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Thread: Dream of an artistic skating discipline

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    Dream of an artistic skating discipline

    Some kids (and adults, for that matter) who take up skating are primarily jocks at heart, interested in the sport for the physical challenges it offers them.

    Some are born competitors who rise to the occasion and deliver their best when the pressure is on.

    Some are born entertainers full of charisma who love to perform for an audience.

    Some artistic souls for whom skating is a means of creating beauty or expressing feelings and ideas.

    Some are blessed with the physical talents and the nerve to master difficult skills and perform them at speed.

    It's very rare for any one skater to excel at all these qualities. At any given time, there will only be a handful of men and women who are good to great at most of these qualities, and those are the skaters who will become champions. And when they perform, whether in competition or in exhibition, they will usually deliver performances that sports fans and arts fans alike can enjoy.

    Most skaters will have one or more areas that are significantly weaker than their strengths, or they may just be mediocre (or worse) all around.

    The ones who are often able to deliver difficult technical content when it counts will likely have at least modest competitive success in sporting competition at their level, regardless of judging system and regardless of interest and ability in artistic areas. They may be boring to watch from an artistic point of view, but from a sports point of view it might be exciting to watch them jump or to fly across the ice, and they may offer difficult blade skills for skating connoisseurs to appreciate.

    The ones who excel artistically but who lack the athletic skills, the competitive nerves, and/or the basic skating technique to succeed in freestyle competition may never make it to a level that would allow them to be seen on TV. Or maybe they do well enough in some competition somewhere to make the broadcast, and then their performance ends up being marred by failed jumps.

    And so fans who look to skating for artistry may never get to appreciate some of the most artistic skaters.

    It's common for athletic ability to decline as skaters get older. For girls, that can sometimes mean that they pass their peak as early as mid-teens (just when they're old enough for senior competition). Injuries can also take a toll on promising or successful skaters at any age.

    For those who remain committed to training and improving, artistry, "maturity," and basic skating quality can continue to improve significantly after the skater is past his or her athletic peak.

    In the old days of professional vs. amateur, some of the most successful competitors would "turn pro" when they retired from competition and go on to develop as artistic skating performers in shows and in a handful of professional "competitions." In a number of cases, skaters who had been primarily "athletes" while competing developed into highly enjoyable "artists" as professionals.

    In the mid-to-late 1990s and to a lesser extent into the 2000s, there have also been invitational "interpretive" competitions for select eligible skating stars.

    For the most part, only a handful of elite skaters with significant success in ISU competitions have had the opportunities to make a living performing in these professional or open events, or to be featured on TV as show skaters.

    Skaters who were always better artists than athletes may have more to offer artistically than some of the champions who get hired to headline shows or invited to perform in made-for-TV events. But except for diehard fans who seek out ice theatre companies or rare videos, most of the public doesn't even know such skaters exist.

    I think there is a significant subset of skating fans who would happily watch skaters with charisma and artistic sensibility regardless of competitive credentials. Some skaters who never had the jumps or who had to retire from competition for various reasons while they still had a lot to offer artistically could become stars in a format that plays to their strengths.

    So what might that format be?

    Are the media and the majority of casual fans only interested in figure skating if there are winners and losers involved and/or familiar faces who have already proven themselves winners?

    Could the ISU sponsor a separate artistic skating competition track in which the emphasis would be on all the aspects covered in the current program component scores with technical difficulty rewarded only for its aesthetic impact?

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    Here are some skaters for whom at least one performance has made it to television or otherwise to youtube. Not necessarily the best examples of what they were capable of, but examples of skaters whose competitive success was modest at best but who were better at the artistic side of the medium than many of the skaters they used to lose to in competition.

    How might the careers of these individuals, and the impression of skating by arts fans, be different if there had been a means for them to showcase to a wider public what they do best?


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPHRh-NN_5Q
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISqy9l7W9CU
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFRvUZBR2iY
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sAdIn-NFKhc

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyzLc0lRq7A
    (OK, this guy does have a Canadian national title to his name, but has he ever been shown on US television?)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMRJLxNsaPs
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X4p-93f14bg&NR=1
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKbo-1lYN88
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcRyg2Lrq3Y
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgwxV5v8aeI

    What if there were a world championship for artistic skating? Judged by PCS only?

