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  1. #141
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    Quote Originally Posted by FigureSpins View Post
    I think the introduction of the Grand Prix circuit of televised competitions was the method, correct Susan M? I do have to say some of the Pro competitions were just as cheesy as exciting, imo.
    Yes the GP was a big part of it.

    It has been a while now, so I am a bit fuzzy, but I think Speedy's general annoyance was that skaters became stars via ISU competitions (tho the Olympics is, strictly speaking, not an ISU championship) then instead of continuing to provide star power to help him sell ISU events, they promptly left to make their money in pro events, shows and tours. This annoyance kind of came to a head after the 94 Olympics.

    In the US anyway, there was huge media interest interest in skating at the 94 Olympics, due largely to the Tonya-Nancy mess, but also to the return of the former pros. The men's event had the last 2 OGM (Boitano & Petrenko) as well as Browning and the younger eligibles. Pairs also had the return of the last 2 OGM (G&G and Mish/Dmitriev). Katarina Witt added drama and style to the ladies event, tho she was not expected to be a factor. Dance had the return of Torvill & Dean, the most famous and popular ice dancers ever (and still). So as the ISU was basking in the glow of all time popularity post Olympics, every one of those stars, plus the new ladies gold & silver passed on the 94 Worlds. (This seems normal today, but after 92 Olympics, the only medalists who passed on Worlds were Ito & the Duchesnays.)

    The ISU decided that in order to keep future champions from "going pro", they had to create similar income opportunities for their stars within the ISU structure. So, they turned the biggest of the early season events into the GP series, added the GP finals, and added/increased prize money for the ISU events. I think there may also have been some changes allowing eligible skaters to get paid more for shows/tours than they had been receiving, but I am not sure.

    The ISU also eliminated the reinstatement rule that had allowed the returning Olympians to compete in 94 and made the rule we see today that says absolutely no way, no how can anyone regain competition eligibility after losing it by participating in a pro competition.

    We saw the net effect of this after the 98 games, when some of the medalists opted to either continue competing on the ISU circuit (most notably Kwan) or stopped competing but avoided pro events that would cost them their eligibility (most notably Eldredge + Stojko?). After Kwan skipped the fall 98 GP events in favor of college and a few shows, the ISu started adding rules requiring top skaters to participate in the GP events if they wanted to go to Worlds. So in the next few years, the ISU kept making it harder and harder for skaters to retain Olympic eligibility without actually competing in the full set of ISU events, making these names unavailable even for shows. (One of these rules is the one that caught up Plushy and nearly caught Rochette last spring.)

    All this meant the pro event organizers had to rely mostly on the older stars to market their events. It did not help that Baiul didn't have Kristi's staying power and that Lipinsky held herself out of any but the cheesiest events.

    I don't mean to imply that the ISU single-handedly killed off pro skating. To some extent, the promoters did it to themselves. As the mid-90s boom in pro skating happened, there was no overall governing body to manage these events, so any promoter who thought there was money to be made came up with another event. The CBS television network lost their contract to air football in the fall of 94 and came up with the counter-programming idea of putting skating on Sunday afternoons during the NFL season (mostly featuring Baiul & Kerrigan). All this led to some seriously cheesy events and serious over saturation of the market. Even more ardent fans like me got more than enough figure skating.

    After a few years of this, the public was sick of seeing the same folks over and over in cheesy, made-for-TV events, and even the more legit of the pro competitions were hurting for competitors people would tune in to see. I don't recall which year, but I think maybe about 1999, the World Pros folks were so desperate for talent that they reached an agreement with the ISU to allow eligibles to compete at World Pros along with ineligible skaters, using a compromise of program rules. This led to what was probably the worst World Pros ever, where we got mostly eligible skaters doing that season's SP followed by watered down versions of their free skates. Most of the pro skaters were so dubious of this deal that they passed on the event. That arrangement lasted only 1 year, as I recall, but it kind of marked the beginning of the end. Natural market forces and cycles took it from there.

  2. #142

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    More US Figure Skating Major Events in Places OTHER than CA or OR, please....

