"Return To Open Pro Competitions": 2 Part Article

Discussion in 'Great Skate Debate' started by N_Halifax, Jun 16, 2013.

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Do you think that we will see open professional competitions return in the future?

  1. Yes

    31.8%
  2. No

    25.0%
  3. Possibly, Would Depend On Sponsorship And A Strong Organization Team

    43.2%
  1. N_Halifax

    N_Halifax Active Member

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    I have been spending the last couple weeks interviewing people and compiling information about two very important and wonderful OPEN professional figure skating competitions: the U.S. Open and World Professional Championships in Jaca, Spain. I've got the first part (the U.S. Open) put together and posted at http://www.facebook.com/SkateGuard and http://skateguard1.blogspot.ca/2013/06/return-to-open-professional.html. It features an interview with former PSA executive director Carole Shulman, among others. I'll share the second part here when it's completed this week, for any of you who may be interested.
     
  2. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

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    Thanks, as always.
    I always wanted to know more about the "Professional Circuit" that was in place during those years.
     
  3. N_Halifax

    N_Halifax Active Member

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    You're so welcome!! :) It was a different time but I definitely think the future of artistic skating includes events like these. Will have part 2 (Jaca) up soon!
     
  4. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

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    I believe that each - and all - of them were good for the sport, allowing us to see many worthy skaters/performances we otherwise would have missed.
     
  5. N_Halifax

    N_Halifax Active Member

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    Couldn't agree with you more, skatesindreams! :))

    Here is the conclusion to an in depth look at open pro figure skating competitions: a look at the Jaca World Pro Championships, featuring interviews w/ champions Lorna Brown, Simone Grigorescu Alexander & more... http://skateguard1.blogspot.ca/2013/06/return-to-open-pro-competitions-part-2.html. In case you missed part 1, the link is http://skateguard1.blogspot.ca/2013/06/return-to-open-professional.html. Hear what people in skating are really saying about pro competitions and their future!

    If you're enjoying the articles on professional, artistic and historical elements of the sport, please "LIKE" the page if you're on Facebook for new articles -- http://www.facebook.com/SkateGuard. Thanks!
     
  6. Susan M

    Susan M Well-Known Member

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    I can't work up a lot of interest in the open pro events until they start attracting some bigger name skaters. The pro comps I miss were more of the invitational variety.

    I'm disappointed Scott Hamilton's venture to hold a pro-am series doesn't seem to have gone anywhere.
     
  7. SkateFan66

    SkateFan66 Active Member

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    If all goes as planed, Hamilton's ICE competition will debut in the Spring of 2014.
     
  8. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

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    Do you believe that the only programs worth watching are done by World or Olympic medalists?
    That's a very small group indeed.
     
  9. Susan M

    Susan M Well-Known Member

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    Not only medalists, no, but I do get bored pretty quickly with mediocre skating. Some of the open events in the past included a lot of skaters I never even heard of (or remember only as wanna be skaters who never really had the quality to accomplish much) and whose skating was clearly second tier. I especially hate watching those adagio pairs programs by couples skating as slow as molasses, accustomed to postage stamp show ice skating.
     
  10. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

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    I think if pro skating wants to market itself as sport it needs to have a way in for any professional skater to qualify regardless of fame or success as an eligible skater. Which means there would be a lot of mediocre skating by people aiming to qualify. But the qualifying process may not pay the skaters -- they may qualify as "pros" through teaching or performing in ice shows, any of which in the old days would have made them ineligible for ISU competition -- not because they're paid for competing, although if they're good enough to reach higher levels they would be. That would be a way for skaters who did not prove themselves as amateurs but who are better skaters/performers (though probably not better jumpers) now to earn their way in make a name for themselves as pros.

    Most audience members would probably only want to watch the final rounds. But there would be some audience favorites who will reach those rounds who never would have been invited based only on amateur accomplishments. Rory Flack comes to mind as an example.


    If pro skating is marketed purely as entertainment for audiences with no pretense of fairness, then it can be purely invitational. And the skaters invited would be those that audiences want to see -- either because they have proven that they can perform entertaining artistic programs, or they can perform entertaining athletically focused programs but for some reason don't want or aren't allowed to compete in ISU events, or because they have name recognition and audience goodwill based on their amateur/eligible accomplishments even if their skating is no longer any better than that of the average unknown show skater, or any combination of the above.

    Or forget about the pro/eligible distinction and let the ISU authorize a separate discipline of artistic skating, with separate rules and its own qualifying track, either under ISU aegis or outside ISU control but with recognition that participants would not lose eligibility should they choose to go back and forth between disciplines.
     
  11. spikydurian

    spikydurian Well-Known Member

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    I think this may be the best way forward. There seems to be some skaters who are more artistic than technical, like gkelly said, with good skating skills but won't get the harder jumps due to one reason or another. Audience who prefer artistic skating will love them and there is a venue for these figure skaters to fully explore prof or show skating as a long term profession.
     
  12. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

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    But if those skaters never achieved fame in eligible competition (whether because they never had the jumps, never put it all together at the right time or other kinds of bad luck, or didn't have the funds to compete at senior level), how would they get invited into a small, invitation-only pro circuit?

    Some might be friends of the promoters, who know them personally and know that they are entertaining enough to please audiences who didn't already know their names in advance. Some might have achieved devoted followings of hardcore fans even as lower-ranked competitors, leading pro circuit promoters to believe that they'll widen their fan base in a format that would allow them more audience exposure.

    Instead of qualifying competitions, could there be auditions? After all, an audience-centered, entertainment-focused circuit is really about show business, not about sport. Hire some pros for their fame and name regardless of how entertaining they are (but jocks who go this route right out of eligible competition will likely become more entertaining as pros), and hire the rest of the field based on what they can offer audiences in this format, eligible results be damned.
     
  13. N_Halifax

    N_Halifax Active Member

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    I'm excited to see that this article has sparked such a debate! I think the mention of Rory Flack Burghart is a fine example as to why OPEN pro competitions really have helped skaters take their skills and show them off and allow their professional careers to develop as a result. Two other great examples are Hartshorn and Sweiding and Elena Leonova and Andrei Khvalko. Had the latter team not have won the U.S. Open Challenge (and Masters Cups) in 1997, they wouldn't have been later invited to the World Pro Championships (invitation only event) in Landover and later won that title. It's all about exposure, giving artistic and entertaining skaters a venue to compete and having events outside the auspices of the ISU and IJS/CoP judging system. It's not for everyone.