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Has Figure Skating Lost Its Soul?

Discussion in 'Great Skate Debate' started by Maofan7, Dec 3, 2012.

  1. Kwantumleap

    Kwantumleap Well-Known Member

    Skating's lost a great deal of freedom. The scoring system places more emphasis on being able to achieve limitless technical content than it does for balancing content with a program that compliments the music. Some skaters are well-versed and wise enough to make it work, but overall the effect is much more out of sync with the music and the art of storytelling.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2012
  2. skateboy

    skateboy Well-Known Member

  3. shine

    shine Well-Known Member

    Disagreed. As much as Hughes is disliked on these boards, she actually had some of the more interesting choices of music and very good/intricate choreography. Daphnis & Chloe + Vocalise >>>>> Gershwin + James Bond anyday. And I thought Slutskaya's programs were very good in 2002 as well?
  4. Primorskaya

    Primorskaya Trummerlotte

    Neither system is perfect, but the real problem, with 6.0 and with CoP, isn't so much the system in itself, but the fact that judges often aren't objective, don't fully understand the system, or just plain cheat!
    Why do we have CoP? Not because people looked in depth at 6.0 and decided it wasn't working, but because two federations were caught cheating, trading votes, scratching each other's backs. Which could have happened under any system.

    What enrages me about CoP, is what an enormous missed opportunity it is. How did the powers that be react to the cheating scandal caused by judges pressured by their federations? By increasing the opacity of the system and making judges totally anonymous, so that, presumably, if they cheated again, this time they wouldn't be caught!

    Skating is less popular now for a variety of reasons, I wouldn't dare write an exhaustive list, but CoP isn't the one reason, if it is at all. I think that skating just was much more in fashion for a while (the late 80's and 90's) than it had been before or was after, and that we always compare to this high water mark. This only applies to the "western world" of course. Apart from the fact that it is a very watchable sport even for the uninitiated, it just made great TV: pretty young people in form-fitting costumes, tons of drama, the opportunity for armchair judging and partisanship...all the stuff we love ;)
    People get that from an endless variety of sources now. We're up to our necks in TV programmes efficiently designed to provide all of the above, not as a by-product, but as an end in itself.
    rayhaneh and (deleted member) like this.
  5. spikydurian

    spikydurian Well-Known Member

    All the above. :respec:

    I started watching figure skating during the 6.0 era and is still watching figure skating. A good program is a good program no matter whether it's during 6.0 or COP era IMO as a casual fan. My frustration is the mentality that 'if my favourite doesn't win, it's COP fault'. It soo tiring to read this line of argument all the time so much so... one just switches off when anyone raises anti-COP arguments no matter how justified they may be. Fortunately, I enjoy watching figure skating despite the effort of some to discredit the sport for whatever reasons. I don't care about politics, I just want to watch great figure skating skills and choreography! Period.
  6. Alex Forrest

    Alex Forrest Banned Member

    I third it. Great post, Michi. Couldn't have said it better.
  7. Susan M

    Susan M Well-Known Member

    I also think this statement is probably wrong. Yes, Witt's 3 triple content would not get her far today, but in her time, Witt's jump content was competitive with the top ladies. OTOH, Manley's FS content in Calgary may well have racked up enough TES to overcome her (likely) lower PCS marks.

    Still, I think the "it's all about tech today" complaints are not well founded. When folks complain about results today, they are just as likely to be complaining about skaters being propped up with PCS (Chan winning with 4 falls or Asada with only 3 triples) as we are to complain about someone's artistry being ignored.

    But I do think the basic point of the article is a good one, namely this:

    "Even the current world men’s champion, Patrick Chan, has said skating used to be more “epic”. There was a tangible individuality among the skaters, he argues, something even the uninitiated could twig. ... But now the way a routine is measured also determines the way it is performed. ... But an unfortunate by-product of that is how much of the soul has been removed. Not coincidentally, so has much of skating’s television audience."

    I would not have used the word "soul" though. I think what has been lost is good choreography. I think problem really boils down to programs simply being too busy to develop a natural ebb and flow. Browning recently observed how much busier a COP program is than programs of his era, and I think that is really the essence of the problem.

    If you look back to the skating's most popular era, the typical FS content for men was 4 spins, 2 fw, and 7 to 9 jumps in 6 or 7 jumping elements. Today, they are typically doing 11 jumps in 8 elements. The quest for Level 4 in fw means that where the two fw elements used to consume at most 40 seconds combined (often less than 30 seconds) today a single fw sequence takes longer than that. That means today, 8 jumping elements have to fit into the remaining 3.5 minutes vs 6 or 7 elements in about 4 minutes under the old systems.

