2018 USFS Governing Council meeting & board initiatives (proposed changes to the current U.S. Nationals qualifying pipeline & more)

Sylvia

Rooting for underdogs!
Messages
68,727
Official website for this year's Governing Council meeting (May 2-5 in Orlando, Florida): https://www.2018governingcouncil.com

U.S. FIGURE SKATING BOARD INITIATIVES 2017-2018: http://www.usfigureskating.org/story?id=91419
For the past two years, various working groups, committees and task forces have focused on U.S. Figure Skating’s future with a goal of providing athletes the best opportunities for their long-term success, achievement and enjoyment of the sport. Next month, delegates at the 2018 Governing Council in Orlando, Florida, will be presented with four initiatives to vote on that work in concert with the 2018-22 Strategic Plan. The Strategic Plan, adopted by the Board of Directors in February, provides the structure for U.S. Figure Skating’s strategy over the next quadrennial.
This topic was initially discussed in the 2019 U.S. Nationals/Detroit thread (copying over 2 posts from there):
The Request for Action from Competitions Committee will limit Nationals to Junior and Senior only; Juvenile, Intermediate, and Novice will qualify from Regionals to Sectionals and their season will end at Sectionals, starting with the 2019-2020 season. (There's a little more to it than that, but that's the outline.)
I saw a document that said the top 2 (I believe) Novices at each Sectional would have the opportunity to compete Junior at Nationals. The top Juvenile/Intermediate/Novice skaters from the 3 Sectionals also would be invited to attend a special camp to be held immediately following Nationals in or near the same city.
Here are the relevant info/links for the topic:

In July 2017, President Sam Auxier appointed a Competitions Task Force, with the goal of pulling together a number of issues, challenges and opportunities affecting the U.S. Figure Skating qualifying pipeline, into a comprehensive proposal to present a re-imagined competitive pipeline. The theme of this proposal is: Identify. Develop. Promote.
Click here to view a PowerPoint presentation outlining this proposal.
Click here to read the Rationale and Details for this proposal. This explains in detail the why, what and how of the re-imagined pipeline.
 
Last edited:

wickedwitch

Well-Known Member
Messages
15,636
I genuinely don't understand why they think these proposals will help anything. And frankly, it could screw over skaters competing in both pairs/dance and singles.

Also:
The event is too long, in both overall duration (10-12 days) and the length of the senior events
themselves, which is impacting our competitiveness on the world stage.
Proof? Even supporting evidence? They say it's a distraction, but why, even if it were a distraction, would that affect international results? And it's not like skaters don't have to deal with long events or distractions at international events.

I don't think the USFS qualifying system is perfect, but this seems like an overly convoluted way of fixing problems that for the most part don't exist.
 

Debbie S

Well-Known Member
Messages
13,406
Read through them, still not sold. I like the idea of allowing more skaters to qualify for Sectionals based on summer comp scores, not just Regionals, but I wish they would keep a nat'l comp for Novice skaters, at least. They're proposing for the top Novices to compete at Nats in Junior anyway - why not have them compete at nat'l comp at an appropriate level for them? I do like the idea of having 1 pairs or dance event to qualify for Nats, although there will still be skaters competing out of section in the regional event, so not sure how the single qual event in lieu of Sectionals changes anything.

I noticed they are also proposing a min score for Senior competitors at Nats. Their rationale:

The senior level has the largest number of competitors due to a significant number of athletes receiving byes to the event. These byes are unlimited and added on to the historic 12 qualifiers, often doubling the number that would normally qualify and resulting in very long events, with significant gaps in the quality of the competitors.
It is not uncommon for athletes to be 100 points out of medal contention.

Having very long, and unlimited senior events impacts the fan experience, with Championship free skate events regularly spanning more than four hours. Competing athletes are also affected, as an increase in warm-up groups reduces the time they have on the competition surface.
So with fewer Seniors, they'll increase their practice and warmup time? I admit I chuckled at the thought of 'trimming the field', but come on, USFS, have a heart...it's Nats, maybe the only time these skaters will get there. If they put in the hours of training and spend the money to go to qual events (admittedly sometimes qualifying by default), let them go and enjoy the experience.
 

