View Full Version : Would you like compulsory figures as an Olympic and/or world sport?

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02-19-2012, 03:57 PM
These days, the technical aspects could be judged by computer.

It would require a clean patch for each competitor (already a given, I think?) and an overhead camera attached to a computer. Not a technical challenge any more.

I hadn't even thought of that, but you are right. Plus most coaches over 30 trained figures if they started competing as a young child. I don't know how much interest there is among new skaters though. I have a friend who takes lessons in figures and he occasionally teaches me some of the exercises (makes my ankles ache). My only complaint about them is that they teach you to do things in a small area, and freeskaters need speed and coverage across the ice.

02-19-2012, 04:41 PM
I think it would be exceedingly difficult to bring back figures to be trained- where does the ice time come from? Skaters already have to fight to get enough ice time to train MITF and Freeskating.

I know skaters of the past had patch ice, and if it was required, rinks would bring it back (if they can afford to...with a small number of skaters on the ice, that costs rinks money)- but it would make the sport even more expensive and time demanding than it already is. Figures limit who can participate, not just by skill, but by means.

The figures that are on MITF tests now don't require such precise tracings, so most people practice them center ice, with people often skating through their tracing. Real figures that could not work.

02-19-2012, 10:47 PM
By the way, I'm reading the article about Tim Wood in this month's Skating magazine.

he's developing a project called The Sports Resort . . . a planned community with about 4,000 homes and many sports, recreation and family entertainment facilities.


There are five cities interested in developing the full-scale project, and Wood hopes within five years at least two full developments will be complete.


He watches skating on television and expressed his frustrations with what he sees. He intends for The Sports Resort rink to have a figures program wthat will reintroduce young skaters to the sport's fundamentals.

"I can't change the sport, the direction where it's going or the judging," Wood said. "What I can do is build our own facilities here and institute the things that I want to do . . . from the ground up."

It doesn't say where those five cities are. There's a smaller version about to be built in Camarillo, CA, but it's not clear if that one will even include an ice rink.

I guess time will tell if they really do get built. If so, they might be good places to train for people interested in figures.

02-19-2012, 11:09 PM
It always puzzled me that figures seemed to be marked much lower than free skating. Either the level of deductions must have been much stricter, or there must have been a directive to give the impression they were a lot harder to master than free skating elements.

If I recall correctly, even skaters in the modern era like Trixi Shuba, who was a master of compulsories, only got scores only in the low fives.

Aussie Willy
02-20-2012, 02:27 AM
I think it would be exceedingly difficult to bring back figures to be trained- where does the ice time come from? Skaters already have to fight to get enough ice time to train MITF and Freeskating.

Yep I think this is probably the biggest factor in why they are not done anymore either.

02-25-2012, 05:25 PM
I wish that the ISU had simply separated figures and freeskating into separate competitive disciplines in 1990-91, when there were still lots of active skaters who had trained them to a high level and rink schedules were still planned around offering patch sessions.

It would have continued as an obscure sport for only those who love and can afford it with little audience appeal, and also practiced by some freestyle skaters with even more money to enhance their basic skating skills. Maybe it would have lost Olympic status and faded out gradually over the past 20 years, but there would have been continuity.

But now it would be impossible to bring back at that level. Without figures being required for freestylers, there isn't enough interest to make the dedicated ice time available, except at a few large training centers, or at facilities with studio rinks, sympathetic managers, and just a few dedicated figures enthusiasts.

There is no standardized international testing system. Those federations (US and Canada at least) who did keep figures in their testing systems for several years into the 1990s ended up dropping them eventually as requirements for freestylers.

The US kept them for several more years as a separate competitive discipline, and the tests are still on the books. But the interest just wasn't there.

If USFS, or any other national federation, went back to requiring neatly traced figures with judges checking the traces on the ice, for middle and advanced levels where the skills require a lot of practice, they would lose a lot of skaters who find them too boring or too expensive to train.

Possibly a compromise could be to have more lenient figures tests as prerequisites for competition but not for passing the moves or freestyle or pairs tests. E.g., you could have the same novice MITF test for everyone, and then skaters who wanted to enter qualifying competitions at the novice level would need to demonstrate one loop figure, one bracket figure, and one change double three, (to be randomly chosen from the four possible starting edges so skaters would have to train all of them? or of the skater's choice?), traced only twice and judged from a distance.

But each federation would have their own requirements, so they wouldn't be standardized internationally. I'm sure many smaller federations would not require them at all.

OR, starting at the international level, the ISU could introduce something like "school figures variation" as an optional leveled element for points to be included in (a slow section of) freeskate programs.

These wouldn't be straight school figures -- not only including more advanced skills but also including different combinations of turns and edge changes and variations of body position could earn higher levels. And they would be performed in the middle of a program, so obviously judges aren't going to get out on the ice and check tracings. But accuracy and control as seen from a distance would be necessary for positive GOE, so it would offer an incentive for skaters to train those skills, which could also have positive effects on other areas of their skating.

:respec: Whole post.