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Winning move

25 Comments

Japan's Mao Asada competes during the Skate America women’s short program in Detroit on Saturday. Asada won the event.

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Well done three cheers asana san

0 ( +0 / -0 )

How is a judged dance performance a sport? Shouldn't this be in the Arts and Culture section? There is no competition as the skaters don't influence their competitors performance. The judging is subjective and all too often based on geo-politics.

-20 ( +5 / -25 )

Spudman, If you can ice skate for 5 minutes without breaking a sweat, we'll let your "Arts and Culture" protest stand.

13 ( +17 / -4 )

If AP chose that photo to publish, imagine how bad the rejects are.

17 ( +19 / -2 )

is this the best photo you got AP? lame

10 ( +12 / -2 )

That was really a great performance. Mao is gearing up for another gold in Sochi!

2 ( +4 / -2 )

That hardly looks like Asada.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Who's the old lady? Geez, choose a better picture, AP! Congrats to the Mao. I hope she gets a Gold at Sochi!

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Congrats to Mao-chan. Wish her the best at Sochi.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Congratulations to Mao, and though her face in this photo doesn't make her look gorgeous, she is in fact gorgeous.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

She's been appearing more and more calm and confident leading up to this year's competitions. I think she will do very well leading up to Sochi, especially since her SP score is already over 70 this early in the season.

The only other female that started their season with over 70 in SP was Yuna Kim.

I hope Mao does just as well on her FS tomorrow, because she will only get better.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Ouch! Bad photo! All the same, kudos on the win. It's nice to see she's holding it together and keeping it for the win. Sochi should be fun!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Looks like she's circling in reverse here with her cheeks a fraction of a second behind giving the puffed up look. The shot actually captures a graceful moment.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It's not the greatest photo for a number of reasons but to each his own on whether or not she's "really gorgeous". The bottom line is who cares? She's a great skater. Why does it even matter if she's attractive or not?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I had no idea who the photo was of until I read the caption and I still had to recheck twice to make sure I had read it correctly.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@Ambrosia I agree but this is a 'sport' where looking pretty and in the case of men, looking like rejects from a crappy musical, is important. Fewer people would comment on the face if a photo showing a female footballer grimacing in a tackle was shown. This is a performance, not a sport.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Good performance Mao!

Photographers snap hundreds of photos if not more and then this one is chosen - - for a reason?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Jimizo: @Ambrosia I agree but this is a 'sport' where looking pretty and in the case of men, looking like rejects from a crappy musical, is important. Fewer people would comment on the face if a photo showing a female footballer grimacing in a tackle was shown. This is a performance, not a sport.

Sport - 1. (noun) an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment

According to the OED, this is most certainly a sport even if the outcome is decided differently than say football or tennis and I think few, whether they like ice skating or not, would disagree about the amount of athletic ability required to perform as well as Mao does.

As for whether or not people would comment on a female footballer grimacing in tackle, all you have to do is read some online comment sections after Serena Williams is shot in a less than "feminine" pose or notice who gets the lion's share of the endorsements. Is it the pretty athlete or the best? Explain why someone like Anna Kournikova, who never won a singles title was showered with endorsements. I could give plenty more examples of the double standards but if you're honest, which I believe you are from your comment, you know exactly what I'm talking about. The bottom line is that there's no need to diminish Mao's athletic ability, which is probably better than all of ours combined, by suggesting that she isn't competing in a sport or by insisting that she really is beautiful because the former isn't true and the latter doesn't matter.

http://www.indiewire.com/article/television/branded-review-espn-nine-for-ix

0 ( +1 / -1 )

"Good, Bad and the Ugly"

Good-Mao did awesome!

Bad-Like others have stated, this is the picture they chose?

Ugly-That's Mao-chan?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Congratulations to Mao, and though her face in this photo doesn't make her look gorgeous, she is in fact gorgeous.

Ouch! Bad photo! All the same, kudos on the win. It's nice to see she's holding it together and keeping it for the win. Sochi should be fun!