Frida80

Well-Known Member
Messages
815
...

Well this will shorten Nationals for certain. With only 16 different segments instead of 36.

It does address a lot of the issues I had with USFS. But it leaves a lot of things out.

1. Tech controller improvement
2. Test skate for junior and seniors competing internationally
3. More international competitions for high ranking novice and juniors. Specifically ones that compete with both Russians, Japanese and Koreans.
4. Test skate to decide who goes to JW instead of relying on national results from both Junior and Seniors
5. Better injury prevention
6. National level summer club competition, which increase the depth of competition between same level athletes.
7. Jump technique improvement by eliminating bad practices.

I do think that eliminating nationals from juvenile to novice may be a good thing. It will eliminate sandbagging from skaters that only want the medal and push them to get on team USA sooner by improving their performance. I don’t like the highest score being the only one that counts. I’d rather have an average of the top three scores, which is a better representation of the skaters level. We often see one girl score high once and then drop immediately afterwards. Averages and trends should be used instead.

They had no answers for an Alyssa situation, in terms of how I’ll they challenge her and skaters like her until they can qualify for international completions like the JGP.

And what is this North American Challenge Skate? Is it replacing the US Novice and Junior Challenge Skate? Does that mean Team Canada juniors will be invited as well? Maybe that’s wishful thinking...

It’s a lot to unpack. Is the presentation going to be streamed?
 

BittyBug

The missing ingredient
Messages
24,281
There is a lot I like about this proposal, but I'd like to better understand how these qualifying competitions are going to work financially for the host clubs. It seems like a lot of club competitions could be converted to qualifying competitions, which would add prestige. However, USFS is always looking for a slice of the pie and I would imagine they may expect some type of payment from the hosts. As long as it's a nominal fee, as they said the athlete's fee would be, then it wouldn't be unreasonable. But otherwise, club comps are usually important revenue generators so I'd like to see the financials.

As far as managing the lower levels, only time will tell whether the proposed structure will provide incentive for younger skaters to stay in the sport. But while that is an unkown, what is known is that the current structure is not achieving the desired results. To me the proposal sounds reasonable, so why not try it.

And I like the idea of eliminating rigid regions and sections. It is not good for the sport when a very strong skater doesn't make it to nationals because he or she happened to place 5th is in a very competitive region or section, while a skater with less developed skills makes it simply because he or she happened to compete in an area with fewer high level skaters.

I also like the idea of having more than one chance to qualify. Again, it does the sport no good to have a talented skater not make it to nationals just because they were sick or injured or had a bad day at a regional or sectional comp. Under the new structure they'd have more opportunities to prove themselves.
 

wickedwitch

Well-Known Member
Messages
15,636
Regarding holding the big pairs/dance finals the same time but not necessarily the same place as sectionals: are they purposely trying to prevent good singles skaters from going into pairs/dance or are they just being stupid? I'm assuming it's the latter.
 

RoseRed

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,973
...

And what is this North American Challenge Skate? Is it replacing the US Novice and Junior Challenge Skate? Does that mean Team Canada juniors will be invited as well? Maybe that’s wishful thinking...

It’s a lot to unpack. Is the presentation going to be streamed?

Wikipedia says
The North American Challenge Skate was a series of annual summer figure skating competitions for American and Canadian figure skaters on the novice and junior levels. It was a developmental program rather than an elite competition series; the purpose of the program was to give young skaters a chance to compete internationally and hone their skills. The events began in 1996 and consisted of two to four competitions each year, split between the US and Canada. ...

The series was discontinued after the 2006 events due to budget cuts.

In the Competition task Force Details PDF, they say:
Athletes at the National High-Performance Development Team Camp would have the potential to be selected for:
...
- The North American Challenge Skate, which will be coming back beginning in 2018

So it sound like they plan to bring back the event described on the Wikipedia page, which would be good for both US and Canadian skaters, even if it's only one event instead of a series, which is possible.
 

