Evgeni Rukavitsin: The risk of going for quad axel is not justified when it costs only 12.5 points. But Hanyu will try it anyway.

Posted on 2020-08-10 • No comments yet


The idea to equalise jumps is likely to rise again on the agenda in two years, Evgeni Rukavitsin shared his opinion on the pros and cons of such a decision.

by WFK magazine #2/22/2020

Evgeni Rukavitsin: Of course, the rules of figure skating are not a dogma, they can be and in some cases should be changed. In the end, even on the rivers, flowing since the dawn of time, people build dams. But in each such case, the consequences should be carefully calculated so as not to harm the ecosystem. As we know, including from our history, this did not always work out. I get the impression that in case of the current changes in the rules in figure skating (if they do happen), we can harm our sport.

If we talk about the gradation of difficulty of the jumps – lutz, flip, loop, salchow, toe loop, then it was not taken out of nowhere. Jumps came from the elements of figure skating. In particular, lutz – from the сounter turn, and this is one of the most difficult elements of the skating itself. This gradation is a long-term tradition. And what will happen if these traditions are violated, it is difficult for me to imagine.

I don’t think it’s right to equalize the value of three quadruple jumps – loop, flip and lutz. Yes, I admit that quad loop is indeed in some shadow compared to the lutz and flip. This jump requires filigree execution.

But it is wrong to take the quadruple loop out of this shadow by lowering the cost of the quadruple lutz. Lutz, as I have already noted, is traditionally, and not without reason, is the most difficult jump in figure skating. In its classical execution, lutz is the only jump with the so-called negative rotation, when the entry arc is made in one direction, and the rotation around its axis is made in the other direction. Any specialist, looking at the lutz, will determine whether it is real, purely executed or, as we say, a hidden loop. And what, now, it turns out that classical lutz has been equated to the loop?

Indeed, according to statistics, recently a quad lutz has been performed more often than a quadruple loop. But, in my opinion, this happened not because it is easier, but because the athletes took great risks in order to earn points.

I hear the views of some experts who called it the right decision to equalize the value of quadruple lutz, flip and loop, noting that in this way we give a chance to skaters who perform, one jump and do not perform two others, which may be due to body constitution features.This position seems not right to me. We cannot judge, for example, an athlete with a height of 1.90 meters according to other rules than a skater with a height of 1.60 just because it is more difficult for him to jump? Maybe then we should have some coefficients for height and weight in the judging system?

In my opinion, the current proposals to change the rules are not justified. What is the reason for these decisions? Some experts decided that there was too many quadruple lutzes and it was necessary to lower its cost. But what will happen if after a while there will be a lot of quadruple loops? Another part of the specialists will decide that we should return as it was, or do something else? Such approach can lead to anything. For example, due to the work of coaches on the evolution of entry, we have ensured that the triple axel has become a fairly common element. Tomorrow someone will not like it, and the athletes will be forced to jump this element in some new way?

Or here’s another example. In the community of figure skating specialists, there have been creative discussions for a long time about quadruple salchow. As you know, there are two ways to execute it – with the free leg going over the ice and on the air. The first method was performed by the bronze medalist of the 2002 Olympics American Timothy Goebel or two-time world champion Spaniard Javier Fernandez, and one of the vivid examples of the second method is the performance of the quadruple salchow by the Czech athlete Michal Brezina. So, it is extremely difficult for me to imagine what would happen if, for example, they announced that one of these methods is illegitimate.

The constant change of direction in figure skating, it seems to me, is basically wrong. The current judging system was introduced in 2003 and it was a revolution. But in the future, I think it is necessary to improve the rules in order to make our sport more objective. For example, you can trust the computer to evaluate as more criterias as possible. I would support this direction. I know there are promising technical developments. And the current amendments to the rules, including the introduction of another under-rotation parameter – q, while maintaining the current methodology, in my opinion, will only lead to additional opportunities for manipulating with scores.

Most viewers, coming to see men’s single skating, first of all want to see quad jumps. Not only men’s, we should admit, since the girls began to perform quads, interest to this discipline increased sharply. And when we are poking around in the rules, even in the smallest detail, lowering or raising, I think we are going in the wrong direction.

Of course there are exceptions. I recall, for example, a forward-inside sit spin on the right leg. It has always been considered bad form, categorically wrong. But at some point, everyone began to perform it, as it was one of the complexity features. This began to jar the specialists and the rules were corrected. Such changes in rules, when some bloopers are corrected, I welcome.

In general, I would like to see not changes in one direction or another, but the movement of figure skating forward, towards progress. But when we see, for example, that a quad axel costs only 12.5 points – what kind of progress, what motivation for learning this jump can we talk about? This is an element of cosmic complexity, only a few can try it. Yuzuru Hanyu, in particular, is trying, good luck to him. But the risk of going for this element with its cost of 12.5 points is not justified. Yuzuru will certainly go for it anyway, he is in his own league, and moves figure skating forward, contrary to any rules. He will go for it just to test himself. But still – not at the Olympic Games! Even he won’t risk there.

And others, to go for this jump they should be motivated with high scores. The current tendency of changes in the rules, in my opinion, may lead to the fact that there will be fewer quadruple jumps.

Do not forget that when the changes are implemented, the scores of the upcoming season cannot be compared with the scores from other seasons – and this is very interesting for people. The changes will not be too big, of course, but formally the comparisons will be incorrect. They often talk about world records, but how can this term be used in figure skating, if after the next change in rules it is necessary to start a new countdown?

Look, there are achievements in athletics that last for several decades. For example, the brightest duels between Soviet hammer throwers Yuri Sedykh and Sergei Litvinov went down in history, who could beat the world record several times out of six attempts in one competitive evening. For a long time no one can approach the records set by these athletes in the 80s. But imagine, tomorrow the international athletics federation, for some reason, will decide to make the hammer two hundred grams lighter, and outstanding records in this discipline will be canceled. Absurd? But this is exactly what periodically happens in our figure skating. But this is purely my opinion, I do not want to impose it on anyone.


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