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



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mtnskater
04-01-2012, 03:21 PM
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.

This!!! These are excellent ideas. USFS should take note and act accordingly.

pinky166
04-01-2012, 04:20 PM
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...

I worry about this...the similarities of those two and Evan and Johnny are really obvious and large in numbers. But, that being said, they've been competing against each other for ages and still seem to be good friends off the ice, which is good I guess, that they are only competitors on the ice and can put the tension away off the ice and get along.

In any event, Joshua is very promising, Jason is too, but I want to wait and see if he can get a consistent 3a first. I just worry about him turning out like Rippon with him getting that jump so late, if it will but a thorn in his side and prevent him from rising to the top. But, there is still time. Joshua has been jumping 3a since the age of 14 and it seems to be a nice, consistent jump for him now, he's also been training a 4t since last season, so I think he shouldn't have issues adjusting to seniors internationally, especially if he continues his artistic build and can keep delivering in competition.

Point is, we have a lot of talent in the US on both the ladies and men's side, we're just waiting for someone (or multiple skaters) to step up to the plate and show the kind of drive, consistency, and champion mentality needed to get the US back on track to consistently be getting 3 spots for the WC, and have medal contenders every time out. Hopefully we'll see some skaters emerge in this mold in the coming years, because really that's what we are missing as of yet, it's not about talent...

pinky166
04-01-2012, 04:25 PM
deleted

misskarne
04-01-2012, 04:50 PM
I worry about this...the similarities of those two and Evan and Johnny are really obvious and large in numbers. But, that being said, they've been competing against each other for ages and still seem to be good friends off the ice, which is good I guess, that they are only competitors on the ice and can put the tension away off the ice and get along.

In any event, Joshua is very promising, Jason is too, but I want to wait and see if he can get a consistent 3a first. I just worry about him turning out like Rippon with him getting that jump so late, if it will but a thorn in his side and prevent him from rising to the top. But, there is still time. Joshua has been jumping 3a since the age of 14 and it seems to be a nice, consistent jump for him now, he's also been training a 4t since last season, so I think he shouldn't have issues adjusting to seniors internationally, especially if he continues his artistic build and can keep delivering in competition.

I saw a video interview with Jason from earlier in the season that included training clips, and honestly, he's got it around, he's just not quite landing it yet. So I think he's really close and it wouldn't surprise me if he turned up to Champs Camp or whatever with it.

Joshua I think is more advanced at this point, but if Jason can at the very least catch up the jumps he's well on his way too. Artistically they both blow me away. I haven't seen youngsters project so well for a long time. Or maybe ever. They both skate very maturely, I think.

I'm sorry though, I've seen this comparison with Evan and Johnny in other places, usually casting Jason as Johnny and Joshua as Evan. My response to that is: if Evan could move half as beautifully on the ice as Joshua can there would be a lot less people unhappy about his skating! :lol:

I just hope the USFSA doesn't pick up on this Evan and Johnny Mk II thing. Because they're not Evan and Johnny and they never will be. Instead of trying to create a rivalry to boost viewers, why not promote the idea of two young American guys aiming to take over the world and dominate the world?


Anyway, I wasn't being totally serious, I was just bamboozled by the people who posted "Gracie Gold" as though she was the magic cure for everything, and talking about superstars but only mentioning ladies. *shrug*

UGG
04-01-2012, 04:51 PM
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.

I really became a fan of Ashley this year due to her competitive spirit, and backing up all her talk, but she is not a star.

She does seem to be the only US lady who has any type of motivation and competitive fire. Maybe Caroline as well. Everyone else just waits for things to happen. Ashley (and Caroline) are making things happen and it can only work in their favor.

Marco
04-01-2012, 04:53 PM
The Fed needs to not make dumb, conservative decisions.

For next season, only Ashley Wagner and Davis & White should be given benefit of the doubt at 2013 Nationals.

attyfan
04-01-2012, 04:59 PM
...

I just hope the USFSA doesn't pick up on this Evan and Johnny Mk II thing. Because they're not Evan and Johnny and they never will be. Instead of trying to create a rivalry to boost viewers, why not promote the idea of two young American guys aiming to take over the world and dominate the world?


