Figure skating is dying, and judges can't prop it up

Discussion in 'Great Skate Debate' started by Sugar, Mar 18, 2013.

  1. Iceman

    Iceman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2006
    Messages:
    2,562
    An interesting book I discovered recently, Culture on Ice: Figure Skating & Cultural Meaning,
    By Ellyn Kestnbaum, touches on many things that, perhaps, cause figure skating to not be a sport with mass appeal.


    LMAO I read recently that some fans reacted to the elegant and beautiful costumes of Nancy Kerrigan, which were almost always minimally embellished, with "Poor, Nancy, she can't even afford a suitable dance dress"!!!!:eek: Her dresses were probably among the most expensive of her time.
     
  2. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2003
    Messages:
    10,743
    Just curious -- what do you think those reasons are?
     
  3. Mathman

    Mathman Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2004
    Messages:
    821
    This book is sort of a neo-post-feminist exploration of how figure skating presents women. "[T]he central concern of this work [i.e., of the hard core feminist writings from the seventies and eighties that Kestnbaum holds up to critical examination] has been the ways that figure skating practice and media representations thereof reinforce disempowering stereotypes of female skaters and female viewers of figure skating." In other words, that the purpose of figure skating is to pimp pretty girls in short skirts to leering men.

    My favorite theory that Kestnbaum mentions (critically) is this: Figure skating went sissy when they eliminated school figures. Why? Figures are masculine -- the dominant male forcing his will upon nature, carving his initials into the virgin ice. (I guess the role of the Zamboni is to restore virginity for the next guy.) Whereas free skating is more about showing your panties.

    This book was written at the height of skating's popularity in the last decade. I believe it was essentially the author's doctoral thesis in theater, and doesn't really anticipate the decline that appeared over the next decade.

    Personally, I do think that changing societal attitudes have played a part. Beauty pageants are out, smash-mouth (think Serena Williams) is in.
     
  4. Aussie Willy

    Aussie Willy Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2005
    Messages:
    18,105
    ^ :lol: at doing a Freudian analysis of skating.

    I think you have summed it up beautifully with this.

    People complain about the judging system, choices of music, etc etc. But maybe at the end of the day it is just not cool. :)
     
    flutzilla1 and (deleted member) like this.
  5. spikydurian

    spikydurian Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2012
    Messages:
    2,701
    I think having a Big Brother or SYTYCD style show for figure skaters will increase t.v. viewership. Look at the number of reality shows on t.v. these days. Most people loved to be involved in judging others. Gymnastics and diving are not popular sports on t.v. too so I think they too can benefit from being involved in reality shows. Maybe put the figure skaters, gymnasts and divers together on Big Brother show. Let's watch the fireworks. :D
     
  6. Aussie Willy

    Aussie Willy Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2005
    Messages:
    18,105
    ^ I do like those ideas. Well not Big Brother but a SYTYCD style show which is based on movement on ice and funky moves. DOI I think has worked for getting people to watch based on the popularity of T&D and that has led to some degree of increased participation, but it doesn't really promote skating excellence. I also think a Cirque Du Solei style show would be a great thing to capture people's imagination and generate interest. It has to be outside the realms of current competition.

    There was a clip that someone posted a couple of months of people doing some funky stuff on ice. Can't remember where it is though.
     
  7. AndyWarhol

    AndyWarhol Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2009
    Messages:
    1,208
    i think a reality tv show based around skaters would be good. People like trash, give them trash.

    basically, if you can't beat em, join em.
     
  8. MacMadame

    MacMadame Cat Lady-in-Training

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2005
    Messages:
    16,801
    I think it won't help. Johnny had a reality show. I don't think it really brought the sport all that many additional fans.
     
  9. spikydurian

    spikydurian Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2012
    Messages:
    2,701
    ^^^ Johnny probably didn't have enough pull. You need ladies, the more glamorous the better.
     
  10. Prancer

    Prancer Dysteleological Staff Member

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2001
    Messages:
    38,856
    Ellyn is a very knowledgeable skating fan (or she used to be--I haven't seen her around here in a while) and used to have some interesting insights to share.