Doggygirl

Well-Known Member
Messages
11,107
They're so concerned with the "fan experience" - I wonder if Nationals ticket prices will drop commensurate to the shortening of the event? :saint:

The "fan experience" thing is interesting to me. Maybe I'm an outlier, but if I'm going to travel across country to watch figure skating, I WANT to go to a big ol' long event! Excellent point about ticket prices!
 

dancefan17

Active Member
Messages
240
I think eliminating a Nationals competition for lower levels is a huge mistake. It’s the feeder system. Many of the skaters at the senior level today won nationals as younger skaters. It provides experience and motivation to keep going. It gives them a bigger stage to compete at. It also builds awareness among judges for who has potential and who to watch over time.
 

Frida80

Well-Known Member
Messages
815
I think eliminating a Nationals competition for lower levels is a huge mistake. It’s the feeder system. Many of the skaters at the senior level today won nationals as younger skaters. It provides experience and motivation to keep going. It gives them a bigger stage to compete at. It also builds awareness among judges for who has potential and who to watch over time.

It's true. But it matters most at novice and junior, which are far better predictors of future success. Juvenile and intermediate champs are less successful.

In fact I noticed this pattern for years. Those on the podium at juveniles often fail to make national the next year. My theory is that intermediates often need new high level jumps like 2As and triples. Because the work so hard at nationals they lose two months of training that others get by not being at nationals. That extra developmental time can help the improve their skills and develop their programs instead of rushing to do all at once.

After a skater has learned all their triples, they have an easier time with their shorter off season.
 

skatfan

Well-Known Member
Messages
6,108
I'm not sure why they'd eliminate Nationals for the Novices. By then you've got the dedicated group of skaters at the top - they were fun to watch at Nationals. Not at all sad to Juvenile/Intermed - especially if it is a crazy schedule like in San Jose, where there was no "flow" to the schedule with all the levels jumbled together in a single day sometimes.

As to cutting down the size of the groups - they can always do what they do at Worlds - allow lot's of skaters in for the SP, and then cut down to the size they want for the free skate. That way at least if you qualify for Nationals, you get one performance in.

As to cost, I doubt the prices will go down that much - the lower levels are skated in the smaller venues with bleacher seating. The main expense is probably paying for the judging teams for all those events.
 

BittyBug

The missing ingredient
Messages
24,281
As to cost, I doubt the prices will go down that much ....
Well there is this from the rationale document:
A smaller, more competitive event will improve the ability of U.S. Figure Skating to place the event and secure the maximum bid fee...
If they are hoping to scale back the event while increase their payment, I don't see ticket prices coming down.
 

vesperholly

Well-Known Member
Messages
12,815
It'd be a shame to eliminate Novice at Nationals. That's a pretty historic competitive level - it goes back to the 1940s (Dick Button was 1944 Novice champ) if not earlier.

Also, Juvenile and Intermediate had their own separate "Junior" Nationals competition a while back, and I seem to recall that USFS purposely did away with and included them in "big" Nationals (and Sectionals) as inspiration.
 

dancefan17

Active Member
Messages
240
The PowerPoint proposal that Sylvia attached actually does a good job of explaining the rationale and why it’s proposed as a way to better identify and develop talent...
 

Willin

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,325
...
I do think that eliminating nationals from juvenile to novice may be a good thing. It will eliminate sandbagging from skaters that only want the medal and push them to get on team USA sooner by improving their performance. I don’t like the highest score being the only one that counts. I’d rather have an average of the top three scores, which is a better representation of the skaters level. We often see one girl score high once and then drop immediately afterwards. Averages and trends should be used instead.
I don't agree with removing Novice, if only because USFSA chooses Novice National medalists to go to international competitions. It would make no sense to eliminate that unless they are going to use a more holistic approach to choosing the novices they give a shot.

USFSA has no problem encouraging sandbagging in synchro - in fact recent changes heavily encouraged if not required many, many teams to sandbag or disband. Therefore, I don't quite believe they care much about it in singles.

Regarding holding the big pairs/dance finals the same time but not necessarily the same place as sectionals: are they purposely trying to prevent good singles skaters from going into pairs/dance or are they just being stupid? I'm assuming it's the latter.
I don't think it's either.
I think it's that (especially with byes) there's so few pair's/dance teams per section that it would cost less to hold one National competition than send dance/pair's judges to three separate ones. There's a shortage of dance judges, so I'm willing to bet that that plays a part in it as well - maybe they can't get enough to send to three locations. Even if it's three consecutive weeks, these judges have day jobs that they might not be able to get all that time off of.

