as they mature may actually make it easier to maintain or get their quads at a more advanced age.

Of course I may be wrong....
 

Orm Irian

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iirc it may also have something to do with mechanics and the shape of women's hips as they mature being less than ideal for achieving the additional 1/2 rotations of the triple axel, and full rotation of the quads. If this is true, it also explains why we see more of these jumps from the very young ladies.

Since men don't have that happening, the increase in muscle power as they mature may actually make it easier to maintain or get their quads at a more advanced age.

Of course I may be wrong....
I'm not necessarily sure that hip shape is the deciding factor - if you look at the adult women who've done the triple axel, especially over longer periods of time (Ito, Harding, Tuktamysheva etc), the thing they tend to have in common is not so much narrow hips as strong/muscular thighs. But as women's skating in particular has developed to favour triple-triples that rely on very strong calf muscles, and a particular long(ish), lean body shape that's considered elegant, I suspect there's been a pair of intersecting disincentives for adult women to build up their thigh strength enough to power through the 3A. The younger skaters working on 3As now can try to get through it with their faster rotations, but the question is open as to whether that technique will still work when they've grown more and their body shapes have changed, or if they'll need to add power too.
 

gkelly

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I'm not necessarily sure that hip shape is the deciding factor - if you look at the adult women who've done the triple axel, especially over longer periods of time (Ito, Harding, Tuktamysheva etc), the thing they tend to have in common is not so much narrow hips as strong/muscular thighs.
I always thought it was more about a stronger upper body. But I'm no biomechanics expert.
 

jiejie

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I guess my real question would be: is there something about being a woman that makes it particularly challenging to do the three rotations? Why aren't more ladies doing them?
I have heard from some coaches that a major physiological issue is not just female curves, but also less upper body strength of the average woman vs the average man, proportional to weight. A lot of people don't realize that the chest, shoulders, arms play a big role in getting the extra height needed to accomplish 3.5 (triple axel) and 4 rotations (quads). If you think about it in physics terms, it's really a force-gravity type of equation. With natural development of the hip area (heaviest part of the body) at puberty and just after, the female center of gravity drops lower and increases the lifting power needed to hoist the center of gravity higher. And that differential lifting power tends to come from the upper body, not the legs. Hopefully this makes sense.

This would suggest that upper body strength training would be a valuable component for young women wanting to achieve the triples (axel especially and the quad) with any sort of consistency.

With respect to the triple axel, yes there does seem to be similarities in body type when you look at Ito, Harding, Tuktamysheva, (Yukari) Nakano, and now Kihira. They are all relatively compact and muscular (vs thin and willowy) but also strong in the upper body as well as their legs. When Harding was in her prime and fit, she could probably benchpress a bus.

As for quads, right now you have the small stature/slight build ones like Trusova and maybe Scherbakova able to do the rotation and sometimes land cleanly....but only because they are exceedingly quick with rotation. I don't expect them to be able to keep this ability once they undergo puberty.
 
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D

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Men have 5-10% stronger muscles (meaning same amount of muscles are still stronger in men), more muscle mass in percentage and less fat percentage. Elite skaters of both sexes are all more or less perfect for their sport so there will always be these differences. Two different competitions and very futile and pointless to compare. I'll still watch Zagitova skate over any of the men every day :)
 

Elisheba

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I have a dumb question about ice dance. How do the ladies stand on their partners thighs without cutting them with their blades?
 

eonice

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I have a dumb question about ice dance. How do the ladies stand on their partners thighs without cutting them with their blades?


I recall it being mentioned that they get bruises though.
 
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missing

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Do skaters know they've underrotated a jump as they land it (or immediately thereafter), or are they genuinely surprised when they get called for it?
 

SmallFairy

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Do skaters know they've underrotated a jump as they land it (or immediately thereafter), or are they genuinely surprised when they get called for it?
I feel it right away when I land, but I'm only doing singles and that's for sure not the same thing as triples and quads ;) Anyone with better knowledge/experience?
 

skateycat

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While the NBC broadcast of GPF was showing the men's event, Young Skateycat asked me if there were such a thing as a perfect score what the highest possible score was. I started with it depends, and then my brain just went tilt thinking about how to explain the scoring system in a simple way.

So I will ask you to help me describe the current scoring system to a bright 12 year old. Thanks!
 

kittysk8ts

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Do skaters know they've underrotated a jump as they land it (or immediately thereafter), or are they genuinely surprised when they get called for it?
It likely depends on how much it was under rotated, but yes, they know. I would say occasionally they are taken by surprise.
 

missing

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What exactly are skating skills and how do skaters acquire them?
 

lala

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What exactly are skating skills and how do skaters acquire them?
If you don't like a skater you can say she/he has bad skating skills..:p totally irrelevant that is true or not because most of the figure skating fans don't know what are those skills or can't recognize it.. Sometimes you can read how great those SS are and how weak those are in case of same skater..:lol: And you can be sure the fans can more accurately judge it as the judges..:slinkaway
 

gkelly

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What exactly are skating skills
From the current ISU rulebook:

