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Author Topic: (SPOILERS) Choice of U.S. Lady's Team and U.S. Nationals standings  (Read 1867 times)

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Offline Query

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WARNING: THIS THREAD CONTAINS SPOILERS!




Offline Query

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Re: (Spoilers) Choice of U.S. Lady's Team and U.S. Nationals standings
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2014, 04:35:01 AM »
Since it is now over a week, and I labeled this as a spoiler thread, I hope it won't bother you folks to have an open discussion of U.S. lady's Olympic team assignments now.

Ashley Wagner was chosen over Mirai Nagasu to represent the U.S. at the Olympics, though Mirai placed higher and arguably skated better at U.S. Nationals. (There were two other ladys chosen, but they placed first and second at U.S. Nationals. Mira placed third, and Ashley placed fourth.)

Perhaps Ashley and her coach (Nicks, a well known and quite influential coach) have played very well the publicity and political game of late. They have gotten much of the public to root for her by talking about her as the one time "Almost Girl" who was could make it this time around. Perhaps Nicks also argued for her before the people who made the decision.

In contrast, Mirai had no designated coach to argue for her - and it sometimes seems as though USFSA sets its rules and practices in ways that benefit coaches at least as much as skaters. Her substitute for a coach is a retired ballerina, who as far as I know isn't registered as a coach.

Athletes train to peak at the optimum time for the most important performances. Perhaps Ashley peaked a little earlier, in the Grand Prix competitions, whereas Mirai peaked at U.S. Nationals.

I don't know whether it was the "right" decision or not. But it never seems quite "fair" when the decision is made by political discussions rather than by competitive performance.

The ice looked pretty awful on the day the lady's freestyle skate was held - almost slushy. It seemed like a lot of the skaters skated slowly in part because the ice was so soft, and you could see a lot of their blades penetrating deep into the service - it looked like many of the toe picks sunk all the way in on jump takeoffs and landings, causing some skaters to trip over their jumps, and I think more than the usual number of skaters slid over their edges due to the ice conditions. Yes, it's important that competitive skaters be able to skate on anything, but those conditions may not have represented what one hopes they will face in Sochi. Perhaps the decision makers took that into account.

Do you folks think USFS made the right and fair decision?

Offline sampaguita

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Re: (SPOILERS) Choice of U.S. Lady's Team and U.S. Nationals standings
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2014, 05:07:27 AM »
I am for Wagner and Nagasu making the US team. What I don't understand is why Edmunds got chosen over Nagasu, given that Nagasu is more experienced.

Offline TreSk8sAZ

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Re: (SPOILERS) Choice of U.S. Lady's Team and U.S. Nationals standings
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2014, 11:34:55 AM »
There was an approximately 73 page document outlining the selection criteria for the Olympic Team that was published before the 2013-2014 season ever started. It very clearly outlined the fact that Championships is not (nor really has it ever been) an Olympic Trials event. In other words, even though it usually is the medalists at Championships that are selected, it does not have to be.

The selection criteria included (among other things) a number of competitions held over the past year. These included 2013 World Championships, the 2013-2014 Grand Prix Circuit and Grand Prix Final, 2013 Four Continents Championships, 2013 Championships placement, 2013-2014 Junior Grand Prix Circuit and Junior Grand Prix Final, and other international competitions.

Based on the stated criteria that was published, I believe the International Selection Committee actually made the right choice. If anyone was to be left off, it should have been Mirai. Don't get me wrong, I was happy for her to land her jumps at Championships. However, based on the criteria she was not as strong of a choice as either Polina or Ashley.

Polina got the nod based on her placement at Championships this year and last year, as well as winning both of her JGP events and placing 4th in the JGP Final. Plus, let's be realistic. She has one of (if not the) most technically loaded programs of any of the U.S. ladies. Her PCS needs to improve, but that's typical of a just rising junior. Plus, she has the look and jumps of all of the little Russian jumping beans (like Lipnitskaia) that they will meet at the Olympics.

Ashley, although not great under pressure, has a decent technical difficulty in her program. She has the PCS to match it when she skates well. In addition, her placements in the Grand Prix, Grand Prix Final, and Worlds all went to her credit.

