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Figure Skating LH and RH jumps/spins

Award bonuses for skaters who can jump and spin in both directions
  (+4, -1)
(+4, -1)
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Nearly all figure skaters do all of their jumps and spins in the same direction. For some, it's clockwise; for others it's counterclockwise. Very few, however, do both.

I would suggest that if the rules were set up to reward doing both directions (as is mandatory in ballet competitions) this might provide for a bit more variety, as well as providing the most talented skaters a way to showcase their talent.

One rule change would be to clarify the rule that restricts using the same jump multiple times to officially recognize clockwise and counterclockwise jumps as being different. I would also probably add recognition that if a skater does a triple in one direction, a double in the other direction would be regarded as equal in difficulty to a triple; a skater who does triples in both directions would be scored as having done a triple and a quad. A triple and quad in opposite directions would be scored as two quads.

supercat, Feb 23 2002


       If this is true it is such an astute observation. I have long held that human beings have a left or right thread. I was at the bottom of a clockwise, very narrow circular staircase once and I just could not manoeuvre my way up. It was so strange. Often in dreams I am hurtling down circular stairs in anti clockwise direction - never the other way round. Am I quite mad? answers on a postcard to .....
po, Feb 23 2002

       Someone's seen 'Zoolander'.
phoenix, Feb 23 2002

       Partially baked. There are skaters who spin in both directions, and the difficulty of this is noted.   

       Truthfully, I think that it would be impossible for most people to learn to jump well in both directions. At least for current skaters to learn to do this. They'd probably have to start training kids from really early on, and I'd bet that the kind of training necessary would require so much time that it would have a negative effect on the development of other skating abilities.
rebekkahshiri, Feb 23 2002

       It may be nearly impossible for current skaters to learn the skills. On the other hand, a few decades ago triples were considered extremely difficult and quads unheard of; now triples are a stape and quads are not uncommon.   

       Given a choice between having the sport evolve in the direction of faster (higher-count) jump-spins (quints and sixes anyone?) or having it evolve in the direction of bidirectional spinning, I'd prefer the latter.
supercat, Feb 23 2002

       Higher count spins are more spectacular, and add a good gimmick factor, but I agree we don't want to just turn it into a high-jumping competition.
pottedstu, Feb 25 2002

       I like this idea.

And po, that's an astute observation. If I searched enough, I could probably find some experimental evidence showing a "thread" orientation in people.

Regarding skating: most of the audience doesn't seem cognizant of technical merit. There was this Canadian skater through the 80's and early 90's, who was never very popular with the crowds. I can't remember his name. He was a technical master, doing things in wierd ways that even the judges couldn't quite handle well. Whereas most skaters do spins skating "backwards," he'd do the same going "forwards." Much more difficult to do, but much less "glamorous" than all the hand-waving that folks do with their normal spins. And he would do similarly difficult edge-specific maneuvers, with same effects: audience doesn't get it, it looks less dramatic than the typical artsy-fartsy hand waving (which distracts from a focus on what the skates are actually doing), and the judges look at each other funny. Though it is technically far superior, the judges can't give the guy the marks he deserves, or you end up with the kinds of judging controversies we recently saw during the olympics.

So this is a long-winded way of saying that your idea would require not just a change in judging guidelines, but also would require significant audience education regarding those new rules. And the audience might not go for it.
quarterbaker, Feb 25 2002

       Steve: I like the idea of reversing combinations in theory, but the law of conservation of angular momentum would essentailly require a skater to put both feet on the ground between the two jumps. While it might be theoretically possible for a physically very strong skater to absorb on one foot all the angular momentum from the first jump and impart enough angular momentum to make a second jump, there is no way such a thing could be done for triples; I'd be surprised if it could be done well for even a full single rotation on either side of the move.   

       The problem is that for most jumps a skater has a certain margin of error on takeoff which may be corrected on the intermediate touchdown (for a combo) or on the landing. On a single-foot reversing combination, a skater would have to "land" with her foot subtantially off to one side (so as to provide torque for her to change her angular momentum). Of course, a skater who landed in such a position would tend fall over; the only way to prevent that would be for her to have enough angular momentum about an axis parallel to the ground to cancel out the impulse of her jump.   

       Really amazing cool feat if a skater could pull it off, but I doubt if any skater could manage even a single spin on either side of the touch. And even if one could manage, it would most likely look horrible.   

       One of the amazing things about Sarah Hughes' routine was that, so far as I can tell, she didn't touch the ground with her right foot in the middle of either of her triple-triples (the second one she might off--it was hard to tell). Most combination jumps are more like two jumps separated by a step. Her combinations were one fluid motion.   

       I don't know how best to maximize the crowd appeal of different-direction jumps and spins, except perhaps to include them in a pairs program. Even people who wouldn't normally notice which way skaters were spinning would probably notice if during parts of the program the partners were spinning in the same direction while in other parts they were spinning opposite.
supercat, Feb 26 2002

       [po] SUrely the 'threadedness' you speak of is nothing more than right or left handedness?
Certainly for the skaters, the direction of spin will be dictated by their preferred take off and landing feet, just as handedness (or footedness) will determine which foot a long, triple, or high jumper will take off from. Most right handed people take off from their left foot.
Their is a sport where the particpiants regularly display athletic ambidextrousness: Basketball. WHilst the natural lay up for the right-hander is left foot take off, right hand ball delivery, most basketball players from an early age learn to do a lay up 'the other way'. By practicing (as I did, playing a lot of bball as a youth) it actually improves your overall coordination, adn ability to do other things left-handed.
In regard to winding staircases, in medieval castles, staircases were always built to favour the defender. Being (mostly) right handed, therefore, staircases are generally clockwise, meaning a defender coiming down (or backing up) the stairs can freely swing his sword arm - the attacker, going up the stairs 'the wrong way' for righthanders, cannot.
goff, Feb 26 2002

       goff, chicken before egg or egg before chicken? our handedness may indeed be linked with our threadedness. Some people use different hands for different activities but I am probably muddying the water.
po, Feb 26 2002

       I was sitting watching the ice skating (briefly) the other night and thinking 'isn't it about time someone came up with something a bit different'. Good one, supercat. Have a pastry.

Just for the record, I'm right-handed but left-footed. Go figure!
DrBob, Feb 26 2002

       Actually, po, I don't think I'm disagreeing with you, I think it's just a definition thing. It's quite clear that 'handedness' is in your brain, and pretty deep down too, as it dictates a dominance for one half of the brain over the other for (at least) motor skills and coordination, if not some other things (there is a fairly robust theory that left handed people have better 3d spacial awareness for instance, which is why the incidence of left-handedness in top echelons of many sports is more than double the average (e.g. cricket, tennis). The fact that it manifests itself primarily as being right or left handed is just the most obvious consequence, not the underlying driver.
goff, Feb 26 2002

       Consider a right- or a left-handed seam, as opposed to thread, and you may find more info about perception. Any mixed movement, or, movement that requires the body to displaced laterally is by its very nature challenging. Most human movement takes place around the vertical axis so the fact that better athletes are performing moves in multiples with such fluidity is a testament to their concentration and skill. The idea of a bonus for refinement of a lesser aptitude to performance grade level is worth considering. How much would it take to buy a judge that observant?
reensure, Feb 26 2002


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