1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. Hi all! No longer will threads be closed after 1000 (ish) messages. We may close if one gets so long to cause an issue and if you would like a thread closed to start a new one after a 1000 posts then just use the "Report Post" function. Enjoy!

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

    I agree. Brennan seems to have conveniently left this out. I wonder if she is even paying attention to the international scene today.
  2. Sasha'sSpins

    Sasha'sSpins Well-Known Member


    Mirai also had to deal with a growth sport-before and after the Olympics. Her body has changed dramatically (and quite naturally) since she first won Nationals and it's even more womanly now than she was in 2010. Such changes had to affect her timing. Injuries didn't help either. But she seems to be slowly getting back on track. I think if Ashley Wagner and Carolina Kostner could turn it around in their 20's so can Mirai-who is still just 19. Last season she also had to deal with a four commute to Frank's rink which is not an ideal training situation. Now that that is no longer an issue Mirai has been getting some good results. I hope the trend continues here at Nationals and I hope that in the long run she continues on past Sochi - even if she does make the team. She still has so much to give imo.
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2013
    TheIronLady and (deleted member) like this.
  3. kwanette

    kwanette Fetalized since 1998

    "It's very difficult for skaters to be consistent now," Inman said. "The old 6.0 system was more subjective. You might say, 'OK, you didn't rotate all your (triple) jumps, but I still liked your skating more, so you will win.' Yeah, we know, Joe.

    As far as it being "all about the jumps", quote Carol Heiss, it isn't. Agnes proved that last night, as has Chan on numerous occasions.
  4. TheIronLady

    TheIronLady Well-Known Member

    I would be happy for her if she could go on making it too, but from a journalistic point of view, it needs pointed out what Brennan's attitudes and motivations are. She wants a household name to write about. Okay, we can understand that. But she also demands the sport be as popular and easy to understand as Dancing with the Stars, so it can stop losing "casual fans."

    I would say to her, the only way to excite "casual fans" or make skating interesting to American young people is by encouraging and promoting international winners. Under this system the best way to get that is to let the free market of competition rule.

    You cannot get it by holding Czisny to the standards of Kwan, or propping up skaters in hopes they will become more like Kwan. Alissa is always going to be more like Caryn Kadavy (or Paul Wylie) than Kwan. And what's wrong with that? Czisny could win a world medal or title yet, but forcing her into a marketing box is probably of no help. And complaining about her being not dominant enough is no help to her. It also runs counter to having a legitimate, open national competition.
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2013
  5. OliviaPug

    OliviaPug Well-Known Member

    Free market and free competition has ruled -- nobody's stopping it -- and figure skating has become a smallish, niche sport. As a result, no skater comparable to Caryn Kadavy will make Kadavy-like money in this figure skating climate.

  6. TheIronLady

    TheIronLady Well-Known Member

    Just to be clear, there is not a cause and effect relationship between those two things.
  7. OliviaPug

    OliviaPug Well-Known Member

    No cause and effect relationship between what two things? I was simply stating 2 facts.

    And if you're saying that the sport's smaller viewership has nothing to do with what skaters can fetch in income as eligible and/or pro skaters, I disagree. And, to make it clear, I am referring to the U.S. market, which is what the original article addresses.

  8. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member


    No one has appeared on the scene for many years who possesses the indefinable magical quality which creates a "star"; or, the ability to sustain that.
    "Stars", in any athletic/performance arena are very rare, compared to the number of participants.
  9. Philly2034

    Philly2034 Banned Member

    Yeah, the USFSA always fixes the results of competitions so that their skater can win.

    You can make excuses till the cows come home, these results are fixed. I could rank the Ladies 2013 SP 100 different ways and make a legitimate argument about each one.

    Case and point. "Ashley should be 10th, she skates more tentatively than the rest of the group. Let's lowball her on PCS to make up for her good technical scores."

    Ashley's technical content wasn't even all that impressive.

    Anyway, Zhang got screwed over in 2009 when they gifted Alissa Czisny a national title.

    When you think about it, Zhang's time to shine was 2008 nationals. But then she stepped out of her second triple jump...and it was all downhill from there.
  10. MacMadame

    MacMadame Cat Lady-in-Training

    Well, this stuff costs money. That definitely limits them. I think they've done a really good job with limited resources and a very picky customer base.

