Unpopular Opinions

sap5

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10,215
About Swimming and Athletics relay medals, I think the big difference is that there is a specific tehcnique about relays, it's not just individual performances added.
That's why a medal in relay is very different, IMO.

It's not to devalue Olympic team medals, but I consider Nadia Comaneci and her 5 individual Gold medals to be a better record than Polina Astakhova's 5 Olympic Gold (2 individual and 3 team). Of course, both are great ! JMHO ;)
Actually, I think there is a specific technique to skating the team event as well. They may not be passing a baton, but there does have to be mental/physical prep/management to be able to skate the TE and still have enough gas to skate the IE. Also, the Canadian skaters in PYC spoke a lot about how their approach as a team helped them to win, as opposed to when they all had a more individual mentality at the Sochi team event.
 

once_upon

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That's because in ice-skating only 3 countries realistically are vying for team medals. For the past 2 Olympics and most likely 3, the same 3 countries have gotten team medals. The other countries are not equally strong in all disciplines and therefore have little chance to win team medals. In other team sports, it's more wide open.
In swimming, the major players have been Australia, China, Russia, US, possibly Japan?

Maybe in past East Germany.

In gymnastics-China, US, Russia, in the past Romania, ??

My point is that all team sports and actually all Olympic sports are consistently dominated by a set of countries. Just the way it is.

Like Tony said, pretty much the only fans objecting to saying a skater is a multiple or individual OM because a team win are elitist figure skating fans. Fans need to get past it. If you are feel the unfair advantage is to larger nations, support the smaller skating federations to develop programming that encourages young skaters.
 

Peepsquick

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705
How about some transnational team event instead? That could be fun and get us out of the sempiternal national hypes ...
 

Cherub721

YEAH!
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I find the team medal very prestigious but not quite the same as an individual medal. Volosozhar/Trankov and Gordeeva/Grinkov are both 2x Olympic Champions, but I can't say they achieved the same. The Team Event has only existed since 2014. If it had existed all along G&G would probably be 4x OGM.

With a team like Virtue/Moir, they are still the most decorated ice dancers regardless (2x gold, 1x silver beats Grishuk/Platov and Klimova/Ponomarenko), but the TE is what makes them the most decorated skaters. I'm not sure who could have beaten that had a TE existed earlier; you'd have to have been skating at a level high enough to be named to the TE and to win an individual medal in 3 straight Olympics. K&P maybe, if the Soviets were splitting dance in 1984 and 1988. Dmitriev maybe, but he and Natalia were only 3rd at Euros in 1994 so they might not have been named. Plushenko could have been a 7x Olympic medalist (guessing 4 gold, 3 silvers). It would be extremely difficult for a lady as you'd have to be in Olympic medal shape from around the age of 15-16 to 23-24. The ladies who had that type of longevity had many seasons where they were out of the game.
 

Yuri

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715
With a team like Virtue/Moir, they are still the most decorated ice dancers regardless (2x gold, 1x silver beats Grishuk/Platov and Klimova/Ponomarenko), but the TE is what makes them the most decorated skaters. I'm not sure who could have beaten that had a TE existed earlier; you'd have to have been skating at a level high enough to be named to the TE and to win an individual medal in 3 straight Olympics. K&P maybe, if the Soviets were splitting dance in 1984 and 1988. Dmitriev maybe, but he and Natalia were only 3rd at Euros in 1994 so they might not have been named. Plushenko could have been a 7x Olympic medalist (guessing 4 gold, 3 silvers). It would be extremely difficult for a lady as you'd have to be in Olympic medal shape from around the age of 15-16 to 23-24. The ladies who had that type of longevity had many seasons where they were out of the game.
They (Virtue/Moir) are the most decorated ice dancers in Olympic competition. I fail to see how this statement of fact takes away from anyone else's achievements. Plushenko has four Olympic medals and not three because of the team event, does this make him better than skaters who have fewer medals?
Unpopular opinion--Virtue/Moir aren't even close to being the most decorated ice dancing team UNLESS you limit the events to the Olympics AND include the Team Event. Even then you have an asterisk, given that most of the other great teams didn't have the luxury of hanging around like FOREVER going back-and-forth between the Olympic-eligible and professional touring/show worlds. The change of Olympic-eligibility rules profoundly impacted the opportunities to become "most decorated couple".

