View Full Version : What does the United States need to do to overcome its Figure Skating slump?

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04-01-2012, 01:14 AM
If you only consider the age-eligible senior ladies, Russia's field isn't as strong as US's. I mean, Leonova & Makarova are their two best, with Polina K and Polina S distant 3rd and 4th, plus who next? Sofiya Buryukova and Polina A. And that's just about *it* for their age eligible skaters. And yet they manage to get three ladies spots two years in a row!

In comparison, U.S. is spoiled with riches: besides Wagner and Czisny, there are Caroline Z, Agnes Zawadzki, Mirai Nagasu, Rachael Flatt, Christina Gao, Vanessa Lam, Gracie Gold, Yasmin Siraj, Samantha Cesario, Angela Wang, Leah Keiser. On their good days, all these girls can easily score 150+, which would've placed at least 7th at WC, and which combined with Ashley's 4th would've gotten the US 13 spots.

People may think the Russian federation is harsh with the way they wait until last minute to decide assignments to JGP's and WC's and other major events, and constantly replacing skaters in the last moment. Well, that's what you have to do when you are no longer the dominant skating federation. The leaner the times, the more you have to constantly monitor all the skaters, and send the most prepared one and be flexible about major assignments. The inflexible and outdated assignment procedure USFSA follows is no longer adequate in the current environment, when there is a lot more competition from Asian countries than in the old days (Europe still being about the same).

04-01-2012, 01:29 AM
delete please

04-01-2012, 01:33 AM
Didn't Michelle Kwan carry the US for years? Without her there would have been some funk, despite Sarah Hughes' gold medal. We were never big stars in dance or pairs. It was women. We do have the reigning Olympic gold medalist in men's figure skating, we had world champions in ice dance and ice dance silver medalists two Olympics in a row. The US program isn't in a funk. It was only super hot for a pretty short period and television oversaturated the market.

Because placing 3 girls in the top 4 at the Olympics and leaving a girl who was 5 at Worlds the year before at home isn't a sign of great depth? Even the Japanese have never had THAT kind of placement. The US would have had 3 spots for 98 Olympics, and 2002 Olympics without Kwan. Needless to say having an Olympic team with 2 World Champions and a former world medalist in 98 isn't a sign of a ridiculous amounts of depth.

Michelle helped the US a lot sure, but to say she carried them when at times she wasn't even the top US lady at worlds or the Olympics is a bit ridiculous to me.

The US has far more ladies titles than any other nation. Until this recent Olympics, the US ladies hadn't gone without an Olympic medal, since the Olympics right after the plane crash. Michelle was part of a legacy, she wasn't the only one holding it up.

04-01-2012, 01:36 AM
Didn't Michelle Kwan carry the US for years? Without her there would have been some funk, despite Sarah Hughes' gold medal.

What year did they switch from having 1-3 = 3 spots, 4-10 = 2 spots....to the Under 13= 3 spots, 14-28= 2 spots system?

I'm not sure we'd have a *funk* without Michelle. If one were to erase her from the results- you'd have:

94 Worlds: Nicole DNQ, Elaine Zayak (how was she in 94?)
95 Worlds: Nicole Bobek and Tonia Kwiatkowski (Nicole bronze)
96 - Tonia, Tara, Sydne Vogel (Tonia 8, Tara 15, but Sydne could've managed something good)
97- Tara, Nicole, Angela (Tara 1st, Nicole 13th, Angela could've done fine)
98- (Tara and Nicole pulled out), Tonia (6th), Angela would've gotten more notice so she'd presumably have been in the country, Amber Corwin
99- Angela 12th, Sarah 7th, Erin Pearl (NNN too young)
00- Sasha, Sarah, Angela -great team!
01- Sarah, Angela, Jenny Kirk- very good team!
02- Sasha, Jenny (WD), Ann Patrice McD- good team
03- Sarah, Sasha, Ann Patrice McD- great team
04- Sasha, Jenny, Amber- ok this might've been iffy
05- Sasha, Kimmie, Jenny- good team

Angela and Ann Patrice could've had very different careers.....

