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  1. #1
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    My Fantasy: A Restructuring of Figure Skating

    I wish the whole political structure of figure skating could be dismantled, and that it could be operated by skaters for skaters. And that they could have a separate competition along the lines of Davis Cup in tennis, where countries play rounds “team” against “team” and the final two teams vie for the championship cup.

    Then during the rest of the competition season, allow the individual skater athletes no matter what country they are from to compete on the basis of merit, to determine the top skaters in the world in each discipline, not the top from each country, as it currently is still done because of antiquated tradition.

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    It's fun to imagine how things might be different. How would we get there from here?

    Maybe we have to take away the "here" and start from scratch, but assume that all the current skaters, coaches, and officials with their current skills and knowledge bases would still exist.

    Imagine that for some unknown reason the ISU gets out of the business of governing figure skating and devotes itself to speedskating only. Now all those figure skaters are left without an internationally organized sport.

    So how do you envision building your fantasy structure?

    From the top down:
    Be a benevolent dictator sharing your vision with the figure skating world. Tell us how you'd like top-level international figure skating competition to be organized, with as many details as you can provide. Also be prepared to figure out what the implications would be for up-and-coming skaters who haven't made it to the top international levels yet. How do they work their way into your structure?

    From the bottom up:
    If the newly organized sport is to be operated by skaters for skaters, how do the skaters operating the sport build up the new structure you imagine from a new unstructured baseline of a lot of skaters in local rinks around the world training for their own pleasure, some of whom are very good and even more of whom are interested in competing?

    Who's pays for it all? What do they get for their money?

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by aftershocks View Post
    I wish the whole political structure of figure skating could be dismantled, and that it could be operated by skaters for skaters. And that they could have a separate competition along the lines of Davis Cup in tennis, where countries play rounds “team” against “team” and the final two teams vie for the championship cup.

    Then during the rest of the competition season, allow the individual skater athletes no matter what country they are from to compete on the basis of merit, to determine the top skaters in the world in each discipline, not the top from each country, as it currently is still done because of antiquated tradition.
    Where would the finances come from?
    Morry Stillwell

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    Quote Originally Posted by Morry Stillwell View Post
    Where would the finances come from?
    All the skaters could buy lottery tickets. Whoever wins could finance the whole shebang.

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    I keep hearing that the current judges are retiring at an alarming rate and that not enough new judges are willing to go through the selection process.

    Many former elite skaters are also complaining about the time and cost of meeting certification requirements to coach at qualifying competitions in the the U.S. and Canada. They feel that they should be allowed to coach because they have been international competitors and/or medalists themselves.

    My sense is that there won't be enough coaches and officials in the next generation to support the incredible bureaucracy that has evolved so things will have to change.

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    I'd like to see a jump and spin event for singles, not at Worlds, but at another event, so we can give jumping beans / spin specialists an event in which they can shine. (In addition to what exists already, mind you.)

    Quote Originally Posted by aliceanne View Post
    I keep hearing that the current judges are retiring at an alarming rate and that not enough new judges are willing to go through the selection process.

    Many former elite skaters are also complaining about the time and cost of meeting certification requirements to coach at qualifying competitions in the the U.S. and Canada. They feel that they should be allowed to coach because they have been international competitors and/or medalists themselves.

    My sense is that there won't be enough coaches and officials in the next generation to support the incredible bureaucracy that has evolved so things will have to change.
    Interesting perspective. In order to teach group and privates to non-qualifying level skaters in the US, the coaching expenses start at $350/year for memberships, certification and insurance. An $80/hr Gold Medalist can recoup that in less than 5 private lessons. A $50/hr low-level coach needs 14 private lessons to break even. Given the inverse demand for lessons as costs rise, it's sort of shooting the industry in the foot, yet there really is a need for mandated education and certification, but that comes at a higher cost, which gets passed onto the skaters. A real Catch-22 situation.

    Fewer coaches seems like a good idea to those who coach full-time, but they overlook the recreational skater who wouldn't be willing to hire an expensive coach to test/compete USFSA standard track. Those skaters will either stay in groups or get frustrated and quit. The ISI really was visionary, even if their test structure was wacky.
    Last edited by FigureSpins; 03-17-2011 at 12:36 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FigureSpins View Post
    I'd like to see a jump and spin event for singles, not at Worlds, but at another event, so we can give jumping beans / spin specialists an event in which they can shine. (In addition to what exists already, mind you.)
    There used to be a pro competition called "Top Jump", if I recall correctly. You can Youtube it; there are some videos from 2002. The judges would assign the group of skaters (it was split into men and women categories) a particular jump and then the skater would get a maximum of two attempts at it and their attempt was marked out of ten. I seem to recall laughing when the judges assigned "quad toe" then "quad toe-triple toe" as Yagudin was the only skater on the show who could do it. Something like that would be fabulous, I think. You could have a similar format for spins.

