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waxel1
11-15-2011, 10:15 PM
As mentioned in earlier posts, Spokane broke/set the SA attendance record in 2002....Everett then broke Spokane's record in 2009. Let's hear it for the NW!

gkelly
11-15-2011, 10:17 PM
UMBS Go Blue, you make a lot of important points. Just a few nitpicks:



As for the larger problem of the long-term decline in attendance, ratings, and interest in U.S. skating events,

Has there been a decline in attendance at Skate America? I remember people complaining about the empty arenas for this event even during the height of skating's popularity. But I don't have statistics to corroborrate.


U.S. skating is really missing the boat when it comes to tapping massive popular trends like the dance craze, and it's about time that judges, officials, coaches, and choreographers open up their conceptions of what is possible and reward skaters who are creative and push the envelope. This includes using modern music and allowing vocals.

If we're talking about Skate America, then we're talking about international skating, under ISU rules, with a majority of skaters representing other countries. It's not really something that US Figure Skating can address on its own.

If an idea is good for international figure skating in general, then USFS can propose and lobby for appropriate changes to ISU rules. If other federations think it's bad for their skaters' competitive chances or bad for the popularity of figure skating with their country's audiences, the proposals would not pass.

USFS has recently changed rules to allow vocal music for its own members in contexts other than elite competition -- basically, for everything except novice, junior, and senior singles and pairs competition. That helps to attract skaters who prefer vocal music, but at those levels it's not going to do anything to attract outside audiences.

I've given detailed explanations in other threads about why I personally don't like vocal music for freestyle competition. I do like and encourage "modern music" -- but music that's appropriate for competition where judges and skaters need to concentrate on things like precise edges and number of rotations is probably not going to be the same kind of music that would lure in audiences who aren't already interested in figure skating.

Dance forms that involve using the body in more challenging ways than upright centered balance are hard to execute on blades. A skater who chooses that approach and does it well will be rewarded -- at least by the judges who pay attention to those kinds of things. But most skaters can't do that and also do lots of triple jumps. So it's not going to be common among elite freestyle competitors. Choosing music that demands that kind of dancing and then not delivering the dancing (except perhaps in slow-gliding, two-foot, or posing sections) is not going to help the skaters and not going to satisfy audiences who want to see challenging skating not just listen to music.

Music that appeals to lay audiences but that interferes with the ability to execute the skating content will not help the skaters.

There probably are ways that USFS or the ISU could actively encourage skaters to find music that is not stale and that does work well for skating. That was a big part of the reasoning behind allowing vocal music in ice dancing. They should also find ways to encourage judges to reward originality of music choice and choreography better. But, as I say, it's not something that USFS can do unilaterally at the elite levels.

RD
11-15-2011, 10:47 PM
In any case, I think the USFSA needs to find a better way to keep figure skating relevant in this country. IMO, the decline began when they moved to NBC, thus voiding the deal with ABC/ESPN/ESPN2 which is much more watched than Universal Sports.

Well, IMO the decline began well before that. The move to NBC was a direct RESULT of the mass decline of interest in skating, so much that ABC/ESPN was no longer interested in televising the events.

When even hardcore fans get bored with the product (the skating on the ice), you just don't stand a chance. Couple that with no big names to advertise and it's no wonder US skating is in its current predicament....

JasperBoy
11-15-2011, 11:07 PM
As mentioned in earlier posts, Spokane broke/set the SA attendance record in 2002....Everett then broke Spokane's record in 2009. Let's hear it for the NW!

I suspect a fair number of people from BC helped swell the ranks.

BittyBug
11-15-2011, 11:21 PM
As for specific Skate America venues, we've had this debate before:

* Lack of clubs/LOCs willing to put together an event. While it's great that so many people on here are passionate about having skating events in their area, no amount of Internet whining is going to change things in your individual favor unless you channel your energies towards constructive uses like working with your local FSCs, putting bid packages together, and volunteering to staff the event once it is awarded. This is a big board, but many of us are in fact part of clubs that regularly bid on events, host events, and volunteer at events. That doesn't mean that USFS always sees things the way we do, though.


