The French poet Louis Aragon famously wrote that l'avenir de l'homme, c'est la femme (the future of man, is woman), but the opposite appears to be true in figure skating. Ever since 2010, men's figure skating has been inexorably trending towards a high-risk, high-reward quads arm race in which the judges tacitly encourage a cynical type of numbers-crunching skating thinly disguised as choreography by improperly lumping together the skaters' Programs Components Scores with insufficient differentiation. Hence we witness certain performances by the men that consist mainly of going from big jump to big jump punctuated with certain perfunctory movements here and there (as if by random chance) not only scoring insurmountably huge Technical Elements Scores, but also near-perfect Program Components Scores as well. True, there have been events where wonderful, soulful skating has come out on top, but for a long time, these competitions have appeared to be pleasant aberrations rather than the rule.
At long last, ladies' skating has finally followed suit during the second half of the current 2018-2022 Olympic cycle, ushered along by Eteri Tutberidze's indomitable wave of assorted Russian ladies skaters. Undaunted by the physical realities of the post-pubescent female body, Ms. Tutberidze has revolutionized ladies skating with her emphasis on a certain type of jump technique that relies on pre-rotation, quickness of rotation, and above all, the low body weight of pre-pubescent female skaters. Ms. Tutberidze began the revolution with the non-axel triple jumps (Julia Lipnitskaya, Evgenia Medvedeva, among others), but she has recently cornered the market on ladies' triple axels and quadruple jumps as well (Anna Shcherbakova, Elizabet Tursynbayeva, Kamila Valieva, Maiia Khromykh, among others, as well as recent Tutberidze student Alexandra Trusova). This type of jump technique, combined with Daniil Gleikhengauz's cluttered programs utterly leeched of intangible qualities that would lend them genuine artistic or thematic heft, has dominated ladies figure skating in recent past. All others are just trying to catch up, with varying results. Given the high-risk, high-reward approach of the jumping arms race, the disappointingly messy, mistake-ridden ladies event at the 2021 World Championships is only a harbinger of future ladies competitions to come. One needs only to look at the many messy men's events at the beginning stages of the quads arms race . . .