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View Full Version : What should the ISU do to resurrect Figure Skating in the US and Europe?



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geod2
03-30-2011, 10:45 PM
The problem is not with the sport.
The problem is with parents/families who fail to cultivate children who appreciate class and beauty.
Any household that teaches class and beauty will cultivate lovers of skating and other arts. Change the potential audience, not the sport or the art.
Don't 'dumb it down' with idiotic gimmicks, pop music, tasteless costumes, etc. Why should figure skating aspire to pop culture?


Thank you... Exhibitions, SOI, and the other shows is where any pop-culture-whoring should take place.



How about holding an event called X-treme Ice Challenge? It could include disciplines such as:

X-Treme Ice Jumping: Put together a format in which solo skaters who are good jumpers can compete based on who lands the hardest jumps, with bonus points a la +GOE for good form and difficulty-adding enhancements. One of the elements could be a creative/acrobatic jump that could include backflips, aerial cartwheels, etc., single (or double?) jumps with splits at the top, etc. Another could be an unlimited jump combination.

That's a great idea....sorta like the figure skating equivalent of this >>>

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5f6VE2rRik0

But, I'd worry about the increased chance of injury to the skaters.

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gkelly
03-30-2011, 10:53 PM
It has all kind of been said but to summarize for me.

1. Appeal to a broader audience. Pull in younger people and men. Whole discussion on how to do this but Skate Canada started to talk about it in the last year.

Well, there's the trick. How?
Can you bring in new audiences that have historically been resistant to embracing figure skating without alienating the audience you already have?

My suggestions for what the ISU could do are two:

*If they want to control all of figure skating at an international level, maintain credibility as an Olympic sport, and also reach out to new audiences, they could offer more variety of formats. Continue to offer world championships and Olympic events in singles and pairs freeskating and ice dancing more or less as they currently exist, and also offer world championships in Extreme Skating as I described earlier in this thread (which could easily be added as Olympic events, perhaps in a team format), and Artistic Skating where only PCS count (which would probably not be an acceptable Olympic sport but probably would appeal to audiences -- including younger audiences if it encourages contemporary music).

OR

*Just focus on their existing disciplines, but ease up on the eligibility rules even further so that skaters are free to participate in competition-formatted events that are not controlled or "sanctioned" by the ISU. Let them earn money and popularity in other formats paid for by other entities, and let them come back to ISU competition and qualify through their federations whenever they choose.

The ISU wouldn't benefit directly from any popularity generated in non-ISU events, but if skaters developing a following in entertainment-oriented events, they might bring fans with them when they enter ISU competitions.


3. De-mystify the scoring system. Right now you see skaters skate and then a total score comes up and the audience just doesn't get it. They can't relate and reconcile what they saw to the score and placements. Plus there is no drama in the score read out. You used to have: 5.4...5.7...5.6....5.8....
Now you just have "143.89" :blah:

I'd break tech scores into 3 parts: jumps, spins, footwork
Show a score and ranking for all 3 and read each out separately.

So each element would be scored separately as is currently the case, but a composite jump score and spin score would be read out loud, along with a step sequence score, so audiences would have a better idea of who got more points where? That would probably help audience understanding, so it sounds good to me.


I'd condense PCS into 3 as well:
*skating skills
*choreography and transitions
*performance and interpretation
Read each 3 out and show a rank.

The factoring would need to be different if the judges are awarding only 3 instead of 5 component scores. A math expert would have to figure out the appropriate changes.

Or the components could remain at 5 more or less as is as far as the judging is concerned, but to save time and confusion for audiences they could read one total for Skating Techniques (that includes SS and TR scores) and one for Presentation (that includes PE, CH, and IN).

At least that would give a little more information to the audiences about how the scores break down. Much more informative about the skating than reading 9 different judges' scores for "technical merit" and "presentation," and would take a little less time to read.

julieann
03-30-2011, 11:44 PM
3. De-mystify the scoring system. Right now you see skaters skate and then a total score comes up and the audience just doesn't get it. They can't relate and reconcile what they saw to the score and placements. Plus there is no drama in the score read out. You used to have: 5.4...5.7...5.6....5.8....
Now you just have "143.89" :blah:

There is nothing mystifying about the scoring system for those who chose to learn it. Compared to some other sports, it's actually pretty straight forward.

minignome
03-31-2011, 12:34 AM
There is nothing mystifying about the scoring system for those who chose to learn it. Compared to some other sports, it's actually pretty straight forward.

I think part of the problem is that the commentators have done little to HELP the viewer learn it. A casual fan will not take the time to go educate themselves. For the commentator to tell you that it's a -1 deduction for falling doesn't tell you much if you don't know that the base value for a triple axel is 8.5 and that double is 3.3. Also if the commentators could give a ballpark on the levels of footwork/spins and the point value difference between a level 3/4. Peter Carruthers tries a bit, but he seems to be the only one who does imo. And yes, there is a fine line between educating those who don't know vs. annoying the heck out of those who do.

