American Women Used to Dominate in Figure Skating. What Happened?

jenniferlyon

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Another one of those articles.

https://slate.com/culture/2018/02/three-theories-that-explain-the-downfall-of-u-s-womens-figure-skating.html

The Winter Olympics was once a breeding ground for female stars and crossover celebrities. Peggy Fleming and Dorothy Hamill were hugely famous in the 1960s and 1970s, and Michelle Kwan, Yamaguchi, Nancy Kerrigan, and Lipinski were all big stars in their own right. Yet the U.S. women haven’t won an Olympic medal since 2006, when Sasha Cohen took silver. At this point, the most famous skater in the United States is Tonya Harding, and she hasn’t competed in almost a quarter-century.
 

attyfan

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I can't help wondering if the rise of Russians in the ladies event is somehow connected to the decline of Russians in other events -- this Olys there has not only been zero Russians on the ice dance podium, but also zero Russians on the podium in the pairs event.
 

PRlady

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I can't help wondering if the rise of Russians in the ladies event is somehow connected to the decline of Russians in other events -- this Olys there has not only been zero Russians on the ice dance podium, but also zero Russians on the podium in the pairs event.
No men, either. Not since Plushy.

I would say it's cyclical but I do think there's something wrong with American training. The proper jump technique is not taught at the lower levels and then they grow up and UR.
 

Spun Silver

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US parents and coaches care about children's future ability to walk. Russians don't. I don't know how the Japanese deal with the these matters.
 

Vash01

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US parents and coaches care about children's future ability to walk. Russians don't. I don't know how the Japanese deal with the these matters.
If that was absolutely true, nobody in the USA would play football or boxing, or.....

Back to the discussion, I believe that the talent in Russia used to go to pairs and ice dance. They may have discovered that singles is less complicated (no partner needed) and went for that. About the decline in talented men there, I think they discovered that it is better to play hockey than figure skating. There is a lure of a career in the NHL. I am not saying these are the only reasons, but they may be contributing to the lack of talent (compared to the past).

In the USSR days all expenses were covered by the government. That's not the case anymore.

The cyclical thing is there too.

To summarize, there are many contributing factors.

OOPs! I completely digressed from the original question, which was about American ladies not winning medals. The competition from Japan and Russia (more recently Canada) has become tougher, while the American ladies seem to be stagnant. So other countries passed them by.
 
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Domshabfan

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US parents and coaches care about children's future ability to walk. Russians don't. I don't know how the Japanese deal with the these matters.
:huh::rofl:
When you were winning those medals, were they not taking care of kids. Best example of sour grapes.

Does Gracie Gold and Joshua Farris also fall under this category that you described.
 

Spun Silver

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:huh::rofl:
When you were winning those medals, were they not taking care of kids. Best example of sour grapes.

Does Gracie Gold and Joshua Farris also fall under this category that you described.
The sport was far less extreme just a few years ago.

Gracie Gold has nothing to do with my point. As for Joshua --this thread is about ladies. I just don't believe Tutberidze's harsh methods would be acceptable here.

@Vash01,are you unaware of the enormous controversies in football over the concussion issue? I would be very surprised if it had not already had an impact on young boys' involvement in the sport. Either that or the sport will have to change,in my inexpert opinion. I'm not a fan.
 
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jenniferlyon

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I can't help wondering if the rise of Russians in the ladies event is somehow connected to the decline of Russians in other events -- this Olys there has not only been zero Russians on the ice dance podium, but also zero Russians on the podium in the pairs event.
The Russians lost a generation of skaters. There was no money. Many of their top coaches emigrated to other countries. Even Tamara Moskvina was in New Jersey for awhile back in the early 2000s. I think the reason why the Russian ladies were the first to come back after this drought is because they can succeed at a high level when they are still in their teens. Look at the ages of their female skaters in PyeongChang. Male skaters rarely make it to that level when they're that young. Kolyada and Aliev show promise, but they aren't soup yet. Then there was Adian Pitkeev, who dropped out of the sport because of injuries. As for pairs and dance, those skaters also tend to be older. Or at least the male halves of these teams tend to be older. The average 16-year-old male skater can't lift a partner and throw her around as easily as a 22-year-old male skater.
 

essence_of_soy

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It costs a small fortune to create a skater these days. A lot of families just don't have the financial commitment.

