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  1. #1

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    18 Months into Sochi – reflecting on figure skating after London Olympics

    Revisiting 'the decline in figure skating' debate and firing up our boredom and emotions before the forthcoming figure skating season.

    For skating fans, the end of the Summer Olympics is a time for both sadness and excitement. – sadness, of course, because two weeks of incredible athletics just came to a close, but excitement because the Spice Girls reuniting means that we are now 18 months away from the Winter Games in Sochi………
    Here’s the article by Jackie Wong, National Examiner : http://www.examiner.com/article/18-m...ondon-olympics

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    Can someone please, please, please explain to me why figure skating's popularity seems to be linked to female skaters only in the US?!

    The US has some good men, but apparently that counts for nothing if the ladies suck...

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    Quote Originally Posted by misskarne View Post
    Can someone please, please, please explain to me why figure skating's popularity seems to be linked to female skaters only in the US?!

    The US has some good men, but apparently that counts for nothing if the ladies suck...
    Sexism. Blatant sexism that the media feeds rather than disparages.

    It wasn't that long ago that skating was practically the only sport women were allowed in. Despite the success in recent years of women in other sports, they're still dismissed as butch or somehow less than the guys and skating remains the ultimate ladies sport where a girl can still look like a trophy wife all sequined and made up while doing difficult feats.

    Skating is seen as a gay sport for men and will never out do manly sports like football, etc..

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    There's no "Star" on either the men or women side. Mirai seemed like she could be the next Dorothy Hamill after the 2010 Olympics, but her career has been a big disappointment since then.

    I think it's silly for some skating fans, of all people, to constantly emphasize that skating is seen as a "gay sport". How many 100% straight people have you interviewed about their opinion on skating to come up with that conclusion?

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    This just seems like its not going to change and why NBC promotes Shaun White of snowboarding rather than figure skating. It's not even about football just when it comes to winter Olympics it is skiing and snowbard.

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    Quote Originally Posted by misskarne View Post
    The US has some good men, but apparently that counts for nothing if the ladies suck...
    In the U.S. the highest viewership in the Winter Olympics is generally the ladies skating.

    Until the 2010 games the Americans always had a decent shot at least a medal in the event, and even in 2010 Mirai just finished off the podium (4th or 5th if I remember correctly).
    I meant to take the high road.... but I missed the exit.

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    In the U.S. the highest viewership in the Winter Olympics is generally the ladies skating.
    Traditionally that has been so. However, I think things are changing.

    Not that long ago, ladies' skating got top billing in ALL the magazines, news, etc. But the reality now is that (as pointed out in the article) the other winter sports have been gaining popularity, particularly in recent years. Skating will now have to share the attention with those other sports...and I think that will continue to be the case even if the US does find another woman star in skating. But especially without someone to promote in skating, you can expect the attention to shift to other sports, or perhaps even other disciplines (like ice dance) where the US is strong.

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    Quote Originally Posted by berthesghost View Post
    Sexism. Blatant sexism that the media feeds rather than disparages.

    It wasn't that long ago that skating was practically the only sport women were allowed in. Despite the success in recent years of women in other sports, they're still dismissed as butch or somehow less than the guys and skating remains the ultimate ladies sport where a girl can still look like a trophy wife all sequined and made up while doing difficult feats.

    Skating is seen as a gay sport for men and will never out do manly sports like football, etc..
    I agree with this, but this isn't the only reason why ladies are the most popular discipline in the states. The US has a long-standing tradition of ice princesses who are not only champions, but fit a feminine and highly marketable ideal. Canada doesn't have that tradition but does have a tradition of male champions, so promotes them aggressively.

    This past Olympics was the first time I watched gymnastics and I was shocked to see that is an even more gendered sport than figure skating. Big muscular men demonstrates feats of great strength as well as agility, such as the work they do on the rings apparatus. Whereas the women are tiny and demure and don't use the rings at all. In skating the women can do the men's most difficult tricks, the 3A and quad, but in gymnastics this is less possible due to differences in the apparatus.

