Women's Figure Skating Has Never Been So Unpopular

Discussion in 'Great Skate Debate' started by Sugar, Jan 24, 2014.

  1. Sugar

    Sugar Well-Known Member

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    Women's Figure Skating Has Never Been So Unpopular
    http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-01-23/womens-figure-skating-has-never-been-so-unpopular
  2. lahaa968

    lahaa968 Active Member

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    You almost lost me there :lol:

    This is true. We're talking about a sport where a lady not wearing flesh-colored tights is controversial.

    I think the author of the article undermined Ashley Wagner especially...she must have at least a dozen brand contracts.

    That said, this makes me miss how un-PC Mirai was during the Vancouver Games. "I'm excited for the free stuff...Evan got a Rolex!" :lol: Oh, don't ever change. :swoon::rofl:
  3. Vash01

    Vash01 Well-Known Member

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    I have not read the article yet, but it sounds like he is talking about FS in the USA, and not world wide. I believe it's very popular in Japan (although after Mao's retirement it could take a dip in womens FS), and I believe FS has always been popular in Russia. With so many talented young ladies on the horizon I see its popularity increasing rather than decreasing. Their glamor sports used to be pairs and ice dance, but now we are seeing a lot of single ladies that could contend for medals in the Olympics. So clearly he is not talking about the rest of the world.
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2014
  4. manhn

    manhn Well-Known Member

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    From the article:

    If there is one thing Ashley can do well, it's give a "not impressed" look.
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  5. Ziggy

    Ziggy Well-Known Member

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    And that's hardly the only thing that the USFS doesn't understand. :wall:
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  6. overedge

    overedge Well-Known Member

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    Since most of Gracie Gold's Twitter profile is the names of her corporate sponsors, maybe someone needs to clue her in that ladies' skating is so unpopular :rofl:
  7. aliceanne

    aliceanne Well-Known Member

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    McKayla Maroney is a household name? I doubt any of my co-workers know who she is. A lot of these skaters are minors, their parents have a lot to say about what they can say or do. Lindsey Vonn and Julia Mancuso are in their late 20's or early 30's. Figure skating is a sport with a lot of rules, technical as well as behavioral. Activities like that don't usually attract risk takers.
  8. immoimeme

    immoimeme having a nice day

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    "If you chart the popularity of figure skating, it’s directly correlated to whether we have a female star,” Bondy says.

    Because men's figure skating is so, you know, *gay* and we just can't have that be popular, now can we. :p
    Eys the good ol USA mentality of pretty female ice princesses and manly men do manly sports and figure skating is not reeeeealllly athletic.
    This article is so fricking full of old-school old-thought it's nauseating.
    It's also embarrassing. I apologize on behalf of all enlightened Americans. Please world, we are not all like this. Some of us do still have brains that function.
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2014
  9. Ziggy

    Ziggy Well-Known Member

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    Here's a simple two step action plan for USFS. Stage the two following fluff pieces for the Olympics:

    1) Have Mirai Nagasu chase after Polina Edmunds with a police baton. Edmunds gets whacked and "injured." She heroically skates through pain and who cares about the result (which will be about 10 placements higher than Nagasu's would be anyway :p). She's so brave and courageous, becoming America's Sweetheart (tm).

    2) Have Ashley Wagner put rainbow earrings and nail polish on and run around Sochi waving rainbow flags, chased by Russian Police "Benny Hill" style, with Army of Lovers' "Sexual Revolution" blasting from her boombox on full volume.

