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

Discussion in 'Great Skate Debate' started by TheIronLady, Jan 25, 2013.

  1. TheIronLady

    TheIronLady Well-Known Member


    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: Jan 25, 2013
    Buzz and (deleted member) like this.
  2. caseyedwards

    caseyedwards Well-Known Member

    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.
    TheIronLady and (deleted member) like this.
  3. TheIronLady

    TheIronLady Well-Known Member

    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.
  4. TheIronLady

    TheIronLady Well-Known Member

    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: Jan 25, 2013
  5. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

    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.
    TheIronLady and (deleted member) like this.
  6. Jammers

    Jammers Well-Known Member

    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.
    TheIronLady and (deleted member) like this.
  7. RobinA

    RobinA Active Member

    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.
  8. kwanette

    kwanette Fetalized since 1998

    A star can't be created...nor can the fans be force-fed a skater.
    Sparks and (deleted member) like this.
  9. Skittl1321

    Skittl1321 Well-Known Member

    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".
  10. my little pony

    my little pony war crawling into canada

    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.
  11. elka_sk8

    elka_sk8 Well-Known Member

    Maybe Christine and Phil should form a support group. :p
  12. Wyliefan

    Wyliefan Well-Known Member

    Just Brennan being Brennan.
    manleywoman and (deleted member) like this.
  13. luenatic

    luenatic Well-Known Member

    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.
  14. Mayra

    Mayra Well-Known Member

    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
    OliviaPug and (deleted member) like this.
  15. aliceanne

    aliceanne Well-Known Member

    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.
  16. Jagerboy

    Jagerboy Member

    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.
  17. Jammers

    Jammers Well-Known Member

    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. Jagerboy

    Jagerboy Member

    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. TheIronLady

    TheIronLady Well-Known Member

    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: Jan 25, 2013
  20. luenatic

    luenatic Well-Known Member

    For real? Do you think Ms Brennan actually made too much money covering figure skating?
  21. query5

    query5 New Member

    no it doesn't. the u.s. doesn't have a dominant start and wont until
    the u.s acknowledges they don't treat all u.s. ladies fair. 1) they overllook the mistakes for the ones they want up on top, which the public can plainly see and give them huge scores for skating so so- make certain skaters change technique when ashley, agnes, mirai, gracie, christina, courtney dont need to. when they should be it is becoming clear that kaetlyn, adelina, elizaveta, julia, mao, akiko, kanako, carolina kostner, valentina, and even other countries such as france, finland is makng their skaters improve their jumps & technique to get the high scores. the u.s. just hands it to them and expects the public to back them.
    the u.s. skaters with exception of shibs, d/w, don't skate for it. they just skate-if the u.s skaters were made to change the way they skated for last 3 years i don't they would skate as well.
    if the u.s. won't hold their skaters, ability to skater accountable the public will and is. in fact the media, public held michelle kwan accountable she did fine.
    i think that is one reason out side her getting hurt that tara left so early, she didn't want to be held accountable for her skating. too bad by 2002 she might have been beloved by the public in watching her grow up and she how she handled things. sarah came back only skated so-so. didn't feel like skating her best--would have helped her.
    the dominant star has to please herself, himself, but also the public and figure skating fan base-if don't they wont get the public behind them.
    the u.s. is use to high standards (except of davis/white) none fit the bill and don't see it near future unlesss cheat for them.(which won't help)
  22. RobinA

    RobinA Active Member

    Kind of agree. I was a huge Michelle fan, but at the same time I did think about the day when I could watch a competition without worrying about how Michelle was going to do and just enjoy the competition. Unfortunately, just as she left, along comes CoP, which I hate with every fiber of my being. Now I don't have to worry about who will win, but I gotta watch these hideous, difficult-for-the-sake-of-difficulty routines which have wrung most of the beauty out of the sport. Off to watch Fields of Gold on YouTube.
  23. Yazmeen

    Yazmeen Well-Known Member

    Have to agree with luen and Mayra here. For some fans here, the "let them skate and see who wins" mode may be great and exciting, but that likely goes over like the proverbial lead balloon with the casual fans. US skating has always had a dominant lady (Tenley, Carol, Peggy, Janet, Dorothy, Linda, Roz and Elaine, Kristi, Nancy, and Tonya, Tara and Michelle) up through Sasha Cohen over the past 5 decades. Now it's "who won this year????" which is translating into less interest on the part of the most casual viewer. And the fact that the top ladies keep shifting does point to inconsistency in our top ladies competitors (not to mention the lack or three worlds sports for so many years). Brennan's article was fine; she was quoting very knowledgeable and appropriate figures in the sport about what they thought. The simple fact is aside from dance, the US does not dominate any more; it's men's and ladies competitors just don't have the consistency to stay on top and get the job done like their predecessor's did (and yes, I know, IJS, more difficult programs, etc., but this is still true). The only consistency about our ladies on the world stage is that they consistently fail to bring home those 3 berths, and it's even worse with the men, as our only true world-level competitor is a flaming head case who can't get his act together on the World Championships stage. Hopefully this will change in the future, but the US is simply being out-skated aside from dance by other countries.