    Quote Originally Posted by aliceanne View Post
    I agree. I think live skating is the hook for most people. We're all pretty jaded by what we see on tv and in movies.
    ITA. Having the majority of your most recent major events in only one geographic area, and the next 2 major events in the same exact state, is definitely not helping with this issue at all. It is hugely unlikely that the average casual skating viewer in the US and their families will ever be interested in going to see unknown skaters at a Regionals or Sectionals; they want to see the skaters they see on TV when they go to a live event, which has been impossible the past few years (with the exception of Greensboro) unless you live in Spokane, Portland, Oregon or San Jose or Ontario, California.

    Spreading the major events around to cover bigger and more diverse areas of the country, instead of one narrow geographic area made up of just three states, is a must at this point.
    "In no way do I think I stopped commanding a spotlight. I think I travel with one." -- Johnny Weir

  3. #143

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    Quote Originally Posted by Susan M View Post
    .....I think Speedy's general annoyance was that skaters became stars via ISU competitions .... then instead of continuing to provide star power to help him sell ISU events, they promptly left to make their money in pro events, shows and tours. ......
    Now isn't there something terribly wrong with the basic premise of "selling" ISU events? Wasn't the ISU (and other int'l sports governing bodies for Olympic sports) created to oversee 'amateur' (eligible) competitions...meaning to foster the constant development of new talent??? Hence, wouldn't an attempt to keep the most popular eligibles in the ISU competitions 'forever' be contrary to the essence of natural progression of new talent?

    "Constant progression" and "staying power" are not the same thing. Hence, the very idea of being a 'money making venture' seems contrary to the traditional mission of the ISU.

    The scary thing, IMO, is that the ISU could have gotten away with keeping 'the oldie goldies' on Worlds podiums if it were not for Code of Points. Thank goodness for CoP, which is supposed to reward those who skate the best -- who accumulate the most points -- in that particular event, and not based on past performances! (Yeah, we occasionally see vestiges of the old 6.0 '2nd mark spirit' pop up in the PCS, e.g., Kostner...but it doesn't carry the weight of the old 2nd mark.)

    And I agree with your observation about the Dec 1998 World Pros being 'the beginning of the end' of pro skating comps...even though I personally enjoyed being in the audience when Michelle Kwan debuted her 'Ariane' LP. But even I would not have wanted to see Michelle 'propped up' on a Worlds podium forever, past 2004.

    I don't see anything wrong with figure skating not being wildly popular with the general public. This is not a "Sunday afternoon beer-guzzling, nachos-eating" sort of sport. That's why I hated seeing football-style gimmicks like the Smuckers Skycam, "Stro-Mo Camera presented by Chevy," silly montages at the start of TV coverage, etc. by ABC/ESPN in the final years of their coverage. I love the Universal Sports approach: just the basics! -- open with a map pinpointing the location of the host city, a long shot of the arena's exterior, then quickly into the competition. No fluff - no crap.
    Last edited by Frau Muller; 04-04-2011 at 08:32 PM.
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  4. #144

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frau Muller View Post
    I don't see anything wrong with figure skating not being wildly popular with the general public. This is not a "Sunday afternoon beer-guzzling, nachos-eating" sort of sport. That's why I hated seeing football-style gimmicks like the Smuckers Skycam, "Stro-Mo Camera presented by Chevy," silly montages at the start of TV coverage, etc. by ABC/ESPN in the final years of their coverage. I love the Universal Sports approach: just the basics!
    I guess you're right. Popular entertainment is pretty faddish and skating skills take years to develop. It's is probably unrealistic to expect skaters to be cutting edge entertainers. Still, I enjoy skating as entertainment and it's sad when you only get to see the top competitive athletes. There are so many creative souls out there - thank goodness for youtube!

  5. #145

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frau Muller View Post
    Now isn't there something terribly wrong with the basic premise of "selling" ISU events? Wasn't the ISU (and other int'l sports governing bodies for Olympic sports) created to oversee 'amateur' (eligible) competitions...meaning to foster the constant development of new talent???
    Yes, all that is true. But most other amateur-oriented Olympic sports don't have high-paying professional careers available to them as competitors. Once amateurism rules were relaxed, athletes could coach, endorse products, or otherwise earn money through their fame and expertise and still continue to compete.