    That is compounded by the COP encouraging more transitions than good skating choreo really wants and overly (and sometimes unattractively) busy jump entrances. The sheer clutter of content has led to the use of music that just drones along with no real highlights or climaxes because it is easier to skate to, hiding timing problems. So we are often left with skaters moving through way too much action with vague background music, rather than really moving to or interpreting music.

    I guess maybe soulless isn't a bad word for that after all.
  8. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

    Not exactly. My understanding as that there was already a move behind the scenes to develop a more objective scoring system in the late 1990s, both because the speedskater ISU president found ordinal scoring and factored placements confusing and because of allegations of deal-making on several sides in ice dance judging ca. 1998. I don't know how many or which figure skating experts were enthusiastically on board with this move at the time. Then the back-burner project got fast-tracked after the 2002 Olympics when one judge from one federation in the Olympic pairs event confessed to being pressured to vote a certain way, but whatever deal(s) led to that pressure were just assumed, not "caught."

    Certainly true.

    I think it's very important to recognize that IJS and anonymous judging are two totally separate changes that happened to be introduced at approximately the same time (because they both occurred in reaction to the 1998 and especially 2002 scandals). You can have anonymous judging under 6.0 (as we did in 2003 and 2004); you can also have IJS with judges names on the officials sheet matched to the columns on the protocols (as we do on the JGP internationally and in many countries' domestic events).

    Don't blame IJS for anonymous judging, or vice versa. They're two completely separate issues.

    It probably is one reason, but only one of many, and only among certain populations of current, potential, or former fans. Among other populations it's irrelevant to their decisions to watch skating, or actually an improvement.

    Great points.
  9. Marco

    Marco Well-Known Member

    Really? Swan Lake, Turandot, Don Quixote...

    I did like her short programs more, as well as her 2003 programs...
  10. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

    You spoke for me, as well!

    I also believe that it is the skater who gives"soul"/emotion to a program; making it more than a collection of elements.
    Some are much better at doing that than others.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2012
  11. Primorskaya

    Primorskaya Trummerlotte

    Thanks gkelly for your precisions, I actually believed IJS and anonymous judging were part of the same package!

    One thing I'll never get is why a speedskater would also rule what happens in FS. Apart from the fact they both happen on ice, there is nothing in common between these two sports, and while I don't want to cast aspersions on the noble activity of speedskating, anyone coming from that background wouldn't be a natural at understanding what makes FS tick...
  12. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

    Well, that goes back to the origins of the ISU as the governing body for both speedskating and figure skating (which was still in the process of becoming an organized competitive sport) in the late 19th century. In some countries the national governing bodies also combine speedskating and figure skating, and in some cases other ice sports as well, so it would be difficult to reorganize the international governing structure to give speedskating and figure skating two separate organizations. It probably would benefit figure skating to do so, though, if possible.

    Over the 20th century, sometimes the president of the ISU came from speedskating, sometimes from figure skating. The current president seems to be very intent on imposing his will on both sports, including the one he doesn't understand from the inside.
  13. purple skates

    purple skates Shadow Dancing

    Thanks for putting into words one of my issues with skating now.
  14. peibeck

    peibeck Simply looking

    Seconded!! I was trying to make this same point earlier, but Susan M said it much better in her entire post. And it's not like I entirely dislike CoP; I think there is a lot which is good about it.

    For example, I think they made a good choice in adding the choreographed sequence in the singles this season, for example, with an across the board base level. I would not object if they did this one of the spinning passes as well (which they could then vary from season to season: upright, camel, combo, etc.)
  15. Marco

    Marco Well-Known Member

    I wish they would do the same to step sequence - just award a base level, but allow really huge, triple jump equivalent GOEs for +2s and +3s if there is speed, flow, quickness, intricacy, variety and musicality. I hate checkbox step sequence that take a minute and a half to complete.

    It might not even be a bad idea to extend to spins - just allow 1 feature at most on each foot (i.e. just base level or level 1, or level 2 as well for change foot spins), but let GOEs make the difference. I hate that all the spins are pretty much the same now.
  16. leapfrogonice

    leapfrogonice Active Member

    I would tend to agree. Plus the evil part of the sport's soul - the politics, back room deals, money exchanging hands for results etc - has never left the building and remains deeply entrenched.