Perhaps the figures could have operated better under a scoring system like IJS. The figures had a distorting effect on results scored under factored placements and ordinals. One bad ordinal factored in and you were dead in the water. The figures had another undesirable way of influencing results. With the more subjective 6.0 majority panel system, the order in which you skated in the SP & FS was somewhat more important than it is under under IJS. Figures placements determined what group you skated in for the SP (and thus indirectly the FS). This gave distorted influence to figures ordinals (even when they were reduced to only 30% or 20%). A skater under 6.0 might win the SP and not be high enough overall to skate in the final flight. This typically appeared to influence how high the judges were willing to rank someone in the FS (the old cliche about leaving room under 6.0 for later skaters seemed to apply in those days). So the case could be made that under a different judging system like IJS figures as 20% could have been been less problematic.
As Maximillian points out, the reason figures could never have survived is that they were incompatible with television and ticket sales, and the sport was constantly evolving into an entertainment business. This is perhaps supported by the eventual dumping of the compulsory dances. Like figures, they made for weak television and sales, and thus were not self-funding.
Another, perhaps deadly factor, was the money required to pay for ice time to practice figures. In countries with limited facilities, training figures was more cost prohibitive.
I think one reason why few shed tears for the end of compulsory figures (besides that they weren't fun to watch and skaters hated practicing them) was that audiences felt they could scrutinize every ordinal in the SP and FS. They could engage with the free skate judging. Audiences could not do this with compulsory figures. Now under IJS, things have changed so much that viewers might object less to being told by experts whose figures are better without themselves, as knowledgeable observers, knowing why. A good amount of scoring by the technical panel is either a bore or a slight mystery to even informed audiences today. It has to be revealed in slow motion. So I believe figures might be tolerated better under IJS than they were in the heyday of skating's Western popularity under 6.0.
Alas, this is not a realistic what if. Figures could not have survived without some unique will on the part of the skating community. There were no incentives to hold them in an increasingly globalized and business-oriented sport.
Last edited by TheIronLady; 02-23-2013 at 10:56 PM.