They actually do this for synchro already. Pacific coast has so few teams (even fewer with the rule change) that they found it cheaper to simply host those teams at the Midwest competition to save on venue fees and judge travel fees. While everything's in the same locations at the same time, teams will only compete against teams from their own section. It's been working for 11 years now, so I could see USFSA thinking it might be a solution to a judging/team shortage in other disciplines.
 

genevieve

drinky typo pbp, closet hugger (she/her)
Staff member
Messages
39,309
If they are hoping to scale back the event while increase their payment, I don't see ticket prices coming down.
Oh, I definitely don't see them reducing the ticket prices - I'm just calling BS on their concern trolling about the "fan experience".

I can see how a streamlined event may result in more cities bidding for the event (and paying the maximum, etc), but reducing the number of skaters, and eliminating entire tiers of skaters, means fewer out of town dollars coming into the area for hotels, restaurants etc.
 

overedge

Mayor of Carrot City
Messages
31,693
My first thought in looking at this is that someone at USFS needs to learn how to make readable PowerPoint. There is *way* too much information on each of those slides.

But beyond that.....why the comparison to the average time/length of a professional sports game or a Broadway show? A national skating championship event is not the same thing as a regular-season game involving professional teams who play every couple of nights. And a better comparison to a Broadway show is a professional skating show, like Stars on Ice. I honestly don't understand why entertainment value seems to be so important - I would guess that most people who come to nationals come to see an athletic competition. If USFS was so concerned with entertaining the audience they wouldn't have subjected us multiple times to that shrieky country singer performing live at the last Nationals :p

I don't like the proposal of letting novice winners at sectionals compete in juniors at Nationals. There has always been a big challenge for skaters in transitioning from juniors to seniors. I'm not sure how letting them compete as juniors sooner is going to make that any better.

And yes, there are lots of competitors at Nationals, and some of the events can be very long because of that. And some of the entries are not as "good" as the others because they qualified in regions with fewer competitors. But so what? They all worked hard to get there, and for some of them, getting to compete at Nationals will be the highlight of their skating career. They shouldn't be denied that opportunity.
 

genevieve

drinky typo pbp, closet hugger (she/her)
Staff member
Messages
39,309
The other thing to consider - with a greatly reduced field, will the core audience, meaning we FS who buy all-event tickets years in advance, stop finding the event worth the time and cost?

For me, what makes Nats worth the cost, aside from getting to see the very top 3-5 duke it out, is to see the skaters who will never medal. Jonathan Cassar was worth the entire price of my 2010 Nats tickets. Ye Bin Mok was one of my favorites in 2005, and she came in 16th out of a field of 18.

Also: wasn't it the men's Novice men's comp that everyone was raving about in 2010? That's when Nathan Chen made his first splash (along with Emmanuel Savary, who has not matched that success since - but I'm always interested when he makes Nats!).
 

wickedwitch

Well-Known Member
Messages
15,636
I don't think it's either.
I think it's that (especially with byes) there's so few pair's/dance teams per section that it would cost less to hold one National competition than send dance/pair's judges to three separate ones. There's a shortage of dance judges, so I'm willing to bet that that plays a part in it as well - maybe they can't get enough to send to three locations. Even if it's three consecutive weeks, these judges have day jobs that they might not be able to get all that time off of.
None of which addresses the issue that someone might want to compete at the pairs final at one sectionals at the SAME TIME they need to compete in the singles final in another sectional.
 

clairecloutier

Well-Known Member
Messages
12,512
None of which addresses the issue that someone might want to compete at the pairs final at one sectionals at the SAME TIME they need to compete in the singles final in another sectional.

There is a provision for that scenario in the new proposal:

c) Athletes qualifying for a Sectional Singles Final that is in a different location than their Pairs or Dance event may choose to compete in the section of their pair or dance event. (If scheduling permits, the section hosting the Pairs event could be held one week earlier or later, to allow athletes the choice of competing in their home section.)

d) In the event an out-of-section skater places in the top four in juvenile – novice singles, the next athlete will also qualify for the National High-Performance Development Team Camp.
 

