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hanca
08-04-2012, 04:27 PM
The question is, does the sport exist for the participants or for the spectators?

I hope we could all agree that the majority of figure skating is for the athletes.

At a certain point -- and IMO that point should be where the skaters are earning more money from skating than they are spending on training -- the spectators' needs may become more important than the skaters'.

The ISU is in the business of governing an international sport with participants from novice level up to the very best in the world.

They can earn more money from outside if, as part of their mission, they produce an entertainment product that appeals to general audiences who are only interested in seeing the best in the world. Such events will be easier to sell tickets to and to sell broadcast rights for.


I think, if the athletes would do their sport only for the pleasure of doing sport, the sport would exist for the participants. But because the athletes do the sport as their full time job, the sport becomes for the spectators. As you rightly said, athletes needs to earn more than they pay for the training. The ISU is not paying them. Someone needs to pay them. In skating often the family funds their child's training. However, to have major competitions the money come from the spectators. If people wouldn't watch skating, there would probably be no world championships. If there were not spectators, there would not be need for paying for right to broadcast the event so that would mean even less income generated by the sport. So there must be some balance in making the sport attractive to spectators. So I think at the elite level I would say that the sport exist for the spectators, not for the participants.

morqet
08-04-2012, 05:09 PM
I think, if the athletes would do their sport only for the pleasure of doing sport, the sport would exist for the participants. But because the athletes do the sport as their full time job, the sport becomes for the spectators. As you rightly said, athletes needs to earn more than they pay for the training. The ISU is not paying them. Someone needs to pay them. In skating often the family funds their child's training. However, to have major competitions the money come from the spectators. If people wouldn't watch skating, there would probably be no world championships. If there were not spectators, there would not be need for paying for right to broadcast the event so that would mean even less income generated by the sport. So there must be some balance in making the sport attractive to spectators. So I think at the elite level I would say that the sport exist for the spectators, not for the participants.

And what do the spectators want to see? Of course I want to see the top level skaters, but I also love going to preliminary rounds to see up and coming skaters or just awesome voidy ones who maybe don't have the tech content of other skaters, but are still entertaining to watch. The dance QR at Euros & men QR at worlds had some of my favourite performances that I saw all season. And finally, as a spectator, I do also like to see at an event like Worlds someone representing my country. I don't expect them to always produce stellar performances, I'm not going to moan that for the nth year running we only have 1 for Worlds, but it's always enjoyable for me, even if it's just in the qualifying round, to be able to cheer on someone representing GB & to feel that we as a country are part of this sport. And what's more, having those skaters there doesn't detract in any way from the :kickass: performances the top skaters produce, and doesn't make the event any less of a spectacle.

Ziggy
08-04-2012, 07:53 PM
What morqet said.

Some of the most interesting and entertaining performances come from skaters with a low technical content.

Radeva's crows and Vassileva's "Devdas" is where it's at. :D

Susan M
08-04-2012, 08:45 PM
I'm sure that these aren't the only possibilities, but two are:

After Euros/4C's or a Senior B that is finished by the end of February, they could make the TES cut-off the Top 30 combined TES for SP/SD and FS/FD, not counting scores where there are more participants from a country than that country has spots. ... Or they could create a minimum in advance, and if there aren't enough, fill from the next highest on the list where there are spots available until they get the number of spots. Practically speaking, this is the same as lowering the minimum later in the season.

As I read it, what you describe is precisely what the new ISU procedure calls for. If too few skaters meet the qualifying standard, the plan is to move the number down to achieve the desired field size. I really think people are way too hung up over the minimums, because I suspect we will in fact see skaters at Worlds from the 1-skater countries who do not reach the standard.


Alternately, they could also assign a mid-winter Senior B as a qualifier for the skaters who didn't meet the higher minimum, like they do Nebelhorn for Olympics, and take as many that they need to get to 30.

I see a real appeal to this approach. If they were willing to hold a qualifying event to fill out the field, they really wouldn't need the whole concept of qualifying standards at all. They key question is whether such as event would pay for itself. The ISU don't like doing anything that costs them money.

Susan M
08-04-2012, 08:53 PM
Some of the most interesting and entertaining performances come from skaters with a low technical content.D

Maybe so, but they are not the ones who sell tickets or attract TV viewers. I think that and maintaining enough credibility to not get kicked out of the Olympics are mostly what the ISU cares about. Qualifying standards sound sporty and make skating seem to be run more like the "real sports" and less like the traditional gentleman's club it used to be.