04-01-2012, 02:34 AM
I'll echo what others have said and say that the USFS needs to start monitoring its skaters after Nationals. They just have to. While Champ's Camp seems good in theory, what a skater looks like in August doesn't mean crap about how they'll look in March.

The USFS needs to adopt a "readiness clause" of some sort that states all athletes heading to Worlds will be evaluated at their home rink by USFS officials and a panel of judges, where they will skate both their SP and FS. However, something like this needs to be in the rulebook so everyone involved (coaches, athletes, officials) know what the selection process is before they compete at Nationals.

04-01-2012, 02:36 AM
Being US number 1 does not make you a star. It makes you the top ranked US lady. :shuffle:

You're right, but she's a star nonetheless..she has it all. Black Swan is perfect and the choreography is stunning. When she hit the jumps like she did today it's one of the best programs in the world.

04-01-2012, 02:39 AM
You're right, but she's a star nonetheless..she has it all. Black Swan is perfect and the choreography is stunning. When she hit the jumps like she did today it's one of the best programs in the world.

Ugh, I don't think she really has it all. She's a nice skater and I like the performance but her Swan Lake is no where near the great Swan Lakes this sport has had...

I think Ashley is like Evan neither a great artist or a great jumper, just somewhat solid. Only Evan had a killer instinct that Ashley just plan doesn't have, which allowed Evan to take advantage of opportunities and win medals/titles. I don't think Evan's very best skate ever would have medaled in this current men's field.

Thing is though THIS was the year Ashley had to take advantage of such an opportunity because next year the field is going to be much better. The Russian wonder babies and Gracie Gold are coming in with jumps, and I don't think Ashley's going to be jumping with them. And I'm not convinced she's a better artist than them. Wagner doesn't have the artistry and skating skills of Kostner and Asada (if Asada can start landing jumps) to hold her up over the babies either. The wonder babies presentation is only going to improve.

As for stars I think you become a star when you produce consistent results. Wagner hasn't done that, Alissa hasn't done that, and Gold hasn't done that. When said skater can bring in the results/championships THAN they will be a star.

04-01-2012, 02:59 AM
Reposting my 2 cents so I don't have to retype: :)

Ladies: In the past you had girls who are tough with good basics and reliable jumps. The program is built so that every O cycle you have girls grooming to be the next big thing while skating under the shadow of an elite competitor. In 2008, that system was totally disrupted when Meissner suffered from a premature downturn in her skating career, and promising girls were prematurely put under the spotlight before they were really ready. Those girls ended up being rather inconsistent, and since then US has been in an neverending loop of digging itself out of that situation and (eta) getting back to the usual O cycle.

Add to that two problems: US had relied somewhat on pre-puberty girls who could do senior events and who mastered triples somewhat incorrectly (flutz/ur) before they hit puberty (Lipinski, Hughes). After the age loop closed and ISU started going after UR jumps, it is taking time for US to train girls to peak later, learn good jump techniques and not follow the Hughes/Lipinski model.

The current American system works well when the usual O cycle is happening (a strong reliable top girl with a couple of upcomers in the shadows), but with a current crop of inconsistent girls, you have no assurance that their skating well today means skating well two three months from now. I believe until the normal O cycle returns, you should send girls who are skating well now to competitions, not girls who skated well months ago at US nationals or some other event. (That on top of US nationals not always being judged the way an ISU one would...but that for another time)

To send girls skating well at the time to internationals, means: having a JGP monitoring event in the summer, and stronger pre-world monitoring (e.g. the Flatt situation last world).

