Gina: You're In The Loop - we're here to discuss the ups, downs and sideways of the sport of figure skating, and maybe give you +5 GOE along the way. Let’s introduce this week's hosts.
Yogeeta: Hi I’m Yogeeta and I haven’t had any sleep this week in order to watch this cursed event. You can find me on Twitter @liliorum.
Gina: Hi, I’m Gina, and I made the error of moving out of the right timezone into the worst time zone right in time for Worlds in Japan. You can find me on Twitter @4Atwizzles.
Kite: Hi, I’m Kite, and I sacrificed both my health and my sanity to watch Worlds live. You can find me on Twitter @mossyzinc.
Kat: Hey, its Kat, and like all the Americans here I’ve also basically been suffering through jet-lag to watch figure skating. You can find me on Twitter @kattwts.
Yogeeta: Before we can get into talking about the competition, we must address the allegations against Mariah Bell.
Kat: We’ll be discussing the Eunsoo Lim and Mariah Bell situation and the reactions surrounding it. If you would like to skip this section, you can refer to the time codes in the description of the episode to navigate to the next segment. The facts of this situation between Eunsoo and Mariah include the following. During Mariah’s runthrough in practice, she hit Eunsoo in the leg with her skate blade. Eunsoo then left practice in pain for treatment. Eunsoo’s management company, All That Sports, filed a report with the KSU (Korean Skating Union) alleging that Mariah had deliberately hit Eunsoo considering that she had been bullying Eunsoo for months and asked KSU to file a complaint with the USFSA (United States Figure Skating Association.) The ISU released a statement the following day claiming that there is no sufficient evidence that Mariah intended to harm Eunsoo. USFSA extended an apology to Eunsoo on behalf of Mariah to the KSU and ATS accepted on Eunsoo’s behalf.
Kite: Unfortunately due to JSF’s strict no camera policy during practices, we don’t have a lot of footage of what happened. The one video we do have shows Mariah going through her Short Program runthrough, with Eunsoo skating by the boards with her back to Mariah. Mariah is skating forward, with Eunsoo in her peripheral stroking along the boards. Mariah hits her and keeps on skating. It is unknown whether Mariah knew at the time she had hit Eunsoo as she was skating by.
Gina: A variety of skaters have spoken up on Mariah’s behalf, including Adam Rippon, Ashley Wagner and Meagan Duhamel. Rafael Arutyunyan, coach to both Eunsoo and Mariah, has also spoken up on Mariah’s behalf, claiming the allegations of bullying to be false. The incident has reached international audiences who don’t follow figure skating, with reports showing up in the local news reports and articles.
Yogeeta: First and foremost, regardless of what was true and what was false, the level of outrage and the actions taken by people on both sides were truly horrific. I saw so many people blaming Eunsoo for the collision, blaming Eunsoo for the report, blaming Eunsoo for the entire situation and that attitude is not okay. Eunsoo is 16 years old, and we haven't even heard a statement from her directly. Until we know what she has to say, I don’t think it's acceptable that people are placing blame on her. On the flip side, we also had people attacking Mariah all across social media, to the extent that people were sending her death threats. Yes, the allegations were heavy and I hope that if there is any truth to them they will come to light, but two wrongs do not make a right and honestly make it harder for people to come to Eunsoo’s defense when we have all these other people sending threats to Mariah. Now, based on the video we saw, as well as other versions of that run through that Mariah had done of the program in other competitions, she typically doesn’t go as close to the boards and she is fully capable of moving out of the way for other skaters.
Kat: I find it weird that Mariah didn't seem to have any sort of reaction to hitting her. If you struck your foot on something,you would definitely know and at least look back or be like “Wait what?” I’m not saying that Mariah hitting Eunsoo wasn't an accident, but the fact that she didn't react to it tells me that something might be going on behind the scenes.
Kite: You see in practice collisions, in other cases, that’s considered good edict or at least convention to check on the skater that you’ve collided with. For example, when Vanessa James and Matteo Guarise collided in the six minute warmup before their Short Programs, Matteo actually caught Vanessa and made sure she was okay before he skated off to rejoin his partner. You've seen this in collisions involving other skaters as well. It’s very concerning to me that Mariah didn't even check her speed, slow down, or even look back as indicated in the video. Eunsoo basically doubled over immediately because it made a pretty deep cut in her leg. I don't understand how [Mariah] didn't realize she had hit her or why she didn't at least slow down.
Kat: It’s not even just hitting people too. For example, when I was at Four Continents, and Shoma [Uno] was doing his Short Program runthrough and his step sequence, he overshot his knee slide and kind of collided with the boards really closely to Jason [Brown] and almost hit him. You kind of saw Shoma stopping and being like “Sorry about that” and then move on. It's not like he ignored it or went out of the way. He acknowledged it, they laughed about it and made sure everything was okay, and then moved on because it’s normal etiquette.
Gina: I do find it very concerning that the knee-jerk reaction to a young person filing a report of bullying or other mistreatment seems to be to turn around and call her a liar. This is the second recent instance of the US skating community displaying open scorn toward a person making a report of poor conduct and that makes me incredibly uncomfortable. My attitude toward these types of reports being made is that we have to take them seriously. There is a reason why the person making the report feels like they're being mistreated. Whether or not any unacceptable behavior occurred, it should be assessed with sensitivity towards the 16 year old girl who is now injured and apparently feeling unsafe. I don't know if it was true that Mariah was bullying Eunsoo but I do believe that there is something about that training environment that is making Eunsoo feel unhappy and that needs to be properly addressed.
Kat: I agree. There's something that feels so wrong about this. It’s so hard to call out someone being cold to you. You can call out actions but there could be a feeling of coldness in an environment that you can't explain, but if you bring it up, people can deny it and just be like, “I didn't do anything to you.” That’s why it makes me super uncomfortable that people are flat out saying nothing is wrong and brushing it under the rug. This isn't something people can see all the time, it might be a feeling someone has. It might be an overreaction but either way, it should be taken seriously.
Kite: KSU and ATS claim that this is a pattern of bullying on Mariah’s part - again, we don’t know the extent of these claims and have no way of assessing their validity. However, it’s important to bear in mind that any gain (in terms of exposure, reputation, etc) from lying about harassment is far outweighed by the potential consequences towards the career of a young skater from a small federation, training with a coach in one of the world’s largest federations. They have far more to lose from lying than fabricating a situation like this than they could ever hope to gain from seeking publicity with false accusations. That's just something to keep in mind.
Yogeeta: I do believe that the KSU will be gathering evidence now that Worlds in done, and will hopefully submitting that to the ISU at some point in the future. Hopefully we'll get more clarity about the situation as the weeks go on.
Kite: Finally, the behavior on prominent members of the skating community has been truly reprehensible. There have been skaters and other prominent voices with large social media presences have seemingly attacked fans simply for providing translations. This was later clarified but without apology. Eunsoo’s coach has gone to the press and said there have been no instances of bullying. There has also been skaters like Ashley Wagner and Adam Rippon going out of their way to shield Mariah from scrutiny. Ashley Wagner gave an interview about the situation and said that Mariah didn't do anything wrong. Adam Rippon’s mom also posted something on Instagram which cited a collision between Adam and Patrick Chan, saying that instances like this are accidents and that people are overreacting. There was a Twitter conversation between Larkyn Austman and Meagan Duhamel about their practice collisions and citing them as proof that Mariah didn't intend any harm to Eunsoo. There have been other skaters like Michal Brezina who have probigated these claims by retweeting them on social media. Again, this knee-jerk reaction to completely disbelieve claim of the accuser is rather concerning.
Kat: It’s just such a tone deaf response that screams “I didn't see it so it didn't happen.” These are all people that are pretty far removed from the situation such as Larkyn and Meagan Duhamel who don't train at that rink and aren't even US skaters. Why would they think it's appropriate to be commenting like this about a 16 year old girl who feels unsafe in her own rink and injured. She didn't get any apology. What also drives me nuts is that a lot of these skaters have said, “Oh I’ve had practice collisions. They happen, we apologize, we move on.” The difference is an apology happened and that is the key issue. I don't understand the argument that a lot of these skaters are making, and on social media too. It doesn't seem right.
Kite: People initially dismissed the claims because Korean sources weren’t considered “reliable enough,” then backtracked when Japanese and US sources, including NBC, picked up the story. The skating community as a whole needs to reexamine the responsible use of social media in situations like these and realise that while there may not be any malicious intent behind what they say, there are a variety of ways in which their words can be perceived to be disregarding the fact that a sixteen year old girl feels uncomfortable in her training environment and sustained an injury before the biggest competition of her season.
Gina: On that note, it is also worth pointing out that there has been attacks made toward both Mariah and Eunsoo that go all the way up to death threats. This is completely unacceptable behavior. Whether Mariah did any bullying, sending her death threats and harassing her on social media is not helpful to the situation. Even if Eunsoo is lying, she does not deserve death threats on social media. Fans also really need to examine their use of social media and how they respond to these kinds of situations.
