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Thread: What things would you change/add/remove to make figure skating popular again?

  1. #16
    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    What exactly is the ISU rule about outside competitions? Suppose a local club decided to put on an age-level competition among its members, or in conjunction with the club across town. Suppose they were able to attract a local sponsor, maybe get part of it shown on local TV, what if they charged admission to the public and got a strong enough response that they could give cash prizes .What if they used their own format, for insatnce allowed solo dance, and some new judging system that emphasized crowd-pleasing performance values? I assume that the ISU would not have any poker in the fire.

    What if the clubs had some top competitive skaters, like a competition between the Canton Ice Dancers and the Detroit Skating Club ice dancers?

    Would it be permissible for the USFSA to try to organize events like this, U.S. skaters only, without bothering the iSU about it? (Of course if international Olympic eligible skaters happened to be training at the same club, there would be no reason to exclude them.)

    My feeling is that the ISU is already maxed out as far as coming up with new wrinkles to beef up audiences. They are scaling back the Grand Prix and giving less money in prizes at Worlds, compared to a few years ago. (the exception may turn out to be the team events. That would be ironic because back in the day the "team" competitions s -- USA against the world, men against ladies, etc. -- were the absolute cheesiest of the cheesefest competitions. I still liked them, though. )
    Last edited by Mathman; 05-25-2012 at 04:08 PM.

  2. #17
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    This is a question pertaining the American market, right? Outside of another whack to the knee of an ice princess or a beautiful dominant American Ladies World and Olympic champion, the obvious answer to the question is cheesefests. (Duh.) Let the mice choose their favorite cheeses and they will be happy. Who need judges?

  3. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    What exactly is the ISU rule about outside competitions? Suppose a local club decided to put on an age-level competition among its members, or in conjunction with the club across town. Suppose they were able to attract a local sponsor, maybe get part of it shown on local TV, what if they charged admission to the public and got a strong enough response that they could give cash prizes .What if they used their own format, for insatnce allowed solo dance, and some new judging system that emphasized crowd-pleasing performance values? I assume that the ISU would not have any poker in the fire.

    What if the clubs had some top competitive skaters, like a competition between the Canton Ice Dancers and the Detroit Skating Club ice dancers?

    Would it be permissible for the USFSA to try to organize events like this, U.S. skaters only, without bothering the iSU about it? (Of course if international Olympic eligible skaters happened to be training at the same club, there would be no reason to exclude them.)
    I'm not an expert on all the sanctioning and eligibility rules, but here's how I understand it:

    If a local US club is large enough to hold a competition for its members only, they can do so with no need for a sanction from the federation.

    Any competition open to skaters outside the host club needs to be sanctioned by USFS.

    Any shows open to the public need to be sanctioned.

    If money is coming in from ticket sales, sponsorship, and/or television broadcast, then USFS gets a percentage.

    (Check out the sections on Sanctions and Nonqualifying competitions in the USFS rulebook)

    3050 Nonqualifying Competitions – Eligibility to Compete
    3060 Eligibility to Compete – Singles, Pairs and Dance
    A. In order to enter nonqualifying competitions, a person must be an eligible person, a restricted
    person, a reinstated eligible person or a readmitted person as defined in the Eligibility Rules,
    and a member of a member club, or a collegiate club or an individual member, be currently
    registered, and be otherwise eligible under these rules except as stated below.
    1. Non-U.S. citizens from Canada may be permitted to enter nonqualifying competitions if the event
    is also sanctioned by Skate Canada.
    2. Non-U.S. citizens from countries other than Canada who are in good standing with their own
    national associations may be permitted to enter nonqualifying competitions. Permission must be
    granted by the chair of the International Committee per rules ICR 2.02 (F) and SR
    3.32 (B).
    B. Competitors shall represent only their designated home club in any
    competition.
    There are many types of events that are typically offered at nonqualifying competitions and not qualifying events. Many of them do have rules within the USFS rulebook. They're just not part of the qualifying structure.

    A club wouldn't go ahead and host such an event to bring in outside money (ticket sales, sponsorship, broadcast fees) without arranging a USFS sanction, because that would jeopardize the eligibility of all their members who participated. But as long as USFS gets their cut, they should grant the sanction.