    Did anyone here watch Jersey on Ice?

    How about Ice Diaries?

    There doesn't seem to be a lot of interest.
     
  11. AndyWarhol

    AndyWarhol Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2009
    Messages:
    1,208
    How well marketed were these? Ice Diaries shows hard working earnest girls, its more of a documentary than a Reality Show. I would have watched Jersey on ice if it was not Geo Blocked. From the looks of it, it seemed like beginners though.??

    We need Ryan Secrest!
     
  12. spikydurian

    spikydurian Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2012
    Messages:
    2,701
    Nope. Ice Diaries may be more suitable for people who are already figure skaters or aspiring to be an elite figure skater. Maybe should have used skaters who have already won some international titles to draw more attention?

    Jersey on Ice .... is it a reality show or similar to Ice Diaries? Again maybe a figure skater of glamour and international standing like Michelle and Yuna may attract more attention? Or a more SYTYCD type of reality show pitting one skater against another. More drama more attention. Documentaries generally attract a niche group of people. I think we are talking about exposing figure skating to the general public.
     
  13. MacMadame

    MacMadame Cat Lady-in-Training

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2005
    Messages:
    16,801
    Jersey on Ice is like Tiaras and Toddlers only with slightly older girls and figure skating. It's everything you guys said you wanted. And no one watched it.
     
  14. Aussie Willy

    Aussie Willy Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2005
    Messages:
    18,105
    Put Honey Boo Boo on skates.
     
  15. museksk8r

    museksk8r Holding an edge and looking dangerously sexy

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2008
    Messages:
    3,297
    Hasn't figure skating reportedly been dying since the 2002 Olympics? When is it actually going to be dead??? :shuffle:
     
  16. Jenifer

    Jenifer Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2002
    Messages:
    139
    Have DWTS or SYTYCD actually increased viewership of competitive ballroom dance?
     
  17. Mathman

    Mathman Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2004
    Messages:
    821
    Words I thought I would never hear. :)
     
  18. ks1227

    ks1227 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2002
    Messages:
    3,862
    :lol:
     
  19. danceronice

    danceronice Corgi Wrangler

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2006
    Messages:
    6,478
    Not really. It was a bunch of go-nowheres in ISI events with blowsy loudmouth female coaches who were basically all the negative Jersey stereotypes minus the fake tans and Snooki. More like "Dance Moms" if Abby only turned out crap dancers. Its problem was none of the kids were really notably talented or had any sort of outstanding personalities.

    SYTYCD doesn't help ballroom (most of what's done on that show isn't very good-they're not ballroom specialists for the most part and only a few of the ones who ARE are all that good) and I don't know about other styles. DWTS is good in the sense of getting people in the door--not as good as it used to be but the show's approach the shark-leaping point. But it's good for getting adult-beginner types.

    There WAS a show, I can't remember the name, that was basically SYTYCD for show skaters--older skaters who were never the tip-top competitors. About all I remember is the spinning contest episode and that Pasha Grishuk was a judge. I think a DWTS-style show, which has flopped twice in the US, is hard just because freestyle is what US audiences like but spins and jumps are REALLY hard to teach from scratch.
     
  20. Prancer

    Prancer Dysteleological Staff Member

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2001
    Messages:
    38,856
    So just which skaters do you think they are going to find who are:

    a) not hardworking, earnest and focused on winning BUT
    b) have some international standing AND
    c) bring the drama out there and in public?

    We're talking about elite figure skaters here, yes? People who basically spend hours a day working hard, live on strict diets, can't drink, travel a lot, train primarily alone or with a very small group of people, and basically don't get out much? And in the case of USFS skaters, get media training so they know how to appear at their polished and diplomatic best in front of the cameras?
     
