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Tuesday, 21 January 2014

More on Finnstep Key Points: A Look Back at the Pattern Dances of the 2013 Grand Prix Final

At the request of someone in the comments section, we are doing a breakdown of the key points at the Grand Prix Final in December 2013. 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. In addition to this, we have created gifs of the key points of the top three teams in the Short Dance and identified where teams missed key points or where they could have missed them. Unfortunately we do not always have the desired angle for each key point or consistency in the angles from which each key point is shown (the angle sometimes differs from team to team) and the video quality is not always great, but we have tried to explain the key points and errors based on what we can see here. We have also included stills to show an exact moment but we recommend viewing these alongside the key points in motion to get an idea of how the blade, ankle, and leg will look when on a flat, an inside edge, and an outside edge. In this post we are just covering what the technical panel looks for in assessing key points and will discuss what the judges consider when determining GOEs in a subsequent post.

Here is the protocol for this segment of the event.

And below are the Finnsteps for each of the top three teams:

Davis/White:

video


Virtue/Moir:


video


Bobrova/Soloviev:

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.

Unfortunately the camera angles for the second part of this key point (step 12) in the performances of Davis&White and Bobrova&Soloviev do not allow us to see their feet, but we have included gifs of them so you can identify when this step occurs in the dance.

Lady & Man Steps 1 & 4 (XB-RF, XB-LF) 


Davis/White

Virtue/Moir

Bobrova/Soloviev


Lady Step 12 (LFO Tw1½)

Davis/White

Virtue/Moir


Bobrova/Soloviev


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.



Davis/White

Virtue/Moir


Bobrova/Soloviev



Bobrova/Soloviev did not receive credit for this key point. Bobrova appears to achieve the correct edges on the cross steps but exits the twizzle on a flat rather than an outside edge and thus does not meet the criteria for this key point.


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 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 with 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.




Davis/White

Virtue/Moir


Bobrova/Soloviev



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.

Davis/White


Davis/White received credit for this key point, but it looks like this was a close call as Davis’s exit edge for this choctaw was a little flat/barely an inside edge and thus not a clear inside edge (again, this is not the best angle). She quickly leans to produce the inside edge which is aided by the movement of the free leg back and to the right, but this is after the blade placement (and remember that the blade placement is very important in the assessment of key points).

Virtue/Moir


Virtue appears to be solidly on a right back inside edge.


Bobrova/Soloviev


Unfortunately the quality of this picture does not allow us a good look at their blades, but when viewed in slow motion it appears Bobrova steps solidly onto her right back inside edge.


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.




Davis/White

Virtue/Moir


Bobrova/Soloviev




Bobrova/Soloviev did not receive credit for this key point. The issue appears to be on the choctaw: it looks as though Soloviev does not get solidly on his right back inside edge. His weight goes forward and the back of his blade does not appear to be in contact with the ice. Also, he may have stopped short of completing the full 1.5 rotations on the twizzle.

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.


Davis/White



Davis/White received credit for this key point, but Davis appears to place her blade on a flat rather than a clear outside edge for the exit edge of the choctaw. With another technical panel they might not have received credit for this key point. (Unfortunately White's blade is obscured by Davis's boot, but if one partner does not meet the criteria, the team does not receive credit for the key point).

Virtue/Moir



We do not get a very clear view or a good enough angle, but from what we can see, Virtue looks to be on a slight outside edge (thus, this might have been a close call) and Moir is clearly on an outside edge thus getting credit for the choctaw portion of this key point here. The three turn and twizzle portions were clean.

Bobrova/Soloviev


Unfortunately we do not get a very good angle on this step but from what we can see Bobrova appears to be on a slight outside edge (thus, this might have been a close call) and Soloviev is on a clear outside edge, thus earning credit for the choctaw portion of this key point here. The three turn and twizzle portions were clean.

How did you feel about the calls for the Finnstep? Let us know in the comments section!

UPDATE:
Thank you to the person in the comments section who provided links to better quality pictures and gifs. We have reviewed them and conclude that these are still gray areas. We just want to reiterate that we are discussing these key points based on what we see and we acknowledge that we do not have access to the same footage the technical panel reviews. Thus, we do not make our claims with absolute certainty. We do, however, believe it is often possible to see enough of what is going on in the key points to warrant a discussion. The purpose of this exercise is to show viewers how to identify key points and understand how the criteria for each key point is met. This includes identifying times when an edge may not be very clear thus resulting in different technical panels coming to different conclusions.