Yogeeta: Regardless of whether these claims are true or not, something sparked Eunsoo to feel that she was being bullied, to feel that she is uncomfortable at Lakewood, especially given how Raf reacted to her at the end of her freeskate by just handing off her skate guards and not even looking at her, as well as how he treated her in the kiss and cry. It's definitely seems like Raf is choosing a side here and is not being a mediator in the situation between Mariah and Eunsoo. I really hope she finds a new training camp.
Kite: Yeah that was so uncomfortable. People were saying “Oh that’s just Raf’s way of expressing disappointment.” First of all, Eunsoo did not have that enough of a freeskate. She fell once, but look at the skate that she had at Four Continents which was way rougher in the freeskate. When she got off the ice, Raf still gave her a hug and you could hear him on camera saying, “It’s okay, I know you did your best.” She actually had a much better freeskate at Worlds and he just didn't even look at her when she got off the ice. When he was handing her guards, he was facing in the complete opposite direction and it was super uncomfortable to witness a coach behaving in such a hostile manner toward a skater on camera.
Kat: I just really hope that the situation is fully investigated and all of the facts come out. Either way, I think Eunsoo should move to a different coach.
Kite: I hope that wherever she goes, she’s able to feel comfortable in her training environment and able to speak out if something like this arises.
-end segment- 15:21
Yogeeta: Okay let’s jump straight into talking about the competition that happened this weekend. The 2019 World Figure Skating Championships taking place in Saitama, Japan. This was the final major competition of the season. For the Ladies, our medalists were Alina Zagitova (RUS) for gold, Elizabet Tursynbayeva for silver (KAZ), and Evgenia Medvedeva (RUS) for bronze.
Kat: Oh man, the Ladies event shaved off 10 years of my life as it usually does.
Kite: It was like four in the morning like, “am I really watching this?”
Kat: The thing is that really made me so sad about the Ladies event is that especially in the last group, last couple groups, there was really good skates. Overall skating wise, this was one of the better events for the Ladies. There weren't that many complete disasters.
Kite: It was really solid.
Kat: It was a good, well skated event, but because the scoring was so wild I have such a negative impression of what happened. It's like the complete opposite of what happened last year. Which was a complete meltdown in a lot of the top Ladies in the Free Skate and then a podium that I was fairly happy with. But here I was fairly happy with most of the skates, but the podium I didn't think was right.
Yogeeta: I really hate that the scoring is marring our view of what should've been a really good event.
Kat: Right? I would go back and watch some of these skates because I thought they were some of the best skates of the season. But because the judging was so terrible I have such a negative impression of what happened.
Gina: Yeah, I mean Alina has had an awful season and she really needed the skates that she produced here and so I'm really happy for her. But the scoring is just so...why?
Kat: The GOEs that she gets on her jumps and then the PCS...I do not`understand.
Yogeeta: It's because she has all those amazing transitions going into them and that's all the judges see. They're like "Oh the transitions are so complicated! [it] deserves +5".
Gina: Judge 5 gave her a +5 on her opening double Axel even though it was way off axis and three judges gave her +4s. I would pay her choreographers that are doomed to never be fully completed or held for even a second.
Kat: I'll foot half the bill honestly.
Gina: Really, it must be such a huge waste of energy to get your leg up to your ear for a Y-spiral but never fully extend your leg and then drop it.
Kat: And the thing is with her is that it doesn't feel like she knows why she is doing it. She is just told to do it and she does it and then it feels very just trained and not natural.
Yogeeta: For her Carmen program it feels like she's just going though the motions and she isn't embodying what a Carmen program should be. Compare her Carmen program to Mikhail Kolyada's and the quality and the performance are so different.
Kite: I think she just...she looked quite nervous. I mean she's looked really nervous at basically all of her events over the past season, but especially when she skates to this Free Skate. Her face looks oddly blank. It's almost like she is trying to just kind of remember what moves go where. It's like putting a puzzle together.
Gina: Because she's got so much to remember.
Yogeeta: I would honestly cut out half the transitions in her program so that she can hold a position and go through the full movement of something. Because she'd still get top scores in transitions even if she did that.
Kat: Again I feel really bad that I have such a negative impression of Alina's performance just because I was happy that she skated clean. I was like "Thank goodness!" and relieved, but because of the scores it just makes me so bitter. Speaking of another Russian skater who has been struggling all season and has not been producing the results she wants but then skated clean and got a redemptive skate...Evgenia. I am really really happy for Evgenia. I think she probably needed this more than Alina because she needed to prove her qualification to Worlds on the Russian team. Since she was kind of controversially selected over Elizaveta Tuktamysheva. And she was able to prove herself with a clean skate, but the score she got was again so far beyond what she should've gotten that again I just have such a negative impression of what happened.
Kite: I think when it comes to both of them I'm just really really glad that they were able to have good skates here. Because neither of them have had the best season. And especially when you look at who is coming up in Russia into Seniors next season, like the girls with the quads, this is really something they needed to prove that they could still contend with the current senior field. I think both of them definitely proved that here. But Russia's field is so insane at this point that it's really...even though they did so well here I think it's going to be a free for all in terms of Ladies spots next year. Because Alina, we say she's had a rough season and she has because the Olympic season I don't think she missed once until Worlds, but she hasn't placed lower than second internationally anywhere this season. And the only time she was off the podium was at her own nationals. So that's the competition that they have domestically coming up. So in that sense I'm really just relieved even more than glad that they were able to deliver here knowing the pressure that was on them. But like Kat said, I just don't understand how Alina and Evgenia are scoring four points and two points above Satoko in PCS. I don't understand it.
Kat: It's just really conflicting that especially Evgenia, she's back to getting her GOE and PCS that she doesn't quite deserve considering she was super tentative in both performances. In the past, I've felt like she's skated a lot freer, like she didn't have anything to prove. But here she definitely was trying to prove her spot on the world team. So she was skating really careful and tentative. She's still not getting great flow out of her jumps. They're super labored and slow, but she's still getting rewarded really high PCS despite the fact that she's been holding back a lot in her performance.
Yogeeta: Yeah, agreed. I also don't think that her Free Skate really suits her ? I've thought this all season and just her being so tentative here really sold that on me. Especially since she's competing against Satoko Miyahara, who also does a tango for her Free Skate, and the performances between the two are worlds apart for me.
Kat: Oh my god! I try to forget Satoko's PCS. She scored the lowest out of the Japanese Ladies too.
Yogeeta: Blows my mind.
Kat: Giving Satoko 9s in PCS is criminal. Anything below that is just flat out incomprehensible. She should just be winning PCS in every single competition.
Yogeeta: Especially in performance and interpretation. Nobody sells a character, sells a program like Satoko Miyahara. Her performance and interpretation are miles ahead of every other lady in the field. She just commits to her programs like no other skater. Her every single movement...we talk about how Alina is over choreographed and overtransitioned etc. but every single movement that Satoko does, there is a meaning to it. She holds every position and she just is so beautiful to watch. I could watch Satoko Miyahara just skate all day.
Kite: I could just watch her stroke honestly, like do stroking exercises. But I feel like in the past even though Evgenia was quite overscored it almost didn't make that much of a difference because there weren't that many people back when she first became a senior who could really contend with the tech layout of her programs. So it was almost like "Yes she was very overscored," but at the same time I feel like she would have won even if she had not been so overscored? But at this event Evgenia kicked Rika off the podium by 0.31 of a point. And Evgenia received 9.18 in skating skills and 9.21 in both composition and interpretation in her Free Skate. Whereas Satoko did not break 9 in any of the PCS categories. It seems really egregious to me because in my opinion her skating skills should be mid to high 8s at best on a good day. Because she doesn't utilize her edges effectively or consistently enough to be breaking 9. And again like Yogeeta was saying I just am not sold on this program [Free Skate] in particular for her. I don't feel like she is really sold on it either. I feel like the performances, even the best performances we've gotten out of her from this program have been kind of lukewarm because she's been so focused on just landing the jumps. I think that had her PCS been scored more accurately as a reflection of the skating that she was delivering on that day, Rika would've been on the podium and deservedly so.
Gina: Yeah, I mean Ladies can be incredibly frustrating to watch because it's as if the judges are doing the exact opposite of what they seem to do in the Men’s. Because in the Men they'll selectively score to lift skaters up to meet a competitor at a higher level than everyone else to make the competitions closer. And in Ladies they seem to just selectively score to raise a few up higher, so that they're harder to beat and to make the field less tight. The gap between Kaori and Alina after the Short Programs should not have been as wide as it was. Kaori's program components being stuck in the high 8s when her speed and flow across the ice are incredible and her program is so well constructed and well performed just makes no sense to me. She might have less in transitions but the transitions she does, she performs at a higher degree of quality than Alina in my opinion. The same goes for Satoko. She might have less transitions going in, but all of them are performed at such a high level of quality that it should make up for the lack of not being overstuffed. Because what Alina lacks, and in a way what Evgenia used to lack, maybe not so anymore, is the quality, because there is no room to do that kind of quality.
