Episode #49: Timothy Goebel

JUNE 2011
An interview with Timothy Goebel, 2001 US National Champion, and 2002 Olympic Bronze Medalist. Also known as the “Quad King,” he was the first person to land three quadruple jumps in one program (and one of the few to accomplish that to this day). We discuss his quads, the change from 6.0 to the International Judging System, and his role as a Technical Specialist. 1 hour, 13 minutes, 28 seconds.

Win autographed photos and posters of Tim!
One lucky winner (or perhaps a few winners?) can win signed photos and posters of Timothy Goebel. I don’t know exactly how many he’ll be sending me, but he’s got something up his sleeve!

To enter, send me either through email or my Facebook page the answer to the following question about Quads: who was the first person to land a ratified quadruple jump and what year? (If you’re a hard-core skating fan, this is really easy!)

All entries received between June 30 and July 31, 2011 are eligible. The winner will be picked at random from all correct entries sent. Click here to learn more about how to enter.

Thanks to Fiona McQuarrie for transcribing these interview highlights:

On his most embarrassing skating-related moment: There were plenty, but one of them that really sticks out is from the first year I was on the Champions on Ice tour. We were in Denver and I had this one spot in my program where I would do a back knee slide and a skid stop and then go on and do whatever. Well, I skidded and I caught my edge, and I actually flew back through the curtains. I came running back on through and finished my program, but I was laughing so hard that I could barely skate. It was very funny and very embarrassing.

On starting in skating: I started skating when I was five. I was a very active child so I played a lot of sports, and skating was one of them. I actually started skating at the mall at Woodfield in Schaumberg [in Illinois]. Where the movie theatre is in the mall is where the skating rink used to be.

I got serious pretty early. Starting when I was 10 or 11 I would go to Denver to the summer and train with Don Laws, who was Scott Hamilton’s coach. And then the reason I went to Cleveland to train with Carol Heiss Jenkins is that Mr. Laws had moved to Atlanta, and it was at the point where I was deciding if I wanted to move to go full-time. So for whatever reason we decided that we didn’t really want to do that, and I ended up with Carol in Cleveland. I think I moved in June or July of 1992 and was there full-time until I moved to Frank Carroll in California. My mom moved with me and my dad stayed in Chicago, but that was around the time when you could get a round-trip fare on Southwest for, like, $49 [laughs]. So he was there most weekends but often more.

On training with Carol Heiss Jenkins and Glyn Watts in Cleveland: It was a really good experience overall. When I first moved there, I just sort of dovetailed with Jill Trenary’s comeback, so she was there on the ice to begin with. But I was there every day with Aren Nielsen, who was at the top of his game at that point, and Lisa Ervin, who had just won US juniors that year, and Tonia Kwiatkowski who had been to Worlds already. So it was a pretty fun place to train. Pretty much all of us together on the ice in the summer had double axels and some triples. So it was pretty motivating and pretty exciting, and really competitive and fun.

On developing his quad jumps: I got both of the quads that I ever got in competition when I was with [Heiss Jenkins and Watts]. I first started landing the quad salchow in 1996 or 1997, right after I went to the Junior Grand Prix event and landed the quad toe loop. And at one point I was actually landing the quad loop. It was funny, there were days when I could go in and land a couple, and then there would be weeks when I couldn’t even get around. And at one point I landed a quad flip or two in practice, but I don’t think it was ever on video.

On landing three quads in one program in 1997: It had never been done, and at that point I felt a lot more confident, especially in my quad salchow and my triple axel.  Doing two quads in a program was much easier for me than doing the triple axel. So it was partly because I wanted to do more quads than anyone had ever done, but it was partly because it was also easier for me.

On moving to California to train with Frank Carroll: I just felt that I needed a new environment. I really liked working with Carol and Glyn, and towards the end especially I was spending a lot more time working with Glyn. But the rink had really changed in dynamics. I think that Parker [Pennington] and I were the only people who were national or international competitors at that point. So I just wanted to go somewhere that was a little more competitive, with really intense training all the time. I’d been training for Worlds and I would be the only person on the ice really doing anything, it was more of a recreational rink. People came and skated whatever, but it wasn’t the super-competitive atmosphere and environment that I had moved there seeking. And at that point, my jumps were really solid but I needed more polish. And Frank is such a master at that, like with what he did for Michelle [Kwan]. And I had been working with Lori Nichol for quite a while at that point, so I talked to her and asked for her advice, and she suggested Frank, and she also suggested Christa Fassi, who was up in Lake Arrowhead at that point. I love Christa, she’s a great coach and a great person, but I didn’t want to live up in Lake Arrowhead [laughs]. It’s a tough place, there’s not a lot there, it’s very very small. Granted, you can drive down to the mountain and be in Los Angeles in an hour or an hour and half, but the winters there are very tough. I remember people saying they missed competitions because they missed their flight because they got stuck in a blizzard, and I knew at some point I would want to go and take some college classes, and that really would have been impossible there.

