# Numerology for Ladies Free Skating

### (Is CoP the End of the Road for the Kwanster?)

Going into Worlds this season the conventional wisdom was that CoP will be the kiss of death for Michelle Kwan.  With its emphasis on jumps and severely reduced value for presentation, what chance could Kwan have against the girls with the triple-triple combinations.  In the past, Kwan's only weapon against Tara Lipinski's triple loop - triple loop, and Irina Slutskaya and Sara Hughes' triple-triples was the second mark, and in CoP that weapon will be blunted.

Results at Worlds seem to confirm this point of view, with Kwan placing third, and several of her competitors landing triple-triple combinations.  Perhaps it will be time for Kwan to move on if CoP passes.

Superficially this makes a lot of sense, but it isn't completely true.

### No Triple-Triple vs. One Triple-Triple

In the senior men's event, the top men are doing all the triple jumps as well as quad toe loop and quad Salchow.  That's eight triples and quads, two of which can be repeated for a total of ten possible triples and quads.  With eight jump elements, the only way to max out the triples and quads is to do one or two combinations with triple-triple or quad-triple.

For the senior ladies, however, the top ladies are still mostly doing the five triples consisting of triple toe loop through triple Lutz.  Two of these may be repeated for a total of seven that must be executed in seven jump elements.  That means only one triple in each jump element, except that one of the jump elements must be an Axel jump.  So looking at just the jumps, what set of jumps might a skater execute with no triple-triple combinations and no triple Axel or quad jumps?

The following table provides an example program and its value:

 JUMP ELEMENTS WITH NO TRIPLE-TRIPLE COMBINATION Element Identification Base Value Maximum Quality Value J1 2A 3.3 3 J2 3S 4.5 3 J3 3F 5.5 3 J4 3L 6.0 3 J5 3R2R2T 7.8 3 J6 3F2T 6.8 3 J7 3L2T 7.3 3 TOTAL 41.2 21

The skater could also earn 0.6 more points by doing double loops in all the combinations instead of double toe loops, but most skaters use double toe loops, so we will work with that here and in all the other examples, since it doesn't change the conclusions.

In the above program the skater has to sacrifice one triple (the toe loop) in order to do the double Axel.  To add the triple toe loop a skater would have to add one triple-triple combination.  Let's assume the skater adds the most difficult triple-triple of the three possible in the above list.  In that case we end up with the following elements:

 JUMP ELEMENTS WITH ONE TRIPLE-TRIPLE COMBINATION Element Identification Base Value Maximum Quality Value J1 2A 3.3 3 J2 3S 4.5 3 J3 3F 5.5 3 J4 3L 6.0 3 J5 3R2R2T 7.8 3 J6 3F2T 6.8 3 J7 3L3T 10.0 3 TOTAL 43.9 21

In this case, the base value of the program has increased by only 2.7 points, even though the skater has added an extremely difficult combination.  In order to make up this deficit, the skater without the triple-triple has to come up with 2.7 points from somewhere else (2.5 points if both skaters executed double loops instead of double toe loops in each case).  For a skater who is strong in presentation this is easily within reach.

For example, if the skater without the triple-triple is marked up just 0.25 points in four of the five program components and 0.50 in the fifth, the deficit is made up.  A skater without a triple-triple, but who is strong in presentation still has a great chance at winning.  This is basically equivalent to saying the skater stronger in presentation would have to beat the stronger jumper by 0.1 in the second mark under the current system.

The second skater could also swap the triple loop and triple toe loop in elements J5 and J7, but would not earn any more points, even though the triple Lutz - triple loop combination is arguably more difficult.

This example also raises the question, should the skater without the triple-triple make the effort to try and get one.  The answer to that depends on how much effort that would take.

