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Olympic Ladies' FS: Adelina Sotnikova

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Adorable, perfectly muscled young spitfire takes the ice.  :-)

Opening 3lutz-3toe.  Difficult!  Good size, not the most beautiful shapes, good cleanliness of jumps.  The degree of difficulty is awesome, but that's not up for judging -- that's in the base mark.  The quality of execution I'd give a +1.

Then a bunch of not very memorable crossovers and a bit of two-foot skating as she sets up for her next jump.  Here is where she is clearly not in the league of an Asada or a Kostner.  They would not have taken up so much time with empty skating.

But then!  Ooooh!  Tricky tricky steps into a ginormous 3flip!  Oh, that is loooooovely!  Cleverly done!  The landing stops a tiny bit so I would give it a +2 and not a +3, but that is spectacular.  :-)  :-)  Happy jump!

A little bit more lumbering about between jumping passes, some poses not held and extended to their full choreographic potential.  This would not be notable except in comparison to top-level masters like Asada and Kostner, who have had tons more experience.  But compared to Asada's steady feeling of surefire connectedness to the ice or Kostner's  otherworldly stillness, Sotnikova is a good example of a less seasoned skater who is still learning to connect the jumps into an overall program.

Oh!  Into a huge 3loop!  From this camera angle, it looked good to me, +1, but I see that all the judges gave it +2 or +3, so maybe it was even more majestic when seen live.

A bit more under-realized choreography into -- yikes!  A flying camel that turns into the most painful-looking catchfoot variation I've ever seen, like a donut spin but it looks as though she has some extra vertebrae or a sort of hinge effect in the hip socket so the two-handed hold can pull the free leg up sort of...sideways, straight up into the air.  OW.  Oh, ow.  Um, I guess +2 because wow, especially because of the inside edge of the skating foot, if you can even think about the skating foot while all that is going on!

After that, she takes a bit of a break with some two-footed skating with a spiral in it.  Asada and Kostner would never have taken such a long break, but that is because they are goddesses and not mere mortals.

Having regained her footing, the next jumping pass is a monster 2axel-3toe.  I'm giving this one a +2.  The size and cleanliness of the jumps are exceptional, but the landing position of the 2axel is a bit hunched over, not the ethereal perfection of Kostner or the surefooted carriage of Asada.

More two-footed skating into a 3flip-2toe-2loop.  This is the combination where she stepped out of the landing and it's shown as the reason she shouldn't have won over Yuna Kim, but it's not actually that huge of a mistake.  The 3flip was big and good, the 2toe was fine, it was just the 2loop that was cheated and had a step out.  -2.  The bigger issue for me is that during the interval between the two combinations, she gave up any pretense of doing anything but marking time until the next jumping pass.

Oh goodness, that gets even more unmistakable in the lead-up to her big, lovely 3salchow.  She wasn't doing much but setting up for that jump -- it's easier to do a great big sailing jump like that if you're not packing other moves into your program like Asada was.  +1.

And then even less pretense leading up to her big, easy 2axel.  +2.

Exceptional layback catchfoot, terrific centering and flexibility.  +2.

Not crazy about the step sequence.  It didn't have emotional connection to the music and I didn't feel like she used it to express anything.  On the other hand, who can blame her, considering that she's just skated the best she's ever skated in her entire life, in front of Putin and a home crowd, and absolutely nailed every jump and owned her spins and been huge?  I give this sequence a +1 for difficulty but not more.  This is because I'm watching at home with a remote control.  Had I been there live, the feeling of performance and moment within the arena would have improved my score to a +2, and I think that would have been the more honest and accurate score than the dispassionate +1 I'm giving now.

Oh, nice spiral sequence.  +1.

Camel illusion sit hopover sit front catchfoot upright.  Very, very nice!  Good centering, good speed, steady positions, but most of all, fantastic and almost superhuman concentration to keep her head at the end of THAT performance!  +2.

Time to count:

3lutz-3toe
3flip
3loop
2axel-3toe
3flip-2toe-2loop
3salchow
2axel

So, seven jumping passes, seven triples, the repeated triples were flip and toe, the quality of the jumps was extremely good.  The spins were also extremely good.  The in-between skating was several notches below that, with a lot of time spent on two feet.  The choreography and interpretation are not mature yet; she was not able to convey a mood with the quality of her movement, and she was not elevating her skating or the music by drawing out the character of the music with her choreography.  So I would put her jump quality very high, as high as Kostner's though for different qualitative reasons, but her in-between skating and other Program Component Scores at a much lower level with the younger, less experienced skaters.

But if we take a look at what the judging panel gave her for Program Components, there are 9.5s and 9.75s there for things like "Linking footwork" and "Choreography" and "Interpretation"!  Really?  Really?  This is absurd.  This is really absurd.  With all that two-footed skating, her PCS total is higher than Asada's, higher even than Kostner's with Kostner's gorgeously interpreted ending step sequence.  That is absolutely not right.

I understand that if the panel meant to say such a performance had such greatness that the current scoring system is inadequate and must be unfairly manipulated in order to produce the result they want -- in order to say that Sotnikova's ability to deliver under the pressure of the moment lifts her to champion status regardless of the level of her transitional skating -- then of course they had no choice but to give unrealistically inflated scores in the wrong categories to produce the right numbers.  The problem, of course, is that the skaters prepare their programs according to the rules of the current scoring system.  The variable of "ability to skate up to Olympic pressure" is not supposed to outweigh the variables of quality of in-between skating, of posture and carriage, of choreography, of ability to express meaning by combining movement quality and music.  If the skaters had been told ahead of time that Olympic greatness -- of which Sotnikova has loads and loads -- would count for more than those skills, then by all means, the other skaters could also have replaced the complex transitions of their programs with time on two feet as they prepared their jumps!

She did a fantastic job, I find her lovable, she transcended the Olympics, she gave an immortal performance -- Sotnikova did everything she could and more.  The judging, though.  This program should have scored behind Asada's and Kostner's on program components.  I don't mind having Sotnikova as our Olympic champion, gutsy and talented young woman that she is; she is bound to get better, too.  Bad judging does not always correlate to unacceptable results.  But it vastly corrupts trust and creates a destructive, eventually toxic cynicism in the sport.

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
kellychambliss
Feb. 25th, 2014 11:11 pm (UTC)
Bad judging does not always correlate to unacceptable results. But it vastly corrupts trust and creates a destructive, eventually toxic cynicism in the sport.

This.
aigooism
Feb. 25th, 2014 11:44 pm (UTC)
I find your analysis interesting. I do agree that she was medal-worthy, but not gold at all. Personally, I think Mao would have deserve gold, if I were to based on anyone's free skate, but nope.
ratphooey
Feb. 26th, 2014 02:00 am (UTC)
YES.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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