    The best standard-track freeskaters could do well there too -- some of them could win both events in the same year. Or they could switch over to artistic skating when their athletic careers wind down. Or ice dancers could switch over when they're between partners.

    Other skaters might come up through the artistic ranks all along and make their names that way.

    Note that the point of all these performances was artistic integrity and/or entertainment, not showcasing technical difficulty. None of them would have scored well if transplanted into a freeskating competition of the same year, even leaving aside any illegalities. But they would hold up just fine compared with most pro programs or even current elite exhibitions or interpretive programs of their era. And I would bet that for a significant section of the potential audience, these performances would probably be more enjoyable than the average mid-top-10 freeskate.
    Last edited by gkelly; 09-03-2008 at 10:02 PM.

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    ~ Figure Skating Is My Passion ~ Ladskater's Avatar
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    Not sure what your point is here but, I have always loved every aspect of figure skating. That includes the artistic and technical sides of figure skating because one can't really exist without the other. Technical skating would become mundane without the artistic aspect and the artistic aspect would lack finesse without the technical side and attention to detail.

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    Landing my axel..............again skatergirl45's Avatar
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    At club competitions, there is often a showcase event where you have to act to the music. Then there is also an interpretive event where you hear the music twice on warm up and then skate to it.

    I love doing both those events because they challenge me in different ways. I only wish that more that they would be offered at more competitions.

    There are those skaters who are artists and there are those skaters that are athletes. What is left out of the equation is the all-around skaters who have both. I have strong jumps and also nice artistry. I hate doing a jump wise or artistic wise program because it misses out on one of those components. When I try to play to the crowd, I miss out on those components.

    Skating is a sport for the all around skater. That is why we have long programs that tell us what to do but give us room to be creative. While it would be fun to have no jump competitions, it would miss out on one of the most important aspects of the sport.

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    Well, no one is suggesting to get rid of the standard freeskating competition that rewards the all-around skater. That would still be the most prestigious title.

    But for fans of artistry who lament that the need for technical difficulty in those competitions gets in the way of just skating as beautifully or expressively to the music and hold up exhibition or pro performances as the kind of skating they'd prefer to see in competition, I say, don't try to water down the sport side of competition for the sake of artistry. Make a separate space for artistry to take center stage.

    Maybe any jumps could be allowed, but if there are no technical scores, only PCS, there's no point in putting in difficulty for the sake of difficulty -- only to enhance the choreography.

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    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Thanks for tracking down all the videos. That was great!

    Actually, I could see this working. The patinage artistique discipline could be to singles skating what ice dance is to pairs. There would still be specific rules for scoring (not just, ooh how pretty). But (as Joe put it so nicely on the other thread) the emphasis would be on how the technical elements supported the choreography and musical conception. I don't think it would be hard at all to come up with an adaquate scoring menu, just as there is for ice dance.

    Jumps would still be encouraged as punctuation to musical and thematic highlights. The best program I saw in person all last year had one double Axel and one double flip. But oh! what a double Axel and what a double flip! (This was Yuka Sato, Amazing Grace, at a local club benefit show. )

    At the beginner's level maybe competitions like this could be combined with "solo dance."

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    Custom Title Joesitz's Avatar
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    An artistic skating competition is all ready covered in the PCS scores in both the Short and Long Programs. Not exactly to my liking but better than just the judges opining of the hapless skater.

    If the entire performance of the LP were to show emphasis on 'artistic' at say, 60% of the mark with 40% of the Techncal we could have a true even steven kinda comp between the SP and LP, but only if the boring SPs have more meaningful marks for the Technical.

    The SPs need a revamping on what should be considered the Technical score. Why not let the skater select from all the jump elements, say, 5 of them for scoring and likewise 3 for spins and 2 for footwork. Music and choreography remain but the emphasis will be on the Technical at 60% of the mark and 40% for the Artistic.

