Monday, August 11, 2008

The Unevens and the Parellels (Part 1)

It all sounds so familiar, doesn’t it?

“We jam-pack routines with difficulty and you can lose the sense of the beauty you had as it becomes more (acrobatics) and not as much dance.”

"It is pretty complicated…. you could sit down and look at a rule book for four years and probably still won't get it."

“The new rules created a certain system which we all had to follow for points and we spent certainly a lot less time for choreography.”

Except that only one of those quotes—the last one—is from a figure skater. The other two are from current U.S. Olympic gymnasts. All three come courtesy of
this article , one of the latest to puzzle over the value of new scoring systems for both sports. It makes perfect sense for this comparison to be made, by some, for the first time right now—after all, gymnastics scores have to be re-explained to the masses this week, much the same way skating scores were dissected in Torino. It’s probably even harder to explain for gymnastics; they always had the more cut-and-dried perfect 10 while skating had it’s fuzzier 6.0. I remember Nadia Comaneci's perfect 10s in Montreal almost as clearly as I recall Torvill and Dean’s string of perfect 6.0s eight years later, in Sarajevo.

But I guess it’s my sub-novice understanding of gymnastic routines that’s keeping me from understanding how they’ve changed as a result of their new system. I get it on a basic level—the greater the difficulty, the higher the start value, so gymnasts are stacking the deck each time and hoping for the best. With no edges to switch back and forth on, no level 3 footwork vs. level 4 footwork, no hip-dislocating positions to hit (okay, maybe one or two), I’m not really able to tell a difference otherwise between a floor routine from 2004 and one from 2008. As I say, though, I’m probably missing the nuances. Kind of the way someone likes jazz music vs. someone who LOVES it, if that makes sense.

For this
Clip of the Day we head back to Torino again with Zhang and Zhang’s heart-and-music-stopping free skate… the one where they crash on the throw quad salchow at the start. I guess it came to mind after watching some of the gymnasts have to stop and re-start their routines in recent days.

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