Kat: This is I think where having the PCS corridor kind of drives me insane. Because like you said, someone that has a ton of transitions and are stuffing their programs with transitions should technically be reason for their composition going down. But because we just have this PCS corridor we just kind of blanket everyone's PCS in roughly the same range with just a couple of adjustments here or there, that's not going to happen. So yes, maybe Kaori and Satoko should get higher in transitions, their composition score should be way up.
Yogeeta: Yeah, I just want to revisit something about Kaori. She got 8.89 in skating skills for her short, but a 9.25 in the free and Kaori didn't magically become a better skater in 2 days to have an almost 0.5 increase in her skating skills. This just...it's clearly evidence that the judges have no clue how to actually judge for program components.
Gina: I think part of the problem is that they have so much to look at in a split second and they are pulled in some many different directions. There was a solution to this that was proposed when they were looking at introducing new rules and it was shot down. I think that was big big mistake. The IJS is too much for judges to do all at once. They should have gone for splitting the panel so that there was one jury for the GOE, one jury for the technical, and one jury for the PCS. Because the judges at the moment trying to apply a grade of execution and trying to judge the program components just can't do that, not well! And that's why we have the PCS corridor and that's we have judges just kind of throwing GOE out there.
Kite: Yeah, and going off of that you can really see this especially in the Ladies Free Skate. Because there was not a single edge call given in the Ladies Free Skate, despite the fact that some of the Ladies have well known issues with their edge jumps that manifested in the Ladies Free Skate. So you can see Evgenia's flutz, Alina has a flat edge on her Lutz, if not a flutz, and also her triple Lutz-triple loop was noticeably underrotated on both jumps which was not called, and Mariah Bell also has a flutz and an underrotation problem on the triple toe of her triple-triple combinations, which was not called. The final Ladies result was so close among the top four that correctly calling these edges and underrotations would have made a difference in the standings. That's the most frustrating part about it, is that if we as fans can go back on the replays and see by eye that these are problems, then the judges should be able to do so as well given that they're sitting there in the arena and have the ability to play back the program as many times as they want.
Yogeeta: We need to talk about Elizabet Tursynbaeva and her quad Salchow.
Kite: So yeah, Elizabet Tursynbaeva of Kazakhstan landed the first ratified quad by a senior lady. So that happened.
Yogeeta: It got positive GOE which blows my mind. Because other than the fact that she landed it, it didn't really hit any of the GOE bullets.
Yogeeta: It had nice height and distance but that was it for me, and she landed it forward as well, which would have gotten to the weak landing deduction. It did get called underrotated which it was, but even without the call I would give it -1 GOE and that would have kicked her off the podium
Kite: It was definitely just the shock after her landing on her feet and rotating four times in the air, but also not really four times in the air, because it was, if you slow it down, it was actually pre-rotated by at least 180 degrees. [Note: Most Salchow jumps have some degree of pre-rotation due to the nature of the takeoff] Her foot doesn't leave the ice until she's already made a half turn into the jump, and prerotation isn't criminalized under the current scoring system, so under the ISU rules this should not have factored into her GOE, but in my opinion, if you're pre-rotating by 180 degrees or more, you should be deducted in GOE, because it just does a disservice to the skaters with clean technique who have minimal prerotation where you can complete half a rotation before you even get off the ice - that just doesn't seem fair to me.
Gina: Yeah, there is a rule in the handbook about pre-rotation, they just apparently they completely ignore it. It is supposed to be that if the jump is visibly leaving the ice with a forwards takeoff when it's supposed to be a backwards takeoff jump then you are supposed to give it an underrotation call and they don't do that. If you look at Elizabet's actual jump, she was facing forwards when her foot left the ice, so she should have got the underrotation call, and if it was underrotated on the landing as well, she should've got a downgrade.
Kat: We can't even trust the judges to look at just the landing, nevermind the landing and the takeoff. We're asking a little bit too much.
Yogeeta: But that's the job of the tech panel. The tech panel their sole job is to look at these jumps and determine whether or not they're rotated.
Kat: There's three of them. They can figure it out. They're three people calling jumps, soo
Gina: And they have the Ice Scope.
Kite: Yea, they have no excuse this time
Yogeeta: I don't think they're allowed to use Ice Scope, but still
Kat: But yeah, I mean, it's just so devastating considering what was at stake for Japanese ladies at this World’s. I'm so sad for Rika [Kihira], I think just because she just had such insane pressure on her shoulders. Undefeated season internationally, and during her first senior season at home Worlds, that's just a crazy amount of expectation. And unfortunately she did have that popped 3A in the Short Program that put her so far behind, and I definitely was not expecting her to win, because she could not climb that deficit unless Alina completely melted down. I'm convinced David Wilson sabotaged her with that program.
Yogeeta: David Wilson does that for all of the Japanese ladies.
Kat: Yeah, she can't skate to mellow stuff like this if she wants to do the triple Axel. She's popped so many triple Axels in the Short Program, but she's attempted every single triple Axel if she didn't plan to change it to a double Axel - she hasn't popped any in the Free Skate even if she's fallen or failed on some of them. I just feel like because the music puts her in a mentality that prepares her to fight for the triple Axel where that doesn't happen in “Claire de Lune” at all.
Yogeeta: I feel so bad because honestly so many factors were at play here that caused Rika to miss out on this podium. She was in second to last group, but if Mariah's underrotation in the Short Program had been called, she would have been in the final group. And that would've probably helped her components as well.
Kite: Oh, definitely. She was off the podium by 0.31.
Yogeeta: The only correct thing that the judges did in the Ladies competition was that Kaori won the skating skills score in the Free Skate. That was the single thing the judges did correctly.
Kat: It's just really sad that, again, second well skated event ended up being such a nightmare to remember and recall because, judges.
-end segment- 34:08
Yogeeta: Let's move on to the only valid event at this competition.
Kat: We need to talk about something happy.
Yogeeta: Let's talk about the Pairs event.
Kite: In gold, Sui Wenjing and Han Cong of China, in silver Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov of Russia, and Natalia Zabijako Alexander Enbert also of Russia.
Kat: I'm just gonna say everyone can thank me for this victory, because apparently the price I had to pay for Sui and Han winning and becoming two-time World Champions, was my internet conking out, literally as they were getting announced on the ice. And guys I felt like I was having an aneurysm because so much was happening. The chat was going really really fast, my twitter feed was going really really fast, and I was like, "Should I try to figure out what's going on with my internet, should I go back and watch the performance or see what's going on. I was just so overwhelmed at that moment. And then people started messaging me being like, "Oh my god they won!" and I had to be like, "I haven't seen it." But yeah, oh my goodness. I'm just so, so relieved because there was so much doubt about Sui and Han going into this event, because last week Chinese media reported that Wenjing was injured during practice for the show they did in North Korea right after Four Continents. She injured her lower back practising a twist, I believe, and they were off the ice for 10 days. And given how untrained they were at four continents, and how devastating even missing one day of on ice training, I was really, really concerned because this is a pretty big setback and their coaches were giving interviews like, "Do your best. Don't worry about the results." And that made me really, really nervous, so I'm glad they were able to skate two clean programs here.
Yogeeta: They were truly the saving grace of this entire event.
Kat: Yeah, I will say though, I was not really happy with how starting order seemed to affect the scores - not just the Pairs event, just in general, because Sui and Han's world ranking is quite low due to the fact they've missed so much competition the past few seasons, and as a result they were forced to skate last in group 3 out of 5. They skated a perfectly clean Short Program, not max level - guys, fix your death spirals, please. Their components were in the low 9's, ranging from 8.25 to 9.25, which drives me insane because when they're clean I think that they should just win every single component mark even if I could make a case for Tarasova and Morozov being ahead or tied on Skating Skills. I was so sure that they broke the 80 when they skated, but because they skated last in the Free - thank god they skated last in the Free - they had components that ranged from 9.25 to 10's, but they ended up second in all PCS categories in the Short Program, which, if it's Skating Skills, Tarasova and Morozov have amazing Skating Skills. But in Performance, Interpretation, and Composition? I don't agree with that at all. I think that Tarasova and Morozov lack the organic chemistry between each other and the music. Basically what I'm saying is that Sui and Han should earn 9.5 in every component if they're clean.
Yogeeta: You are right and you should say it.
Kat: I love that we got to see the Ice Scope stats for Pairs too, I was not expecting that. Actually, I was just not expecting to get Ice Scope at all for Worlds.
Yogeeta: All hail Japan.
Yogeeta: At all of their competitions. They're the reason why we have the teach box with all the elements in them, because they did it at Grand Prix Final last year and it just kept for the rest of the season.
Kat: Thank goodness, I love it. It was just really interesting to see some of the stats on the throws.
Gina: I literally run down to my dad to be like, "Oh my god, he just threw her 18 meters."
Kat: Yeah, I was really, really surprised at the distance that Sui and Han got on their throw triple Flip which validates my opinion that they have the best throw triple Flip in the world. It was 6.16 meters, most of them are 4-5 meters, and that throw plus Tarasova and Morozov’s throw triple Loop was incredible. It had the greatest distance, and I was surprised by the flip, because throws with the toe pick you usually just go up and not across, so I would've expected their throw Sal to get more distance but it didn't. So that was really cool to see.