GarrAargHrumph

I can kill you with my brain
Messages
19,268
I am afraid that if we greatly shrink down the size/time of the event to something more like a basketball game, fans won't feel it's as worth it to travel to see the event. At a minimum, there may be a transition period where attendance drops off a cliff for a bit, until a new audience is built.

But maybe that's part of the design of this plan - a shorter event would be easier to place on TV, as they said; it would also be easier (if the ticketed audience is smaller) to hold in smaller venues, which could make the event itself cheaper. If the USFS isn't relying on income from ticket sales; or if they can balance out the loss in ticket revenues v. the cost of the event itself v. TV advertising dollars, this could work. So this choice might be deliberate.
 

her grace

standing with Mariah
Messages
4,588
Interesting proposal!

When reading it, it seems that it's geared toward fixing the "problem" of American ladies' non-success. Because dance and men are doing just fine as it is, and pairs, well, I don't see pairs driving these changes.

I don't think "sandbagging" is preventing skaters from achieving international success that they would otherwise have had if only they had moved up. I think the people who stay in juvenile, intermediate, or novice have correctly assessed that they are either not competitive with the top skaters at the next level or that the depth in their section at the higher level makes it very unlikely that they will qualify to nationals. It makes me wonder if USFS is unhappy with skaters like Zhu, Beavers, and Chan winning novice nationals at "old" ages (15-17). Creating age divisions like U13 for juvenile, U15 for intermediate, U16 for novice, U19 for juniors would do more to address the problem of identifying talent and making sure everyone keeps moving up appropriately--but it's not going to guarantee international success.

Also, USFS, if you want to keep your best skaters in the sport, you made a big mistake when you massively reduced the number of juvenile and intermediates who made it to nationals. Historically, some of the most successful lady skaters would make it to "jr. nationals" but would finish low or not make it out of qualification rounds. You want those skaters to stick around because the ones who end up winning are not generally the ones who make it in the long run. So I do like this proposal to increase the number of skaters that qualify to the Sectionals Singles Final at these lower levels. Nationals for Juv/Inter. probably isn't strictly necessary.


It'd be a shame to eliminate Novice at Nationals. That's a pretty historic competitive level - it goes back to the 1940s (Dick Button was 1944 Novice champ) if not earlier.

Interestingly, pairs and ice dance will still have novice national champions; they will be awarded those titles at U.S. Pairs/Dance Final (event tagged on to Sectionals Singles Final) now. It's sad that the singles don't have that chance.

And I like the idea of eliminating rigid regions and sections. It is not good for the sport when a very strong skater doesn't make it to nationals because he or she happened to place 5th is in a very competitive region or section, while a skater with less developed skills makes it simply because he or she happened to compete in an area with fewer high level skaters.

I also like the idea of having more than one chance to qualify. Again, it does the sport no good to have a talented skater not make it to nationals just because they were sick or injured or had a bad day at a regional or sectional comp. Under the new structure they'd have more opportunities to prove themselves.

It looks like there's more opportunities to get to Sectionals, but Sectionals is still the be-all-end-all for singles skaters.

I'm okay with the idea of letting the top novices skate up as juniors at Nationals. I would also be okay with the top juniors at nationals getting to do that in the senior division as well.
 

clairecloutier

Well-Known Member
Messages
12,512
So after reviewing the documents that @Sylvia linked above, I have to say that, for the most part, I think this proposal sounds good. Although I don't necessarily love every aspect of these changes, I think I get and agree with the ideas and impetus behind them.

Things I like about the proposal:

1. In general, it's reassuring to hear that USFSA is assessing where U.S. skating stands in relation to other countries, is noting where we're falling short, and wants to do better internationally.

2. I think the concept of a National High Performance Camp for all levels is excellent and a step in the right direction. The documents state that the camp would be 2 or 3 days in length. I would hope for 3 days, as obviously much more could be done with an additional day.

