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overedge
11-16-2011, 11:46 PM
Real suggestions as to how we can reverse the slide in interest in skating in the U.S., grow audiences, and generate more funding for more champions would be appreciated, as opposed to reactionary nit-picking. :)

I think "reactionary nit-picking" is a bit uncalled for.

As I read it, gkelly was making exactly the same point that you are making: that there are perceived and real constraints on skaters' music choices that are resulting in the same old same old.

gkelly
11-17-2011, 12:19 AM
:rofl: So you think that US Figure Skating can fund champion skaters, developmental programs, and local clubs in the long term when the product is clearly not marketable?

USFS doesn't fund local clubs, the local clubs fund USFS. More or less.

Obviously if there's more money coming in from outside, that's better. But what kind of compromises are they willing to make to get that outside money.

One concession they've made to NBC is splitting the earlier and later groups of the championship events at Nationals, and in 2010 splitting the championship events over two weekends. I understand why they do that, but I don't like the fact that it compromises the integrity of the event. I wouldn't recommend more and more compromising of the content of the event as well as the structure specifically to please networks.

Let's look at a quick sample of music selections from this year's Skate America.


Would you agree that, if skaters were to select pieces of music that they believe in and, say, actually listen to on their iPods when they jog around the rink, or in their cars when they drive back and forth to/from the rink, they might be inspired to structure programs and choreography creatively around the pieces of music they actually like, no matter the limitations of skating on blades or of the CoP rules?

I believe that if the skaters like the music, they will connect to it more.

I don't believe that most competitive skaters in their teens can do a better job of structuring their own programs than experienced coaches and choreographers. I do believe that by senior level they should understand the considerations and be able to have some say in what they believe will work for them. Obviously the skaters who continue to compete into their 20s will be more experienced and better prepared to make good decisions for themselves.

However, I think the majority of competitive skaters, especially younger skaters, are not well educated in music or in choreography (for skating or otherwise) and would make extremely banal choices that wouldn't actually showcase their skills particularly well.

I dread a ladies' event full of performances to Katy Perry songs. That might attract some audiences who otherwise wouldn't be interested in figure skating, but I don't think it would help to show those audiences what figure skating is really about.


In turn, when skaters give convincing performances to pieces of music they believe in, won't audiences begin to appreciate this?

Convincing how?


Furthermore, when you say that there are some pieces of music that are not appropriate for skating, isn't that just your own restrictive biases and creative limitations at work?

I don't think so.

I think there's a lot of pop music and a lot of classical music and a lot of jazz, etc., that's great to listen to on its own terms and that can work well in a show program where the choreography is designed around the demands of that music -- which may mean using less ice coverage or fewer elements or different kinds of elements than competitive skating demands.

For a competition program, I think there are some kinds of music that help skaters showcase technical and interpretive skills and other kinds that get in the way of allowing the skater to show their best skills.

I don't think any one particular genre or another is best or always works or never works.

I'm going to start a thread in the Trash Can about characteristics of music that work well for competition programs and those that don't. Maybe we can reach some consensus if we get more specific.


More generally, do you think that there is a clear lack of interest in skating in the U.S. and that it endangers the sport in the long run? If so, don't you think it's bad for the sport and bad for skaters in the long run if we:

* fail to lift our heads out of the sand,
* continue attacking any suggestions for change and modernization,
* do nothing,
* watch funding shrivel up, and
* see our competitive results wither away?

Real suggestions as to how we can reverse the slide in interest in skating in the U.S., grow audiences, and generate more funding for more champions would be appreciated, as opposed to reactionary nit-picking. :)

Again, I don't know if this is the right thread for brainstorming all sorts of radical ideas. But hey, if it's going to be a thread about how to market skating to general audiences, and not at all about Ross Miner, let's go for it.