The easiest triple to add would be triple toe loop - triple toe loop, a combination Kwan has only occasionally possessed, but repeating the triple toe would require not repeating either the flip or the Lutz.  Since the Lutz is worth more the flip, the best approach would be to replace J6 with triple toe - triple toe for an extra 1.2 points.  That makes up about half the deficit in jump base mark, and if the triple-triple comes easily, worth the effort.  If getting the triple-triple is a struggle, however, working on other strengths (such as presentation) might be more cost effective, and still a potentially winning strategy.

The skater without a triple-triple could also increase their jump base value by 1.8 points by replacing J5 with double Axel in combination with triple loop, but the skater with one triple-triple could also take that route, so there is no guarantee the first skater makes up any ground that way.  Still, if that combination came easier than the triple toe - triple toe that would be the most cost effective strategy.

The bottom line is, against a skater with one triple-triple combination, a skater without a triple-triple combination can tailor a potentially winning strategy to their individual strengths.

### No Triple-Triple vs. Two Triple-Triples

What then about several triple triples?  Some ladies are now doing two in their free skating program.  What does that buy the skater?

In that case consider the following program:

 JUMP ELEMENTS WITH TWO TRIPLE-TRIPLE COMBINATIONS Element Identification Base Value Maximum Quality Value J1 2A 3.3 3 J2 3S 4.5 3 J3 2A 3.3 3 J4 3L 6.0 3 J5 3R2R2T 7.8 3 J6 3F3T 9.5 3 J7 3L3T 10.0 3 TOTAL 44.4 21

In executing a program with two triple-triple combinations, the skater must repeat either the triple toe loop or the triple loop.  In this example the skater has not repeated the triple flip and executed the most difficult double jump available by repeating the double Axel.  If the skater repeated triple loop in one of the triple-triple combinations, for example in J6, that would add one more point to their base value for jumps.

In this example the skater without a triple-triple has a deficit of 3.2 to 4.2 points to overcome. Still not impossible, but more difficult.

Experience during the Grand Prix showed that if a skater has a jump deficit of up to about 4 points they have a moderate chance of making that up in other areas.  For example, 0.50  points in each of the program components buys the skater 4.5 points in those areas.  Experience at the Grand Prix also shows that skaters have only a slim chance of making up a jump deficit of about 6 points, and a jump deficit of 8 or more points is virtually insurmountable.

### No Triple-Triple vs. Three Triple-Triples

By adding a third triple-triple combination (the most permitted) a skater would have to give up repeating the triple Lutz, as seen in the following example.

 JUMP ELEMENTS WITH THREE TRIPLE-TRIPLE COMBINATIONS Element Identification Base Value Maximum Quality Value J1 2A 3.3 3 J2 3S 4.5 3 J3 2A 3.3 3 J4 2L 1.9 1.5 J5 3R3R2T 11.3 3 J6 3F3T 9.5 3 J7 3L3T 10.0 3 TOTAL 43.8 19.5

With this extremely difficult program, the skater with three triple-triple combinations is actually worse off than had they done two triple-triples, both in base value and maximum possible quality points!  They could, of course, increase their base value by 1.4 points by executing a third double Axel instead of the double Lutz, but in doing so risk losing points in Choreography for excessively repeating one jump.  (In the current standards of judging, the third execution of a jump is supposed to get little credit compared to the first two, especially when neither of the first two is executed in a combination.)   Further, given the great risk of error associated with such a difficult program, one might question the wisdom of even attempting it, if those triple-triples are not there all day, every day.

The bottom line in this example: a top skater with no triple-triple combination is still within striking distance of a competitor with three triple-triples.

#### Some conclusions so far:

1. The skater without a triple-triple combination who is strong in the program components or other areas still has a reasonable chance of beating a skater with up to three triple-triple combinations.
2. Spending an excessive amount of training time to acquire a triple-triple combination might not be cost effective for some skaters.
3. The fact that a program with three extremely difficult triple-triple combinations has such little incremental value over a program with no or one triple-triple combination illustrates in a dramatic way that the method CoP uses to scoring of combinations is total nonsense, and that the point model for jumps in CoP is still incorrect.