Mirai, though, has not had a good career since the Olympics in 2010. Yes, she has international experience. However, in the past year to two years, she has done poorly at Championships, she has done poorly at her Grand Prix events, and (if I remember correctly) she did not qualify for any event where the international team was selected based on results of another competition (Worlds, Four Continents, etc.). Although her jumps were technically sound at Championships, her program was empty. There were pauses between elements where she really wasn't doing anything, or just visibly breathing.

Was there some politics and publicity involved in the decision? Sure. There always is, no matter what sport. Do I feel bad for Mirai that she finally skated two clean programs at Championships and didn't get the team? Yes. But did she deserve based on the stated criteria for selecting the team? Probably not.

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Re: (SPOILERS) Choice of U.S. Lady's Team and U.S. Nationals standings
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2014, 01:00:34 PM »
I think it is a total crock - both Ashley and Mirai are total wild cards and Ashley will most likely not do well under pressure and especially with this added pressure of the so-called "Controversy".

Mirai's program was pretty empty and Ashley skates with a great deal of sophistication when she is skating well - but if she misses key elements then... oh well.

Polina has that "new kid" factor which will put her in competition with other "new kids" at the Olympics.  She skated well. She should go.

At first I thought they would leave Polina off the team because she is so young and relatively inexperienced (I realize she has done very well in Jr events) - but when I saw that Ashley actually was 5th in the Free program I thought they made the wrong decision.

Looking forward to the event but will be surprised if there is an American lady on the podium this year.

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Re: (SPOILERS) Choice of U.S. Lady's Team and U.S. Nationals standings
« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2014, 01:39:29 PM »
First of all, Go Gracie Gold!  ♥  No issues whatsoever - she came, she skated, she won, she earned her spot on the US Team.

I support putting Ashley Wagner on the Olympic team.  I think she's skated well throughout the Grand Prix series, wisely working to peak at the Olympics and she just had a bad weekend at Nats.  I don't think she's injured or psyched out so there's no reason to expect her to tank next month.  I suspect that her grit and determination will help her become our highest-placing ladies skater at the Olympics.  She and Gracie Gold are our best hopes for making the Olympic podium.

In my mind, the reason that the top-placing skaters at US Nats have been chosen for the Olympic team in the past is that the best skaters have generally finished on the podium.  I was shocked to see Wagner skate so poorly and I'm glad she's getting that second chance.

Don't get me wrong: Nagasu is a wonderful skater as well and a veteran to boot.  However, she gives points away too easily during programs, leaving the door open for others to place higher.  I wish she had skated well enough to get at least the silver so that she could go to the Olympics, but she didn't.

I think the USFSA could have put Polina on the Worlds team and given Ashley her slot with no controversy, given her inexperience.  However, I think they were sending a message to US skaters that they have to step up and be consistent and powerful at each and every competition.

I read this blog post yesterday:
http://deadspin.com/the-real-reason-ashley-wagner-made-the-u-s-olympic-fig-1502787187

I think the USFSA is taking a more hard-line approach towards their skaters in the interest of being more competitive internationally.
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Offline icedancer

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Re: (SPOILERS) Choice of U.S. Lady's Team and U.S. Nationals standings
« Reply #6 on: January 20, 2014, 10:00:27 PM »

I think the USFSA could have put Polina on the Worlds team and given Ashley her slot with no controversy, given her inexperience.  However, I think they were sending a message to US skaters that they have to step up and be consistent and powerful at each and every competition.

I think the USFSA is taking a more hard-line approach towards their skaters in the interest of being more competitive internationally.

Maybe.

But being more hard-line might be to apply the same rules to every skater instead of using the rules to hold up the skater you want to send - that was supposed to end with the end of the 6.0 system - making judges accountable for their marks and objectifying the system.

Skate well at Nationals - go to Olympics.  That sounds hard-line to me.

And saying that other countries do it doesn't make it right - they are still holding up the skaters they want to send and not letting the results speak for themselves.