A few rough ideas, that could be discussed in more detail if folks are interested:

*Separate elements competitions structured and marketed as Extreme Sports to attract audiences who get excited by big tricks and danger

*Separate artistic competitions where overall aesthetic impact (in the music and dance genre of the skater's choice) takes precedence over technical content. Maybe there should be separate categories to have one focused on interpreting popular songs, another on comic skating, another classicism and formalism, etc. Maybe something like solo ice dance, with or without jumps and spins allowed, with dance ability as the deciding factor. These could have a component of audience input into the results.

*Events to get live audiences onto the ice with star skaters -- use TV broadcasts to advertise events that will get viewers to come out to their local rinks

*Opportunities sponsored by TV/internet broadcasts and at live competitions that allow audiences to get an inside look at the judging process and to try judging for themselves according to the established rules (but would not affect the official results)

Some of these things could happen at the same time and place as the standard championships. Maybe the elements competitions and/or artistic competitions would replace short programs and be part of the process of qualifying for the well-balanced freeskate final. Or they could be completely separate disciplines with completely separate championships.

Sparks
11-17-2011, 12:49 AM
With all due respect, I think music choices are the least of the USFSA/ISU's problems.

Lara
11-17-2011, 12:55 AM
I'd also argue that for the most part, the exhibitions aren't exactly indicating that we'd get much better/varied choices if vocals were allowed. How many times have we ended up hearing Andrea Bocelli ad nauseum, even though it's outside of competition?

jlai
11-17-2011, 01:01 AM
I'd like to argue the cost side of skating. Right now, figure skating is so expensive that talented skaters are likely to be persuaded into taking up another sport. Knock down the cost of skating (like, do you really need costumes at any pre-novice level? like seriously? though I can see how dresses attract girls, but this is a sport).

It also doesn't help that the Kween has moved on to other things intsead of doing shows to keep up the skating profile. :drama:

And yes, the programs don't appeal to the masses, and I can say that of female gymnastics floor exercises too.

loopey
11-17-2011, 01:19 AM
I'd like to argue the cost side of skating. Right now, figure skating is so expensive that talented skaters are likely to be persuaded into taking up another sport. Knock down the cost of skating (like, do you really need costumes at any pre-novice level? like seriously? though I can see how dresses attract girls, but this is a sport).

It also doesn't help that the Kween has moved on to other things intsead of doing shows to keep up the skating profile. :drama:

And yes, the programs don't appeal to the masses, and I can say that of female gymnastics floor exercises too.
I agree with some of what you are saying, but I would argue the most staggering costs associated with skating are not the pwetty dresses, it's the cost of quality coaching. Coaches have to make a living too and I am not advocating taking that away from them but... Do most skating programs include a group lesson where 4-5 (but no more than that) can skate with one professional coach for a 1-2 hour program? At least this way, skaters would have guidance and correction while multiple parents can split the hefty coaching expenses. At all levels not just the beginners.

Secondly, I may be dumb and naive, but yes, I do believe that if we saw more artistic, and better choreographed programs it would appeal to the masses. And I am NOT NOT NOT advocating using current pop music with vocals (Good grief I can barely stand listening to the crap they call music these days with Katy Perry and Lady Googoo, I don't want it in figure skating that's for sure!).

I think the original concept that skaters should be rewarded for good choreography and musicality was a good one. Yes it's subjective, but PCS should not just be about transitions, grabbing the blade, and looking like an idiot in a lift that is ugly but difficult. Skaters with horrid skating skills, pairs with no unison, and programs with no appeal, are currently winning competitions and ruining the sport IMO. It has allowed choreographers to become lazy and musicality and artistry to go out the window.

jlai
11-17-2011, 04:20 AM
I agree with some of what you are saying, but I would argue the most staggering costs associated with skating are not the pwetty dresses, it's the cost of quality coaching.

I don't think it was, but that is the first thing to go if I have a kid skating on a tight budget. I agree that the coaching situation can be much much better.

Back to Skate America, I for one didn't go because there was not anyone I was dying to see. I mean with 10 men and ladies you can only have a handful of stars, and if those stars aren't your favorite...