By ISU here, I guess we need to realize that these are decisions made collectively by the member federations. I have never understood why so many times, proposals are passed by the ISU Congress (very often by voice votes) even though they work to the detriment of the majority of federations. Any know how this works? Do all federations get the same number of votes?

hanca
08-04-2012, 09:28 PM
And what do the spectators want to see? Of course I want to see the top level skaters, but I also love going to preliminary rounds to see up and coming skaters or just awesome voidy ones who maybe don't have the tech content of other skaters, but are still entertaining to watch. The dance QR at Euros & men QR at worlds had some of my favourite performances that I saw all season. And finally, as a spectator, I do also like to see at an event like Worlds someone representing my country. I don't expect them to always produce stellar performances, I'm not going to moan that for the nth year running we only have 1 for Worlds, but it's always enjoyable for me, even if it's just in the qualifying round, to be able to cheer on someone representing GB & to feel that we as a country are part of this sport. And what's more, having those skaters there doesn't detract in any way from the :kickass: performances the top skaters produce, and doesn't make the event any less of a spectacle.

Have you noticed how many empty seats there were at the qualifying rounds? I am not saying that they are not worth watching; sometimes I go and watch local skating competition (=much much lower standard) and some of the performances are worth of watching too. But someone has to separate what is world championship standard and what isn't. The reality is, if at worlds there were competing only skaters of the level of qualifying rounds, people are not going to pay 700 (the sum we paid for an all event ticket in Nice). Seeing a skater from your country is nice, but the best of the best are the ones that sell the tickets.

morqet
08-04-2012, 09:36 PM
Maybe so, but they are not the ones who sell tickets or attract TV viewers.

At Euros in Sheffield, everyone I spoke to who was a casual viewer, i.e people who had only come because the event was in their area, not the hardcore who'd go pretty much anywhere in Europe, all wanted to know who the GB skaters were, what chances they had, and got most excited about seeing them skate. Plushenko wasn't a draw for them, that wasn't the hook that got them to buy tickets. Maybe the "big names" are the draw for people who already follow the sport, but the ISU needs to be able to attract in new spectators, and when it comes to events like Euros, Worlds and the Olympics, the best way to do this is to have a broad range of countries competing, so people have something to easily draw them into the sport.

npavel
08-05-2012, 12:04 AM
At Euros in Sheffield, everyone I spoke to who was a casual viewer, i.e people who had only come because the event was in their area, not the hardcore who'd go pretty much anywhere in Europe, all wanted to know who the GB skaters were, what chances they had, and got most excited about seeing them skate. Plushenko wasn't a draw for them, that wasn't the hook that got them to buy tickets. Maybe the "big names" are the draw for people who already follow the sport, but the ISU needs to be able to attract in new spectators, and when it comes to events like Euros, Worlds and the Olympics, the best way to do this is to have a broad range of countries competing, so people have something to easily draw them into the sport.
I fully agree. I love to see skaters from all the possible countries, and especially some less known skater that surprise me. My first competition was not far from home at Nationals to cheer for the known athletes and got me to more competitions as I noticed such a difference from watching TV. To increase the popularity of the sport the own national champion is really important.
I hope we will have worlds with at least 30 skaters and not with less :) I could watch much more if possible

hanca
08-05-2012, 12:24 PM
At Euros in Sheffield, everyone I spoke to who was a casual viewer, i.e people who had only come because the event was in their area, not the hardcore who'd go pretty much anywhere in Europe, all wanted to know who the GB skaters were, what chances they had, and got most excited about seeing them skate. Plushenko wasn't a draw for them, that wasn't the hook that got them to buy tickets. Maybe the "big names" are the draw for people who already follow the sport, but the ISU needs to be able to attract in new spectators, and when it comes to events like Euros, Worlds and the Olympics, the best way to do this is to have a broad range of countries competing, so people have something to easily draw them into the sport.

The difference may be in price of the tickets. The tickets for the Europeans are usually cheaper than the tickets for the Worlds. The Europeans in Sheffield, all event ticket cost about 170, which means that any new spectators (people who had only come because the event was in their area) may want to come and watch it. But the ticket at Worlds is usually more expensive and it is not as frequent that people who are not interested in skating (= people who just live nearby) would want to pay 700 to come and watch skating. I have been to about 3 Worlds and 3 Europeans. The ticket for Worlds is always more expensive and the audience is mostly from real figure skating fans, not from new spectators.

