Very interesting recent articles from Janet Lynn and Liz Leamy on COP and the declining popularity of Figure Skating:-
Janet Lynn Article
Liz Leamy Article
Janet Lynn's comments were as follows: "Figure skating has provided the world a visual picture of freedom, lifting the human spirit, at least before figure skating took a nasty debilitating tumble...Complex rules (International Judging System or IJS) that make a person's head ache, now dictate what skaters must perform. Those rules for measurement employ an equally head-splitting concoction of computations to count points earned...Earning points is the goal, not learning how to skate....The safety of growing skaters is no longer on the radar screen. If it were, skaters would not be dictated to perform contorted positions or maniacal jumping....Measurement is the new paradigm. The paradox is that qualities that historically made skating popular for skaters and audiences are not measurable. Skating to music cannot be measured. Music played during a skater’s performance has become something like elevator music; sometimes it is heard and sometimes not. Most of the time the skater’s music is not connected to anything, not even the tricks and "jumping passes" performed to tally up more points. Here is a tiny partial list of audience pleasing skating skills that cannot be measured: smiles; pointed toe; stretched leg; line of body; flowing true edges and change-of-edges; long controlled glide that looks like it floats-- to music; footwork that makes the music come alive throughout the performance; an edge or turn that "whispers" (instead of ripping or grinding), the excitement of a classic sit, change sit, change sit, change sit spin to exacting music; a long blurred spin with musical crescendo. Oh, how the immeasurable soaring delayed one revolution axel made audiences feel as if they were flying with the skater! How is the intangible joy of skating measured? The imagination to create beauty and excitement on ice is unending. Watching skating used to be interesting and relaxing. Now it is monotonous and stress filled...If the present International Judging System had been in place in the past centuries, the axel, salchow, lutz, Hamill Camel, Biellmann spin and on and on, would never have been invented...The system no longer assures knowledge, security, individuality and freedom on ice. Longevity of skating is sacrificed. Now, too often skaters never start, or soon stop, competing. Coaches don’t want to teach competitive skaters. They would rather not "deal with" the complex rules for measurement. Talented choreographers stop choreographing. It is bland at best, or boring, to choreograph for skaters who have never learned much of the skilled language on ice. Heads hurt trying to follow the dictatorial rules of measurement. Figure skating enthusiasts, are we having fun measuring yet? If measurable defines sport, then anyone who can best measure the distance between their eyebrows is performing a sport. Objective measurement is causing figure skating to fall from popular grace. The technique is wrong for enthusing skaters to keep skating, general audiences to watch, and news media to retain interest. Measured numbers tell the story. Will those that rule figure skating and are the "umbrella for the concept of skating" [iii] recover the foundations and freedom of a beautiful, exciting sport and art? Will they stop imposters from decomposing figure skating into dull, tedious, one dimensional measurement? Suggestion for regaining popularity in figure skating: Teach skaters how to skate a resplendent language on ice with necessary self-government and set them free to beautiful music. Figure skating is culture. Culture matters. Why has interest fallen in a once grand and glorious sport and art? Freedom is fragile in all its forms. Freedom springs forth from sound foundations. Foundations and freedom have been stripped from figure skating. A totalitarian system of measurement does not breed freedom on ice that lifts the human spirit."
I couldn't agree with Janet Lynn more. COP/IJS in my opinion is the biggest factor in the declining popularity of figure skating. It has basically turned a once great artform and sport into something that is a lot more monotonous. I would never say that figure skating has become boring per se, but certainly, compared with what it was pre-2002, it is a lot more tedious and overpacked with the so called 'point scoring' elements. In turn, this has mean't that a lot of the artistry has been lost - and at the end of the day, it was the artistry that was the biggest crowd puller. The horribly low attendance figures at Skate America in particular and at the grand prix events in general are a wake up call and COP needs to go. In essence, bring back the artistry and that will bring back public attention