Sadly, there is also no where near the same amount of money to be made doing the sport, too.
 
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Jammers

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This slump was to be expected when you think about it if not for the plane crash in 1961 the US women would have medaled at every Olympics for an unprecedented 52 years which not even the Russians have done in Pairs or Ice Dance but i'd figure by now that the US would start contending for medals after a low point nearly a decade ago but it's going to take time in the lower ranks to build up contenders and hopefully by 2022 some unknown 12 year old's will be the new generation to bring back the glory of US Ladies.
 
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Domshabfan

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This slump was to be expected when you think about it if not for the plane crash in 1961 the US women would have medaled at every Olympics for an unprecedented 52 years which not even the Russians have done in Pairs or Ice Dance but i'd figure by now that the US would start contending for medals after a low point nearly a decade ago but it's going to take time in the lower ranks to build up contenders and hopefully by 2022 some unknown 12 year olds will be a new generation to bring back the glory of US Ladies.
Puberty monster wills strike them :saint:
 

Aceon6

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Times have changed along with female aspirations. Parents now steer their athletically gifted children into sports that have the potential for college scholarship money. Only the dedicated 1% who can afford it stay in skating post middle school.
 

Zemgirl

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I'd say it's a combination of things, and not necessarily those outlined in the article (the US skaters don't push each other to improve? Come on).

First, skating in the US can be expensive if not downright inaccessible, so kids turn to other sports or can't continue beyond a basic level.

In addition, the switch from 6.0 to IJS did not go as well as it did in some countries.

The rest of the world caught up, and success (Slutskaya in Russia, Arakawa and later Asada & Ando in Japan) draws interest and future talent. I don't think there's been anyone to do that in the US since Kwan.
 

rfisher

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Times have changed along with female aspirations. Parents now steer their athletically gifted children into sports that have the potential for college scholarship money. Only the dedicated 1% who can afford it stay in skating post middle school.
Exactly. I would encourage my daughter to take up golf, tennis, basketball, volleyball, or swimming for scholarship money. If they were really talented, golf and tennis offer good pro opportunities. Skating does not in North America. It does in Japan and Russia, but not here. It cost 30K-50K a year for a top level skater and the returns simply aren't there for the majority.
 

Perky Shae Lynn

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US parents and coaches care about children's future ability to walk. Russians don't. I don't know how the Japanese deal with the these matters.
That's interesting, given how many kids in the US play football. By the way, do Nathan Chen's parents care about his future ability to walk? You make is sound like Russians are monsters while Americans are saints. I am so sick of this mentality.
 

twizzletoes76

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US freestyle skaters often don't learn how to do proper edges. The moves in the field test track system is insufficient for teaching proper edges: what that system awards more often than not is quickness and power. Look at Evgenia compared to Bradie. Not only can Evgenia jump but she can also skate! The work she has done with Averbukh (I think he works with her) on choreography shows. Bradie jumps just fine but her actual skating skills are comparitively weak for someone who is supposed to be the #1 in the US. The Russian skating schools have always emphasized good edge technique in addition to traditional freestyle elements. Too many US coaches never learned good skating skills themselves and therefore don't know how to teach them.
 

clairecloutier

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This issue has been discussed a great deal in previous threads. I do think money is a huge factor. Skating has always been a very expensive sport, and the possible financial returns from it were never great for most people involved. That hasn't really changed that much over the years. What has changed, I think, is 1) the hugely increased cost of college these days, 2) the perceived necessity of a college degree, and 3) no increase in real income for many Americans over the past 30 years or so. Basically, college is perceived as ever more important to your child's future income and well-being, but meanwhile, there is less ability to pay for it. I think for many parents, this adds up to a reluctance to get their child involved in an expensive sport that will drain away potential college funds while not, for most, increasing the chance of admittance to a better college or scholarships while in college.
 

twizzletoes76

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Also, as a case in point, look at skaters who have worked with Nikolai Morozov. He teaches both freestyle and dance and his skaters are some of the best on the ice. Rippon worked with him early on, for instance, and I believe that made all the difference for how he presents himself today. And, don't forget Daisake Takahashi--his work on the ice was genius! Or, Miki Ando--when she was on, she was beautiful! I think too many US judges have had such limited exposure to what good edge technique is that they often don't even know how to award or recognize it.
 

