What should the ISU do to resurrect Figure Skating in the US and Europe?

Discussion in 'The Trash Can' started by Maofan7, Mar 19, 2011.

  1. olympic

    olympic Well-Known Member

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    Someone upthread hit the nail on the head IMO:

    1. Falls, plus other easy-to-see mistakes in a performance.

    From personal experience, even the most casual fan / non-fan who tunes into a skating competition understands a fall is bad news, and when they see a fall they get confused by seemingly high scores and then possibly get turned off (it's a judged sport, so it must be fixed).

    Perhaps falls/obvious mistakes should get penalized more harshly, then they see the corresponding score, which would make sense, and they'd find it more interesting, thereby increasing the fan-base.

    Also -

    2. Commentators. They have to sell the sport more as a dangerous sport: I remember during a competition years ago, commentators were explaining that male skaters doing a Quad jumped high like a basketball player, but had to land on a tiny blade which made it more dangerous. All the time, making it look easy. Perhaps explanations like that would help people to understand it's tough to skate and an actual sport. Also, somehow explaining things as 'dangerous' [pairs moves, etc.] might help with tension and drama, which always seems to attract non-fans in any sport.

    3. Celebrities Endorsements. Are there any big celebrities who are really into figure skating? Perhaps they can show up to competitions and plug them, or just by showing up, the camera can pan to them during the competition, or even just by talking about it on a talk show; Angelina Jolie - 'Last night, I saw Alissa skate, was really moved by it, and went backstage to speak with her. Wow. What a beautiful girl she is!'

    4. Sell it as 'exotic' somehow?. I often tell people skating is all the rage in Japan, and that they are treated like rock stars. With a non-fan into trends, you might be able to sell a few that way. I don't know.

    -------------------------------

    Unless there are cultural shifts, and perhaps only as it relates to the US, skating is always going to be hard to sell among the male sports fan base. No matter how much education, many will probably always think of it as a 'girly' sport unfortunately. Many [but of course not all] men probably don't want to be seen enjoying a sport by their peers where other men in tight outfits, glide and extend across the ice, get talking points on glittery costumes, toe-point, etc.
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2011
  2. duane

    duane New Member

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    lol. Can't argue with you here. Most guys (actually, most people) see FS as ballet-on-ice--no matter the jumps. Seeing skaters with make-up, boofed hair, and ruffles (both the women and men!) doesn't help.

    Good point...the party boy Bowman, bitch Maria B, stubborn I'd-rather-be-somewhere-else Bobek, flamboyant Candeloro, diva Pasha, who changed her name so that she wouldn't be confused with the drunk with the same name. Then there were the exciting rivalries: the whole Oksana G/Usova/Zhulin triangle, the your-skater flutzes...well-so-does-yours Lipinski/Kwan/Callaghan/Carroll rivalry, the quad vs artistry Stojko/Eldredge/Russian skaters rivalries, the unfriendly Yagudin/Plushenko rivalry...

    For the networks it's all about the ratings, and if the audience is there, the sport will be more televised. I suspect that it's not just the "average viewer", but actual FS fans who have lost interest in the sport. Boring skaters whose personalities seem to be clones of one another, and the lack of truly competitive yet interesting rivalries have probably played in role.
     
  3. Susan M

    Susan M Well-Known Member

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    I did say I didn't see how the scoring could be speeded up. My suggestion focused on all the extra time skaters take skating around, standing at the boards, taking one last sip of water, blowing their noses, or retying their skates before finally taking their poses to begin. I don't see why they can't be getting all that out of the way while the judges are still scoring instead of dragging it out even longer.
     
  4. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

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    Well, they don't know how long the scoring part is going to take. When their name is finally announced in the middle of all that, they might be ready to stop what they're doing and take their opening spot immediately. Or they might have just untied a skate and not be able go anywhere until they retie it, in which case getting to their spot in 15 seconds might not be feasible.

    I think the other reason that the rule is to allow a little more time, although it was recently changed from 2 minutes to 1 minute, is to deal with the rare cases where a skater withdraws midcompetition (or is granted a delay to fix an acute equipment or physical problem and skate later in the group) and the next skater is called early. In that case the next skater might not already be standing at rinkside and will need time to walk there, remove guards and jacket, etc., everything s/he could have done during the previous skater's scores if the previous skater had actually completed the program and been waiting for scores.

