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Saturday, 15 February 2014

Reviewing the Top two Finishers in the Free Dance Portion of the Olympic Team Event

We received an email request to explain the levels of the top two finishers in the Olympic Team Event Free Dance. We have tried to explain the calls for the levels from what we can see in the videos available to the public. Here is the breakdown of the scores: 

http://www.sochi2014.com/en/figure-skating-team-ice-dance-free-dance 

The various turns you will see in these step sequences have been discussed in this entry:

http://icedanceanalysts.blogspot.ca/2013/11/to-everything-turn-turn-turn-turns-in.html

Let's have a look at the step sequences for these two teams, keeping in mind that the judges are looking for distinct edges (they have to be sure the skater is on the required edge--edge quality is accounted for in GOEs):

We'll first look at the requirements for the circular and diagonal step sequences for the free dance, both of which are done in hold.




Here is the circular step sequence for the team that finished first in this segment of the event, Meryl Davis/Charlie White for which they received a level 3.


video


Davis /White likely did not receive credit for their rocker. Davis’s blade goes flat on the entry edge when it should remain a right forward outside edge throughout. 





Here is their diagonal step sequence for which they received a level 4:


video


In the diagonal, White placed his blade on a flat for the exit edge of the first choctaw (beginning of diagonal step sequence) instead of a right back outside edge. We are surprised they received credit for this turn.





On the rocker, it appears Davis’s blade was barely on a right forward outside edge for her exit edge. 






Let's have a look at the lift requirements.





They struggled in transitioning into the rotational portion of this lift, but that would affect GOEs as they still completed the requirements for a level 4 for the first part of the combination lift. The main problem occurs on White’s rotations for the second part of this lift. After 5 rotations, White stops his rotation and therefore does not complete the 6 rotations necessary from the lifting partner for a rotational lift to be deemed level 4. We were surprised they received a level 4 for this lift. 





video


Virtue/Moir had a bit of a struggle getting into the straight line lift, which resulted in lower GOEs. They did however meet the requirements for a level 4 straight line lift, with Virtue leaning out forwards with her support point being her leg and Moir transitioning from a spread eagle (on a straight line) to a one foot position. The creative/difficult entry is Virtue’s “significant transitional movement…to reach and establish the desired pose”. 





video

Let's have a look at their circular step sequence for which they received a level 3:


video


In the circular step sequence, perhaps the panel felt that Virtue did not show a distinct enough forward outside edge which is required as the exit edge for this choctaw. 







And here is their diagonal step sequence for which they received a level 2:


video


In the diagonal, we believe it was Virtue's counter (entry edge) and her choctaw (exit edge) in the first section of the sequence that caused them to go down to a level 2.

On the counter, perhaps the technical panel felt Virtue didn't hold the right back inside long enough for the entry edge.





On the choctaw, it appears Virtue places her blade on a bit of a flat or barely an outside edge before quickly leaning onto the right back outside edge that is required for this choctaw.




What did you think of the ice dance portion of the team event? Let us know in the comments section!

Friday, 7 February 2014

What's in a Step Sequence?

More precisely, what’s in a level 4 step sequence? 

Let's take a look back at the ISU Handbook for Ice Dance Technical Panels 2013 for the criteria the Technical Panel uses in assigning a level to this element.

Types of difficult turns

Double Twizzle, Bracket, Rocker, Counter, Choctaw, Outside Mohawk “skated on distinct and recognizable edges and in accordance with the description in Rule 604”. 

The one-foot turns have been bolded. 

Extra Features (specifically for the Not Touching Step Sequence): 

Spread Eagle, Lunge, Shoot the Duck, Ina Bauer, Toe Steps, Dance Jump, or a combination of those, not exceeding one measure of music.



How are GOEs Determined for this Element?

Let's have a look at the criteria the Judges use in determining the appropriate GOE for this element.


We have selected an example of a step sequence performed by Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir that we feel is the strongest execution of this element. They have elected to do a midline sequence for their Not Touching Step Sequence. Although they received a perfect score for this element at Skate Canada (a level 4 and maximum GOEs from all but one judge, whose mark was discarded in the final score), we have selected their version of this element from the 2013 Grand Prix Final, for which they also received a level 4 and many GOEs of +3.
Here is the protocol from this event. 

