Between technique and artistry, the ISU judges again chose artistry. Ilia Malinin will refuse the quad axel?

Now in men’s singles a lot of attention is paid to the American figure skater Ilia Malinin. The guy is considered the future star of the male loner, the new Nathan Chen, although Ilia can hardly be called a good skater today. For the most part, the excitement around the skater is associated with his quadruple axel, because before the start of the current season, this jump was considered something beyond the bounds of the possible.


Ilia became the first figure skater in the world who managed to cleanly perform a quadruple axel in competitions, write his name in history and enter the Guinness Book of Records. In addition to conquering the most difficult ultra-c element, Ilya stands out for his technicality. He has a good twist and a high jump, in dynamics his quads look beautiful and aesthetically pleasing.


However, jumping is not all figure skating. It is not enough to master all the quads in order to win competitions, you also need to be able to perform non-jumping elements with high quality, do not forget about the presentation of the program. And while the second assessment for Ilya remains his Achilles’ heel.

At the recently held commercial tournament under the auspices of the ISU “Japan Open”, the judges again drew attention to the fact that in figure skating, first of all, it is not the technical component that is valued, but the beauty and quality of skating. It is more important to do less, but it is better than doing more and anyhow.


In Japan, Malinin went for five quadruples, including 4A, and one triple axel. In general, Ilia coped with his set, making only one gross mistake – a hard step-out on the quadruple axel. The base cost of his free skate is 102.87.

However, with a significant technical advantage, Ilya lost to the Japanese Shoma Uno, whose base cost was 80 points. Malinin lost a symbolic 0.38 points, but here the very fact that the judges gave Shoma a higher score is more important.


You can, of course, object that this is a Japanese show, they always sue their people here and so on. But “Japan Open” is not purely Japanese show-tournament. ISU referees are invited here, the competitions were judged by referees from different countries.

Repeat this situation at the stages of the Grand Prix, the result would be the same.
According to the plan, Shoma had 5 quads and 2 triple axels, but instead of a quadruple flip, the skater did only a double one. Shoma also had cheaper quads, a toeloop repeat, while Ilya did two lutz quads. In addition, Uno performed only two combinations instead of three, and those were with a double toeloop and a double axel.

If you think about it, the loss at the box office of the Japanese was enough. It is definitely impossible to call his performance a reference one, although in general the level is impressive.


Due to better gliding, softness and ease of execution of all elements, Shoma scored 20.57 points in technique only thanks to GOE and surpassed Ilya in the second assessment by 6.66 points, thus making up for an impressive gap in the base cost.

In general, nothing new and surprising, the usual trend in judging figure skating, which some fans prefer to notice only when they do not like the result.


In this story, the reaction of Ilya Malinin is most pleasing. There were fears that the athlete would continue to bend his line, declare the most difficult set of jumps and expect high marks from the arbitrators. But it seems that the guy soberly assesses the situation and perfectly understands what everything can lead to if he does not work in the right direction.


In a recent interview ahead of Skate America, Malinin revealed that his main goal for this season is to work on the second score:

“My goal is to improve my choreography and component score because it wasn’t the best in the past. I hope that by the end of the season the situation will improve significantly compared to last year.
In training, we try to spend an hour or an hour and a half [a day] on the skills of skating – steps, footwork, spins and everything artistic. I also skate program layouts without jumps and spins to concentrate on the choreography.”

Understanding your weaknesses and working to eliminate them is already a victory. If Ilya does not chase quadruple jumps, but concentrates on the golden mean, the result will not be long in coming.


Ilya is still very young by the standards of men’s single skating, he is 17 years old. So he has enough time to improve everything in which he is now inferior to other athletes. Most importantly, the skater understands that he should focus on choreography and gliding.


Also, Malinin, in his last interview, drew attention to the problem of the extremely low base cost of the quadruple axel, which makes it unprofitable to insert the most difficult jump into the program. At the stages of the Grand Prix series, Ilya plans to concentrate on the cleanliness of skating, not jumping over his head in order to have the best chances for reaching the final.


So it is quite possible that we will not see the quadruple axel at the next tournaments. And the ISU should really consider rethinking the cost of 4A and maybe other jumps too.

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