I will propose an apples-to-apples approach that considers medals won at the Olympics, Worlds, and Europeans/4CCs. Of the six couples, only Virtue/Moir had the Grand Prix Final around every season--even Grishuk/Platov were around for only the first three. Here are how six all-time great ice dancing teams rank in overall gold medals in the Olympics era for ice dancing (active in 1976 or later):

Pakhomova/Gorshkov* USSR (13): Olympics 1, Worlds 6, Europeans 6
Bestiamanova/Bukin USSR (10): Olympics 1, Worlds 4, Europeans 5
Grishuk/Platov+ USSR/RUS (9): Olympics 2, Worlds 4, Europeans 3
Torvill/Dean GBR (9): Olympics 1, Worlds 4, Europeans 4
Klimova/Ponomarenko# USSR (8): Olympics 1, Worlds 3, Europeans 4
Virtue/[email protected] CAN (8): Olympics 2, Worlds 3, 4CCs 3

* Pak/Gor almost certainly would have won gold at a hypothetical 1972 Olympics to up their total to 14 golds.
+ Gri/Pla would have 11 golds including their two golds at the CSF/GPF.
# Kli/Pon would have 9 golds including the Goodwill Games.
@ Vir/Moi would have 9 golds including the GPF.

Virtue/Moir's ranking improves if you count total medals at the biggest events, but no team is clearly the most decorated:

Klimova/Ponomarenko (18): Gold 8, Silver 9, Bronze 1
Bestiamanova/Bukin (17): Gold 10, Sliver 6, Bronze 1
Virtue/Moir (17): Gold 8, Silver 6, Bronze 3
Pakhomova/Gorshkov (16): Gold 13, Silver 2, Bronze 1
Grishuk/Platov% (14): Gold 9, Silver 3, Bronze 2
Torvill/Dean (10): Gold 9, Bronze 1

% Gri/Pla won 20 consecutive international competitions including the ISU Pro/Ams popular in their era, 16 excluding them. By my count, that's an all-time record topping the 13 straight internationals won by Pak/Gor and Bes/Buk.

There is no question that Virtue/Moir are the most decorated ice dancing team of the last 20 years under the modern scoring system. But during the 6.0 era there are five other contenders for most decorated ice dancing couples, especially when you take into account the temptation for those team to "turn professional" and lose Olympic-eligibility. A choice Virtue/Moir didn't face.

I don't think there's a definitive choice for most-decorated ice dancing couple, but if pressed I would select Pakhomova/Gorshkov as an almost certain 1972 OGM would have made them the first to win two OGMs to bring them even win Grishuk/Platov and Virtue/Moir. For most dominant couple in their era, I would place Grishuk/Platov slightly above Torvill/Dean due to more golds but that's basically a dead heat of four consecutive years of wiping out all competition for each. Pakhomova/Gorshkov actually had six undefeated seasons, but they weren't consecutive and sometimes included only two competitions.

ETA: Papadakis/Cizeron FRA absolutely become part of this conversation if they win the 2022 OGM, given their 4 World, 5 European, and 2 GPF golds, plus 1 silver each for the Olympics, Worlds, and Europeans.
 
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gotoschool

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I think Mai Mihara and Haein Lee should both go to the Olympics and Worlds. Eliminating them from these competitions not only severely shortchanges the qualities in figure skating I want to see like refinement and attention to detail in movement and picturesque positions, sophistication, fluid speed, crisp edging and musicality with expressive artistry combined with fine flow and transitions through their jumps. I also think it reveals the myopic preoccupation with one mere domestic competition as the deciding factor to the exclusion of numerous international results many in championships, especially when the difference is only a couple of points as is the case with both Mai Mihara and Haein Lee at their Nationals competitions, and these points are decided by nationals not international judges.