  21. RickInSanJose

    RickInSanJose Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2012
    Messages:
    101
    I don't think figure skating is dying, but, rather, is simply going through a period in which it's less popular than it was several years ago. All individual sports, such as figure skating, gymnastics, and tennis, seem to wax and wane in popularity, as an inevitable cycle. The major reason for this, I believe, is because the individual sports are largely personality-driven. That is, to be popular, they need charismatic athletes who capture the public's attention and interest, and who thus draw the public to the sport. In other words, the public wants to watch athletes who are compelling and interesting, and will take the time to do so.

    Figure skating enjoyed significant popularity in the late 1980s through the early 2000s, I believe, because of such "bigger-than-life" performers as Brian Boitano, Scott Hamilton, and Kristi Yamaguchi, followed later by Michelle Kwan, who captivated the public -- which, in turn, attracted sponsors and money that funded more skating events and telecasts. Today's performers, skilled though they may be, just don't seem to have that compelling "something extra" that the aforementioned skaters possessed and which attracted audiences and viewers. "Charisma" may be a word overused, but I think it applies here.

    This is the same in gymnastics. In the early 1970s, in the U.S. at least, it was a minor sport. Then Olga Korbut came along in the 1972 Munich Olympics and captured the hearts of the world -- and gymnastics exploded in popularity. Then Nadia came along, followed in the late-1970s by the first wave of American gymnasts who could compete head to head with the East Bloc gymnasts (Kurt Thomas, Bart Connor, Rhonda Schwandt, Marcia Frederick, and Tracee Talavera). And it was during these periods when compelling gymnasts such as these were competing that gymnastics was broadcast, on non-cable network television, several times every weekend.

    Tennis, too, was very popular in the past, with such performers as Billie Jean King, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, and others of that era. Even the Billie Jean King versus Bobby Riggs match in the early 1970s was broadcast during the primetime evening hours. Today, however, tennis lacks such compelling performers, and is thus not so popular today.

    To sum up: If charismatic "bigger-than-life" skaters once more appear on the scene, skaters the public finds compelling and interesting to watch, skaters who capture peoples' hearts, skaters who make sponsors sit up and take notice, then skating will experience a resurgence in popularity.

    I must note that these observations pertain to individual sports in the United States, and may not reflect the driving factors influencing sports popularity in other nations.
     
  22. MacMadame

    MacMadame Cat Lady-in-Training

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2005
    Messages:
    16,801
    :lol:

    Yeah, so figure skating needs a reality tv show to bring in the viewers even though reality tv shows in other sports don't really bring in lots of viewers and, when skating has had them (3 have been mentioned here), it didn't bring in viewer. DWTS does bring adults to ballroom dancing classes. The similar skating show did too.

    BUT skating is not ballroom dancing. I can take a ballroom dancing class with my husband and at the end of it we could do 3 or 4 different dances. Maybe not well, but he could do them. He had no background whatsoever. I had background and I can ballroom dance something I've been taught with someone who knows what they are doing and if I relax and let them lead, I can do pretty much anything looking pretty good even if I really don't know what I'm doing.

    Just from taking one class, my husband and I could then go out dancing on the weekend and have fun dancing together for the rest of our lives.

    SKATING IS NOT LIKE THAT. Skating is HARD. It takes years and years of practice to get to the level you can get to in ballroom after just one year. And, if you don't have talent? Forget it. You are never getting anywhere.
     
  23. danceronice

    danceronice Corgi Wrangler

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2006
    Messages:
    6,478
    ROFL...no, it doesn't. If you can make it through some social dances with a decent lead, which is what it sounds like you can do, rather than dance relatively independently with correct technique, you're about the level of someone who maybe finished Adult Basic Skills without going on to Freestyle 1. Or even just a decent rec skater. Not even at the equivalent of Pre-pre Moves. (Which took me, with no prior dance experience and twenty years of not skating after flunking out of ISI's lowest-level class as a kid, eight months to go from 'able to skate forward' to 'pass on the first try.' Ten months had that and all three of the first dance test, too.)

