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Thread: Future of FS competitions?

  1. #181
    Bona Fide Member narcissa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    Here is my two cents. In the golden age of figure skating, I think the public's view of the sport was this:

    https://i.pinimg.com/736x/97/29/aa/9...ge-posters.jpg

    Men's figure skating?

    https://i.pinimg.com/originals/f1/89...e6cefacd5e.jpg

    (Don't laugh. Mr. Frick and Mr. Frack are both in the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame.)

    As for men's costumes, who wants to watch a man skating at all, no matter what he has on (except for comic relief).

    Personally, I don't think figure skating will ever have the mass appeal it once did no matter what we do. Cultural tastes evolve. We are no longer so much into beauty contests and Las Vegas girly shows as we once were.

    As for sponsorships, the last U.S. figure skater who had any cachet with the great unwashed public (especially with children) was Michelle Kwan. She had many sponsorships. The three biggest in terms of money (besides the USFSA/ABC TV) were Disneyland, Coca-cola and Chevrolet, all over a million dollars.
    I think figure skating has the potential to gain appeal the way that has in Japan, and the way it used to be in North America, in many new markets: South Korea and China are both up-and-coming regions for the sport. I think the ISU should focus on these new markets (which haven't developed the same stereotypes of the sport as North America and are "fresher" so to say). Instead of trying so hard to chase the past.

    Unfortunately, I can see them doing the opposite.

  2. #182
    Outdated Old Dinosaur
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    Nothing sends a signal of a hip modern cool sport with greater effect than a string of skaters performing to the same 400 year old music, all the while dressed like Miss America 1980.

  3. #183
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    Quote Originally Posted by TontoK View Post
    Nothing sends a signal of a hip modern cool sport with greater effect than a string of skaters performing to the same 400 year old music, all the while dressed like Miss America 1980.
    And?!!!

  4. #184
    On the Ice Mathman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TontoK View Post
    Nothing sends a signal of a hip modern cool sport with greater effect than a string of skaters performing to the same 400 year old music, all the while dressed like Miss America 1980.
    My worry is broader, though. I do not think the problem is old-fashed music and old-fashed costumes. Maybe it is the sport itself that is old-fashioned.

    Dancing is huge as a participatory exercise and as entertainment. But we don't need or want ice skates to dance. Jumps are a part of many popular popular sports. But does anyone want to pay money to watch someone jump while wearing ice skates?

    In these discussions I have come to the conclusion that a figure skating competition is what it is: an esthetically pleasing smorgasbord of athletic tricks and blade to ice skills. Some people (raises hand) like it, many are not interested. Making a virtue of necessity, I think we have to reconcile ourselves to the fact that that, in America at least, the audience for this type of sport/entertainment is not as robust as it was in the past.

  5. #185
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    FS is losing popularity as a sport because it is not a sport, and ISU does everything to make it even less of a sport, and more of a beauty pageant with unclear rules.
    As a person who watches sports, id say that clearer rules and more transparent judging would bring more people who like sports to watch it.

  6. #186
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    Quote Originally Posted by moriel View Post
    FS is losing popularity as a sport because it is not a sport, and ISU does everything to make it even less of a sport, and more of a beauty pageant with unclear rules.
    When would you say that figure skating reached its peak status as being more of a sport and being more popular as a sport?

    In the US, peak popularity was in the mid-late 1990s, under 6.0 ordinal judging.

    One could certainly argue that that judging system and the kind of skating it rewarded were more appealing to American audiences than IJS-era rules and skating, but it would be hard to make a case that it was more "sport-like" and that's why audiences liked it.

    Even less so before the 1990s, when ladies' skating in particular was more about school figures and making the best overall impression in ways that often seemed to have more in common with beauty pageants than athleticism.

  7. #187
    On the Ice Mathman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by moriel View Post
    FS is losing popularity as a sport because it is not a sport, and ISU does everything to make it even less of a sport....
    Actually, I think that's backwards. In the past it was more of a beauty contest and less of a sport than it is now. It's just that in the past we liked beauty contests and now we don't.

  8. #188
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    I give up.

  9. #189
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    Future of FS competitions?