I am a sports fan and will watch a lot of different things and enjoy the competition if I have a basic understanding of the rules. I think showing separate scores for jumps, spins & footwork, plus showing the combined components would go along way to solving the "how come the person who splatted was ahead of the person who didn't".

Having a brother who has the attitude "figure skating isn't a sport" (the burdens one has to bear in life :blah:) . I think if there were more data given on the scores that might help the perception that the judges just pull the numbers out of hat based on who they want to win.

julieann
03-31-2011, 12:59 AM
I think part of the problem is that the commentators have done little to HELP the viewer learn it.

Problem #1. That's why I hate going to a live football game, I need the guys telling me what the heck is going on. I don't mind skating commentators taking over the music as long as it's useful and relevant to what we are watching, leave the fluff for the in-between, not while they are on the ice. I love Peter C and Terry G, but the chicks must go.

Skittl1321
03-31-2011, 01:13 AM
Problem #1. That's why I hate going to a live football game, I need the guys telling me what the heck is going on. I don't mind skating commentators taking over the music as long as it's useful and relevant to what we are watching, leave the fluff for the in-between, not while they are on the ice. I love Peter C and Terry G, but the chicks must go.

Of course, it's only for the people at the arena- but it seems like those Skatebug things are pretty awesome for this.

Most of the serious football/baseball fans I know go to the games with radio headphones in. I always thought they were crazy- because these are the people who already KNOW all the rules, but they love to listen to it too.


As for jump/spin competitions- I don't know about extreme jumping, but low level competitions have jump/spin competitions, why not just continue them up the levels and have elites do them too? (My local competition actually is offering jumps through senior and spins through senior, but I don't expect to see any entries... maybe in junior...)

The senior spin event requirements are:
1. Flying Sit Spin or Flying Change Sit Spin (minimum 8 revolutions)
2. Layback or Cross-foot Spin (minimum 8 revolutions)
3. Spin Combination with only one change of foot and at least one change of position (minimum 12 total revolutions)
4. Solo Spin of Skater’s choice (minimum 8 revolutions)

Jumps are only this:
1. Double Lutz
2. Double axel
3. Combination of any two double jumps or a triple jump with a double

The idea of the event would obviously need to be made harder for elite skaters- maybe 4 jumps of the skaters choice? Or start at triple toe loop and work the way up to triple axel (moving to quads for men), with points awarded for each jump, and maybe even elimination if you fall?

Susan M
03-31-2011, 03:11 AM
Sorry but there's nothing "blah" about reading a grand-total-points score which easily and transparently shows exactly where that skater ranks at the moment.
Actually there is, because the totals themselves don't have any intrinsic meaning. In football, for example, a 7 point lead is a touchdown. Perhaps some of that will come in time, but for now it feels like a math exercise, and comparatively few people find math all that fun and exciting. Even with the current scoring system, though, they could increase viewer interest by showing the scores of individual judges. Right now, they don't even show us comparative numbers between skaters for the free skate, only the cumulative totals.

I think the suggestion of totaling points separately for jumps, spins, and footwork might also help, but only if broadcasters present the results that way. For example, if they showed a table of the top 4 or 5 skaters so far, people could see more clearly how the skaters compare.


There is nothing mystifying about the scoring system for those who chose to learn it.
Well, I think those 430 people are probably already watching. The question was about broadening skating's appeal to the marginal or lost viewers.
The system might be comprehensible on paper, but applying it in real time is pretty mystifying for the vast majority of viewers, especially when you start talking about deductions of various amounts for underrotated jumps, and elements not counting because something was repeated. For skating to increase its viewership, it has to appeal precisely to the people who don't hang out here or study the COP, and for those folks, the current scoring process (including the callers' decisions, the judges numbers, and the way the data is presented by broadcasters) is pretty mystifying.

I have a fairly bizarre theory of how skating fits into entertainment as a whole for US audiences. It has seemed to me that America needs a certain amount of dance in its life. Skating's biggest popularity bubble here (approx 1988 - 1998) came at a time when Nureyev had retired and Baryshnikov was pretty much done and we didn't get ballet on TV much anymore, creating a kind of void. I think skating kind of filled the need for this sort of graceful/athletic performance. By about 96-98, the market for skating had been so oversaturated, people had gotten burnt out on it. Then after a few years, the televised dance contests rose up to fill the void. I know this theory sounds like something of a stretch, but I honestly don't think skating will regain its popularity here until people get burnt out on shows like Dancing with the Stars and its ilk.

