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  1. #1

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    Christine Brennan's Article on USA Ladies: "U.S. women's skating lacks dominant star"

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports...-star/1862815/

    Okay, I am going to let this forum know what I really think of the USFSA. I think they are obsessed with pleasing corporations and sponsors who know and care nothing about skating. I think they are also out of touch with current trends, and their notions of what skating is and what makes a good champion remain stuck in the mud of 6.0.

    Why is the USFSA calling the ladies field chaos? Why are they demanding consistency and predictability in ladies skating-- with a star at the top and clear second and third place rivals?

    It is not because these things are essential for strong American finishes at Worlds/Olympics. It is not even because the public demands this. The USFSA does this because the corporations want it. The corporate suits are impatiently demanding an "it girl," and the USFSA, with no marketing strategy or savvy of its own, is following a tired model of skating that no longer applies. And furthermore, why can't the sport defy what corporations want? Is it all about them?

    I think it should not be considered "chaos" what we see in the USA ladies. It is just reality that the USA does not have anyone of the caliber to be a dominant world star. Period.

    Christine Brennan, I know, is just mouthing what the USFSA is saying, but one of the reasons why USA ladies have been so disappointing is they keep attempting to find the next Kwan, Hughes, or Kimmie Meissner. They should stop looking and let the competition happen and the chips fall. If they get a wild child like Mirai, they need to live with it. I don't think it should be the USFSA's job to hold a coronation for the perfect corporate spokeswoman for the sport-- a Kwan, Hughes, or Yamaguchi. 6.0 was a system where you moved up the ranks and could hold your place at or near the top until you ran out of money or your body fell apart. Under IJS anybody can lose on any day. You aren't going to have a Kwan again, so there is no point in looking for one. The only reason I see they are complaining about the absence of a Michelle, a Hughes, or a Kimmie is the big hegemonic sponsors are not happy. This model fits their marketing strategies and interests. But does it fit the interests of the sport? I do not think it fits the reality of world competition under IJS.

    The USFSA should never have tried to force Czisny into a Kwan mold. They started in 2009 by over scoring her at nationals and building her up in front of her home town to be a Kwan-like heart throb. She is an enormous talent, but she is not the kind of personality who takes pressure easily, and she is never going to be a jumping automaton. I wonder if last season she would have performed better if the USFSA hadn't overblown her image. I think the USFSA does it just to get money for themselves as an organization, but in the medium term the sport ends up with little to show for it.

    What are constructive things the USFSA should do to promote winning performances and encourage public excitement about its ladies? I am sure this forum can offer suggestions. The USFSA seems to think it is helpful to: hand wring about who will be the next Kwan, prop up and over-promote certain skaters, and desperately kiss up to corporations by making promises that cannot be fulfilled internationally in the IJS era. These things are not particularly helpful, especially for skaters, like Czisny, who will never fit the mold of a predictable jumping machine.

    I would like the USFSA to concentrate foremost on maintaining excellence in the sport. Secondly, they need younger people who are business savvy (who can get out ahead of the corporations and tell the corporations what they want instead of vice versa) and fire all the people complaining that things aren't like they were in ladies seven or forty years ago!
    Last edited by TheIronLady; 01-25-2013 at 08:39 AM.

  2. #2

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    COP is really not indecipherable. It's just points for everything. What's hard about that?

    Everything needs to be shifted away from "this person is the best and is going to win and is Americas ice princess" and to real fight and battle and which one of these girls can come out on top and who has the best chance but like a single jump or fall can really damage their chances bad.

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    Quote Originally Posted by caseyedwards View Post
    COP is really not indecipherable. It's just points for everything. What's hard about that?
    Yeah, lines like that in the article make me think Christine is just bitter that the sport has been overshadowed by reality TV in the US, and she is still blaming the switch to IJS for her loss of readers. I think she would have lost her readers in the 2000s no matter what judging was used.

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    Quote Originally Posted by caseyedwards View Post
    Everything needs to be shifted away from "this person is the best and is going to win and is Americas ice princess" and to real fight and battle and which one of these girls can come out on top and who has the best chance....
    I so agree that this ice princess audition show is outdated. Let them all try to be competitive each year, and celebrate the uncertainty. Expressive and strong skating is what the international judges and the public wants, not just the most consistent who can be a spokeswoman.
    Last edited by TheIronLady; 01-25-2013 at 08:43 AM.

