View Poll Results: Should a purely artistic program be added to ladies/mens singles competitions?

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  1. #1

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    Should a purely artistic program be added to singles events?

    One thing that might add to the popularity of figure skating is if the ISU were to add a purely artistic program to ladies/mens singles events (i.e. there would be 3 programs, a short, a free, and an artistic). The way I envisage it, the program would be very similar to programs that are skated in the professional shows and exhibitions - with the emphasis very much on the artistic content. I think that under the new rules, there is simply too much emphasis on the jumps and the technical side, which has made the competitions rather dull. By adding a purely artistic program, the skaters would have to put on a "show" and I think that is something audiences would really enjoy. Moreover, it would also help prepare skaters for when they turn professional. It is also worth noting that the exhibitions at the end of tournaments are extremely popular and that that is because the emphasis of the programs on display is much more artistically based.

    Yes - if a program were added, then there would be 3 programs in singles. However, that also used to be the case when school figures still existed. I see no harm in adding a 3rd program, especially if it enhances the events.

    Another option would be to simply enhance the artistic element in the short and free programs. One things for sure though, something needs to be done to arrest the decline in figure skating. In many parts of the world now (for example, the UK where I live), TV coverage is almost non-existent or in steep decline with TV companies stating that there is no longer a large enough audience to justify the expense of covering events. Where you have a situation like that, then that is a sport that is in serious trouble. In those kind of situations, you simply have to look for ways of extending the appeal of the sport beyond the hardcore fan base. The poll is just a bit of fun and in many ways I am just 'flying a kite' as it were in terms of exploring ways to arrest the decline in figure skating. The more serious question is what can be done to arrest that decline and I would be interested in hearing peoples views on that
    Last edited by Maofan7; 07-31-2011 at 10:02 AM.

  2. #2
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    No. I have no desire to see purely theatrical skating in eligible ISU competitions. Keep it for shows, exhibitions or pro-oriented event.

  3. #3

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    I think this is already done on the GP, 4CC, Euros, and Worlds. It's called a Gala. You place in the top 3 or 4, you skate in the Gala. Sure, it's not judged, but it is an enjoyable, show type program.

    I have no idea how a show type program could be judged fairly, and it is certainly against the ISU trend towards more jump oriented, technical programs.

  4. #4

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    absolutely NO. I think one of important challenges in singles events are to combine artistry and technicality with ease. "Purely artistic programs" have no meaning in singles competition and gala shows are perfect enough chances for skaters to show off their "pure" artistry.

    That third program - compulsory program - was also for judges to check and determine skaters' SKATING SKILLS with rather less complex routine. I see harms in adding a third program just to see skaters' "pure artistry
    which would mean full of choreography, full of body movements ARE GOING TO affect skaters competitive condition..
    Last edited by l'etoile; 07-31-2011 at 02:35 AM.

  5. #5

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    I'd like to see a separate skating discipline for singles that focuses on skating skills and performance to music rather than on jumps and spins.

    Perhaps judged by PCS only.

    Probably it should be a completely separate discipline with separate medals. Skaters could enter one event or the other or both. Like competing in ice dance and also in pairs, or one of the above and also singles.

    No props or extravagant costumes, no theatrical lighting -- save that for shows.

    Or the ISU could develop an artistic skating track that includes programs that do have all that theatrical paraphernalia as well as a pure skating to music event, including duet and larger group events such as Theatre on Ice. Hold a separate world championships for all those events. Don't expect any of them ever to be accepted as Olympic sports.

    My other dream is that the singles short program could be replaced by a jump contest, a spin contest, and a skating skills to music contest, each with separate medals but skaters would have to skate in all three and rack up enough points over those three events to qualify for the well-balanced freeskating event, which would be most prestigious.

    In either case, if there are medals to be given out for artistic skating, they should go to the best artistic skaters regardless of whether or not they can do triple jumps.

  6. #6
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    This is supposed to be a sport and an event like this would undermine whatever credibility the rest of skating has. Anyone other than a dedicated skating fan would find this event laughable. I am reminded of broadcaster Mary Carillo's reaction after watching the CD phase at the Olympics back in 94, "They give medals for this?"