On winning US nationals in 2001: It was good and bad because honestly, in Boston when I won it was probably one of my weaker performances at Nationals. Obviously I was thrilled to win and to have that title, but at the same it was like — I wanted to win skating a little better than I did. And I’d been injured for most of the fall and I wasn’t even sure I would be at Nationals, so I was happy to skate as well as I had because I really couldn’t train properly. But at the same time I really didn’t want to win with a program where I hopped out of one quad and fell on something else. At the end of the program it was obvious that I hadn’t been training as well as I could have, because I just completely ran out of steam at the end.

On the media frenzy around the 2002 Olympics: Because of the timing [the men’s competitors] were pretty isolated from it — the pairs competed Monday and Wednesday and we competed Tuesday and Thursday. We had the Olympic village but we also had hotel rooms that were much closer to the venue, because with security and with traffic and whatever, it was dicey getting to where you wanted to go on time. So both USFS and US Speed Skating booked rooms where it was a very short walk to the venue. So we were staying there and we were isolated from all the drama in the village, which was kind of nice. You could be away and be in a much more normal competition atmosphere, like going from practice to hotel and practice to hotel. And because we were just in and out so quickly and not all having the media exposure we had at the village — you’d walk into the dorm and there’d be all the headlines from the papers put up on the wall. So I think we were much less aware of the pairs scandal than we would have been at the village. So at any rate, like, I think because it was a medal event on Thursday for us — people definitely mentioned it at the press conference, but it took a couple of days to gain the momentum of being like this huge, epic, international scandal. So we were isolated from that a little bit, but I remember mentioning to [Alexei] Yagudin, like, who cares about the pairs, they’re done, this is our time [laughs]. Let’s talk about what we did today, they’ve had their moment, let’s get on with it. But of course that lasted for about a day, and it became this huge thing. But it was really quite funny, although this was a very blatant example with a whistleblower, and it was a little bit different from the toe-tapping scandal and whatnot, it became such a big deal for the media. But for us, we were like, yeah, this has kind of happened before. It’s surprising that it happened at the Olympics but it’s not shocking. It’s happened before and it’ll happen again.

On the experience of competing at the Olympics: This is going to sound strange, but competing at the Olympics was probably easier than at Nationals. Because the Olympics is the ending, it’s what everybody wants to do. So by the time I was stepping on the ice for my short program, I had already won. I had already accomplished my goal, I was an Olympian, and I’d made it to the competition healthy and in one piece. That in and of itself was validation for all the years of hard work and all the sacrifices. And there was no pressure for me going in. It was my first Olympics and I had had a solid year. So going into Salt Lake City I was in the best shape of my life. I remember having practices there where I did not make a single mistake. So I felt like I was really on top of my game and ready to compete.

Going in I knew that it was going to be [Alexei Yagudin and Evgeny Plushenko], and I knew that the rest of us were fighting for third. And I’d been competing against Todd [Eldredge] and Takeshi [Honda] and Michael [Weiss], and I knew that if I delivered and I did my job well, I would beat them because I’d beaten them at the Grand Prix events and the Grand Prix finals. I knew that if I skated a clean short I would be within striking distance of a medal. And the short program was always harder for me than the long. Under 6.0 if you were out of the top four or five after the short you had no chance, so once I was done with the short, I was like, all right, all I have to do is a respectable long. And even if everybody else skated well and had no mistakes, I had so much more content that I knew I just had to go and do my job and I had a really good chance of getting a medal.

Going in, I knew that I had the ability to [win a medal], but I didn’t feel any pressure to do that. I didn’t feel like I would have been disappointed if I had not. I was just going in to skate the two best programs that I could, and wherever I ended up in the rankings I would have been happy with that.

