Tracking ISU and U.S. Figure Skating Events, Issues and Governance
The ISU Single & Pair Skating Technical Committee Chair Alexander Lakernik gave an interview about quad throws, multiple quad jumps, and what worries him about current judging. Some very good points, great interview.
Q: At the past grand prix event, Cup of China, Chinese skater Boyang Jin executed 6 quad jumps for the first time and Russian pair Kavaguti/Smirnov performed 2 quad throws, one of which, a loop, was never done before. A lot of people called it a revolution in figure skating. Do you agree with this?
A: No, I don’t. If we are talking about quadruple jumps, six is one more than a lot of men try to do nowadays. Yes, 6 quads – it’s strong, it’s interesting. But I don’t think it’s a revolution because we need to understand what exactly is happening now. There are some tendencies that alarm me. What do I mean? A difficult element brings a lot of points. But for some reason some judges began to rate the execution of the ultra-C elements more softly than easier elements. So things are forgiven about the quad jump that aren’t forgiven about the triple. Moreover, thanks to adding ultra-C elements to a program the second mark starts to rise. I don’t think it’s the right direction. If an element is more difficult, it, of course, will cost more, but the execution of it must be judged by the same scale as the execution of the triple jump. And it’s a topic for discussion. The same thing with the component score, that hardly depends on whether a triple jump was done or a quadruple. That’s the first point. The second point is that trying to do and actually doing are two different things. Of course the strongest performances are those that have maximum difficulty and the highest execution. We shouldn’t forget difficult elements are harder to do in the tense atmosphere of the competitions. And they might lead to an injury, so I’d treat them carefully. That doesn’t mean I’m against difficulty, I’m all for it. But our sport consists of two things – difficulty and execution, and they have to combine. It is wrong to say the difficulty overcomes everything else. It’s not how the system was intended.
Q: As the Chinese grand prix has shown, difficult elements don’t guarantee a confident victory. Boyang Jin with 6 quad jumps, although not all of them were clean, ended up 2nd, and Kavaguti/Smirnov won by only 0.38. But doesn’t it show a contradiction – nobody does 4T-3Lz combo yet except Boyang, same for the K/S’s throws?
A: Let’s start with the fact that Kavaguti/Smirnov did only the first throw clean. the second one had minuses because it was landed on two feet. If K/S had performed both throws clean, the Chinese pair wouldn’t have caught them even without the mistake they made. Yuko and Sasha didn’t even show their best, only what they could. If an athlete skates a good program with difficult elements that are well executed, the victory will probably happen. But what happens? A skater can make a mistake – one. Because of the difficulty of the ultra-C elements he may concentrate on them and the program vanishes – two. If an athletes can get it all together, then he’s bound to win.
Q: Do you think more and more athletes will start doing difficult elements?
A: Figure skating will evolve. It’s a sport which motto is bigger, faster, stronger. No matter what we say, the difficulty cannot be limited. But if you don’t have quality of execution, you can’t win with difficulty alone. The question is not what are you doing, it’s whether you do it or not, and how.
Q: Might the changes that are happening in skating now change the levels of difficulty? For example, the 3A for ladies costs the same as for men, but it’s harder to do for ladies.
A: When men started doing 3A, although the judging system was different, the situation of mastering a jump was similar. At the beginning new difficult jump is hard to master, but then new ways of doing it are found, and the jump became a norm. I think someday a lot of ladies will start doing 3A. But the other thing is to understand why it is so hard for them to do it? Science should find out. Maybe that’s because for a lot of girls even a 2A is not the strongest jump. Let’s look at the strongest athletes of the world, the strongest skaters of Russia – not many girls have a strong 2A. Why Liza successfully does a 3A? Because she has a good 2A. She has a base. But when a 2A might or might not be done well, we can’t even talk about a triple. Returning to the question, I don’t think the price of the elements will be changed now for girls to receive more for their triple axels. We have a good scale of difficulty that can and probably will be corrected, but there’s no need for radical changes in this area. We should pay more attention to how we judge the execution of the elements. If a skater barely rotated a quad and barely lended it, he shouldn’t get a lot for it. We should watch how the more difficult element affects the program as a whole. If it becomes the drawing card then it’s interesting. But if a [badly performed] quad jump spoils a program, then components should fall, not rise. It’s a good question how we should judge elements of the program. So I think we’ll return to this topic more than once. But I don’t think we should draw conclusions now. When this season ends, it will become clearer. We see side-by-side triples in pair skating, more difficult throws and sometimes more difficult twists. There are not many good quad twists because there are not many good triple twists. Jumps are becoming more difficult in single skating. I heard some guys have started trying the quad axel, but didn’t see it happen. So it’s right to analyse everything that’s happening without a rush, quietly analysing everything.
English translation (of a Russia.ru article) by Anna @ ‘Oh These Skaters’ on Tumblr