Bona Fide Member
I have to disagree about that. I think Dick Button did a great service to lay audience members who were fuzzy asbout exactly why one performance was a wow and another, equally competent, was a dud.
Originally Posted by gkelly
One year it was the layback. Dick was merciless in criticising unesthetic positions and in praising correct ones. (The next year every lady had improved her layback position. )
Get all the way down in your sit spin. This pair is wasting the music. That spiral position is just plain ugly. His arms are too stiff. She is not reaching out to the audience. He is not utilizing the whole ice surface.
I always found that sort of commentary to be interesting and enlightening. More so than, that triple flip gets 5.5 base value but the edge was questionable, so there might be a deduction in GOE.
As Carol Heiss once pointed out, in the early days of televised figure skating the viewers were totally clueless. At Squaw Valley the vast majority of Americans had never seen a figure skating competition.
Originally Posted by Mathman
By 1968 little had changed other than we saw a bit more skating on TV.
Those who think new or casual TV viewers of today get it anymore are kidding themselves.
A broadcaster's comment about plus or minus goe means nothing to someone if they don't know what goe is in the first place.
Some have said American TV has failed and let the fans down and the fading popularity of skating in USA is the fault of TV and it's broadcasters.
I disagree and find that an inward, self absorbed type of thinking that fails to accept that the vast majority of Americans do not care about skating.
The majority of viewers do not care how the CoP works. Skating was a minor part of USA Pop/sport culture years ago and is barely a blip on the radar these days.
Don't blame the announcers, they call it like they see it and their job is not to cater to less than 1% of ther viewers.
It is fair to criticize perceived shortcomings of Button (or anyone else) but on the whole I think US Skating owes a debt of gratitiude to him that is hard to measure.
Last edited by janetfan; 04-01-2011 at 12:51 PM.
Originally Posted by mathman
I agree with both of you, and I'll take a stab at a synthesis:
Originally Posted by hernando
I'll go out on a limb and speculate that the vast majority of figure skating audiences (maybe places like Canada excepted, in deference to ImaginaryPogue ) care about the sporting and the artistic aspects of figure skating at very different levels of granularity.
-As far as the sporting side is concerned, most of those who watch only care on a rough-grained level. That is to say, they care primarily about the result (who won? who medalled? Is it close or a blowout? (both can be exciting). Which is no different, actually, from many casual fans of football); to the extent that there is more detailed interest, it's confined to whether the jump was obviously spectacular to the naked eye in real time. I would bet that 99% of viewers can't tell the difference between a salchow and a milk cow, let alone between a lutz and a flip, and further, don't really care to know. Some may be able to vaguely distinguish a triple from a double, but that's about it.
I've thought for a long time that the only technical aspect that most viewers truly appreciate, because it's intuitive and natural, is the GOE aspect of jumps. The speed, height, ice coverage, and flow, even the air position to some extent, can be visually understood almost immediately by even untutored viewers. And don't even start about spins and spirals; most viewers, it seems to me, aren't even aware that these are sporting elements at all, and probably assume that they are part of the artistic repertoire.
-On the other hand, I do think that the majority of lay viewers focus on the "aesthetic" aspects with much greater attention and in more fine-grained detail. I speculate that this is because the average viewer has a certain amount of confidence, using his/her native abilities and innate standards as the primary instruments, to perceive and value examples of artistic beauty.
In my view, most viewers, at least at a subconscious level, believe in the existence of some objective criteria (in the epistemological sense of being commonly shared, if not in the strictly metaphysical sense of being completely explicable from first principles and axioms) for concepts such as beauty and emotional affect as applied to human beings.
It is analogous to, say, a colleague walking up to you to offer congratulations on your promotion; we are born with an innate emotional radar, and make immediate and intuitive judgments based on a plethora of cues, including the body's "language" and rhythms, and the tone of voice, as to the human, emotional truth: is that cheese-eating grin actually representative of true good wishes, or is it a false and forced action? My theory is that audiences assume that, at the most basic level, the artistic aspect of skating is something similar. And I dare say that I think they may be right. This is my "Wisdom of Crowds" theory of figure skating judgment.
