Skater Popularity-unpopularity-your musings please?
I wonder who we don't like and why? Who is wam and projects into areah or right throug TV sceen? Does his "warmth factor" get points? We have many favorites threads over time and discipline, 6.0 or CoP. I have started many myself. This is not a thread inviting people to indiscrimately bash, but i have noted a trend with some skaters, and wonder about mob mentality as a sociological phenomenon. Scapegoating happens everyday, everywhere. It happens here with skaters. It certainly happens with posters. This we cannot deny. In bad times we see this scapegoating thing rise-individuals or groups are chosen to be targeted-often without great reason.
I think we can fairly discuss the question, and thus take a look to at who is very (un)popular or was and why? I am guessing many will say Tonya Harding, because of criminal act. So let us admit her actions ruined her career, and took away from a lot of natural talent. I am also guessing Nicole Bobek may not be popular, but I may be wrong. Johnny Weir is popular or very unpopular maybe based on off ice behavior, costumes, statements made? It does seem there are other skaters who we see many negative comments attributed to.
Looking back, I am not sure why Michelle Kwan was way more popular than say Jenny Kirk. Lightyears ahead with fans/judges USA. Jenny was doing triple triples in her sp and long, skated with balletic elegance and was very ice princessy-what we expect of lady champions. I remember thinking a couple times I would have placed her over the popular and unique Sasha Cohen. I thought she was not getting the scores she deserved at the beginning for her technical content. And her artistry was great. It seems she lost confidence, then began making mistakes. She seemed underscored. I do not know after say 99, how any woman would want to skate at Nationals in her huge shadow. The intimidation factor clearly rattled Sasha to her core. She was not as connected to the audience it seemed. Sasha was a phenom too, yet an introvert, not a huge smiule on her tiny face. As for Kirk, I often though her Chicago SP one of the best I had seen ever at Nationals. She seemed diverse. I have noticed Evan Lysacek is disliked by many US fans despite winning OGM. Many seemed more supportive of Weir's comeback. Why? In terms of results-one skater has won everything-the other-not so much.
MK was usually good/consistent-often great. She owned Nationals and the USFSA and the public after Nagano, where she was lauded for being a gracious "loser." Lyra Angelica is perhaps her best loved piece, and she skated very well. Her coach told her Tara was better, and not to be bitter. So the favorite over Tara was lauded and Tara was vilified in many circles. She never became popular, though her off ice brehavior had no scandals, she hersdelf said the press did not like her. It seemed to me her big faux pas was to win the gold-she skated very well-it was an intl judges decision. While Kwan was beaten in her career at big events by Tara, Irina, Maria B, Sarah at international events, she was pretty much untouchable at US Nationals, her skating always fueled by fan mania reserved for her from late nineties to 2005. She never said a wrong word, rarely made a wrong step. Was she beloved for the skating or more her attitude when being gracious at big event losses?
How about internationally? I think in American culture, we love an underdog. Had MK won Nagano, she may have gone to college asap or joined SOI for a tour or too, leaving competition. I think she was beloved because she competed at the top level 10 years, and she was pretty, very pc, a nice, perfectly brought up girl with a respectful demeanor-I think her Asian beauty helped her, as it did Yama, who skated 10 years after her gold medal when she was benefitting from huge post whack audiences. Tonya was villified. Nancy was not liked very well. Initially Americans embraced Oksana with her orphan story over Kerrigan, arguably the real gold medalist. Strangely, no one was upset about her silver after despite a quiet but stunning rehab that captured the heart of her manager. She never talked much about what it took to get to Norway after her attack. She was uncomfortable in front of camras off ice and did not ever make excuses about her skating-She had beauty/humility/3x3's and people did not embrace this young woman who was clubbed in her leg???? It seemed odd. Again, what makes a skater popular? She won silver, as did Kwan.