    I think there’s a lot of sexism (and heteosexism) related to why the US has so few male skaters. Not sure about the best way to fix that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    As for men's costumes, who wants to watch a man skating at all, no matter what he has on (except for comic relief).

    Well I’ve never been all that interested in figure skating personally. But when I watched as a kid and when I watch now I prefer watching the men.

    Quote Originally Posted by moriel View Post
    FS is losing popularity as a sport because it is not a sport, and ISU does everything to make it even less of a sport, and more of a beauty pageant with unclear rules.
    As a person who watches sports, id say that clearer rules and more transparent judging would bring more people who like sports to watch it.
    I agree 100%

    Until my kid got interested in figure skating I only watched the Olympics and only when it was just on TV. I never planned to watch any figure skating.

    Now that my kid is so passionate about it I do all I can to learn and watch but I’ve SEEN the pageantry first hand at competitions my kid has been to. Awards given out before all the skaters have competed! Special rule changes offered for some skaters! And lots of crazy pageant type parents. It’s unreal. It drives me mad.

    And for instance, family members (cousins etc) see how my kid is progressing and then ask questions about the sport - things that would be normal for other sports to ask. And it’s always a L O N G complicated answer. Just look at the names for the levels in the US system. They make no sense! ‘No test’ ‘pre preliminary’ ??? and then ‘novice’ is a high level? It’s absurd!

    All that said, we literally have some models to examine to improve interest in the US. We can look to Japan and Russia for example to see why figure skating is so much more popular in those places.

  10. #190
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    Quote Originally Posted by gkelly View Post
    When would you say that figure skating reached its peak status as being more of a sport and being more popular as a sport?

    In the US, peak popularity was in the mid-late 1990s, under 6.0 ordinal judging.

    One could certainly argue that that judging system and the kind of skating it rewarded were more appealing to American audiences than IJS-era rules and skating, but it would be hard to make a case that it was more "sport-like" and that's why audiences liked it.

    Even less so before the 1990s, when ladies' skating in particular was more about school figures and making the best overall impression in ways that often seemed to have more in common with beauty pageants than athleticism.
    I'd argue that the peak popularity of figure skating in the U.S. in the mid-late 1990s had less to do with the actual figure skating (regardless of whether it was more "sport" or more "art") and more to do with the storylines and personalities. Tonya Harding's attack on Nancy Kerrigan. Kerrigan's return and taking on the orphaned teen Oksana Baiul. A truly transcendent star in Michelle Kwan. Popular entertainers on the pro circuit in Hamilton, Browning, etc. the masses tuned in for the stories and personalities. When they'd had their fill, they tuned out.

    It's no wonder the USFSA wants so badly for the next Michelle Kwan in any of its disciplines. Skate Canada has got that right now with Virtue and Moir, and V/M are capitalising on that with their Thank You Canada Tour. As time goes on though, and the casual masses have begun to have their fill of V/M, it remains to be seen whether there will be any sustained bump to figure skating's popularity in Canada.


    I maintain that figure skating needs to sort out its identity first and foremost. If passionate fans on a figure skating message board can't figure out the relationship between sport and art in skating, how is the general public??! And how do we sell what skating is to the general public when we don't even know what it is?? The ISU needs to commit to some sort of identity. I'm almost even beyond caring what identity! But until we effectively sell skating in and of itself, we will continue (in North America at least) to be reliant on personalities and storylines. And those come and go.

  11. #191
    On the Ice Mathman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VegMom View Post
    ... and then ‘novice’ is a high level? It’s absurd!
    I always got a laugh out of that, too. I think that "novice" is supposed to mean, for skaters who are aiming to be future world championbs, this is the first toe-hold toward your Olympic medal.

  12. #192
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kara View Post
    https://twitter.com/birbshoma?lang=en

    It's actually so accurate. The person who runs the account has a god given talent.
    This must be a lover of both birds and Shoma. Wow. Very, very cute!