3. My assumption is that the rather drastic cuts to Nationals, especially the elimination of Novice, will be financially necessary in order to hold the National High Performance Camp. It is probably a choice between having one event or the other for the lower levels. It is a tough call, but if a choice needs to be made, I think that the lower-level skaters might indeed benefit more from a National High Performance Camp than from Nationals itself.

4. I like the idea of a National Qualifying Series (current club competitions) as another path to qualify for Sectionals. Ultimately, this benefits the skaters by giving them more flexibility and more opportunities to qualify, so I cannot see anything negative about this, I think it's good.

5. I realize the concept of technical minimums can be controversial, but TBH, personally I think it's a good thing and is not inappropriate for an event at the level of Nationals. Ultimately, I think technical minimums are an incentive for skaters to improve. (As a spectator, in my opinion, it's never the number of competitors or length of programs that is a problem in terms of an unsatisfying viewing experience. The problem is having to watch subpar, not-very-good skating; technical minimums should theoretically help lessen that.)

6. In principle, I think the concept of reducing the scope of U.S. Nationals, while adding a more private High Performance Camp for skaters/coaches, would be a big change in U.S. skating culture, but maybe not such a bad thing in some ways. In its present state, I feel like U.S. Nationals is sort of an overwhelming event. There is so much going on. Many coaches there have numerous skaters competing and I think they probably spend the majority of their time hurrying from practices to events. Same for the skaters. There is probably not as much time as they would like for networking, idea sharing, observation. The High Performance Camp would hopefully allow for more of that and just be a more calm experience in general.

7. Interesting, just as a side anecdote, my coach and I had a conversation about U.S. skating after the Olympics, and she expressed exactly an idea that these documents allude to-- Namely, that American skaters are, in many cases, very highly focused on getting to Nationals, and, in many cases, their goals really don't go beyond Nationals. Basically, my coach was disappointed with the U.S. performance at the Olympics but felt it was part of a skating culture in the U.S. that is very domestically focused. I thought that was interesting--I guess she is not the only one who feels that way!


Things I'm not sure about in the proposal:

1. I question the idea of not having a Novice Nationals. Novice is an important level in skating these days. And if we are looking to get our ladies' program, especially, more in line with Russia and Japan, then, well--they both have Novice Nationals. But, my assumption this is likely a cost decision on USFSA's part that could hopefully be reversed in the future. I think it might be okay to try not having Novice Nationals for a few years and see how it goes ... but ultimately, I think the goal would be to get back to it.

2. The idea of adding the top 2 Novice singles competitors from each Sectionals to Junior Nationals is a bit ... odd. My assumption is this is mainly a compromise measure to make up for not having Novice Nationals. Well, I would say, give it a try, see how it works. Theoretically, it could help motivate the top Novices to improve in hopes of doing well at Junior Nationals (in practice, I'm not sure how much that would actually play out).

3. I don't like having different names and structure for pairs/dance qualifying, as opposed to singles. It just makes everything more complex. But, in truth, I guess it reflects the reality of the situation, with far fewer competitors in pairs, particularly.

4. I find USFSA's attempts in these documents to sell a smaller, shorter Nationals as beneficial to fans to be a bit :lol: and :rolleyes:, simply because I am not aware that they have done any general surveys or research to even understand what draws fans to Nationals and what they like/don't like about it. They really should do such research, rather than make assumptions. That said, my own personal sense is that the majority of fans at Nationals are primarily interested in Junior and Senior events. Obviously there are some fans who are very dedicated and attend all levels, but I do think for many, it's mainly about Juniors/Seniors. So my feeling is that a Junior/Senior-only Nationals would still be a draw in terms of ticket sales. It sure would be nice to see a reduction in overall ticket prices to compensate, though. :saint:
 

Debbie S

Well-Known Member
Messages
13,406
I don't think "sandbagging" is preventing skaters from achieving international success that they would otherwise have had if only they had moved up. I think the people who stay in juvenile, intermediate, or novice have correctly assessed that they are either not competitive with the top skaters at the next level or that the depth in their section at the higher level makes it very unlikely that they will qualify to nationals.
This. The lower level skaters I know/have known don't move up/stay back b/c of their chances of winning/medaling at Nats; they and their coaches are smart enough to know that there are no guarantees, that one bad skate at Regionals or Sectionals would end their season, that new skaters are coming up, someone else could suddenly get a 2A or 5 triples, etc. They make decisions based on their own progress and goals. And in some cases, moving up makes it easier to qualify for Sectionals or Nats b/c there are usually fewer skaters in the higher levels. A lot of skaters drop out at around Int or Novice simply b/c they develop other interests or stop progressing technically, or finances become a problem.