    For starters anything judged on basic technique and PCS would be so subjective and so political nobody would ever win on merit. That's the reason we see elements with levels in ice dance.

  7. #7
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    Noooooo...

    I can remember when they included an " interpretive " program for those who wanted to enter ( didn't last long ) ..What a travesty! And I think this would be much the same except for a name change. The trouble is , there's such a wide divergence of opinion on what constitutes "Art". Who would judge it ?

    Leave it for the Gala.

    ETA..gkelly , i think some of your ideas would be very enjoyable , but the cost of holding them would probably be prohibitive, wouldn't it? And I'd bet that the theatricality would soon start creeping in ,in the guise of "pushing the boundaries"
    Last edited by Pratfall; 07-31-2011 at 06:29 AM.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Susan M View Post
    This is supposed to be a sport and an event like this would undermine whatever credibility the rest of skating has. Anyone other than a dedicated skating fan would find this event laughable. I am reminded of broadcaster Mary Carillo's reaction after watching the CD phase at the Olympics back in 94, "They give medals for this?"

    For starters anything judged on basic technique and PCS would be so subjective and so political nobody would ever win on merit. That's the reason we see elements with levels in ice dance.
    That comment is pretty ignorant, if you ask me.

    First, the CD was only 1/3 or a 3 part competition.

    Second, a proper CD requires a mastery of basic skating (edges, timing, foot placement, interpretation, synchronicity). Only the best dancers can master all of these areas.

    Honestly, I don't really care if such an artistry based event is "laughable" to the public. I would love to see a separate event from the normal competition that isn't based 1/2 on jumps and spins and 1/2 on artistry, but 100% on artistry - using the five program components: skating skills, transitions, performance/execution, choreography, and interpretation. Jumps can be used to enhance the program - but the difficulty of the jump does not matter. Falls would detract from the score, obviously, but judges wouldn't give any extra bonus points to the skater for completing the jump - only mark it in the way it enhanced the program as a whole.

  9. #9

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    I completely agree about the marking and judging problems. And that is why the new system was introduced. However, I do think the ISU needs to do something to reverse the decline. Where you live somewhere like the UK, you really notice the decline. There is next to no TV coverage and audiences keep on falling year on year. Worldwide, the only growth area is Asia and that appears to be largely related to the success of their skaters. What will happen if the next generation of skaters are not as successful? Skating was at it's peak under the old system when there was much more artistry and interesting choreography. I think with the new system, yes you have largely removed the politics, but in many ways the baby has been thrown out with the bathwater. That is, we now have product that is less interesting (more of a jumping/technical competition) and has proved to be turnoff. I just think that if the decline in the worldwide audience is be halted, some method needs to be to found to incorporate more artistry back into skating programs. As for the marking, surely it is not beyond the wit of the ISU to keep the politics and bias out.

