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  1. #201
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    I disagree with your characterizations of both arts and sports fans. From listening to endless commentators on many sports, if most sports fans were only interested in the visuals, there wouldn't be incessant commentary about statistics or the miniscule changes in golfers' swings. Sports fans want to know what and why, or most sports commentators for baseball, rugby, golf, speedskating, or gymnastics (at least as Shewfelt did it). The other thing that commentators emphasize is strategy/approach, and often this leads to a discussion of changes over time in style and philosophy.

    As far as !rts fans are concerned, we're not neatly categorized into aesthetes who.look.at the arts with a broad sweep, technique be damned. Some of biggest schisms among fans in music and dance are over style and technique and the extent to which style can be achieved without technique "without" forming a spectrum. Another schism in many arts is over the appriateness of music for the genre. Another is the conservatism of audiences. Another is how much other forms should influence the current form, and at what point does the art stop being itself. Another is the prevalence of big tricks and how they distort/influence/change the balance and focus of the form.

    All of these can be applied to skating.
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    I think different people look for different things in commentary. I can't stand the US/Canadian commentators, tolerate the British ones, but much prefer the eastern European/Russian ones (even if I can't understand them) who do all their talking before and after the program and actually leave me to get into the program unless something totally crazy happens. But I can identify each element, so that's not a problem for me. Perhaps a balance might be a quick identification of the element, maybe a single-word or two word comment (very nice, or oh dear, or something) and then shut up. Few things in commentary irritate me more than mindless babble in the middle of the program. (Yes, Joshua Farris broke his ankle at Nationals two years ago! That's only the 78136413547th time you mentioned it!)

    At the end of the day the music is an important part of skating, and it's really frustrating when you're struggling to hear it over the commentators.

  3. #203
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    part of it is the fact. the judges, federations don't apply the same rules to everyone just certain skaters.


    rules are a guideline for some skaters not all. no matter how well a skater skates if federation don't want them, they will use the rules/guielines to keep them down.

    do they even want the non-skating public fans. broaden their base.
    they use the skaters faces to promote the products to sell to the non-figure skating fans, but does figure skating themselves do anything to attract yu na free skate at her nationals, gracie free skate at u.s. nationals,kaetlyn osmond short program at her canadian nationals. and the on-going duel between Davis/White and Virtue and Moir these past 4 years. christina gao short program at 4cc. i didn't think she could skate like that .not to leave out yuzuru hanyu, volsohar/trankov , savchenko & szolkowy. have skaters /try their best at all times not half ass , wait until the olympics and then i will skate. (they may not have it).
    figure skating fans-criticizing non-fans by how much they don't know, can't tell difference in jump. read the rules and see they aren't applied to all. see

    due to new systems . you see them skate once you see them skate all year. they all look alike now more than ever.
    no personality shines through.

  4. #204
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    And they weren't before? There was never controversy before?
    The odd thing, for me, is that I generally agreed with the results, even most of the more famously fixed ones. Of course, at the time, I did not know how much the outcomes were pre-determined by back-room bargaining, but when controversy broke out, I usually found I agreed with the judges and not with the complainers. There are some exceptions - Poetsh over Fratiani in Lake Placid and Bestamianova/Bukin over Klimova-Ponamarenko from about 1986 on, but the other controversies were mostly about skaters who did not really deserve a better placement to my eye. For example, I agreed with Baiul over Kerrigan, with Petrenko over Wylie, with Anisssina/Pezerat over Bourne/Kraatz for the bronze in Nagano and over everybody for the gold in SLC, and even with Berezhnaya/Sikh over the gray Canadians. So, however they got there, the judges nearly always came up with results that agreed with my taste. I'm not saying it wasn't morally wrong to determine results by backroom politiks, just that, as an ignorant viewer, the actual results rarely seemed incorrect to me.

  5. #205
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    I profoundly disagree on Baiul/Kerrigan (for starters I'd have docked Baiul artistic points for her hideous costumes alone; still can't get over how ugly they are, plus I just don't like how little girls look on ice-would have done the same to Lipinski versus Kwan, and then there were the small, messy jumps) and with 2002 pairs, I'd have used the technical mark to put the Canadians first (and if Shen/Zhao had landed the quad I'd have been in favor of solving the whole problem by giving THEM the gold and being done with it, art be damend.) The 'artistry' is taste and about equal depending on taste, so the bobbles would have killed it for the Russians in both cases.