[At the end of the long program] I was absolutely thrilled. I made a mistake on the second axel but overall I thought the quality of everything I did was as good as I could have done it. I was just happy that I could compete as well I had trained, you know? I just felt like I went and I did everything to the best of my ability, which is what I had trained to do, but even in other competitions where I had done three quads or two triple axels and two quads where I didn’t make a mistake — I felt like every element, every spin, the footwork, everything was just..I just didn’t feel like I could have skated any better. There was a lot of pressure, it being the Olympics [laughs], and not only did I deliver, I landed the stuff, I did everything with a confidence I really didn’t feel I had done up to that point.

On the lobbying around the 2002 Olympic results for the men: The president of the Russian Federation, Valentin Piseev, has always been very supportive of [Alexei] Mishin and his students. Obviously they compete really well and they’re very successful, but it was common knowledge that the ISU did not want Yagudin to win — I shouldn’t say the ISU, I should say the entire Eastern bloc. It was expected to be the Plushenko show the entire time. But you can’t be the champion until you actually go out and skate. And I was sort of not surprised [to get the bronze medal]. I did outskate [Plushenko] but up to that point I had never beaten him, and at the competitions we did together, he generally did outskate me. It’s one of those things where you build a reputation and then — he had already won Worlds, so when you have all that stuff going on, you’re going to get the benefit of the doubt. Had I already been on the world podium before, had I won international competitions, then the result might have been different. But it didn’t really surprise me and it didn’t really bother me, because he had had so much success in the past.

On adjusting to the new judging system after the 2002 Olympics: It became a numbers game. It was definitely a different way of looking at the program, like at what point would we do all these weird spin positions and actually get any credit for them. But it was good to have a sort of different focus, to step back a little bit, especially for the men — instead of like, doing a jump drill, getting rewarded for doing other things well. So at that point it was like, oh, this could help the sport improve. But initially because it was so punitive against making mistakes, it made it really difficult to put together a hard program. I don’t think I ever tried to do three quads in the new system because it just wasn’t worth the risk. If I came down short on the third quad, and fell, that’s a lot of points to lose. So it definitely did change the mindset, because taking a risk was too much of a risk. The girls all took the triple-triples out, and the guys weren’t doing the quads as much, and I think in the first couple of years especially, IJS was really damaging to the progress of the sport.

On planning, but not doing, four quads in his program at 2003 US Nationals: I had done it in practice. There were a couple of uncertainties going into Nationals, like a couple of run-throughs where all I landed was the four quads [laughs]. So it was something I was capable of doing, but I had been injured for most of that year and wasn’t skating that well in general. I was able to do everything on any given day, but putting together a program, much less two programs, was a tall order for me. Because of the different injuries I was skating a lot less going into that year, so I didn’t ever really feel that I had ownership of the programs.  I had gotten a new long program but it never really gelled for me. I liked the program but it just wasn’t coming together for me, and because I was on tour up until August, we had lost all of June and July and August to really get comfortable with the program and get it trained and well prepared. I didn’t go back to the previous year’s long until maybe a month out from Nationals. It was a quick turnaround and it just didn’t really mesh for me at Nationals.

On 2003 Worlds: I like having that home crowd feeling, the energy in the arena is a huge help. And between Nationals and Worlds, at that point I was healthy enough that I could go back to my old way of training, and I got a lot of really high-quality work done. I felt well prepared, I felt like I could go and do a pretty good job. The qualifying round was a huge relief because it could have gone either way. I felt like I needed that skate to get my confidence back, and once that was done, then I felt like I was back on my game and I’d done enough preparation to go and do a good job.

On the end of his working relationship with Frank Carroll: I can touch on it a little bit. I was, as it was reported, unceremoniously dumped. I was fired by Frank about three days before NHK Trophy that year [2004]. He went with me to it, which was super awkward because Audrey [Weisiger] was there with Yoshie Onda, and I was going to be moving to work with Audrey. And Frank knew that I was going to work with Audrey, but very few other people knew. The practices were really awkward, I’ve got to say [laughs], really uncomfortable. And I ended up skating really well, it was a miracle skate. With the way I had been skating at home, there was no way I should have been able to do those programs in competition that way. I probably hadn’t landed a quad in practice all year, none, not even close. And I got there and on the first day in practice I was landing the quad toe again. So I was like, oh, well, maybe this won’t be so bad then. And it was fine. But it was really difficult because — he had his reasons for what he did, I really didn’t understand them, and I really took it personally, it’s impossible not to. His reasons to me, versus what I sort of felt they were, were definitely not in alignment. We hadn’t been working together well for a while, 2003 was really tough. Despite the injuries and whatever, I got the impression that he felt that I wasn’t doing what he expected out of me. And it wasn’t that I didn’t want to, but I physically couldn’t. And I don’t feel like he really appreciated how difficult it was for me to train that year with all the problems I was having.