    There are already element values so the skater can play with the values in arranging his routine.

    It would also give back to the skaters just what they want to show in their skating without the unnecessary requirements.

    Technique rules in the Technical and all those moves in the field rule in the LP with plenty of schmaltz.

    The 60%/40% ratio in both phases of the competition will result in the final score evenly and fairly. I might add,kind of blow the minds of any hanky pankers.
    Last edited by Joesitz; 09-04-2008 at 12:21 PM.

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    Custom Title antmanb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joesitz View Post
    An artistic skating competition is all ready covered in the PCS scores in both the Short and Long Programs. Not exactly to my liking but better than just the judges opining of the hapless skater.

    If the entire performance of the LP were to show emphasis on 'artistic' at say, 60% of the mark with 40% of the Techncal we could have a true even steven kinda comp between the SP and LP, but only if the boring SPs have more meaningful marks for the Technical.

    The SPs need a revamping on what should be considered the Technical score. Why not let the skater select from all the jump elements, say, 5 of them for scoring and likewise 3 for spins and 2 for footwork. Music and choreography remain but the emphasis will be on the Technical at 60% of the mark and 40% for the Artistic.

    There are already element values so the skater can play with the values in arranging his routine.

    It would also give back to the skaters just what they want to show in their skating without the unnecessary requirements.

    Technique rules in the Technical and all those moves in the field rule in the LP with plenty of schmaltz.

    The 60%/40% ratio in both phases of the competition will result in the final score evenly and fairly. I might add,kind of blow the minds of any hanky pankers.
    I really like the idea of making the SP a technical program again and weighting the marks so that the split in scoring is e.g. 70% of the mark for technical and 30% for presentation.

    Then the skater has to do the LP where the split is 70% presentation and 30% technical.

    Manthematically i don't have a clue where that would leave you in terms of which type of skaters (technical/artisitc) are favoured depedning on their skills. But the all around skater certainly stands a great chance for the title.

    And as per usual i would say that the technical programs should be much more prescriptive with the required elements which should rotate every year (but one of which would be a mandatory single axel).

    Ant

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    Quote Originally Posted by antmanb View Post
    I really like the idea of making the SP a technical program again and weighting the marks so that the split in scoring is e.g. 70% of the mark for technical and 30% for presentation.

    Then the skater has to do the LP where the split is 70% presentation and 30% technical.
    This is essentially what many pro competitions used to do.

    If the point of the technical program would showcase as much technical content as the skater can work into the time limit, whereas the artistic program does not require as many technical elements, that means that the technical program would tend to be longer than the artistic program. So it would make no sense to keep calling them short program and long program respectively.

    I really do not like the idea of freeskating as athletic competition having the decisive final phase be one with less technical and athletic content than the initial phase.

    What I do like is the idea of having a completely separate discipline with completely separate events that focuses on using skating skills for artistic purposes.

    Any skater could choose to participate in both the technical/athletic skating competition and the artistic event. But they would have no more to do with each other than the same team entering both the pairs and the ice dance event.

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    Gadfly and Bon Vivant Mafke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gkelly View Post
    What I do like is the idea of having a completely separate discipline with completely separate events that focuses on using skating skills for artistic purposes.
    Any skater could choose to participate in both the technical/athletic skating competition and the artistic event. But they would have no more to do with each other than the same team entering both the pairs and the ice dance event.
    This ties in with the multiple medals thread. One big problem with figure skating is that the scope of what skaters can do (and reasonably present as an atheltic discipline) has outpaced the scope of what brought in the money (tv rights).

    In the seasons from1973-1990, skaters had to be able to compete in three very different competitions (the SP and LP were a lot more different then than now) for a single shot at a medal. But rather than expand the range of competition (and medals) the sport kept stubbornly in the same single medal mode (rut?) and over the 1990's and 2000's the SP and LP have steadily grown closer so that differences are really minimal rather than stark.

    My ideal for singles competitions (I don't know the best names, these are kind of provisional) would have maybe four different kinds of skating.

