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  1. #1

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    Has Figure Skating Lost Its Soul?

    New article entitled 'Figure skating now sadly lacking both Witt and imagination.' It reads:-

    So what would figure-skating give for Katarina in her pomp today?

    Probably an across-the-board 6.0 – if the famous old judging system still existed: except it doesn’t.

    After the 2002 Olympics debacle, which saw judges accused of blatant cheating in the pairs event, a new calculation was introduced that brought a more systematic approach, but which also placed more emphasis on technical expertise.

    From a judge’s point of view, you can see the advantage: a competitor either nails a particular manoeuvre or doesn’t. But it’s that very approach that could make a young Katarina an also-ran if she competed now. And if that isn’t a fatal condemnation of a system, then I don’t know what is.

    At its best, skating can make the fuzzy line between sport and art blurrier than almost anything else. The athletic temperament required to perfect the requisite technique balances as precariously as any blade, alongside the grace required to transmit something even greater than the physical to an audience.

    But it could be done. At her best Katarina managed it. So did Janet Lynn before her. The sadness now is that the intangible doesn’t seem to be required any more.

    Maybe it’s the curse of modern sport. In an age when athleticism and attitude dominate, it’s possibly naive to expect more. Even the current world men’s champion, Patrick Chan, has said skating used to be more “epic”. There was a tangible individuality among the skaters, he argues, something even the uninitiated could twig.

    But now the way a routine is measured also determines the way it is performed. There are many coaches who appreciate that, in the way that coaches in most sports appreciate skills that can be taught. But an unfortunate by-product of that is how much of the soul has been removed. Not coincidentally, so has much of skating’s television audience.

    By trying to fix the problem of subjective judges, the problem of too much objective performance has been created.

    “Figure skating is a different kind of sport,” Katarina has said. “You cannot compare it to swimming, which is about who’s the fastest. Skating is about who touches your heart.”

    Kati can still manage that. It’s a lot less certain the sport she adorned can do the same.
    So, has figure skating lost its soul as the article suggests?

    The article was commissioned to mark Katarina Witt's birthday. She is 47 today (3rd December). Happy birthday Katarina!!

  2. #2

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    The article is totally wrong. Witt could win events with her jump content in 1984 now in 2012 Her spins and steps would have to be level 4 but her pcs would be good. Though maybe the article doesn't mean jus jumps but the word manouvre seems like jumps to me. Witt wouldn't have to worry about jumps but time spent on level 4 spins and steps might indeed make Witt less Witt and she couldn't spend so much time just doing drama or maybe she could integrate more into step sequences. Maybe the article makes some good points but not in regard to jumps just more focus on steps and spins damaging Witt like drama and artistry but certainly not jumps.

  3. #3

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    There were some souless programs in the eighties as well. Linda Fratianne and Anett Poetsch's silver and gold Olympic performances for example. I can think of plenty of current programs that I would rather re-watch than Katarina's Carmen.

    Audiences nowadays have more choices and they are used to a lot of special effects. They get bored quickly. Skating takes so long to learn it is difficult to make it trendy, and we now have reality tv for trainwreck drama.

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    The article is more about Katarina than it is about "soulless" skating programs, as intended, if it was "commissioned" in honor of her birthday.

    Sure the new "point-gathering" judging system has adversely affected skating in many ways, but I suppose the best athletes/ artists are finding ways to overcome the fp strictures.

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    Exactly how many times are we going to have variations on the same damned theme?

    Honestly, I have watched programs from the 6.0 era. Plenty of them. And plenty of them were boring as shit. 6.0 didn't automatically make skaters expressive, and COP doesn't automatically make a skater inexpressive. Carolina Kostner would be an expressive, speedy skater regardless of the era she skated in. Michelle Kwan would have been. Sasha Cohen was. Similarly, Miki Ando would be void of most expression, as would several others. There are skaters who won in the 6.0 era who landed all their elements but were not great skaters who were expressive - I mean, Sarah Hughes, anyone? Yu Na Kim is the most recent ladies' champion, and she skated programs that were both lovely and well-skated. The truth is that in any era we are in, you will have a lot of skaters that skater through the music and a select few whom are truly expressive. That was true then and it is true now. And Miki Ando would have still won many titles, because regardless of the era being able to land all your jumps and do some difficult elements was rewarded. Hell, using the analogy, at least under COP Sarah probably wouldn't have been Olympic Champion.

