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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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    I am not sure Michelle Kwan was to blame. I don't think she helped matters but it is probably a combination of things. Like Soap operas it appears to be a dying breed. Salt Lake City didn't help matters. Ironically all that yelling and screaming and complaining and whining and... may have not really helped the sport. Skating is a judged sport and prone or vulnerable to interpretation. The uproar was huge at SLC but people forgot that back then you could lose technically and if the judges had you first say artistically but second technially well you won. Right or wrong. I think after Irina and Michelle and Plushy cutting back with no real dance or pairs team really with great personality (I suppose Scott Moir's comments and Patrick Chan who has been much more mellow the last 1.5 years have had shown some personality) or charisma or that je ne sais quoi. Carolina is pretty and Mao and Yuna had their chances as well as the other Japanese ladies but none had the charisma of say a Midori Ito - they were rather bland. And unlike the past, there has been no dominant American lady since Michelle and Sasha who at least had a interesting persona. Don't misunderstand me I am not saying Czisny, Flatt, Wagner, Nagasu aren't nice people and good skaters but they are rather BORING. Some have it and with no US lady winning gold or for that matter world medal in a while and that is the hugest market or one of the most influential market well..mind you in Asia the Japanese and Kim are heroes - it just does not transpose well to North America. With SOI dying and markets drying up faster than you can believe well pro skating has been on the downhill. Sadly skaters like T and M from 2006 or even V and T or Squared from germany or Pang and Tong, Petrova and Tichinov et al - they just don't have the chutzpah of G and G or even Dimitriev and his partners. It is not something you earn - you have it or you don't and we don't have the marketing wonders. As nice is Evan is he isn't charismatic Kurt or one of the battling Brians. In fact I wonder how Baiul, Lipinski et al survive with so few shows and competitions.

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    Whatever the reason, I really regret the death of pro competitions in America. Though the jump content might not have been as groundbreaking as it is in competitive skating, some of the other moves were very original, especially in ice dancing. The absence of some of the more constricting rules really freed the skaters and choreographers to explore other ways of moving.

    I agree that Landover was a splendid competition, and I was so distressed when it ended. It was principally at Landover that some pro skaters, such as Underhill/Martini and Yuka Sato, and even Kurt Browning in some ways, surpassed their amateur careers with new ways of expressing themselves. Nowadays with CoP, it would be such a breath of fresh air for audiences and skaters alike to be liberated from some of the more stringent demands of the new system, especially in elements such as spins.

    As for Michelle, yes, of all skaters I yearned for her to have a pro career, especially once her hip recovered from the injury. She very well might have "saved" pro skating in this country. In some AU (alternate universe) setting, there's a timeline in which Michelle has turned pro and has not only revived Landover but has skated in several TV specials that are the equals of anything done by Peggy Fleming, Dorothy Hamill, or Brian Boitano (remember his skate on the open glacier ice in Alaska in his special?). In this world, we'll just have to wait for her to become Secretary of State.

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    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
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    Brian on the Glacier was some of the best ever of pro skating, as was Kurt skating with water to Singin in the Rain.



    And the Torvill & Dean skating tours.

    Not to mention Toller Cranston's Shows

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    I saw one of Toller's shows! Some wonderful skaters. Ken Shelley and the Canadian ice dancers Barbara Berezowski and David Porter. The latter couple skated to the beautiful third section of Borodin's Second Quartet.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IqjLHbSy6Pg


    Kurt's "Singin' in the Rain" might be the best skating ever seen on TV. Sometimes I just go watch it on YouTube to lift my spirits and smooth out my heartbeat. Gene Kelly was inarguably one of the two greatest dance geniuses in the movies (Fred Astaire being the other), and Browning's take on Kelly's dance is just as memorable as the original.
    Last edited by Olympia; 09-28-2012 at 07:50 AM.

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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.

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    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tonichelle View Post
    and Tom Collins pulling his support out of COI and other tours/shows/comps
    I wouldn't say that Tom Collins withdrew his support. COI just couldn't make it any more.

    In 2002 the show played in 90 cities, but by 2006 it was broke. Collins sold out to Anschutz Entertainment (I believe Michelle was dating Abschutz' son at the time ), but it was more a fire sale than a business move.

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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 Mathman View Post
    (I believe Michelle was dating Abschutz' son at the time )
    And Michelle transferred from UCLA to University of Denver because of that.

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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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