Yogeeta: Let's speak about the other Chinese Pairs team, please.
Yogeeta: Peng and Jin's short is probably my favourite Short Program from the pairs from the entire season, and the fact that they were a fully rotated triple Sal away from getting bronze just causes my anxiety.
Kat: Listen, Sals are cursed for the Chinese pair girls.
Kite: They're cursed for everybody as we will talk about.
Yogeeta: Sals are snakes, we don't like them, they don't go here.
Kat: Yeah, I know. Although, I sacrificed something to the Sal gods for Wenjing landing that Sal in the free, because I was like…
Yogeeta: Yeah, you sacrificed Yuzuru's Sal!
Kite: We really got to be more specific next time.
Kat: She used all the good Sal energy in the universe because that triple Sal was really everyone pulling their energy for her to land that, because you could see as soon as she landed it her face just lit up, and she was like, "Yes!" That was just such a good moment, but Peng and Jin, I was so so so sad about them because they were another one of those teams that would get helped them by the skate, because they were also in the second to last group, not the last group. And they were fifth in components in the Short Program and that is just... what?
Yogeeta: That is just complete ridiculousness. Back to the PCS corridor, I hate it so much. Peng and Jin's Short deserves to get performance and interpretation scores in the 9's. THey completely sell that program . That program was made for them. Like I said, it's my favourite Short Program of the season. I'm sorry, Sui and Han, but
Kat: It's such a good program.
Yogeeta: And it's one of those programs I can go back and rewatch over and over and over because it's so memorable and remarkable, and eve if some of their other components should be in the 8's, I think that their skating skills are correctly placed etc, their performance and interpretation should be in the 9's.
Kat: Especially at this competition, I've seen this program a lot now - I've seen it three times live - and I thought that Worlds still looked the best performance of that. They skated with so much freedom, and speed, and energy, there was just something really special about htat performance and I was so heartbroken when I saw their expression after their Free Skate because they looked so pleased with themselves for skating pretty clean and when they saw their score in the Free Sakte they kind of knew that the door was open for someone else to push them off the podium and they probably realized the Sal wasn't rotated and cost them the bronze.
Yogeeta: They're the bronze medalists in my heart.
Kite: I was like, "Really, now the tech panel starts calling underrotations?"
Kat: I mean, we're all for fair judging.
Kite: No, definitely call them, but call them consistently.
Kat: Call them, but be consistent, y'all. Peng and Jin, it's okay. Come back next season and claim your World bronze.
Gina: I mean, if anything, the band that sings their program song owes them money, because I have been humming that all weekend.
Kite: Oh god, same.
Kat: They're the only reason I know who sings it. The Lumineers, right?
Yogeeta: I've had that song on replay on my Spotify, they're getting so many replays from me.
Kite: Yeah, same.
Kat: You owe them royalties, Lumineers. Obviously, we've got to talk about Tarasova and Morozov in second place. I was really happy for them. They had a really good competition, after a season of inconsistencies, where they really should've been winning a lot more than they did, but some of their scoring on the GOEs, the jumps, and in the Free Program, and their PCS in the Short Program drive me insane. But overall, because they skated relatively clean, I was just really, really relieved for them that they were able to perform well at the end of the season.
Yogeeta: Yeah, they definitely deserved having their two clean programs after having fought, especially fighting this Free Skate this season and finally having a clean Free.
Kat: Which is really sad because this is probably my favourite of their free programs, even if their expression si still rather blank. They are super duper technical and they have some of the best elements in the Worlds.
Yogeeta: Well, we do have to talk about James and Cipres.
Kat: That was a hard one.
Kat: Really hard. They performed so well all season and you knew that the pressure was on for them to deliver again at Worlds' so I feel like there's no way that wasn't weighing on their minds, at least a little bit, in addition to what happened during the warm up.
Kite: Vanessa James and Matteo Guarise collided during during the 6 min warm up before the Short Program, and I think she actually fell. He kind of caught her as she was falling, and it definitely rattled both of them, as it would. In the Short Program, Morgan ended up doubling on their triple Sals and then Vanessa fell on a triple flip. Two huge mistakes, unfortunately, that you really can't afford to have in the Short Program when there aren't that many elements and it just buried them. And it was really unfortunate.
Yogeeta: It was truly an unfortunate end to a stellar season for them, especially since they came in with such high hopes. However, I also thought that they were overscored in the Free.
Kat: Oh yeah, I did too.
Yogeeta: They were a lot more tentative in this program than I've ever seen them perform, and I love this program to pieces. But I didn't see or feel the usual energy I get from their performances, and that's what really sells them as a team. They don't have the strongest Skating Skills, but their performance and interpretation is usually some of the best.
Kat: And their packaging. I think that they should be given credit for being really innovative with their music choices and artistic choices, even though their skating skills and elements may not be at the level of the other top teams at the moment. They're solidly third in terms of the top pairs right now, but they haven't really faced stiff competition because Sui and Han have been out with injury, and Tarasova and Morozov haven't been competing to their fullest potential, and both teams were on their A-game at Worlds, so they really cannot afford so many mistakes, and that is what cost them being on the podium.
Kite: And the judges really wanted them to be on the podium, as you can see from their Free Skate because you could tell that they realized that the podium was probably still in reach so they were really trying to concentrate on their tech elements and as a result just didn't perform the program to the same degree that we saw at Skate Canada or at Grand Prix Final. But that massive score was really telling, I think, of the reputation they've gained over the past season as a top Pairs team. And on the bright side, even though they came here to win and they, unfortunately, didn't get on the podium - at least they're not going to retire! Their intention is to compete until they win Worlds so I really hope that they can take this as a learning experience and take the off season to really drill whatever Short Program they end up with next season because that's where they've been faltering.
Yogeeta: Just get Charlie White to choreograph both of their programs next season.
Kite: Yeah, that's the secret to success. I also just want them to work on their Skating Skills some more.
Yogeeta: Yeah, agreed.
Kat: Their consistency has definitely pushed them up in the judge's minds in terms of PCS because they were still third in PCS right after Sui and Han in the Short Program, even though they had two major mistakes. So the judges are clearly willing to push for them if they perform really well and had one of the top teams faltered in the Free, they easily could have snuck their way back onto the podium.
Yogeeta: Yeah, they were third in the Free.
Kat: So hopefully next season, again, they work on their refinement. You can clearly tell that they're not as fast, their elements are not as well-polished, their throws don't have as much speed going out, their twist isn't as high. There are things for them to work on and I hope that we do see that and that they can really compete with the top teams.
Yogeeta: Agreed, the growth that we've seen from them in the past few years has been incredible so I know that they can do it and I think that they will use this placement here as motivation to do it.
Kat: And they also now have this season of growth behind their backs, because I think this season was a lot of trying to adjust to being one of the top teams in the world because in the past they never even made the Grand Prix Final and then they won it this season. They didn't even make the Euros podium last year and now they've won Euros.
Yogeeta: We don't talk about the Euros podium last year, Kat.
Kat: Well hey, great segue, speaking of teams that snuck their way onto the podium and barely kicked someone off - Zabiiako and Enbert. They were the ones that kicked off James and Cipres at Euros last year.
Yogeeta: By 0.01 points. Anyway, I think their Short Program is fun, but I don't remember their Free Skate for my life.
Kat: They have weird packaging in the Short Program like it's very renaissance fair.
Gina: I like it, I stand by that. I think there needs to be more programs where you're just like "What the hell am I watching?"
Kite: It's like this is kind of uncomfortable but I kind of like it?
Kat: It's like watching the Junior Pairs.
Yogeeta: The Junior Pairs are so much more fun.
Kite: Senior Pairs take some lessons from Junior Pairs on how to construct your programs.
Kat: I just remember the weird vague fake sword fighting choreo in the Short Program...
Gina: Yeah, you're like "Are they fighting each other? Are they fighting together? I'm not really sure!" And I quite like that, I think it's really fun but I have no idea what their Free Skate is.
Kat: I remember the tune of it because it's a very wailing lady singing. I remember the tune and I'm not going to sing it. I'm not going to subject you to that.
Kite: Aw, come on. Do it!
Yogeeta: But I do really like the other Russian Pairs team.
Kat: Honestly, compared to Zabiiako and Enbert who, in my opinion, are really similar to Tarasova and Morosov as in they have gorgeous elements and they have beautiful lines but they have zero chemistry and connection to the music. I am not sure why their PCS is so high because I really preferred [Aleksandra] Boikova and [Dmitrii] Kozlovskii and this is only their first Senior season, they're fresh off Juniors. They have such gorgeous elements, their spins are so in sync, she has gorgeous, balletic lines and her free leg extension and flow out of the throw triple Sal - oh my God. I think that they express way better than the other [Russian] teams.
Kite: I think because they're so new to the Senior stage and they're so young they still have a way to go in terms of really connecting with each other and convincing us of that. But I feel like separately both of them have such youthful, spunky energy that they're just really fun to watch. They're like a breath of fresh air after watching "Rach[maninov] 2" for the twelfth time in a row.