-COP, in my view, was, like Magna Carta, instituted to provide assurances of good conduct by those who ruled with an authoritarian hand to those who were simmering in revolt, including the skaters as well as the great unwashed (we the viewers). Although, as with many such documents, some will argue that COP is honored more in the breach than in the observance, it was necessary under the circumstances created by the judging scandals.
-If my analysis is correct, however, those who advocate focus on the arcane technical aspects in television commentary are confusing the impetus for COP (technical rigor in judging) with the audience's motive for watching (which I argue is very much on the artistic and holistic side).
This is why I agree that people generally enjoy commentators like Dick Button, because the comments emphasize things that they are already paying attention to, and which are helpful in sharpening a facility of perception that viewers already possess. By contrast, droning on about edges and quarter-turns comes across as a dreary series of teaching moments, and cause a lot of viewers to go glassy-eyed, like Ben Stein's class in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. I personally prefer commentaries like Dick Button's, with technical commentary in small and strategically placed doses. You can't teach if the students don't want to pay attention, especially when they have the option to jump to another class if they're bored.
Bona Fide Member
The number of rotations is in the mind of the beholder. I went to a local club show featuring performers of all ages and skill levels. I took copious notes of each element, the swifter to rush back to my keyboard and shoot off a report to Golden Skate. Almost all of the higher level performers did outstanding double Axels.
Originally Posted by Robeye
The next poster wrote, dear Mathman, no one in that show did a double Axel. They were all singles. Expect headliner Yuka Sato , who, by the way, did a double toe loop as her other jump, not a triple flip. (My excuse in the case of Sato -- my eyes were all teary from having been overborn by the strains of Amazing Grace.)
Off tpic: May I say, that was beautifully paragraphed?
Originally Posted by Robeye
Such a trivial matter, and yet... (When you mention both epistemology and metaphysics in the same sentence, that paragraph had better be only one sentence long. )
One tiny detail to add about what most viewers are able to see and evaluate on the technical side -- falling down is a negative.
OK, one more tiny detail. I think in the case of truly jaw-dropping spinners, like Stephane Lambiel, the audience can notice that something out of the ordinary is going on. In my opinion, this can't happen any more. Under CoP the skaters are too busy counting how many revolutions they are doing on each edge of each foot in how many ungainly positions.
I don't know what I think about that. Gkelly has convinced me that this makes the sport more sporty because only the best technicians can do it.
Interesting quote by Heiss.
Originally Posted by Hernando
Hernando - When Heiss skated at Squaw Valley. I don't think the arrangements for figure skating on TV were really in place like how many TV sets were in America, and what else was on? Americans thought only of show skating, so Carol is correct, they had no clue of competitive skating. It wasn't till Wide World of Sports with its snippets of skating, particularly Peggy Flemming right after the horrible plane crash killing the US Worlds Team, that people began to sit up and take an interest in the Sport. Ice Shows continued to rule the atmosphere, but Dorothy Hammil with the layered haircut was getting a lot of hype. Unfortunately for her, show skating was going down hill. The expression, if you've seen one, you've seen them all, yet she bought Capades. Small shows still continued, but the biggest influence in the Sport of Figure Skating came about from TV when ABC took the risk of showing some competition.
This is when Button shined in commenting on the tricks, like that dangerous forward outside edge (axel), but his aesthetics were based on good positions like the attitude position in a layback spin. He served the uninitiated well. Unfortunately, he never got to do the Olys because of contractual problems but his influence certainly made Figure Skating the Gem in the Crown of the Olympics. Maybe we need another personality like him to bring back the glory days.
Last edited by Joesitz; 04-01-2011 at 04:46 PM.