attyfan
03-31-2011, 04:33 AM
Simply knowing how the system works in the abstract isn't enough. A lot of things essential to make sense of a skater's score (ex: edge calls or underrotations) are not as visible or obvious on TV as they may be to those watching live -- it is not uncommon for people to think the judges got it wrong because they didn't see the mistake. Something, IMO, needs to be done about that ... the camera angle during jumps should focus on the blades, for example, or, instead of fluff, the commentators could analyze some of the skaters' jumps in slow motion.

julieann
03-31-2011, 05:26 AM
Even skaters/coaches have no idea what happened with some of their scores until they see the protocols but that doesn't mean they should make it skating for dummies. If someone wants to be a fan they will care enough to learn the rules well enough to enjoy watching. If they leave the sport, were they really ever a fan of the sport to begin with?

geod2
03-31-2011, 07:15 AM
Actually there is, because the totals themselves don't have any intrinsic meaning. In football, for example, a 7 point lead is a touchdown.


....or...a 7 point lead could be the result of a field goal and 2 safeties...

:)


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aliceanne
03-31-2011, 02:35 PM
I'd say that's part of it. But even on a tiny regional level I see it all the time. I skate at several rinks in my area. A LOT of local ice shows that have really decent local star power all the way up to SOI happen here. And I RARELY see a poster for any of them in the rinks I frequent. It doesn't seem that hard to me to get a poster in each of the rinks to help ticket sales. And that's not a USFS thing.

I agree. I think live skating is the hook for most people. We're all pretty jaded by what we see on tv and in movies. There are many national level skaters who will do exhibitions for free just to practice their programs in front of an audience and many good local skaters and shows. There are also break dancers on hockey skates who are amazing.

minignome
04-01-2011, 12:46 AM
Simply knowing how the system works in the abstract isn't enough. A lot of things essential to make sense of a skater's score (ex: edge calls or underrotations) are not as visible or obvious on TV as they may be to those watching live -- it is not uncommon for people to think the judges got it wrong because they didn't see the mistake. Something, IMO, needs to be done about that ... the camera angle during jumps should focus on the blades, for example, or, instead of fluff, the commentators could analyze some of the skaters' jumps in slow motion.


To help with this, why can't they post a starting technical value based on what the skater plans to do like there is in gymnastics? This would help easily identify which skaters have the harder routines as well as give the viewer a basis for how well the skater did what they had planned.

gkelly
04-01-2011, 01:27 AM
How does this work in gymnastics?

How do you see it working in figure skating?

Do you mean detailed planned program sheets before and detailed protocols afterward?

Or just the total base mark for the planned elements and the actual technical elements score, based on the tech panel's calls and the judges' GOEs for what the skater actually performed?

Is "they" the ISU or the TV networks?

laviemn
04-01-2011, 03:08 PM
The problem is not with the sport. The problem is with parents/families who fail to cultivate children who appreciate class and beauty. Any household that teaches class and beauty will cultivate lovers of skating and other arts. Change the potential audience, not the sport or the art. Don't 'dumb it down' with idiotic gimmicks, pop music, tasteless costumes, etc. Why should figure skating aspire to pop culture?

TPTB in figure skating have the power to make changes to the sport that could change its popular perception. How could they possibly change how people raise their children all over the world?

As someone said earlier on this thread, children often watch sports that they like to play. If more children play basketball, football, even tennis rather than skate, it's because those sports are more accessible and affordable than skating. Figure skating isn't even enough of a relevant option for a lot of people even to wonder whether their children would enjoy it. You cannot make a judgment about the lack of class and beauty in their upbringings based on whether they appreciate figure skating.

The terms class and beauty are subjective. If I said that I appreciate the beauty of a graceful slam dunk more than a quad toe, would you call me classless? Also, it is possible for a person to appreciate Swan Lake on a stage but not on an ice rink. Figure skating is just a niche hybrid of competitive sport and performance art that can repel fans of both for different reasons. It doesn't have to aspire to popular culture, but it does have to be financially solvent to continue to exist; increasing its popularity would improve its solvency; changing the sport is a feasible way of accomplishing that, changing how people raise their children is not.

gkelly
04-01-2011, 04:27 PM
Figure skating is just a niche hybrid of competitive sport and performance art that can repel fans of both for different reasons. It doesn't have to aspire to popular culture, but it does have to be financially solvent to continue to exist; increasing its popularity would improve its solvency; changing the sport is a feasible way of accomplishing that, changing how people raise their children is not.

All valid points -- along with the fact that it can also hold an especially intense attraction for fans of both competitive sport and performance art, but since the overlap is smaller than either of those groups alone, that may result in a smaller but more devoted niche of fans than it could achieve by trying to appeal to larger numbers of sports fans by alienating the performance fans or vice versa.

However, if the sport is not satisfied with its level of solvency and is willing to consider changes to the way it's practiced to address that situation, is it better off changing the packaging of the elite competitors in a hope of attracting more fans, or is better off changing the affordability and accessibility of the way it's practiced at all levels in the hope of attracting more participants, even if many of those changes are irrelevant to fans?