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    I like the idea of separate jump and spin events too.

    I don't like the way the Top Jump combination was formatted.

    Here's how I would do the jumps:

    There are three or four required elements, similar to the current short program jump elements and maybe including a jump sequence requirement.

    Skaters get 2 minutes, or whatever time limit seems appropriate, in which they get to try each jump element a maximum of two times.

    A tech panel calls each attempt and judges award GOEs. The skater gets one score for each required element, which will either be the higher of the two attempts or the average of the two attempts. If the skater only attempts an element once, then that's the full score.

    They can do whatever they want in between the attempts including standing around drinking water or whatever, but once the timer starts they only get credit for what they accomplish during the time limit. (Unless equipment breaks or something like that.)

    Transitions directly into and out of the jumps can add to the GOE for that jump, but there's no extra credit for doing, e.g., spiral, crossover, crossover, three turn, jump. If one of the required elements is a jump preceded by steps or other connecting moves, then the criteria would be the same as for the comparable element in the short program.


    Similar rules for spins. Maybe only one attempt per spin is allowed, or maybe the time limit would be such that it would never be advantageous to make a second attempt unless the first attempt was prematurely aborted.


    I have a few ideas in mind of what those required elements might be.

    And I'd also like to see a short singles program to music that's all about footwork, edges, and field moves, and music interpretation, with no big jumps or prolonged spins allowed. Or, I guess, it could be purely a technical event with no music.

    I'd love to see skaters who excel in one kind of skill be rewarded for that excellence even if they're comparatively deficient in one of the other areas.

    At the world level, there could be a Figure Skating Elements Championships. And if it caught on I'm sure individual federations would hold their own elements championships and lower-level elements events. But I don't expect it would attract many casual fans.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by aftershocks View Post
    I wish the whole political structure of figure skating could be dismantled, and that it could be operated by skaters for skaters. And that they could have a separate competition along the lines of Davis Cup in tennis, where countries play rounds “team” against “team” and the final two teams vie for the championship cup.

    Then during the rest of the competition season, allow the individual skater athletes no matter what country they are from to compete on the basis of merit, to determine the top skaters in the world in each discipline, not the top from each country, as it currently is still done because of antiquated tradition.
    I hope that you would be prepared to put in thousands of volunteer hours to make it happen!
    When you are up to your arse in alligators it is difficult to remember you were only meant to be draining the swamp.

  10. #10
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    Ha ha, thanks for your thoughts and suppositions. I did characterize it as a fantasy, but the funny thing is, whatever ideas humans have can become a reality. It's also kind of funny that those who challenged the ISU by trying to get the World Figure Skating Association off the ground in 2003, didn't seem to understand the enormity of their undertaking and thus backed down or were beat down pretty quickly. Yep, it is definitely a LONG WAY from here to THERE ... OFF SOMEWHERE IN MY FANTASTIC IMAGINING.

    I don't see anything like my fantasy happening in the near future. Any change that may happen will come if it comes at all, very incrementally, with fits and starts. Plus it takes a lot of people wanting change and getting together in a smart way with a great deal of planning, to make it begin to happen. My fantasy is just that ... a wondrous reaching for something to help make the structure of the sport fit the twenty-first century... fit the beauty and the joy that is the essence of what makes this sport/art so uplifting, the essence of what keeps it alive. Too bad that essence is overshadowed by controllers who lack vision and are seemingly drunk on ego and power and money.

    As regarding money and finance, I say, let's do away with the entire monetary system while we're at it. Yes, another fantasy. Neither fantasy will happen in the near future, I know. So, let's go back to incremental changes ... and maybe at least start thinking in new and different ways. Why not? If you learn about how the monetary system came into being, it's very interesting and educational. Go to www.zeitgeist.com (click on the center film, the third and then the first to learn about how the world could be different, and to understand how the monetary system developed).

    I don't have a lot of details worked out re changing figure skating. I do agree that perhaps there could be separate jumping and spinning and figures competitions. And then, the free skating competition held as more of an all-around. Of course, the ISU will not relinquish its stranglehold willingly. And all of the federations would need to be restructured in a less political way. In any case, the world is more global now -- there are many skaters and coaches mingling from various countries and teaching, skating and pairing up not on the basis of nationality. I do know that tennis is not figure skating, but the model they offer re Davis Cup is one way of considering how the sport might handle the team vs. individual aspect.

    I know a lot of people would like to forget the bungled attempt at change in 2003, but I came across this on youtube recently, and Dick is soooo on target.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iMoRf...eature=related

  11. #11

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    I too like the idea of separate jumping and spinning events. I also would like to see separate medals for the individual events. I don't think it would dilute the value of the all-around medal.

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