Ontario is outside of LA which has a great skating base.That's what I thought, but when we were discussing the poor attendance at SKAM I was told by more than a few locals that LA does not equal Ontario, and that with traffic the drive would be off-putting.

loopey
11-15-2011, 11:23 PM
When even hardcore fans get bored with the product (the skating on the ice), you just don't stand a chance. Couple that with no big names to advertise and it's no wonder US skating is in its current predicament....
Yeah, I have a nerve talking about what the USFSA needs to do, when I am one of the "used-to-be-fans" that can't stomach all disciplines of skating anymore. :shuffle:

I pretty much only watch pairs now, when I used to love Singles and Pairs. Just don't care too much for this new crop of skaters. Can't explain, if it's CoP, choreo, or the skaters skating skills that I don't like, but there it is. If I am home, If I remember, and If I have nothing else to do, I watch. Used to be I would plan my schedule to make sure I was available for competitions, cuz I wanted to watch that much. Now? Not so much.

Not that Pair skating is "all that" either, but I do respect the discipline and enjoy watching it. So if I am a figure skating fan of 30+ years, and I feel this way, no wonder the "public" has lost interest! :lol:

WildRose
11-15-2011, 11:25 PM
Also, SA has traditionally had abysmal attendance no matter where it's been held. (Judging by empty seats seen on tv.) That says to me the problem is more systematic than just picking a dud location this one year.

I still remember how shocked I was watching Skate America on TV back in 1993 when Brian Boitano skated after a well publicized and lengthy battle to be reinstated. The arena was virtually empty - especially when compared to the NHL size arenas that were being sold out here in Canada at the time. There were more people watching the men practice in Canada then there were watching Brian compete again in the US.

overedge
11-15-2011, 11:39 PM
I suspect a fair number of people from BC helped swell the ranks.

Canuckistanis = ticket sales

UMBS Go Blue
11-15-2011, 11:57 PM
Has there been a decline in attendance at Skate America? I remember people complaining about the empty arenas for this event even during the height of skating's popularity. But I don't have statistics to corroborrate.The problem is pathetic U.S. attendance in general, whether at Skate America or at Nationals. Arenas are never full, whether they're large or small, in a big city or small one, or on one side of the country or another.

When given an event in any sport (or in any context), your goal should be to maximize returns by 1) recouping your upfront investment and fixed costs (large: getting an entire arena) and 2) maximizing attendance relative to variable costs (small: incremental labor, and targeted, cost-efficient marketing). Merely seeking to surpass what attendance was in a previous year in different circumstances is an exceptionally lazy way of hitting low targets. It also points to a systemic problem of low standards, low targets, and narrow conceptions of what can be done to keep the sport viable and move it forward.

Moreover, empty arenas, no matter whether they magically break attendance records every second or third blue moon, help reinforce a bad PR spiral for U.S. skating when channel-flippers come across it on TV, see an empty arena, and figure, "oh, nobody cared to watch in person, so I shouldn't care to watch on TV either."

Therefore, you need to market better to your existing base, or broaden the potential base, and turn out the crowds.


It's not really something that US Figure Skating can address on its own.
...
If an idea is good for international figure skating in general, then USFS can propose and lobby for appropriate changes to ISU rules. If other federations think it's bad for their skaters' competitive chances or bad for the popularity of figure skating with their country's audiences, the proposals would not pass.All of which is an excuse for the status quo and reinforces a tendency to do nothing. USFS should 1) encourage its own judges and officials to encourage and reward creativity domestically when they see it (which they arguably aren't doing enough of), 2) be vocal on international judging panels / post-event review meetings / rule-setting meetings, and 3) develop a long-term strategic plan to move the sport forward, introduce/influence rules and trends internationally, and lobby/politik other associations accordingly.