Here is a video of the step sequence only:

video


Below we have broken the step sequence down into its component parts. We have provided gifs slowed to 40% of the original speed for each turn.

They begin the sequence with Virtue performing a left forward inside counter turn and Moir performing a right back inside counter. That means that Virtue is traveling clockwise on a left forward inside entry edge and turns her blade counter-clockwise to exit on a left back inside edge traveling in a counter-clockwise direction; Moir is traveling clockwise on a right back inside entry edge and turns his blade counter-clockwise to exit on a right forward inside edge traveling in a counter-clockwise direction.



They move into a transitional step (dance jump) which is followed by a left forward inside open choctaw for Virtue and a right forward inside choctaw for Moir. That means that Virtue has a left forward inside entry edge, then brings her right foot forward and exits on a right back outside edge; Moir has a right forward inside entry edge, then brings his left foot forward and exits on a left back outside edge.



They then move directly into a double twizzle, with Virtue turning clockwise and Moir turning counter-clockwise.



They use a transitional step (toe step) into a left forward inside counter for Virtue and a right forward inside counter for Moir. Virtue is traveling clockwise on a left forward inside edge and turns her blade counter-clockwise to exit on a left back inside edge traveling in a counter-clockwise direction. Moir is traveling counter-clockwise on a right forward inside edge and turns his blade clockwise to exit on a right back inside edge traveling in a clockwise direction.



They then use a transitional step in which they change direction and enter into a left forward outside swing Mohawk. They enter on a left forward outside edge, swing the free leg forward, and exit on a right back outside edge.



They each stay on the right foot and move from back inside to back outside edge before changing feet into a toe step turn which they exit on right back inside edges that curve clockwise. They then take one toe step into right forward inside brackets, the first turn in their one-foot turn section. They enter on right forward inside edges traveling counter-clockwise, turn their blades clockwise, and exit on right back outside edges traveling counter-clockwise.



They each stay on one foot and change over to right back inside edges (that travel clockwise). These right back inside edges are their entry edges for their next counter turn. They each turn their blade counter-clockwise to exit on right forward inside edges traveling counter-clockwise.



These right forward inside edges traveling counter-clockwise become their entry edges for their rocker turns. Each turns their blade counter-clockwise to exit on right back inside edges traveling clockwise.



They complete the one-foot turn section with double twizzles entered into on right back outside edges.



Some general notes on this step sequence:
They enter into it from dance steps. They have chosen a mirror pattern where they part and then converge in the first section and a matching pattern for the rest of the step sequence. Note the difficult transitional steps between the outside Mohawk and the third counter. Also note how they exit their final double twizzle on right forward inside edges and each stay on one foot to decelerate at the end, gently sliding into a stop, after which they immediately pick up their speed. The long, sweeping curves of their blades (entry and exit edge curves), the deep knee bends, the stability of their blades, the stability of their upper bodies as their knees are doing the work, and the effortless speed they maintain throughout this element make this element worthy of excellent GOEs.


Thursday, 6 February 2014

You Be the Judge, er, Technical Specialist: Evaluating the Key Points of the Finnstep at ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships 2014

The purpose of this post is to give readers the opportunity to apply their knowledge of the key points of the Finnstep in reviewing the top three teams at the ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships 2014. We have provided videos of the Finnsteps in their entirety along with gifs of their key points. We have reiterated what you should be looking for in each of the key points and also identified common errors based on what we have seen this season. We encourage you to slow the videos down and pause them at moments of weight transfer to judge correct blade placement or at the commencement of rotation in the twizzles to determine if the correct number of rotations have been completed.


Ideally, we would have access to the footage used by the technical panel in evaluating these pattern dances, but we still think this exercise can be valuable in understanding what is happening in the key points.

Here is the protocol for this segment of the event.

And here are the videos of the Finnsteps:

Piper Gilles/Paul Poirier:

video



Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue:

video


Alexandra Aldridge/Daniel Eaton:

video


Finnstep Section I

Key Point 1
Lady & Man Steps 1 & 4 (XB-RF, XB-LF) 
and Lady Step 12 (LFO Tw1½)

You are looking for each partner to cross the right foot behind the left (below the knee) for the first step and then the left foot behind the right (again below the knee) for the fourth step. Soon after (step 12) the female partner enters into 1.5 twizzles from a left forward outside entry edge.
Mistakes on this key point usually occur on step 12, the lady’s twizzle of 1.5 rotations entered into on a left forward outside edge. This twizzle has to be performed very quickly according to the timing rules of this pattern and thus it is easy to lose balance on this step.