    So if you're going to shorten the time allowed for skaters to take their spots after their name is announced, you need to build in an exception for cases when the skater's name might be announced several minutes before they expected. Perhaps a pre-announcement that [name of next skater] will be skating next, give up to 1 minute for that skater to get onto the ice, and then announce that skater with a 15 second limit.
     
  5. Justathoughtabl

    Justathoughtabl Active Member

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    I agree with the posters who are saying that a lot of the routines look alike. I like Stephane Lambiel's suggestion of making the SP more technical and the FP more artistic. I think that would help both types of skaters--the technical and the artistic--while reminding viewers at home that the sport is traditionally a mixture of both.

    I also think the commentators (at least in the U.S.) could do a better job of explaining why a skater who falls might be scored better than a skater who doesn't. Explain how difficult a quad is, have slow-mo instant replays to show why a skater got a deduction (or should have-- to increase drama), etc.
     
  6. aliceanne

    aliceanne Well-Known Member

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    Michael Buckley did a commentary recently and I think he nailed it. Skating is not relatable to a general audience. It's hard, it's expensive, and in many areas year-round skating is not available. I remember one track and field Olympian (who was a former figure skater) saying that he dropped skating because it "took too long to get anywhere".

    I think what attracts a general audience is drama and sex appeal. Peggy Fleming, Katarina Witt, Battle of the Brians, Tonya/Nancy/Oksana, and Johnny Weir all generated mass appeal. I don't think the general audience knows or cares the difference between a triple salchow and a triple axel or whether a jump is underroted or that it is extremely difficult to spin both counterclockwise and clockwise. They are interested in personalities and drama. I think they find the technical and political aspects of skating petty and monotonous.
     
  7. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

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    Which may mean that the sport of figure skating as it has developed will always be a niche sport . . . except when there happens to be some drama that attracts attention of mass audiences apart from the content of the sport itself. And when that drama dissipates, the casual viewers lose interest.

    Figure skating remains more popular among casual audiences than most other Olympic sports. It's probably unrealistic to expect it to maintain the same level of interest as professional sports, especially sports like baseball and basketball and even tennis, that most Americans have tried playing themselves at some point in their lives and can therefore understand more easily.
     
  8. giselle23

    giselle23 Active Member

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    Separate figure skating from speed skating and hockey. Put someone who is involved with figure skating in charge of it. (Speedy can head up the speed skating association). Simplify the IJS. In particular, the PCS score has too many elements. How about marking just interpretation/performance and skating skills? Maybe bring back 6.0 for the second mark. And the US needs to find its next ladies superstar. The American sports market is still the biggest. If Yu Na were American, I think we would be seeing more on the scene reporting for Worlds, and more network coverage of all international and national events--all as a result of more viewer interest.
     
  9. Justathoughtabl

    Justathoughtabl Active Member

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    I agree about drama attracting an audience, since they already think of FS as being very flamboyant. This is one reason I thought they should have promoted Johnny Weir more as a personality. They should promote skaters' personalities in general, when they have them. However, you're not guaranteed to have a big personality in FS all the time, so relying solely on this approach isn't enough, IMO. I think they need better commentators--people who are funny, can tell you a little bit about the skaters, and can describe a little about the sport. If people are willing to sit through football replays, won't they tolerate a bit of analysis in FS? Also, if they're going to do the personality thing, they've got to support the artistic aspect of the sport more.
     
  10. aliceanne

    aliceanne Well-Known Member

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    I'm not a football fan, so maybe someone who is can answer why it has mass appeal. Is it the game itself or something else that draws casual fans?

    One problem with the way skating has evolved is that the skaters are so young and train year round so it doesn't leave them much time for dating, hobbies, or other commitments. They tend to come across as rather dull in interviews,. I think it also affects their artistry as well. They all do the same thing to be assured of maximum points because they've invested so much in the sport.
     
  11. WhatsUpDoc

    WhatsUpDoc New Member

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    Celebrity endorsement is a magic bullet, but it is a tough catch-22. Celebrities don't want to be associated with something seen as lame else they become lame by association. But an A-List Musician, Actor or Comedian would really help things out. Lady Gaga coming to the 2010 Olympic Gala if Weir was in it, was a prime example of a major lost opportunity. Regardless of what you change in the Ice shows or competitions, you still have to get people in the door. Hyping the sport as tough, although true, is a no-sale. Acceptance of this reality, is holding things back and making things worse.
     