You also seem to be denying that we have an abundance of awful programs to stale music that appeal to nobody. Whether because coaches and choreographers are being intellectually lazy (yes) and/or playing it safe when it comes to choreography, music, and programming (yes), they commonly justify craptacular product with excuses like "the rules call for this" or "the judges/officials want to see this / will reward this." This calls for 1) unplugging whatever's stuck up the judges/officials rear ends and 2) unleashing coaches and choreographers from stale, restrictive notions of what constitutes "respectable" programs and choreography. This will need to come from a combination of both formal rule changes (or eliminations, like the restrictions on vocals, for example) and strong influence from an association leader who has a clear vision for the future of the sport.


USFS has recently changed rules to allow vocal music for its own members in contexts other than elite competition -- basically, for everything except novice, junior, and senior singles and pairs competition. That helps to attract skaters who prefer vocal music, but at those levels it's not going to do anything to attract outside audiences.We need take the next step: change rules domestically at all levels and set the rule change processes into motion internationally.


but music that's appropriate for competition where judges and skaters need to concentrate on things like precise edges and number of rotations is probably not going to be the same kind of music that would lure in audiences who aren't already interested in figure skating.

Dance forms that involve using the body in more challenging ways than upright centered balance are hard to execute on blades.
...
Choosing music that demands that kind of dancing and then not delivering the dancing (except perhaps in slow-gliding, two-foot, or posing sections) is not going to help the skaters and not going to satisfy audiences who want to see challenging skating not just listen to music.All of which, again, is an excuse for zero innovation and little open thinking. Tell that to the (very) few skaters who can skate to modern music using their entire bodies, say, Jeffrey Buttle, Shawn Sawyer, Emanuel Sandhu, or Jeremy Abbott. Even Patrick Chan, Takahiko Kozuka, and Daisuke Takakashi are (slowly) pushing the boundaries of movement on the ice while sticking to relatively safe music choices.

These are the skaters we should 1) encourage judges, officials, coaches, and choreographers to hold up as examples for others and 2) market to outside audiences to show that skating, under the new CoP regime, can provide audiences with quality entertainment that truly transcends the boundaries of both athleticism and artistry.


A skater who chooses that approach and does it well will be rewarded -- at least by the judges who pay attention to those kinds of things.It's a shame that all judges aren't 1) paying attention to technique and 2) being open-minded stylistically at the same time, as you're implying. Which they should. The two are not mutually exclusive, as you imply.


Music that appeals to lay audiences but that interferes with the ability to execute the skating content will not help the skaters.Again, this is a restrictive notion that limits the realm of music possibilities to overused, safe, stale choices. Moreover, the "lay audiences" reference is quite odd given the overwhelming lack of sophistication, innovation, and intellectual depth with respect to programming in U.S. skating at the current time.


There probably are ways that USFS or the ISU could actively encourage skaters to find music that is not stale and that does work well for skating. That was a big part of the reasoning behind allowing vocal music in ice dancing. They should also find ways to encourage judges to reward originality of music choice and choreography better. But, as I say, it's not something that USFS can do unilaterally at the elite levels.They need to try better, and providing excuses for why things can't be done or why we shouldn't open our minds won't help. While my ideas may not be fully baked, nor may they be the right ones, we need to face the fact that skating is in terminal decline in the U.S. We need to recognize that low attendance and popularity for skating in the U.S. is indicative of something severely wrong with the product - skating - itself. And we need to think beyond the box to break out of the current stasis. Excuses for the status quo aren't going to cut it.

jlai
11-16-2011, 12:12 AM
UMBS, :respec:

I lost interest in the majority of the ladies programs and definitely in pairs, with very few exceptions, they are boring to watch on screen because the moves don't match the music (live, they are less so, but the TV viewers don't know that).

