Very interesting thread. I especially enjoyed your comments, Aftershocks. As someone who is not an expert and really only followed figure skating at the Olympics until recently, I know from my own experience that I always thought of the sport as enjoyable, but also very old fashioned. I never went to a skating show because I thought the commercials made them seem hopelessly outdated. Most of the men seemed ...not feminine, but not macho either. They seemed to appeal to the over-65 crowd by playing up a sort of Disney showbiz aspect of skating. I'm talking about Scott Hamilton, for instance. I was not aware of many skaters at the time. I was interested somewhat because unlike a lot of people my age, I love the MGM musicals and have a soft spot for that kind of thing. So when Kurt Browning did Singing in the Rain, I loved it. But if you're going to try to sell your sport as entertainment, you can't keep pedaling the same thing decade after decade. You've got to be open to a variety of types of performers and entertainers. You've also got to be open to different kinds of performances. I was surprised reading Johnny Weir's description of the resistance that he, Melissa Gregory, and Denis Pethukov faced when they tried to skate as a trio. Why is that such an oddity in skating shows? And that number turned out to be a success. If skating officials can play up all those different personalities and encourage them to explore many different kinds of performances, it seems to me they'll get more people watching during competitions as well. Imagine the possibilities. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon on Ice, artful and athletic. What boy wouldn't like that?
As for attracting more boys to the sport, I think shows like Battle of the Blades can do a world of good. At least two hockey players from that show have expressed their newfound respect for figure skating. But more than that, I think it's going to take a sea change in the way North Americans think of figure skating. And I don't know if that's going to happen, as long as boys don't get experience skating so they realize how hard it is. It's the same thinking as ballet.