    The only example I know of offhand of a nonqualifying competition being televised was CN8 showing portions of Liberty Open several years ago.



    See rules 100 and 102 in the ISU rulebook for long complex discussions of sanctions of international events and eligibility.

    I think ISU eligibility would be preserved as long as the event is a domestic event sanctioned by the national federation, regardless of whether the rules match ISU rules. E.g., remember the made-for-TV US "cheesefests" a decade or so ago.

    Once foreign skaters are involved, though, the event would have to be sanctioned by the ISU in order for the skaters to maintain their eligibility. And they're only going to sanction events that use ISU rules and ISU officials. And I'm sure they need to get a cut of the proceeds.

    So if Pat Promoter decides to make up a competition format, sell the rights to TV, and invite a bunch of top eligible and ineligible skaters, there are two possibilities.

    1) Pat plays by the ISU rules, works out with them what the rules of the competition will be (either standard short and long programs, or whatever rules for "interpretive" programs are currently on the ISU books, or with enough lead time they come up with new rules that would then need to be approved by whatever ISU body would need to approve such rules), gets the sanction, invites ISU judges to officiate, and gives the ISU their percentage. In that case, eligible skaters would be able to participate and remain eligible.

    2) Pat ignores the ISU, makes up brand new rules, hires former skating celebrities to judge the event, and keeps all the profits. No ISU sanction, and any eligible skater who participates immediately becomes ineligible. This would be a for-profit event for professional skaters -- there would be no room for competitive skaters who want to keep their eligibility, let alone lower-level skaters who don't attract audiences and pay entry fees to participate.

  4. #19
    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkateFiguring View Post
    This is a question pertaining the American market, right? Outside of another whack to the knee of an ice princess or a beautiful dominant American Ladies World and Olympic champion, the obvious answer to the question is cheesefests. (Duh.) Let the mice choose their favorite cheeses and they will be happy. Who need judges?
    In all seriousness, the three annual U.S. cheesefests were fine competitions. Not heart-attack serious perhaps, but the skaters wanted to do their best and they wanted to win.

    The last year of the cheesefests was 2004. In the spring Marshall's Sasha Cohen got first with Swan lake, edging Shizuka Arakawa's Turandot featuring seven triples. Michelle Kwan (Tosca) was third, followed by Miki Ando, Irina Slutskaya, Jenny Kirk, and Fumie Suguri.

    For the men it was Plushenko (who did a 4T-3T in his Nijinski program), Joubert (two quads, one in combination), Weir, Weiss, Lysacek, and Goebel.

    The five-judge panel of ISU jusdges represented France, Japan, Russia, USA, and Canada. Intenational stars that competed in the December Marshall's or the October Campbell's cheesefests also included Sandhu, Honda, Griazev, and Julia Sebestian.

    Judging was reasonable. Slutskaya beat Kwan in the December event despite a rowdy home-crowd cheering section for Michelle and a pretty good performance by MK. Plushenko won both of the events that he skated (joubert was very popular with U.S. audiences).

    The next year the new judging system came in, Michelle Kwan retired, and that was the end of the cheesefests. Not that these two factors were what killed them, but rather, for whatever reason, that's when the bottom fell out of public interest in skating in the U.S.

    I would put it this way. A high level of interest in skating made the cheesefests possible, not so much the other way around.
    Last edited by Mathman; 05-25-2012 at 06:39 PM.