Coco
11-16-2011, 12:21 AM
It seems like there's a dearth of smaller venues that make sense. A place with 5-7K would be ideal. Even if it doesn't sell out, it would provide a much better atmosphere then skating in a virtually empty 20K seat arena.

loopey
11-16-2011, 12:40 AM
You also seem to be denying that we have an abundance of awful programs to stale music that appeal to nobody. Whether because coaches and choreographers are being intellectually lazy (yes) and/or playing it safe when it comes to choreography, music, and programming (yes), they commonly justify craptacular product with excuses like "the rules call for this" or "the judges/officials want to see this / will reward this." This calls for 1) unplugging whatever's stuck up the judges/officials rear ends and 2) unleashing coaches and choreographers from stale, restrictive notions of what constitutes "respectable" programs and choreography. This will need to come from a combination of both formal rule changes (or eliminations, like the restrictions on vocals, for example) and strong influence from an association leader who has a clear vision for the future of the sport.
Yes, the programs and choreography are pretty bad. The skating doesn't match the music and/or the music is just wrong for the skater. Choreographers either don't time moves to the beat or crescendo of the music, or skaters these days just can't handle skating to music instead of through it. Don't know which it is. When you don't choreograph well, the entertainment of skating goes way down, IMO, which takes away from wanting to watch this crap.

Nice Post. All of it.

Somewhat off topic, but take Sasha Cohen for example. She has a name in the US. People know who she is and want to watch her. How many totally clean programs has she done? It's her style, musicality, and artistry on ice that earned her a name in the US. Look at Dancing With the Stars. Highly popular tv show in the US. The "Stars" they employ are mostly unkown to most people, but millions tune in to watch the "entertainment". It's the costumes, makeup, dance steps, and music that capture attention. Skating used to be this way. Great costumes, interesting music, routines that brought the music alive. GREAT ENTERTAINMENT. Not no more. We have bad music cuts, boring costumes, and the most "interpretation" we get is to watch our US Ladies champ wear a red dress and pretend to get shot when skating to Slaughterhouse something... :D

Civic
11-16-2011, 12:41 AM
Eligible figure skating is not an art form. It is a sport with an artistic component. Innovations in choreography and music selection will always take a back seat to technical proficiency as a result. Also, I think many posters forget that much of the marketing for figure skating competitions in the U.S. is done by volunteers. IMO, it's unrealistic to expect a knock-your-socks off marketing campaign from someone who is doing this on their own time and has a limited budget to work with.

loopey
11-16-2011, 12:50 AM
Eligible figure skating is not an art form. It is a sport with an artistic component. Innovations in choreography and music selection will always take a back seat to technical proficiency as a result.
Certainly will remain true, if skaters aren't rewarded for their choreography, music and artistry.

I think many posters forget that much of the marketing for figure skating competitions in the U.S. is done by volunteers. IMO, it's unrealistic to expect a knock-your-socks off marketing campaign from someone who is doing this on their own time and has a limited budget to work with.Perhaps you are bringing up the most important flaw with marketing. It's often true that you get what you pay for. My understanding is that when a club bids and gets an event, the marketing is left up to them. True? Or does the USFSA do something?

Sylvia
11-16-2011, 12:54 AM
My understanding is that when a club bids and gets an event, the marketing is left up to them. True? Or does the USFSA do something?
It was posted here that USFS (headquarters staff) was responsible for the marketing of Skate America in Ontario and not the local organizing committee/club:

Skating Clubs did not handle the organization or promotion of this event. It was handled from USFSA HDQ. Promotion of the event, locally, was very limited, many in the area where not aware of SA happening in their backyard.

I, too, will defend the Ontario area in another regard, the economy. The unemployment in San Bernardino and Riverside counties is at 14% (California is at 11.9%). Add in the underemployed and those who have given up, and the number is approaching the 20% range. Money is tight for many in the Ontario area (not that it isn't elsewhere). Just some food for thought.