    The problem is, what a decently coordinated person can learn to do in under a year isn't good TV. I was a better skater in one year than I was a ballroom dancer, but you REALLY have to know what you're watching to tell with dance. DWTS can cover up that most of the stars are, by and large, crappy dancers, with pretty choreo designed to cover their flaws and LOOK flashy. With rare exceptions like Bristol (where Mark basically taught her like the person off the street she essentially was) they don't learn much in the way of actual technique, but the pros can make it LOOK good enough for the average untrained viewer. Because so many people seem to have trouble just standing up on skates, and because all most viewers have ever been exposed to are elite-level skaters, you can't get away with that with skating. Even in ice dance, you can't lead someone through a routine they're not really able to execute correctly. The DWTS format wouldn't work.

    Really, unless you have a 'follow the skater' reality show (and not like Johnny's because his show is not about skating, it's about Johnny as a brand/celeb) with a REALLY accessible skater/s that a good cross-section of viewers will identify with AND WHO THEY WOULD SEE ELSEWHERE, it wouldn't work. You can't fake it like with dance, and it's not like SYTYCD where there's any real career/celebrity value that near-elite skaters would want to do it instead of compete in some way or teach. DWTS format, it's too easy to tell bad skating where you can't tell bad dancing.

    I think the point made upthread about needing more chances to see skaters BEFORE one (tape-delayed, edited, aired at a bad time) Nationals broadcast would be better. Also, when there were pro competitions, say what you will but probably the biggest reason people liked them were they knew those skaters. They could see a 'rematch' (Nancy vs. Oksana, etc) and what I think some serious Skate Fans don't quite get is that the average viewer didn't CARE that it was a silly competition with Rock and Roll or USA vs the World or two different Professional Championships. They liked that they were seeing skaters they knew and either liked or hated but either way it was a strong opinion.
     
  24. Aussie Willy

    Aussie Willy Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2005
    Messages:
    18,105
    With reality shows like DWTS and DOI, is they don't actually focus on the sport for sports sake. We are meant to admire these celebrities for what they achieve in a short space of time, regardless that whether they do it really well or not. And then you have eville judges who are there to put them down, which in turns make the audience feel sorry for the celebrity because it doesn't matter whether the feedback is correct or not, if it is anyway negative, then the judge is eville and must be booed by the audience.
     
  25. MacMadame

    MacMadame Cat Lady-in-Training

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2005
    Messages:
    16,801
    It took me 10 years to be at the point where I could possibly pass Pre-pre Moves. (I didn't actually get to take them before I stopped skating so I don't even know for sure I would have passed.) I was working on Bronze dances and not really close to passing them. I was a really bad ice skater. I got where I got through shear hard work.

    But I can dance independently with correct technique. I'm just saying, if I don't know the dance, I can also get dragged through it if I know some of the basic steps if the partner knows what they are doing. Dancing on the floor, I do have some okay talent at. Skating, not so much.

    Yes, but did this lead to more interest in watching elite skating? I'm not sure it did. Those Pro competition eventually dried up too and a lot of the people who watched them seemed kind of confused and unhappy when they watched something like Worlds.
     
  26. Yazmeen

    Yazmeen Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2003
    Messages:
    3,302
    Jersey on Ice had little to do with skaters; it was designed to showcase 3 loud, obnoxious coaches with minimal credentials (their skaters were very low level competing at ISI competitions, not USFS events). It was produced in the hopes it would catch on and be the "Jersey Shore" of figure skating. Thankfully, it bombed and died a quick death. It was the LAST thing the sport needed.
     
  27. MacMadame

    MacMadame Cat Lady-in-Training

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2005
    Messages:
    16,801
    I think a reality skating show is the last thing skating needs. There is no way to make a reality show that is respectful to skating and will get the ratings and lead to interest in skating. If it's respectful to skating, like Ice Diaries, oh it's too much like a documentary. If it's trashy so the public watches it like Jersey Shore, oh that's bad for skating. Let's face it, we've had respectful (Ice Diaries), we had trashy (Jersey on Ice), we had celebrities learning to skate (various), we had a show that focused on a skater as a person (Be Good Johnny). We also have shows on the tv on the weekend (Disson and SOI).