    For the US, if the USFS and networks cannot pry themselves away from the mind-numbing ladies' program, they really ought to consider what they're presenting artistically. I can't see anything artistic in ANY of the final-group ladies' performances. I don't see any passion, and I didn't see anyone REALLY skating to the same somnambulous Romantic classical pieces that everyone uses. I also noted in the mens' competition how Adam Rippon actually seemed very into his program and to me, his expressions didn't seem forced but logical to the music, and noted the commentary saying how this was such a departure from his normal music and he seemed very different...maybe *he liked it better* than heavy classical. Why do the ladies get the same general uninspired classical selections over and over and over? Not even a Lyra Angelica in the bunch.

  6. #206
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    I don't know what that this had to with ISJ vs. 6.0 and skating's decline in popularity though. First of all, no matter what you two think of any particular individual results, we know that the public thought certain results were controversial and that this has happened throughout figure skating's history no matter what the scoring system was.

    Is the controversy a turn off? It might be if the commentary makes it seem like "the results are all fixed." OTOH, other sports have controversial calls and it doesn't seem to hurt them. Heck, there was a controversial call at this year's Super Bowl right at the end that hurt my team. I'm still watching them next year.

    As for a feeling that it's all fixed, "everyone" knew that cycling was full of dopers back when Lance Armstrong was winning the Tour de France a bazillion times. Did that hurt their viewership? It didn't seem to. WWF is completely fixed and it has amazing viewership numbers.

    So controversy, in and of itself, doesn't hurt sports. Evidence of corruption doesn't always do it either. Neither does being a spectacle and not a real sport.

    I think figure skating's "problem" is not IJS, it's not even corrupt judging (or perception of same) even though as a fan I want my sport to be clean. I think the problem is that the sport doesn't have mass appeal in the US. I don't think you can solve that kind of problem.
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  7. #207

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    Quote Originally Posted by MacMadame View Post
    I think figure skating's "problem" is not IJS, it's not even corrupt judging (or perception of same) even though as a fan I want my sport to be clean. I think the problem is that the sport doesn't have mass appeal in the US. I don't think you can solve that kind of problem.
    I agree with you, but I'd say that with proper promotion it could extend its appeal even if never reaching the heights of team sports.

  8. #208
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    TV Coverage Not very Available in US

    I do not really think Figure Skating is not popular because of the viewing audience, I believe that here in the US, we do not get to watch all the events. I do not think Four Continents was televised here and some others. The ones that we did have televised were after the competitions were completed. I do not mind having to wait a week but we do not even get that lately. I do have to say I miss having Universal Sports, at least we could see all the events.

  9. #209

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sandy View Post
    I do not really think Figure Skating is not popular because of the viewing audience, I believe that here in the US, we do not get to watch all the events. I do not think Four Continents was televised here and some others. The ones that we did have televised were after the competitions were completed. I do not mind having to wait a week but we do not even get that lately. I do have to say I miss having Universal Sports, at least we could see all the events.
    It is a rating games. If the ratings for skating has been dropping, then there is less likelihood that any will be prepared to show them.
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  10. #210
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    If older women were buying huge numbers of sports cars, phone sex, liquor, and electronic toys instead od Swiffers, dishwasher fluid, jam, diet meals, and orange juice, we'd see 4C's in North America.
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  11. #211
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    Quote Originally Posted by joeperryfan View Post
    I agree with you, but I'd say that with proper promotion it could extend its appeal even if never reaching the heights of team sports.
    And I agree with you as well. I do think USFS is doing a decent job with what it's got, but I also think there is room for improvement. (Well, isn't there always? )
    Quote Originally Posted by Sandy View Post
    I do not really think Figure Skating is not popular because of the viewing audience, I believe that here in the US, we do not get to watch all the events. I do not think Four Continents was televised here and some others. The ones that we did have televised were after the competitions were completed. I do not mind having to wait a week but we do not even get that lately. I do have to say I miss having Universal Sports, at least we could see all the events.
    Most of the GP was show on NBC the same weekend of the competition this year. One or two events were shown one week later. 4CCs was shown on Universal Sports LIVE as it happened.