This post was inspired by a request from a reader as well as sentiments expressed on other figure skating blogs and forums. We noticed that people were curious about the levels teams were receiving and how these calls differ across events and were frustrated by the lack of information available to them. We saw similar dissections of key points and decided this would be a useful exercise here, if for no other reason than to encourage discussion about these aspects of the sport. Ideally, we would have access to what the technical panel sees but since we do not, we do our best to make sense of the key points and level calls based on what we do have available to us. We realize that opinions will vary and we encourage open discussion.

33 comments:

  1. virtue/moir were the clear winners here i dont understand how they lost

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    Replies
    1. Virtue/Moir DID get all level 4 key points.

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    2. So did D-W, no? When they should have lost at least two levels on key points, not to mention the twizzles.

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    3. It appears to me that Davis/White received credit for a few of the key points that they probably shouldn't have. I think that V/M lost not because of anything they did, but because D/W were given a few gifts by the technical panel.

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    4. 10 bucks says there will be more dubious calls on d/w's levels at the olympics and they'll easily win the OGM medal they don't deserve

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    5. I hope the ISU judges and technical panels get a refresher course before Sochi, because clearly, they are either blind as bats or don't know what the hell they are doing. Virtue/Moir should have not only won the SD handily, but the FD as well, it was so vastly more difficult and executed better than anything Davis/White can even imagine attempting. What a farce.

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    6. true. ice dance is such a farce right now thanks to this kind of judging

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    7. ISU, are you listening? The world is on to you. Please wise fairly and according to your own rule book, or else you risk making a complete joke of ice dance and have it thrown out of the Olympics. What a great legacy.

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    8. ^please judge fairly

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    9. the worst thing is that the media is sweeping these unfair judging under the rug

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    10. Have any of you seen this article about V/M. Totally rocks http://www.skatecanada.ca/AboutUs/NewsDetails/tabid/2157/sni%5B2797%5D/3259/language/en-US/Default.aspx

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    11. @ 7:36
      the link is actually http://www.skatecanada.ca/AboutUs/NewsDetails/tabid/2157/sni[2797]/3259/language/en-US/Default.aspx

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  2. People keep crying foul on BS, but DW are the ones receiving the biggest gifts. How come when BS make mistakes they get marked down but DW don't?

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    Replies
    1. B-S are Russian so all hate them. It is okay when North American team does this.

      Bobrova is better skater than Davis, imo

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  3. I don't see the difference in Meryl and Tessa's edges in Section 2, KP 1. Tessa's on a flat too.

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    Replies
    1. Virtue's edge was a VERY clear outside edge, unlike Meryl's. Meryl's was questionable. Also, quite a bit of toe pushing from them.

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  4. * Unfortunately BlogSpot doesn't let me upload images, so just copy & paste the links in your browser to view the (slightly higher quality, I think) images I've provided below.

    First I want to say that the video we're using to "analyze" these patterns is *really bad video* shot from angles that are basically useless. So I'm kind of baffled as to how anyone can be that sure of anything but the most egregious of errors based on the above (and following, to be fair) evidence. Hopefully people realize that tech callers are using much better, closer video of the skaters to make these calls, so I highly doubt we're doing a better job of it here in these comments than they are.

    But based on the aforementioned imperfect evidence, I disagree about Meryl Davis's KP1 and KP3 for the second Finnstep sequence.

    For KP1 you say that Meryl's edge was "a little flat," and that she "leans to produce the inside edge" aided by the movement of her free leg "back and to the right." I see how that movement helps her lean into the edge, but IMO she was always on an inside edge.

    http://i43.tinypic.com/2emocuc.gif

    As you can see in this gif, I have not included the "back and to the right" leg movement at all, only the moment she puts her skate down, and IMO she is in fact on an inside edge. This is a bad angle, but the way the bottom of her boot is visible leads me to believe it is tilted towards us and that D/W ticked off this key point fairly.

    http://i44.tinypic.com/2corkoz.jpg

    Not to belabor the point, but here are screencaps of the moment(s) Meryl places her blade on the ice. I'm working off a slightly different video than you are, so I couldn't get the exact frame, but the bottom two screencaps are milliseconds before and after the frame you've posted. My caps are higher quality, and I think it's easier to see that we're looking not just at the side but also the bottom of Meryl's boot because she is in fact on an inside edge.

