The ODDITYof the ODDS

By Jack Curtis

"Priscilla!" said her coach. "We are not going to put that triple Lutz into your competition program until you land it 80% of the time in practice! You can’t win on your butt, cute though it may be!" Priscilla stuck out her lower lip and sighed. She’d heard it before. And though our butts may not rival Priscillas’, so have you and I.

Modern competition has always been about the jumps and IJS now presents us with a blueprint the skaters must follow; the choice that once gave the name "free skating" to the long program is effectively gone.

There is something odd about the current prescription. We don’t see swimmers and divers drowning at their competitions. We know that you or even I can put on skates and fall down without even practicing. So why, when we attend a figure skating event, do we see even the world’s best spending so much time doing what any of us can do?

Because the earning of points starts with jumps and triples earn the most points, serious skaters must concentrate on them. You get what you pay for!

Here is what those watching 2007 Worlds were privileged to see 24 ladies accomplish:

Solo Jump Element

Success* Percentage

Triple Axel

0%

Triple Lutz

30

Triple Flip

33

Triple Loop

56

Triple Salchow

59

Triple Toe Loop

56

Double Axel

73

Jump Comb/Seq
First Jump

Success Percentage

Triple Lutz

43%

Triple Flip

46

Triple Loop

67

Triple Salchow

50

Triple Toe Loop

63

Double Axel

69

All Jumps

54

*Success is defined as receiving a net plus or zero Grade of Execution from the judging panel.

The world’s best succeeded in their most important elements only about half the time. It’s good their butts are cute; without that, who in the world would watch them?

More serious still, triple jumping sends what looks like a developing majority of the best shopping for joints at very tender ages. How will that attract new practitioners now that getting rich is off the screen?

Jackson Haines’ successors in free skating gave us one of the most watched sports; the ISU has used its very unfree new judging system to put forth a bunch of half-baked jumpers sitting around the ice. Nobody likes failures! The ISU should get off its collective butt and rethink its prescription before its field of frozen dreams melts away.

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