    If the purpose of these sports is to organize competition for athletes at all levels with a focus on those aiming to become the best in the world as determined by world championships and Olympic medals, then there is no imperative to push out older athletes. Let them retire on their own time when they're ready, or be pushed out of the top echelons by younger athletes who defeat them in competition.

    All of which has nothing to do with selling the competitions as an entertainment product.

    Hence, wouldn't an attempt to keep the most popular eligibles in the ISU competitions 'forever' be contrary to the essence of natural progression of new talent?
    Only if it's done so by propping up the older competitors' results, at the expense of more deserving new talents. In fair competition, 16-year-olds can compete against 36-year-olds on an even playing field, and may the best athlete win. You see that in other amateur-oriented sports, so why not in skating?

  6. #146
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frau Muller View Post
    I don't see anything wrong with figure skating not being wildly popular with the general public. This is not a "Sunday afternoon beer-guzzling, nachos-eating" sort of sport. That's why I hated seeing football-style gimmicks like the Smuckers Skycam, "Stro-Mo Camera presented by Chevy," silly montages at the start of TV coverage, etc. by ABC/ESPN in the final years of their coverage. I love the Universal Sports approach: just the basics!
    But are "the basics" televised? I remember after FS became wildly popular after the famous WACK, skating competitions were shown regularly on television--all the national/international competitions (Nationals, Worlds, SA, SC, Four Seasons, Europeans...), as well as the professional competitions. My brother could name every player on every football team, but I could name all the skaters!

  7. #147

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    Quote Originally Posted by duane View Post
    But are "the basics" televised?
    They are shown on UnivSports, by your definition - Nats, Worlds, Four Cs, G-P events and finals, etc. But by 'the basics' I mean what is shown in every program, such as:

    a. a short intro
    b. the actual skating competition (at least the final flight of each discipline)
    c. a quick results board showing final placement

    Not fluff pieces, intro montages, long interviews, Truth Booths, etc.

    GKelly - I'm all for allowing everyone -- even Dick Button -- to compete today, assuming Dick earns his way up the ranks by first going to his Regionals competition and placing top 4, etc. As you say, IF the scoring is fair -- which it now is most of the time with Code of Points -- then why not? BUT I think that we can all agree that if Dick wins the 2012 Worlds, it would be an aberration to the 'natural progression' of talent. However, we differ in the issue of older competitors' placements in ISU events having nothing to do with the 'entertainment product.' The marketing of SOI and other shows is very much tied to name recognition among the general public - the older, long-lasting competitors...but the Code of Points doesn't really lend itself to making long-term champions who win year after year unless those champions are super human and never falter. Look at how a reigning World Champ, Asada, even failed to make the Grand-prix finals! Look at Czisny's wildly-fluctuating results.
    Last edited by Frau Muller; 04-04-2011 at 10:13 PM.
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  8. #148

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frau Muller View Post
    Look at how a reigning World Champ, Asada, even failed to make the Grand-prix finals!
    How is that different than a Superbowl champ not making the playoffs? Not all players/skaters have to be good all the time. Some falter and come back the next year, it is OK in any sport.

    I remember as a kid skating was always on either ABC or NBC on any given weekend during the winter. Now you have is some random cable channel very few get or pay for it on the internet. It's not even on ESPN anymore.

    If they would show the competitions on the TV, more would be interested, they don't even have to show all of it just the top ten. There's not that many competitions in a season. They don't have to show it live and cut the fluff. I bet they would win back viewers in no time, whack not needed.

  9. #149
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    Now isn't there something terribly wrong with the basic premise of "selling" ISU events? Wasn't the ISU (and other int'l sports governing bodies for Olympic sports) created to oversee 'amateur' (eligible) competitions...meaning to foster the constant development of new talent???
    Well, yes. The whole Olympic movement is supposed to be about encouraging athletic participation, but from the POV of a governing body, issues like revenue generation are realistic concerns as well.

