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Thread: Did Michelle Kwan kill pro skating?

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    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Did Michelle Kwan kill pro skating?

    This came up on Bluebonnet’s GOE thread (what didn’t? )

    In the late 1990s the ISU wanted to extend its influence over all kinds of skating. In pursuit of this goal they decided to allow Olympic eligible skaters to complete in pro-ams. The deal was, if the organizers of the pro competition wanted MK, they had to agree to use ISU judges and ISU scoring rules (and also pay a fee to the ISU).

    Michelle came out with performances like these (the technical and the artistic programs from the 1998 Landover event). Even the bone-headiest of the bone-head audience could tell the difference between what Michelle was putting out there and what they were used to seeing from the pros.

    Pro competitions never recovered.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DzIMASKRm_4

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcYTdxyoehk

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    and... World Peace! Tonichelle's Avatar
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    Her attitude towards pro skating didn't help, but I don't think she's the reason it died out.

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    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
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    Well, I wish she had turned pro at the end of her career; maybe that would have saved pro skating!

    The Landover competitions were particularly good pro competitions. I miss them!

    But I always thought that over saturation killed pro competitions. For a while they were on all the time. And of course the skaters invited were skating the same numbers over and over again.

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    and... World Peace! Tonichelle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dorispulaski View Post
    But I always thought that over saturation killed pro competitions. For a while they were on all the time. And of course the skaters invited were skating the same numbers over and over again.
    that I think is the biggest thing... that and the newer pros didn't hang around as long as Scott's generation of skaters... when you have Scott skating the same program after coming back from Cancer it was SO watered down that there wasn't much to get out of it 15 different times, not that it wasn't good, but we needed something fresh... and the judging became even more reputation based than before... especially when Scott was in the competition (his last Ice Wars he ended up winning... against Kurt! LOL)

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    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
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    Yes, that was a factor.

    And the aging/retirement of Dick Button, who was the impresario behind many of these competitions was a factor, too.

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    and... World Peace! Tonichelle's Avatar
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    and Tom Collins pulling his support out of COI and other tours/shows/comps

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    Custom Title heyang's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dorispulaski View Post
    Well, I wish she had turned pro at the end of her career; maybe that would have saved pro skating!

    The Landover competitions were particularly good pro competitions. I miss them!

    But I always thought that over saturation killed pro competitions. For a while they were on all the time. And of course the skaters invited were skating the same numbers over and over again.
    I totally agree.....

    Also, I think all the 'World Pro' title was diminished because there were a couple of competitions that were called Pro championships. I remember being excited about a TV listing for a World Professionals Skating broad cast. It wasn't Andover and it featured a lot of lesser known skaters that lacked the charisma and skills of the Andover skaters. I know the pro skaters tried to organize and create some standards, but they never really got fully organized IMHO.

    Dick Button sold World Pro and it was not the same aftewards.

    Letting 'amateur' skaters in pro competitions was an attempt to 'save' professional competitions. It was already too late by then IMHO.

    I also agree with others who have said that it didn't help that the amateurs who won Olympics after 1994 didn't stay in pro's for 4 years. Some left skating for a couple of years (i.e Sarah Hughes) and others stayed for a couple of years (i.e Tara Lipinski, although that was forced by injury) - not long enough to bridge the gap between Olympics.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dorispulaski View Post
    But I always thought that over saturation killed pro competitions. For a while they were on all the time. And of course the skaters invited were skating the same numbers over and over again.
    I agree completely with this. I think the overrepetition of programs was the single biggest problem. You could only watch Kristi perform "Doop Doop" so many times. I've always felt that the pro skaters should have formed a union, or a governing body, that would have set guidelines for the benefit of all. If such a group had existed, and mandated, for example, that each pro number be used in, say, no more than 2-3 competitions, I think it all would have been much more successful. Instead, I think the public just got bored seeing the same routines every couple of weeks.

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    and... World Peace! Tonichelle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by eyria View Post
    I agree completely with this. I think the overrepetition of programs was the single biggest problem. You could only watch Kristi perform "Doop Doop" so many times. I've always felt that the pro skaters should have formed a union, or a governing body, that would have set guidelines for the benefit of all. If such a group had existed, and mandated, for example, that each pro number be used in, say, no more than 2-3 competitions, I think it all would have been much more successful. Instead, I think the public just got bored seeing the same routines every couple of weeks.
    they do have a pro skaters association.