Mai Mihara has now won two 4CC championships with a new top score of almost 220 points, after scoring 16 points higher on average during the Grand Prix season than Mana who I do think is a very good skater, but Mai was scored more strictly at Nationals than Mana and Mana is a full 6 years younger than Mai with another chance to go while Mai at 22 may never have another chance. This was likely done to enable a Hamada coached skater to be at Worlds and the Olympics just as Mai was underscored at Nationals in 2018 / 2019 to allow another Hamada skater to go to Worlds in this case Satoko.

As for Haein Lee, the absurdity of the situation is hard to reason. She defeated both her teammates Young You and Yelim Kim in the last international competition before the Olympics which was an international championship not merely a domestic competition and did so under immense pressure and she also placed higher than any other Korean woman at last year's Worlds.
 
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Coco

Rotating while Russian!
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17,622
I think an argument can be made that You and Kim may not have peaked for 4cc. But I question the wisdom of the Korean fed putting them in this situation.

Still surprised Mai wasn't sent to Olympics.
 

Vash01

Fan of Yuzuru, T&M, P&C
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That's because in ice-skating only 3 countries realistically are vying for team medals. For the past 2 Olympics and most likely 3, the same 3 countries have gotten team medals. The other countries are not equally strong in all disciplines and therefore have little chance to win team medals. In other team sports, it's more wide open.
There is a change this time. Japan could win a medal while Canada may not.
 

Lemonade20

If I agreed with you, we’d both be wrong.
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I think there is also some Uber matrix at play and some people don’t like that certain skaters have an Olympic medal or have additional medals beyond their ones in the individual event.
You hit the nail on the head with that one. It annoys me when a skater gets a team medal but individually didn't finish even in top 10. They're being rewarded with a medal because they happen to have a very strong team. It's hard to shake that mentality.
 

Vash01

Fan of Yuzuru, T&M, P&C
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You hit the nail on the head with that one. It annoys me when a skater gets a team medal but individually didn't finish even in top 10. They're being rewarded with a medal because they happen to have a very strong team. It's hard to shake that mentality.
In a Team, not every individual is top caliber, but together they are stronger than sum of the individuals.
 

aka_gerbil

Rooting for the Underdogs
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You hit the nail on the head with that one. It annoys me when a skater gets a team medal but individually didn't finish even in top 10. They're being rewarded with a medal because they happen to have a very strong team. It's hard to shake that mentality.
We see that happen in gymnastics for years with team medalists faltering in the all-around. In 96, the US won team gold, but Miller was 8th, Moceanu 9th, and Dawes 17th in the AA.

Like Vash said, the sum is stronger than its individual parts.

The flip side is a lot of the complaints I’ve seen are about skaters like V/M (especially) and Osmond who won individual medals.
 

Theatregirl1122

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It's hard to compare it to the team events in something like gymnastics or swimming, though. In those events, the team is made up of the best of the best. In skating, it's not uncommon for a country to have skaters in some disciplines who don't quite live up to the potential of the rest of their team, and they get propped up by association.

I mean, it's also not uncommon for a 5 member gymnastics team to have one or several gymnasts who aren't competitive in the AA or who are solid but not spectacular in the events they compete. In relays, you may see a team with 1-3 medalists in individual events and 1-3 swimmers who did not qualify. Any team event can have members who are stronger than the others. The team still wins or loses as a whole.

Look at Russia winning ladies team gold in the last Olympics. Did Akhaimova contribute as much to the team on one apparatus as as Listunova who was clean on 3? Or the USA in 2016. Did Madison Kocian's one bar score contribute as much as Simone Biles's four clean apparatuses? No, but the team won gold and the whole team was needed to do it. In 2016, the Japanese men won the team title, but only two Japanese men won individual medals. Does that make the rest not gold medalists? No, it doesn't. Because the whole team needed to come through for the team to win gold.
 