Piper Gilles/Paul Poirier:





Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue:





Alexandra Aldridge/Daniel Eaton:




Key Point 2
Lady Steps 20-21
(XB-LBO, XF-RBI/RBI Tw1½/RFO)

You are looking for the female partner to cross her left foot behind her right foot (below the knee) on a back outside edge and then cross her right foot in front of her left foot (also below the knee) on a back inside edge. Errors on this key point most commonly occur on the next part where the female partner twizzles 1.5 rotations entering on that same right forward inside edge and exiting on a right forward outside edge. It is usually the exit edge not being a clear outside edge that causes the key point to be missed and thus the level to be reduced.

Piper Gilles/Paul Poirier:



Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue:



Alexandra Aldridge/Daniel Eaton:



Key Point 3
Man Steps 20-21
(XB-LFI, RFO-Sw3/RBI Tw1/RBI)

You are looking for the male partner to cross his left foot behind his right on a forward inside edge and then cross his right foot in front of his left and then enter into a swing three turn  on a forward outside edge, exiting this turn on a right back inside edge. This edge becomes the entry edge for the single twizzle that follows, and the male partner exits this twizzle on the same right back inside edge. Errors on this key point most often occur due to the man not showing a clear inside edge on the cross step (he either hits a flat or shows an outside edge) or on the exit of the twizzle.

Piper Gilles/Paul Poirier:



Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue:



Alexandra Aldridge/Daniel Eaton:



Finnstep Section II

Key Point 1
Lady Steps 32 & 33 (LFO Sw-ClCho, 
RBI/RBO/RBO Tw1½/RFI slide into stop)


You are looking for the female partner to move forward on her left foot on an outside edge and swing her right leg forward and step onto a right back inside edge (swing closed choctaw on left forward outside edge). The female partner then changes to a right back outside edge which is the entry edge for the 1.5 twizzle. She exits this twizzle on a right forward inside edge and slides to a halt on this edge. Errors on this key point are likely to occur on the exit edge of the swing closed choctaw: sometimes the skater fails to step down on a clear inside edge on the exit. An error may also occur on the twizzle, with the skater not showing continuous rotation.

Piper Gilles/Paul Poirier:



Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue:



Alexandra Aldridge/Daniel Eaton:



Key Point 2
Man Steps 32 to 33c (LFO Sw-ClCho, RBI 
OpMo, LFI, RFI/RFI Tw1/RFI slide into 
stop)

You are looking for the male partner to move forward on his left foot on an outside edge and swing his right leg forward and step onto a right back inside edge (swing closed choctaw on left forward outside edge). The male partner then performs an open mohawk on this same right back inside edge, bringing the left foot in front of his right and placing that left foot on a forward inside edge. He then steps onto his right forward inside edge and performs a single twizzle, exiting on a right forward inside edge and sliding to a halt on this edge. Errors on this key point are likely to occur on the exit edge of the swing closed choctaw: sometimes the skater fails to step down on a clear inside edge on the exit. An error may also occur on the twizzle, with the skater not showing continuous rotation.

Piper Gilles/Paul Poirier:



Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue:



Alexandra Aldridge/Daniel Eaton:



Key Point 3
Lady & Man Steps 64 & 65 (LFI XBClCho, RBO3/RFI Tw1½)

Both partners use  left forward inside entry edges and bring their right legs behind their left and cross the right foot behind the left foot on a back outside edge (LFI XBClCho). On this same right back outside edge they each perform a three turn with the free leg extended. They then bring the free leg in for the twizzle of 1.5 rotations. Errors on this step commonly occur on the weight transfer in the choctaw, with one or both partners not placing the right foot on a clear outside edge.

Piper Gilles/Paul Poirier:



Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue:



Alexandra Aldridge/Daniel Eaton:



Based on these videos and gifs, how would you assess the key points of the top three teams at the 2014 ISU Four Continents Championships? Let us know in the comments section!