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What should the ISU do to resurrect Figure Skating in the US and Europe?

Discussion in 'The Trash Can' started by Maofan7, Mar 19, 2011.

  1. Maofan7

    Maofan7 Member

    It has been argued by some that Figure Skating has been in decline in terms of popularity in the United States and Europe (although it remains extremely popular in Asia) compared to the 1980's and 1990's (although some disagree). In some parts of Europe, for example, it now receives very little TV coverage, with no coverage whatsoever of the Grand Prix. Is there a problem? If you think there is, what do you believe the ISU should do to turn things around in the United States and Europe?

    Should the ISU make more of an effort to attract more sponsors to generate more money that can be invested back into the sport?

    Should the ISU do more to attract greater TV coverage - coverage that will inspire the next generation to take up the sport, increase the fanbase, and encourage more entrepreneurs to stage competitions and shows?

    Is the new CoP scoring system the problem? Should it be changed back to the old 6.0 system?

    Has skating become too much of a technical/jumping competition? Has this damaged skating as a spectacle? Should more be done to encourage more artistry?

    Should the age eligibility regulations be scrapped/relaxed to allow talented juniors in to senior competitions? Was one of the reasons why skating was so popular in the 1990's the fact that the likes of Michelle Kwan were allowed to skate in seniors at an early age?

    Has skating declined because there are no longer the personalities with charisma/glamour that there used to be to attract audiences? Or do today's stars have just as much charisma and glamour as the old ones? Or do we even need skaters with charisma and glamour?

    Does it even matter if Figure Skating is not as popular as it used to be?

    Or is there even a problem to begin with?
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2011
  2. museksk8r

    museksk8r Holding an edge and looking dangerously sexy

    That about sums it up! :)
  3. Maofan7

    Maofan7 Member

    I agree

    I find it extremely frustrating that the only place we can watch the grand prix events and final in the United Kingdom these days is on You Tube!! And thank God for You Tube! Eurosport cover the Europeans and Worlds, but their coverage of Worlds last year was absolutely awful. For example, coverage of the ladies long program was reduced to just 40 minutes. They didn't even bother to show Mirai Nagasu's program and she had been leading after the short! How are you supposed to inspire a new generation of skaters with coverage like that?
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2011
  4. centerpt1

    centerpt1 Well-Known Member

    1. Skate to music that is more current
    2. Allow vocals in the short
    3. It's difficult for sane viewers too grasp how falling 4x wins an event. Clean up the points system and judging to make it more viewer friendly. If you can't get a quad around and landed, you shouldn't be doing it or get credit for it.
    4. Make costumes more contemporary
    5. There needs to be an effort to market to ages 18-39
    6. Fake doesn't sell any more. Don't try to make Susie Q or John Doe into 1960 idols. Let them be who they are.
  5. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

    That's up to the skaters to choose current music.

    That would require a rule change, i.e., something that the ISU could do and would have to do for this to happen.

    From a marketing point of view it would probably help attract more viewers. From a fairness in competition point of view it would probably hurt. If it comes down to a choice between audience friendliness and fairness, for competition I'd choose fairness.

    There's room for more tweaking of how quads (or any jumps) are scored. That would be something for the ISU to do. Something sane fans can do is focus on more than jumps landed or falls and not go insane on the rare occasions when skaters with multiple falls earn more points than skaters with fewer. It's not just a jumping contest or a staying upright contest.

    That's up to the skaters and their designers.

    If the ISU hired you to market to this age group, how would you do so?

    That's up to the skaters (and their coaches, choreographers, designers, etc.). The ISU can't make skaters into anything.

    It is true that many judges are older and have relatively conservative tastes and that many coaches and skaters try to appeal to those tastes, either by imagining what they think the judges would like to see or by actually asking for suggestions. And many judges may in fact give advice to use classical music or to look like 1960 idols.

    So how could "the ISU" get the message out to the skaters that they don't have to be conservative or old-fashioned to win?