    And there you go, women's figure skating suddenly becomes popular again. You're welcome, Pat!
  10. Fan123

    Fan123 Active Member

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    I agree with Vash01. It seems popularity can seemingly stem from the talent pool of each country. At least in the U.S., American ladies have really dominated the ladies side since Peggy and Dorothy, especially when skating was first televised. Then we had Debbie vs Katrina, then Kristi, then the whole Nancy and Tonya fiasco, then the Michelle and Tara era, and then finally Sarah and Sasha. I believe popularity and endorsements come with good results. Sponsors won't roll the red carpet if you can't produce. Mediocre results can only take you so far.
  11. joeperryfan

    joeperryfan Well-Known Member

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    She has these sponsors on the Olympic year but what about the other three years? That's probably where the major difference is between now and past decades, there are sponsorships but the agents need to fight for them a lot more and they are very specific in time.
  12. NYScorp6

    NYScorp6 Member

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    If that television rating of .7 is accurate, that is pretty pathetic. Gracie does have the potential to be a star however, something we have been lacking in the US since Sasha.
  13. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

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    The article said this was the January 11th broadcast. That would have been the ladies' long program, shown in prime time, not the short program, as the article said. The ladies LP was on at the same time as the Pats v. Colts game, NFL football playoffs. That game would have been expected to win the night, and it did.

    The ladies' long program, shown opposite the playoffs, came in third for the night, and IMO did well versus expectations, having scored a 0.7 in adults 18-49, which was up 40% percent from last year's 0.5.
  14. Wyliefan

    Wyliefan Well-Known Member

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    Slightly OT: I was just looking at a picture of the 4CC pairs winners on Facebook. (Pasting it here, though I'm not sure it'll work.) Judging from the expression on her face, Alexa is interested in applying for the job of The Next McKayla. :lol:
  15. BlueRidge

    BlueRidge AYS's snark-sponge

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    :rofl: Its just the camera angle! She's not really shooting poison darts with her eyes at Tara Kayne.

    Also probably belongs in the pairs 4CC thread...
  16. Wyliefan

    Wyliefan Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, I know. But the "next McKayla" talk was in here, so that's why I mentioned it. :)
  17. BlueRidge

    BlueRidge AYS's snark-sponge

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    ah!

    Can I ask a really ignorant question? I know about the look from McKayla, but I never knew what the context was, what was it? :eek:
  18. Skittl1321

    Skittl1321 Well-Known Member

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    She was pissed off she won the silver medal and not the gold, when it was believed she was pretty much a lock (and her vault in the team event was probably one of the best vaults ever). It was really just a momentary smirk- she wasn't like that the entire ceremony.
  19. Wyliefan

    Wyliefan Well-Known Member

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    Yes. But such is the power of the Internet age -- it only takes a split second to launch a thousand memes!
  20. Maureen

    Maureen Member

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    Are there any ratings available for the Grand Prix events shown throughout the Fall?
  21. BlueRidge

    BlueRidge AYS's snark-sponge

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    Thank you. I had the impression it wasn't anything but a momentary look but I never knew for sure what it was about.
  22. zoe111

    zoe111 Member

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    Love it.
  23. kwanatic

    kwanatic Well-Known Member

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    People in this country only pay attention to skating once every 4 years. As soon as the Olympics are over it will fade back into obscurity for the next 4 years. Let's say Gracie miraculously wins in Sochi. She'll be the talk of the town for a month or two...then eventually people will lose interest and she'll fade back into obscurity for 4 years, occasionally making a headline/appearance if she wins something else. Why? She's not particularly interesting by sports figure standards. She's pretty and well-spoken...but she's not someone who the average American viewer will want to see past the pre- and post-Olympic media rush. Figure skating needs a Jennifer Lawrence type skater: talented, pretty, well-spoken but also candid, charming and accidentally entertaining. The stuff Lawrence says probably gives her publicist brain aneurysms but it's funny and entertaining. Even if you don't like her particular brand of goofy adorableness, one thing you can't call her is a boring, plain or cookie cutter Hollywood actress.