Selene
08-05-2012, 04:14 PM
Just to clarify, I'm totally for a minimum technical score, I just don't think it should be so astronomical that only a select few countries can achieve it. In order to compete at Worlds I think the score should be attainable with a short program based on requirements, 2 triples, a 2A and level 2/3 spins. A long program should have about 4-5 triples to be acceptable for World level not 8. Of course some of you may disagree with this but that's my opinion.

I don't like the fact that components aren't being factored into it either, it's showing people that skating is all about the elements. There are some skaters I'd much rather watch just skating around and performing without any jumps but I guess now a lot of skaters will be packing their programs with technical difficulty to get the scores. I'm praying the scores for worlds get lowered sooner, rather than later!

I totally disagree. The jump content you laid out isn't world-class technical content. I've seen girls land that level of technical content at my local club competition. I don't see any reason why a male skater with no 3A and only 4-5 triples in the long program should be allowed to compete at the World Championships. A skater with that technical content isn't competitive at that level.

I know I'm in the minority, but I like the higher minimum technical scores for Worlds and 4CCs/Euros this season. I think they will lead to better, more competitive competitions. At the world championship level, I want to see the best skaters in the world compete. I'd rather see the ISU ease the restrictions on the number of competitors per country than the minimum technical scores.

hanca
08-05-2012, 04:34 PM
I agree with Selene. Even top junior girls have better technical content than ice_sk8r suggested. Surely senior men should do better than that? And if they don't, do they deserve to attend world championships?

Ziggy
08-05-2012, 08:07 PM
Again, we are talking about an amateur, Olympic sport and not professional sport here.

The point is not only watching the best of the best but also promoting and developing figure skating world-wide. Which will not happen if skaters from many countries can't even compete at major events.


I don't see any reason why a male skater with no 3A and only 4-5 triples in the long program should be allowed to compete at the World Championships.

Read this thread and you will find more than one. :P

hanca
08-05-2012, 08:44 PM
Again, we are talking about an amateur, Olympic sport and not professional sport here.


I am sure you are aware, the term 'amateur' is slightly misleading in figure skating. Amateur means that the skaters are not paid (although they can win price money). However, Amateur sport in figure skating is actually higher level than the professional. Amateur means that you are on your way to the top of your career; you compete and do the most difficult routines you can manage in order to gain as many points as possible. Professional figure skating is that you do shows; usually you have already peaked with your career and now you are taking it easy (relatively easy). You don't compete any more on a serious level (I know, there are a few competitions for professional figure skaters, but the difficulty level is lower than amateur competition) and in the shows any triple jumps is good enough (for ladies sometimes just double axel is good enough). Most professional male skaters don't need to have quads and full set of triples, don't need any technically difficult program.

So if we are talking about amateur competition, I would expect certain level of skills. As you said, Ziggy, it is Olympic sport after all! :shuffle:

Vagabond
08-06-2012, 06:41 AM
So if we are talking about amateur competition, I would expect certain level of skills. As you said, Ziggy, it is Olympic sport after all! :shuffle:

The level that the ISU is requiring to qualify for its own championships is far higher than than was required to qualify for the last Winter Olympic Games and quite possibly higher than will be required in order to compete at the next one. I can't think of another Olympic sport that does this. At last year's Artistic Gymnastics Championships, for example, there were 328 women (http://www.gymnasticsresults.com/worlds/2011/wag/partbib.pdf) and 376 men (http://www.gymnasticsresults.com/worlds/2011/mag/partbib.pdf). Yet the ISU seems to think that having even a quarter as many competitors (30 men, 30 women, 20 pairs, and 24 ice dance couples) is too much!

For what it's worth, the lowest-scoring man to make it out of Preliminaries at this year's Worlds didn't do any triple axels or triple loops, and his TES was 57.99. He also skated "clean," with no negative GOE. What was so bad about letting him compete in the Short Program?

gkelly
08-06-2012, 06:43 AM
I think, if the athletes would do their sport only for the pleasure of doing sport, the sport would exist for the participants. But because the athletes do the sport as their full time job, the sport becomes for the spectators.

But they don't do it as a full-time job to earn money and please the paying customers. For most of them, they pay for their own training, and their own participation in qualifying events leading up to the big events, for the privilege of competing in those big events.

The most successful skaters earn enough prize money to cover their expenses. Hardly any do.