    Maybe they could hold seminars for judges and for skaters and coaches/choreographers about how contemporary music and dance styles can showcase skating skills differently but as well as classical styles. Show some old programs by champions and by lower-ranked skaters that used different styles effectively. Get some innovative choreographers, both from the skating world and from the dance world to work with some skaters to show contemporary-style movement on ice that works well to showcase the technical elements and skating skills.

    But ultimately, aside from developing a short dance theme based on currently popular dance rhythms, the ISU can't force skaters to be cutting edge any more than they can force them to be conservative.

    On average, the ones who win will be the ones with the best technique, regardless of how appealing they are to a particular audience demographic.

    And it may just be that the skaters who tend to develop the best technique tend to be the straight-arrow conservative hard workers. The free spirit and rebel personalities may have more audience appeal in terms of image, but they're less likely develop the skills to make it to the top.
    LynnW and (deleted member) like this.
  6. duane

    duane Well-Known Member

    My opinion...make FS more about the jumps/jump difficulty than anything else. Many still don't consider FS a "real" sport, and the jumps are what makes it a sport--at least to the average viewer. I thought Evan winning olympic gold without a quad was more a setback to FS than a plus.
  7. centerpt1

    centerpt1 Well-Known Member

    Riight now, the product is not marketable to that age group. That is why some "updates" are needed. I think it's possible to update to 2011 without losing quality.
  8. Yazmeen

    Yazmeen Well-Known Member

    OMG, this is the one thing I DON'T want to see. It's figure SKATING, not a jump contest. The thought of the sport turning into expression-lacking jumpfests like Plushenko's 2006 Olympic freeskate would ruin what is so beautiful and unique about it.
    flutzilla1 and (deleted member) like this.
  9. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

    Yazmeen, you spoke for me!
  10. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member


    I would really hate to take the figure skating out of "figure skating" in order to appeal to average viewers who don't understand figure skating.

    I think any changes that make it impossible for a superior skater to defeat an inferior skater who did harder jumps would turn the sport purely into a jumping contest, as Duane recommends. That might be a legitimate sport that appeals to younger and male viewers more, but it would not be of interest to much of the existing fan base. Do you want to drive away the current demographic in hopes of attracting a resistant demographic who may be more valuable to TV advertisers but who would not likely show the same loyalty?

    How would it be possible for the ISU to preserve the history of figure skating as a sport based on the control of edges on ice and also expand the existing fan base?

    Are we thinking about the ISU purely as being in the business of packaging entertainment for average viewers? Or do they also need to preserve the traditions of the sport, encourage development of skaters before they reach marketable skill levels, and offer fair contests to the athletes at the international level?

    How about holding an event called X-treme Ice Challenge? It could include disciplines such as:

    X-Treme Ice Jumping: Put together a format in which solo skaters who are good jumpers can compete based on who lands the hardest jumps, with bonus points a la +GOE for good form and difficulty-adding enhancements. One of the elements could be a creative/acrobatic jump that could include backflips, aerial cartwheels, etc., single (or double?) jumps with splits at the top, etc. Another could be an unlimited jump combination.

    X-Treme Ice Spinning: Find ways to reward speed, duration, and difficult positions outside the context of programs and well-balanced requirements. Reward extreme spinning skills including fastest scratch spin, longest spin (or spin with the most rotations) in a given position, etc.

    X-Treme Ice Lifts and Throws (for pairs): Illegal elements such as detroiters and headbangers allowed in a "lift spin" category. Difficulty is primary

    The format of these events can allow rests between elements, so that individual elements can be more difficult or more risky than the skaters would dare to put into a program.

    X-Treme Edgework: Bring back creative/special figures!
    Include an element something like the following:
    Diagonal step sequence on one foot. Skaters are given a point on the ice where they're allowed to start the intro steps, and another point where they must commit to one foot and as soon as they put the other one down the element is over. Measure the amount of ice covered and/or the speed for an objective base mark. Then also give extra points for adding turns (e.g., 0.1 for every three turn; 0.2 for every bracket, counter, rocker, loop, or twizzle, some kind of bonus for including 4, 5, or 6 different kinds of turns and another bonus for a minimum number of turns in each direction). Not everyone will make it to the far corner before putting the other foot down -- should there be a bonus for continuing beyond the diagonal?
    Maybe there could be another element that's a normal step sequence using both feet -- alternates between circular or serpentine, or skater's choice?