    The third key point is at a much worse angle. The tip of the foot we're looking at is blocked by Meryl's other skate, and you can't even see Charlie place his foot down. This is decidedly not the angle to examine this key point from.

    http://i42.tinypic.com/1182byf.gif

    The screencap you posted does look like Meryl is on a flat, but when I look at her movement as a whole, you can tell by the tilt of her boot that she's preparing to place her blade down with a slight outside edge, and it certainly looks like a back outside edge to me. I think the judges are probably reviewing the skater's movements as a whole from the correct angle -- where it would be easy to tell whether or not she was on the correct edge -- and not at frames that capture a millesecond of time. And it's worth pointing out that even using a higher quality video than you must be working off of, it's difficult for me to tell exactly in what frame(s) Meryl's skate touches the ice.

    Anyway, that's all I have to say.

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    Replies
    1. 23:47,

      I'd like to point out with KP1 in the second sequence, the author states that the call was a close one. The question isn't was Meryl on some sort of inside edge, it's was that edge clear as the criteria for the KP states it should be. A skater can be on a particular edge, but it not be a clear or strong enough edge. Meryl's edge in this instance fell somewhere in the gray area of "was it or was it not clear enough." It was borderline. The panel here gave her the benefit of the doubt and gave it to them. Another technical panel might have looked at that edge and said "well, she is on a bit of an inside edge, but it's sort of shallow and on the flat side instead of the deep side, and since the CoP says it's supposed to be clear, this just isn't clear enough, so no credit here."

      As for the third point, I have a 1080p HD version that I was able to go through frame by frame. I think she comes out on the flat and very quickly forces the correct edge. It doesn't matter how fast she forces that edge though, it's still incorrect according to the criteria.

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    2. "First I want to say that the video we're using to "analyze" these patterns is *really bad video* shot from angles that are basically useless. So I'm kind of baffled as to how anyone can be that sure of anything but the most egregious of errors based on the above (and following, to be fair) evidence."

      Um, perhaps you should read the entry again. They never claimed to be absolutely sure of anything and are basing it on what they see here:

      "Unfortunately we do not always have the desired angle for each key point or consistency in the angles from which each key point is shown (the angle sometimes differs from team to team) and the video quality is not always great, but we have tried to explain the key points and errors based on what we can see here. "

      I personally would like to learn more about this technical stuff rather than be treated like someone who should just enjoy skating for entertainment value and forget about the stuff that makes it an actual sport. silly things like rules and such.

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    3. @ 09:06

      I disagree. I think that even from the poor angle of the video, we can see that Meryl is on an inside edge (because her boot is tilted enough away from us enough that we can see the bottom of the other side). From the correct angle, I believe it would have been an inside edge placement of the blade to satisfy any but perhaps the strictest tech panel.

      @10:32

      The OP may not have claimed to be absolutely sure Meryl missed key points, but the skating fans linking to this post displayed no such reservations. You can consider that part of my comment to be aimed at more than just the OP's post.

      I don't consider the rules to be "silly," but I also don't pretend to be an expert or attempt to overthrow tech callers with crappy video. While I appreciate the OP's stated intention, I think the post should have been more conservative and even-handed in making judgement calls. For instance, why qualify the poor angle of BS and VM's second KP3 but not DW's when it is also problematic? The OP added one in, but it's still obviously not the angle that should be used to assess that key point. Why are VM and BS's free legs extended so much more than DW's in the caps used to assess those outside edges? Based on giffing DW's key point, I believe that would give those teams an advantage of assessing their edges for that KP. Probably the OP was forced to use those caps because of the poor angle/quality of the video, but it's still not a great way to assess the skills of the top two teams and the subject of one of the most fraught fan wars heading into the Sochi Olympics in two weeks. If edges should be clear, why is that noted for Davis's KP1 but not mentioned in Tessa and Ekaterina's KP3's "slight outside edges." And Ekaterina looks like she's on the barest of barely an outside edge in the cap provided -- Meryl's inside edge seems much more obvious to me in KP1 where it's being called a "grey area." But the tech panel awarded all three ladies with this key point, so maybe they were a more generous panel.

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    4. @ 12:02

      Why do you think the OP(s)--not sure how many of you there are--said "slight" in the first place? They could have just said "outside edge" if they wanted to gloss over it, but they said "slight". Looking at the footage, those edges are clearer than the ones for Davis. There is some weird thing going on in internet discussions of DW where any criticism of them is taken as an attack on them or favoritism for another team. I just don't get it.

      "I also don't pretend to be an expert or attempt to overthrow tech callers with crappy video."

      Who did this? Read what is said right at the beginning of the post (and now I see in an update in response to your post). They are showing gray areas, they are not saying for sure that the calls were bogus.

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    5. @ 23:47 and presumably 12:02

      Thank you for your comments. If we have your permission, we would be happy to use your gifs. Higher quality ones were not available to us. And if you send us the original video, we could take a better screen cap.

