Changing the basic rules? No one seems to be advocating "two strikes and your out"
for baseball to make the sport faster. And baseball has a very complex set of rules and no one is complaining about it.
I agree with a number of the points mentioned already. I think part of the problem is the absence of any magical skaters lately. A number of them have had moments, but it has been a decade or so since any singles skater was "can't miss" viewing for me. Because of the timing, I am inclined to think the scoring system is a contributing factor.
Free skates under COP often are so cluttered they feel at least 6 minutes long and produce sometimes incomprehensible results. It is a problem for fans (especially the more casual viewer skating needs to win back) when skaters racking up points while messing up jumps are placed ahead of programs that look better when you count only the clean stuff. All in all, I do agree with COP that jumps are more important than spins and footwork, but the penalty should be much stiffer for jumping errors. Bring back the traditional notion that a jump which is not landed on 1 foot gets no credit at all, at least for the free skate.
I would make more changes to the scoring system to contribute to better performance quality. I think the ISU took a small step in this direction by not assigning levels any more to some of the elements, but the skaters and their choreographers have not really used the rule change to bring back prettier elements yet. Personally, I'd like all spins and footwork scored as no level elements. I would also increase the base value of those elements so +3 really means +3 and -3 really means -3.
Personally I prefer big, clean jumps to the convoluted entrances and marginally rotated efforts that COP produces. So, I would (1) devalue the "difficult entrance" by allowing it to contribute to GOE on no more than 1 jump in the SP and 2 jumps in the free skate and (2) have judges give +2 GOE for any jump that is texbook clean, +3 for clean and big, even with no other features. (I think it might be necessary to reduce the base value of all jumps a bit to offset this.)
I would also reduce the number of jumping attempts to a total of 9, of which a maximum of 8 can be of 3 or more revolutions. (Note I mean 9 jumps here, so a 2 jump combination counts as 2.) Also, senior level skaters should not be allowed to repeat any jump takeoff in a solo jump or leading jump in a combination/sequence unless all six basic takeoffs are displayed in the program in jump efforts of 2 or more revolutions. (A fall or popped jump counts as an effort, just like now.) The current system no longer rewards skaters who have mastered all 6 jumps, and that is just wrong.
Let senior level skaters use single jumps as choreographic elements in footwork, transitions, and footwork into jumps (without turning them into combination jumps). Find a way for the rules to encourage skaters to include showy but simpler elements from decades past without taking up a slot for a scoring element. (I'm thinking of things like like tuck axels or the seriously cool axels into pair camel spin we saw that pair doing in the 1961 US Nationals footage.)
I think maybe it is time for a reassessment of the PCS marks, what they mean, and how they are used. You do want higher performance quality to be a determiner between programs of similar technical content, but PCS should not be able to raise up a skater with distinctly less technical content over a clearly more difficult skate that was also well performed. I'm not sure how to quantify this. Let's just say Sato should still beat Bonaly at 94 Worlds, but Patrick Chan should not get held up with any more 2 fall performances. The tradeoff point should be somewhere between those.
Personally, I hate vocals in skating (and that includes those no lyric wailing vocals that were popular several years ago). Even for ice dance, the vocals more often than not make the program less enjoyable for me. There are exceptions, of course, but people's taste in music varies so much, that the one that I love probably makes the next person cover their ears, and vice versa.
Exactly. Actually, I think SOI did better when they used vocals from the 1960s and 70s, but I don't know if that would help toward the target 12-34 demographic. Adding current pop vocals would only chase away the viewers they have left over 25.I agree, but also, if current pop vocals would make a huge difference in popularity then shows like SOI would be doing much better...
I also don't think letting younger skaters compete will add audience appeal.
I think to improve skating's appeal to new audiences, there needs to be more energy and excitement put back into the sport. For starters, the scoring system has to be made more relatable. They need to show judges marks on TV in real time, assigned to actual judges, so placements can be understood (and, yes, sometimes debated). The ISU has made the scoring so invisible and lifeless that the scores have become a sterile, joyless exercise. 152.4. Yeah, whatever.
Second, they need to keep the event moving at a brisker pace. Skaters sit around in the K&C way too long waiting for scores to come up so the next skater can begin. I don't know what they can do to speed up scoring, but since the next skater has already had a minute or two skating around waiting for the previous skater's marks, they should not be allowed more than another 15 seconds or so to begin the program after they are announced (longer for the first skater in the group, I guess). Considering that each free skate takes 4 - 4:30, it is kind of absurd that one televised hour of skating typically includes only 6 programs.
Last edited by Susan M; 03-20-2011 at 08:10 AM.
"Marge, if you're going to get mad at me every time I do something stupid, then I guess I'm just going to have to stop doing stupid things!" - Homer Simpson in the Mr. Plow episode
I think it's fairly simple. FS is huge in Japan because they have had world champions for awhile now. Mao and Miki in ladies, and a great rivalry between Dai, Nobu and Taka, who go back and forth beating one another. FS is big in Korea because of Yu-Na. As a result, the Korean ladies are getting stronger and stronger.
US figure skating hasn't had a ladies champion in quite awhile now. I do think Evan's win and Johnny's antics helped temporarily. Yes, we have Davis and White in ice dance, but that's always been the least popular event.
Europe also needs to come up with champions for the popularity to surge again. JMO.
I don't want to dummy down the rules/scoring and go back to the 6.0 just because that is what most people understand, COP has been in use for 7 years now.
I don't think the judging time is a problem. TV viewers have just enough time to watch the slow-mos and have a look at the skaters in the kiss&cry - any less time would not be enough. The fans in the arena have just enough time to either drool or snark about what they've just seen and comment on the costume and hair of the skater/couple who is waiting their turn. As for the skaters, I'm sure they'd be willing to wait an extra minute or two to get the correct result.
Verifying calls takes time -- the judges are usually finished assigning PCS while the tech panel is still reviewing.
Then showing the individual scores, especially showing them broken down by judge, would take a lot more time.
adding my .02 about music. I'm also completely against vocals in music. I don't think it's done any favors to dance. (For all that I love the Kerrs, Lincoln Park? In the OLYMPICS?)
I do think that skaters, choreographers, and coaches need to vary the musical choices they use. With all of the look-alike programs, using the same music over and over is boring!
Nothing that hasn't been said before...
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.
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 by olympic; 03-20-2011 at 03:11 PM.
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.
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.Verifying calls takes time -- the judges are usually finished assigning PCS while the tech panel is still reviewing.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.