I don't know whether this was on purpose on the part of the ISU, but the ending of the boundary between amateur and pro had an element of evening the odds. In countries with subsidized skaters, especially in the days of the Soviet Union, skaters in the U.S.S.R., East Germany, and some other countries were professionals in all but name. Everything was paid for. This is how skaters such as Irina Rodnina, with different partners, and Katarina Witt managed to remain in skating for two or more Olympic cycles while American and Canadian skaters generally retired after just one. I think the average retirement age of an American ladies' singles skater from World War II to the end of the true amateur era was nineteen. They either left skating for a paying job or turned pro so they could earn a living by skating for Ice Capades or Ice Follies. As I say, I don't know whether the ISU would have backed the change of skaters' status for such a reason, but I'm sure the USFSA would have lobbied for it.
ISU's goal to monopolize skating wasn't possible without blurring the line between amateur and professional.
To keep skater's from leaving ISU's competitions money was offered to them. The better the skater the more money it was possible to earn while retaining "amateur" status.
I think the ISU should just let everything be OPEN, especially now with the COP. If you are a pro and want to return to compete at Nationals, ISU Championships (Euro, 4CC, GP, and Worlds), or the Olympics, fine! But you must meet the minimum score to compete.
However, back to the original question-- no, but she didn't help the situation. I think the sagging American economy (less people to come to shows), the post-whack boom in skating, and the high expectations on those who did turn pro kind of did pro skating in. When Lipinski turned pro, many of us die hards knew she wasn't gonna go out there and do the 3R/3R each time. However, a lot of non-die hards expected her to complete the tough elements she had used as an amateur. Just as a lot of fans wanted Ilia to do quad after quad when he turned pro, but of course, when he turned pro, he really wanted to explore skating as a mode of expression.
Perhaps competitions like the "medal winners open" will help breathe new life into pro skating. It won't be what we had in the 90's, but it's better than nothing.
I was just going to start a thread about the state of pro skating today but found this one, so I'll just add to it.
Is professional figure skating dead? Skaters today talk about "retiring" from skating, not "turning pro." Are there really so few pro opportunities or is it just that today's skaters have a different mindset? For example, has amateur skating become so taxing that when their amateur careers are over, skaters can't/don't want to skate anymore? Back in the '90s and even before that, skaters talked about how excited they were to become professional skaters, but now no one asks skaters about "turning pro." I know there are shows, but it's just not the same. You have to be an uber fan of Skater X to even find their show performances. When Tara left competitive skating after the '98 Olympics, it was almost "expected" that she would skate professionally, whereas after 2010, we didn't hear much from Evan skating-wise until he announced his comeback.
I was watching the Skating Family Tribute on NBC yesterday and thought about how much I want to to see Patrick and Dai skate with the pressure off like that. The shows that get on US TV have all of the "older" pro skaters but very few of the current skaters. I just hope that Patrick and Dai do at least some pro skating so I can watch them skate as often as possible. I have no desire to see the majority of the current skaters in shows, but Patrick and Dai are two exceptions. Sadly, I'm not sure if they will get the same opportunities that the older generations did. Michelle deciding not to turn pro was made into a big deal back then, but I don't think it would be made into a big deal with any of today's skaters.
We'll know more after the Olympics.
Pro skating is alive & well...just not in the US, with current World & national competitors skating. Champions on Ice is Dead. Stars on Ice is way smaller. And I hesitate to call the Disson shows skating, but they are what we have.
There are, AFAIK, no pro competitions?
The Ice shows in Japan sell out.
There are successful ice shows in Russia. (Averbukh, Plushenko)
The shows Toller Cranston skated in back in the day in Europe, Holiday on Ice, are still going.
There are ice skating acts on cruise ships.
There is Disney on Ice.
After the Olympics, there is usually some kind of Olympians tour; if any Americans do well (and they may not...)
That's the next chance for there to be a resurgence of pro skating in the US, I suspect.