Skating Skills
Defined by overall cleanness and sureness, edge control and flow over the ice surface demonstrated by a command of the skating vocabulary (edges, steps, turns etc.), the clarity of technique and the use of effortless power to accelerate and vary speed.
In evaluating the Skating Skills, the following must be considered:
• Use of deep edges, steps and turns;
• Balance, rhythmic knee action and precision of foot placement;
• Flow and glide;
• Varied use of power, speed and acceleration;
• Use of multi directional skating;
• Use of one foot skating.
A bit more detail from the Program Components With Explanations document that used to be posted on the ISU site:

Definition: Over all skating quality: edge control and flow over the ice surface demonstrated by a command of the skating vocabulary (edges, steps, turns, etc), the clarity of technique, and the use of effortless power to accelerate and vary speed.

Criteria:
Balance, rhythmic knee action, and precision of foot placement
Flow and effortless glide
Rhythm, strength, clean strokes, and an efficient use of
lean create a steady run to the blade and an ease of
transfer of weight resulting in seemingly effortless power
and acceleration.
Cleanness and sureness of deep edges, steps, and turns
The skater should demonstrate clean and controlled
curves, deep edges, and steps.
Varied use of power/energy, speed, and acceleration
Variety is the gradation – some of which may be subtle
Multi directional skating
Includes all direction of skating: forward and backward,
clockwise and counterclockwise including rotation in
both directions.
Mastery of one foot skating
No over use of skating on two feet.

Pair Skating and Ice Dancing: Equal mastery of technique by both partners shown in unison.

Ice Dancing: Compulsory Dance – Ice Coverage
and how do skaters acquire them?
Training. Stroking exercises, edge exercises, etc.
 
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Rhino

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While the NBC broadcast of GPF was showing the men's event, Young Skateycat asked me if there were such a thing as a perfect score what the highest possible score was. I started with it depends, and then my brain just went tilt thinking about how to explain the scoring system in a simple way.

So I will ask you to help me describe the current scoring system to a bright 12 year old. Thanks!
I'll have a go...

A figure skating program consists of a series of elements, e.g. jumps and spins, of which there are restrictions on the number and type of each.

Each element has a Base Value to which points can be added or subtracted depending on how well the skater/couple performs the element. This is the so called Grade of Execution or GOE.

Add up the scores for the elements, and that gives the technical or Total Element Score (TES) for the routine.

There is then a Presentation score (or Program Component Score/PCS) that is added to the TES to give the total for that particular routine.

The Presentation score actually consists of 5 components. These are Skating Skills, Transitions which to my mind are 'the technical bits between the technical bits' e.g. you might get a skater performing an extra 'move in the field' such as a Russian split jump between the official technical elements, Performance/Execution which is something to do with the overall effect of the routine (think), Composition (and I guess Choreography) of the routine, and Interpretation of the Music which is more down to the detailed interpretation of the routine (yet again, think).

N.B. The system has been designed so that the PCS and TES scores are roughly equal in value, though these days TES scores can outstrip PCS ones due to technical advances e.g in the Men's. This is because in the old '6.0' judging days, technical and presentation scores carried equal weight.

The skater/couple performs 2 routines - a short program (rhythm dance in Dance) which has fewer elements, and a long program/free dance. The winner is the one with most points after both programs have been performed.

The system has been also designed so that the short program is worth very close to half that of the long program because of the smaller number of elements - Dance is different, it's about 2/3rds - over to someone else. This also reflects the 6.0 system where the short program was worth half the long program.

A singles skaters performs 7 elements in the Short Program. 3 'jumping passes', of which 1 can be a 2 part combination, 3 spins and a Step Sequence. In the long program they perform 12 elements, 7 jumping passes of which 3 can be combinations and 1 can be a 3 part combination. Also there are 3 spins, 1 Step Sequence and 1 Choreo Sequence which consists of a series of moves in the field such as spirals, spread-eagles etc. that the skater might not otherwise perform - see Transitions above where they may perform a single one.

A Pairs Short Program consists of 7 elements, a Twist Lift, a Side by Side jump, a Throw jump, a Lift, a Side by Side spin, a Death Spiral and a Step Sequence. A long program consists of an extra Side by Side combination jump, an extra throw jump and 2 extra lifts. There is also a pairs combination spin i.e. one together that replaces the SBS spin in the Short Program, and a Choreo Sequence that replaces the Step Sequence. Over to someone else for Dance.

Think that's about it, though there is something called factoring going on behind the scenes to ensure PCS values are about the same as TES ones for a particular segment within a discipline - the judges always score out of 10 so they're consistent across all routines/disciplines, and the factoring multiplies the final answer so that the PCS is of the order of the TES for that particular segment/discipline.

Also GOEs can contribute to a maximum of an extra +/- 50% of the Base Value for an element - the judges enter their own element score based on the number of 'bullet points' the element has achieved and then in the calculations the lowest and highest element scores are removed before you get the final GOE calculation. The same thing happens for PCS scores i.e. the highest and lowest values for each Component are removed before the final calculation.
 
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