    1. Figures (I can dream can't I?) - Since this is not likely I'd like what might be called a purely technical competition based on either MITF or maybe inlcuding modified figures like the waltz 8 or 3 to the center that incorporate both turns and steps... The idea is give skaters some motivation to perfect these skills (generally lacking in the current climate).

    2. Free skating - Sort of like the LP now with multiple revolution jumps, spins connected by basic stroking and/or mitf. I'd be thrilled to get rid of footwork sequences (or drastically reducing them) in this competition. This would be the entry for young hotshots to do the tough jumps (while not burdening them with too much else that they're not so good at yet).

    3. Solo dance - The relation between this and Ice Dance would be something like the difference between singles and pairs free skating. The emphasis is on dance steps with some spins (different from those of free skating) and maybe some jumps (a part of many dance, especially solo dance, traditions). But dance jumps would more be singles and/or those not normally seen in freeskating anymore (like bell jumps) or the thing that Averbukh did a few years ago.

    4. Classic - Sort of a combination of the preceding two in an SP like format (say X number of scoring elements but some freedom in establishing the balance between jumps, spins and footwork. Restricted jump content (includng nothing over 3's and no 3-3's) and more footwork, for those past their prime jumping but with competitive skills in other areas.

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    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gkelly View Post
    I really do not like the idea of freeskating as athletic competition having the decisive final phase be one with less technical and athletic content than the initial phase.

    What I do like is the idea of having a completely separate discipline with completely separate events that focuses on using skating skills for artistic purposes.
    I actually like both of the proposals on the table on this thread. The idea of Joe and Ant is basically to have a "technical program" that really is a technical program instead of a watered down free skate.

    I have to agree that there seems little point, competitively, in having a dress rehearsal (short program) where you get 15 points for three jumps and a couple of other things, then the real thing where you do the same three jumps and four more.

    But that's a separate debate from the topic of this thread. The question is, would there be enough interest, both for participatnts and fans, in the new proposed artistic skating (Jackson Haynes called it "fancy skating") discipline to make it worth the effort. Then again, maybe it wouldn't matter if it were popular with many or just with a few.

    I nominate Yukina Ota and Emanuel Sandhu to come up with the new rules and scoring system.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mafke View Post
    My ideal for singles competitions (I don't know the best names, these are kind of provisional) would have maybe four different kinds of skating.
    I like this, with a few caveats.

    1. Figures (I can dream can't I?) - Since this is not likely I'd like what might be called a purely technical competition based on either MITF or maybe inlcuding modified figures like the waltz 8 or 3 to the center that incorporate both turns and steps... The idea is give skaters some motivation to perfect these skills (generally lacking in the current climate).
    So set up edge patterns that would be standard internationally, instead of varying from one federation to the next like the US MITF, Canadian Skills, etc., and hold separate international competitions for them? Or make this one phase of some kind of combined event?

    2. Free skating - Sort of like the LP now with multiple revolution jumps, spins connected by basic stroking and/or mitf. I'd be thrilled to get rid of footwork sequences (or drastically reducing them) in this competition. This would be the entry for young hotshots to do the tough jumps (while not burdening them with too much else that they're not so good at yet).
    Well, we could get rid of the step sequences and spiral sequences as elements, but I'd still want skaters to be rewarded for using steps, spirals and other highlight glides, etc., as transitions in and out of jumps and spins and as a more interesting means of getting from one end of the rink to the other.

    I.e., like long programs before the well-balanced program requirements. A one-phase competition, or combined with any of your other phases or something like the current or original SP?

    And some of the hotshots might be not-so-young but still most interested in this kind of competition. Participants might be most interested in pushing technical limits but their talents or interests might lean more toward combining average jumps (most triples for senior level) with difficult steps, or with doing especially difficult and high-quality spins, rather than pushing the limits on jump difficulty.

    3. Solo dance - The relation between this and Ice Dance would be something like the difference between singles and pairs free skating. The emphasis is on dance steps with some spins (different from those of free skating) and maybe some jumps (a part of many dance, especially solo dance, traditions). But dance jumps would more be singles and/or those not normally seen in freeskating anymore (like bell jumps) or the thing that Averbukh did a few years ago.
    Yup, this is what I want to see an international-level circuit for. And also at lower levels.