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    Personally even though I was a Kwan fan I also found her reign in the U.S got kind of boring. I also found the same people making the team every year in general to be somewhat boring. I do wish there was a bit more order than there has been in the post Cohen years perhaps, but I also do enjoy seeing some different winners and different World team members. Then again I do think the U.S women hit a low patch. All those years not even qualifying a 3rd women for next years Worlds, the long medal drought, and a skater like Rachel Flatt finishing 1st or 2nd at U.S Nationals 4 straight years. I do think they are on the rise again though, and Wagner defending her title, and a potentially great albeit erratic talent like Zawadzki or Nagasu making it to Worlds with her, would be the best situation for U.S women for awhile. I think in general they are on the upswing again, and post Sochi it could get even better.

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    I don't have much hope for us getting that 3rd spot back with Mirai or Agnes as the second skater. Mirai just isn't the same skater she was 3 years ago and Agnes still needs to prove herself. Plus they are as inconsistent as can be. With Mirai you never know where her head is at and when there is pressure she often crumble. Agnes needs to start doing clean free programs and prove she is an elite skater otherwise no one will take her seriously.

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    Call it what you will, but it is just possible that the popularity of figure skating depends on a dominant star. Not saying that's as it should be. Or not. But it just may be the nature of the beast and the potential audience.

    Skating needs to decide what it wants to be and then figure out how to be that, taking in the realities of what they have to offer. A little research might not be a bad thing. I am a lapsed figure skating fan of long standing who is rapidly approaching "could not care less" status. I have some ideas as to why this has happened to me. I don't know if they are ideas that effect a lot of people or not, but the USFSA might want to learn the prominent reasons people are turning away from skating and go from there. Addressing reasons that seem dominant. Or, maybe they don't care about fans and just want to run the sport as they see fit. Fine on that too, but they need to make an informed decision.

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    A star can't be created...nor can the fans be force-fed a skater.

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    I have to say, while I would like the US skaters (in all disciplines) to be more competitive internationally, I really like when there isn't a star. I think nationals is much more exciting this year because in you just don't know what is going to happen. I can't guess the podiums. Sure there are favorites, but they aren't blow everyone away, no chance for anyone else (except dance) to win, and going down the rest of the podium, I have no idea what to expect.

    To me, evenly matched competitions are the most exciting thing about sports. Who is the best THAT DAY? Not "that person is so good, no one else should bother showing up".

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    COP isnt indecipherable but the application is when all of the scores seem to rise and fall based on the jump content, propping up good jumpers and skaters with good resumes and holding down others.
    I feel like I'm in a dream. But it can't be a dream because there are no boy dancers!

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    Maybe Christine and Phil should form a support group.

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    Just Brennan being Brennan.
    Charter member of the "We Always Believed in Ashley" Club and the "We Believe in Ricky" Club

  13. #13

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    What is the problem with this article? CB asked Joe Inman, Audrey Weisiger & Carol Heiss for their opinion and her article was based on these interviews. I thought she did a decent job describing the current situation. It is true that US is lacking dominating star. It is not a good or bad thing. But that's the truth.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheIronLady View Post
    http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports...-star/1862815/

    Okay, I am going to let this forum know what I really think of the USFSA. I think they are obsessed with pleasing corporations and sponsors who know and care nothing about skating. I think they are also out of touch with current trends, and their notions of what skating is and what makes a good champion remain stuck in the mud of 6.0.

    Why is the USFSA calling the ladies field chaos? Why are they demanding consistency and predictability in ladies skating-- with a star at the top and clear second and third place rivals?

    It is not because these things are essential for strong American finishes at Worlds/Olympics. It is not even because the public demands this. The USFSA does this because the corporations want it. The corporate suits are impatiently demanding an "it girl," and the USFSA, with no marketing strategy or savvy of its own, is following a tired model of skating that no longer applies. And furthermore, why can't the sport defy what corporations want? Is it all about them?
    The USFS is not calling the ladies field "chaos," Christine Brennan is. Brennan much like Hersh, is a mainstream sports writer who is calling it like she sees it. Lets face it, figure skating in the US has a LONG history of dominant ladies. It literally stretches back decades. Like it or not, the ladies are the bread and butter of US figure skating. It's no surprise that mainstream sports writers and the general public are looking at a sport that has changed to a scoring system they don't understand, and skaters they don't know and turning away. I don't think it is simply a corporate sponsor issue(Wagner just signed with Nike). It is a public perception issue.

