Volosozhar's question to Klimov: How should Pairs progress?

skylark

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I'm fairly new to this board. I hope I'm not bringing up a subject that some will feel has already been "done to death." If so, and if someone wants to point me in the direction of previous conversations, I'd appreciate it.

These thoughts began with TAHbKA's translation of Volosozhar's interview with Fedor Klimov, but my ideas developed in a direction that I would like to hear other people's views on. I thought the best way was to start a new thread.

Tatiana asked, "Is it worth adding the quads - should the pairs progress in that direction?"
Klimov said he is more in favor of "clean, beautiful, injuries-free pairs skating" ... but then how will pairs skating progress? I think it's normal for the top athletes to think this way; after all, they're used to doing the most difficult elements because that's how you win or medal.

But I think that Savchenko & Massot progressed pairs skating by deciding not to keep trying to do the throw 3Axel in their programs, and also not trying in the Olympics a quad throw or even a quad twist. What they created with their Olympic FS was entirely new and thrilling. I'd almost say that they went deep instead of in a linear, more-of-the-same way. Massot said in an interview that what they worked hard on in the weeks leading up to the Olympics was making their connection to the music more visible to the audience, and for the enjoyment of the audience. They did this through micro-adjustments, with fingers, how they looked at each other, small moves throughout, more attention to each musical nuance. To me, that is progressing pairs in a much happier and more thrilling direction. The current elements that all the top level pairs do are difficult enough that it's pretty rare to see them all done as well as Savchenko/Massot did. I'd like to see pairs commit to the emotion of the music more and have that as how they distinguish themselves from other pairs. Sui/Han do that to excellent effect, although they do have a quad twist as well.
 

Kateri

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Often, it's not really the athletes who decide, it's the people who decide the scoring system values. No one does a quad twist now, even though several can, because it's not worth enough points, versus a good 3Twist.
 

rfisher

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Often, it's not really the athletes who decide, it's the people who decide the scoring system values. No one does a quad twist now, even though several can, because it's not worth enough points, versus a good 3Twist.
Exactly. They'll take the risk if it's worthwhile. The ultimate goal is to have the most points so they do what will get them, which means pretty much every elite team is doing the same things.
 

skylark

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Often, it's not really the athletes who decide, it's the people who decide the scoring system values. No one does a quad twist now, even though several can, because it's not worth enough points, versus a good 3Twist.
Almost true. But in the case of Aljona and Bruno during the Olympic year, the skaters and coaching team are the ones who decided not to try the 3A throw or quad twist or throw. They'd tried 3A throw in competition before, but there was too much injury involved; Aljona said she'd have to be off the ice for two weeks at a time, with an injury sometimes in practice, and lose all that training time.

Not doing one of those risky elements was a quite risky decision at the time, because all of the other podium-threats had at least one quad element, and the judging system did reward them then.

So S/M decided to go with the micro-adjustments which would make their refinement and musical connection more visible to the audience. Thus, the pairs discipline progressed -- just not in terms of more rotations. But it did progress in terms of difficulty, because better unison and refinement take lots of work in training and attentiveness during performances. The result was one of the most beautiful and moving pairs skates ever.

We know that the sport decided it wanted to reward clean, beautiful skating and that's why the changes in scoring happened after 2018.

The question Tatiana V. posed to Fedor K. was, what should happen going forward? I vote for pairs skating to go deeper into such values as creativity, connection, great technique, beauty, performance. Rather than opting to encourage more rotations.
 

aftershocks

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I totally agree with you @skylark, and I agree with Klimov too. To be honest, triple twists are hard enough. I believe the technical name is 'lift triple twist' (I thought the official term is a 'throw triple twist' because seriously top pair guys throw their partners high into the air!) But, as I figured out after someone corrected my terminology in another thread, the original official name is due to the fact that this move was more of a lift into the air with a smaller release that began with just a single rotation, then progressed to a double rotation, and then to the much more difficult triple rotation, requiring more power and pop. The move simply evolved over time, and I believe Gordeeva/Grinkov were the first to perform the quad twist. But even back then, it wasn't worth the risk because the points were negligible.

Anyway, now they basically have dropped the 'lift' usage in describing this move. I never hear anyone calling it a 'lift triple twist.' It's really a throw at this point! Right?