On training with Audrey Weisiger while being injured: I was just sort of in a holding pattern for the whole time that I was there. There was no one particular injury that stood out, just kind of a lot of nuisance injuries, overuse injuries. So I’d just kind of be okay, get put back together, and then I’d train for a couple of weeks, and every time I started making some progress toward getting back to where I was, some other thing would happen and I’d be off the ice for two or three days or having to cut back. So the whole time I was there I never got to train properly. I can’t tell you how many times we rearranged the program or rearranged the program again to work around what I was able to do. And that was really difficult because in the past the reason I was able to be as successful as I was, was because I trained. And at that point I couldn’t physically do that any more. I always felt like I was in a situation where I could do a mediocre job of training and survive through the competition, or train properly and then take a very big step toward the chance of not being able to compete at all. So it was a very difficult situation to be in, as an athlete who’d been very successful, to not to be able to work in the way that I knew I needed to, to achieve the same results.

On still being in pain after retiring from amateur competition: I think it’s a combination of various different things. Being an elite athlete in any sport, when you get to the twilight years of your career, your body just doesn’t recover as quickly. I know Yagudin’s had hip surgery, and Plushenko, and a lot of my peers. I think we just started working non-stop when we were young and we weren’t physically strong enough to deal with the impact of landing and all the physical stuff. I think we all could have done what we did, but when we started putting in the numbers on the really hard stuff, if we had waited until we were older — when I was learning the [quad] salchow I was doing 20 to 30 a day at least, maybe more. When I was talking to Audrey, trying to figure out why I couldn’t really train, I was like, this is how I used to train, and when I told her the amount of repetitions I did when I was starting on stuff, she was like, “What were you thinking?!” And I know that the success I had from 1999 to 2002, it was a tradeoff. What I gave up for success early on, I lost in real longevity. Even with Frank I was doing six to eight of each quad on every session every day. That’s a lot. So I think — looking back, would I have done it differently? Absolutely not, but I definitely think that doing the volume of difficult elements that I did prevented me from being able to compete in ’05 and ’06, in any way, shape or form that I would have ideally trained for.

And I think for skating it’s worse because we only do things to one side. When you’re put into a sport where it’s more unilateral, it just does more damage. Towards the end of the competitive season, my landing leg was bigger than my takeoff leg. Not significantly, but there was a visible difference. The human body is not set up to do that, and I think the lack of symmetry, especially with the back problems I’ve had — one side is still much stronger than the other side and is doing the lion’s share of the work on a daily basis. And you can only compensate for so long before things start to fall apart.

On why he was so good at quads: There’s a lot of different theories, but I think it’s body type. If you look at the people who consistently did quads in competition, we all have the same body type. We were all pretty short. Laurent Tobel could do a quad, but he was kind of all over the place [laughs]. But most of us who did the quad successfully and repeatedly in competition, we’re very short and very narrow, and I think the body proportions make a big difference.

On his hydroblading: One year at Skate America I was doing hydroblading into a jump, I think it was the triple salchow, I literally had to heave myself up with my arms. You know like when in a combination you have to push yourself up with your right arm to keep going, and I got down in the hydroblade and I was like, oh crap, I don’t think I can get back up [laughs]. It was in Colorado Springs early in the season, so we’re not completely in shape and of course there’s no air up there, and that was one of the times when I had done all of the quads, and on the way down I’m like, oh boy, this might be my first time in a competition skating through a jump. I just remember that I landed it but I landed it at a dead stop. I couldn’t believe I managed to find my feet.

On touring with Champions on Ice: I liked being on tour, but I was never really a show skater. I would sooner do competitions than skate in an exhibition. And I know that sounds ridiculous, but when I would be standing in the tunnel waiting for someone else to finish so I could go on, I would have a knot in my stomach and would be, oh, maybe someone will pull the fire alarm so I don’t have to go out there tonight [laughs]. I just didn’t really like doing exhibitions, and I think part of that was I never really felt comfortable skating in spotlights. I never really got used to it, and it was sort of disorienting for me, and skating in the dark with all the colored lights and stuff. So I never felt I knew what was going to happen once I took off. And I had a lot of really disastrous tour performances. I might land, or I might land sideways, I didn’t know what was going to happen. So from that standpoint the tour was tough. Even though we would practice at the venue, we would practice in normal arena lighting. Had I been able to practice more in tour lighting, I think maybe it would have been better, but I never really got used to it.