I went to Southwestern regionals instead on a smaller budget, and for the price it was a great competition.

gkelly
11-17-2011, 04:30 AM
That could be another way to get folks interested in skating. Advertise the sectional competitions to local audiences and televise highlights on an appropriate cable channel. Low budget, low production values -- package it to focus on the athleticism, to put the elite

Obviously that would only appeal to a small niche audience, many of whom are already reading this board. It's not a way to bring money into the sport directly. But it might be a way to get fans of other sports to take a look at figure skating as something they can take seriously as sport moreso than with the way broadcast networks tend to package it.

mag
11-17-2011, 04:49 AM
^^ I think this is what BC had in mind with the streaming of events. Now a number of events in Canada are being streamed. When you have an event in Kamloops that streams all the events (including the pre prelims) you get people watching who may otherwise not. For example grandparents, teachers, neighbours. I do think patience is required for this type of program to work. It will takes years of streaming to build up the loyal fans, but, for example, when the Pre Novice winner from Autumn Leaves ends up winning Senior Nationals, and they can show clips from a bunch of streaming from over the years, it will be very cool. BC/YT Sections, as many here know, was streamed last weekend. I can believe the number of people who watched. Go and check out the number of times some of those videos have been viewed. I'm not even talking about the winners! But again, it takes patience and a willingness to think ahead for this to work. Hopefully Skate Canada will stay in it for the long haul.

mikey
11-17-2011, 04:55 AM
When even hardcore fans get bored with the product (the skating on the ice), you just don't stand a chance:respec:

Japanfan
11-17-2011, 10:54 AM
Let's look at a quick sample of music selections from this year's Skate America.

* Phantom of the Opera soundtrack
* Big Bad Voodoo Daddy medley
* My Fair Lady soundtrack
* 20th Century Fox Fanfare / Girls Prefer Diamonds sountrack
* Valse Triste, Sibelius
* Summertime, George Gershwin
* Man in the Iron Mask soundtrack
* Nessun Dorma, Puccini (with porn flick-inspired electric guitar embellishment)

What audiences do you think would want to watch programs to these pieces of music? If there are any such audiences, do you think they are sufficient to support the sport and provide enough funding for sustained champion development going forward?


I would watch programs to those pieces of music and so would many other FS fans. Some of the best and most popular skaters (Kwan immediately comes to mind) have been highly unoriginal in their music choices and people have still gone to seem them complete.

Everyone has different taste in music, some people enjoy various kinds, some just one kind. When I watch figure skating, I watch it for the skating, not the music. I expect there will be some music I like, some I hate, and some I'm indifferent to.

Basically I'm really not a musical person. I don't go to the jazz festival or the folk festival or the mountain music festival. If I was really into any one type of music, I'd seek it out. As it is, I never tire of my favourite pieces and constantly groan at the pieces I don't like.

But I watch figure skating first and foremost because I love figure skating - not because of a musical preference.




And, more importantly, do you think the skaters actually listen to these pieces of music themselves, in their free time? If not, then who picks the music? Their coaches and choreographers, perhaps, who force music choices onto them because "it's what judges and officials want?" Moreover, if it's music that's been forced onto them, do you think skaters will put 100% of themselves into a performance, both technically and artistically?


No they won't put 100% of themselves into it. But let's face it, a lot of skaters aren't particularly musical.



And when a program isn't executed up to potential, is that a sure-fire way to both generate champions and please audiences at the same time?


Audiences who love figure skating are pleased by many skaters who don't execute their program to potential and support those skaters.. Think 4CCS - you sit through 15 skaters who are barely competitive at best and simply awful at worst. But we watch them anyway.



Would you agree that, if skaters were to select pieces of music that they believe in and, say, actually listen to on their iPods when they jog around the rink, or in their cars when they drive back and forth to/from the rink, they might be inspired to structure programs and choreography creatively around the pieces of music they actually like, no matter the limitations of skating on blades or of the CoP rules?