    I just don't see that and don't see how this article shows that. I think the sponsors look at the demographics and say "I want to be associated with that" and that's about it.

    NBC is trying to market the skaters and create stars. I don't think what they said was a lie at all. It *could* have happened and, Mirai in particular, does have a certain je ne sais quoi that led a lot of people to predict stardom for her. Rachel was a cutie pie and very consistent. Again, it could have happened for her too. Just because it didn't, doesn't mean it's a lie to predict it might have. :)
  11. aftershocks

    aftershocks Well-Known Member


    ITA, but Brennan's comments apparently go beyond sentimental giddiness over Kween's coming of age, and veer toward a lack of understanding of the cyclical nature of the sport and the vast transitional changes the sport is undergoing. The sports media has always only paid surface, sound-bite lip service to their coverage of figure skating. They don't seem to understand what it takes to be a contender, much less a consistent champion in figure skating these days. Nor, have they probably ever truly understood. They are apparently even blind to some of the harder lessons that Kwan's journey in the sport provided. Not unlike the reported attitudes of some coaches, the media apparently expect U.S. ladies champions to perform like "automatons" and always be in the medals, preferably gold.

    It never fails to fascinate re how much Michelle Kwan’s reign at the top of the sport spoiled everyone, especially those who hardly appreciated her at the time and were always looking for someone else to beat her. And those who claim they found Kwan “boring” likely still don’t understand the significance and complicated relevance of her impact on the sport. In any case, I don’t completely agree with the cries of “chaos” in U.S. ladies’ figure skating.

    It does seem like Kwan’s wedding has left some in the press and perhaps among TBTB pining once again for the ready-made drama and storylines that MK always provided. It seems that while Ashley Wagner was winning gold medals at two GP events, perhaps Phil, Christine, and others were holding their breath thinking that, “Our new U.S. ladies star is on track for gold in Sochi.” Then when Ashley had a slight mishap in her fp at the Grand Prix Final, but still managed to win silver, seemingly it wasn’t enough for the journalists and bigwigs waiting with bated breath. Will nothing but gold suffice?

    And too, perhaps some fs observers in the media have become worried that Yu Na’s stellar athleticism in her dutiful comeback, not to mention the somewhat over-hyped but solid potential seen in the phoenix-like rise of a different North American skater possibly threatens the prospects of their hoped for “U.S. golden girl in Sochi” headlines. They also seem to be relegating Gracie Gold (at least at this point) to the “afterthought” bin. They are missing all the unheralded stories, as well as the underlying back story and ongoing journey of the “Almost Girl,” turned “Nike Girl.”

    Go Ashley, Go Mirai, Don't Give Up Caroline, Go Ross, Go Jeremy, Go Marissa and Simon! Go all U.S. figure skating athletes! Fans who do care, who do understand and who do appreciate all of you, are still watching. Your sincere fans know you can turn “chaos” (and Phil Hersh's "undue enthusiasm") into personal victory and triumphant glory whether or not gold or podium placements factor into the equation. It is the journey and the effort that count. If medals were and are the only goal and the only satisfaction, what’s the point in ever lacing up, or in spending so much time and money training so hard? Medals are and have always been simply “icing on the cake.” It is taking part in the process and being centered and fully aware during the hard-fought struggle in the arena that makes personal victories and grand triumphs so sweet.
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2013
  12. Alex Forrest

    Alex Forrest Banned Member

    This kind of article shows up so often and it's getting ridiculous. No there won't be another dominant skater because the sport has changed. At least with 6.0 a Kwan could come in with empty programs yet still get 6.0s for presentation because she skated with her heart. I still love that phrase because it is an underhanded criticism to all the other skaters that they skate with no heart.

    The sport is too hard these days.
  13. martian_girl

    martian_girl New Member

    The problem is that any sport needs make changes in order to move from a quaint little niche to a mainstream television force. As evidenced by the fact that people are still blaming COP for the down-turn in skating's popularity, figure skating purists are stubborn to accept change.

