From IceNetwork, here is an excellent Q&A with Brian Boitano, 6/23/08:
From IceNetwork, here is an excellent Q&A with Brian Boitano, 6/23/08:
Very good. He seems a little cynical about some things, but then again, he always seemed that way to me. I wonder if he is still working with Alissa?
I appreciate his honesty and respect him as a skater. BUT I'm tired of these ex-skaters and critics making young skaters and skating fans feel like crap. The young girls these people frequently dismiss work just as hard and have achieved great level of skating. Just because they don't have mature look, it doesn't mean they lack any maturity in their skating.
Does Brian want to award everyone with "women's body" extra five points to make it fair? Go back to the time when Kwan only placed 4th desite her great skate just because she was a little girl?
Everyone knows skating has become less popular, but please don't blame it on Mirai or Caroline.
Really enjoyed that interview. Brian gave some well-thought-out answers to me. Yes, he does seem to prefer a more mature look for women skaters, but he talked as much about not liking COP and addressed many other things, like being an OGM, how skating's popularity has changed, etc.
He also alluded to NOT liking the old way of "paying your dues." I think we often discuss the "paying your dues" concept as practically synonymous with or part and parcel of 6.0, but I don't know if that is truly the case. The philosophy was around, but I think the scoring system could have been made more independent of that concept.
I liked Brian's comment about the difficulty of skaters today to develop a signature move or style due to the need to maximize scores under COP.
I also thought he was very modest in mentioning how his fame was part of the high ratings that skating at that time received, etc. He acknowledged that, because of today's lower ratings, it is much harder today for skaters as far as becoming famous (which helps for sponsorships, etc.), not having the pro comps to retire to, etc.
It was good to hear from Brian and in an extended format, too -- a bit more of a meaty interview than just a quick sound byte.
About the popularity of skating, the two countries that are going crazy over the sport are Japan and Korea, where enthusiastic fans of two 17-year-olds are the ones whooping it up and fanning the flames.
Brian Boitano says that fans (especially women) like to watch lovely and graceful women skate in a lovely and graceful fashion. I think he is living in the past. Fans remember Dorothy Hamill for her posture, her carriage, how well-centered her spins were, how cute her hair style. Now sports fans generally are more into higher, faster, stronger.
This does not bode well for the future, in my opinion. If it's higher, faster, stronger that you want, there are plenty of sports to get into without bothering about figure skating. My fear is that the "second mark" stuff that has always distinguished figure skating from other sports, just isn't valued as much (by the fans) any more.
I think some of his concerns around the baby ballerina's is their longevity in the sport. During the halycon years of the maturer female skater, there weren't as many injuries. These ladies had long careers - well past their Olympics.
The current ladies are already suffering from back problems and hip problems due to the physical demands on their bodies. Odds are that they could not sustain a 10 year post Olympic career - even if a pro circuit was strong. Tara was probably the 1st notable Olympian would couldn't skate more than 2 years after her gold medal.
I know - we've beaten this subject to death.
^ I think, however, that we should keep on beating until someone listens. Look at gymnastics. These little gitls train so hard that their normal growth is stunted, they generated too much testosterone and not enoiugh estrigen, puberty is delayed, their voices get all squeaky, they end up looking like squatty muscular stumps. Having done all of tese horrible thing to their bodies, they are all through at 17 and have to live with these deformities the rest of their lives.
Little girls are not very interpretive, and require a choreographer to give them means to 'sell' their programs. However, when they begin to approach 20, their need of a choreographer should be just for the outline. They really know just where to put their arms and make more of their body language.
The artistic side of skating, thanks to Jackson Haines (who never skated competitions, I believe) is for all those travelling shows, and hopefully a spectacular on TV.
The above is just my opinion
But I also think that this emphasis on "sportliness" will mean a continued decline in interest on the part of the general public. If a sports fan is truly into the sport of it all, he or she can watch women's golf, tennis and marathons. Where does figure skating come in?
In the U.S. skating was already starting to fall off in terms of public interest in the years when Michelle Kwan was a world-beater and Sasha Cohen was a rising star. So I don't think the problem was a lack of U.S. champions, nor a lack of skaters who could combine sports with "art."
Anyway, I agree 100% that people are not as interested as they once were either in little girls wearing cute costumes or in mature ladies in graceful poses. What I am afraid of is that as we take this aspect away, the sport that is left will just not be able to compete with other sports for fans' interest. If you want to see strong athletes running fast and jumping high, you can go to a basketball game.
Even I, skating nut that I am, have scant interest in seeing some guy do a triple Axel. But taking off for a triple Axel right on the swell of the glorious music, then landing perfectly in that split-second pregnant pause just before the climatic downbeat -- yeah, that's worth the price of admission!
Instead of everyone wondering about what audiences would like to see in figure skating, why doesn't ISU just pony up and do some market research in a dozen or so major markets worldwide and then modify the system to give audiences what they want?
Is that too practical?
Too non-19th century?
I know what I like and the ISU hasn't been delivering for quite some time now.
I believe for dealing with this matter, there is the front loading of jumps. And when those jumps are landed to the non-swells part of the music the sports-minded fans love it. (forget about the musical performance or interpretation.)
hasn't he been a supporter of Michelle since she burst on the scene when she was just a teen? wasn't she still a 'little girl' when she started winning the national title? and wasn't she the first BIG NAME who didn't just 'go pro' when it was considered 'her time'? Seems he USED to support all of what he is now upset about.... odd.
Come to think of it, he was one of the pros that wanted the line to be erased that kept pros from competing as amatuers, so I don't get why he's all ticked off that the USFSA/ISU wanted a piece of the pro competition action by making it pro-am... the 94 Olys were just that!
Love ya, Brian, but you can't have it both ways!
ETA - I don't mean to make this a commentary of Michelle Kwan's career. I don't blame (anymore) her for the decline of professional skating, and I do agree with Brian that the ISU/USFSA paying skaters to stay in had a lot to do with why we're not seeing the pros continue as they once did... but with that being said I was just pointing out the hypocrasy of Brian's thinking. He's not apologizing for skating in 94 - and that's his right - but don't cry foul when you were part of the problem in teh beginning!
Last edited by Tonichelle; 06-27-2008 at 10:55 PM.
I totally agree I'm tired of Michelle fans, criticizing the Youth movement. Michelle was the EPITOME of the wonder kid. She won the World championships at 15. Which is okay for Michelle, but if Tara wins the Olympics at 15 it's a crime...And I didn't like Tara at that time but still.
Michelle more than benefited from the youth movement herself.
I do think that maybe Americans would like someone more around 17, like Mao and Yu-na are.
And honestly, I think a big problem is the best two female skaters in the world Mao and Yu-na aren't being marked here. I know a casual fan who watched the World Championships who loved Yu-na said she reminded her of Michelle Kwan. Then she watched Kostner medal and got mad.