  10. #10

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    Absolutely not. Even as a person who does a lot of artistic judging myself and place a great deal of value on musical interpretation and the components, it would lend itself to too much criticism of the system because no one would be happy with whatever results came about. Just look at this forum. Most of the arguments here happen over the component mark. Even as a judge you still get told by some posters that you don't know sh*t!
    When you are up to your arse in alligators it is difficult to remember you were only meant to be draining the swamp.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aussie Willy View Post
    Absolutely not. Even as a person who does a lot of artistic judging myself and place a great deal of value on musical interpretation and the components, it would lend itself to too much criticism of the system because no one would be happy with whatever results came about. Just look at this forum. Most of the arguments here happen over the component mark. Even as a judge you still get told by some posters that you don't know sh*t!
    Valid point. However, I go back to the point about 'throwing the baby out with the bathwater'. I think that people within figure skating need to stop being afraid of 'critics'. There will always be critics who moan about one thing or another simply because there favourites don't win and they will always find something to moan about no matter how objective the scoring is. I am also a fan of football and cricket and the scoring and rules in those sports are about as objective as it gets. However, week after week you hear people criticising referees/umpires for this, that, and the other. It never stops. In fact, in a recent test match (cricket) between England and India, there was an absolutely absurd situation where a television reply clearly showed for all to see that the ball bounced before the fielder supposedly caught it - hence, batsman not out. Yet, some people tried to suggest the umpire should have given the batsman out!! As I said, even in situations where it is about as objective as you can possible make it - you will always get critics who will moan about one thing or another simply because the result has not gone the way they would have liked. As a sport therefore, I think people within figure skating need to be braver in standing up to critics who quite frankly do not know what they are talking about. Remember, the 2002 Olympic scandal had nothing to do with the artistic elements in figure skating being supposedly too subjective to score. No - instead it related to allegations of corruption and alleged deliberate/wilful miss-marking. However, corruption of this kind can happen under any system. To remove a lot of the artistry from figure skating as a means of trying to remove corruption simply made no sense. Firstly, it doesn't get rid of corruption as corruption can happen under any scoring system. And secondly, you are literally 'throwing the baby out with the bathwater' as the artistry in skating is what brings in a lot of the wider audience as the beauty and artistry of skating is one of the core elements that fans most appreciate and enjoy about the sport. Finally, whilst there is a subjective element to the marking of artistic content, it is only partially so. There are many ways of breaking a program down and marking the artistic content in an objective manner - for example, by marking it in terms of the five program components - skating skills, transitions, performance/execution, choreography, and interpretation. Yes - there is a subjective element and so called critics and moaners will look to exploit that when a result is not to there liking. However, figure skating needs to be braver than that and not kowtow to the moaners. The answer in reaction to the 2002 scandal was not to remove much of the artistry from figure skating - one of the core elements of figure skating that fans enjoyed and appreciated most. As stated, the underlying problem at the 2002 olympics had nothing to do with artistic content being supposedly too subjective to mark, but instead related to allegations of deliberate corruption. Corruption can happen under any system (no matter how rigorous) and there is nothing about the current system which could prevent it from happening again should there be elements in the sport who want to fix the outcome of a competition. The answer instead is to weed out corruption where it is found and to ensure that those who engage it are given lifelong bans.
    Last edited by Maofan7; 07-31-2011 at 09:24 AM.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maofan7 View Post
    ... I think that people within figure skating need to stop being afraid of 'critics'... week after week you hear people criticising referees/umpires for this, that, and the other... even in situations where it is about as objective as you can possible make it... Remember, the 2002 Olympic scandal had nothing to do with the artistic elements in figure skating being supposedly too subjective to score... No - instead it related to allegations of corruption and alleged deliberate/wilful miss-marking. However, corruption of this kind can happen under any system...
    There is one major critic that people in FS need to listen to. It's called the IOC. Without the IOC, FS would have but a small fraction of the small amount of attention it currently commands.

    When you talk about people being 'critics' of other sports, the reason may be that they don't like something, but the fact is that there is a guideline for how the rules need to be interpreted. If a ball is on the line or inside the lines in tennis, it is in. Otherwise, it is out; *how* you can tell if a ball is in or on the line given the current state of the game is another matter. The rule is not the actual part in debate but how it is implemented is. People can accept those sporting decisions, then, because the rule backing up the decision is at least definite.

    Trying to dictate criteria in FS, gymnastics, diving, etc. is far more difficult and to a many sport purists already gets a lot of questions. How can you grade one thing as superior to another? What makes a flip a harder jump than a lutz or a toe easier than a salchow? Yet, FS remains in the Olympics because the IOC is lenient enough to determine it to be a sport, because there are metrics that can be used to define which skater is performing better than the other technically. The artistic side has always been more strongly in debate and truth be known, figures would be the ultimate way to return to a format that would most strongly resemble the standard Olympic sports.

    A pure "artistic" program would fly in the face of that. There is absolutely nothing in the Olympics that would even resemble that. Even synchro swimming and rhythmic gymnastics have basic elements on which physical demands and execution can be graded. In my opinion, an insertion of this kind of program to be graded and merited alongside the rest would result in this kind of FS to be completely thrown out by the IOC as a sport. *That* would shrink the sport. End of story. As a side note, I'd think an actual PCS-judging competition, based on forcing everyone to do certain elements to perhaps music of their choice, would be quite akin to school figures and would actually do more to reinforce FS's legitimacy as a sport to its detractors.