    4. Classic - Sort of a combination of the preceding two in an SP like format (say X number of scoring elements but some freedom in establishing the balance between jumps, spins and footwork. Restricted jump content (includng nothing over 3's and no 3-3's) and more footwork, for those past their prime jumping but with competitive skills in other areas.
    So is this an alternative to a pro circuit, a track that world-class or at least senior-level competitors would graduate to when they're no longer able or interested to do #2-style Freeskating competitions?

    Would there be a minimum age limit? A minimum level accomplishment in Freeskating competition?

    Would it also be available to lower-ranked or younger senior-level competitors with only a few or no triples in their repertoire and more interest in non-jump skills as an alternative to

    Keep in mind that many girls in particular may be "past their prime" jumpwise by the time they're 15 but still have room to improve the overall quality of their skating, spins, and artistry up to levels better than many jump-talented freeskating champions. Could they move into this "Classic" track directly from novice or junior competition without wasting time languishing at the bottom of the senior freestyle ranks attempting triples they're never going to land?

    For the #1, 2, and 3 tracks, would the ISU also hold junior-level competitions for each with the current (or adjusted) age limits, and would individual federations also hold competitions for each at novice level and below?

  13. #13
    Gadfly and Bon Vivant Mafke's Avatar
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    gkelly, my first version was just kind of idealistic without much thought given to specifics, but here are some more thoughts on each.

    1. If there's anything we know is that there are some things that young skaters learn only if tested(forced) or they have the chance to win something. One good thing about figures (mixed in with the bad aspects of including them at international competitions) was that to be successful, a skater had to be able to do turns and hold edges and change edges perfectly whereas in most current training, the attitude is "that's good enough, now let's get back to those triples"
    The chance to have a world championship medal would be an inducement for skaters (younger and older) to practice and learn and maintain those skills.
    I can think of several possibilities for format either patterns (something like CD's but really, really hard) or modified figures.
    Also, this could/should be co-ed until the number of competitors make it advisable to split them.

    2. I'm fine with (and encourage) short step sequences and hold moves like spirals and spread eagles used as transitions, but I'm getting sick of frenetic footwork done for the sake of racking up points. Also of course some older skaters that can keep up could enter but not many 22 year old ladies can keep up 3-3's and the like...

    3. I'll just note that roller skating has introduced a (co-ed) solo dance competition to it's jr. world championships (presumably sr division to follow). This is an obvious place for figure skating to expand into and I wonder why it hasn't happened (though solo dance competitions are happening here and there at lower levels) Again, this could be co-ed until the number of males justifies a separate event.

    4. I'm thinking both, skaters like Kwan after 2003 without all the big jumps but still a lot of ability (and a big audience draw). I'm also thinking of really great allround skaters without the biggest jumps (or erratic) like Sandhu, Ota etc. As a general rule it seems that ladies jumping abilities peak around 16-17 (give or take a year or two) and men in their early 20's. But this would be age open. In reality the younger skaters would not generally have the overall skills to be competitive at the highest levels. Also this could be a place for pro-skaters (given the contraction of the pro-skating market).

    I'm also thinking that skaters could enter more than one competition (subject to their federations allowing them). And I'm thinking of one day competitions (when needed a qualifying round with the same program could be used and maybe count for about 20 %)

  14. #14
    Custom Title Joesitz's Avatar
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    Sorry, but I do not agree that the two part competition should be driven by the ISU rules. Figure Skating has always been a Sport for the skaters and not what the organization wants to see. The ISU should take care of the administration of the competition and its restrictions to the actual skating should not go beyond a backward sommersault. It's the skaters who want to compete with each other and the fans want to see them with their own personalities. Not the trumpt up directions of the ISU. Bring back the FREE SKATE!!!

    The proposal of a true Technical part I of the grand competition together with a meaningful Presentation part II should result in the 'best' skater in that competition on that day of the week. That should take care of the lovers of Tech v.Performance. The base values are already in place and the CoP scoring the elements could continue.

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