-end segment- 49:56
START: Ice Dance
Kat: Okay, moving onto Ice Dance. The medallists were, we have 4-time World Champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron (FRA). In silver, we have Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov (RUS), and in bronze, we had Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue (USA).
Yogeeta: Well, Ice Dance happened! That's the summary of this event!
Kat: I'm glad that I slept through most of the Rhythm Dance and I woke up right before [Alexandra] Stepanova and [Ivan] Bukin.
Kite: They blessed the event.
Yogeeta: Was the tech panel just asleep? [Gina: Yes] What was going on?
Kat: I saw that the top 7 teams at that point had all had perfect Tango Romantica's.
Kite: Yeah, I was like "Somehow I really doubt that."
Yogeeta: 7 of the top 8 teams had [almost] the same base value because they got all their levels et cetera and just - that is a lie. That is the biggest lie that I've ever seen in my life.
Kite: Yeah like none of these teams has skated a clean Tango Romantica all season and then they magically all do it at Worlds. No, I don't think so.
Kat: That doesn't make any sense to me either but the podium placement is correct if only just not one place. I think that gold and silver were correct but I don't think that Madi and Zach should have been bronze.
Gina: I mean the bronze medals are fake at this Worlds.
Yogeeta: We don't believe in bronze medalists, we only care about pewter medalists here.
Kat: Right. But in terms of the Tango Romantica, I think that the top 2 teams were scored correctly for the most part. I think that maybe Papadakis and Cizeron were overscored but they still should have won it. Sinitsina and Katsalapov have far and away the best Rhythm Dance, I think. They both have good Rhythm Dance's but Sinitsina and Katsalapov have a really good one and I was surprised that they managed to hold onto second even though they skated first in the second to last group. But they did do really well and they should have been in second. You could make an argument for first but Nikita's twizzles were a bit off.
Kite: So I feel like third place [in the Rhythm Dance] was more controversial because Stepanova and Bukin did have clean skates and got their levels but I guess their Skating Skills and selling of the pattern wasn't as strong. They really struggled with their levels on the pattern all season and so I think they were really just trying to make sure that they got all the steps and they weren't really focused on the performance and that showed in the way that they skated it.
Kat: I feel like their PCS should be really high up in the Performance and Interpretation though. The reason that I feel so strongly about this is because they have such a weird Rhythm Dance. It doesn't feel like a tango at all and I don't think it would work on any other team. I don't think I would like this Rhythm Dance on any other team but they perform it so well and they sell it to me so much. Their facial expressions are giving me so much energy that I'm like "Yes, I'm giving you all the 10s on Interpretation and Performance execution." I do feel like the Italians [Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri] should have been much higher than 7th [in the Rhythm Dance].
Yogeeta: Oh my God, yes! The Italians are probably the best technicians in this field.
Kat: They are! And I remember at Grand Prix Final being the most impressed with them because before Grand Prix Final I had been a little bit more lukewarm on them because I felt like they were overscored [at GP Helsinki] because they had a fall and they still got tonnes of 9s.
Yogeeta: Yes, that still blows my mind.
Kat: Yeah, but then I was so impressed by them at Grand Prix Final watching them in practice, they're so fast. Watching them live, their edges are so deep on that pattern. Barbara Fusar Poli was definitely like "You guys have to nail this pattern to compete."
Yogeeta: She didn't let them out of the rink until they could do it with their eyes closed, clearly.
Kat: It's just really sad that they're not getting rewarded for that but part of it might just be due to the fact that this is kind of their break-out season. They weren't really that well known because Italy already had Anna [Cappellini] and Luca [Lanotte], who have now retired and so now these two are in the spotlight. So I'm hoping that next season they can really push forward more.
Yogeeta: And get better programs.
Kat: I would have had them fourth, after Stepanova and Bukin, in the Rhythm Dance.
Yogeeta: [Kaitlyn] Weaver and [Andrew] Poje, who were fifth, definitely should have been knocked down to around eighth place just above [Kaitlin] Hawayek and [Jean-Luc] Baker. Their twizzles, as usual, were extremely shaky, their pattern was also not as well executed as the others. They had flat rockers, and Kaitlyn's step to the right back outside edge in the second section was flat again, similar to how she messed up at Four Continents when she also was not called. At the very least, they shouldn't have been in the final Free Dance group.
Gina: And I find it really amusing because I was watching on British Eurosport and the commentators were wondering in the Rhythm Dance "Oh, I wonder if their scores are going to be knocked down because they spent the first half of the season touring and the ISU won't like that." And it's like - they shouldn't be punished for touring, they should be punished for not actually skating the way that they're supposed to be skating.
Kat: Yeah, agreed. [Yogeeta: A hundred percent] And Weaver and Poje do have pretty good Skating Skills, so [that may be] due to lack of practice or something, but either way I don't think they should have been in the final group. And, as far as the top teams go, Hawayek and Baker definitely have the weakest Tango Romantica. They've been weak on it all season long. They got [one level 3 and one level 4] and I probably would have given them a level 1 on the first part because their rockers looked flat to me and then Jean-Luc also had the unclear edges on the second key point, which they called. I don't know, I'm frustrated because I think that now that Canada also had [Laurence] Fournier-Beaudry and [Nikolaj] Sorensen, I think that these two teams are at the same place competitively. They're both kind of fighting for who can come out on top and I definitely think that the Canadanes are much stronger skaters right now than Hawayek and Baker and they should have been ahead.
Kite: Talking about Papadakis and Cizeron, full confession, I did not watch Rhythm Dance live because I decided that I actually needed to sleep at some point during the week and it might as well be during Ice Dance because it was going to make me mad anyway. So I woke up and I looked at the scores and I was like "What?"
Kat: There were 8 scores over 80!
Kite: I was like "Can I even be mad that their scores are so high anymore just given how ridiculous this is?" There were judges that gave them 90 in the Rhythm Dance when you broke it down by judge.
Kat: I think 91's full score, right?
Yogeeta: Something like that.
Kite: And, obviously, coming in, unless some disaster happened, there was no chance they weren't going to win this thing. But I think that giving them such a ridiculously high score in the Rhythm Dance really sends a message that no team is anywhere close to being able to contend with them, so don't even try. I really question whether spacing out the field like that is a good idea.
Yogeeta: It's the complete opposite of what happens in the Men! [Gina: Yeah!]
Kat: The thing is with Ice Dance is that I think that Papadakis and Cizeron are solidly the best Ice Dance team in the world. [Kite and Yogeeta: Agreed] They shouldn't be 6 points clear of 2nd through 7th.
Kite: They should be maybe like 3 points clear? 4 points clear? I would give them that.
Kat: I don't understand the point in over-inflating them to this degree [in] the first year of a new scoring system of a new Olympic cycle.
Kite: Where they would win anyway. They don't need this inflation to win. They would win on their own merit if all the scores were judged fairly.
Kat: It's frustrating but I just feel more resigned to it than I am angry or upset because I'm like "I guess this is what's going to happen. At least they have the technique and interpretation to match."
Yogeeta: Do we want to talk about Hubbell and Donohue? Can we not?
Gina: Let's talk about it. It was a mess.
Kat: Oh, man.
Kite: Do we have to?
Kat: We do have to talk a little bit about it because I'm really upset about Hubbell and Donohue placing over Stepanova and Bukin in the Free Dance. I was so sure that if the final group had gone clean they would have just gone with the standings from the [Rhythm Dance] as the final podium result. I was just so sad when I saw it. Stepanova and Bukin killed it in the Free Dance, they had the best Free Dance of that final group and yeah, their Skating Skills should be on the lower side, but their Performance and Interpretation should have been so high. And they skated totally clean with all level 4's and I was so excited. I was like "Oh my God, they're going to do it!" But then I saw that their technical score was going down and I was like "No!" And then I was thinking "Oh man, they're definitely going to give the PCS edge to Madi and Zach..." Which is... no. Hubbell and Donohue's Free Dance - oh my God! That was such a travesty.
Yogeeta: I didn’t think their Free Dance could get worse, and it did.
Kat: It has gotten so much worse, oh my goodness! The ending music cut was just so strange and chaotic. They said they changed the ending so it was more triumphant and happy and would inspire the crowd to be more excited. It was probably the same move that Virtue/Moir pulled with their “Moulin Rouge” to make the ending really happy and triumphant instead of dead but it was just so abrupt and made no musical sense. I don’t know who cut that music and was like, “This is a good idea! We’ll slap on some happy and triumphant music in the last 20 seconds, that’ll do it.”
Yogeeta: They keep trying to be [Tessa] Virtue and [Scott] Moir, but they’re not Virtue and Moir!
Kat: And especially with a program like “Romeo and Juliet!” What makes me so sad about this though is that Hubbell and Donohue were always seen as kind of the “fresh team” that picked cool music, were innovative, were really tall and statuesque and powerful, and had this cool energy about them. But this Free Dance just made them so stale! And it makes me so mad that this kind of lack of musical creativity was being rewarded all season because this was more or less their breakout season. Because they are now among the top dancers in the world, this Free Dance was just not it. It just really wasn’t. And to see it constantly get rewarded was just driving me bat.