    That said, I really hope Ashley takes that second National title which I think will really help her on the World stage this year,
  24. RobinA

    RobinA Active Member

    Some coaches are better for some people than others. Coaches need to be sensitive to what a particular skater needs. Or not. Maybe a skater who needs to be in a specific atmosphere needs to pick coaches accordingly. Sometimes it's nobody's fault, it's just a bad fit and the skater and/or the coach can't adjust.
  25. MacMadame

    MacMadame Cat Lady-in-Training

    I don't think most of us have a clue as to what the casual figure skating fan thinks or wants. I know most of the people I talk to about skating still think Kristi Yamaguchi is still competing. Or that Michelle Kwan won an OGM. With that level of knowledge, I don't see how you can say that they aren't watching skating because there isn't a dominant US lady or because we don't win enough or even because of CoP since it's clear they have no idea if who is even competing, let alone who is winning or what scoring system is being used. Heck, I know people who think that the scoring system is based on a 10 point system and are confused every time they see a competition without show lighting!

    I also think that other sports have shown that it's not necessary to win in order to have loyal fans. There are sports teams who never win who still have loyal fans and there are sports stars who make a lot of money in endorsements even though they haven't got winning records. For some people, winning is important, but not for everyone. In general, I think winning brings attention and attention brings fans so it seems like winning brings fans but it's really the attention that brings them.

    I also think that USFS gets blamed for everything bad that happens and every bad attitude we don't like gets put on them. In spite of what some of you want to believe, USFS has actually shown a lot of foresight and marketing savvy in recent years. They have embraced the internet and invested money in Ice Network when other sports have done nothing but continue to piss and moan about losing network broadcasting time, as an example. IMO when other niche sports wither and die, they will continue to chug along because they realized the internet is where it's at for niche sports much sooner than other NGBs of a lot of other sports.
    TheIronLady and (deleted member) like this.
  26. query5

    query5 New Member

    this is not just let see who skates and win.
    this is where the u.s is falling behind other countries because the u.s. isn't holding the current skaters like ashley, mirai, gracie, agnes, christina, courtney accountable for 1) how they skate-bad technique, urs, wrong edge, double footing, (overlooking these mistakes) for them and not other s. making others
    change technique which they should also
    2) how they place at world, f/c
    3) how other federations are expecting more of their skaters if don't do it (don't get assignment etc)
    4) not getting 3 for next years world,
    5) not caring what public thinks, wants and still expect buying public to back them at all cost even OGM-unhappy when don't because those OGM
    skaters don't/didn't meet public standard
    6) public standard being higher the u.s federation standard and they don't care-lack of accountability-denability-which means less buying of sponorship things by buying public, less interest etc.
  27. TheIronLady

    TheIronLady Well-Known Member

    This is somewhat sweeping what you are saying. The casual fans want winners. Recently, the USA has definitely had losers. It is for lack of playing the correct game more than the failure of individual athletes. The game did change years ago, but the USFSA has been reluctant to play. The judging at nationals has been wildly biased in the ladies, with reputation bonuses given to skaters that would not be repeated at a worlds event. Rachael Flatt should not have been sent to worlds in 2011. The USA might have had three berths at 2012 Worlds had Mirai been selected (or even Christina Gao). I don't think anyone thinks the components scores for Rachael made any sense, and she has never seen scores like that at an international event in her entire life.

    Sending Ryan Bradley as the national champion in 2011 was another move showing the USA was stuck in the days of Scott Hamilton and Boitano. A charismatic, good-humored star who everyone thinks is reliable is not what the nationals judging and the final selection process should be about. Jeremy Abbott should have been sent regardless of his flaws based on both the performances he demonstrated in Greensboro and his IJS merits. That was inappropriate judging (again with very incredible components marks for Bradley as well as Miner and Dornbush), and the worlds results exposed this.
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2013
  28. TheIronLady

    TheIronLady Well-Known Member

    This is a good point. The USFSA's role may be more benign than my reaction painted it. As aliceanne mentioned, its leaders may even find Brennan's article as annoying as I do (if they refuse her press credentials). There may be some changes they deserves credit for. So far, I think Icenetwork is not well administered from a business perspective. As a site I love it, but I can tell you about ten different ways that they are not maximizing its profit and potential.

    I find Brennan's account to be backward looking, and it reflects the opinions of powerful, old people who think the sport is still running under 6.0 and who want to apply this old marketing frame to today's American skaters working under a very different system. The pressure for the old formula to magically work again does seem to originate from USFSA's mega sponsors. It's the USFSA's job to get a new message and take control.

    Another thing I noticed... In 2010 NBC basically lied to the public and said Rachael and Mirai were just teenagers and might become Kwans in the future. These lies of convenience have to end at some point.
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2013
  29. Lacey

    Lacey Well-Known Member

    I believe the first place finisher has to go to Worlds, per the rules of USFS, any other Worlds competitor selections are up to committee.

    I would like to see that committee not make a choice about #2 and #3 until after 4CCs, sent them and make it a skate off.

    Now, if you want to see that first place finisher not be selected, then change the first rule, send him or her also to 4CCs, and make it a total skate off.

    In either case, get on a soapbox to the sub committees of USFS to change the rules, and, oh by the way, good luck with that.
  30. Frau Muller

    Frau Muller #1 Dick Button Fan

    Brennan is still giddy from having thrown rice at The Kween.

    There is a great, consistent U.S. lady skater out there and her name is Ashley Wagner.