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Artistry is another name for technicality: Janet Lynn

Updated on November 15, 2014

Lynn's skating 101

Lynn's aesthetics became the foundation of modern figure skating and the very reason why the ISU abandoned compulsory discipline.

Of course, the ISU didn't have clear understanding on the importance of compulsories at the time nor does it have now.

The irony is that Lynn's secret owes in part to compulsory discipline in her time.

How can Lynn, historically known as the most famous victim by tedious compulsories, benefit from the very enemy that kept holding her down for all her career?

Ambivalent Compulsories

But compulsory discipline was bigger to the sport than anybody thought.

Not that it had been the greater part of competition, but it provided fundamentals of skating.

Skaters are able to handle basic moves on ice through edge skills learned in compulsories. After all, balance is the most critical to the skating.

Figure skating is a sport in which skaters are to maintain balance in order to present performances of various moves in on-ice dynamics.

In other words, compulsories provide skaters with critical assets that make skaters ready for higher level skating.

And that couldn't prove better than in Lynn's skating characterized by incredible degree of stability as if an invisible string is pulling her center of weight as she skates.

While Lynn's arms and legs change their position, motion of her center of weight neither loses its continuity nor gets in the way of all her moves; they all line up with her forward momentum.

Peggy Fleming: a complusory move

In fact, because of compulsories, the figure skating world had a skater like Janet Lynn.

Based on that training, Lynn was able to expand the sport from 2 dimensional perfection to 3 dimensional perfection.

Think, how your edge control can be used to support your various body moves on ice. What Lynn did was to show the dynamics between edge control and body control; they are not separated.

In a time when drawing "figures" on ice was believed to represent the ideal of the sport, Lynn's skating testified to the world that that's not what the sport meant to be. They were just tools that serve the ideal.

Compulsory training was in fact a prerequisite and a shadow of what is to come.

In Lynn's skating, Lynn draws three dimensional invisible figures using the center of her body.

Lynn's skating was different from others whose skating barely juxtaposes edge control and body control on ice. Lynn's skating was based on oneness in both controls.

Integration of both skills was Lynn's ideal, that is, figure skating's ideal.

Lynn was a master technician back then in the skills that weren't required for skaters in her time, but singularly critical to evoke the kind of aesthetics Lynn was famous about.

Since Lynn, no one has ever reached her level.

Dorothy Hamill: compulsory moves

As shown above, Dorothy Hamill's body looks steady as a rock as she circles.

The drawing is taking place on a canvas called ice, and skaters' balance and edge skill will be manifested in shapes and consistency of their patterns.

Lynn may not be as good in drawing perfect shapes on ice using blades as Trixie Shuba, but Lynn shows what matters is how to combine edge control and body control at the same time.

If compulsories tested on how a skater's blade draw perfect curves on ice, Lynn skated as if she was actually drawing those curves and shapes in three dimesion, using her center of weight.

Did she ever knowgly do that? Maybe not. But her inborn sensitivity certainly knew that that's what matters in figure skating.


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