    I'm not even getting into how anyone would even judge an artistic competition, either. I think others have hit upon the same points I would but more succinctly and better.

    The whole corruption thing is a potential issue that may dissuade viewers but is also not resolved by adding new artistic components. To me, it's something else to be addressed in a different way and if it works to attract people back, it works. Plus, when people cite a decrease in watching in the UK or US, they also don't realize there is a boom in Japan or Korea. The reason is not because of lack of "artistry" but is more simple - the UK and US don't have enough current champions to sate interest. Tennis has the exact same problem in those countries and look at the current state of both programs. By contrast, you can watch the NBA (where your champion is going to naturally come from the US) or the Premier League (same), which are already among the top leagues of the world and crow about their superiority when Man U plays Barca or whatever incarnation of the Dream Team goes to the Olympics.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by jl View Post
    There is one major critic that people in FS need to listen to. It's called the IOC. Without the IOC, FS would have but a small fraction of the small amount of attention it currently commands. Trying to dictate criteria in FS, gymnastics, diving, etc. is far more difficult and to a many sport purists already gets a lot of questions. How can you grade one thing as superior to another? What makes a flip a harder jump than a lutz or a toe easier than a salchow? Yet, FS remains in the Olympics because the IOC is lenient enough to determine it to be a sport, because there are metrics that can be used to define which skater is performing better than the other technically. The artistic side has always been more strongly in debate and truth be known, figures would be the ultimate way to return to a format that would most strongly resemble the standard Olympic sports. A pure "artistic" program would fly in the face of that. There is absolutely nothing in the Olympics that would even resemble that. I'm not even getting into how anyone would even judge an artistic competition,
    The very fact that we have an Ice Dance competition completely undermines this argument. And if its possible to mark an Ice Dance free program, then a singles artistic program can also be marked. Indeed, creativity in Ice Dance free programs is positively encouraged - how does one mark such a subjective element as that??? An Ice Dance free program is therefore every bit as subjective as any singles artistic program would be. Nevertheless, the solution to judging an Ice Dance free program is exactly what you yourself have hit upon - by requiring certain elements to be included and that is how they do it. In a singles artistic program, I highlighted in my previous post that the best approach would be to use the five program components - skating skills, transitions, performance/execution, choreography, and interpretation. That is how they mark the artistic element currently in the free program. So its nonsense to suggest that you can't mark a purely artistic program - you simply apply the same principles that are currently used to mark artistic content in the free. For what exactly is the difference? If these principles as currently applied are not a problem at the moment in the free, then they would not be problem in a purely artistic program. A purely artistic program would after all be simply a free program without the jumps (although jumps would be permitted - deployed to add artistic effect to the program). And ultimately, what exactly would the difference be between an Ice Dance free program and a singles artistic program (in many ways a singles artistic program would be a dance program - but with just one skater)? And if its okay to have an Ice Dance competition, what is the problem in having a program analogous to the Ice Dance free in the singles competitions?

    If an Ice Dance free program can be classified as part of a sport by the IOC, then so can a singles artistic program. As for being thrown out of the Olympics, at present, its too integral to the winter Olympics - regarded as the blue riband event. It would be like removing athletics from the summer Olympics. The only thing that could threaten figure skatings position in the Olympics would be a long term decline in popularity. The problem is, that that is what is happening - its undergoing a long term decline. If an artistic program were introduced and arrested that decline, then there would be no way the IOC would even consider removing it as its not about to proverbially shoot itself in the foot