Yogeeta: Honestly, I really wish I was better at actually calling levels for Dance, because I don’t believe that Hubbell and Donohue had max base value.
Kat: They all got Level 4’s. And this is the team that had said in interviews that they were focusing more on the performance aspect than trying to get all the levels.
Yogeeta: This is the team at Grand Prix Final who had the lowest base value of all of the teams.
Kite: And still won.
Gina: They realized that they couldn’t get by on Level 2’s anymore, I guess.
Kite: I mean, I think Four Continents scared them because they were like, “Oh, the judges are actually gonna call our Levels.”
Kat: The Technical Controller [at Worlds] was David Molina, who is known to be friendly with the Gadbois people. So, I was a little bit hesitant to think that Hubbell and Donohue weren’t going to make the podium, so there was a lot of politics at play here.
Yogeeta: That’s the best description of Ice Dance - it’s just a mess where everything is determined by politics, and not by actual skating!
-end segment- 1:01:06
Yogeeta: Okay, well, let us move on to our last event, the Men’s… Which didn’t happen!
Kite: The men didn’t happen!
Yogeeta: That didn’t happen!
Gina: This is where the real salt begins.
Kite: This is Gina’s time to shine, y’all.
Kat: Yeah, I’m gonna sit back because I think I unleashed all of my salt. (Hosts laugh)
Kite: Grab some snacks, and just sit back and enjoy!
Yogeeta: Well, for the Men’s, we have in gold, Nathan Chen, in silver, Yuzuru Hanyu, and in bronze, Vincent Zhou.
Gina: This is why U.S. National’s inflation was a bad thing and did actually matter. I knew as soon as I saw the protocols from U.S. Nationals that the international scores would follow the same trend, and here we have Nathan getting high 9’s across his PCS for programs and performances that just do not have high 9’s in PCS. I’m not saying he’s bad or average, he’s good, and he’s very good in certain components. I think especially in his Short Program, he can hit ‘Excellent’ in some of the criteria for the Interpretation and Performance. But, by the ISU definition he should be getting high 8’s, not high 9’s. Just for clarification, whenever using words like ‘Good’ and ‘Very Good’ and ‘Excellent,’ I’m talking about the way these words are used in the ISU Handbook to evaluate components.
Yogeeta: They’re so… specific.
Kat: No room for confusion at all!
Yogeeta: No room for subjectivity or anything like that.
Gina: No, not at all! So ‘Good’ is supposed to be 7’s, ‘Very Good’ is 8’s, and ‘Excellent’ is in the 9’s. When you have a skater like Yuzuru Hanyu on the field, and the judges are gonna be as reluctant as they are to reward 10’s when he’s skating at his very best, then in my opinion, the whole field needs to take a knock for their component scores to reflect the standard that has been set. You have performances like the 2015 Grand Prix Final skate of ‘Seimei,’ or the Worlds 2017 ‘Hope and Legacy,’ and they got 98 and 97 in PCS respectively. We get that kind of indication that the judges are only really willing to go up to 9.75 with the occasional shy 10 for Yuzuru when he’s skating at that level. When we consider that context of PCS in the Men’s, there is no way that Nathan should be hitting 94 for a performance where the transitions lack variety and difficulty, the deep edges are scarcely seen, the one-foot skating is rare, and there’s sections where he’s just skating completely over the music.
Kite: Yeah, I think Nathan is like, a mid-80’s PCS skater on a good day. Because like Gina said, there are some things that he does very well, especially in the Short Program. He really sold me on his Short Program, and I’ve never been sold on any of his programs before. And I think Vincent is a low-80’s PCS skater on a good day. Neither of them should be breeching 90 or coming close to it when there are skaters like Yuzuru Hanyu, Shoma [Uno], Mikhail Kolyada, and Jason Brown in the field. And in my opinion, Jason should be getting the highest PCS among the U.S. men and it really should not even be close, but he doesn’t have quads, so he regularly gets lowballed for that. And for me, I think even more egregious than Nathan’s PCS was Vincent’s PCS here. Because he got 83 in PCS at Four Continents this year, and by Worlds, his PCS jumped up to 87. And Vincent did not go from a low-80’s to a high-80’s skater in the span of one month. Like, there’s just no way. That translates into nearly a one point increase across each of the PCS divisions. And like Kat said from seeing him live at Four Continents, his ice coverage is minimal, he’s quite slow in person, there’s not a lot of one-foot skating or transitions in his programs, like I would personally give him high 7’s to low 8’s in Skating Skills or Transitions.
Kat: 83 was already pretty far-out when I saw that.
Yogeeta: Yeah, I would give him 80, maybe like high 70’s overall.
Kat: I didn’t watch the men until I woke up right before Yuzu skated, so I didn’t even see any of the scores, I missed Shoma too. I saw Vincent and Shoma were only 2 points apart, and I was like, “What? What happened here?”
Kite: I think Vincent’s programs this season are probably the best that he’s had, and they’re really good vehicles for him to develop artistically and to develop his expression, especially the Free Skate. But again they lack choreographic complexity and performance quality of programs that are scoring in the high 80’s.
Kat: The one-foot skating is basically nonexistent with Vincent. There was a time when getting 8’s in PCS was like a “Oh my God, I really killed it today!” achievement. Remember that Daisuke Takahashi has never gotten above 90 in PCS, guys?
Gina: Yeah, the only way that PCS scoring really makes sense to me is if the judges are scoring each performance in relation to the individual skaters’ previous performances rather than assessing the field as a whole, or what can be considered ‘Excellent’ or ‘Outstanding’ in the context of the sport in general considering what we’ve seen in the past and the standards we have now. Should Vincent Zhou really be getting 87 if Daisuke Takahashi can only get 90? That’s insane!
Kite: (Sarcastically) No, Vincent should be getting like 65.
Gina: Exactly! Like, when you look at the component scores and 9.5 in Skating Skills for Yuzuru or Patrick Chan, and a 9.5 in Skating Skills for Nathan Chen just do not look comparable at all. In this competition, Vincent Zhou got 8.82 in Skating Skills, which was only .28 lower than Mikhail Kolyada. There is no way that Vincent is that close to Mikhail Kolyada in Skating Skills.
Yogeeta: Oh, of course not. In my opinion, the ranking for PCS should go Yuzuru, Jason Brown, Mikhail Kolyada, Shoma Uno, and then we can have Nathan and then everyone else.
Kite: Yeah, those should be the top four, I definitely agree with you on that.
Gina: I just wish that the quality skating was being rewarded where it should be. Jason Brown’s PCS should be up there with Yuzuru’s on his best day, and even when he’s struggling with his technical elements, his fundamental skills and transitions are at a level where he should be consistently at the top of the U.S. men in components. Nathan still has areas to develop, which is fine and to be expected, and he bridges that gap in the technical, but there’s no way that he should be being scored close to Yuzuru and Jason. And Vincent is so way far down below even Nathan for me that him getting the high 8’s is just ridiculous.
Yogeeta: And I think my biggest issue is that we all complained about U.S. Nats and people were saying that, “Oh, it won’t matter!” But this isn’t like U.S. Nats was the starting point of Nathan’s overscoring. No, we’ve seen this since the Pyeongchang Free Skate, and we’ve seen this at Worlds last season. Like, this is not new. They keep doing this when Nathan Chen skates clean, apparently he suddenly becomes a 90-plus PCS skater. He got a 91 PCS last year at Worlds for his Free Skate, which I think is way lower in quality than his Free Skate this season. And that still blew my mind! The judges are consistently sending out this picture that quads equal components, and that is false.
Kat: I do think that Nathan is getting better at interpreting music, and his performance has improved leaps and bounds in the past few seasons. The thing is though, the impression that I get from his skating very much, especially apparent in the Choreo Sequence, is that he does a lot of cool upper-body movements to kind of distract you from the fact that nothing is going on down by the blades, and so you’re fooled into thinking, “Oh, this is really cool, and he’s really selling this to me!” But there’s still nothing going on while he’s skating. And his skating is really slow, too. Like, he’s giving you a lot of energy too, so it looks kind of unbalanced as well.
Yogeeta: He got higher GOE on his Step Sequence than Yuzuru did in the Short.
Kite: Yeah, okay, I have some thoughts about this. You cannot tell me that just how rich and complex “Otonal’s” steps and transitions and edgework and full body movements and one-foot skating was not far and away the best in the Men’s event. And this just goes to show that skating later has an advantage that simply should not exist.
Yogeeta: I can’t believe we’re back in the 6.0 system!