    I don't see anything wrong with figure skating not being wildly popular with the general public.
    What's wrong with the level it has currently reached in the US is that people are so disinterested, we no longer even have an over the air network broadcasting many of its premier events or they resort to packaging the whole event into a couple hours for later broadcast. Universal Sports is not that widely available. It is probably on most cable systems, but, for example, is not available to DirecTV subscribers. And, please don't suggest Ice Network watched on computer monitor is a legitimate alternative to a network broadcast you can watch from the couch. You need network (or at least ESPN) coverage to reach the marginal fan. The other outlets are options only for the dedicated fans who go looking for them.

    In a way, we are kind of back to how skating was shown in the the 1970s. Compare what we get today to the mid 90s, when the men's final at Nationals was shown in a live network broadcast on Thursday night in prime time. I think the fans of a sport suffer when its popularity reaches such a low that nobody want to buy the rights to the GP finals.

    The loss of US TV revenue has also cost the USFS and the ISU, and that has been reflected, in part, in a cut in payouts to skaters. The two USFS cheese fests and its accompanying prize money have been eliminated, for example, along with the annual appearance contracts top skaters used to get from the USFS. So, eventually, the sport as a whole suffers as well.

  10. #150
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    Thanks guys for all the explanations. I did fall off as a fan in the mid-nineties so I hadn't even realized that the rules had become so strict. It was after these Olympics that I went to look up the Champions on Ice tour and found out that it had gone out of business long ago. That was the show I used to go to because it had skaters from everywhere. I really don't feel like seeing the casts Stars on Ice puts together. Never did. Because I live in MA I was able to see the "Thin Ice" taping in CT (I went specifically to see Lambiel), but besides that I really have no way of seeing the international skaters I watch in competition in real life unless I sell a kidney to be able to afford a ticket to Europe to see an Art on Ice type show or to go to Worlds. Most fans can't afford trips the diehard fans save up for. They depend on TV. And in my area Universal Sports isn't even available if you wanted to pay for it. I did purchase the Ice Network subscription this year but I don't think it was worth it. Every time someone went up for a jump the stream froze. lol

    The only thing that has done anything to keep my interest in figure skating, which was rekindled at the Vancouver games, was Youtube. But I had to search it out. It didn't come to me. That's why I think NBC dropped the ball. I watched the entire Grand Prix on NBC but I have to say when I think of what figure skating I watched on TV this year, it's still Brian Boitano's special that pops into my mind. And of course the only new people in it were the Americans. So it sucks for someone like me who isn't 'Rah, Rah, Americana'. All the skaters I re-became a fan of after not paying attention between Olympics like Joubert, Lambiel, Plushenko, Weir, have barely appeared on my TV this year. In fact I'm 99.9% certain Joubert hasn't at all. Plushenko? No way. Save for repeats of "Be Good Johnny Weir" I've been mostly watching the skaters I kinda like a little bit. lol And even though Johnny has been on TV a lot and was on "Skating with the Stars" I think he only actually skated once there and once on ATS:LA. Even Evan I think skated only a few times on TV right?

    It's a shame what they did to the Professional Skating. I think it's needed. Not just for fans and revenue, but for the skaters. That's probably why they're so reluctant to quit competing. There's nowhere for them to go.

  11. #151
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    Quote Originally Posted by Susan M View Post
    They do in vault, because it consists of only one trick that has a specific start value (which I why I used vault in my example). But really, vault is just a simplified example. The maximum potential value of any specific routine on the other events can be calculated as well if you have a list of its elements (incl planned connections).
    No, they don't: gymnastics has an open ended CoP even in every apparatus, included vault.

    Of course it's only one trick, but you can decide to make it as difficult as you can perform; i.e.: you can extend the D component of the score as far as your skills go.

    ----

    Your reasoning applies to the current figure skating CoP too: let's say that every planned element will be completed earning the highest possible GOE, bam, you have your top TES value, which you can only deduct from.

    And yet still the figure skating CoP is open ended, because no one is gonna stop you if you want to jump a quadruple insted of a planned triple, if you can - (and granted that you meet requirements, as in gymnastics).

    ----

    Gymnastics vault would be like peforming a single jump: once you're going for one specific element the TES value is set (D score in gymnastics), and the final score is only a matter of GOE (E score in gymnastics).