I'm curious about ticket prices in various countries. Just as examples are tickets for TEB or Cup of China as expensive in US dollars as tickets for Skate America?
Teenes, thanks for the link!
The NRW Trophy tickets in Graz are going for 60 Euros for an all event ticket-however Yu Na Kim, Evgeni Plushenko, & Savchenko & Szolkowy are signed up to skate and the tickets sold out in a day.
One poster complained that they could go to Europeans for 60 Euros...if true, a flight to Europe might be a good investment.
Octavio Cinquanta killed pro skating competitions. Speedy was upset that the ISU made the skaters stars through the GP and the major ISU competitions, and then the pro tours and competitions cashed in on that stardom and the ISU got nothing. When the top skaters could make good prize money, and take paid touring gigs in the off-season, there was great incentive to stay eligible.
When the brightest stars continued to compete in ISU eligible skating, the pro ranks thinned. The ISU held "open" competitions for both pros and ISU eligible skaters. The aging pros were no competition for the ISU skaters who were at the peak of their abilities. The major US skating tours conflicted with the ISU competition season and skaters could not do both.
Last but certainly not least, the "post-whack" skating boom saw interest in figure skating, which had previously been a niche sport that the rest of the world cared about only in Olympic years, rise to the stratosphere. Every promoter out there with an interest in the sport was producing made for TV competitions with less than the top ranked pros, and questionable judging. The public lost interest quickly. Audiences declined. Figure skating fans have been casting blame ever since, but in reality, skating is returning to its niche.
Cheap by western standards, but you have to remember the average income level is much lower also. But for urban Chinese residents, it's considered reasonable compared to alternate activities, and priced to encourage attendance. At current exchange rates, Cup of China tickets for the day of SP's were in four price levels ranging from roughly USD 5 to 16, with a few VIP seats about $75. Day of FS's and the exhibition ranged from $8-32 with VIP's $95. Discounts offered for package of (2) or (3) seats in the top 2 and VIP price levels. This is very similar to levels seen in past CoC's, including when the competition was staged in Beijing. Chinese often purchase the cheapest two levels, then take unoccupied seats in the more expensive levels (closer to the ice) and just move on if the true occupants show up. Except for the VIP section, restrictions on seat poaching are loosely enforced depending on mood of ushers that day.
ETA: Tickets are not per session they are per day, so once you buy a ticket for that day, you can see all the events dance, singles, and pairs. As little as $5 for 7-8 hours of skating is a bargain! But no in-outs; once you leave the venue's outside doors, you can't get back in on the same ticket. No extra taxes or markups if you buy at the venue (tickets always available so far) or from some of the authorized local agents. It's always shocking to see outrageous extra taxes or "facility fees" or agent markups/fulfillment fees for similar events esp in North America. I don't know about Europe. But the higher the all-in costs, the more part-time fans sitting on the fence will decide against attending. Especially in a bad economy.
Last edited by bigsisjiejie; 11-21-2012 at 12:52 PM.
The Detroit Pistons basketball team was so little regarded in the 1960s that on game day they just opened the doors of the arena and anyone could walk in for free. Now the franchise is worth $400 million (and they are no better this year than they were back then).
Before the 1940s U.S. and Canadian grid iron football consisted mostly of barnstorming teams that traveled around to small towns and played exhoiitions or scrimmaged against the local boys. Now a thirty-second ad on the Super Bowl nets 3.5 million.
It deems like figure skating could make an attempt to grab a piece of the pie, instead of just saying, amateur and professional competitive figure skating wasn't very popular fifty years ago and it still isn't. (I know, easier said than done.)
PS. Maybe Ashley Wagner's new contract with Nike is step in the right direction. Maybe the new money-making ideal will be the lady jock, not the prom queen. (Actually, more and more these days the lady jock is the prom queen. )
Last edited by Mathman; 11-21-2012 at 04:56 PM.