No she wasnt to blame. One skater alone cant carry pro skating.
I think pro skating would have died a few years sooner but for Nancy and Tonya. Until 1988 the pros were doing the same content as the amateurs, and of course combined that with superior presentation. I think when Rory Flack won the big pro competition in 1995 it was a big indicator of how far the gap was between the pro level and the amateur level.
It's up to the ISU and Skate Canada (or your local federation) to sell the market the sport in any sort of major way. I think that Skate Canada and the Canadian networks do a good job with that. Our events are sold out or close to it, the two major Canadian networks both do an excellent job broadcasting and promoting the sport, with knowledgeable announcers who have done a good job teaching viewers about the new judging system.
Ticket prices for live events are very reasonable - the top price for all-event tickets to seniors Canadians this year is $150.00 and $40 for Juniors. Worlds is expensive but the ISU takes so many of the tickets leaving few paying ticket holders and the John Labatt Centre is not a huge facility.
I think that the USFSA has not done such a good job selling the sport in the US. Neither ABC nor NBC provided a broadcast crew who understood the first thing about CoP and denigrated the scoring system at every opportunity. This judging system has now been place for nearly 10 years and the lead commentators still don't know anything about CoP. Ticket prices are very high for live events, organization is uneven and there seems to be lots of complaints from fans who attend.
I also think the USFSA does a poor job of marketing it's champions, Ladies excepted. I realize it's been a long time since the US had a Pairs team on the podium at Worlds but the Ice-dancers have excelled since Tanith and Ben won the silver medal in Turin in 2006. US Ice-Dancers have been on the podium at Worlds in every year since 2005, except 2009 when B&A had that nasty fall in the CD, and Davis & White won silver at the Olympics and the first Worlds Championship for a US Dance team in 2011 and still Dance is seldom on TV.
I ended up becoming bored with those pro competitions for pretty much the reasons Dragonlady mentioned. But now I kind of miss having a circuit for skaters to compete with each other without the technical requirements of top-level amateur skating. A lot of skaters seemed to let loose and really perform in such an environment. It was also an opportunity for older skaters to keep competing and striving for quality performances when their bodies or minds weren't up for all the quads or triple-triples. I wonder if this can ever be resurrected in some form.
ITA w/you, I'd love to see the return of professional competitions. Maybe I'm looking at everything through rose colored lenses, but I miss the professional skating of 80s & 90s, where we got to see skaters like Bechke & Petrov find their niche as pro skaters, or got to see skaters, like Rory Flack-Burghart that we normally wouldn't get a chance to see. I don't miss the cheesy skating specials that were on T.V. almost every week, but I'd welcome a return of World Pros.
I agree whole heartedly! Kurt's "Singing in the Rain" program is my favorite of all time - of any skater and I saw Toller skate live many times over the years and enjoyed his specials. Also Barbara Berezowski and David Porter were probably one of the best looking ice dance couples to grace the ice.
Thanks for this great comment.
I don't think Michelle Kwan is to blame - hardly. I would blame the economy and people's general lack of interest in figure skating. Here in Canada, Hockey rules the air waves (except during a lock out, like now). Figure Skating does not bring in enough revenue for tv and of course, many skaters decide to join ice shows and or coach after their competitive years end. Many factors killed pro skating, not Michelle Kwan.