    TV would only show the top few in each of these events. They wouldn't lend themselves to live broadcasts, until there's enough of a structure established that there could be an equivalent of a Grand Prix Final event that only includes the very best in the world.

    No music, no second mark/component scores. Because the scoring would be much more objective, average viewers who understand or trust the scoring of sports like diving, gymnastics, freestyle skiing, snowboarding, skateboarding, etc. would be able to understand this according to similar rubrics.

    Skaters would be encouraged to wear sporty-looking athletic gear. If sponsor logos are allowed, that could help the funding.

    I'd like to see something like this in addition to the traditional well-balanced program with music events, not instead. I'd be OK with it replacing the short program, or not.

    If you had highly accomplished skaters competing in both the X-Treme events and the Well-Balanced events, would some of them have more of an X Games aesthetic to their skating that they could also bring into their programs? But it wouldn't be required.

    A young woman could go to the X-Skating event in a unitard or tights, shorts and t-shirt, with logos, and show off her athletic skills. Then she could take those athletic skills into the context of a program to techno music in the same outfit or to Tchaikovsky in a pretty dress with her hair in a bun -- her choice. If we still have short programs, she could do both the same season.

    I suspect that there would still be different demographics in the audiences for the two branches of the sport. But I think that some skating purists and diehard fans would like the X-Treme version because it focuses on technique, and because it's another opportunity to see skating. And I think that the average viewers who start out uneducated about skating technique but just enjoy the athleticism and understand obvious things like rotation in the air and falling down would, if they become fans of X-Skating, come to learn enough about less obvious aspects of technique that would help their understanding of the Well-Balanced Skating results.
  11. Triple Butz

    Triple Butz Well-Known Member

    I don't necessarily blame the ISU for the lack of popularity, I blame the individual federations. I think the US, in particular, needs to start allowing its skaters to express themselves openly and be more in the public eye. We had a real character in Johnny Weir, someone who turned heads and brought in new viewers from different demographics. Going back to the 90's we had lots of skaters who had really strong personalities that people could relate to. Elvis Stojko, the tough guy. Todd Elderedge, the understated hero. Surya Bonaly, the rebellious amazon. Tonya Harding, trailer trash on skates. Nancy Kerrigan, cold as ice with a fake b!tchy smile. The list goes on and on. What we have now are nice, but cookie-cutter princess skaters. The only thing we can say about Rachael Flatt is that she does well in school. Good for her, but it doesn't make viewers excited.

    On top of that, it would help if the US skaters would start doing better in competition. And why isn't the US pushing more skaters into pairs?? I can think of so many singles skaters that didn't ever make it to worlds who could have possibly become world medalist pair skaters.

    I also think that not capitalizing on the success of ice dance in recent years has been a HUGE mistake on the part of the USFSA. We had two teams competiting for MEDALS and possible gold in 09 and 10 and the US just kept focusing on Evan and the girls.

    European men are still in the mix, but they need a ladies champion who can actually do all of the triples through the lutz.
    flutzilla1 and (deleted member) like this.
  12. SamuraiK

    SamuraiK Well-Known Member


    I dont want to get in trouble with most of the lovely members here who have been following skating for a long time and know more about it than I but FS needs new blood and new generations to get attratcted, specially in US and Canada, then the sponsors and TV coverage will follow naturally.

    The suggestion of allowing vocals at least in SP sounds great and dont see much hurt in the "essence" of figure skating and if you ask me I prefer to get to hear the original versions of the current music instead of their muzak covers..:shuffle:
  13. alchemy void

    alchemy void blowing kisses with bitchface

    Todd Eldredge has a personality?? :eek:
  14. Proustable

    Proustable New Member

    Largely nothing.
  15. WayCon

    WayCon New Member

    One common complaint I hear from the average viewer is that all the routines look alike. I think the ISU should be assigning points to a much larger number of jumps and spins and moves, and then say, "Choose 3 from column A and 2 from column B and 3 from column C." If the skaters and choreographers had a much larger number of maneuvers to select from, the programs would become more varied and expressive and interesting. Then the skaters could be more themselves, and people would naturally want to watch.