    I am so sick of this discussion. COP did not ruin figure skating. 6.0 was not perfect. If they want to make figure skating relevant again, then the ISU should get rid of things like anonymous judging, start penalizing people when crap happens like Mao winning NHK this year, and should stop trying to pretend it's still 1965 and girls are cute little Ice Princesses and men should be MANLY MEN. And they should start educating skaters on the wild world of classical music and the fact that there are actually more than 20 pieces in the world to choose from. And maybe start using PCS in a way that actually acknowledges what a skater does on the ice than just going by reputation, because the fact that a skater skates well and lands all his/her stuff does not automatically mean they deserve any points for choreography if the program is utter crap. I/K should be getting like a 3, max, in PCS for their choreography this year, but that will never happen.

    I am so sick of hearing that COP is a demon when it's never really even been used very well.

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    ^Great post, Michiruwater!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Finnice View Post
    ^Great post, Michiruwater!
    I second that. But why is it that such articles with same theme keep pouring out? What should be noted for public eyes?

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    Quote Originally Posted by michiruwater View Post
    Exactly how many times are we going to have variations on the same damned theme?
    I imagine because it happens to be true, and the audience just keeps getting lower and lower. The apologists for COP are part of the problem as they are a roadblock to change, and the worst of them is Speedy. As its architect, until he goes, nothing is going to change. The question is, will that come in time to save the patient, or will the patient be dead.

    Why are there so many articles? Because outside observers see a dying sport, and skating does not seem to be doing anything to save itself. It's like a dying man defending the cancer he is dying from.

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    Quote Originally Posted by l'etoile View Post
    I second that. But why is it that such articles with same theme keep pouring out? What should be noted for public eyes?
    Aren't most of the articles from North America? Figure skating is still popular in Russia, some parts of Europe and getting really popular in Japan.

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    Quote Originally Posted by michiruwater View Post
    Exactly how many times are we going to have variations on the same damned theme?
    Prosperity makes friends, adversity tries them. – Publilius Syrus

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by michiruwater View Post
    Exactly how many times are we going to have variations on the same damned theme?

    Honestly, I have watched programs from the 6.0 era. Plenty of them. And plenty of them were boring as shit. 6.0 didn't automatically make skaters expressive, and COP doesn't automatically make a skater inexpressive. Carolina Kostner would be an expressive, speedy skater regardless of the era she skated in. Michelle Kwan would have been. Sasha Cohen was. Similarly, Miki Ando would be void of most expression, as would several others. There are skaters who won in the 6.0 era who landed all their elements but were not great skaters who were expressive - I mean, Sarah Hughes, anyone? Yu Na Kim is the most recent ladies' champion, and she skated programs that were both lovely and well-skated. The truth is that in any era we are in, you will have a lot of skaters that skater through the music and a select few whom are truly expressive. That was true then and it is true now. And Miki Ando would have still won many titles, because regardless of the era being able to land all your jumps and do some difficult elements was rewarded. Hell, using the analogy, at least under COP Sarah probably wouldn't have been Olympic Champion.

    I am so sick of this discussion. COP did not ruin figure skating. 6.0 was not perfect. If they want to make figure skating relevant again, then the ISU should get rid of things like anonymous judging, start penalizing people when crap happens like Mao winning NHK this year, and should stop trying to pretend it's still 1965 and girls are cute little Ice Princesses and men should be MANLY MEN. And they should start educating skaters on the wild world of classical music and the fact that there are actually more than 20 pieces in the world to choose from. And maybe start using PCS in a way that actually acknowledges what a skater does on the ice than just going by reputation, because the fact that a skater skates well and lands all his/her stuff does not automatically mean they deserve any points for choreography if the program is utter crap. I/K should be getting like a 3, max, in PCS for their choreography this year, but that will never happen.

    I am so sick of hearing that COP is a demon when it's never really even been used very well.
    I totally second, third, whatever, this ^

    Seriously, I love how some people write about how artistry has been lost as if programs pre-COP were all wonderful and so poignant.The thing is, we tend to remember only the programs from 20-30 years ago that did touch us, and we tend to forget the rest, thus elevating those older periods in our memory. I should know - my earliest memories of figure skating date back to the last few years of Katarina Witt skating and I have such fond memories of that. But frankly, having been through videos of late 80s-early 90s competitions recently, I was reminded that I only really remembered the tip of the iceberg and not the rest. Frankly, most programs were as devoid of choreography as they are now. Actually, I would argue that Men's skating is in a much better place now as it was by then, although I think it has nothing to do with COP and everything with the arrival of skaters like Candeloro, Stojko, etc, who broke the traditional mould

    The only discipline in which COP may have made things harder as far as developping artistry goes may be ice dancing because of the increased imposed content, which makes more things to work around in order to develop the choreography of your program. That didn't stop some couples to give us wonderful programs though, so that's also debatable

  12. #12
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    Witt had too much posing in her programs.