    Having a mainstream star representing the sport to the masses the way Kwan did would be helpful, but I think that getting the sport back to the point where it enjoys mainstream popularity will take a lot more changes. I'm not entirely sure what the answer is.
  14. MacMadame

    MacMadame Cat Lady-in-Training

    Especially since the sport never enjoyed mainstream popularity. So it's not getting back to where it was but getting to a point it's never been.
  15. Alex Forrest

    Alex Forrest Banned Member

    Also, the sport itself and it's sponsors and leaders have this strange idea that this should be a 'sport' where the star has to win all the time. And if they don't, then trouble is in the air. The leaders want a conservative status quo and any threat to that is regarded as trouble. I can't think of another sport like it. Take the Australian Open this week, some new players emerged and it was seen as a GOOD thing. Serena can't win everything, nor can Federer. I think it makes a sport more exciting to have several contenders and not just a tried and true Kwan who always seemed to win if only she'd stay vertical. But figure skating is a strange sport, what can you say?
  16. martian_girl

    martian_girl New Member

    How about back to a point where you didn't need a credit card to watch most competitions? Or to when there weren't so many empty seats during the National Championships?
  17. Alex Forrest

    Alex Forrest Banned Member

    I finally got sick of paying the outrageous prices for tickets. Whether Nationals, Skate America, etc. It just seemed so out of touch that tickets would be so overpriced that on televised competitions you see literally only like 10% capacity, and they wouldn't let those with the cheaper seats to move down for television purposes. I think all those competitions with all those sponsor-reserved empty seats that were televised created a subliminal message to viewers at home, like "If no one else is watching this, why am I?"
  18. MacMadame

    MacMadame Cat Lady-in-Training

    You mean back in the days when we got a few hours of tv (if we were lucky) shown weeks after the event happened? ;)

    Nationals sells out most years at least for the premier events.
  19. VIETgrlTerifa

    VIETgrlTerifa Well-Known Member

    It's not that someone has to win all the time, but they have to have the perception of dominance. Kwan certainly didn't win all the time, but she was a big name because she was dominant and came back from competition with some major hardware despite some people's bitter opinion about whether she deserved the results she's received.

    If you don't have someone who can get the results, then another way for a sport to capture attention for itself is through a huge personality like Johnny Weir.

    However, I think many people don't realize that figure skating in itself just doesn't lend itself to mainstream markets in the U.S. and is just destined to be a niche sport. However, it will survive because it has a surge of popularity in the Olympics and the online subscription allows fans to continue to watch the sport. Figure skating is lucky to have a prime spot in the Olympics television coverage as a way to advertise the sport for new viewers who may become loyal fans after the Olympics (even if it's a very small percentage of the actual Olympic viewership) coupled with a passionate cult fan-base who like to spend all their time online debating the same competition (some from 40 years ago or more) results over and over again.

    Here are inherent things within the sport that may be the reason why it just has not captured the public's attention the way we wish it would in the U.S.:

    It's elitist/classist - people need money or major sponsorships in order to just participate. It being a winter sport certainly doesn't help it's accessibility for most people in the country. In the U.S., it's seen as a sport that only white people and Asians are good at. There are many sports that are also has a public perception of being dominated by one race (like basketball and track or swimming), but for some reason this is a major problem for winter sports since they usually are so costly and because they are only exposed to a small percentage of the U.S. population. I remember watching Bryant Gumbel on HBO essentially laughing at the idea that the Winter Olympics truly represented the best in the world since only a small part of the world was even able to participate. I don't agree with him, but you can't ignore that people may feel that way.

    It feels like a pageant - with all PR training, packaging, and make-up. Especially since the ladies field tends to have under-aged girls placing in the top spots, it may make people think they're watching Toddlers and Tiaras on ice.

    Lack of connection with the public I know European fans take pride in all their "realness" of their athletes, but that won't go over as well with American viewers in terms of big PR marketing. However, people also don't like people being fake, and I think USFS skaters don't seem as real or approachable. This is improving now, however, with the social media that's out there and youtube videos the Shibutanis are doing. I hope the USFS continues to encourage this.

    It's too much like dance - in that people don't think of dance as a sport but as a performance and many can't really tell why one skater scores better than another skater except with major mistakes. Also, the costumes and emphasis on art just make people scoff and laugh at our beloved sport. We love it, but it makes the public-at-large dismiss it as a niche sport that only appeals to housewives and gay people. There is certainly nothing wrong with a sport that finally appeals to people outside the stereotypical jock types, but don't expect it win mass ratings either. Of course, this is all a product of traditional gender roles that are prevalent, where people may be too afraid to exhibit interest in things that may venture outside what is "acceptable."