Right now, most things are decided based on US nationals results -- a once a year event. So there's only one window per year to get good assignments. There're girls who have to wait a long queue to get to a JGP event. With GPs harder to get, more girls will also get stuck at JGP. there should be spots set aside for JGP or even senior events (like the Skate America host spot) so skaters skating great can cut through the long line and not wait for US nationals to turn their luck around. And by the time they get their turn, surprise, their peak may have passed. :(

I also think teaching girls stronger basics also helps, for world champs like Mao and Miki also have very good skating techniques.

04-01-2012, 03:27 AM
Uh, yeah, I'm sure everyone saw it the first time.

04-01-2012, 07:35 AM
What's with the "Gracie Gold" answer when we're talking the status of the US skating as a whole? It's not all about the ladies. Why not men?

If you say "Gracie Gold", I raise you a Joshua Farris and Jason Brown. Two very talented young men, both strong and powerful skaters and yet so graceful and fluid at the same time. Plus, both good-looking and marketable. And they seem to get along okay, certainly there were a few shots of them at JW where they were smiling and talking.

Just as long as the USFSA doesn't try to create a rivalry between them...

04-01-2012, 07:52 AM
Conduct "concentration camps" orchestrated by Michelle Kwan centered around mental training and meditation techniques, so that they can find the "eye of the tiger" fighting killer instinct attack, consistency, and focus in competition. Implant microchips in their brains that are designed to stun them whenever any doubtful thoughts begin to creep into their minds. Enforce that they do double, full run-throughs of both SP and LP every day in training, so that they always can run on autopilot in competition. Enforce that their coaching teams do not add any technical element into the program that they are not hitting at at least 85 percent success rate in practice. For instance, Rippon's 25% rate of success on the 4Salchow would mean it cannot make an appearance in his program; same with Czisny's 2Axel+3toe, 3Salchow, and 3Lutz+3toe attempts.

Czisny, for example, got injured because of trying to add too much difficulty to her programs. A more reasonable LP jump layout within her means would have been:


There needs to be more time involved from the federation with monitoring the progress of these athletes with regard to their training and their competitive shape/fitness and mindset.

04-01-2012, 08:34 AM
I don't think there's a simple answer to this question, but here's where they can start:

1) Take leadership of the skating program and don't just sit around waiting for things to happen. Actively promote skating and work super hard to keep it in the public eye. Offer incentives to join, etc.

2) Monitor skaters regularly- but ESPECIALLY World Team members between the conclusion of Nationals and the start of Worlds. Make it so the awarding of a World/Olympic team spot is contingent on the athletes maintaining their peak condition and in the event of injury, illness or unpreparedness, they risk losing the spot and it will be given to someone else who IS prepared and ready to go.

3) Make World/Olympic team selection a multi-layered process (i.e don't just pick the team based on National results all the time). That is, factor in past performance, trajectory, hold post-Nationals skateoffs between competitors (e.g. 4CCs) if necessary, etc. Make it clear in writing to avoid any legal hangups, etc.

Sure there are many more things, but it's late now, so I'll stop here.

04-01-2012, 10:13 AM
1. Make policy decisions based on the fact that skaters are humans, not robots, and their conditions can go up or down unexpectedly. In other words, don't stake your odds on one skater, but on three or four skater.

2. Create an environment where skaters can concentrate on their own training and performance. When you have your own athletes making statements like 'We need to get back 3 posts', then that should be taken as a sign that the athlete is being burdened with things that someone in USAFA, should be thinking about.

04-01-2012, 01:45 PM
1. Make policy decisions based on the fact that skaters are humans, not robots, and their conditions can go up or down unexpectedly. In other words, don't stake your odds on one skater, but on three or four skater.


Yes, USFS treats a lot of their skaters like racehorses.

Once injured, ignored and tossed out to pasture.

04-01-2012, 02:42 PM
After viewing two interviews from Worlds on universal sports it surely makes you wonder.
Alissa and Jeremy looked broken and helpless. Both didn't have answers and were heart broken. I honestly think both don't have the focus to compete when it really matters. They can play the "HOME FIELD" at nationals but not an away game like worlds and Olympics. I think it's time for both to move on.