MsZem

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17,382
Unpopular opinion--Virtue/Moir aren't even close to being the most decorated ice dancing team UNLESS you limit the events to the Olympics AND include the Team Event. Even then you have an asterisk, given that most of the other great teams didn't have the luxury of hanging around like FOREVER going back-and-forth between the Olympic-eligible and professional touring/show worlds. The change of Olympic-eligibility rules profoundly impacted the opportunities to become "most decorated couple".

They are the most decorated ice dancers in Olympic competition.

I am not a V/M uber, but see no reason to diminish what they accomplished when given the opportunity. They still had to skate at an extremely high level across three Olympic Games.
 

hanca

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That's because in ice-skating only 3 countries realistically are vying for team medals. For the past 2 Olympics and most likely 3, the same 3 countries have gotten team medals. The other countries are not equally strong in all disciplines and therefore have little chance to win team medals. In other team sports, it's more wide open.
Japan has traditionally had strong ladies and men. Now they are having also a promising pair and a reasonable ice dancers, I don’t think there are that far of the podium.

Countries from ex Soviet Union have been importing skaters quite a lot, and some managed to get pretty good set of skaters. Belarus or Georgia could be fighting for the bronze in the future, with all those imported skaters.
 

once_upon

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You hit the nail on the head with that one. It annoys me when a skater gets a team medal but individually didn't finish even in top 10. They're being rewarded with a medal because they happen to have a very strong team. It's hard to shake that mentality.
I think you missed the point.

I could be wrong, but I think it was meant to be the opposite of what you think.
 

Japanfan

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In a Team, not every individual is top caliber, but together they are stronger than sum of the individuals.

Sometimes they are stronger together. It depends on the team.

In 2014 the Canadian skaters who competed in the TE vowed to win it in 2018 - all or most were staying in until they. And they did indeed win it.
 

screech

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I think there is also some Uber matrix at play and some people don’t like that certain skaters have an Olympic medal or have additional medals beyond their ones in the individual event.
I remember after 2014 people moaning specifically about Kaetlyn Osmond describing herself as an Olympic medallist on her social media handles. While she had been the weakest member of the Canadian team, she still went out and skated 2 programs and contributed to the result.
 

Yuri

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I am not a V/M uber, but see no reason to diminish what they accomplished when given the opportunity. They still had to skate at an extremely high level across three Olympic Games.
I apologize for dragging Virtue/Moir into the debate as there are plenty of other skaters from Canada, Russia, and the USA who have added an Olympic extra medal or two in 2014 and/or 2018. The team event does make it somewhat apples-to-oranges to compare the Olympic medal counts of recent skaters to greats from the past. Besides, I did acknowledge that V/M are clearly the most accomplished ice dancing team of the past 20 years and my view won't change even if Papadakis/Cizeron win the 2022 OGM as expected (but it's certainly NOT a given). For good measure, I will throw in that V/M are the most decorated North American ice dancing team of the Olympic ice dancing era. Recognizing past great couples' accomplishments was not intended to diminish what V/M have accomplished and I don't see how my ranking them somewhere among the top 6 couples of the past 50 years is an insult. V/M are in legendary company.

Others have pointed out my other issue with the Team Event thus far: the lack of competitiveness as CAN-RUS-USA have swept them thus far and are likely to win a minimum of two TE medals for eternity. Another contrast with gymnastics and swimming is that all team members are capable of competing on all of the apparatus and/or stroking styles, even though they may specialize in just one or two. But there is a wide difference between singles and ice dancing and almost none of these skaters could compete in the other discipline. There is a bit of a shared skill set among singles and pairs, but you almost need to go back to Yamaguchi & Galindo to find skaters capable of top 5 finishes in both disciplines. Both individually won medals at Worlds and Yam/Gal would have been podium contenders at the Olympics if Kristi hadn't split with Rudy to focus on winning her OGM.
 