I believe the reason for moving Juv and Int to the 'big' Nats was b/c it was difficult to find a host club for JN, as it was not profitable for the host, plus it was somewhat of a burden to gather all the judges needed at a busy time of year (Dec). I am OK with getting rid of a Juv and Int Nats in favor of a training camp, as that might be more beneficial to skaters at that stage. I am not OK with getting rid of a Nats at Novice level. I think at that stage, it is important for kids to start to compete against a high level pool of skaters, to get used to the pressure of a championship event. I don't see how competing at Junior would help their development; for one, they'd have to go home after Sectionals and rework their programs. Two, in most cases, they'd be way overmatched in Junior. How does that encourage them? I see the potential for Novices to try to throw in jumps they can't really do, and risk injury, in order to compete with those at the next level. Why can't there be both a training camp and a Nats for Novice, and maybe also the top Juniors....USFS has been doing a JW training camp the past couple of years and have invited some skaters beyond the team and official alternates.

USFS is trying to sell the changes as athlete development but I suspect cost is the main driver. I would be interested to see stats on the cost of including the lower levels at Nats vs the cost of a training camp. And selling the changes to Nats as a benefit to spectators/fans is :huh: and :rolleyes:. Yes, I am mostly interested in Juniors and Seniors, but I enjoy watching the Novice and lower levels. And having had clubmates compete at those levels in recent years, know what a thrill it is for kids at those levels to compete at a national championship.
 

Willin

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,325
I don't think "sandbagging" is preventing skaters from achieving international success that they would otherwise have had if only they had moved up. I think the people who stay in juvenile, intermediate, or novice have correctly assessed that they are either not competitive with the top skaters at the next level or that the depth in their section at the higher level makes it very unlikely that they will qualify to nationals. It makes me wonder if USFS is unhappy with skaters like Zhu, Beavers, and Chan winning novice nationals at "old" ages (15-17). Creating age divisions like U13 for juvenile, U15 for intermediate, U16 for novice, U19 for juniors would do more to address the problem of identifying talent and making sure everyone keeps moving up appropriately--but it's not going to guarantee international success.
I agree that I don't think it's hurting skaters who were going to achieve success anyways. I found that the skaters who sandbagged were those who were good enough to get a medal at regionals/sectionals but were never a real threat for an international assignment. They wanted the medal on their resume. Those who are good enough to get an international assignment don't worry about it - they'll move up at their own pace.

I'm actually surprised there isn't stricter age restrictions in singles. In synchro, Juvenile is strictly U13 for all team members, Intermediate is strictly U18, Novice is U16 for all but 4 members of the team (those 4 must still be under 18), and Junior is strictly U19.
The difference between intermediate and novice is because Novice competed internationally for a hot second and therefore had to comply with international rules. The 4 skaters over 16 was likely to accommodate smaller market teams who wouldn't have gotten an international assignment anyways. For teams likely to go, those 4 could've been the swing skaters simply not sent to the international competition. Since they haven't done internationals for Novice Synchro in about 10 years, I'd like to see them switch the Novice/Intermediate age rules, but maybe they're considering sending Novice teams back out.
Maybe for singles they could go with your suggestion, or stick to the synchro funky age scheme (ie. Intermediate would be U18 and Novice would be U16 to accommodate international rules). Either way the current age rules don't make much sense if they want their champs to be younger anyways. If they don't care what age the champs are, I have no problem with the current age limits - I think it's great to give skaters that bloomed later or who are lovely but will never get triples a shot at a National title.