Wyliefan

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Yes, it would be really nice if some of these articles noted U.S. success in ice dance instead of just lamenting ladies.
 

rfisher

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Also, skating is not a way to improve one's life in the US compared to Russia or even Japan. Successful skaters in Russia (Olympic medal winners) receive a huge benefit: cars, apartments, money and can make very successful careers in shows. Sotnikova is a perfect example and the primary reason she didn't really return to competitive skating is she couldn't afford to turn down the financial opportunities for shows. Zagitova has talked about how her parents don't have much money and a big part of her incentive is to help pay them back and support them. In the US, there are certainly opportunities in sports to have a lucrative career (more for men than women), but figure skating isn't one of them. It's not accessible to most people and like @claircloutier said, very few parents are willing to spend the college fund (if you have it) for skating. If you don't have a college fund, you likely can't afford skating in any event.
 

BlueRidge

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Its not as if there are no US ladies skaters who desire to be competitive on the international stage.

Could it be that because of how skating is organized in the US that the problem is self-selection based on interest rather than an institutional set up in which the athletes with the best body types and frames of mind are selected? It seems to me coaches like Tutberidze have a big hand in selecting and nurturing the most apt skaters, where in the US girls continue in skating because its what they personally (or their parents) want to do. Some who might be great skaters might have no one encouraging them to skate.
 

sk9tingfan

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Times have changed along with female aspirations. Parents now steer their athletically gifted children into sports that have the potential for college scholarship money. Only the dedicated 1% who can afford it stay in skating post middle school.
The bottom line is Title 9 that changed where the money is. I'm sure if I were do the analysis, I would find that where the US dominates in terms of Olympic medals, one would find it's impact. Also the availability of money within the X Game sponsored sports, you would find the same pattern, along with lucrative endorsement contracts.

You speak about how skating is organized in the US that is the issue. While Russia may not be Communist any longer(replaced by a different but controlling regime), a tiger does not change its spots. There is still the same state-sponsored infrastructure that never disappeared.
 

wickedwitch

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So while in general, I think it's because these things go in cycles, it's now more socially acceptable to play traditionally male sports. So a lot of talented athletes are turning to other sports, because it's a more realistic option.
 

caseyedwards

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Yes, it would be really nice if some of these articles noted U.S. success in ice dance instead of just lamenting ladies.
Where are the stories of celebration of North America taking dance away from Russians?! Lol! American ladies dance now!! And they crush all Russians!!
 

Vash01

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@Vash01,are you unaware of the enormous controversies in football over the concussion issue? I would be very surprised if it had not already had an impact on young boys' involvement in the sport. Either that or the sport will have to change,in my inexpert opinion. I'm not a fan.
As a fan of Football, I am very aware of the concussion issues in football. There have been rule changes to protect the players. Some parents are turning away from it, but the sport has been around for so long and is so lucrative that some still want to take the risk. Boxing is even worse. I don't watch it and i don't approve of it.

Figure skating is different. Nobody is trying to injure a competitor. There is risk involved in every sport, because the athletes are trying to do what a normal body is designed to do. The point i was trying to make is there is risk involved in every competitive sport at the highest level. I am not going to tell parents what they should do for their children. It is an individual choice. I see mo reason to paint the Russian coaches and parents as villains.
 

allezfred

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Yes, it would be really nice if some of these articles noted U.S. success in ice dance instead of just lamenting ladies.
Thanks to Russian coaches. Hmmm maybe there is a correlation between the reversal of fortunes in the dance and ladies programmes in each country.....
 

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