What can performance tracking can do for you, as either skater or coach? The best example of this is Deniss Vasiljevs from Latvia's triple lutz.
Small steps towards the stars
"Small steps towards the stars" could also have been the title of this article. Fabrice Pellerin, french swimming olympic coach, wrote his book " Access the top, the path is in you" (Only available in french) (Translated). The saying loses a lot of its impact in translation, however the logistics of it is that though setting partial goals is crucial to achieving one's dream. Basically that one's dream is acheived step by step.
Slow and steady wins the race
First time I saw Deniss Vasiljevs in competition ( Junior Grand Prix competition), he instantly became a firm favorite of mine. He is an elegant and talented skater with an original style. In fact, I know his former coach, Ingrida Sneidkiene, which is why I brought my expertise to them. I did the first advanced analysis of Deniss' triple lutz. It was during Junior Grand Prix of Tallinn 2014 (End of September 2014). Now, Alexei Urmanov is coaching him.
Deniss executed his triple lutz with triple toe-loop correctly, however you can see that the landing of the lutz could be improved. His upper body is too much forward ( Third freezframe on the left of the pic). Why? It's the consequence of the jump's inception. The transfer of body is not enough to acheive the "leverage effect". Remember this law of pysics:
Any lever moves when a force (F) or effort is great enough to overcome a load (L) or a resistance that would otherwise resist movement.
The fulcrum position is also important. This lever is create with the toe-pick (right foot) and the acceleration of the support leg (left leg). The position of the upper body will determine whether or not the jump is efficient.
Is my skater making progress?
For a coach, it's an interesting and essential question. It is also unfortunately not easy to answer precisely and honestly. Of course, video analysis can help the parties involved gain a more strutured and well-rounded view as one can view the athletes progess frame by frame.
Specifically in figure skating, as it is a sport combining art and technique. I could do a video comparison to see the "before and after", in order to decide which triple lutz combo is better. However I chose to make this advanced analysis because they are so close. I believe it is the best way to understand the ways in which Deniss improved. I compared angles from beginning of season 2014/2015 ( Junior Grand Prix) with end of season 2015/16 ( World Championships 2016). Both jumps were executed well, however the second in unquestionable better. The previous body angles are in blue and the new ones are in red. I suggest that you enlarge this advanced analysisin order to see the angles clearly.
|Competition||Starting angle||Toe-pick position||Flight part 1||Flight part 2||Flight part 3|
|Junior Grand Prix Tallinn 2014||56.4°||39.9°||30.7°||18.0°||12.7°|
|World Championships 2016||60.0°||42.0°||26.0°||12.0°||9.0°|
As you can see, the body angles of the skater are more upright during the flight part of the jump. It allows to land sufficiently. Basically, the skater can keep his speed as he is on the frontal part of the blade, rather than on the toe-pick. This is really useful when you are attempting to jump a triple lutz in combinaison with a secon jump.
Season after season, Deniss has kept improving more and more. Now, he is able to score 11.70 points alone on this combinaison jump ( Triple lutz+Triple toe-loop). +9.3% of bonus according the Base Value of this combinaison jump. Really impressive work?