Kite: Yeah, given that the draw for spots within each group is supposed to be random, and honestly, when skating last translates into getting higher scores, what was even the point of getting rid of the ordinal system? Because one of the biggest issues with 6.0, the system before IJS was instated, was that the judges had to rank the skaters in the overall field before all of them had skated. So, it was pretty common to lowball the earlier skaters in case the later skaters skated better, and then you wouldn’t have anywhere to put them if the earlier skaters had a higher score. And so the last skater always had an advantage due to everyone else having already gone. That’s the exact same thing that’s happening under IJS. So I’m like, “What was the point in getting rid of that?” Because the point of giving concrete numbers to score the programs is that it’s supposed to be an objective measure of what you did, not relative to anybody else, but what you did on the ice. And yet you see that when Nathan is skating after Yuzuru, his scores are inflated. And just comparing them side by side, there is no comparison, especially in the Step Sequences. In terms of the commitment to the music, of selling the performance, and really believing in the character that you’re portraying, there is just no way that Nathan should be coming anywhere close to the Step Sequence scores that Yuzuru is getting. And it just blows my mind, the fact that the judges thought that was an appropriate decision to make. [chuckles]
Yogeeta: Also, the Grade of Execution that he gets on his jumps as well brings me a lot of confusion. Like, he has great tech, we know this, but he has a lot of issues with his landing positions. I don’t think he should rarely ever get more than +3 GOE’s since a good landing position is required to get over that cap. But let’s look at his quad Flip in his Free Skate which had a terrible landing. He ended up getting positive GOE for that, when I personally would’ve given him -1 GOE because of that landing.
Gina: Yeah, I mean, Nathan’s problem is that his knees are so stiff. He’s really great going into that jump, he’s really good in the air, but he lands and everything comes to a dead stop. Because his knees just lock up, and he’s landing that on a straight leg, and there is no flow, no speed, no nothing coming out of that jump. It’s a shame, and that will also reflect in his Skating Skills, so he can’t get the deep edges because he doesn’t bend his knees.
Kat: Again, it’s so sad, because he did so well!
Kite: He definitely deserved to win! This was a very well-deserved win for him.
Kat: No one is arguing that Nathan did not deserve to win here.
Yogeeta: The margin by which he won…
Kite: Even just his win being tainted by how egregious the scores were is so sad. ‘Cause it’s like you genuinely want to be happy…
Kat: He skated two clean programs!
Kite: He definitely deserved to win.
Yogeeta: And once again, the judges did this at Worlds last year. Like, I am the first person to say that Nathan deserved to win Worlds last year, but the margin by which he won was ridiculous!
Gina: I feel really bad because he has improved, and I really wish that I could focus more on the positives, and be like, “Well, I actually really love his Short Program!” I have not enjoyed any of Nathan’s programs until this Short Program! I think he sells it wonderfully, the choreography really works for him, the music really works for him, he seems to listen to that music a lot more than he usually does. I really wanna praise him for that, and the Free Skate doesn’t work for me. But there’s still areas where I can see that he’s improved, and I would really like to focus on that and how good and consistent he’s been all season, and how he’s really worked on his Triple Axels, but instead, my focus has completely shifted in to how rubbish the judging was.
Gina: I’ve seen some people who do seem to think that Yuzuru should’ve taken the gold with his Free Skate, and I don’t really agree with that. Realistically, neither the Short nor the Free were Yuzuru’s best. His Short Program is beautiful, and he only had one mistake, but the mistake was really costly, and you could see the nerves and him getting into his head in his performance. And I think the same really goes for the Free Skate. It was almost clean, and he did a really great job, but it wasn’t a “Hope and Legacy” level performance.
Kat: Right, he had shaky landings for sure. Definitely was holding back a little bit, I think, just out of caution. Doesn't matter, I was still sobbing through the entire thing. [Gina: Oh yeah] I did not expect him to actually go clean [Yogeeta and Kite: Mostly clean] four months from injury with a program that he doesn't have the muscle memory for. I was not expecting that at all. But I think his scores were fairly well reflective of his performances.
Yogeeta: I think Yuzuru was the most fairly scored person in the Men's competition.
Kite: Which is to say, in reference to the rest of the field, underscored.
Gina: Yeah, it's not that anyone is underscored, it's that other skaters are chronically overscored.
Yogeeta: But even if we go into Yuzuru's scores in the protocols, some of those judges made zero sense. His quad loop got a range of +1 to +5 GOE from the judges.
Kat: His quad toe should have gotten unanimous +5. [Yogeeta: Agreed] I have no idea what else that kid needs to do.
Yogeeta: His triple Axel in the Short should have gotten +5.
Kite: That's the funniest thing to me because somebody pointed out that when the ISU released the +5/-5 they had ideal elements that would +5, and Yuzuru's triple Axel was used as an example of a jump that would get +5. And then he's actually doing it in front of the judge's faces and they're not giving him +5.
Kat: There's literally nothing else that he can do. That's the perfect jump.
Kite: He needs to add another rotation. That's the only way.
Yogeeta: Kite... Even if we look at Ice Scope stats, the height and distance, his entry and his exit and the timing with the music. It hits every single bullet, I don't know what more he needs to do.
Gina: Grand of Execution has been all over the place for a while and the changes that they've made have not helped anything at all. This season one of the things that I can constantly see on the protocols is that the judges have no idea how to apply Grade of Execution. The language for the GOE features got more vague and the margins got wider for Grade of Execution and they introduced this rules where you have to have the first three [bullets] to get +4 or +4 [on jumps]. And it's just led to the judges not having a consensus on what the positive features even are, when they're met, or how to apply Grade of Execution once you've decided which bullets are met and, honestly, I think a lot of judges right now need to be retrained or just replaced.
Kite: And speaking of changes that have happened under the new judging system, I want to know how the quad Loop have a higher base value.
Yogeeta: It's the most difficult quad of the current quads that are being done!
Kite: It's so difficult!
Kat: If you don't even get the highest amount of points for doing the most difficult quad then why on earth would anyone attempt to do it, unless they have a really good triple Loop.
Kite: It's so hard to take off from that right back outside edge because you don't have toe pick assistance to get you into the air and you start with both of your feet on the ground. So you really don't even have that momentum swinging you up and so you need to have exceptional speed, take off position, and rotational speed to be able to get those four rotations. That's why only one skater in this event attempted a quad loop.
Yogeeta: And the height that Hanyu gets on his quad loop is remarkable.
Kite: Yeah, considering all of those factors that make it so difficult. There were several skaters who attempted quad Lutzes and quad flips to varying degrees of success and both of those have a higher base value under the current judging system. I'm like "If there's only one skater attempting this jump at all, maybe we want to think about whether or not it should get more points."
Yogeeta: Nathan and Shoma attempted to do it and then they have since stopped doing the loop, so...
Kat: That should tell you all you need to know. And Yuzu's quad loop is literally a thing of beauty when he lands it.
Kite: When he was going into the quad loop, I was wearing my [smart] watch and my heart rate went up from like 93 to 124 in those 10 seconds when he was going into the quad loop because I was just so nervous. He was missing it so frequently in practice. The fact that he can pull it off is crazy.
Yogeeta: I'm just sad that I'm back in the 2016/17 season where Yuzuru's quad loop and quad Sal can't appear at the same time.
Kat: Oh my gosh, why? I thought that we were done worrying about Yuzu's quad Sal. Ever since the Olympics, I was like "Oh my god, his quad Sal has really been coming through," and then it failed here.
Yogeeta: Javi[er Fernandez] retired and he took the quad Sal with him.
Kat: This is more proof that Javi just needs to come back. Yuzu can only land the quad Sal when he's competing.
Gina: But yeah, I just hope that next season Yuzuru can be healthy because he has so much more than he's capable of and his skill and quality in every single aspect of this sport remains unmatched, in my opinion. And as long as he's healthy and skating, we get the opportunity to see him meet that amazing potential that he has.
Kat: I just think that the bright side of Yuzu winning silver here is that he's definitely not going to retire, at least.
Kite: Oh, no. He is fired up. He was like "Losing is as good as death."
Yogeeta: He was quoting an anime song! I'm so mad about that!
Kite: I was like "Chill, man. I know it's upsetting, but..."
Yogeeta: What I'm really distressed about is that he wants to do the quad Lutz again, which was the cause of his injury last season and he mentioned trying to attempt a quad flip which were words I never thought I would hear from Yuzuru Hanyu.
Gina: Let's be real, it's not going to be the only quad flip on the field that doesn't quite have the right edge.
Kite: There is no such thing as a quad flip.
Kat: This entire conversation just makes my blood pressure increase to catastrophic levels. I'm just like "This kid is going to break himself and he is not going to be able to walk at 35."
Yogeeta: I'm just so mad at the judges because they are the ones that are pushing him towards this because they're just saying that these quads equal program components.
Kat: The press conference honestly broke my heart, not only from the fact of finding out about his condition and how his ankle wasn't even fully healed and he was still on painkillers. That was all really heartbreaking, but also the fact that he thought that him losing meant that he still had more to improve, and it's like "Oh, sweetie, no..."
Yogeeta: A clean Yuzuru Hanyu should get perfect PCS - that is my belief.
Gina: And his Grade of Execution, as well. The quality on his elements is far beyond anyone else and it really does worry me because the kind of injuries that he's had with ligaments - ligaments just don't heal the same way that other parts of the body do.
Kat: And especially [when you're] constantly stressing them out.