  12. Judy

    Judy New Member

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    No to going back to the 6.0 and we'd be back to the deals and judges cheating. No thanks.

    I enjoy the new point system and find it far more interesting then what it was previous. I don't think either system would change anyone's mind if they didn't consider it a sport before.

    The U.S. needs a U.S. woman star again. All of their sections do. Right now they have a star with Kim and ice dancing has gotten more exciting because the V&M and D&W battle has made the once boring ice dance very exciting!

    Except for the Nancy Kerrigan era I don't think figure skating was ever that high profile compared to other U.S. sports and I don't think it ever will be. I'm ok with that since I'm Canadian and get to watch my tv coverage :)
     
  13. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

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    It may be that something in the future will grab the imagination of the American public the same way that Peggy Fleming or Dorothy Hamill or Michelle Kwan did, or the way that Tonya Harding did, and that interest in the sport will rise in the US again. That would be great.

    But I don't think you can manufacture that kind of interest. I would hate to see the sport abandon its own values in an effort to gain US audiences, especially in demographic groups that have never been especially interested in figure skating for its own sake.

    What if the audience just doesn't get interested after all but skaters are left with a sport that devalues skating skills in favor of entertainment value?
     
  14. Skittl1321

    Skittl1321 Well-Known Member

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    I think having American dancers at the top of the game have made ice dancing more exciting, but really- I think the changes to ice dancing have made it more exciting. The free dances resemble NOTHING like what they used to- it's much more acrobatic now (and I'd say athletic...)

    I'm for using vocals, and glad that lower levels are allowed to in the US, because it makes it more accessible to skaters- hopefully that will funnel more skaters up the rank because they won't be bored skating to the same stuff year after year. I don't know how it would work internationally though, because if someone comes to Skate America with Finnish music, for example, will the audience connect to it at all?

    This is only marginally related, but a local club had it's largest attendence in years at their ice show- I think a lot of the success can be attributed to them using live singers for many of the numbers, included a very well known Broadway star (as well as two formerly local Broadway singers, and a few of the skaters, when they weren't skating, sang as well). We're in Iowa, so I imagine it wasn't easy for them to bring him in, but it definetly sold tickets. (I think some attribution also goes to a club skater who moved away performed, and everyone was excited to see him after he had gotten back from Junior Worlds- but I know it was the Broadway "name" who made me drive all the way up there)

    To make it related- maybe Gala's could do the same... I bet more people would go to Skate America if they knew that 1/4 of the gala music was being sung live, by people who you recognize the name of.
     
  15. Rex

    Rex Well-Known Member

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    Oh yes, please?@!!!

    Personally, I think nude competitions would be a real ratings winner.
     
  16. aliceanne

    aliceanne Well-Known Member

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    Either that or Yun-a should run off with Charlie Sheen ;)
     
  17. Vagabond

    Vagabond Well-Known Member

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    The ISU doesn't need to do anything; it's up to the national federations, coaches, and skaters to draw the audiences.

    All the U.S. needs for figure skating to become more popular as a spectator sport is for there to be one charismatic, homegrown female singles skater who is a reliable contender for an Olympic Gold Medal and at least one worthy rival. That rival doesn't have to be an American.

    It's happened before: Debi Thomas and Katarina Witt, Kristi Yamaguchi and Midori Ito, Michelle Kwan and Chen Lu/Tara Lipinski/Maria Butyrskaya/Irina Slutskaya).

    Mirai Nagasu is very close to being just what U.S. figure skating needs. I think that if she wins Nationals again, she will be a huge media star, and then finding a worthy rival probably won't be very difficult at all.
     
  18. Rex

    Rex Well-Known Member

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    :lol:
     
  19. Judy

    Judy New Member

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    Here's an interesting article from awhile ago but it makes a lot of sense especially the impact the judging scandal had on figure skating. It personally took me a long time to come back to skating because it had totally turned me off. This is from a Canadian perspective but talks about the Americans too. I think the guy is right about perhaps the next generation will come come back to figure skating.

    http://www.canada.com/topics/sports/story.html?id=f7cfeca2-7990-4acd-a754-3e2240f33805&k=57091
     
  20. duane

    duane New Member

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    I wonder how much Michelle Kwan has to do with the interest decline in the US? For years it seemed as if the biggest rivalry in figure skating was Michelle fans vs Michelle nonfans! With her absence, the object of this rivalry is gone, one side has no one to root for, while the other has no one to root against! ;)
     