sap5

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I apologize for dragging Virtue/Moir into the debate as there are plenty of other skaters from Canada, Russia, and the USA who have added an Olympic extra medal or two in 2014 and/or 2018. The team event does make it somewhat apples-to-oranges to compare the Olympic medal counts of recent skaters to greats from the past. Besides, I did acknowledge that V/M are clearly the most accomplished ice dancing team of the past 20 years and my view won't change even if Papadakis/Cizeron win the 2022 OGM as expected (but it's certainly NOT a given). For good measure, I will throw in that V/M are the most decorated North American ice dancing team of the Olympic ice dancing era. Recognizing past great couples' accomplishments was not intended to diminish what V/M have accomplished and I don't see how my ranking them somewhere among the top 6 couples of the past 50 years is an insult. V/M are in legendary company.

Others have pointed out my other issue with the Team Event thus far: the lack of competitiveness as CAN-RUS-USA have swept them thus far and are likely to win a minimum of two TE medals for eternity. Another contrast with gymnastics and swimming is that all team members are capable of competing on all of the apparatus and/or stroking styles, even though they may specialize in just one or two. But there is a wide difference between singles and ice dancing and almost none of these skaters could compete in the other discipline. There is a bit of a shared skill set among singles and pairs, but you almost need to go back to Yamaguchi & Galindo to find skaters capable of top 5 finishes in both disciplines. Both individually won medals at Worlds and Yam/Gal would have been podium contenders at the Olympics if Kristi hadn't split with Rudy to focus on winning her OGM.
At least in swimming, while all team members might be able to swim all styles, that doesn't mean they'd be competitive in all the styles. Isn't that why they have relay-only swimmers on the team? https://swimswam.com/usa-swimming-has-12-relay-only-swimmer-limit-on-olympic-team-now-there-are-13/
 

aka_gerbil

Rooting for the Underdogs
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Others have pointed out my other issue with the Team Event thus far: the lack of competitiveness as CAN-RUS-USA have swept them thus far and are likely to win a minimum of two TE medals for eternity.

Consider this: We are on the third Olympics with a team event and we have Japan putting the effort in to develop their pairs and ice dance and they’re looking very likely for a medal. I would imagine we are going to see other countries trying to develop a well-rounded program too. In time, there will be more competition for those team medals and the development of skaters/teams in disciplines “neglected” by some countries will benefit the sport as a whole.
 

Habs

A bitch from Canada
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I remember after 2014 people moaning specifically about Kaetlyn Osmond describing herself as an Olympic medallist on her social media handles. While she had been the weakest member of the Canadian team, she still went out and skated 2 programs and contributed to the result.
Agreed. Why shouldn't she have been calling herself an Olympic medalist? She had an Olympic medal!
And she finished top 5 in the Team Event SP, which was not insignificant.
 

VGThuy

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I know people were very angry when Jeremy Abbott called himself one, but despite how he skated and placing 7th in the SP portion of the TE, he did still place higher than Paul Bonifacio Parkinson and Italy was the 4th place finisher in the Team Event.

I think people do need to understand that even "underperforming" team members still contribute to the final score and it happens in all team sports. Sometimes, even superstar anchors don't perform as expected. Nathan Chen kind of got off easy for his performance in the TE compared to Abbott, but I guess a 4th place finish is better than a 7th place one, and we would have still ended up with bronze in the TE but only by 1 point behind OAR and things could have been different if Rippon scored less than a point higher or if Tennell scored 0.02 points higher in the SP portion.
 

sheetz

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The biggest thing I don't like about the current TE rules is that the long program is less important than the short program, to the point of sometimes even being meaningless. At least in relay races the slowest person on a team still has to be fast enough to keep their team ahead of the others. In the TE the skater(s) doing the long program can sit down in the middle of the ice and still pick up 6 points.
 
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Seerek

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I think Tony Wheeler did an exercise a couple years ago as to whether the Team Event final standings would change using either

  • 10-8-6-4-2 point allocation in the long program
  • using pure raw scores from both segments and summing them all together.

The order of finish for the medalists didn't change for 2018 using either alternative scenario (although OAR would have been ahead of Canada after the short program segment summing segment scores)
 

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