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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: 


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


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.

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:

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. 

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”. 

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

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:

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!


  1. Thanks! If White's blade was on a flat instead of the right back outside edge for the choctaw exit, why did they still receive a level 4?

    1. Because his last name is White and his partner's last name is Davis. They seldom get downgraded when they make mistakes. Magic Wizard hair rules, ya know?

    2. because of the collusion DUH

    3. To be honest, we were all confused by the calls for this event. We were unable to make sense of them.

  2. How can anyone say these teams are equals? VM are clearly the better team--better skating skills, better carriage, better line...they have all the qualities that made the Russian greats so great. They remind me of Klimova-Ponomarenko. Sad to see them being treated this way. They should be the clear front-runners.

  3. I think DW do a lot of quick movements which make everything look more difficult and clean (they don't hold a position long enough for people to see their lack of control--their quickness is used to disguise this deficit in their skating). When you see the breakdowns, it is clear that they actually do make mistakes...and quite often. They just do not get penalized for them. I was reading a breakdown on another forum and they clearly showed Meryl on a flat for her key point, yet they got level 4 for that Finnstep. People always say they are so clean because they are marked as if they were. The actual skating tells a very different story...

  4. Thanks so much for the analysis!

    I was wondering, would you mind if I translated your post into another language? I'd love to share your posts with other ice dance fans from my country:-)

  5. Can you do an analysis on I/K and P/B's FD from the individual event? I/K skated great, but IMO 6 points difference between two teams' scores seems bit too much.

  6. Great commentary! Yes I agree that Virtue and Moir are the superior ice dancers, their edges are deep and their skating is always elegant and effortless.

  7. Good work that you're doing here! But I think there are 2 mistakes with regards to lift levels in this post.

    1) If you read the fine print in the tech handbook, the L4 for a combo lift is given because of the creative/difficult entry of the first half (Charlie establishing a spread eagle before Meryl leaves the ice) and therefore D/W's rotational lift only meets to need L3 requirements - ie. 4 rotations of pose by Meryl, and 5 rotations by Charlie. The final rotation after the pause is the allowed exit of maximum one rotation. So, technically, I think they were supposed to get a L4 on that.

    2) V/M's straightline has a creative/difficult entry because Scott establishes a spread eagle position before Tessa leaves the ice. He then transfers to his difficult pose of one foot. In the individual event, where they opted for him to remain in a spread eagle, the spread eagle is the difficult pose because the entry and lift difficult poses can be the same. I think the "significant transitional movement" refers to more something that happens before the lift actually is established - ie before the lifted partner is fully supported - eg. the rotation Tessa does at the beginning of their SD lift.

    1. April 19 @ 23:44

      I agree with your point number one. That particular rule for combination lifts is buried in fine print away from the other lift requirements. However, I think the author(s) of this blog are the ones who are correct about why VM's straight line lift still received a level 4 during the Olympic Team Event despite the uncharacteristically messy execution. This is one of those "the devil is in the details" situations. The requirements for a level 4 lift are those for a level 3 lift plus a creative or difficult entry. The requirements for level 3 are the lifted partner sustains a difficult pose for 3 seconds or moves through a change in pose and the lifting partner sustains a difficult position for 3 seconds.

      I'm not entirely sure that in the original iteration of this lift that the spread eagle entry was what was being considered for the difficult or creative entry It's not just the spread eagle into the lift that counts for difficult entry. It's the spread eagle plus one of two things happens.

      1.) The lifting partner continuously sustains that position for the lift. As you pointed out, VM did this in the FD for the indivudal event.


      Now we fall back to looking at those level 3 requirements. In the original version of the lift, Scott comes out of the spread eagle and immediately on to one foot with his free leg bent at the knee behind him, then he straightens the leg forward and it's THEN once that leg is held straight forward that he's in the difficult position he holds for three seconds. He does not go straight from that spread eagle to the difficult position that is held for 3 seconds. He goes through an intermediate position. In the original version of the lift, since he doesn't hold the spread eagle position and he also doesn't change into the difficult position held for 3 seconds without going through that intermediate pose with his free leg bent behind him, they do not meet the requirements for option b for a creative/difficult entry.