On being a technical specialist: The training process is pretty intense. When I got my certification it was in one of the large-scale pools that USFS sponsored, and gosh, there were 150 of us. Coaches, officials, a lot of my peers that I had competed with over the years. We all went to a hotel to a conference room, and we would sit and watch videos from nine in the morning until sometimes nine at night, going over in slow motion every minute detail of every spin, every step, and every spiral sequence and jump — I think it was basically every program from 2006 Worlds, and I could probably go and skate those programs right now [laughs], we watched them so often. It was like, zooming in on feet on landings, and freeze-framing spin positions and spiral positions. They superimposed a clock onto the videos so you could see that, for this girl at zero time her foot was just above her hip, so let’s count out to the thousands of the seconds, now she’s short, that kind of thing. It’s very intense and it’s very revealing. You watch someone do a spin with the naked eye and you’re like, oh yeah, they had eight revolutions, and then you watch in slow motion and you’re like, oh, it was only six and a half [laughs]. For jumps, I don’t even need the slow motion to tell if it’s underrotated, I’ve seen enough people jump at a very high level that I have a very good eye for that. But for the spins, watching exactly where the blade is at the start to count the revolutions, it’s like, ooh, maybe I don’t have this down as well as I thought [laughs]. And then to do the exam you sit in a room and analyze a couple of programs. I went to a refresher course not that long ago, and what they do now is you have to call out a footwork sequence turn for turn, and that is insanely difficult to do in real time. And I didn’t do particularly well on it, I have to say [laugh]. Doing the footwork now, especially the really high-level footwork that national and international competitors do now, it’s tough, to be able to write notes and say, okay, they did a bracket, a rocker, a twizzle, hop, step, change, double three — calling that out in front of a room of your peers is really difficult.

The biggest challenge in doing the job is staying focused on all the details. The jumps are pretty easy to hash out, and in a worst case scenario you call a review, but on the flip side of that if you’re not 100% on the ball – the technical specialist, the assistant specialist, and the controller, all three of them have to be super focused on every detail, because if you miss something and have to go back for a review, it slows down the competition. I generally find that I watch the entire program on the video screens that we have, because if you look at the ice, and you see someone in the crowd or something on the ice that’s distracting — you have to be completely zeroed in. And we really do rely on the video people because the video people have to be 100% on. If the person goes offscreen even for a second you don’t know what to do, because you don’t have a record of it and you can’t pull it up to look at it. And we really do our best not to have to review. We’re happy to do it if it’s borderline because we want to be sure that it’s accurate, but if you’re calling four or five reviews in a program, a senior event could go on for days. I know people have complained at Nationals, and I’ve experienced it myself, that when you go out for your warmup, you could be off the ice for an hour if you’re last. And a review can take a long time, because you have to find the video, you have to freeze it, you have to slow motion it, and there’s usually discussion because there has to be agreement on it from the three people making the call. So it can become a really arduous process. And for the lower level, it’s a nightmare. Because if you have 18 to 24 intermediate ladies, they’re pretty much all making the same mistakes. If they do get the features, it’s like two revolutions on the dot, so you have to go back and rewind it, to see where the blade is when they hit the position, and then you have to go from there.

I never went to competitions with my students, but I used to tell them they would lose points if they didn’t turn in a planned program sheet. Because if you don’t it’s so difficult to know — like, if they do a footwork sequence and at the end step up into a flying spin, if you don’t know and they continue with the camera angle and they stop, then you miss the entry to the flying spin. So anyone listening, put in your planned program sheet [laughs], because if you don’t and we miss something then it’s on you. We have a lot to account for, and if we’re taking notes on paper while we’re still watching — I can’t always read my notes. I have my own little shorthand, but if we have 20 to 30 seconds to review an element, I’m not going to go through everything turn for turn. I can’t do that. So if the stuff isn’t clear, that makes it difficult.

On the new judging system: I think there are a lot of really good elements in it. I like the way that they’ve updated it to have the underrotation vs. the downgrade, they’ve made adjustments to allow people to take risks. And that was really the only problem I had with it before on the technical side, is that they made it impossible to take risks. Now people can take risks and it’s not so punitive, and that’s the point of sport, is for people to try stuff. Under the old system, it was like, why bother to take the risk? Even if you’re really proficient, on the off chance that you miss your combination in the short program and it’s a quad — if you miss the takeoff it’s going to be underrotated, and I would guess that 75% of the quads I fell on in competition were because I missed the takeoff and so they were underrotated. So automatically unless the takeoff is perfect, you’re going to get 0 points for your combination, and that’s not a risk that anyone in their right mind is going to take.

