|Everything looks better with a pretty photo of Stephane Lambiel.|
Sometimes, the things that we encounter in our quotidian existences just seem better after a vacation, however brief said vacation may be. Your home may appear to be the very lap of quiet luxury after a few days of sharing a grubby hostel room the size of a shoebox with a bunch of rowdy, permanently-inebriated Australians. Similarly, after excising figure skating from my life for the past while, the ISU now seems to resemble shining beacons of reason more than the doddery old bunch of apparatchiks I usually fondly think of them as....particularly after reading through some of the most recent technical proposals set forth to be decided at the upcoming 54th ISU Congress. Namely, I am most excited about the proposed elimination of the "at least half a pattern on one foot only" bulletpoint as a level feature for step sequences. May it be officially excised from the ISU technical handbook soon!
Like the abuse of Biellmans, catchfoot death spirals and other CoP peculiarities, the idea of rewarding a step sequence done with at least half the pattern on one foot as a level feature didn't look all too bad on paper. After all, doing a CoP-style step sequence with the requisite complexity, number of turns, etc., on one foot is definitely not easy. And when done well (i.e. with speed and flow, etc), it can be rather impressive, even to the layman's eye:
Yet for the vast majority of skaters electing to aim for the one-foot bulletpoint in their quest to achieve the coveted Level 4 call on their step sequences, the results have been less than stellar (if not downright strenuous in many cases). Indeed, the one foot feature of step sequences is yet another example of the CoP's tendency to prioritize difficulty over quality, often to detrimental results. Step sequences turn even more laborious and slow to a crawl during the one foot part (correspondingly eating up more valuable time that could have been spent on more interesting choreography), the performance and overall arc of the program lose continuity and purpose, the audience falls into a dazed stupor, etc., etc. Yet (barring a fall) the GOEs rewarded are often positive or at worst zeroes no matter how much the skater is painfully grinding back and forth on their one foot with all semblance of the footwork corresponding to the music fallen to the wayside:
And with the current structure of CoP as it stands, it was perhaps inevitable that the one foot level feature of step sequences became nearly ubiquitous among skaters both great and small. For a variety of reasons (e.g. the structure of a tech panel vs. a panel of judges, the way GOEs are averaged, how GOE features are officially merely "guidelines," etc), satisfying level requirements is a much more predictable process than satisfying the requirements for higher GOEs, and so in the never-ending quest for points we see a certain homogeneity across programs to fulfil as many of the proscribed level feature bulletpoints as possible: in this case, the first half of many, many step sequences all done (often dreadfully) on one foot, to the point that it really made no sense to automatically reward points for the feature.
As such, it is for the best that the ISU has proposed to remove the "at least half a pattern on one foot only" level feature from step sequences, as the hearts and minds of the GOE-scoring judges are unlikely to be changed without lobotomies and/or corporal punishment. So, let us bid our adieu to the one-foot level feature for step sequences by giving a toast to the right legs of the competitive skating populace, as many of them were no doubt subject to grueling workouts for the past while to give the one-foot feature its recent place in the sun.
Also, on a semi-related note: use of upper-body movements for at least 1/2 of the pattern as a level feature for step sequences has also been subject to a proposal reducing the requirement to at least 1/3 of the pattern instead. Dare I say, does this mean less frenzied flailing during step sequences?