    US skaters are very, very dull and boring personality wise, especially the ladies. Everything is pageant queen-like: smile, look pretty, give cookie cutter answers to questions, blah blah blah...boring. It seems like they are discouraged from having an actual opinion. Whenever a skater expresses an original thought that goes against the status quo there's usually some kind of backlash over it which is why it's very rare for it to happen. The sport is so controlled by federations that people have to step lightly. You speak out of turn, criticize something you don't like, piss someone off or something like that, and you may find yourself blacklisted. In this sport it's taboo for one of the women to "talk up" their skill or display anything other than implied confidence meaning you won't see someone come right out and say "I'm going to win/I'm the best skater here," even if it is true. They always go with the "I just want to skate my best/I just want to do it like I do in practice" standard answer. An overt show of confidence is seen as arrogance for the women in this sport.

    I always appreciated Mirai's candor back in 2010. She was the Jennifer Lawrence of figure skating that year; no filter...whatever popped into her head came out of her mouth. I'm sure it lead to some cringing from her agent/PR person but it was so refreshing to see someone step outside of that box. Ashley is another skater who gets my respect for speaking her mind. The sport needs more personalities like that...

    As for controversy, the reason it is seen as "good" for this sport is b/c it shakes up the pristine image US figure skating has cultivated for itself. People like drama...drama makes things interesting. No one wants to see a bunch of perfect ice queens anymore (boring). Figure skating needs more than the standard "drama of competition" to make it interesting enough for people who don't normally watch it to pay attention.
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  24. cbd1235

    cbd1235 Active Member

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    All of this makes me appreciate the personalities of Ashley Wagner and Mirai Nagasu. If you took Yuna Kim's track record and skating, made her American, and added in the aforementioned personalities then it would be huge for skating!

    Not in any way criticizing Yuna btw, it's just terribly obvious that the US needs a mega star, and Yuna Kim is an example of that star.

    I should also say that the US is well on their way, with great skaters at the top (something that was hard to say for the past little while since Torino). Not to mention, this Sochi team controversy is creating a lot of buzz around the sport. They always say that no publicity is bad publicity, and that's mostly true.
  25. Frau Muller

    Frau Muller President of Dick Button Appreciation Club

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    I have to disagree here. The mere fact that Gracie is drop-dead-gorgeous in face and figure would make her a mega-star in the USA. She would be the greatest (money-earning) Olympic gold medalist figure skater since Dorothy Hamill, who also had a marketable face. Never underestimate the power of the face. Barbie-doll-looks do count in 'middle America'...maybe not among feminist PhDs but they aren't the target audience. :lol:
  26. Vash01

    Vash01 Well-Known Member

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    I disagree. IMO Gracie is a very marketable commodity (sorry for calling her that). I suspect the USFSA recognized it early on and started promoting her. If she wins the OGM, she will be the next Dorothy Hamill in the USA. I agree about towing the line and making it boring but I think an OGM combined with a pretty blonde will trump that (I am saying this as a fact, and not trying to be a racist, but I have lived in Texas and I know how people think in there and in some other parts of the country) . FS in the USA will not need a 'knee whacking' type event to popularize the sport if Gracie wins the OGM in Sochi.

    I do believe, however, that if Michelle Kwan had won the OGM in 1998 or 2002, it would have been a big help to the popularity of the sport here. Tara was like a falling star that appeared and disappeared quickly. The USA needs sustained celebrity figure to popularize the sport again. So if Gracie wins the OGM, she will need to stick around till 2018, otherwise it will be like another Tara (not healthwise, just the impact on the general population).
  27. Suze

    Suze New Member

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    Perhaps you are right. Gracie is attractive and highly marketable. I can easily picture her on the cover of Seventeen or Glamour. However, I doubt that she (for all her beauty) alone could revitalize interest in our sport. Figure skating is difficult to understand for the average viewer. Even for those who know the ins and outs of skating, scoring can be confusing with certain callers being stricter than others and well-known skaters receiving more presentation points than unknown ones (whether or not they deserve it). COP has tried to improve that but it's not foolproof and there will probably always be this subjective component to this sport.