    -- We can skip the under-rotation thing, as it would be like piking a vault that was supposed to be straight, it only brings the actual TES/D score down --

    But: you can always go for the jump you want, hence, the TES score does not have a fixed top value.

  12. #152

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    However, figure skating also has another completely separate set of scores -- the Program Component Scores. These do have a maximum (10.0 times 5 components times whatever the factor is for that kind of program -- for senior men's SP it's 1, which makes it easy).

    There isn't anything really comparable in gymnastics.

    It should be easy for audiences to understand what the maximum score is. The factoring does make the math a little confusing.

    Theoretically, judges opinions of the Interpretation score should trend with audiences' perception of the interpretation. The average judge is probably no more or less musically literate than the average audience member, and there's really not a lot of skating-specific knowledge that goes into that particular component. In practice, judges do tend to keep that component more or less in the same range as the others, probably more than is appropriate, with some exceptions.

    What if we brought in musicians and dancers to judge Interpretation instead of former skaters? Would that make that score more accessible to audiences?

    Skating Skills scores, on the other hand, are very hard for casual viewers to appreciate while watching on TV. The average viewer doesn't have the knowledge of what to look for in that component and the commentators usually make little or no mention of the relevant skills and criteria. Also video flattens out the perception of speed, the sounds (good or bad) of the blades, etc., to the point where experienced judges would not be able to judge Skating Skills on video nearly as consistently as they could live and up close.

    Because figure skating is primarily a skating contest, Skating Skills is arguably the single most important thing being judged and often overrides the difficulty or success of the elements in determining results.

    But it's hard to explain to TV viewers with no skating background. If we could come up with a good solution to that problem, it might be easier to build a more knowledgeable and enthusiastic audience. Any suggestions?

    The other components are more of a mix of criteria that audiences can see perfectly well for themselves without training and criteria that do require detailed knowledge of skating technique and judging standards.

  13. #153
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    ...gymnastics has an open ended CoP even in every apparatus, included vault. Of course it's only one trick, but you can decide to make it as difficult as you can perform;
    I think you are talking theoretical routine possibilities while others are talking one specific athlete's known routine or vault. Any one specific vault has a specified start value. Once that athlete's vault number goes up, it is not "open ended" at all. The broadcasters can (and do) tell us the precise start value of that athlete's vault. It makes it easier to understand why a clean looking vault got 9.35 while a messier looking one got 9.4 when you understand the second vault had a much higher start value.

  14. #154
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    It was after these Olympics that I went to look up the Champions on Ice tour and found out that it had gone out of business long ago.
    I think, technically speaking, COI merged with SOI. In most years, SOI still looks mostly like SOI, but they have moved into some of the dates/venues that used to belong to COI. Also, after worlds, they usually add a few of the top US eligible skaters as "guests" for the final tour stops. (Obviously, that won't happen this year.) After Calgary, though, the SOI tour did resemble more nearly the old COI cold spot format. They carried over only a few of the previous SOI cast and added a number of skaters from the Olympics, but not the international array that made COI so good in its best years. Mostly, they added US and Canadian medalists (plus, inexplicably, Alissa Czisny). I don't know if this was a marketing-driven decision, a way to provide employment for IMG clients, or something the USFS forced on them as a condition for approving the participation of US eligible skaters.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gkelly View Post
    Skating Skills scores, on the other hand, are very hard for casual viewers to appreciate while watching on TV.
    Not sure if I completely agree with that one, even my daughter saw a big difference between the Skating Skills of S/S and G/E during Euros and it was only the difference of 1st and 4th place.

  16. #156
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    The short-term solution for increasing popularity in the US or Europe, IMO and in a nutshell, is the appearance of a homegrown, photogenic ice queen. But this is necessarily an either/or proposition (the US or Europe), and just as inevitably impermanent.

    Forgive me for indulging in some starry-eyed futuristic speculation, but here's a thought:

    It's fairly obvious that one of the primary weaknesses of COP on the technical/sporting side, from the point of view of audience involvement as well as in the ability to rigorously judge (and give appropriate points), is the lack of real-time transparency as to what the skater actually did. More broadly, it's clear that skating needs to broaden it audience, particularly with younger viewers.