  21. Triple Butz

    Triple Butz Well-Known Member

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    You don't think there are deals and cheating now? I have been recently youtubing a lot of videos from the 80's and 90's and while I have a pretty firm grasp on the new system, I have to say I found it to be a huge relief to watch long programs where the spirals are woven into choreography, most of the jumps are done without combos and have smooth gliding BOE landings, and spins that showcase one position without twisting, turning, and rocking back and forth on different edges. I would love to see the level 1 layback come back into style. Skaters in that era focused on what they could do best and created programs that showcased what they were good at. There is a real lack of creativity in skating today. As soon as one skater finds a way to achieve level 4, every skater down the list copies it. It started with Slutskaya in 2004 and hasn't changed much since.

    Remember the crazy moves of Ilia Klimkin? The only person who comes close to that kind of originality today is Shawn Sawyer, and he's basically sacrificing points by doing so.
     
  22. Judy

    Judy New Member

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    Actually no I find the skating and choreography much more interesting I think largely because the skater/dancers have to improve all their basic skating skills. Dance is more exciting because we now see movement instead of the predictable boringness of taking your turn to win.

    And no I think it's much harder to cheat.
     
  23. Jenna

    Jenna Well-Known Member

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    Come on, you don't think it was much easier to "cheat" under the old 6.0 system of scoring? It is still possible now, and I'm not denying it's existence, but it is much more difficult to pull off a LaGougne now.
     
  24. Proustable

    Proustable New Member

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    Can you post links to some of these programs? I've been watching a few on youtube as well, and all I can think is "thank God for COP." Am I watching the wrong ones?
     
  25. Judy

    Judy New Member

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    No I don't actually because I see the skaters especially in ice dance getting marked pretty fairly. It'll never be perfect but it's much better than it was.

    I also think that the previous type of skating was boring .. skater would jump, spin, jump .. this choreography I find much more interesting.
     
  26. kiskacat

    kiskacat New Member

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    Simple fire the president and every old corrupt judge , which is most of them lol.
    Get some new judges, who have no bias because their country has no skaters
    And stop killing the skaters with these rediculous elements. and let it be ART again!!!
    And get rid of the whole ISU Comettee , They are all old tired hags!!! Lol
     
  27. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

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    To a large degree it's a matter of taste. E.g., some fans preferred Boitano and some preferred Orser. Baiul or Kerrigan. Browning or Stojko. Kwan or Lipinski or Cohen.

    In the recent era, Lysacek or Weir. Czisny or Wagner. Nagasu or Flatt. Oda or Kozuka. Joubert or Amodio.

    Not because of nationality or off-ice personality, although obviously those influence preferences as well, but because of skating style. There are different kinds of difficulty, different kinds of excellence, that different skaters can excel at. Sometimes the judging system seems to favor some types over others, but within the rules and their training history, skaters can only work with what their body types allow.
     
  28. Triple Butz

    Triple Butz Well-Known Member

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    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8oj8aPvzR8&feature=related So many interesting moves that would not even count as elements in CoP

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=buQXBXmjumU Huge, clean jumps on all correct edges with complete rotation, speed and total freedom. She definitely wasn't thinking about "rules."

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGsMDXLyXxs Elegant, classic positions in spins and MITF that we never see today.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-oqwopZta8 choreography from start to finish. Spirals and MITF that last as long as the music requires them to, not the rulebook.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pbshs-xTORs&feature=related Unique style and movement, steps that actually MOVE across the ice.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=polwvMNVgFU Beautiful program, and that second 3axel represents everything that is great about sports and the Olympic spirit. I can't imagine the games without that second 3A, and under CoP it would not have happened.
     
  29. Proustable

    Proustable New Member

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    Thank you for the list, triple butz. Looks like I have a seminar at Youtube University to attend!
     
  30. aliceanne

    aliceanne Well-Known Member

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    Good ideas.

    Skaters also all look the same size on TV. I remember seeing a young Nicole Bobek and Michelle Kwan in exhibition. What a difference it made. Nicole was comparable to the men in the speed and height of her jumps (unfortunately she landed every other one on her butt). Michelle was technically perfect but at 13 she looked 8 and was practically invisible in a medium sized arena. At Nationals with camera close-ups you couldn't see a big difference between them.