Back to your overall points @skylark, I completely agree. There's enough difficulty to explore already. So many skaters need to work on their blade skills, and on improving their speed and partnering skills and unison, and figuring out who they are together on the ice. The elements are difficult and risky enough as is. As you say, and as Klimov has emphasized, 'Go deeper!' Work on perfecting the already difficult elements, and on creating something magical with music, choreo and performance execution. That's challenge enough at this point, for everyone. ETA: And it's honestly also a challenge to create programs within the crunched program length rules and guidelines. The skaters barely have a chance to breathe with the strictures being imposed, which should be re-thought by the ISU.

I want to see skaters looking back and incorporating more moves of the past in new ways, and being inspired to think outside-the-box regarding theme, concept, mood, partner chemistry and connection. Explore new musical avenues as well, rather than the same-old, same-old things. There's enough risk-taking for them right there, if you ask me. ;) The reason is because picking the right music is difficult which tends to lend itself to settling for the usual rather than taking risks.

With the layoff, everyone should have been using the time to explore new music and concept ideas. If they didn't, why not? As a fan, I've been thinking about different ideas and program concepts for awhile, but it's hard to flesh out and talk about here. Some posters in competition-oriented threads don't appear to be interested in engaging in thoughtful, more in-depth ways about skating in general, much less about pairs skating in particular.
 
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aftershocks

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I would love to see the values change for a 4 twist if only to help Panfilova/Rylov - that way they could keep their SBS doubles! 😎

:lol: P/R are a wonderful young team, but the standard is sbs triples. Sure, they should continue working on slam-dunking what they do best, but also spend some time trying to master at least one reliable triple they both can become more consistent at landing. Or else strategize with interesting new moves inspired by old pairs moves. And for jumps, work on interesting transitions into jumps, or combos like double axel, double toe, double loop. :lol: If that type of combo is even possible. I'm not sure. :p

Have they ever attempted sbs triples? Triple toes or triple salchows shouldn't be so hard for them to work on! What's the issue?
 

aftershocks

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Ah, I checked out Klimov's thoughts in the other thread. He does believe in going for more beautiful skating and relaxing restrictions so the free program can actually achieve more freedom and creativity, instead of the over-predictability we see now in the layout of most programs. OTOH, Klimov isn't saying don't do quads, or is he? It was hard to tell whether it was Tat V who felt gung-ho about quads more-so than Klimov, due to the way the interview was summarized rather than a direct translation.

It's a mixed bag. I don't think quad twists or quad throws should never be done, but I do think at this point they can and do lead to more injury. Plus, if they are attempted, pairs skaters would need to be better rewarded, or the risk isn't worth it. I agree with Klimov to work on relaxing the current restrictions and rules that make it harder for skaters and choreographers to explore creative free programs. Even in singles, we need to see more creative variety and less predictability in the layout of free programs. This is something that people in the sport are aware of, but have yet to do anything about satisfactorily.

I would disagree that 'everybody can do split triple twist.' Most pairs can, but the quality and consistency is not great across-the-board. Lots of pairs need to work on perfecting all of the difficult elements and improving their blade skills and connection with their partners. Why does progress in this sport always have to be about performing multiple revolutions?!!!

It's not the best thing in the world that a handful of young teenybopper females are doing quads and triple axels. The jury is still out on the direction that is going in and the overall impact on that discipline. I'm not a huge fan of ladies skating, unless I can see a complete performance by a skater who is well-rounded, and not simply rotation-fixated. Triple-axels among ladies is interesting to see, but I'm not a huge fan of the fixation on young ladies pounding their bodies with quads, and then burning out.
 
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aftershocks

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I never hear anyone calling it a 'lift triple twist.' It's really a throw at this point! Right?

It's often called a 'split triple-twist.' Is there anyone who has more knowledge about the evolution of this move and its terminology?
 

skylark

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There's enough difficulty to explore already. So many skaters need to work on their blade skills, and on improving their speed and partnering skills and unison, and figuring out who they are together on the ice. The elements are difficult and risky enough as is. As you say, and as Klimov has emphasized, 'Go deeper!' Work on perfecting the already difficult elements, and on creating something magical with music, choreo and performance execution. That's challenge enough at this point, for everyone. ETA: And it's honestly also a challenge to create programs within the crunched program length rules and guidelines. The skaters barely have a chance to breathe with the strictures being imposed, which should be re-thought by the ISU.