  13. #13
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    if the American ladies were still dominant even in the COP, articles may sound different

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    Quote Originally Posted by Iceman View Post
    Witt had too much posing in her programs.
    Not according to Morozov. She and Amodio would have gotten along famously!
    BARK LESS. WAG MORE.

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    I know that a lot of the complaining around COP may come from the US but the article referenced above is from a Dublin, Ireland paper.

    Any article with the adverb "sadly" in the headline is an opinion piece, not reporting (almost any article with an adverb in the headline is not reporting); so this is an opinion piece, one observer's point of view.
    Last edited by Willowway; 12-03-2012 at 02:59 PM.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Willowway View Post
    I know that a lot of the complaining around COP may come from the US but the article referenced above is from a Dublin, Ireland paper.
    Was figure skating hugely popular in Ireland during the 6.0 era?

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    Quote Originally Posted by martyross View Post
    if the American ladies were still dominant even in the COP, articles may sound different
    Yeah...that has to be it. I mean it's not as if I read the likes of Stavisky, Anissina, Mishin, Plushenko, and countless other skaters from other countries complaining about how skating has become mechanical or some variation of that argument.

    Anyway, I think the problem is that a lot of people are so defensive of COP, that they do fail to see legitimate problems with it. It's not just about people being overly nostalgic over the 6.0 era (though I do think some critics are).

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    I think skaters like Katarina who failed to keep up their technical abilities as pros had more to do with the demise of the popularity of figure skating than COP. She didn't develop as a performer or a skater in my opinion. She was no John Curry, Robin Cousins, or Kristi Yamaguchi and she had TWO Olympic medals to live up to. I didn't click on the tv or go to show because I heard that she was going to be in it. Even Caryn Kadavy could outskate her as a pro.
    Last edited by aliceanne; 12-03-2012 at 04:12 PM.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by VIETgrlTerifa View Post
    Anyway, I think the problem is that a lot of people are so defensive of COP, that they do fail to see legitimate problems with it. It's not just about people being overly nostalgic over the 6.0 era (though I do think some critics are).
    I think there is too much hyperbole/one-sided thinking on both sides.

    There are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches to scoring. There will always be tradeoffs. I'd love to be able to discuss the pros and cons in a rational manner.

    But opinion articles in the general press for the general public tend to take an all-or-none position and then when they get posted here many of the responses either accept or reject that position entirely.

    Also people tend to start threads when they're fed up with specific results happening now and take whatever they're upset about as representative of the whole current situation, painting each problem as evidence that the whole system is worthless.

    I think we see more "COP is worthless" initial posts than "COP is perfect" or "6.0 was worthless" thread-starting posts. If we suddenly went back to 6.0 rules, there would be some unpopular results and then we'd probably see more threads started expressing those frustrations.

    Either way, when the initial stimulus is all-or-nothing, it's easy for the rebuttals to be equally all-or-nothing on the other side. So if we happen to lean in favor of one scoring method, the attacks on our preferred method are likely to stick in our minds than the ones against the method we like less.

  20. #20
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    Who is arguing that CoP is perfect, though? I think even the most vocial advocates of it, I included, have discussed the flaws directly and repeatedly.

    I think every system so far has been less-than-optimal, and that each system has some things that are rewarded more highly than others. As a result, the skaters will aim towards the things that will give them the greatest gain for their efforts, whether that be quads or L4 elements, and that will be reflected in the programs, especially when there's little differentiation of the technical skills from CH, IN, TR, and PE, so why bother with a coherent program, when SS are the PCS anchor and empty programs get 7-9's? I also think that there are elements that are blamed on CoP that were already there or trending there, like anonymous judging and more and more restrictions on and requirements for the contents of the FD/FS, that were codified by CoP. CoP didn't invent twizzles, for example, but it declared what they were worth in relationship to other elements, and eventually became a required skill, just as side-by-side singles elements in Pairs skating became more dominant.

    I think it's ironic that now that there's a system in place that gives weight to each element that the allegedly "free" programs can't be much more open, especially since there's the double-whammy of a restrictive list of elements that get credit plus restrictions on the types of jumps and/or positions that get credit. There is the repeated argument here that as it stands now, CoP doesn't give enough credit to the well-rounded jumper, with suggestions for bonuses for having all the jumps or penalties for leaving jump types out, so I can imagine the wars over a skater with 8 spins, even 8 different spins, winning over a skater with 8 jumps, because a truly (or mostly) free program wouldn't show a well-rounded skater as champion.

    I'd rather watch the first group of GP Ladies now than see Witt vamp, though, so anyone who puts her up as a model of artistry or interesting programs after her first Olympic cycle has lost me there.
    Last edited by kwanfan1818; 12-03-2012 at 07:41 PM.
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