    Whilst my kite might be lying on the ground broken and battered, what people have to realise is that if the long term decline in skating is not arrested, then as time goes by more and more people will be left with no option but to watch skating from a dodgy feed on there computer or on You Tube (i.e. no TV coverage). And as the sport goes into even further decline, the sponsors will disappear altogether and in all probability so will the Grand Prix. At some point, something has to be done. To put one's head in the ground like an Ostrich and do nothing is not an option in my view. At the moment, the only thing that appears to be propping the sport up is the investment from Asia. But what if the next generation of Asian skaters is not as good as the last and the interest drops off - and the investment disappears. At that point, the whole financial viability of the sport has to be in doubt.
    Last edited by Maofan7; 07-31-2011 at 12:00 PM.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maofan7 View Post
    then as time goes by more and more people will be left with no option but to watch skating from a dodgy feed on there computer or on You Tube (i.e. no TV coverage). And as the sport goes into even further decline, the sponsors will disappear altogether and in all probability so will the Grand Prix.
    "For the first time, the European Broadcasting Union has signed a deal with the ISU, Dore said, and will bring figure skating to 26 countries in Europe. Japanese networks also appear keen. And earlier this month, CBC signed a five-year deal to cover figure skating, including the Grand Prix Final, all of the Grand Prix events, junior and senior world championships and the Four Continents Championships."

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/subsc...sp?art=2077799

    It doesn't seem to be that bad though, does it?

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    Actually, yes it does. This makes no difference to the fact that most of Europe will remain dependent on Eurosport. No doubt, during 2011/12 there will be absolutely no coverage on Eurosport of the Grand Prix yet again - You Tube to the ready (unless anybody has heard otherwise????). And what coverage there will be of the Euro's and Worlds will almost certainly yet again be playing third fiddle to the Snooker and some cycling or motorcycling event. You never know, but there may be some tiddlywinks event on at the same time as 2012 Worlds - in which case skating may end even further down the pecking order

    It must be great to live in Japan and Canada who have been blessed with good TV coverage in recent times. Sorry if this sounds a bit jaundiced - but Europe seems to get the worst TV coverage of all at this present time - a sorry state of affairs given that its the birthplace of the sport

    OK - so I think its safe to say that my left field idea got an overwelming thumbs down and my kite lies dormant on the beech never to fly again - a total wreck. The people have spoken. I know when I'm licked. But lets hear some other idea's, so feel free to post them on this thread.
    Last edited by Maofan7; 07-31-2011 at 04:34 PM.

  16. #16
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    I don't see why the idea of an artistic skating competition seems to odd to some people. They do have ballet competitions, like this one:
    http://www.nyibc.org/

    Baryshnikov won a gold medal in one in the Soviet Union when he was a teenager.
    And of course there are dance competitions all over the place. Even artistic figure skating requires athleticism. But if people would object, then maybe one program in each competition could be MORE artistic than athletic but still require a certain number of jumps. Skaters would be judged mostly on their interpretation of the music, expression, lines, etc. There's a reason people love watching the galas so much.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Justathoughtabl View Post
    I don't see why the idea of an artistic skating competition seems to odd to some people. They do have ballet competitions, like this one:
    http://www.nyibc.org/
    Ballet is not an Olympic sport and will never be. And neither is ballroom dancing. People recognize the skills and athletic abilities require of those discipline, but the theatrical aspect of them more or less eliminate them from being seen in the came category as the sports that people usually associate with the Olympic. There's nothing wrong with having a purely artistic skating competition minus the jumps, but keep it entirely separate from what we're used to seeing at ISU events.


    From Maofan7
    I think that people within figure skating need to stop being afraid of 'critics'.
    I doubt that it will just the people outside of skating that will be against this type of competition at the World and Olympic level. Just look at the replies to this topic so far. There have been more "No" votes from FSUers than "Yes" votes.

  18. #18

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    The point is that figure skating as it exists in the Olympic Games and therefore all competitions with the same format needs to be primarily about technique and athleticism. The Olympics are not about art and the representatives from other sports do not like the idea of art contests. There are art festivals celebrating the gathering of nations at the Olympics, but they are not part of the competition. The figure skating galas at the Olympics serve a similar function.

    Therefore I think that a figure skating program in which artistry is primary and technique and athleticism are secondary will never ever be accepted as a separate Olympic sport or as part of the existing sport. There have already been numerous complaints from the IOC about whether ice dance counts as a real sport and whether it should be retained as part of the Olympic program (and don't forget the ice dance was added to the Olympics nearly 70 years after the other disciplines).

    With the new judging system, ice dance has become less artistic but more judgeable in a sporting sense, so it's probably safe now.