I want to see skaters looking back and incorporating more moves of the past in new ways, and being inspired to think outside-the-box regarding theme, concept, mood, partner chemistry and connection. Explore new musical avenues as well, rather than the same-old, same-old things. There's enough risk-taking for them right there, if you ask me. ;) The reason is because picking the right music is difficult which tends to lend itself to settling for the usual rather than taking risks.

With the layoff, everyone should have been using the time to explore new music and concept ideas. If they didn't, why not? As a fan, I've been thinking about different ideas and program concepts for awhile, but it's hard to flesh out and talk about here. Some posters in competition-oriented threads don't appear to be interested in engaging in thoughtful, more in-depth ways about skating in general, much less about pairs skating in particular.
In regard to "incorporating more moves of the past" and thinking outside the box regarding theme, concept, mood, partner chemistry and connection;" you've clarified that beautifully! :cheer:

I always go back to G&G. I remember Dick Button saying about them that they didn't do anything unusual or new, they just did everything better than anyone else. That says everything about quality of skating that we need. And for me, it was their emotional commitment and connection to music and audience that elevated the quality of their elements even more. The technical excellence served the performance, which was really what set them apart.

A move of the past I'd love to see a pair do is Tai & Randy's pulled Arabians. I'm sure there's a reason no one does -- I imagine it would take too much of the time needed to get all the high-points elements in, to be competitive. And again going back to Gordeeva & Grinkov -- their jump combinations were always so great, even though they were a series of double and single jumps. It was often the same sequence, but doing it to different music allowed them to highlight their expression of tempo, mood, theme. And their beautiful unison highlighted and expressed their chemistry and connection with each other.

As it stands now, so often, expression, connection and performance are regarded as being the icing on the cake, rather than being an integral part of the equation. It isn't just about valuing non-jump elements like spins and steps more.
I believe all the technique should serve the emotional expression; the connections with music, each other, and audience; and the performance. That's what elevates the competitive aspect, IMO.
 
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skylark

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It's often called a 'split triple-twist.' Is there anyone who has more knowledge about the evolution of this move and its terminology?
Not about the evolution of the move, but someone educated me about the split last year. To get full credit for the split, the lady's legs must each complete a 45 degree angle from her body. Alexa Knierim, for one example, kicks her right leg about 90 degrees while her left remains more or less straight, which is not a true split.

I used to hear commentators use the term "lateral" twist, although rarely. I'm also curious about the evolution of the move, because as you mentioned above, if you go back to the 70s & 80s, it was more vertical. Now it's much more dramatic.
 

skylark

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I agree with Klimov to work on relaxing the current restrictions and rules that make it harder for skaters and choreographers to explore creative free programs. Even in singles, we need to see more creative variety and less predictability in the layout of free programs. This is something that people in the sport are aware of, but have yet to do anything about satisfactorily.

I would disagree that 'everybody can do split triple twist.' Most pairs can, but the quality and consistency is not great across-the-board. Lots of pairs need to work on perfecting all of the difficult elements and improving their blade skills and connection with their partners. Why does progress in this sport always have to be about performing multiple revolutions?!!!

It's not the best thing in the world that a handful of young teenybopper females are doing quads and triple axels. The jury is still out on the direction that is going in and the overall impact on that discipline. I'm not a huge fan of ladies skating, unless I can see a complete performance by a skater who is well-rounded, and not simply rotation-fixated. Triple-axels among ladies is interesting to see, but I'm not a huge fan of the fixation on young ladies pounding their bodies with quads, and then burning out.
Agree wholeheartedly.:) Historically, the presentation mark in 6.0 system counted more and was the tie-breaker in the free skates. Creativity, variety, and original execution were historically part of that presentation mark, so those values were better rewarded. Such concepts are much more difficult to relegate to hard numbers. It's still a question of "you know it when you see it" -- which is one reason Sui & Han consistently rise above the field. I don't believe that their components scores are just about reputation. Their commitment to the emotion of the program and music is just unparalleled, except, IMO, by Savchenko/Massot. One thing that I think many people have already forgotten is that S/M won the Olympics despite having no quad elements, when their top competitors did.