  5. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkateFiguring View Post
    This is a question pertaining the American market, right? Outside of another whack to the knee of an ice princess or a beautiful dominant American Ladies World and Olympic champion, the obvious answer to the question is cheesefests. (Duh.) Let the mice choose their favorite cheeses and they will be happy. Who need judges?
    SF, it would take a whack, or Kim Kardashasian suddenly taking skating lessons on her reality show instead of hunting NBA stars and celebs. EVen if we have a dominant skater like MK, which will never happen again under CoP, it will never be more than what is was for most of the last 100 years. It is an elite, niche olympic sport that most Americans will watch every 4 years if they read we have a gold medalist type girl, or two. It is all over and done. Something to rehash in the off season what we'd like to see change. The masses will never understand CoP. It is unfathomable at this point. In America. It will likely survive in better shape in Japan, Korea and China to some extent. When Yuna stops skating and promoting, I suspect even Korea so fervent now will shift to whatever sport they have a star in. China is subsidized so they will be players now and in the future. The same with Russia where it is respected as an art form and sport. The land of ballet will always cherish skating. And Canada, it will survive, but I expect there will be a lull in all 4 areas when Chan is done and Voir finish. How many Asian parents will encourage sacrifice when Chan has made it clear there is no money for him at the top? Canada needs a lady who can win gold. They had one but she was up against Queen Yuna of the high speed triple triples and movie star face and the Japanese wunderkind with 3 triple axels, Ms Mao. And she was not at her best emotionally/physically. What she did was superhuman. Joannie is the best they have had in so many years. There is no big money and I don't see Canada finding money to excel or be dominant. The communist countries always have something to prove. Eventually the Chinese will dominate every sport. Interesting that Kwan and Chan are first generation American and Canadian.

    The next American star needs to be different and attract attention-an openly gay female, a black female, a girl like Alissa but someone who can compete. A Kira Korpi who skates for America and wins most of the time will help, but SOI is all but gone. The writing has been on the wall for years in the USA. The diehards will still run the sport as it gets smaller. USFSA is no longer a "superpower" in FS and I don't think it will ever be again. A male gold medalist did not do much and Marlie were not on the cover of Time going into 2010. From 2002 to 2010, everything changed a lot.

    A general statement, but this CoP as it is is not helping-it is hurting-in the US. AS MM has said, no one knows what to think when 150.84 comes up on the jumbotron. Better to return to 6.0 as the cheating never will stop.

    So that's my world view. I wonder what 2014 Olympics will be like? The people can starve but let's put on our big show every four years. I guess in the worst of times, the Olympics survive in some form. I disagree that even a dominant sexy, pretty girl who jumps, spins and tap dances on the ice will revive what we had in America after 1994. There are a bunch of skaters that should prolly send Tonya roses every year. (Just kidding-sort of.) She changed skating. In fact, who influenced FS more than Ms Harding in the last 20 years?
    Last edited by skateluvr; 05-26-2012 at 04:30 PM.

  6. #21
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    I would give ABC the broadcast rights to Worlds for free on the condition that they send a team to broadcast from the event and that the team consist of Peggy Fleming, Terry Gannon and, if he is able, Dick Button. If Dick is not able, then they need to pick an acceptable substitute who is not named Scott Hamilton. And they also need to agree to promote the broadcasts and to broadcast all of the events in prime time as soon as possible after they occur, or live, if possible. I would also make major changes to the judging system, but this is where I would start.

  7. #22
    Gotta Have Music iluvtodd's Avatar
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    ^ Bring back FS coverage to ABC/ESPN! Give me Paul Wylie too!

  8. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by jenaj View Post
    I would give ABC the broadcast rights to Worlds for free on the condition that they send a team to broadcast from the event and that the team consist of Peggy Fleming, Terry Gannon and, if he is able, Dick Button. If Dick is not able, then they need to pick an acceptable substitute who is not named Scott Hamilton. And they also need to agree to promote the broadcasts and to broadcast all of the events in prime time as soon as possible after they occur, or live, if possible. I would also make major changes to the judging system, but this is where I would start.
    An interesting proposal. I too think the networks could--and should--play a role in improving the popularity of skating.

    The nosedive in skating's popularity started with the 2002 Olympics pairs judging scandal. And what fueled that scandal? I would argue the networks--specifically, the incredulous, outraged, over-the-top reaction from Bezic & Hamilton at the B&S's victory. If Scott and Sandra had had a less inflammatory reaction, would the scandal have taken off and hit the mainstream news like it did? I doubt it. Now, I'm not saying that wrongdoing did not occur in the judging. But the scandal was out of control, out of proportion, ultimately incredibly damaging to the sport, and I do feel that it was largely created by the networks.

    A secondary factor contributing to skating's decline was the oversaturation of cheesy professional skating shows and competitions in the late 1990s. This problem too was in part created and amplified by the networks.