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    Custom Title merrywidow's Avatar
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    I've always blamed the ISU for turning amateur skaters into professionals by giving out cash rewards to the elite skaters. It was done to prevent the best amateurs from turning pro back in the 90's. Consequently, not many left the amateur ranks after the Olympics as formerly had done. And that meant the same pros were competing against one another & appearing in shows together.

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    Quote Originally Posted by merrywidow View Post
    I've always blamed the ISU for turning amateur skaters into professionals by giving out cash rewards to the elite skaters. It was done to prevent the best amateurs from turning pro back in the 90's. Consequently, not many left the amateur ranks after the Olympics as formerly had done. And that meant the same pros were competing against one another & appearing in shows together.
    That seems to be something no one else pointed out - but that had alot to do with it.

    At a point it was never a question of whether Michelle was a professional skater or not - but a matter of who had the most clout and money to keep her in their camp.
    In this case it was ISU.
    Last edited by janetfan; 09-28-2012 at 01:41 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by merrywidow View Post
    I've always blamed the ISU for turning amateur skaters into professionals by giving out cash rewards to the elite skaters. It was done to prevent the best amateurs from turning pro back in the 90's. Consequently, not many left the amateur ranks after the Olympics as formerly had done. And that meant the same pros were competing against one another & appearing in shows together.
    But that was a favor that ISU has done for amateur skaters seeing how hard for them to continue skating under financial stress.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    This came up on Bluebonnet’s GOE thread (what didn’t? )

    In the late 1990s the ISU wanted to extend its influence over all kinds of skating. In pursuit of this goal they decided to allow Olympic eligible skaters to complete in pro-ams. The deal was, if the organizers of the pro competition wanted MK, they had to agree to use ISU judges and ISU scoring rules (and also pay a fee to the ISU).

    Michelle came out with performances like these (the technical and the artistic programs from the 1998 Landover event). Even the bone-headiest of the bone-head audience could tell the difference between what Michelle was putting out there and what they were used to seeing from the pros.

    Pro competitions never recovered.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DzIMASKRm_4

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcYTdxyoehk
    Wow!!! Math! I've never seen these two performances. If I don't see the title of these videos, I'd completely convinced that they were amateur competitions. She treated pro-am just like how she treated amateur competitions. That has certainly helped a lot to make the show goers see the differences of these two kinds of competitions. And make the viewers raise their appetite. They want more, more than just a cheesefest.

    I've always loved amateur skating but not the pro-am. So how Michelle was doing in pro-am made no difference to me. Even if she skated only three jumps in a program in pro-am, I wouldn't have thought less of her. That was just the nature of pro-am.

    I used to think that the reason Michelle Kwan kept winning year after year was because the ladies skating had never been progressing much in a long period of time. I actually started to appreciate more about her after she's left amateur competitions - my none Michelle moment confess.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tonichelle View Post
    and Tom Collins pulling his support out of COI and other tours/shows/comps
    Did Tom Collins pull out or SOI wanted to buy him out? I don't know much about that history.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tonichelle View Post
    ... and the judging became even more reputation based than before...
    Yes, I think that was a big contribution too. That's why they were called "cheesefest".
    Last edited by Bluebonnet; 09-28-2012 at 09:11 AM.

  14. #14
    and... World Peace! Tonichelle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluebonnet View Post
    Did Tom Collins pull out or SOI wanted to buy him out? I don't know much about that history.
    CHAMPIONS ON ICE like Mathman said, tanked financially. STArS ON ICE bought them out to get the touring schedule... but then SOI saw the same sort of financial tanking and now they do something like 15 cities... I can remember their 10th year and Scott's "rap" about the success of the show and how it was a "66 city toooouuuuuuurrrr" (I just might have it memorized, actually). SOI buying COI was the biggest mistake IMO.

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    Banned janetfan's Avatar
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    Is this another "trick question."

    With the income Michelle was earning as an "amateur skater" there was never any reason for her to serioulsy consider a Pro career.
    Couple that with the fact that she had already been skating at the highest level for so many seasons what possible incentives could Michelle have had to continue - not to mention her body needed a break.

    It was different with Peggy, Janet, Dorothy and up through Kristi.
    The families of these girls had made financial sacrifices for years and most likely it was always part of the plan for them to turn pro after the Olympics.

    Michelle was the family busines at what - 15? When Peggy was 15 her mom had to to sew her skating dresses to save money for her training.


    I don't think if Michelle would have "turned pro" after Nagano it would have had much effect on Pro skating.

    Sure she could have given it a boost but the writing was already on the wall.

    Besides I doubt if the skating world would have been better off if Michelle stopped competing when she still had so much more to give,
    Last edited by janetfan; 09-28-2012 at 12:08 PM.

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