For about the last 20 years skaters are allowed to earn money for endorsements, coaching, appearing in shows, etc. -- so it's possible to make a living and fund one's training by cashing in on their success in the sport while still participating in the sport. In that sense, they could be considered professional skaters.

But most of that money does not come from the sport itself. The ISU is not paying most of the athletes. The ticket sales and broadcast rights sales are not paying salaries to all the competitors who entertain the ticket buyers and broadcast viewers.


If people wouldn't watch skating, there would probably be no world championships.

Lots of sports that aren't spectator-friendly have world championships. Competitors want to compete. They best competitors want to compete to become the best in the world and prove themselves against the other best skaters. The not-there-yet skaters want to participate to work their way up to becoming among the best, or just for the honor of participating at the highest level they qualify for.

I'm not an expert on how any other sports structure their world championships. I think there is a lot of variation, with some having more of a professional orientation than skating and some more amateur, some attracting more spectators and some less.

Since the ISU also governs speedskating, that may be the best comparison. What kinds of ticket sales and broadcast contracts do speedskating championships attract? What kind of money can speedskaters make from entering and placing well at competitions?

If it's less than figure skating in its non-peak years, does that mean that there's no reason for speedskating to hold world championships?

World championships in figure skating existed before there was music, when freeskating counted for only a small part of the results compared to circle tracing and then for half and more of the results. Some eras and some formats have been more fan friendly than others. The skaters paid their own way. If all the fans suddenly stayed home and all the broadcast contracts suddenly dried up completely in the modern era, it might go back to being even more of a rich person's sport (but probably not with the earlier insistance on strict amateurism).


Again, we are talking about an amateur, Olympic sport and not professional sport here.

Exactly.


The point is not only watching the best of the best but also promoting and developing figure skating world-wide. Which will not happen if skaters from many countries can't even compete at major events.

There might be a way to encourage both participation with appeal to local audiences who want to see hometown representatives and an elite product for general audiences who want to see the best. But that would probably involve qualifying rounds and federations paying their own way for skaters and officials until they qualify for a final round.


I am sure you are aware, the term 'amateur' is slightly misleading in figure skating. Amateur means that the skaters are not paid (although they can win price money). However, Amateur sport in figure skating is actually higher level than the professional. Amateur means that you are on your way to the top of your career; you compete and do the most difficult routines you can manage in order to gain as many points as possible.

Well, amateurism just means that you don't get paid. Although there is prize money now, so some skaters do get paid some amounts for competing.

There are many levels of amateur competition. Everyone's trying to do the most difficulty they can to gain as many points as possible, but only for the most talented with the best training conditions (which costs money) is that best the highest level in the world.

Most amateur skaters are not good enough to compete at Worlds. Most are not senior level.


So if we are talking about amateur competition, I would expect certain level of skills. As you said, Ziggy, it is Olympic sport after all! :shuffle:

No, beginners entered in a local beginner competition are amateurs.

What you really mean here, I think, is if we're talking about world championship competition we would expect a certain level of skills. I agree. But what is that certain level? How do we define it? How high do we define it compared to the entire pool of amateur competitors who claim to be senior level?

How should we/the ISU define "senior level" or "world class (=worthy to compete at Worlds)"?

Minimum technical scores are one way to do so.

For me personally, I think that the cutoffs should be something that's reasonable to expect of anyone who claims to be an international-caliber senior-level competitor. The current cutoffs for Euros/4Cs look reasonable to me in that regard.

I also think there should be some way to give credit for better basic skating skills -- if not also the performance aspects. The way program components are awarded is more subjective and thus more variable across panels and more subject to manipulation than the element scores. So I understand why they weren't included in the qualifying criteria. But I'd like to see them at least include the Skating Skills score in calculating the minimums, requiring an average of at least 4.5 or 5.0 for that one component.

With those minimums, with or without any PCS included, we'd end up with a larger pool of Worlds-worthy skaters than there is room for at Worlds. I think that is appropriate.

That means there need to be other competitions to decide which of the worthy world-class senior-level skaters earn the privilege of competing at the world championships each year.

Limits on number of entries per country and the national championships in countries who have more worthy skaters than they have slots is part of that process.

Qualifying rounds at the Worlds venue has been another way of doing it. Using Euros/4Cs as qualifiers or adding a separate Worlds qualifier competition at least a week before in another location are other ways to do it.

What I don't like is (arbitrarily) defining a technical standard that many otherwise worthy skaters might not earn in any given year, especially skaters who earn higher placements on the strength of their basic skating skills, non-element technical content (transitions), and other components.