    Unfortunately, I think this is where the USFS has failed to market and educate the general public. IMO The American public need a story, a star and they need medals in order to emotionally invest in the sport and it's athletes. You can't market figure skating as a sport and then get mad because nobody is tuning in when the athletes aren't winning. There is beauty in what a lot of the athletes are doing, but they still need to win. I think the same is true in EVERY sport, team etc. JMO

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    Christine Brennan isn't a mouthpiece for USFSA. USFSA took away her press credentials for their events at one time. I don't know if she ever got them back. I agree with luenatic, the article is just stating the obvious.

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    I really do feel Mirai is making good progress. IMO, Mirai needs to get over some insecurities which I feel was brought on with negative press and also some coaching issues. When someone skates bad, they don't need to be scolded like she was. They need to support her and discuss in private the problems. But it seemed it was done in the K&C and also to the press. This coaching team she has now seems to be very good with her and I think she is getting that confidence back. It doesn't happen overnight, but this year has been going well so far.

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    I don't think you can blame her coaches for her failures. Mirai gets down on herself to easily and it has hurt her skating career in the past. Hopefully she's now mentally tougher then she was but i don't know if she will get back to the level she was at in 2010. I really though by now she would be one of the favorites heading into Sochi.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jammers View Post
    I don't think you can blame her coaches for her failures. Mirai gets down on herself to easily and it has hurt her skating career in the past. Hopefully she's now mentally tougher then she was but i don't know if she will get back to the level she was at in 2010. I really though by now she would be one of the favorites heading into Sochi.
    I am not saying it is all the coaches fault, but being degraded all the time by the public, press, coaches will mess with ones mind. Not everyone can brush off the criticism, some aren't as strong. She has acknowledged her heart wasn't in it for a while and she was tired from the drive. She made changes to improve and I think she needs to be given some credit.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mayra View Post
    The USFS is not calling the ladies field "chaos," Christine Brennan is. Brennan much like Hersh, is a mainstream sports writer who is calling it like she sees it. Lets face it, figure skating in the US has a LONG history of dominant ladies. It literally stretches back decades. Like it or not, the ladies are the bread and butter of US figure skating. It's no surprise that mainstream sports writers and the general public are looking at a sport that has changed to a scoring system they don't understand, and skaters they don't know and turning away. I don't think it is simply a corporate sponsor issue(Wagner just signed with Nike). It is a public perception issue.

    Unfortunately, I think this is where the USFS has failed to market and educate the general public. IMO The American public need a story, a star and they need medals in order to emotionally invest in the sport and it's athletes. You can't market figure skating as a sport and then get mad because nobody is tuning in when the athletes aren't winning. There is beauty in what a lot of the athletes are doing, but they still need to win. I think the same is true in EVERY sport, team etc. JMO
    I fully agree with all of this, and what I am saying is let there be competition. I think Brennan is just giving a voice to pointless complaining. She has been doing this for years, blaming the changes in the sport. I have noticed the issue changes with her. If there are injuries, it's because the sport has been ruined with new requirements. It is not hard for her to do because old, now obsolete American coaches and officials complain the same one-note sentiments.

    Figure skating was never going to hold its own as a form of reality entertainment or as a coronation process for American ice princesses. It had to be taken seriously as a sport to survive internationally. The sport has been, if nothing else, saved from stagnation and becoming an international laughingstock. None of this complaining by the USFSA old guard changes anything, so yes this article is reactionary hot air that is almost ten years old now. And it is the corporate sponsors want for predictability that is feeding into the USFSA's anxieties.

    Again, you cannot blame Brennan because she is a window onto what these people are rehashing. She is just doing her job, but her biases happen to be theirs. She apparently made too much money off the sport of the past to participate in a constructive dialogue about the present.

    The USFSA should educate the sponsors and the public and accept the realities and possible advantages of this era. They are really lacking in creativity, and let's face it, a lot of today's USA officialdom, coaches, volunteers, and fans are getting old and not finding ways to replenish. This is part of why they are having trouble changing, I'm afraid, and they should start to support younger people with new marketing perspectives and ideas about the sport who are more flexible.
    Last edited by TheIronLady; 01-25-2013 at 05:53 PM.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheIronLady View Post
    She [Brennan] apparently made too much money off the sport of the past to participate in a constructive dialogue about the present.
    For real? Do you think Ms Brennan actually made too much money covering figure skating?

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