Gina: Yeah. I don't know how he's going to do it, and it does remind me of the [ISU Congress] when they were bringing in these rules with limiting the quads and there was someone at the [Congress] who did say to the ISU "I think this is dangerous. You're going to push these skaters into trying to get more different types of quads so that they can be competitive and you're going to push them to their breaking point." And the ISU was like "Eh, whatever," and now we're seeing it happen.
Kite: You know, in fairness, he hasn't made a secret of wanting the quad Axel because he's been talking about it since the Olympics.
Gina: He's been talking about it since he was like seven.
Kite: True, but he's been seriously training towards it in the past year or so.
Kat: I just don't see the point of that reporter [at the press conference] asking him the question about the quad Axel right after he was basically like "My ankle's completely messed up beyond repair." But also like, "When are you going to land the quad Axel?"
Yogeeta: He promised [the reporter] that he'd do it within her lifetime!
Kite: Beyond that, does anyone, especially the judges, do they recognize how absurd it sounds that the most well-rounded man in the field currently, if not of all time, feels that he needs a quad Axel to be a gold medal contender. He thinks he needs to land a jump that has never been landed before in order to win when the sheer quality of his pure skating and his elements is so far above everybody else. It just breaks my heart and it's so sad and terrifying to watch him push his body to these extremes because the judges aren't willing to reward what he already does so well.
Kat: All of this is so depressing, oh my God.
Gina: And to keep it depressing-
Kite: This next section is going to be a fun one. [Yogeeta: Oh boy...] So once skater who did not make it onto the podium at this event was Shoma Uno, and this is the first time that he has finished off the podium in 23 events. There has been some controversy, not unwarranted, that had Vincent's underrotations and PCS been judged correctly, Shoma would have been on the podium. So I did some back of the envelope calculations based off the jumps that Vincent did versus the jumps that he was rewarded for at Worlds. And so in the Short Program, he wasn't called on his quad Lutz-triple toe, which was noticeably under, and then in the Free Skate he was not called on his quad Lutz-triple toe or his quad Sal which was, to me, right on the quarter and so should have been called if not at least reviewed. And so, if you add the deductions that this would have led to, then his overall score would have been at least 4 points behind Shoma - even before you factor in how ridiculous his PCS was. It was so heartbreaking to see Shoma's interviews after the Free Skate where he was saying basically that he missed the podium because he didn't have the ability to compete with the top men and I was like "Oh no, honey, that's not it."
Yogeeta: Shoma, you're still number 2 in the world.
Kite: He feels that it's due to his own failings and not due to the judges not being able to call jumps underrotated. It's heartbreaking and he should have been on that podium.
Gina: I mean, maybe Vincent really does have issues with his ankles that makes his blade hit the ice early. But if his blade is hitting the ice he's landing the jump and if he's still got a quarter rotation left to go, the jump is underrotated and it needs to be called. But you know, Shoma put up a really good fight and I think the best moment for me was his Short Program. That come hither motion at the beginning of the step sequence in the Short Program... I will hither wherever he wants me to. (Hosts laugh) After a season of looking like he was just going through the motions and didn't know what this program was and what he was supposed to do with the choreography - he finally reached in and found his inner Daisuke Takahashi and got the right energy for that Short Program and it was really great to see, I really enjoyed it. But this was not a great competition for him. I think the ankle sprains, the change of boots, there's apparently issues with his hip and possibly his knees and he had the pressure of the home crowd - I think that all played a part. I don't disagree with his scores, but I do disagree with his placements.
Yogeeta: I do think that this will give Shoma a good opportunity to reset. He has had a lot of success over the past few seasons, but I think he's reached the max point of it. He needs new choreography, he needs new performances and interpretations and I hope he takes this as a chance to not think "Oh, I'm not good anymore," but [rather] "Where can I improve and what can I change to be better?"
Gina: I did see something about Tatsuki Machida thinking about doing some choreography for some younger skaters and I'm like "Please? Pretty please? Please help Shoma."
Kat: I pray that Shoma gets choreography from someone [who is] not Mihoko, just because he needs something fresh. He just needs a reset.
Gina: And the good thing for Shoma is that he does have such good whole body movements and Skating Skills and he's so attuned to different types of music and has such an expressive way of skating - even if his facial expression doesn't move, his body says everything that he needs to say. I think there's a lot of Japanese choreographers, and a lot of choreographers in general, that could really help him get a hold of that innate ability and run with it. So I would like to see maybe something good come out of his confidence taking such a beating because it is really heartbreaking to see. And if he does branch out from this, then that would be a good result.
Kite: Maybe this will be the fire that will be lit under his butt to go out of his comfort zone and seek other ways of improving his skating, besides going to the jump clinics in summer. And if he comes back stronger from this, which I think he will, then maybe it was for the best.
Gina: He's got such an amazing mentality that I believe he'll come back stronger.
Yogeeta: I just wanted to give a shout out to Mikhail [Kolyada] and Boyang [Jin] because they actually did mostly clean Free Skate's. I was so excited to finally have a mostly clean "Carmen," guys. It was glorious, I was so happy for [Mikhail] and it was definitely something he needed. Unfortunately, [Mikhail, Alexander Samarin and Andrei Lazukin] didn't place high enough so the Russian men only have two spots for next season.
Kite: Do they really need more than two?
Kat: I was just going to say. Spots for next year really shifted around.
Kite: The Russian Ladies are going to be horrible, but the Russian Men is going to be so chill.
Kat: Right? I was just so happy for Boyang because the beginning of his season was so rough and I know that's not unusual or unheard of for him to have a really rough first half and then bounce back in the second half. But he just sounded so down, mentally, in the beginning of the season that I felt like he really needed to do well here in order to keep his confidence up, and I think it really did. He opened up and said he was feeling really depressed in the beginning of the season but then he feels reinvigorated and motivated to keep training and I'm so happy.
Yogeeta: I do have one other thing to say about Mikhail - what the hell are you doing, doing a triple flip? (Sarcastically) You don't have a triple flip!
Kat: The shade!
Gina: Similar to that but with Boyang, I don't really think his Free Program really works with him but I do really respect that he is trying to improve his skating without just relying on that which comes so naturally to him, which is being adorable and charming and cutesy. His "Spiderman" program was so well received because he was just smiling the whole way through it and having a lot of fun. He could come out and skate to "Peppa Pig" and it would be so great! [Kat: I know!] You see him on social media and he's just so adorable and so charming, but I do really appreciate that he is trying to do something more serious as well so that he's not stuck in just one type of program.
Kite: Finally, Jason Brown. Again I will reiterate, in terms of skating quality, [he's] by far the best in the US, one of the best in the world, and he should never be lower than third in PCS at any event. Unfortunately, he did struggle a bit in the Free Skate with trying to land that quad Sal and it seemed like it kind of rattled his confidence a little bit for the rest of the program. And he has made some progress, at least in terms of getting it rotated and not just popping it on the take-off, but, unfortunately, because he doesn't have a quad, he's really going to struggle to break into the top 6 of Men in the World. A good aim for him in the off season would be to really try to solidify those landings and come back strong in the next season and show that he can at least get one type of quad down pat, and then maybe he'll start getting the PCS he deserves.
Yogeeta: Jason has a really great triple flip, I think he should try a quad flip.
Kite: He would have the only valid quad flip.
Gina: Yeah, I thought that triple flip in his Short Program - that should have gotten +5. That was amazing. I love that Short Program.
Yogeeta: In my opinion, I think that he should have gotten the highest PCS in the Short Program. Sorry, Yuzuru.
Gina: I'm gonna be honest, yeah. We're all going to Fanyu jail.
-end segment- 1:31:31
START: Shout Out of the Week
Kite: Alright, Shout Out of the Week, very briefly, is to the tiny Zamboni's at Worlds because they were so cute.
Kat: They were so cute!
Kite: I tuned in during a resurfacing and I was like "What is that?" And then people in our chat were like "Those are the Zamboni's," and I was like "But they're so small!" They were so cute. Thank you, Japan. Thank you for that brief moment of happiness before Worlds totally crushed all of our dreams.
Kat: Crushed all of our souls, yes.
Yogeeta: The [Saitama Super Arena] mascot was also very cute.
Kat: Did you guys see the gala finale? It was so cute. Shoma basically crashed hugged into the mascot and then the group photo Yuzu was pulling the mascot and trying to get the mascot into the group photo and everyone was kind of watching them like "Is the mascot coming?" It was so cute.
Gina: I think the best part was Shoma yelling out the name of the person who was inside it and Yuzuru being like "Don't call him that!" And then [Shoma] just yelled it louder.
Kat: Oh my god! When that was happening I thought that was the name of the mascot and I was trying to figure out what it was.
Kat: That was so cute!
-end segment- 1:32:40
Gina: Thank you for listening, we hope to see you again for our next episode which will be about World Team Trophy!
Kat: If you want to get in touch with us, then please feel free to contact us via our website inthelopodcast.com or on Twitter or Tumblr. You can find our episodes on Youtube, iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher and Spotify.
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Kat: and Kat. See you soon!