I agree with you about the trend in ladies' singles to over-value elements that 13, 14, and 15 year old girls can obviously perform much more easily. (for one thing, in my view it makes the competition less excitiing.) I love a well-rounded performance that a skater really feels and interprets well. And I dislike seeing 17 and 18 year-olds, who are coming into their own artistically, pushed out by the next generation of 14 & 15 year olds, as though figure skating were some sort of conveyor belt.
 
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gkelly

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I don't know many details of the history of twist lifts and related terminology. I'll share what I can.

I bought a copy of the ISU's judges' manual for pair skating, 2000 edition (i.e., pre-IJS), still available for purchase on the ISU website.

The section on twist lifts definitely refers to them as "Twist Lifts."

They mention as terminology
1. Twist lift with toe pick at the take off by the lady
2. Lateral twist lift
3. Twist axel lift

There are photos of the lady picking into the ice beside her partner or between her partner's legs, both acceptable.

There is no illustration or discussion of the axel twist takeoff.

There are photos of bad and good split positions with a comment that "In the short program, special attention is paid to the split that the lady must achieve in the air before rotating. It is desirable that the lady's widest split position is attained when the man releases her with his arms fully extended."

They also mention that the lady's position "may be vertical, slightly or greatly leaning toward the man during the take-off or on the landing" and that these are not mistakes but "rather the result of techniques which add safety measures." There are pictures of the lady almost vertical, slightly leaning, and almost fully horizontal very high above the partner.

The chapter on the pairs short program (which as of 2000 still required a double twist for seniors and juniors) mentions that the lady must obtain a split position before rotating. There is no such mention in the freeskating chapter.

In an old list of 6.0 SP deductions, "Split position in the air not attained" is listed as 0.1 to 0.2 deduction in the short program.

With IJS, the split position is a feature.
 

aftershocks

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A move of the past I'd love to see a pair do is Tai & Randy's pulled Arabians. I'm sure there's a reason no one does -- I imagine it would take too much of the time needed to get all the high-points elements in, to be competitive.

Exactly. It would take too much time away from the other crammed requirements. More interesting moves and creativity can't happen easily until the ISU sets free the free programs from the boring predictability of element layouts, as Klimov is advocating for, and as many fans have been lamenting for some time.
 
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antmanb

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I have to say that I really liked the years when the pairs were going for quad twists and throw quads. I found it exciting and liked that pairs had the option of going for a maximum levelled 3Tw or a lesser levelled 4Tw and it seemed to net the right points when you factored in the level and GOE.

While it is great that Sav&Mass went and worked on micro adjustments to their programmes and they certainly worked for a TV audience, facial expressions and difference in finger movements just aren't noticeable to the majority of the audience in the arena. Its the difference between TV and Theatre acting. The camera will pick up the tiniest nuance up close to a skater while not showing you the speed and ice coverage that is far more impactful in person. If you want your movements to have impact they have to be pretty big to reach even a few rows behind the front row, and that presentation had to go up and out to stand any chance of reaching the audience.

It's always going to be difficult to pitch presentation just right so it hits the TV audience and the in person audience in a meaningful way.
 

skylark

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I have to say that I really liked the years when the pairs were going for quad twists and throw quads. I found it exciting and liked that pairs had the option of going for a maximum levelled 3Tw or a lesser levelled 4Tw and it seemed to net the right points when you factored in the level and GOE.

While it is great that Sav&Mass went and worked on micro adjustments to their programmes and they certainly worked for a TV audience, facial expressions and difference in finger movements just aren't noticeable to the majority of the audience in the arena. Its the difference between TV and Theatre acting. The camera will pick up the tiniest nuance up close to a skater while not showing you the speed and ice coverage that is far more impactful in person. If you want your movements to have impact they have to be pretty big to reach even a few rows behind the front row, and that presentation had to go up and out to stand any chance of reaching the audience.

It's always going to be difficult to pitch presentation just right so it hits the TV audience and the in person audience in a meaningful way.
Good points. The micro-adjustments that I meant were the precision and refinement of the pairs skating, such as picking up on nuances and notes in the music, attention to exact unison, and timing of the elements to the music. Not so much the facial expressions. Of course, Savchenko/Massot, Sui/Han, and G/G all have or had the speed and ice coverage that makes such a difference when you're in the arena. For me, all of the above are elements that add difficulty and beauty to pairs skating. As do the spectacular lifts and throws. Also the jumps do, when done well with excellent unison. Very impactful, especially in the arena. What I remember about the quad elements is that they were seldom done as well and beautifully as the triples, including even the quad twists.
 

aftershocks

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It's definitely true that seeing skating live vs on television are completely different experiences. Still IMO, amazing and memorable performances by skaters who are in-the-zone, transcend the limitations of television cameras and of distance viewing in the arena.