    It's sexist - This is a major problem with this sport. We still call it "ladies" (which I personally love) which has a condescending tone about it. We expect them to look good while doing extremely difficult physical activity. However, the difficult things about the sport that should be rewarded are the things that may be perpetuate this image problem. Skaters should pay attention to posture, line, carriage, finishing off moves, execution, etc. while doing their routines. However, when we see an 18 year-old girl with great make-up, perfectly straight and white teeth, with her hair neat and clean, with a pretty dress...people who don't really know the sport will dismiss it as a sport that must not be that difficult.

    I'm not saying I agree with any of the above myself because I am a skating fan posting on FSU, but you can't deny that the sport itself really is just "different".
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2013
  20. snoopysnake

    snoopysnake Well-Known Member

  21. leesaleesa

    leesaleesa Active Member

    Back in the glory days of the 90's, Christine Brennan was selling books and writing articles. I imagine she made a comfortable living doing something she enjoyed. She's as likely to regain what she had then as I am to see Babes in Toyland in concert. They aren't ever getting back together, and 6.0 is dead and buried.

    I will gladly give her a seat in my time machine if I ever get around to making it.
  22. TheGirlCanSkate

    TheGirlCanSkate Well-Known Member

    Imho, if getting new fans means "reality tv" - give it to them. It doesn't have to be dirty reality tv. It could be done "right". Feature the top 3-5 senior skaters at sectionals. Yeah it might scream a little "American Idol-ish" but educate the audience at the same time - here are the requirements let's see how they do. Jazz it up a little. If you feature more skaters, you are able to have viewers increase the odds of bonding with one or two.

    Stop the longer interviews with skaters who aren't even competing at the event. Give more skaters air time. Make it young and fun.
  23. Moto Guzzi

    Moto Guzzi Well-Known Member

    Last year a carpool member who doesn't follow skating asked me how "Nancy Kwan" and "that pretty girl with the ears that stick out" (Sasha Cohen) did at nationals.
    Maofan7 and (deleted member) like this.
  24. Scrufflet

    Scrufflet Well-Known Member

    Articulate and accurate. Well said!
  25. kwanfan1818

    kwanfan1818 I <3 Kozuka

    I'm surprised casual figure skating fans don't think Mao Asada, Miki Ando, and YuNa Kim are really Michelle Kwan still skating with the US winning everything, given the number of people who exclaimed, "It's Michelle Kwan!" when Shizuka Arakawa was skating at the last Champions on Ice show I saw, and those who still think Kwan and Kristi Yamaguchi are the same person. ("Did she dump the hockey player to marry the guy in Washington?")

    The casual fan can barely distinguish between an Axel and a Lutz, let alone distinguish between a Lutz and a Flutz, so giving credit for flawed take-offs and edges at US Nationals is not pushing casual fans to play online poker instead. I would guess that many thought Sasha Cohen should have won every title out there, even though her Lutz had never met an inside edge in its life.
  26. Cachoo

    Cachoo Well-Known Member

    This has been one interesting read and thanks to the contributers for all of the opinions. I guess I'm not as worried as I should be: Seeing more champions coming from Asia suggests to me that the sport is growing and that is a positive. I agree that these things are cyclical and to the let the chips fall where they may in competition.
  27. algonquin

    algonquin Well-Known Member

    Interesting thread :watch:
  28. cbd1235

    cbd1235 Well-Known Member

    I'd just like to say that the judging last night for the ladies short program was as objective and strict as any competition I have ever seen. There were some posts above saying that they have "fixed results" in the past. That may or may not be true but the scores from last night were as fair as they come. And every UR was firmly acknowledged and scored fairly.
  29. overedge

    overedge Janny uber

    If you read the afterword to The Inside Edge, you will see that her credentials were restored a few months after they were taken away. And that was in 1996.
  30. overedge

    overedge Janny uber

    Brennan has very few "comments" in the article. Her introduction is stating facts, like what happened around when Kwan retired, that a lot of the general public probably couldn't name a major US ladies skater right now, and that there has been a lot of turnover among the US ladies' champions. The majority of the "comments" in the article are quotes from other people, and maybe they would be the appropriate target for your rebuttals.