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Re: (SPOILERS) Choice of U.S. Lady's Team and U.S. Nationals standings
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2014, 03:46:13 PM »
I get that the USFSA's goal is to try to field as competitive a team as possible, and that anyone, including Ashley Wagner, can have a bad day - a short term injury, food poisoning, a lousy hotel room, etc. Doubtless the committee did its best to meet that goal.

But from the athlete's perspective, knowing exactly what you have to do to qualify might seem "fair".

If these are the selection criteria, they aren't sufficiently definite for that.

In any event, I still wonder whether any aspect of what happened was affected by Mirai not having a coach at the time. Or whether she could have mis-understand the likely committee outcome (if she did) because of that.

Just incidentally, the USFSA doesn't let skaters go to various low level USFSA competitions without a coach. Remarkable that she could go to Nationals without one.


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Re: (SPOILERS) Choice of U.S. Lady's Team and U.S. Nationals standings
« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2014, 04:11:37 PM »
Just incidentally, the USFSA doesn't let skaters go to various low level USFSA competitions without a coach. Remarkable that she could go to Nationals without one.
Source for that statement, please.  Iirc, skaters can compete without a coach as long as they have the required test and/or qualifying credentials.  They have to have a coach sign off on test paperwork unless they declare themselves coachless as well.

As you said, the criteria is published so skaters know they have to achieve since there are no guarantees that Nats placement=team status.  *shrugs*

I think mirai's coachless status indicates a lack of support system for the Olympics, which are quite stressful.  I agree that there are politics involved and if she had someone to advocate for her, it would have helped by showing that she had a support team in place.   Being coachless indicates lackofpreparedness, IMO. With a coach, perhaps the usfsa would have chosen to leave Polina, the relative newcomer, off the team instead of Mirai.
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Re: (SPOILERS) Choice of U.S. Lady's Team and U.S. Nationals standings
« Reply #9 on: January 21, 2014, 04:13:30 PM »
Maybe.

But being more hard-line might be to apply the same rules to every skater instead of using the rules to hold up the skater you want to send - that was supposed to end with the end of the 6.0 system - making judges accountable for their marks and objectifying the system.

Skate well at Nationals - go to Olympics.  That sounds hard-line to me.

And saying that other countries do it doesn't make it right - they are still holding up the skaters they want to send and not letting the results speak for themselves.

Your definition of hard line is different than mine.  You're talking about hard and fast rules, whereas I'm proposing that the "vague" selection was based on multiple factors rather than one outing in a season.  The "tough love" approach discourages saving it up for the nationals by taking pre-nationals performance into account.

That said, the flip side is that skaters who give their all early in the season during the Grand Prix may fizzle at Nats.  Six of one, half-dozen of the other.
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Re: (SPOILERS) Choice of U.S. Lady's Team and U.S. Nationals standings
« Reply #10 on: January 21, 2014, 04:15:04 PM »
I feel like we'd be having similar discussions if Mirai was named to the team instead of Ashely.  I definitely feel like this is one of those situations where no matter what happened people were going to end up unhappy... there was really no clear-cut "right" decision to be made.  Ashley's chances at the podium in Sochi are astronomically small.  Mirai's weren't going to be much better (I feel like a repeat of her 2010 4th place finish probably would have been the best she could do), but she also hasn't exactly shown a record of consistency that could have swayed USFS in her favor, but all that said, I would have expected her to place higher than Ashley.  I will personally be shocked if Ashley makes a top 10 showing at the olympics, I just don't feel like she really has it in her this season - she seems like she peaked last season and has been struggling this year.

In the end, I feel like the only right thing that USFS did was name Polina to the team - the most unfair outcome would have been to keep her out, so I am glad that didn't happen.

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Re: (SPOILERS) Choice of U.S. Lady's Team and U.S. Nationals standings
« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2014, 01:19:45 PM »
Source for that statement, please.  Iirc, skaters can compete without a coach as long as they have the required test and/or qualifying credentials.  They have to have a coach sign off on test paperwork unless they declare themselves coachless as well.

My mistake.  The rule that other people on this board referenced on an earlier thread was about who is allowed to accompany a skater to the side of the rink rather than whether or not a coach has to be there at all. Likewise the USFSA rule about who may coach at USFSA and member club events doesn't require you to have one.

Sorry.