On Elvis Stojko’s criticism of Evan Lysacek winning the 2010 Olympic gold medal without a quad in his program: I disagreed with the tone of Elvis’ article. I do agree that the rules that were in place for Vancouver, that was a setback to the sport, not because people weren’t doing quads, but because people weren’t doing what they were capable of doing. Evan is perfectly capable of doing a quad. He’s done them in competition, and I trained with him for a while and he was doing them in practice. My biggest problem with the rules that were in Vancouver is that people were not doing what they were capable of, and that’s dangerous for any sport, when you are rewarded for doing less. That’s crazy. Given that was the system that everyone had to work within, I definitely think Evan did the right thing by doing a program that he did very well, and whether or not he did a quad, the elements of the program — take the quad out of the program, and jump for jump Evan was better, there is no question about it. So if you’re going to talk just from a technical standpoint, Evan did outskate [Plushenko] because the quality was better. When you’re given a certain parameter to work within and you don’t use that as an athlete, well, then, shame on you because that’s just dumb [laughs]. Why would you not take advantage of what is being rewarded, and spend a little more time working on spins and making the footwork really difficult? If you don’t do that, then you’re crazy. So good on Evan for figuring out how to be successful within the parameters, but it’s too bad that the parameters were set so that he couldn’t do a quad, at least in his long program, because had he fallen it would have cost him a medal. He would have been third or maybe even fourth. He did the right thing, but under the wrong set of circumstances.

If you take the quad out of the program, it is a completely different program. I did the long program under every iteration, I did the senior long program with two triple axels, I did it with two triple axels and a quad, and then all the various iterations after that. And it is absolutely a different program with the amount of energy it takes to do a quad versus not doing one.

On the possibility of a quintuple jump: I still think for whatever technology we have in the sport right now, I think it’s impossible for a singles skater. I think for some of the pairs girls they definitely have enough time to get around, but I don’t know if they’d be able to land, because braking that amount of torque is extremely difficult. You might land but you might shatter your ankle or have some other horrible injury. One of the Chinese guys jumped high enough and rotated fast enough that he could have gotten around, but falling or two-footing the landing…I don’t know, it would be amazing if someone was able to do it, but I don’t think it would be physically possible.

On using the skills from his math degree from Columbia University when he’s working as a technical specialist:  I don’t actually at all because, first of all, once we put the inputs into the system, it’s calculated automatically, and then, from a coaching perspective, I’ve deliberately not learned the point values of things. Because when we’re coaching or advising people on what to put in a program, I don’t just want to give raw point totals. I don’t want it to just be about, if I try these elements then I can get this many points. Well, that’s fine if you can do that, you know what I mean? I see too often people putting together programs based on, like, if I land everything it’s going to be worth more points than everyone else. That doesn’t necessarily mean they can actually do that program. On one hand I feel like I should know the values, because if someone asks, well, which is worth more, I can do it in my head and tell them. But at the same time, even though that’s what’s going on behind the scenes when we’re evaluating a program, that’s not really what the sport is about. It’s about knowing and doing what you’re capable of doing. And then there’s so many codicils to everything, like a double flip-double loop is worth more than a double flip-double toe. Well, then you add in the GOE, if you do a really great double flip-double toe and a mediocre double flip-double loop, then the double flip-double loop is worth less. And with the GOE, you never know what a panel is going to do with that. If the first person goes out and the quality of everything is phenomenal, then the GOE scale is different because of the placing. But if the first person out is someone with phenomenal technique, and they’re at 0 or 1 in comparison to everyone else, and then there’s someone whose technique is not as refined, and they’re maybe a little sloppy on the landings or they’re just off, they automatically start as a minus, whereas in the other situation, they might start out as a two. So it’s really tough to advise people because the point value isn’t just as it is on the elements sheet. It depends on the execution, it depends on the speed, it depends on the other people they’re competing against.

About the Author
Yup, I’m a skating fan. But I’m a skater too. I compete nearly every year in the U.S. Adult Figure Skating Championships, and am always thrilled to see my other skating buddies there. In my real life I work in marketing for brands that make positive changes in the world, and a mom of two rambunctious boys.

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