While being in the arena to watch Sav/Mas at 2018 Olympics must have been amazing, each individual audience member will have had different experiences of the performance based on where they were sitting. And yet, the way Sav/Mas skated with such conviction, determination and desire is what elevated their performance beyond the mundane to spectacular and awe-inspiring. It was a beautiful performance, both athletically and artistically, and that's a big reason why they deserved to win (along with of course skating perfectly clean).

Regarding quad throws and quad twists, I have nothing against them in pairs skating, if they are approached with care and good judgment. Right now, I don't see those elements as a priority to make pairs more exciting. The difficulty that already exists is exciting. Striving to skate clean programs that are well-rounded should be the priority, and that's exciting too. As is 'skating two as one,' which is a rarity at the moment, let's face it!

I also agree with Klimov's take that free programs should be allowed to have more freedom and creativity. And skaters need to work on perfecting blade skills, speed, unison, etc. I reiterate: There's already huge risk and difficulty in pairs skating. I think if the athletes could work more on improving foundational skills, and if the quad elements in pairs skating were given more value, then progress toward more skaters incorporating quad elements would re-commence. At the moment, the risk is not worth the lack of reward.
 

starrynight

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This is giving me flashbacks to some of those quad throw jumps that Duhamel/Radford did ... the ones that were telegraphed on two feet with a mile long stare for a good 5 seconds and then a small assisted jump landed in a squat an inch above the ice. And they got all the points from them.

At the time I didn't think it was a big deal. But I think after really seeing the evolution of Savchenko/Massot and Sui/Han it became apparent there was a totally different level of quality.

A soaring triple twist or a big long triple throw jump with a huge flowing exit will always be so much more impressive. I'd rather actually see size in pairs elements than rotations.

There is a real intense beauty in the technical of pairs - when it is done well.
 
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skylark

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This is giving me flashbacks to some of those quad throw jumps that Duhamel/Radford did ... the ones that were telegraphed on two feet with a mile long stare for a good 5 seconds and then a small assisted jump landed in a squat an inch above the ice. And they got all the points from them.

At the time I didn't think it was a big deal. But I think after really seeing the evolution of Savchenko/Massot and Sui/Han it became apparent there was a totally different level of quality.

A soaring triple twist or a big long triple throw jump with a huge flowing exit will always be so much more impressive. I'd rather actually see size in pairs elements than rotations.

There is a real intense beauty in the technical of pairs - when it is done well.
Completely agree with all of the above. :) Very well said.

I love Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford as people. But just remembering those D/R quad throws makes me shiver with dread that the pendulum might swing back. The idea persists that quads should be rewarded again because people like the excitement of not knowing how many rotations are going to be risked, and because of the idea that the only good way to advance the sport is to increase rotations.

A soaring triple twist or a big long triple throw jump with a huge flowing exit will always be so much more impressive. I'd rather actually see size in pairs elements than rotations.

There is a real intense beauty in the technical of pairs - when it is done well.


So true. I love seeing great technique, which carries its own version of artistry. And it's just the one aspect, while the other facets of artistry are equally important. Expression through movement, musical intelligence, and performance in regard to connection with the audience are others. Those qualities are hard to put numerical values on

I also agree with @aftershocks that more space is needed, in singles as well as pairs, for creativity in choreography and in execution of it. Someone pointed out a couple of months ago that eliminating the element of SBS spins in the pairs FS actually didn't "save time" for more creativity and expression, because that element at its best can create mood and artistry (and 30 seconds of the program were taken away). Also, SBS spins highlight good connection between the partners.

... "the intricacies are not just to collect points, it really is an emotional expression that represents who he is as a person." This is something Sandra Bezic said about Matthew Savoie during his 2006 Olympic FS. I think the same can be said about movement and attention to musical nuances as well. Also, Doug Haw said in a TSL interview that artistry can (he may have said "should") be taught within the technique.
 

starrynight

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Pairs is a great example of the technical progressing beyond just adding rotations.

The height of the twists and the size of the throw jumps has really progressed even though they are still triples.
 

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