Friday, April 10, 2009

Weekly Op-Ed: Of Quads and Men

How important is this damn jump? The quad is of course what I'm talking about.

You'd think it was the most important thing in Men's figure skating considering the dust up it has caused between Joubert and his closest rivals for two consecutive World Figure Skating Championships. If you remember, Joubert had a bit of a temper-tantrum post event last season in Goteborg after being smacked by Canada's Jeffrey Buttle in the free skate, sans quad. Fast forward to L.A. last month and apparently Joubert wasn't over his defeat from last season when he brought the topic up again. This time, American Evan Lysacek and Canadian Patrick Chan worked him over, again with no quad.

For the record, at both events, Joubert hit gorgeous quads in his free skate.

Back to the question, is the quad ultimately so important. There has been so much chatter about in the blogosphere and other media outlets, but this season it has been kind of like, "Great if you got it, but really not necessary." The judges are as apt to greatly reward a fantastic footwork sequence as they are a nice quad.

Where I have seen the quad given its due is when it is combined with remarkable artistry...that's rare however. Think about the last time you saw a program with a quad that made you sit up and go "Whoa...that was amazing!" In recent memory I can only come up with two...Daisuke Takahashi's 2008 Four Continents Cup performance and Brian Joubert's 2006 Cup of Russia performance (the program was really helped by the fact that he hit 3 quads...only two other men have done that; Timothy Goebel and Takeshi Honda).

In the end, I guess the quad can be a great separator of equally matched talent. It can lend a great performance an extra nudge and make it the best performance of the night. However, if you are using the quad to overcome other shortcomings in your skating, it really doesn't get the job done and becomes almost a competitor like Joubert can no doubt tell you.


Anonymous said...

I don't think comparing Joubert this year vs. last year is relevant. Joubert actually fell this year during his long. Had he did everything clean, he would have leaped over Patrick and Evan. So yes, quad does help. Had he only did a triple instead of a quad and skated clean, he would have lost. So the point is he did not deliver this year. Quad can mean taking a gold or taking a bronze when everyone does a clean lp. Had Joubert skated the exact same lp he did back at cup of Russia at this Worlds, there is no way for Patrick or Evan to leap over him. Plain and simple. Quad does matter but it only matters when you can skate clean and that's why both Patrick and Evan are practicing their quads. If quad doesn't matter, then they would not bother. Basically it's a numbers game. Plushy played it very well during his Olympic year (quads, footwork, artistry), now can anyone do it next year? Takahashi can do it if he recovers from his injury. Joubert can do it if he goes back and practice. I'm not sure if Patrick or Evan can do it. Some people have it and some just don't.

Sharon said...

I have never been a fan of the quad. To me it's just not important. Half the time I can't even tell the difference between a quad and a triple. Why do they risk it, really? The repeated rotations are bad enough on their hips as it is, why push it so far? Maybe it's why I like ice dance so much, jumps don't really impress me. Well, they kinda do cause I'm impressed by anyone who can leap off the ice and turn in the air! But it doesn't have to be the be all, end all. I like footwork, spirals, spins, etc just as much if not better. I actually get much more excited over pair throw jumps than I do single skater jumps. Maybe I just like seeing two people skate together!