    So IMO the networks played a not insignificant role in the crash. They could really help the sport recover if they would provide better coverage of skating in general and specifically, much better explanation of the judging system. Too many commentators the last few years have appeared woefully ignorant of the new judging system and have made little effort to explain its results. Scott Hamilton is absolutely the biggest offender in this category, with Sandra Bezic a close second. (Interesting, isn't it, that the commentating team that helped create this situation now continues to perpetuate it.)

    The ISU has little leverage with the networks now. And they have no control over NBC's ownership of Olympic broadcast rights--which then leads into NBC/Universal Sports coverage of other events. But giving Worlds to ABC for free is an interesting idea! And if I were them, I would strongly urge/beg NBC to at least get rid of Bezic/Hamilton and use new commentators. And also they should beg/plead for more knowledgeable commentator explanation of IJS.

  9. #24
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    Remove politics, less power to the federation, more autonomy or the skaters with skaters representation (possibly getting unionized) outside federation.

    Tax anyone who financially benefit from this sport (Sport agencies, coaches, equipment/ware businesses, shows) apart from the skaters and add this directly towards bigger prizes for world championship, GPFs and 4CCs or just in general. Greater prizes should attract greater interest and incentives outside the usual figure skating countries. More variety, more diversity, more countries, the healthier the sports, the more global the sports and hence growth of the sport.

    Use computer support and measurement to aid technical calls and prevent biased calls. Compile stats for every sporting achievements, useful when reference a skater. How high, how far, how fast, how much coverage etc. Consider the guitar hero/Karaoke music aid system indicate a choreography are suppose to take place at key notes, phrases and see how skaters perform according to when it is 'suppose' to happen. It would be a laugh to see how off some skaters are.

    Have higher quality of credible art judging with out anonymity where art judging are accountable for their opinions with the full scrutiny of the public, qualitative that goes beyond an approx scoring but some tangible remarks afterwards.

    Regular changing of the guards, everyone in any federation or ISU committee should be up for election every year, including the head of ISU to prevent corruption, and any exploitation and 'plans' which would usually take at least a year to build up.
    Last edited by os168; 05-26-2012 at 04:00 PM.

  10. #25
    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    I think in the long run we will just have to accept the fact that things change. Maybe the era of big skating competitions viewed by millions on prime time TV is over. Maybe the future of skating in the United States will be more a participatory sport than a spectator sport.

    In the 1930s and 40s big hollywood musicals starring Sonia Henie were box office blockbusters. In the fifties and sixties Las Vegas Review shows like Ice Follies and Ice Capades toured with great success. In the 70s and 80s Olympic champions were household names. In the 1990s skating shows (for better or worse) were on television every week and Champions on Ice played to full houses at 80 stops.

    That was nice. But in the grand scheme of things, would it be the end of the world if skating subsided to a sport followed mostly on the Internet by hard core enthusiasts like us, together with a steady-as-she goes status as a recreational sport for children and adults? Gkelly writes above that skating seems to be maintaining its popularity as a participatory sport. It is expensive, but if you buy your costume off the rack, take group lessons, and get your older sister to do your choreography, it doesn't have to break the bank. Only a tiny handful of skaters reach the level where they have to spend $100,000 a year to stay on top.

  11. #26
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    Well, I think we need to have a skating movie. Or maybe a movement movie, with dance as well as skating in the movie. (I'm not completely joking, folks.) It would have to focus on the skating, not on some tired old plotline with the cute girl and her malicious rival vying for spots on the nationals team. There would have to be a lot of guest skaters, the way there were dance interludes in The Turning Point. This means that the lead would have to be a skater who could act, not an actress who could fake it. I know, I know...pigs will fly first. But one can always dream.

    Can Alissa act, do you think? Or maybe we should cast Tara Lipinski, who supposedly studied acting for years.

  12. #27
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    We all love skating movies Olympia...great wishful thinking! :-) I think, correct me if I have forgotten, the last skating flick was "Blades of Glory." It was not all that funny and Hamitup (I love Scott, LOL) was in it. Remember in 2000, there was a great dance movie called Center Stage. Skating was still pretty hot and gold medalist cutie Ilia was in it. He wasn't too great and his dance moves were all a double as he is not a ballet dancer. I love that movie and own it because of the two nice ballets in it with Zoe Saldana and the blonde who never made it after that movie. Even ballet, which people can enjoy without seeing falls and funny scoring has lost the popularity that peaked in the 80's. Many companies have closed.

