Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Casual Figure Skating Fan's Guide to Sochi 2014

I know more than my fair share about figure skating and follow it very closely every season, but I'm also aware that most people do not. Therefore, I give you "The Casual Figure Skating Fan's Guide to Sochi 2014". If I see a facebook status asking about Johnny Weir, Michelle Kwan, or 6.0, I will probably post this link on your wall to keep me from saying something catty.

General Notes:

-Figure Skating is no longer an art form, it is a math problem
-You will be confused and frustrated because the best programs rarely score the highest
-If you think all the programs look the same, you're probably right; IJS programs are very cookie cutter
-Skaters are scored on TES (the old technical mark) & PCS (the old artistic mark)
-Every element (jumps, spins, lifts, throws, footwork sequences) is given a base value and/or a level and a grade of execution mark
-There is no "best score," though the NBC commentators will likely compare skaters' scores to their own Season's Best of Personal Best
-This season will be the debut of a Gymnastics-style Team event where skaters from all 4 disciplines will combine their scores and the "top country" will win gold; this even will begin before Opening Ceremonies and conclude before the individual disciplines begin
-Here is a link to the full IJS code of points if you want to confuse yourself even further


2013 WORLD Medalists: Yuna Kim (KOR), Carolina Kostner (ITA), Mao Asada (JPN)
-If anyone outside of Kim, Asada, or Kostner win Gold it will be a Sarah Hughes-esque surprise
-If we do have a Sarah Hughes moment, it will be Russian teen Julia Lipnitskaia
-If Yuna Kim skates cleanly, expect her to win a 2nd OGM, regardless of how the other ladies skate
-The US ladies have an outside chance at a medal but are in no way favored
-NBC will talk up Gracie Gold, and probably Ashley Wagner as medal favorites, but they will only medal if others make mistakes
-The fully rotated triple-triple combination is key for the ladies, expect NBC commentators to talk that to death
-You will be able to tell which skaters NBC loves because they will drop phrases like "complete package," "complete program," or "fantastic transitions"
-A US lady hasn't won an Olympic or World medal since 2006, expect to hear that from NBC commentators on repeat
-A certain 'top lady' waves during her spiral sequence, I'll let you look for it in Where's Waldo fashion


2013 WORLD Medalists: Patrick Chan (CAN), Denis Ten (KAZ), Javier Fernandez (ESP)
-Johnny Weir has retired and Evan Lysacek is injured, neither will compete
-Patrick Chan has won the last 3 World Titles, and though he is sputtering this season, it will be an upset if he doesn't win Gold
-The Quadruple jump (Quad) is key in the mens event, it will be hard to get near the podium without one
-The elder statesman Evgeni Plushenko has returned for one final hurrah and the Russians will be doing their best politicking to get him back on the podium
-You will probably prefer Yuzuru Hanyu's more artistic programs and you'll hate it when Patrick Chan wins regardless
-US men have little to no chance of winning a medal, we haven't won a World or Olympic medal since 2010
-Jason Brown (USA) will be one of the darlings of the games and will probably rise to the occasion under pressure, but without the Quad he will have a hard tim finding the podium unless others make mistakes

Ice Dance:

2013 WORLD Medalists: Davis & White (USA), Virtue & Moir (CAN), Bobrova & Soloviev (RUS)
-There are no longer 3 phases to the Ice Dance competition, there are now only 2
-Expect to hear the phrase "Finn Step" a lot as it is the compulsory pattern that all teams will perform in the original dance
-Free Dances range from Classical and Opera to Musical Theatre and Michael Jackson
-Gold & Silver will go to Davis & White (USA) or Virtue & Moir (CAN) and it will likely be very close; they are far above the rest of the field and will take the top spots on the podium
-Davis & White are slightly favored for Gold because they beat Virtue & Moir at the 2013 Worlds and this season's Grand Prix Final and their scores have been consistently higher
-Bobrova & Soloviev (Russia) will likely win bronze, primarily because of Russian politics; if you personally feel that their performances are not deserving of a medal, you would be correct
-The other teams that have a shot at bronze are Pechalat & Bourzat (FRA), Ilinykh & Katsalapov (RUS), Cappellini & Lanotte (ITA), and Weaver & Poje (CAN)
-The top dance teams are coached by the same small cluster of coaches; become familiar with names like Marina Zoueva, Igor Shpilband, Pasquale Camerlengo, Nikolai Morozov, and Alexander Zhulin
-All 3 American teams are likely to finish in the top 10
-It's tough to tell the difference between average, good, and great ice dance programs because there are no jumps/falls; you should look for speed, overall flow across the ice, synchronization, and smooth transitions in and out of lifts


2013 WORLD Medalists: Volosozhar & Trankov (RUS), Savchenko & Szolkowy (GER), Duhamel & Radford (CAN)
-US Pair Teams will be very fortunate to finish in the top 6 and have about a 1% chance of winning a medal
-Volosozhar & Trankov (Russia) will win Gold unless they make major mistakes
-Savchenko & Szolkowy (Germany) will win Silver unless they make major mistakes

-Pang & Tong (China) will most likely win bronze, but Canadian teams have a shot
-The pairs event directly follows the Team Trophy event; fatigue/training could play a role in this event
-Expect some drama with the top two teams, they've been going back and forth in the standings for several years
-Commentators will make a huge deal about Russians retaking the top spot on the Olympic pairs podium

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely love this! I open it every time I watch an event. Can you do one after the Olympics, stating where you were right on and where maybe not? I do know something about skating as I am a synchro skater, but not that much on singles etc. BTW, fell in love with pairs! Especially Moore-Towers & Moscovitch.