Haha - She IS spinning around at something close to 90rpm. Wonder how I would look at that speed. I don't have the elastic skin of someone in their 20s! Ah, I don't have the athletic ability either!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Worst photo of Mao Asada ever. What an amazing skater though! Wish her all the best!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Have to agree with @spudman. This is a performance and a competition, but it is no more a sport than Argentine tango, in which there are dance competitions and the moves are very athletic. For it to be a sport, there should be no judge deciding on the quality of the performance. Judges are there only to enforce the rules and keep fair play. In soccer, an ugly goal counts the same as a beautiful goal, as it should. The Olympics are now full of these so-called sports, such as rhythmic gymnastics and synchronized swimming, which have been added just for increased TV ratings.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

there should be no judge deciding on the quality of the performance

But in football, referees do have to judge on the quality of performance of some players, especially Suarez, who performs the most beautiful diving routines seen outside of a pool.The definition of sport in dictionary satisfies me that skating is a sport, even though I don't particularly enjoy it. Is ski jumping a sport?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

@Ambrosia I agree with most of what you say. You could say that looks also apply to male sportsmen to a point, Beckham's fame and fortune far outstripped superior players such as Zidane or Figo, but of course, it applies more to women. Some of the comments I read about Serena Williams were awful. The point I was making wasn't attacking the skill or dedication of figure skaters, although I respect pros of more egalitarian sports such as boxing, football or rugby far more than golfers or dressage riders(?), I was simply stating that looks are a far more essential element to this. The gaudy, flamboyant costumes, make-up, immaculately coiffured hair and painted smiles wouldn't look out of place at a musical. I regard judges of figure skating as musical or ballet critics but that doesn't mean I'm knocking performers in musicals or ballet. For me it's a performance, not a sport, but good luck to the performers.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I knew someone would bring up Beckham as a counter to women being valued more for their looks than skills and while one can't argue the point as it applies to him, it definitely applies more to women, as you pointed out. As for looks and figure skating, I'm still not really in agreement with you. If you look back on figure skating's winners and losers, you'll see plenty of the winners were not actually all that good looking and plenty of losers who were very attractive. One of the points to being a good figure skater is making it look easy and being graceful while you do it. Being graceful is a quality we usually connect with attractiveness so it is not at all odd that people would consider the best skaters to be "attractive". Looks, admittedly being a subjective thing.

The costumes are not to my liking, nor is the hair though it is usually not elaborately coiffured so much as it is just pulled back very tight and sprayed. The reason for this is pretty clear. If you're leaping and spinning about, balancing on the tip of a sharp blade, you want your hair out of your eyes and secure enough that you don't have to worry about it.

The judges need to have technical knowledge, attend judging training schools and to stay active in the sport through a number of ways including trial judging, judging, attending judges' schools or seminars and taking the judges' exam.

Sports that use subjective scoring include diving, gymnastics, free-style snow boarding, equestrian and boxing but to be fair, sports that are considered more cut and dried have their fair share of subjective judgements which can tilt a game one way or the other as well. Baseball - strike zones. Football - legal catches. Basketball - fouls. Soccer - penalty cause offenses.

I suppose people will always argue over whether or not sports that use subjectivity in judgements are really sports but I like the opinion of one writer's father. To paraphrase him - subjectivity in sports is healthy because it causes disagreement and riles us up. That's what we want in sports, to be riled up while rooting for one person or team over another.

To bring the fairness element into it raises a whole lot of other issues too. Rich countries can afford to get their athletes the best coaches, equipment and facilities. Drug testing is not perfect and doesn't catch everyone. Bribery is far more rampant than most people would like to believe and so on.

So whether you like or don't like figure skating or think it's a real sport or not, if you consider the 1994 Formula One cheating scandal, the Pakistani cricket match-fixing scandal of 2010, the English rugby "bloodgate" scandal of 2009 and the Bundesliga match-fixing scandal of 2005 among a host of other scandals in those supposedly "objective" sports you have to admit that objectivity is often pretty darn subjective when sports and money are involved.

Under the scoring system, points are awarded individually for each skating element, and the sum of these points is the total element score (TES). Competitive programs are constrained to have a set number of elements. Each element is judged first by a technical specialist who identifies the specific element and determines its base value. The technical specialist uses instant replay video to verify things that distinguish different elements; e.g., the exact foot position at take-off and landing of a jump. The decision of the technical specialist determines the base value of the element. A panel of twelve judges then each award a mark for the quality and execution of the element. This mark is called the grade of execution (GOE) that is an integer from −3 to +3. The GOE mark is then translated into another value by using the table of values in ISU rule 322. The GOE value from the twelve judges is then processed with a computerized random selection of nine judges, then discarding the high and low value, and finally averaging the remaining seven. This average value is then added to (or subtracted from) the base value to get the total value for the element.

The program components score (PCS) awards points to holistic aspects of a program or other nuances that are not rewarded in the total element score. The components are:

Skating skills (SS) reward use of edges and turns, flow over the ice surface, speed and acceleration, ice coverage, clean and controlled curves, multi-directional skating, and mastery of one-foot skating (no overuse of skating on two feet). Transitions (TR) Performance/Execution (PE) Choreography (CH) Interpretation (IN)

1 ( +2 / -1 )

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