In the Japan Open thread in Great Skate Debate, os68 wrote:
The fact that figure skating can, at its best, provide an artistic experience for viewers attracts a lot more viewers than a sport that's all about executing difficult physical feats that only other practitioners can appreciate.
And a lot of skaters like to perform for audiences, like to create something artistic with their performances that's more meaningful than just executing the difficult feats. A lot of them wouldn't bother training and competing if the artistic aspects of the sport didn't exist at all or were simply tolerated but not rewarded.
The sport of executing those technical feats could in theory exist without music, without choreography, and without audiences. It just wouldn't have as many participants or as much money coming in from ticket sales and TV contracts.
On the other hand, skating for the sake of artistry can exist without competition or rules.
Mass audiences have tended to be even less interested in watching artistic skating shows than in wathcing competitions, however. Thus most pro skating has been presented in some kind of competitive format.
But artistic skating at a high level can't exist without mastery of the difficult physical feats.
This is not what ISU competitive skating is about, for the most part. Maybe a majority of the Choreography component covers these criteria. But that's less than 10% of the total score.To create great pieces of artistic work, the fundamental are to write an original creative brief that identifies the theme, the core concepts, your inspirations, what you wish to express. The end result should be judged according to whether you are able to convince your audiences (not just the judges) successfully, with the required elements fully utilized creatively as an extension of your expressions with meaning and purpose. And that is really hard, tricky and require a lot of effort to get it right.
There could be a different kind of competition that privileged concepts and choreography and expression over technique. The technique would have to be there to support the execution of the choreography, and a more skilled skater would have more options to work with when putting together a program,
That kind of competition would never be accepted into the Olympics, though.
Impresarios of professional skating encourage it, and so do federations who want to give their artistically inclined members something to do that focuses more on their strengths than on landing as many difficult jumps as possible.
But the ISU has never yet and likely never will show much interest in governing a competition format in which technique and athleticism are valued only insofar as they support artistry. At best, in addition to rewarding the basic technical and athletic aspects of the sport, they can give additional rewards to skaters who are able to go beyond those basics to add artistic value.
So do we want to discuss how a hypothetical type of art contest on ice, outside the Olympic context, could be structured to give the greatest value to writing an original creative brief that identifies the theme, the core concepts, inspirations, what you wish to express and is judged according to how well the skater is able to convince audiences, with the required elements fully utilized creatively as an extension of the artistic meaning and purpose? What would a contest of skating for art's sake look like?
Or do we want to start with competitive skating as it is currently structured, with technique and athleticism always paramount, and discuss how the well-balanced program rules, etc., might be adjusted to encourage more variety and/or more coherence of artistic purpose on top of the athletic base?