    If a component of singles skating that deemphasizes tricks is to be added to Olympic-style skating, it would have to emphasize TECHNICAL SKATING SKILLS and SKATING TO THE RHYTHM OF THE MUSIC first of all, as ice dance does, with artistic expression subordinate to those. Think of it as solo ice dance. But artistry first at the expense of technique and athleticism will never fly in Olympic sport.

    It would be perfectly possible for ISU to develop international artistic skating contests, even championships, completely separate from the Olympic-style sport. It's unlikely because historically the ISU has existed to govern the SPORT of figure skating along with speedskating. Speedskaters have just as much input into ISU governance as figure skaters -- more during eras like the current one when the president comes from speedskating and has an authoritarian governing style.

    But many national figure skating federations do have artistic skating programs on a lower level. So it would be possible for those federations to band together and develop an international governing body for artistic skating contests, or artistic skating festivals (which would need fewer rules etc. if there's no contest, only performance). In theory, it's possible that someday there would be one international governing body for both the sport side and the art side of figure skating, with only the sport side as an Olympic sport, completely separate from the speedskaters' organization or with an artistic skating branch existing within the ISU but pretty much ignored by the speedskaters since it's not a sport in their opinion.

    Just as a personal note, if I want to see an artistic skating contest, I want the winners to be the skaters who show the best combination of basic skating skills and artistry. At the elite levels, skaters who even get the opportunity to compete internationally in an artistic skating contest should be the best skaters with the best artistry, regardless of whether or not they can do triple jumps.

    I'd hate for an artistic phase of standard competition to serve as a way to encourage the triple jumpers to be a little more artistic but the only medals available are for skaters who would be in the mix for medals anyway because they can do the hard jumps, and the artistic strong skaters with weak jumps would once again get left out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gkelly View Post
    <entire post>
    ITA and think it sums up what I've said as well.

    Maofan - there's criteria in ice dance that isn't about creativity, as gkelly has outlined. Those are why it is still accepted as an Olympic sport, though the # of people who contest its inclusion are probably greater than those that contest any of the other disciplines. Saying that things "reward creativity" doesn't mean just art for the sake of art; it's the idea of skating skills and performing well-executed elements alongside it. IIRC, ballroom dancing was very narrowly rejected as a summer sport 12 years ago for those reasons (I think its inclusion was not as much a package as ice dance was before). If you talk about rewarding creativity, the same happens in the floor exercise in gymnastics, which has a very high amount of required elements and even lists required dance elements. Ice dance reminds me of that minus the flipping because it also lists the required dance elements.

    I am not against artistic competitions if there is interest in having them. I simply think that inclusion of them alongside the current figure skating required programs for the four main disciplines at this time is far more destructive, because it will bring negative attention from the Olympic committee. If they really look at an artistic program, I can't see how they would ever justify keeping that discipline, period, in the Olympics.

    I credit you though for trying to think partly outside the box in order to maintain attendance. All sports go through peaks and valleys and maybe FS has already had its biggest peak, so trying to increase interest from outer channels is helpful. That being said, if/when Asian interest declines, that will be quite correlated to a decline in their realistic chances at current champions. Where do you think those medals will then go, and why would that not result in an interest in those countries once more? National pride is one of the biggest things upon which sport is founded, IMO...

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    In the 50's and 60's show skating was a separate discipline. Show skaters did not spend time learning figures and concentrated on dramatic moves such as butterflies, arabians, flying spins, cantelivers, Russian split jumps etc. They were trained by coaches who specialized in show skating. The goal was that when the skater finished school they would join a show such as Ice Capades. In those days "eligible" skaters could not earn money, so skaters who needed a job followed this route.

    Nowadays show skaters are former competitive skaters. They have spent a lot of time focusing on perfecting their technique rather than being entertaining. Unfortunately some of the people that are great technicians don't have the mentality to be creative or entertaining. It's tough for a skater to spend 10-20 years following all the rules and navigating all of the politics to suddenly turn around and be creative and spontaneous.

    I too, would like to see a separate discipline for show skating, but I don't think the ISU is the place (too rule bound and political). I think this is something that has to evolve out of recreational skating (like the style skating competitions in roller skating).

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