    Besides, figure skating didn't get less popular because it disappeared off broadcast tv. It disappeared off broadcast tv because it got less popular. (As Aussie Willy implies.)

    I believe some historical perspective is in order... I"ll split that off into a separate post.
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  12. #212
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    When I was growing up, skating was almost never on tv at all. We watched a few hours of only the major competitions often months after they happened on Saturday's on ABC's Wide World of Sports. 1960 was the first televised Olympics and we marveled. I have vague memories of watching Tenley Albright win but I was pretty young so maybe I am "remembering" from watching repeats of the coverage I saw when I got older.

    By the time of Peggy Fleming though, my family were definitely fans who watched figure skating whenever it came on tv. My mom even followed it in the newspaper and magazines and would tell me who the players were when we watched. (She knew all the gossip and they didn't talk about who had the skating mom from hell on tv so she must have read articles to get that.) I would say that I was a casual fan because I watched skating when I came across it but didn't go looking for it and she was a slightly less than casual fan because she'd note when Nationals and Worlds were on most years and make a point to watch them.

    But the real fans were all very involved in the sport maybe being a judge or having a kid in the sport or skating themselves. The rest of us would miss Worlds entirely one year because we didn't notice it would be on tv and things like that, but these guys would do things like read the rule book, travel to skating competitions and knew about competitions that were never shown on tv.

    What brought new fans into the sport of figure skating in those days? The Olympics to be sure as USA had a contender in Ladies every time. We churned out the Ice Princesses and Girl Next Doors like clockwork. But also? The Ice Capades! And other shows like it. Even families like ours with little money would save up so we could see the Ice Capades once a year. Given this, it's really no wonder that figure skating's audience skewed so heavily female!

    This remained true up until The Whack. At that point, a lot of factors converged at once to change how figure skating was experienced and viewed. First, the internet got involved. Now figure skating fans could connect and the ones among us who were so inclined could "geek out" over skating the way our neighbors and friends geek out over baseball, football, softball, etc. Before that, it was mostly people involved in local clubs who experienced figure skating that way. Then, The Whack focused attention on skating so people who might be inclined to "geek out" were exposed to it.

    That led to dramatically increased tv coverage which allowed people who didn't want to be fans that way -- what I think of as the "casual fan" -- to also be able to experience figure skating without having to be such a geek that they scoured the sports section of the paper every March so they'd know when Worlds would be on Wide World of Sports.

    However, at the same time that The Whack was focusing attention on our sport and increasing tv ratings, other factors were conspiring to reduce skating's audience. Tv audiences were fragmenting and moving to cable. The younger generations were watching less tv in general and spending more time on the internet. Extreme sports were gaining popularity and skating couldn't compete with that.

    So here were are...

    Skating is not shown on tv as much as it was in the 90s and early 2000s. But it's still shown on tv WAY more than it was prior to The Whack. I mean before that we got Euros -- maybe -- or maybe they'd just show the top routine of someone who could challenge a top American during the yearly Nationals broadcast, Nationals and Worlds. There was World Pros outside the eligible world and .... well, that was about it really. What we call the GP never existed as an organized circuit but many of the competitions existed but they weren't shown on tv as a general rule and 4CCs didn't exist either.

    So it was Nationals, Euros, Worlds and -- every four years -- the Olympics plus pro comps and shows and tv specials. That's it.

    So these days even if you only look at Broadcast tv, you still have more than that. If you add in cable, we have even more. And, if you look at the Interent well, we have pretty much everything.

    And, the thing is, the internet is the future. Some day there won't be Broadcast TV and we'll watch everything via Broadband streaming IMO. So USFS has absolutely done the right thing by investing in Ice Network. It's the future and it's the best way to cater to figure skating fans.

    But, you are saying, how can figure skating get new fans if it's not on Broadcast tv? By going where the fans are! New fans aren't on broadcast tv. Young kids are on the internet. They watch "tv" via Hulu Plus and Netflix streaming and that will only get more and more true.

    The younger ones still go to Disney on Ice, just like my family went to the Ice Capades so there's an opportunity to advertise to them there (and I'm pretty sure USFS does though my oldest is 14 now so I no longer have personal experience to know for sure). They are also on Twitter and Tumblr and Facebook and so is figure skating.

    IMO trying desperately to get more hours of figure skating on US broadcast tv is a dead-end for USFS and ISU. They should get as many as they can because it's nothing to sneeze at. But it's not going to make or break the sport going forward IMO.