    Another problem is the visual appearance of skating on the TV screen or monitor. The viewer sees a flat expanse of white and a little skater puttering in the middle somewhere. I think the ISU should work with video people and computer programmers to enhance the skating images in a way to make them more 3 dimensional, so the viewer will get more of a sense of the speed. I'm sure we have all gone to an event with non-skater friend--they were amazed to see someone hurtling and rotating through space. Wow! Let's get that wow onto the TV screen.
    gkelly and (deleted member) like this.
  16. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

    Yes -- I've been advocating something like this since the beginning of the IJS.

    Could be cool, if and when it becomes technically feasible to show whole programs in a way that enhances rather than distracts from appreciating the sense of speed and power.
  17. Made4Dancin

    Made4Dancin New Member

    Eh I don't think it's the ISU's problem. My abiding memory of when figure skating was all the rage was that it was specials on all the time, not amateur competitions.

    Back then it was always on TV. It wasn't about SOI or COI coming to your town, it was about seeing the skaters week after week. But those shows definitely benefited from the TV exposure. And it was specials like Michelle Kwan skating to Mulan music. Not skaters splitting screen time with some country music group. That's why I stopped watched for a long time. I didn't feel like watching a program and then all of a sudden looking at Kenny G. Brian Boitano's specials are still like that and that's all there is left.

    If I was a TV producer, or someone in skating who has TV connections, I would have a new type of professional competition. Reality TV style where the skaters do a new program every week and the viewers at home vote on their favorite and then someone goes home. They had the idea with Thin Ice and then messed it up by making it pair's skating. Ice Wars was also too short, and a team thing. This would have to be a DWTS type season. 15 weeks would be a lot of skaters for people to choose their favorites. I would have suggested bringing the old professional championships back but I assume someone owns it who has no intention of doing that.

    Besides that, people like Johnny Weir should have their own specials. He's on Logo now. I don't see why he can't put together some kind of filmed performance piece that has a story or something and have them air it. Some hour long special with a cast of his skating friends. Or just performances around a theme like being different. But even he seems to have the attitude that there's no money in figure skating in the US. I personally don't think the new generation have tried. But that's just me.

    If the people who are already popular keep figure skating in the public eye then their fans will start tuning in to competitions and get to know the next generation. And maybe the competitions should be on at night, instead of weekend afternoons when everyone is at the mall/movies. It's mostly taped anyway.

    p.s. The one thing the USFSA did do wrong was they backed the wrong horse. They could love their gold medalist all they wanted, but the problem is they would have been really happy if Johnny had disappeared and that was a fatal mistake. There was a huge opportunity to promote both of them after the Olympics. But by trying to shove Evan down everyone's throats they fumbled. In fact they should have promoted figure skating not American figure skating. My favorite skaters were always and still are from outside the US. Actually, Lambiel and Arakawa were the ones to get the most at home votes on Thin Ice. JS
    flutzilla1 and (deleted member) like this.
  18. Triple Butz

    Triple Butz Well-Known Member

    It may have been a lame personality (IMO) but you could always count on him to portray the under-appreciated hero to a soundtrack from the latest action or fantasy movie ;)
  19. julieann

    julieann Well-Known Member

    Skaters can skate to any music they want and with all the music software there is out there if skaters want to be different they can be, they just have to try. Same with costumes which for me haven't been a problem.

    Skating for sure is not on TV enough, it used to be on TV every weekend it doesn't even need to be live. Get commentators who know what they are talking about not just using the same buss-words, really educate the audience without interfering with the music too much. It's a fine line but it can be done.

    The scores should be tweaked every year if something needs to be changed but just because a lay person doesn't understand something doesn't mean it needs to be changed. They need to learn the rules. I would never watch football and ask why a team who had 4 interception won over a team who had only 3. Maybe its because they scored more points?

    People need to stop comparing other skaters, it is really getting old and the sport is not big enough. Not every new pairs team is the next Gordeeva and Grinkov or the next lady is Michelle Kwan.