    I hated that Black Swan used Portman and not a dancer. They felt without a star it would not fly-get producers to sign on. There is very little real dancing with her face/upper body and constant cut away editing. I watched it and will again but did not buy it because it was about craziness and angst of Nina and not enough real dance. It is a shame that the skating movies are stupid, a blind girl doing triples and skating. I will watch any skating movie however dumb but then I and we all are skating ubers. We are a shrinking bunch.

    A fun cafe thread would be us writing the script. I bet it would be far funnier than blades of glory. When lurking I read a thread about a barbecue someone threw and it was hysterical.

    I know you could write a better short story or long than what we see now. Skating was made a joke of in Blades. One movie I think could get an audience that would bring some new fans is sadly, a biopic or a wide release documentary about the Tonya gate. I think though, Nancy does not want to see her life up there, it was a rough time and you can't blame her. She has money to lawyer up to stop it. Tonya wouldn't want this project to go forward. But all the people who remember this-millions and millions of fans around the world would at least rent the DVD to see how it is handled. Social Network did well because of the book it was based on and all the slime that went down-controversy gets attention.

    I personally would love to see a movie about this as they'd have to cast great skaters-unknowns most likely to look like Nancy or Tonya. It may be offensive to some to say that a movie about the whack would bring new younger fans in but it would. I expect someday it will be done as the story is true and just too incredible not to be done. Where are you Aaron Sorkin. I will rent any skating movie, but that's me, lifelong skate fan.
    Last edited by skateluvr; 05-27-2012 at 02:06 PM.

  13. #28
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    Opera On Ice, an 80-minute movie in HD and digital sound, will be released on 7 June, 2012.

    http://www.cineworld.co.uk/films/5344

  14. #29
    I think people underestimate what a whack to the knee, a superstar (Michelle Kwan), and a lot of podium finishes, etc, mean for ratings! Nowadays, the US only have Meryl and Charlie. What else is there really? The US ladies haven't been on the world podium since 2006. There is no longer a dream team like Kwan, Cohen and Hughes. The US men (excluding Lysacek's wins) are more or less nowhere near the podium anymore. You've got commentators stuck in the 6.0 system, and more or less putting people off skating. No wonder ratings and the popularity are down. Just have a look to your neighbor up north, or Japan, South Korea, France, Italy, Sweden, Finland, and let's not forget Russia. Moscow managed to put together a World Championship in less than 4 weeks, and tickets were sold out.

  15. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    In the 1930s and 40s big hollywood musicals starring Sonia Henie were box office blockbusters. In the fifties and sixties Las Vegas Review shows like Ice Follies and Ice Capades toured with great success. In the 70s and 80s Olympic champions were household names. In the 1990s skating shows (for better or worse) were on television every week and Champions on Ice played to full houses at 80 stops.
    Figure skating has always been a niche sport with no fan base outside of families and friends of the skaters except in Olympic years when it was the glamour sport of the Winter Games. If you look at tapes of big competitions from the 60's and 70's, there were three or four rows of spectators except at the Olympics. What happened to make figure skating a big-time sport for a while, was the "Whack heard round the world!" and suddenly everybody was a skating fan. But it didn't last for many reasons: too many tacky pro competitions with questionable rules and judging; too back to back judging scandals at the 1998 and 2002 Olympics; failure to ban cheating judges for life; concerns that the sport was exploiting its young skaters to their detriment (Bauill, Lipinski); and last but not least, I now have 600 channel choices and every "minor" sport suffers from low ratings, from skiing to the X-games, has lower ratings.

    From an advertizing point of view, figure skating skews to an older, female demographic and we're an easy audience to reach. There's no particular advantage to sponsoring the sport. Golf attracts and older, affluent, male demographic which is very difficult to reach so that sport gets lots of high-end advertizers like Rolex, various luxury cars, and why golf bumps figure skating every time it runs over.

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