    It's also interesting to compare Russia to the US and Canada. In Russia male figure skaters, like ballet dancers, are admired and exalted. As a result, lady skaters are constructed as inferior. This has been evident in Mishin's refusal to train women until recently, when he took on ___ (forget her name) because she had impeccable technique. The implication is that women by are large are athletically inferior to men.

    But when a sport is seen as gay, lady skaters gain higher status. But the sport is not seen as a serious one.

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    Can someone tell me how figure skating as a sport is viewed in different countries? Recently I chanced on an article in The Australian newspaper that figure skating is most viewed in Russia? (They were talking about viewership during Olympics). Perhaps that may explain the consistent high calibre of figure skaters emerging from Russia?
    Japanfan, I agree that if a sport is seen as gay, it will not be seen as a serious one especially in the eyes of the males (my experience). :=(

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    Quote Originally Posted by Japanfan View Post
    In Russia male figure skaters, like ballet dancers, are admired and exalted. As a result, lady skaters are constructed as inferior. This has been evident in Mishin's refusal to train women until recently, when he took on ___ (forget her name) because she had impeccable technique. The implication is that women by are large are athletically inferior to men.
    Mishin took Tuktamisheva because she was tiny and jumped high but at first he didnt want to have her cause her tecnique in jumps as he has said was "weird" and wrong.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Japanfan View Post
    This has been evident in Mishin's refusal to train women until recently
    "Coaching women is dangerous – there's always probability that the story of (mythology) Pygmalion will recur periodically. My wife was a mere pupil at first. See, what has eventually happened?" by Mishin
    So maybe his refusal to coach girls wasn't necessarily about saying that they are athletic inferior?

    I guess this is the original link but I'm sure I've seen it english as well: http://web.archive.org/web/200504182...article/?id=81

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    A bit harsh on Mishin there Japanfan. He's never breathed a word about not taking female students because he believes they're inferior. I think the joke runs that he won't take them because he married one of his students!

    And Liza certainly wasn't technically "impeccable" when he took her on.


    All that said, however, I agree with the gist of your post - the overall view of the sport in a country affects how it's marketed. In the "Western" countries male figure skaters are overwhelmingly viewed as being gay and weak - which is ridiculous when you think about the amount of strength they have.

    You only have to look at Eddie McGuire's comments on the Australian coverage of Vancouver. He apologised later and Johnny then charmed the socks off the Australian audience, but really, Eddie was only repeating the general attitude.

    That still doesn't stop me being annoyed that the US are apparently very prepared to overlook their good men because they have no decent lady.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Japanfan View Post
    The US has a long-standing tradition of ice princesses who are not only champions, but fit a feminine and highly marketable ideal. Canada doesn't have that tradition but does have a tradition of male champions, so promotes them aggressively.
    This is very true.

    Quote Originally Posted by Japanfan View Post
    In skating the women can do the men's most difficult tricks, the 3A and quad
    Um, no not true.

    Women who can do triple axels are extraordinarily rare and you can almost name all of them on one hand (Harding, Ito, Nakano, Meissner, Nelidina, Asada). Of the top 24 men at worlds, all but like 2 or 3 have had a serious triple axel attempt for the last decade at least (I'd argue back to maybe even 1998.) You won't get near the top 10 at worlds without one as a man.

    Quads have virtually been a requirement to medal and win major championships among men for the last 15 years (minus the lost COP years where it was too devalued and Plushy stopped pushing everyone from 2007-2010). I'm not even sure there's been a real, ratified quad ever among women. I think Miki Ando squeaked out a 3.5sal once at like a jr worlds or JGP final or something like that before COP, and it would've been totally double downgraded. I think Surya tried the quad sal or toe or something too but I don't think it was ever clean in an eligible comp. Cohen did underrotated, two-footed 4sals in practice in her early days and did a giant pop the one time she tried to compete it.

    Not to mention 3-3's, which are common among men in all varieties but rather rare among women outside the 3t-3t.

    Quote Originally Posted by Japanfan View Post
    This has been evident in Mishin's refusal to train women until recently, when he took on ___ (forget her name) because she had impeccable technique. The implication is that women by are large are athletically inferior to men.
    Mishin trained Elena Sokolova in between her Kudriatsev years ~1999-2002 or so.

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