Anyway, I wasn't being totally serious, I was just bamboozled by the people who posted "Gracie Gold" as though she was the magic cure for everything, and talking about superstars but only mentioning ladies. *shrug*

If the US doesn't create a rivalry, how can they frame one skater for whacking the other?

About Gracie Gold ... most, if not all, of the attitude held by most Americans towards skating has been based on the ladies event ... it is the star of this event that served as the "draw" for shows or competitions. The USFS definitely needs to consider this in its advertising, since the US's new strong point (ice dance, not ladies) hasn't changed the attitude.

leafygreens
04-01-2012, 05:09 PM
Re: Gracie Gold, I am very leery about placing all of the US hopes on one, young, skater. All it takes is growth or injury and she's done.

RD
04-01-2012, 05:10 PM
For next season, only Ashley Wagner and Davis & White should be given benefit of the doubt at 2013 Nationals.

Actually, I'd argue that NO ONE should get the benefit of the doubt. This is EXACTLY the problem. Czisny did well last year and this year, she was given the benefit of the doubt. And here we are...

The judges need to judge what they see on the ice and nothing more...

bek
04-01-2012, 05:12 PM
Actually, I'd argue that NO ONE should get the benefit of the doubt. This is EXACTLY the problem. Czisny did well last year and this year, she was given the benefit of the doubt. And here we are...

The judges need to judge what they see on the ice and nothing more...

Exactly. Although D/W I can understand getting some of the benefit of the doubt since they consistently medal on the World stage.

Everyone else proof it.

pinky166
04-01-2012, 05:12 PM
I saw a video interview with Jason from earlier in the season that included training clips, and honestly, he's got it around, he's just not quite landing it yet. So I think he's really close and it wouldn't surprise me if he turned up to Champs Camp or whatever with it.

Joshua I think is more advanced at this point, but if Jason can at the very least catch up the jumps he's well on his way too. Artistically they both blow me away. I haven't seen youngsters project so well for a long time. Or maybe ever. They both skate very maturely, I think.

I'm sorry though, I've seen this comparison with Evan and Johnny in other places, usually casting Jason as Johnny and Joshua as Evan. My response to that is: if Evan could move half as beautifully on the ice as Joshua can there would be a lot less people unhappy about his skating! :lol:

I just hope the USFSA doesn't pick up on this Evan and Johnny Mk II thing. Because they're not Evan and Johnny and they never will be. Instead of trying to create a rivalry to boost viewers, why not promote the idea of two young American guys aiming to take over the world and dominate the world?


Anyway, I wasn't being totally serious, I was just bamboozled by the people who posted "Gracie Gold" as though she was the magic cure for everything, and talking about superstars but only mentioning ladies. *shrug*

ITA. Lol, and yeah I think if Evan had a 3a as nice as Joshua's that also would have helped!! :lol: but yeah, I hope the USFS doesn't try to create a rivalry between them, because honestly I think they have the potential to be better than Evan and Johnny, I really do, and they are friends/friendly now so why in the world would you want to mess that up?

I think what's the most promising is that the international judges really think they are both great, I mean they both beat Denis Ten at JW (Joshua by a big 13 point margin) and Denis Ten was 7th at the senior Worlds this year, and it's not like he had the skates of his life at Worlds nor did he in any way bomb at JW, so I think that is a very good sign. I guess we'll know more next season when I assume they will both debut on the senior GP, but I am cautiously optimistic. Joshua especially is in good hands, Damon is a great choreographer for him, showcasing his strengths, and is also a father like figure to him, and training with Christy and Patrick has obviously had a positive influence. Jason I hope will start working with a jump coach, but Roehene Ward is a super choreographer and knows how to showcase Jason's talents perfectly. I'm hopeful for these two, really hopeful, and then a few years down the line, I really think Nathan Chen will be a force. The little boy phenoms don't disappear as easily as the little girls do usually, and at 12 he is just incredibly disciplined, focused, and musical not to mention he is a real PERFORMER and has great technique, and he is with Raphael now. And there are enough other talented men in the US too who could potentially have a breakout season and steal the spotlight - I thought Ricky Dornbush was starting to do that, but we'll have to see if he can bounce back next season first.