    And all this whining about figure skating's decline is really whining that the world is changing and we old fogies don't want to change with it. I know I want to keep watching figure skating on broadcast tv. It's what I'm used to and I have an enormous HD tv and it's all set up for broadcast and cable. Trying to figure out how to watch tv on the internet is a colossal PITA, I've found. But luckily I'm a tech head and our HD tv is over 15 years old so our new one will probably be "internet ready' whatever the hell that means and I bet I figure it out in spite of myself.

    The real question to me is if USFS will figure out how to appeal to the young kids that are now being exposed to figure skating -- the ones who think a sport isn't exciting if you can't break your neck -- and will be able to market it's stars effectively so that it continues to "feed the machine" as everyone who says that success breeds fan is correct and appealing to the youngsters coming up is important to the health of any sports. More important than how many hours it's on broadcast tv!
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  13. #213

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    In the discussion about broadcasts and commenting, I didn't see anyone address my biggest gripe about how skating is presented to American viewers (apologies if anyone else made this point). It's not aired like it is a competitive sport.

    You wouldn't air a baseball game and say, we're just going to cut the 7th and 8th batters in the order from the competition, but skating does that all the time. We don't get short programs aired in many cases, so viewers turn on the broadcast and are told -- not given a chance to see -- that X skater is in first, Y skater is in second, and Z skater is in third. Then they might see a random skater who is in 10th place, and then the top 5 or 6. And when the final scores appear, there are a bunch of names of skaters we didn't see. How is that acceptable coverage of a sport? A football or basketball broadcast doesn't skip the third quarter and go directly to the fourth. Hell, as far as I can tell, even X-Games and bull riding competitions are more complete in what they show of the competition than figure skating broadcasts.

    Figure skating coverage also doesn't constantly show us the scores so we can see who needs what to win. That would be easy. Before every skater, they should show the top three scores and what the next skater needs to take one of the medal positions. That's an easy graphic to show. Give us that number in relation to the planned base so we know how many points the skater needs to add with +GOE and PCS. They could even give a season's best or average PCS for the skater to give a sense of how well the skater needs to perform to have a realistic chance of medaling. All of that would amp up the "sport" side of skating and give it the immediacy of being a competition. (Oh, and don't get me started on tape-delayed broadcasts. That also hurts skating, because true fans will have already obtained the results and often will have watched the skates via live feeds from other broadcasters or on YouTube.)

    One thing I had hoped would happen with skating going to Universal Sports was that it would at least be given more time. It is inexplicable that the entire GP isn't airing on Universal or NBC Sports. Skating can't be getting lower ratings than rugby, bike racing, and the other sports airing there. And NBC has already paid for the entire GP and has commentators covering the event, so it's not like giving full coverage would cost more. US Nationals is the same way. Why not turn NBC Sports into wall-to-wall skating coverage for the week of Nationals? Show juniors so viewers can be introduced to young skaters and can become invested in them, rather than only seeing a couple of them once a year for four minutes. Sometimes that young skater or the one who isn't going to win medals but has an offbeat program grabs people's attention in a way that the medalists don't. Yet those skaters pretty much don't exist to Americans who only watch skating on television.

  14. #214
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    I thought we were around the same age, MacMadame. I wasn't born when Albright won in 1956, though. 1960 was Carol Heiss, so maybe you do remember her from features.

    The other competition shown on Wide World of Sports was the now defunct North American Championships, which I think were held every other year.
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    I was confusing the two - Tenley and Carol. It's Carol's skate in 1960 that was shown everywhere and I "remember" watching.

    I definitely watched that Olympics and there's no way my mom wouldn't have NOT watched the skating so I would have seen it but I'm not sure I really remember watching it as it happened. I've seen the tape, of course, but so have people who are quite young.

    The NA Championships stopped right about the time I hit HS. So I may have seen them but not being held every year, I probably didn't. I did see Janet Lynn at a National Championship the year they were held in Philly. I grew up outside of Philly so the local station featured Nationals on the news. They may even have shown some of the competition (my memory is fuzzy on that though).