    Of course, I also don't think skating is particularly dying. As was pointed out, the skating programs at the rinks are as busy as they ever were. Skating is shown in it's entirety all over the world as a serious sport, too.

    The only problem is that skating isn't shown as much on Network TV in the US as it used to be and that some competitions don't sell as well as hoped. The competitions not selling has always been an issue IME. Once in a while you get a dud. And some competitions never sell -- like SkAm. It would be nice to fix that.

    Skating on US TV is a harder nut to crack and I don't think that can be fixed. I'm not even sure it's a problem. TV is changing and TV isn't what it once was. I can see a day when broadcast tv doesn't even exist.

    I'd like to improve access to skating on cable and make internet streaming more reliable and more accessible to the average fan. I see that as the future. If we do that, we'll get new fans and younger fans.
     
  28. spikydurian

    spikydurian Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2012
    Messages:
    2,701
    Based on the above comments, sounds like reality show like Jersey on Ice is not helping, and SYTYCD type of show may not attract enough figure skaters of certain level to participate in the U.S. I agree with MacMadame that learning to dance is easier to skate (IMO.. because I am born Not to skate).:D

    I don't know about others but my first interest in figure skating is from watching the World competitions in the 1990's on t.v. As figure skating competitions are now not televised on t.v. anymore, internet has allowed me to access the competitions. 6.0 or ISU has no bearing on my interest in figure skating. My favourites may come and go but not my interest. It is similar for other sports I am interested in. And I think if there is an Australian competing at elite level, it will increase the chance of me parting with big bucks to attend expensive competitions like Worlds.

    I don't know about the American culture or market. But IMO, looks the American sponsors are only interested in dominant and good looking competitors (which I think is understandable). I think the downturn may be due to the vacuum created when your dominant and good looking Michelle Kwan and Sasha Cohen retired. Insofar, none of your ladies seem to be able to stepped into their shoes yet (in winning World and Olympic medals)? I don't think USA is lacking the talents to take over where Michelle and Sasha have left. I think if Ashley or Gracie or whoever can dominate and start winning medals at the Grand Prix and World competitions, t.v. and sponsorship interest will follow. You just need a 'winner'! And 'winners' do help increase the level interest in the sport. Whether they will last or not, IMO, depends on whether their interest is actually due to interest in the sport itself or the winner. I think the former will prevail. My family who is not into cycling became passionate in cycling very briefly simply because we watched just to root for the first ever Australian, Cadel Evans to win the Tour de France. :D

    As for t.v. screening of sports, unless it is a mainstream male-dominated sport, I don't think the t.v. is interested. Only rugby in Australia has regular slots on t.v. All other sports you will have to subscribe to a sports channel to watch the competitions.

    BTW, why are the judges blamed for reduced popularity in figure skating? For heaven's sake, most are paid pittance to judge the competitions and most are doing it out of passionate love for the sport. Maybe judges are paid tons in USA but certainly not in Australia. Many non-profit organisations here rely on volunteers for survival. How about Europe and Asia? Anyone care to elaborate?

    Agree with you all that DWTS is not serious dancing. It's more celeb focused rather than serious dancing. Aussie Willy, there used to be a SBS program on ballroom and latin dancing competition. Unfortunately, I don't remember coming across this program anymore. I enjoy this program very much.
     
  29. AndyWarhol

    AndyWarhol Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2009
    Messages:
    1,208
    This is not true. AFL is on normal TV all the time. Tennis is broadcast also. Im not a big tv person, I dont have foxtel and the only other sport to skating that I enjoy watching is tennis, but I am able to watch it "live" on free to air tv.

    Golf and Basketball seems to get regular air time also.
     
  30. Skittl1321

    Skittl1321 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2007
    Messages:
    11,967
    Figure skating judges are not paid. In the US their expenses are reimbursed, but in most cases it still costs someone to be a judge. (Time off work, for instance)

    I agree, popularity is not an issue for judges to consider.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2013