    However, at some point in the not too distant future, it may be possible that advances in software and hardware can be visually applied to the problem, the way that Hawkeye has revolutionized line calls in tennis, and goal line technology can be used in soccer and is in use (in the broadcast booth) in the NFL.

    In golf, which I think is closer in spirit to skating (in its technical nerdiness , and its partiality for arcs, spins and rotations), the flight of the ball is electronically tracked to give a colored visual trajectory on the screen, allowing the audience to ooh and ahh over the flight and length. It also makes it easier for officials to find the ball if it strays into the knee-deep heather . Broadcasts are now even showing the projected line on putts before and during his stroke.

    Perhaps the possiblity, still just beyond our visible horizon, of being able to digitally capture and "track" a skater's movement, will revolutionize the sporting aspect of skating. Such a capability would allow the viewer to see the take-off point of a jump vs. landing, which can immediately be compared to magic-marker type lines generated by programming to show, say, true triple rotation, or the ideal edge orientation. You could do this in real time, using split screen. Or, while the viewer is watching the element live, you could mark the "correct" landing position for rotation a nanosecond after the jump is initiated to give the viewer a "feel" for the mark that the skater needs to hit.

    Conversely, such a capability would potentially allow the rules to be more precise in the scoring definitions of an element, even for spins and spirals. Electronically counting the rotations on a spin would be easy. A more difficult one, but not undoable, assuming more precise definitions, would be for "stretch" or "speed" in a spin or spiral. Each skater is different, but digital measurement and motion capture of skaters before the start of competition would allow the monitoring program to precisely judge the geometry (using things like spine angle, or the position of, say, the leg relative to other anatomical reference points).

    You might even want to add little indicator bars (tastefully, on the margins) continuously displaying the speed of the skater, as he/she moves around the rink, the speed/height/ice coverage achieved in the jump, a coefficient for the "deepness" of edges in basic skating, etc. There are many possibilities and bells and whistles that could enhance the real-time information availability, and hence the viewing experience.

    Exactly how all of these features are integrated and presented need to be thought through. A legitimate issue is how to do all of this without marring the "holistic" viewing experience that the artistic aspect requires. Some things could be done in real-time, some may be best left until after the live performance has ended. But with some trial and error, I believe a balance could be achieved.

    Purists may object, but I'm of the view that, in the longer perspective, this is the direction that all sports are going anyway. And the benefits to skating may be far greater because of its technical opacity. It would address the naysayers who crow that figure skating isn't a "real" sport. Another potentially significant bonus: the fact that figure skating begins to resemble an electronic game may increase the interest from the younger demographic, who now grow up demanding precise and data-rich environments in their entertainment as a matter of course.

    A bit radical, given the current state of rules and methods of visual presentation (please don't immediately label me a weirdo ). What do you guys think if skating were to develop this way?

  17. #157

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    Quote Originally Posted by Robeye View Post
    A bit radical, given the current state of rules and methods of visual presentation (please don't immediately label me a weirdo ). What do you guys think if skating were to develop this way?
    Are you talking about how skating itself would develop, or the television coverage of skating?

    I think that many viewers will still like to just sit back and enjoy the performance as performance. So split screens, slow motion, overlaid graphics, etc., would detract from that kind of watching. But they would be educational and enhance the technical analysis of the performances from a sporting perspective.

    And maybe someday some of the technologically enhanced technical analysis could contribute to making the scores for TES and and Skating Skills more precise and objective.

    But other aspects of those scores, plus the other components, will still rely on human perception, interpretation, and synthesis.

    If we could have all sorts of broadcast technology available right now, I would vote for an interactive setup that gives viewers the ability to choose between one of the following options or toggling between them: 1) just the straight video of the performance with only the music audible; 2) video and music with human interest commentary, jump calling, etc., as in most current and past broadcasts; and 3) detailed technical commentary coupled with visual aids.

  18. #158
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robeye View Post
    It's fairly obvious that one of the primary weaknesses of COP on the technical/sporting side, from the point of view of audience involvement as well as in the ability to rigorously judge (and give appropriate points), is the lack of real-time transparency as to what the skater actually did. More broadly, it's clear that skating needs to broaden it audience, particularly with younger viewers.