### No Triple-Triple vs. Triple Axel or a Quad

A few ladies now have the occasional triple Axel or quad.  How does a skater without these jumps or a triple-triple fare against a well rounded competitor with them?

Consider the following programs where we take the original example with no triple-triple combinations and add either a triple Axel or a quad Salchow.  We use the example of a quad Salchow because there is a contemporary lady (Miki Ando) who has landed that jump in competition.

 JUMP ELEMENTS WITH NO TRIPLE-TRIPLE COMBINATION AND TRIPLE AXEL Element Identification Base Value Maximum Quality Value J1 3A 7.5 3 J2 3S 4.5 3 J3 3F 5.5 3 J4 3L 6.0 3 J5 3R2R2T 7.8 3 J6 3F2T 6.8 3 J7 3L2T 7.3 3 TOTAL 45.4 21

 JUMP ELEMENTS WITH NO TRIPLE-TRIPLE COMBINATION AND QUAD SALCHOW Element Identification Base Value Maximum Quality Value J1 2A 3.3 3 J2 4S 9.5 3 J3 3F 5.5 3 J4 3L 6.0 3 J5 3R2R2T 7.8 3 J6 3F2T 6.8 3 J7 3L2T 7.3 3 TOTAL 46.2 21

In these two examples, the skater with the triple Axel or the quad Salchow has a 4.2 to 5.0 point advantage over a skater without them.  This is now entering the situation where the jump base mark deficit is becoming difficult to overcome by strengths in other areas, and the skater without the triple Axel or quad has to hope their competition will make a significant error.  Add one triple-triple to the two examples above and the skater without the more difficult jump content is dead meat unless their competition happens to be dreadful in all other aspects of skating, or cracks and wipes up the ice.

For a skater with the triple Axel or quad, there is less risk to attempting these jumps than attempting two or three difficult triple-triples, so long as the skater stays on their feet or pops/cheats the jump to only one less rotation.

If the triple Axel or quad are popped or cheated to just one less rotation we are back to our first content example which is still competitive for a gold medal if other areas of the performance are well done.  If the Axel or quad are fully rotated but landed on two feet (or have another serious error other than a fall) CoP awards enough points for these jumps that the skater who tries them is better off than attempting the double Axel or the triple Salchow.  The key is the jumps must be fully rotated and the skater must not fall.

Because the jump base value increases more by adding a triple Axel or Quad Salchow to the very first example than by adding two or three triple-triple combinations, it may be a more cost effective use of training time to acquire the triple Axel or Quad than to get triple-triple combinations.  In other words, why spend a great deal of time trying to get several difficult triple-triple combinations when you can earn more points by acquiring one triple Axel?

#### More conclusions:

1. A well rounded skater strong in all aspects of skating, but without triple-triple combinations  or a triple Axel or quad, has little chance of beating a skater with the triple Axel or quad, unless that skater falls down in their performance or is dreadful in all aspect of skating other than jumps.
2. A skater who attempts a triple Axel or quad remains competitive for the gold medal even if they make a serious error in these jumps, other than a fall or a pop to a single or double.
3. After a skater acquires all the triple jumps through triple Lutz, it appears more cost effective to spend training time acquiring a triple Axel or quad, than several triple-triple combinations.
4. The great value of the triple Axel and quads has such a strong impact on the ladies event, it makes the ladies event, in effect, a one-jump competition.
5. Once a few ladies consistently have a triple Axel or quad, the ladies event becomes primarily a jumping contest.
6. There are several ways to combine the same group of triple and quad jumps that have the same points for base value, but different intrinsic difficulty and risk.  Of these possibilities, the choice that entails the least difficulty and the least risk is the one that should be attempted in competition.
7. These examples again illustrate the defects in CoP in the method of scoring combinations, the poor balance between solo jumps and jump combinations, and the poor balance between jumps, spins, step sequences and presentation.