    But for me TV exposure is #1, you can never beat more public exposure.
  20. Sasha'sSpins

    Sasha'sSpins Well-Known Member

    I'm old school-I don't like vocals in competitive skating. :/
  21. victoriaheidi

    victoriaheidi New Member

    ITA. The only issue that I see is not a scoring issue-it's a perception issue. Everyone thinks the new system is so hard because THAT'S WHAT THEY'RE TOLD! I wish the commentators would lay off IJS. It's not perfect, but it's not impossible to understand. It really isn't all that difficult to get a rudimentary understanding of the system.
  22. WayCon

    WayCon New Member

    I agree.

    Yes, all the skating commentators seem to do nothing but complain, complain, complain about the sport--unbelievable. How can anyone be expected to be interested in a sport when they hear the experts attack the sport every thirty seconds.

    Changing the basic rules? No one seems to be advocating "two strikes and your out"
    for baseball to make the sport faster. And baseball has a very complex set of rules and no one is complaining about it.
  23. Triple Butz

    Triple Butz Well-Known Member

    I agree, but also, if current pop vocals would make a huge difference in popularity then shows like SOI would be doing much better...
    mmscfdcsu and (deleted member) like this.
  24. Susan M

    Susan M Well-Known Member

    I agree with a number of the points mentioned already. I think part of the problem is the absence of any magical skaters lately. A number of them have had moments, but it has been a decade or so since any singles skater was "can't miss" viewing for me. Because of the timing, I am inclined to think the scoring system is a contributing factor.

    Free skates under COP often are so cluttered they feel at least 6 minutes long and produce sometimes incomprehensible results. It is a problem for fans (especially the more casual viewer skating needs to win back) when skaters racking up points while messing up jumps are placed ahead of programs that look better when you count only the clean stuff. All in all, I do agree with COP that jumps are more important than spins and footwork, but the penalty should be much stiffer for jumping errors. Bring back the traditional notion that a jump which is not landed on 1 foot gets no credit at all, at least for the free skate.

    I would make more changes to the scoring system to contribute to better performance quality. I think the ISU took a small step in this direction by not assigning levels any more to some of the elements, but the skaters and their choreographers have not really used the rule change to bring back prettier elements yet. Personally, I'd like all spins and footwork scored as no level elements. I would also increase the base value of those elements so +3 really means +3 and -3 really means -3.

    Personally I prefer big, clean jumps to the convoluted entrances and marginally rotated efforts that COP produces. So, I would (1) devalue the "difficult entrance" by allowing it to contribute to GOE on no more than 1 jump in the SP and 2 jumps in the free skate and (2) have judges give +2 GOE for any jump that is texbook clean, +3 for clean and big, even with no other features. (I think it might be necessary to reduce the base value of all jumps a bit to offset this.)

    I would also reduce the number of jumping attempts to a total of 9, of which a maximum of 8 can be of 3 or more revolutions. (Note I mean 9 jumps here, so a 2 jump combination counts as 2.) Also, senior level skaters should not be allowed to repeat any jump takeoff in a solo jump or leading jump in a combination/sequence unless all six basic takeoffs are displayed in the program in jump efforts of 2 or more revolutions. (A fall or popped jump counts as an effort, just like now.) The current system no longer rewards skaters who have mastered all 6 jumps, and that is just wrong.

    Let senior level skaters use single jumps as choreographic elements in footwork, transitions, and footwork into jumps (without turning them into combination jumps). Find a way for the rules to encourage skaters to include showy but simpler elements from decades past without taking up a slot for a scoring element. (I'm thinking of things like like tuck axels or the seriously cool axels into pair camel spin we saw that pair doing in the 1961 US Nationals footage.)

    I think maybe it is time for a reassessment of the PCS marks, what they mean, and how they are used. You do want higher performance quality to be a determiner between programs of similar technical content, but PCS should not be able to raise up a skater with distinctly less technical content over a clearly more difficult skate that was also well performed. I'm not sure how to quantify this. Let's just say Sato should still beat Bonaly at 94 Worlds, but Patrick Chan should not get held up with any more 2 fall performances. The tradeoff point should be somewhere between those.