    What I think might potentially help the popularity of FS in America is a great rivalry. I don't mean to insinuate anything negative about Gracie's current rivals but imagine if we had another skater with similar beauty and technical abilities as Gracie. Similar to how Mao and Yuna pushed each other to do better amidst their almost decade-long (not sure exactly how long) rivalry, pitting Gracie against an opponent could benefit all skaters to do better. every sport has it's famous rivalry pairing. Tennis's Nadal and Federer or Nadal and Djokovic, Football's cowboys vs eagles (I'm from philly originally)...

    People LOVE drama. Rivalries make Drama. people love rivalries.
  28. Vash01

    Vash01 Well-Known Member

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    Gracie vs. Polina?
  29. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

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    I thought about this back in 1998, when a Salon article dismissed both the American and Russian ladies as boring, finding only Chen and Bonaly interesting of the final flight. I think some of that might have been exoticizing on the part of the author. And of course Kwan as well as Lipinski was quite young at the time -- they didn't have much life experience aside from training and competing to liven up their interviews.

    But in general, aside from any media training to avoid controversial statements, I think that the sport tends to self-select for people with color-within-the-lines personalities. That may have been even more true in the figures era. But in the triple jump era, the majority of girls who don't have the right kind of physical talent to rotate three times in the air get weeded out well before elite level, and those who do have the ability also need to be really focused on technique and training to master those jumps and maintain them consistently.

    So even with age limits the top ladies are still often teenagers, and the free spirits rarely place well enough to make themselves known to the media and general public.

    And the artistic choices as teens often seem to be giving the judges what they think the judges want to see. Even later bloomers like Rochette, Kostner, Suzuki, Wagner don't tend to take as many risks as the male skaters their age or a little older.

    Much of the general public may enjoy conservative program choices as well. But if we could get a skater who is both charismatic and willing to take risks on the ice, and who can also land the jumps and win medals, that will get attention. If she gives good interviews as well, even better.

    Probably true. But I'm not sure how long such appeal can sustain itself, especially with younger viewers, unless the skater is consistently fighting for and often winning gold medals.

    If the skater is winning stuff and also sexy as well as pretty, that would probably catch more public attention. Which would not be a feminist way to go. And G. Gold is barely old enough to go that route even if it did come naturally, which so far has not seemed to be the case.
  30. Ilyich

    Ilyich New Member

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    I agree that the U.S. needs someone with Kwan levels of competitive consistency in order for the sport of skating to become popular again. Someone who's always in the running for gold and whose worst days may get her a bronze or silver.

    With regards to looks and marketability, I think Gracie checks those boxes the best. She's absolutely gorgeous. If she does well in Sochi, she's going to be popular. And if she continues to do well after that, she'll be a huge star.
  31. fenway2

    fenway2 Well-Known Member

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    Nah. Like Nancy Kerrigan in 1992, Kwan in 1998 benefited greatly by declaring right away that she was sticking around for the next Olympics. That's what companies/potential sponsors want to hear and once "amateur" skaters were allowed to make money, companies began hitching themselves to athletes chasing the big O. I doubt skating would have been any more popular if Kwan had won in 1998 or 2002 unless she also announced that she was sticking around for the next Olympics. But then again had she won an Olympic gold medal, her compelling storyline would have vanished and ....
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2014
  32. Gil-Galad

    Gil-Galad Well-Known Member

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    I know this might be slightly arrogant, but if Teen Mom 2 gets more viewers than skating, I'd worry a lot more about about the taste of the viewers than about skating itself. A sport does not need to become tasteless, cheap and overly dramatic and the skaters don't need to become outrageous personalities. I can hardly think of a group seeming more humble or wholesome than the Japanese ladies and skating is doing just fine over there. Would I prefer more diverse choreography and music choices, sure! But I am just not sure that would attract more fans. I am also not sure that a sexy, gorgeous winner would be the cure. Popularity comes and goes, it's not only skating - once upon a time certain ballet dancers were household names, nowadays most people don't even know one active ballet dancer.
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  33. Fan123