      " I think the "significant transitional movement" refers to more something that happens before the lift actually is established - ie before the lifted partner is fully supported - "

      You say you think that, but it's not what is said under option d for creative/difficult entry. It says significant transitional movement performed by the lifted partner to reach and establish the desired pose. It says nothing about it having to happen before the lifted partner is fully supported, establishing the lift. The pose they desired for this lift was Tessa facing completely full forward. From the time they start the lift until she's in the full forward position, she's moving. It's significant transitional movement, not a change of pose.

      With the changed lift for the FD, they actually fulfill the requirements for a creative/difficult entry twice with Scott maintaining the spread eagle and Tessa's significant transition.

    2. Part 1

      Hi 18:56, as I said on the dubemoir blog, I disagree. I'm well aware of all the rule distinctions that you posted above. For the lifting partner, it is not a "difficult pose" that is held, it is a "difficult position". Scott's difficult position is that he's on one foot. There is nothing I could find to suggest that him changing the position of his free leg is relevant at all. There is no intermediate position between the spread eagle and being on one foot.

      Now, the significant transitional movement is a grey area IMO, so this is only my opinion, but I still don't think that Tessa's would qualify. Yes, that was my own wording, and was why I said "I think". I thought it was obvious I was paraphrasing what I thought the rulebook said. It may not have been the best way to word it, but I was trying to describe the type of motions that seems to be most often granted that status, and perhaps I should have just linked more examples instead. These are examples of what I've concluded are usually considered as "significant":

      and *eye roll* this

      Why I came to that conclusion: That specific option (d) does not give any information about what could be considered "significant" in the Q&A, and so I had been going through several performances from Worlds trying to pinpoint what might be acceptable. The rules state that once a class of entry* is used (even redundantly) it cannot be counted again. There are teams that have the woman make *some* degree of transitional movement, and yet are able to get credit for that option later in the program. That, working through examples of what were given a L4 in other teams performances, is what has led me to believe that that there is some sort of standard applied to what is significant and what is not, and that simply getting into a pose is not enough. It should be more clearly defined, but in the absence of that, I looked for how it was applied in competition.

      [*The (b) difficult position for lifting partner can be reused if the position itself is different. Scott uses a flat spread eagle on the straightline, and an outside spread eagle for the curve - this is not a problem.]

      Here are some examples:
      A transitional move on their first lift, but the level is covered by Alex's spread eagle. They get credit for (d) later on their curve lift.

      A climb and lean entry on their first lift, but the level is covered by his lunge position. They get credit for (d) later on the entry to their reverse rotational.

      A transitional move on their first lift, but the level is covered by an extra rotation. Their combo lift later gets credit for (d).

      And also Seasons - if the straightline uses (d) , then their first rotational can't use it.

    3. Part 2/2

      Now, (a) "unexpected entry without evident preparation" is also further undefined, although the example of the woman entering by jumping unassisted is OK-ed in the Q&A. Perhaps in all of these examples, the first transitional movements are considered significant enough, and the other entry is classified as (a). I think that's unlikely. The Shibs and Z/S have their first entries covered by (b) and the second entries seem to be the epitome of what you'd think of by "significant transitional movement". V/M have the first entry covered by Scott's spread eagle (transitioned without intermediate to one-foot) and you can see V/M prep for their first rotational for a split second (why give the panel a chance to call something like that?). So, I'm going with that the transitional movement needs to be more than what Tessa did in the first lift. T/S's first one is an especially hard call from my point of view, but it is more just placing her in position than anything especially transitory by her. But as I said, it's a grey area. It would be very helpful (and only proper!) if on the protocol there was more notation about how a lift level was assigned, like there is for the SD key points.