    But here's the thing... if that had happened now, I would have BEEN THERE. Because I would have known Nationals were held in my home town before they happened, not during. It's easy to find that sort of thing out now. Back then, the only way to know would be to be involved in skating or to be such a big fan that you read everything about skating in every magazine and newspaper you could find. IOW, you'd have to read the newspaper every day from cover to cover and hope you didn't miss the news.

    This is part of why I don't "get" a lot of the complaints I see. We fans have it much better than most fans in the US have had it over the past 50-60 years. Yeah, it's not as great as it was in the late 90s and early 00s but that's such a small blip in the history of skating.
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    So controversy, in and of itself, doesn't hurt sports. Evidence of corruption doesn't always do it either. Neither does being a spectacle and not a real sport.
    I agree. Because it generates publicity, controversy often ends up being good for a sport.

    I think figure skating's "problem" is not IJS, it's not even corrupt judging (or perception of same) even though as a fan I want my sport to be clean. I think the problem is that the sport doesn't have mass appeal in the US.
    By saying it "doesn't have mass appeal" are you saying that it simply is not popular in the US at the moment (which is undeniably true) or are you saying the activity itself inherently lacks the qualities that create widespread public interest and appeal? In other words, is lack of appeal the cause or the result?

    I think the fact that skating was quite popular from about 88 to 94 and hugely popular 1994 to about 2000, suggests that when it has the right skaters and personalities doing programs/chosing music that audiences like, then it can have mass appeal. I think the folks blaming the judging system are, in part, saying the things the system rewards have changed the way programs are choreographed and presented in a way that makes the programs less entertaining or appealing to US audiences. I think as big or bigger a factor is that the sheer quantity and complexity of elements/moves has driven skaters to use blander music that drones on in the background, since it isn't as noticeable when a move does not hit the correct moment in the music because there are no musical highlights. I wonder how many of the folks insisting there is nothing audience unfriendly about COP were watching skating as far back as the 80s and 90s and even understand the difference.

    One of the reasons I think the scoring system has driven the skating itself in a less entertaining direction is that there have been so few skaters and so few programs that I found compelling personally. I remember never much liking Jeff Buttle's programs (which were so famously COP-driven. A few years after he retired, I saw him in SOI and he did two programs, one I did not care for that was reminiscent of his competitive programs, and one I loved that looked much more like pre-COP choreo. It made me mad to think how much I would have enjoyed his competitive career if he had been competing under the old system.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Susan M View Post
    I think the fact that skating was quite popular from about 88 to 94
    Define "quite popular". It wasn't on tv any more than it is now. There were maybe more touring shows. But not as many one-off shows.
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    Define "quite popular". It wasn't on tv any more than it is now. There were maybe more touring shows. But not as many one-off shows.
    Yes, there was more skating on TV then, because we had pro and show skating specials. Also, the skating was on regular network TV, not shuffled to a minor cable channel. This was before the GP series, so there was less skating in the fall, but we still got Skate America & NHK plus sometimes other events. I know Pirouetten was on at least once here in that time frame. We also got a couple nights of World Pros plus Challenge of Champions, other one-off pro events, and at least one Boitano special every year. These were real network shows, not syndicated programs popping up at odd hours or broadcasts for which the promoters had to buy air time. In addition there was always a network special about SOI and one for COI in a good time slot.

    Perhaps as importantly, US audiences were supporting two good sized ice tours, with 60 or more stops for COI in the spring tour. In some cities, they actually did the show twice because they could sell that many tickets. Today, COI is gone and SOI is down to less than 10 shows.

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    I think it's debatable that there was more skating on tv. This year I watched about 8 hours of Nationals and 2 hours of each GP event on broadcast tv and almost all of it, the day it happened. I never got that much back in the 80s and it was never the day it happened. Nationals was two hours tops and the others were 1 hour and definitely weeks later.
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    I have been watching Figure Skating for many, many years now. I am not good on dates but we were watching Cup of Russia, Cup of China, Japan, Skate Canada, 4 Continents, etc. We were able to watch Dance, short and long, now we are lucky to watch the top 2 or 3 long and the 1st place in short. To me, it is very sad that we pay to have TV, watch all the commercials and cannot have a say in what they provide for us to watch. Then we finally acquire Universal Sports, which showed every competition. Unfortunately, for me, I have FIOS and they discontinued UNI Sports. So now, I am at the mercy of watching what is available on FIOS. I am still hopeful that FIOS will bring back Uni Sports!

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