Imagine, for the duration of this post, that there were no controversies in the judging/scoring of ice dancing. Yes, you can imagine at the same time that democracy is flawless, and educators are paid what they’re worth and then some…
Then return to my dance judging fantasy-land as you study the final standings at Worlds for 2009 , 2008 , and 2007 (the years since the last Olympic season). What might they teach us at face value? Well…
1) Compulsories can make the difference between going home with a medal, and going home empty-handed. A lot of fans (myself included) were stunned to see USA’s Davis/White on the short end of a virtual tie with Canada’s Virtue/Moir, especially when they’d actually beaten V/M in the free dance (by mere hundredths of a point, but a win’s still a win). But if you look at the event segment by segment, you find that the biggest discrepancy between them was actually in compulsories… where V/M’s 39.37 was more of a tie with Belbin/Agosto (39.65), and D/W’s 37.73 was actually more in line with Khoklova/Novitski (37.34).
2) The point totals don’t automatically shoot higher every year. Over in the Ladies Final, the big question was “Can Yu-Na Kim break 200 points?”… something that had not previously been achieved in the new system. But while the 200 point mark was surpassed by ice dancers as early as 2005 (the first year the CoP system was used at Worlds), the top score from year to year has fluctuated wildly since than. In fact, the best overall score at this year’s competition (Domnina/Shabalin’s 206.30) would have only been good enough in ’05 for… 6th place!
3) An off and/or injured year doesn’t mean you have to re-earn your place in the line upon returning. Belbin/Agosto took an infamous tumble at compulsories last year, and didn’t seem to be bouncing back with any gusto (pun intended) this season… until Worlds, that is, where they came as close as they ever have to winning the title. Domnina/Shabalin have struggled with Shabalin’s knee injuries for years, to the point where they had to withdraw from Worlds altogether in ‘08… and we all know what happened with them. So for anyone worrying that Delobel/Schoenfelder might have a tough time of it next season, perhaps those fears can be put to rest a little early.
4) (Speaking of tough times…) It can be just as cold and cruel out there on the ice for dancing as it is any other discipline. Italy’s Faiella/Scali finished 9th back in 2007, and 5th in ’08… but rather than continue or at least maintain their ascent, they suffered a fall in the OD this year and finished the season back down in 8th. And while their problems were pretty plain to see, those of Russia's Khoklova/Novitski were more mystifying: after claiming bronze last year and doing quite well for themselves in earlier season events (including a win over Dom/Shab), they could do no better than 5th in any one event here and ended up 6th overall. Hmmm...
And for what it’s worth:
I predicted Khok/Novot for gold… they finished 6th
I predicted Domnina/Shabalin for silver… they won gold
I predicted Davis/White for bronze… they finished 4th
1 out of 3 for the podium; no correct placements
Since I mentioned everyone in the Top 6 except Pechalat/Bourzat, here they are as the Clip of the Day with their whimsical, circus-inspired FD (which has really grown on me, I must admit).
ISU Team Trophy coming up later this week! (What the heck is that?! Stay tuned and we'll find out together.)