  13. #193
    GS Supporter ladyjane's Avatar
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    Just been reading a few more posts. As a fan since the late 70's (yes, I am that old, and I am actually a skater myself since only a few years), I was triggered initially by the costumes (yes, I know, not a popular stance). I got so bored with the costuming at speed skating events (which weren't for the aesthetics but for better speed), and I still do. As an art lover, it really pleases me that there exists a sport that builds on art too, not just on athleticism. Costumes are part of that. Personally, I think football is pretty boring as a game and I don't watch at all. I do like speed skating, mostly because I like the way audiences react to skaters. Whenever the same thing happens in Figure skating (like it did in Milan), I enjoy the figure skating even more. I think that's one of the reasons, apart from all kinds of other issues, I did not much enjoy the Sochi Olympics as the audience only supported Russian skaters. Nothing wrong with the skaters (in fact there are many Russian skaters I love to watch), but I like it the best when all skaters get support whatever their origins. No problem with just supporting your own (nationality) the hardest, but supporting the skaters who fail, skaters who have beautiful programmes, skaters who do a good job in general appeal the most to me. And the same applies to commentators. We used to have this former figure skater commentating on Dutch television who whould actually cry out when a good skater happened to fall on an element he/she never fell on before, who was supportive of every skater, period. That is what made me enthusiastic and kept me that even though The Netherlands doesn't have good figure skaters in the International scene.

    It's rather sad that the popularity of a sport depends on your own country scoring well. This obviously applies to nearly all countries, although footbal is popular here even without the Dutch team participating in a world championships. I don't think changing the whole format of FS competitions will suddenly attract viewers if 'their own' don't do well. The nationalistic part will remain. I'd much rather see a Short programme truly focussing on the technical demands, and a free programme have a good technical basis but really being free. I would love to see that happen, whoever wins. But then, I am a skating fan already and contrary to any negative stances towards German football (you should see how my compatriots react to a German loss. It's disgusting and shameful), my favourite Figure skater is a German. Long live Aljona!

  14. #194
    On the Ice Mathman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VegMom View Post
    I think there’s a lot of sexism (and heterosexism) related to why the US has so few male skaters. Not sure about the best way to fix that.
    About sexism, figure skating ("little girls in pretty boxes") was a favorite target of the feminists of the 1970s. And the neofeminists of the 1980s and the post-neofeminists of the 1990s. Just what are the values we are instilling in our children, anyway?

    As for the gay issue, I have to say that I am frankly astonished (in a good way) at the poise and dignity with which men's figure skating has come out of the closet in just the last three or four years. All of a sudden, just like in society at large, some male skaters are straight, some are gay, and no one really cares one way or the other. NBC TV thinks nothing of presenting Johnnie Weir as the face of men's figure skating on network TV, which would have been impossible a decade ago.

  15. #195
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    My view and personal experience is this: Figure skating is an arduous, dangerous, and extremely difficult sport, requiring many years of training and practice to compete with precision at a high level. Also, it uniquely has over time developed an essential artistic component of creatively using music and costume to complement and enhance the exactingly precise technical requirements of skating elements. The competitions between skaters are fierce and stunningly suspenseful, with unexpected moments of breathtaking completely evanescent beauty, and they necessarily take place over many hours and several days, with the audience supporting all the skaters--not only their favorites. We all know this, most of you far, far, better than I do! Why isn't this wonderful sport more generally popular in this country? I think it's because 1) people don't understand how difficult it is (I mean, one of its performance demands is to make it look easy!). People here don't grow up doing it or, in general, knowing anyone who does--rinks are few & far between, expensive, and VegMom does not paint a pretty picture of beginners' competitions. So 2) this amazing sport is totally at the mercy of the American entertainment industry which knows little and cares less about the sport as a whole--even the most popular commentators are busily posturing and self-marketing--and it is packaged to sell products. The industry necessarily works to entice viewers who have an 8-second attention span, by fragmentizing individual performances into tiny bursts of drama surrounded by endless hyper-competitive talk-over, spectacle, stories, and commercials; and almost never present entire competitions even taped, let alone as they happen. Unless you can travel to a serious competition or pay for livestream with minimal--or no!--commentary, it is actually impossible to seriously watch figure skating here, even if you've managed by blessed luck to find your way past 1) and 2). So to this lover of the sport, figure skating its own self is fine, in fact it's in a period of glorious development, and the ISU is just trying to keep it in the road. It isn't the sport that needs to change in order to become more popular in this country, it's the presentation to the general American sports-watching public and what they demand in order to be kept amused and interested, and gods forbid figure skating itself should take any such direction.

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