Alissa C has been worshipped for her beauty, then villified for her performance/results etc. Rachael Flatt never beat our heroine MK, as they were from different eras, yet she is the most maligned skater on two major discussion boards. People often talk with reverence re Hardings huge jumps, her triple axel, even her skating skills. Have people forgiven her? Tara and Sara never were well liked. They beat MK-such audacity? Clearly they were not beauty queens? Why were they seldom discussed as great skaters-which they clearly were? Lists of favorites often exclude them.
In the end, what makes a skater beloved? Looks? Longevity? Winning more than losing? Off ice personality? Smart PR/Marketers? Which variable will get you loved? This is very impt because judges seem very influenced by fan reactions to programs/skaters. Most elite skaters fizzle fast now. But others gain popularity with fans/judges. Carolina is loved in Europe but we like her in the USA it seems-she has many fans here and last year the word 'goddess" was used an awful lot. Easy jumps but amazing physical presence?
Part Two-Predictions based on who has attained popularity/likeability over time.
All this is interesting to me as we head to Sochi, we have two very glam US women. Ashley has skated several seasons with her last two big successes. She has a pretty face, nice body for skating, goodlines, spins, consistent jumper. She is called now a total package skater, and some see her as our best podium hope and a person who could win a WC this year. She is very natural performer. Gold is young but then so were Tara, Oksana, MK, Sarah when they won or placed at biggest competitions. So who knows if she pulls out a technical program with the princess looks. It could happen. Not likely unless she wins the 2013 WC, tho.
Also, What matters most for Ashley to get the attention of the country before Sochi? On ice sucess or off ice humility? She is clearly hoping to fill Kwan's boots. What must she do? Or was Kwan a phenom in every way, never to be experienced again. Popularity/likeability gets scored it seems. Back story matters to judges. It seems one must have very good PR to get the medals besides the skills. We see the result of fan feedback on Chan's scores. It seems he was unpopular in Canada for a while despite his vaunted skating skills and major winnings. I have concentrated on the ladies, as popularity with fans/judges is a very complex thing. And the most perplexing to me over time.
Your thoughts? Based on ladies champions of the OGM and former WC's which skater will head to Sochi with "popularity?" I think based on past winners and esp winners under CoP, ladies Champion would be repeat Yuna Kim or Mao Asada. Or 1 US lady Wagner has a great chance if she continues being 'liked' by Judges/fans. A WC win will make her the clear favorite. I think a Russian lady could win, but have no idea how well Julia or Tukt will be regarded by then. Def on podium-a gold would have to be perfect to avoid a judging scandal in Mother Russia.
The trend is older ladies. Akiko has the skills but if Mao resurrects, JSF will sabotage Akiko in favor of Mao, if Mao gets back to even close to her 2010 level. If you doubt this, review recent NHK. Of course Kanako might have a great lead up to Sochi. If Mao loses it for good, and Akiko is undermined, Kanako. Sadly Miki sems done and she is/was a contender.
Based on longevity, maturity, packaging, looks, skating skills and jumping consistency plus 'glam' I think Wagner has been doing the groundwork to head into Sochi as one of the 3 favorites to podium. Korpi is an outlier and I think she could be top 5.
I have no idea until Nationals to see if Gold is pushed for second spot. Chritina Gao or Mirai could be second lady, or Agnes. I think Gold is more popular however, perceived as a possible Sarah. Nationals will decide her fate for WCs and Sochi. She needs to skate well as Gao and Mirai sem hungy this year. Agnes would need a clean LP and she can't deliver so far.
ETA Ashley get well, she withdrew from GP final gala due to her fall on her hip-injury unclear-praying she will get back to form quickly.
Sorry so long- I tried to put in two parts and then when I din't, I tried to save-yet that was not showing. I don't write in a Word Processing thing -then transfer-sorry so wordy. Succinctness a real issue for me-subject very much of interest to me and hope some will take time to real with GPF over. Thank you.
Last edited by skateluvr; 12-09-2012 at 03:28 AM.