Gracie is likely the one who will "save" ladies skating, but Ashley proved she is a great skater and contend with the best this season. And there are plenty of other talented skaters who aren't as shaky on the jumps or headcase-y as Alissa: Zhang, Zawadzki, Gao, Keiser, Jiang, Wang, etc. and there's a chance one of them could have a big breakthrough in the coming years. Plus Mirai was wonderful in 2010...if she could ever regain that form, who knows.

I think it is easy to be discouraged, but really, I don't think the situation in the US mens and ladies is so dire, I just think the wrong people were sent to Worlds. Agnes or Caroline or Gracie if she was interested would have been a safer bet than Alissa given her fragile state and recent bombs, and for the men, Ross or Joshua likely would have faired better than Rippon, if not only for the superiority of their 3a.

RD
04-01-2012, 05:53 PM
Another big thing USFS can do, besides the 3 points I mentioned earlier is:

4) Instead of picking ONE skater to promote and hype through the roof, try to give other promising skaters a chance as well. Only when a skater is a multi-time World/Oly medalist do they deserve top billing. Skaters are being anointed before they even accomplish anything significant and this is a problem. It's too much too soon for these kids. For example, in 2010/11, instead of putting all your eggs in the Rachel Flatt basket, why not spread the love among Flatt, Nagasu, Wagner, Czisny? I see it beginning to happen now with Gracie Gold and it's dangerous. Have we not learned our lesson from the past 6 years? Wait until she has actually accomplished something big on the SENIOR level- say, a World medal- before we even begin to think about her being the next "big thing".

The only US skaters right now that are deserving of that level of promotion/hype, IMO, are Davis/White. They are multi-time World medalists and Olympic silver medalists at that. In other words, they've EARNED the right to be promoted. Also, Evan Lysacek if he chooses to come back. He's an Olympic champion.

topaz
04-01-2012, 05:56 PM
I don't agree with the monitoring the skaters year around or throughout the season. Too many skaters are not mentally tough and now they have the added pressure of being monitored that will determine their fates.

Also, it's time American skating fans and the USFSA understand that Michelle Kwan was a freak of nature. Her mental toughness and competitiveness is not something that all skaters will not have.

I think the USFSA needs to look at USTA(United Stated Tennis Association) as a example to how to create interest for the sport at the ground roots level. US tennis went through dismal period of players and talent after the greatest generation in Men's tennis(Sampras, Agassi, Courier and Chang) retired. They have few young talents that having potential to top 10 or top 5 players at this time(Ryan Harrison, Sam Querry, John Isner, Donald Young).

The USTA has been able to improve tennis participation at the ground roots level through player to player development programs, which is wonderful. They need to get into schools and the community(all communities) to create interest in the sport. They need to find a way to get more help to young skaters for financial help; start skating clinics with figure skating stars. For example, USTA has a Arthur Ashe Kid's day at the beginning of the US Open in Flushing Meadow, NY every year. Thousands of kids are introduced to the sport or having the interest widen by seeing stars of the sport interact with them. Is it hard for the USFSA to fill those empty seats in the arena at US competitions with children by offering free tickets to schools or those of the local figure skating clubs? Is this something that can't do?

Mayra
04-01-2012, 06:16 PM
I don't agree with the monitoring the skaters year around or throughout the season. Too many skaters are not mentally tough and now they have the added pressure of being monitored that will determine their fates.


Completely disagree. Half(?) the battle in this sport(any sport) is mental toughness. If the US wants to succeed, they need skaters showing up to competitions trained, confident and with the mental toughness and know how to succeed. Enough with the coddling of head cases. This is a sport, not a therapy session. JMO


Love your suggestions about promoting the sport at the ground level!

topaz
04-01-2012, 06:39 PM
Completely disagree. Half(?) the battle in this sport(any sport) is mental toughness. If the US wants to succeed, they need skaters showing up to competitions trained, confident and with the mental toughness and know how to succeed. Enough with the coddling of head cases. This is a sport, not a therapy session. JMO

I don't think the issue is coddling head cases. I don't think the monitoring is going to encourage mental strength in the athletes. The pool of skaters is shallow. I don't think monitoring and nitpicking a few skaters is the answer. The answer is adding more fish to the pond, i.e more skaters, different personality and more options.



Love your suggestions about promoting the sport at the ground level!

This is the way you add more fish the pond which will create more opportunities for better skaters.