    However, at some point in the not too distant future, it may be possible that advances in software and hardware can be visually applied to the problem, the way that Hawkeye has revolutionized line calls in tennis, and goal line technology can be used in soccer and is in use (in the broadcast booth) in the NFL.

    In golf, which I think is closer in spirit to skating (in its technical nerdiness , and its partiality for arcs, spins and rotations), the flight of the ball is electronically tracked to give a colored visual trajectory on the screen, allowing the audience to ooh and ahh over the flight and length. It also makes it easier for officials to find the ball if it strays into the knee-deep heather . Broadcasts are now even showing the projected line on putts before and during his stroke.

    Perhaps the possiblity, still just beyond our visible horizon, of being able to digitally capture and "track" a skater's movement, will revolutionize the sporting aspect of skating. Such a capability would allow the viewer to see the take-off point of a jump vs. landing, which can immediately be compared to magic-marker type lines generated by programming to show, say, true triple rotation, or the ideal edge orientation. You could do this in real time, using split screen. Or, while the viewer is watching the element live, you could mark the "correct" landing position for rotation a nanosecond after the jump is initiated to give the viewer a "feel" for the mark that the skater needs to hit.
    Didn't they used to have something like that for the jumps? I forgot the technical term but on instant replay they would show the series of still pictures all together that added up to a jump so you could see every position in the air. I'm almost 100% positive one of the US channels used to do that a long time ago. Now that you mention it, I'm not even sure they even really use replays anymore in figure skating at all. Do they?

    Anyway, you're right. The technology is mostly there. They show tennis players in slow motion so you can see how they hit a return, so the commentator can explain what is right or wrong about their technique. And graphics show where they hit all the returns from, where the different serves landed. I'm sure if they wanted to they could use that in figure skating to at least show the foot positions on take offs and landings. But would they want to? Because then they'd have to make sure they were doing it right themselves. The challenge system in tennis has pretty much proven that line judges are sometimes way off on their calls.

    I remember a jump this year of Brian Joubert's that looked like a clean quad but they downgraded it. That's a huge difference in points. Would they want the fans and commentators from every country to have all these tools at their finger tips if you could really track something like that and have a graphic up that quickly? I think it would be a nightmare for the judges and their agendas. If not they'd probably have it already.

    I mean I think it'd be a great idea. Not in real-time but on instant replay that the commentator could call up or that you could check from your computer at home. (Actually that reminds me of the 360 GlamCam they have on the red carpet at award shows lol) We mostly watch figure skating online anyway. They might as well take the next step.

  19. #159
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    Quote Originally Posted by gkelly View Post
    Are you talking about how skating itself would develop, or the television coverage of skating?

    I think that many viewers will still like to just sit back and enjoy the performance as performance. So split screens, slow motion, overlaid graphics, etc., would detract from that kind of watching. But they would be educational and enhance the technical analysis of the performances from a sporting perspective.

    And maybe someday some of the technologically enhanced technical analysis could contribute to making the scores for TES and and Skating Skills more precise and objective.

    But other aspects of those scores, plus the other components, will still rely on human perception, interpretation, and synthesis.

    If we could have all sorts of broadcast technology available right now, I would vote for an interactive setup that gives viewers the ability to choose between one of the following options or toggling between them: 1) just the straight video of the performance with only the music audible; 2) video and music with human interest commentary, jump calling, etc., as in most current and past broadcasts; and 3) detailed technical commentary coupled with visual aids.
    To answer your first question, I believe that these types of developments would potentially impact both the audience experience as well as the sport's rules and judging. And they would address several of the often-cited reasons for lack of audience interest.

    As per my original post, I agree that the impact is confined to "non-artistic" elements (and, as you know, I'm a big supporter of the need to maintain the artistic aspect of skating ). But consider: 1)this portion constitutes the majority of scoring, and 2)this is the aspect most casual viewers least comprehend (or, if they comprehend, are unable to appreciate in real time. Heck, even "knowledgeable" viewers find it difficult, hence the endless, hairsplitting discussions on whether a jump should or should not be ratified, for example).

