Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Thoughts on the Olympic free dance

In the stands ...

A beautiful day in Canada ... after walking half a mile uphill to the venue, my hips were OK!

Before reading this post, please read the prior post.

There have been a lot of sour grapes and displays of poor sportsmanship recently from certain competitors in the men's and ice dance events. The following is one judge's humble opinion; note that I was a spectator and that my view was from a vantage point much different from the judges'. Perhaps they saw things I did not see. Being in the arena live, I certainly saw things that TV viewers did not see.

Keep in mind that it is nearly impossible to "judge" figure skating while watching on TV. You can not see the differences in speed, and you often have no way to tell where in the rink the skaters are. Without this perspective it is difficult to comment on skating, in particular ice dancing, which is judged on subtleties that just can't be seen on TV.

Lucky enough, I was in the arena live for the free dance final. Here are my thoughts.

Live, the Canadians were mesmerizing and skated perfectly. You couldn't help but love their program. However, to an ice dance purist, both this program and their "Umbrellas of Cherbourg" program from two seasons ago lacked music with a continuous and distinct rhythmic beat. They often skated to the melody. They did it so well, however, that only someone expressing sour grapes would use it to conclude they "did not dance" and did not deserve the marks they got (as stated by the Italian team). This is a new age for ice dancing at the elite levels, and the sport is progressing past the old ways of thinking. Stay tuned for still more changes next year as the CD and OD merge. While I don't like that decision, I realize that to progress, ice dancing can't stay stuck in the past just for the sake of tradition.

I also think Charlie and Meryl could have been first in the free dance, if not overall. This is not nationalistic bias, because I was happy that the Canadians won. Meryl and Charlie have different strengths than the Canadians (more technically demanding program and more intricate and difficult transitions vs. better unison and amazing chemistry). So while I would have "placed" the top two teams opposite the outcome (if I were placing them, which I would not be if I were judging), either outcome was fine with me. The top two teams were in the top two spots and it could go either way. It was wonderful to see the Canadians win gold on their home ice. Both teams should be proud of pushing the sport to a new level of excellence.

The Russians' footwork was sloppy and shallow, their spin was slow and traveled, and his twizzles turned into a spin, among other problems. Their lifts were assisted by cords on her costume. Their transitions were slow and unoriginal. Their musical interpretation was robotic. The were substantially overmarked, in my opinion. They should have been fourth, or even fifth.

It was Ben and Tanith who got screwed last night, and they were as gracious about it as they could have been, a refreshing change after the poor sportsmanship we've seen from others during these Olympic games. They should have been third in the free dance in my opinion, and that should have translated to a bronze medal.

Just one humble dance judge's opinion ... Terri, reporting live from Vancouver


Carl said...

Thanks Terrie,
That was a wonderful report! Glad you are doing so well. I am stuck in PB and have been unable to watch anything Olympic (pout)!
But my wifey is DVR'ing the heck out of it so I'll have lots to see when I get home! I've got video of Charlie and Meryl from like 2000 she and he back then made me sit up and take notice! I thought they'd peak for the next Olympics but I believe that Ben and Tanniths move to PA helped tehm develope sooner! I loved them at Nationals!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your last 2 posts on the skating from an actual ice dancer. It was very informative. I too felt that Ben and Tanith should have been third in my subjective view from the TV and not a skater, but I think that is where the subjective part and history of competitors comes in.

HipSk8 said...

When it comes to international competitions, there is always an element of politics ...