7. Interesting, just as a side anecdote, my coach and I had a conversation about U.S. skating after the Olympics, and she expressed exactly an idea that these documents allude to-- Namely, that American skaters are, in many cases, very highly focused on getting to Nationals, and, in many cases, their goals really don't go beyond Nationals. Basically, my coach was disappointed with the U.S. performance at the Olympics but felt it was part of a skating culture in the U.S. that is very domestically focused. I thought that was interesting--I guess she is not the only one who feels that way!
I think this is a major reason for the issue @her grace brought up and a major part of why USFS skaters aren't doing well. I've noticed in my neck of the woods this has a lot to do with current upper-middle-class/upper class culture in childrearing. That is, parents expect their kids to be perfect in every way so they can get into a top college. A lot of parents - a whole lot of parents - view skating as an addition to the kid's college resume, not as a sport to go to the Olympics with. After all, a National Championship is a lot more impressive than a non-championship finish at some event the people reading the college app have never heard of. Some want the Olympics on their resume, but again that's few and far between because it doesn't fit with the timing of college apps unless you're born in the right year.
 

jiejie

Well-Known Member
Messages
834
For the most part, I like the proposals. It's clear the USA has some real issues with ladies and pairs skating as far as international competitiveness, and sticking with the same system year after year is the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. I do think it's as much a fault of the system as the skaters themselves. Mens is doing OK for now internationally, but take away Nathan who's arrived and Vincent who's still getting there, and things fall off unless the ISU decides to limit quads to one or two per program (fat chance) so the Jason Browns can slip in there via PCS. And dance has a completely different situation because it is far more centralized around where nearly all the top junior and senior teams are coming from only 4-5 training bases, each anchored by a world-class coaching staff.

I remember when US Nationals was only Novice, Junior, Senior and thought when they appended the former Junior Nationals (Juvenile and Intermediate) onto it to make one big event, that it would turn out to be nonviable in the long run as too overblown and too expensive. And as far as I've heard, most coaches loathe the length of time it takes out of their regular coaching schedule, when they have skaters at multiple levels. Refocusing the lower level skaters on skill-building and offering a centralized place and support to do so for the top skaters of those levels, seems like a wiser use of cash. I've also never liked the "one and out" system especially at Juvenile and Intermediate so a more open system with alternate ways to earn "qualifying scores" (in the sense that it will get one noticed) is a good thing.

Novice happens to be a level I particularly enjoy watching, sometimes more than Junior. Novices don't necessarily have the skills yet but they generally have a more fearless and go-for-it attitude, whereas juniors start letting their minds get messed with because the stakes are much higher. At least IME. So I'm on the bubble about removing Novice Nationals. I will reserve judgment until after they try this out a couple of seasons.

I am all for technical minimums at the Senior Level for US Nationals. And they should use the "fill up" rule--if one region only has two skaters/teams in a category meeting the minimums but another region (Section) has 5 with the minimums, they go with the strongest scores not a silly geographic quota.
 

Dobre

Well-Known Member
Messages
11,751
Chiming in to say that I want to see the novices. Novice Nationals is a big opportunity to see kids rise to the occasion under competitive pressure. Samuelson & Bates, the Shibs, Nathan, Alysa, Ting, the Greens, Feng & Ponomarenko, Gropman & Somerville, Rachel--I remember them all from Novice Nationals. For me, one of the major reasons to attend Nationals at all is to see the young, upcoming talent. (I've seen Ashley a million times. I don't need to go to Nationals to see the U.S. Champions). It's a sport, and that competitive opportunity has to be a major motivator for kids who love the competitive rush. (And the U.S. has enough difficulty recruiting boys into skating). Novice Nationals is a big identifier for athletes we send out into junior international competition. As far as the ladies are concerned, it's clear the Japanese & Russian girls are benefiting from a much deep field of internal competition. And they are going out and competing internationally in advanced novices.
 

gkelly

Well-Known Member
Messages
15,861
I don't like the proposal of letting novice winners at sectionals compete in juniors at Nationals. There has always been a big challenge for skaters in transitioning from juniors to seniors. I'm not sure how letting them compete as juniors sooner is going to make that any better.

This is sort of a callback to a way they used to do things back in the mid-20th century. I can't find the exact details, but I know there was a time when skaters would compete at sectionals based on test level and then qualify for nationals at a different level (junior vs. senior? also novice vs. junior?) based on competition results.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top
Do Not Sell My Personal Information