I actually like the slower backpedal because it forces players to make a choice. If you want to outdistance your opponent, you have to turn and run. If you can't afford to lose saber blocking, you'd better stay in the fight.
Also, i'm in favor of changes that keep the battle closer together. As impressive as acrobatics can be, I never saw luke and vader dodging that much. Fact is, the primary defense in star wars is the saber block, and while other optionions should be available, think its right for the game to encourage more confrontational duels.