    First, this would address imprecision in judging. Technical elements which, in principle, should lend themselves to greater quantification (it's all physics and bio-mechanics at the end of the day) must accept "approximate" definitions because humans must make the calls, and we only see and think in analogue. The realization of computer-assisted judging of technical elements would allow true quantification of the scoring definitions of technical elements, and hence basically eliminate controversy, any bias, any fear of manipulation.

    Second, this change in how skating operates can then be reflected in the presentation of the performance to viewers. The ability to provide viewers with quantitatively accurate and precise information, in real time, about the technical elements they are watching, would allow viewers full immersion in the sporting "thrill". Providing a continuous indicator of speed, for instance, or deepness of edge, gives immediacy to the viewer as to how to appreciate skating skills. Similarly with speed/height/coverage/rotation/edge indicators on jumps. You can't feel the thrill about something that you don't understand or cannot visually track, and this has been one of skating's fundamental problems with lay viewers.

    This is an issue that faces any high speed, technically complex endeavor, both in entertainment and real life. People who play electronic games (I do ) know that any game that doesn't provide this data would never sell even a single copy, simply because the user wouldn't know what the heck was happening on screen (imagine Halo without the life or ammo indicators, without a targeting cursor, etc.). Similarly, a jet pilot without his dashboard or HUD would probably have a nervous breakdown. In a way, this is what skating requires the casual viewer to do: fly a plane with even so much as an altimeter. It's not unreasonable that they find it intimidating or just plain impossible.

    Third, this type of viewing experience, I speculate, would make skating much more interesting to younger audiences, who are increasingly comfortable, and expect, the kind of entertainment environment I describe.

    Finally, the technology already exists in some form. If a decision were made to go in this direction, everything I've speculated about could be implemented within the next decade, with many elements almost immediately.

    Again, as per my previous post, determining the optimal form and extent of these tools would need more extensive thinking; I'm just outlining bare concepts as possibilities. But as a start, I really like your idea on giving viewers a choice in terms of the format that they'd like to view, although my personal opinion is that the vast majority of casual viewers would opt for some sort of "enhanced" version.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Made4Dancin View Post
    Didn't they used to have something like that for the jumps? I forgot the technical term but on instant replay they would show the series of still pictures all together that added up to a jump so you could see every position in the air. I'm almost 100% positive one of the US channels used to do that a long time ago. Now that you mention it, I'm not even sure they even really use replays anymore in figure skating at all. Do they?

    Anyway, you're right. The technology is mostly there. They show tennis players in slow motion so you can see how they hit a return, so the commentator can explain what is right or wrong about their technique. And graphics show where they hit all the returns from, where the different serves landed. I'm sure if they wanted to they could use that in figure skating to at least show the foot positions on take offs and landings. But would they want to? Because then they'd have to make sure they were doing it right themselves. The challenge system in tennis has pretty much proven that line judges are sometimes way off on their calls.

    I remember a jump this year of Brian Joubert's that looked like a clean quad but they downgraded it. That's a huge difference in points. Would they want the fans and commentators from every country to have all these tools at their finger tips if you could really track something like that and have a graphic up that quickly? I think it would be a nightmare for the judges and their agendas. If not they'd probably have it already.

    I mean I think it'd be a great idea. Not in real-time but on instant replay that the commentator could call up or that you could check from your computer at home. (Actually that reminds me of the 360 GlamCam they have on the red carpet at award shows lol) We mostly watch figure skating online anyway. They might as well take the next step.
    The analogy that comes to mind is: compare the "3D" gimmick of 1950s B-grade horror movies (using those pathetically blurry and wobbly two-color cellophane-in-cardboard glasses) , with the system used in Avatar. The concept they're both trying to get at is the same, but in sophistication and effect they are nothing alike. Which is why it was an ephemeral fad sixty years ago, but is now called "the future of film".

    My thought was that the technology would not only be used to enhance viewing, but also technical judging itself. The judges and the audience would have access to the same visual information and various indicator data. While you may be right that traditionalist judges/officials might object, I suppose the same could be said for the (non-existent ) Union of Tennis Line Callers.

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