      Thank you :)

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    6. "but it's still not a great way to assess the skills of the top two teams and the subject of one of the most fraught fan wars heading into the Sochi Olympics in two weeks."

      This post was about the top three teams at the GPF--YOU are the one making it about the top two. I don't understand why some people act like there are only two teams competing right now even worthy of attention.

      And overall skill sets are not being assessed--key points from particular performances are. Do you honestly think that no one is questioning the calls? I have an HQ version of the GPF performances on my computer and I was surprised D-W were given the benefit of the doubt. To me, Ms Davis's edges look dodgier than the others (and trust me, I have no investment in any of these three teams--I find them all boring and would love to see P-B win it all). And this isn't the first time they were given the benefit of the doubt (see Skate America). Meanwhile, P-B faced stricter calls this season.

      My biggest issue is with the astronomical PCS D-W always receive. Can anyone honestly tell me they are the best skaters or best dancers out there? I still see numerous issues with their carriage and with their skating technique. I don't feel they dance enough--I would never know they are doing a foxtrot and their quickstep isn't great. When A-P had difficulty with particular styles in the OD, they were marked down for it. I agree with the above comments that now that it is a North American team at the top, people are less likely to question the marks or the outcomes.

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    7. This is what has been so frustrating about that the last few seasons, but this season is just over the top. There is absolutely no scruntiy or pushbask on the part of the commentators, sports media, or skating "insiders" as to D/W's overscoring, when their skating clearly does not exhibit the traits of proper ice dancing: speed generated from rhythmic knee action; long blade run; skating together in closed dance hold; matched and extended free legs; ice coverage in elements such as twizzles; stability in lifts; proper technique when going into, during and out of lifts, etc, etc. This is not merely "style", these are the fundamentals of proper ice dance technique, and yet we're supposed to suspend belief and believe D/W have somehow surpassed all other dancers in those areas. We're supposed to believe that they are "fast" and "wild" and "skate with reckless abandon", as if this is their "style". That is not style, that is sloppy technique that has been cleverly disguised by their choreography.

      I sincerely hope that the commenators, media, and most importantly, the judges, actually respect the rules of the sport and judge fairly come Sochi, and not be swayed by such nonsense as "momentum", "wow programs (without being able to articule in an objective way what makes a program difficult", "paying their dues", etc.

      With all the other disciplines, we've seen that the performance on the day is what counts; this was especially true of the men's and pair's competition at the GPF.

      I hope the judges have the same integrity when it comes to ice dance.

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    8. Fan wars have been around forever. Should people just keep their opinions to themselves for fear of fuelling them?

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    9. This isn't about fan wars, this is an open forum for people who want to have an intelligent, evident-based discussion about ice dance.

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    10. This forum is a God-sent, because there certainly isn't any meaningful discussion happening by the commenators or in the mainstream media.

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    11. @12:02

      I'm not sure what the fuss is all about. Did the blog say they were the authoritative voice on ice dance or the technical aspects of ice dance? Did they just show incriminating pictures of Meryl and hide the rest of the video? Did they conclude that key points were missed but withhold the secret to judging key points? The full videos are right at the top, where they admit the video quality is crappy and the angles aren't always good. They showed what to look for and each person is free to watch the videos themselves, slow them down, take pictures or whatever else and draw their own conclusions.

      I mean, do technical panels always get it right? Would all technical specialists even agree with each other? It would be nice if we could debate these things in figure skating like some of us do in other sports ( there are tons of discussions in soccer about bad calls and fans are free to discuss without people telling them they are not FIFA referees or linesman and therefore have no business dissecting the calls).

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    12. @10:49: We ARE debating these things here in this forum, because there is nowhere else to do so: the commentators are not critical in their analysis (either because they don't want to or are uninformed about the details about the sport; I suspect the latter), nor is the media debating the technical aspects of the sport, because most the media covering figure skating are uniformed.

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  5. This blog has turned into an armchair extension of the V/M sekret baby blog . Enjoy the association.

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    1. 19:02 - sounding like a bitter dance fan.

      Some actually appreciate this kind of work in helping to understand better what should be looked for in keypoints.

      Comparing this blog to the V/M sekret baby log is a rather big stretch and your comments reeks of being a D/W fan.

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    2. My apologies, I meant the comments section. Way to go V/M fans ruining this blog for everyone. If a certain group of fans is unwilling to entertain arguments different from their own, then they're not trying to understand.

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    3. Virtue and Moir fans ruined You Tube as well with their trashy comments.

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