      One thing I just *cannot* figure out and would welcome anyone coming up with an explanation is why Chock/Bates' were able to get all L4 entries.
      Their first lift you cannot deny there's a (d) significant transitional movement to get to the 3-second pose, even though it's also covered by a spread eagle entry. Their curve lift has (a) Madison jumping into it. But then then their rotational once again gets credit for (d). WHY? It needs the entry because it doesn't have an extra rotation and spread eagle entrances don't count for rotationals. The first one has to be a held pose type, rather than a sloppy change of pose, because a team can only use change of pose once and they do in the rotational. The only explanation I can come up with is they got a pass because they're Igor's team, but seems odd for them to *plan* something that might get docked. Weird.

      In terms of the total number of errors, I at one point had some concerns about the footwork analysis, but I'll have to go through and check it again to remember. I'll post again when I have time to do that, if I do indeed find any issues. My comment on dubemoir wasn't meant to be bashing this blog, because it's great that the authors are trying to shed some light on these areas. But I have seen V/M fans bring up this blog as if it's infallible, and it's obvious the authors are not experts and are figuring stuff out as they go, as many of us are. But the attempt to do so, and provide another space for these topics to be discussed, is very commendable!

    4. Thanks for explaining your interpretation.

      I think this is the crux of everything: " But as I said, it's a grey area. It would be very helpful (and only proper!) if on the protocol there was more notation about how a lift level was assigned, like there is for the SD key points."

      We have multiple people--you, me, the author(s) of this blog, the dubemoir blogger--looking at these rules, trying to figure out what they mean, and sometimes coming up with different interpretations of what is what. There needs to be more clarification in the rulebook itself--if there are standards for different things, they need to be written down so everyone is on the same page instead of struggling to figure out what's what-- and there needs to be more clarification on the protocols as what counted for what. The way they do it for the SD keypoints is the perfect example. Give the various level features each a code number or letter then put those on the protocol so people can cross reference back to the COP. I understand that some of these would not be Yes or No like it is for a keypoint, but in gymnastics, the elements and skills are all given a code letter based on difficulty, with the more difficult skills earning more points. If the gymnastics judges can mark those elements in real time, then the tech panel in skating can too. I suspect though that the ISU doesn't want that much transparency, so we're all left to our discussions and trying to figure out what is what because no one who can tell us that is going to. We have questions that no one in a position of power is willing to try to give us the answers to.

      " But I have seen V/M fans bring up this blog as if it's infallible, and it's obvious the authors are not experts and are figuring stuff out as they go, as many of us are."

      My impression is that while the authors of this blog aren't trained CoP experts, I don't think they're necessarily trying to figure out everything as they go. I do think they know skating--the edges, the different turns, etc, even if interpreting the CoP is something we're all trying to figure out. I do agree that there are fans out there who do try to say this site and the dubemoir blog are 100% infallible who don't need to be doing that. IMO, this blog has been careful to say that this is their opinion, interpretation, or what they thought, just as the dubemoir blogger has tried to make it clear that the issues with lift mechanics, etc. is a question of does the rulebook itself need to be changed rather than criteria in the rulebook as currently written not being fulfilled.

      I can't help you with the Chock and Bates thing, but my fear there is the same as yours that they're getting away with stuff because they're Igor's number 1 US team.

    5. Agreed! :) Especially this "we're all left to our discussions and trying to figure out what is what because no one who can tell us that is going to. We have questions that no one in a position of power is willing to try to give us the answers to." It's very frustrating! I don't mind the process of fiddling around to try and figure it out, but it's ridiculous that we can't just know the answer for 100% sure. Yeah, and instead of Y/N, it could be just the letters from the options list in a particular order. A-D for creative/difficult entry, A-I for difficult pose for lifted partner, and then maybe "P" for change of pose, A-J for difficult position for lifting partner, Y/N for 3 seconds or a # of rotations for rotationals. So like SlLi-BHAY for Seasons' straightline, if my interpretation is correct.

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