    Fan123 Active Member

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    Perhaps Katherina Witt had all those things some are talking about: good looks, sex appeal, great in interviews, charismatic, Hollyood appeal, dramatic, confident, and of course 2 OGMs. Although she wasn't an American, she did quite well especially at the height of the Pro-Am era, scored a huge endorsement with Coke, interestingly during the '94 Olympics. She would have been up there with Dorothy if she was an American, imo.
  34. snoopysnake

    snoopysnake Well-Known Member

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    Actually, I think Jason Brown is the one who is going to revitalize interest in FS in the US. He will generate the fans, and perhaps some of the ladies will get some residual attention as a result.
  35. fenway2

    fenway2 Well-Known Member

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    THIS. Today's skaters, certainly anyone who found success after the early 2000s, are trying to breakout in a country that has been obsessed with reality personalities for over a decade now. Until the preoccupation with the Kardashians and Teen Moms dissipates, we may never see another skater equal Dorothy Hamill's level of fame. If you weren't alive in the '70s you can't possibly understand how famous she was. But would she attain the same level of fame today in a world smitten with Snookis? Doubtful. Today's skaters are facing a challenge that older skaters never had to face. The only skater in the US who has somewhat made a name for his or herself post-2000 is Johnny Weir, and he has been very calculated in his image. His larger than life personality is the type you would expect to see on a reality show anyway, even if he weren't a skater.
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2014
  36. Skittl1321

    Skittl1321 Well-Known Member

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    Maybe in 2018? But interest seems to correlate directly with Olympic medals. Though Riverdance was a huge viral hit- I don't think people watching it understood that 1) he didn't actually win nationals and 2) he isn't in the medal race at the Olympics. While I don't want to take away from his success (I'm a big fan)- the non-skating fans who watched that aren't that likely to seek out much more. Many will probably be looking forward to seeing him in Sochi, but I wouldn't be surprised if those viewers are shocked he's not in the lead. I mean- they saw him on the internet! How could he not be.

    It would be interesting to see how many non-skating fans who saw it could name the guy "from the Riverdance skating video".
  37. Dilng

    Dilng Well-Known Member

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    ITA! If Gracie won the gold in Sochi she would definitely be a star in the USA! :)
  38. Mayra

    Mayra Well-Known Member

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    Jason Brown didn't utter a single word during that youtube video of his LP and I would saying going into Sochi, the 18-49 crowd know more about him than any of the American ladies. It's not just about the sound bite and whacking someone's knee. It's about personality and charisma ON the ice. It's about performance. Are these skaters drawing in the audience like a Candelero, Bonaly, Browning, Witt or a Kwan did? Is there anything to catch the attention of the average person who doesn't watch skating or even the ones that do?

    Sorry but I don't care how cute or spunky Mirai is off the ice, her skating was completely expressionless at Nationals and has been for years. Then you have Ashley falling on her butt twice (two years running), Gracie's pageant smile:)D) and sound bites from 1950 and forgive me but even I can't even remember what Polina did at this point. :shuffle: I love the US ladies, but sound bites are the least of their worries, they need to skate bigger and perform.


    JMO
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  39. IceJunkie

    IceJunkie Well-Known Member

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    If we're comparing the state of present day U.S. ladies' figure skating to 1996, well, it's not going to be a flattering comparison for more than a few reasons.

    I'm sick of all the :drama: about how dooooomed the U.S. ladies are. The media has been spoiled for so long. We had our day in the sun. It's OK if we don't have a Dorothy, Peggy, Michelle or Kristi for another 10 or 15 years.
  40. BlueRidge

    BlueRidge AYS's snark-sponge

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    Or ever. The past 10 years have been a nadir for figure skating according to the handwringers and I've had a total blast the entire time watching it.

    If I have to go to small competitions in rinks with a few benches to see it (I do this regularly for sectionals and regionals already), so be it. I want it to be figure skating (and ice dancing) not something else!