    Personally, I hate vocals in skating (and that includes those no lyric wailing vocals that were popular several years ago). Even for ice dance, the vocals more often than not make the program less enjoyable for me. There are exceptions, of course, but people's taste in music varies so much, that the one that I love probably makes the next person cover their ears, and vice versa.

    Exactly. Actually, I think SOI did better when they used vocals from the 1960s and 70s, but I don't know if that would help toward the target 12-34 demographic. Adding current pop vocals would only chase away the viewers they have left over 25.

    I also don't think letting younger skaters compete will add audience appeal.

    I think to improve skating's appeal to new audiences, there needs to be more energy and excitement put back into the sport. For starters, the scoring system has to be made more relatable. They need to show judges marks on TV in real time, assigned to actual judges, so placements can be understood (and, yes, sometimes debated). The ISU has made the scoring so invisible and lifeless that the scores have become a sterile, joyless exercise. 152.4. Yeah, whatever.

    Second, they need to keep the event moving at a brisker pace. Skaters sit around in the K&C way too long waiting for scores to come up so the next skater can begin. I don't know what they can do to speed up scoring, but since the next skater has already had a minute or two skating around waiting for the previous skater's marks, they should not be allowed more than another 15 seconds or so to begin the program after they are announced (longer for the first skater in the group, I guess). Considering that each free skate takes 4 - 4:30, it is kind of absurd that one televised hour of skating typically includes only 6 programs.
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2011
  25. Cheylana

    Cheylana Well-Known Member

    I have news for you - even at what I consider the zenith of the quadfest (circa 2002 Olympics) my guy friends were insisting that figure skating is not a sport. The male figure skaters could have done quintuple jumps and it wouldn't have changed those guys' minds.

    Meanie! :rofl:
  26. skateboy

    skateboy Well-Known Member

    I think it's fairly simple. FS is huge in Japan because they have had world champions for awhile now. Mao and Miki in ladies, and a great rivalry between Dai, Nobu and Taka, who go back and forth beating one another. FS is big in Korea because of Yu-Na. As a result, the Korean ladies are getting stronger and stronger.

    US figure skating hasn't had a ladies champion in quite awhile now. I do think Evan's win and Johnny's antics helped temporarily. Yes, we have Davis and White in ice dance, but that's always been the least popular event.

    Europe also needs to come up with champions for the popularity to surge again. JMO.
  27. julieann

    julieann Well-Known Member

    Giving judges less time is only going to add to the problem of some judges not giving the proper scores already esp in pairs when unison is an issue. For example....not all judges find it necessary to double check if a skater two footed a landing on a throw and assumed it was good when a deduction should have been taken, maybe if they had more time they would take the time to look. If anything I wish more time/care should be taken with the scoring not less.

    I don't want to dummy down the rules/scoring and go back to the 6.0 just because that is what most people understand, COP has been in use for 7 years now.
  28. Asli

    Asli Well-Known Member

    I don't think the judging time is a problem. TV viewers have just enough time to watch the slow-mos and have a look at the skaters in the kiss&cry - any less time would not be enough. The fans in the arena have just enough time to either drool or snark about what they've just seen and comment on the costume and hair of the skater/couple who is waiting their turn. As for the skaters, I'm sure they'd be willing to wait an extra minute or two to get the correct result. :shuffle:
  29. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

    You do realize that these two are mutually exclusive, right? Unless you want to go back to 6.0 scoring.

    Verifying calls takes time -- the judges are usually finished assigning PCS while the tech panel is still reviewing.

    Then showing the individual scores, especially showing them broken down by judge, would take a lot more time.
  30. ElinorD

    ElinorD New Member

    adding my .02 about music. I'm also completely against vocals in music. I don't think it's done any favors to dance. (For all that I love the Kerrs, Lincoln Park? In the OLYMPICS?)

    I do think that skaters, choreographers, and coaches need to vary the musical choices they use. With all of the look-alike programs, using the same music over and over is boring!

    Nothing that hasn't been said before...