I don't completely agree. Sometimes skaters do give inspired programs to music that they chose themselves. But they also give inspired programs to over-used skating music.

And, just because they select a music they like on their Ipod doesn't mean a) they will skate will to it or b) that the audience will even like the music

robinhood
11-17-2011, 01:23 PM
I don't think the US or Europe can compete with the market of figure skating in Asia right now. It was quite depressing to see Skate America almost empty, but in Canada it was a very enthusiastic and plenty crowd. We have to see how it goes in Paris, as I suppose Russia will fill nicely

I just love the Japanese audience, with the masks:cold: (we need a new emoticon for that) and all the gifts and cheer-leading for the skaters, but I used to remember the NHK audience of the early 90s (even with the Midori Ito boom) and they were very subdued...how much they've changed!:)

sk9tingfan
11-17-2011, 01:50 PM
I just love the Japanese audience, with the masks:cold: (we need a new emoticon for that)

When I was at NHK, I remember all the people with the masks in the audience. However, the quality of those masks don't do anything to protect them:confused:

luenatic
11-17-2011, 06:09 PM
You're just too rational.


:rofl: So you think that US Figure Skating can fund champion skaters, developmental programs, and local clubs in the long term when the product is clearly not marketable?...

Let's look at a quick sample of music selections from this year's Skate America.

* Phantom of the Opera soundtrack
* Big Bad Voodoo Daddy medley
* My Fair Lady soundtrack
* 20th Century Fox Fanfare / Girls Prefer Diamonds sountrack
* Valse Triste, Sibelius
* Summertime, George Gershwin
* Man in the Iron Mask soundtrack
* Nessun Dorma, Puccini (with porn flick-inspired electric guitar embellishment)

...

Real suggestions as to how we can reverse the slide in interest in skating in the U.S., grow audiences, and generate more funding for more champions would be appreciated, as opposed to reactionary nit-picking. :)

MacMadame
11-18-2011, 02:00 AM
I know how the bid process works, but the USFS is also the organization that makes the choice among the bids. And I'm just speculating that maybe prestige sometimes wins out over practicality.
Except I don't think it does. They are actively recruiting LOCs in smaller venues because it makes more sense economically. Why do you think SA was in Ontario this year and not the LA Staples Center?

I don't see any evidence that USFS favors big arenas in larger metropolitan markets just because sometimes these events end up in larger arenas/big metropolitan markets.



Let's look at a quick sample of music selections from this year's Skate America.

* Phantom of the Opera soundtrack
* Big Bad Voodoo Daddy medley
* My Fair Lady soundtrack
* 20th Century Fox Fanfare / Girls Prefer Diamonds sountrack
* Valse Triste, Sibelius
* Summertime, George Gershwin
* Man in the Iron Mask soundtrack
* Nessun Dorma, Puccini (with porn flick-inspired electric guitar embellishment)

What audiences do you think would want to watch programs to these pieces of music?
And this is why I said we won't agree on what music should be used instead.

Because here you are knocking both POTO and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy both of which are extremely popular and lumping them in with Valse Triste and the My Fair Lady soundtrack neither of which is big with the general public, though in the case of the My Fair Lady soundtrack, it would depend on which tracks are picked, I think.

Then again I tend to agree with:


With all due respect, I think music choices are the least of the USFSA/ISU's problems.

Yes, I think that this is a big red herring. The real issue is that there is more competition for eyeballs these days and also that most people don't take figure skating seriously as a sport yet it's not really an art form either.

Now, I like that aspect of it and I assume most fans do too, but I think for a lot of people, they either want to something that is totally artistic or is truly a sport. Figure skating just confuses them. :lol:


I'd also argue that for the most part, the exhibitions aren't exactly indicating that we'd get much better/varied choices if vocals were allowed. How many times have we ended up hearing Andrea Bocelli ad nauseum, even though it's outside of competition?
And then there's that.