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.
I believe all of these qualities matter to some extent. The two factors that count the most are charisma and consistency. Michelle had those plus longevity and memorable programs. Her off-ice demeanor helped her as well to gain fans but she was loved by fans even before Nagano. I think what hurt Tara's popularity the most is her retirement soon after Nagano. Fans never got to see her development as a skater.
Originally Posted by skateluvr
As for who the USFA will push for as number one leading up to Sochi, I say don't discount Hannah Miller, who just placed second at the JGPF. She will be eligible to skate in Sochi. She already has charisma, if she gets consistency, the others better watch out!
I think it's all about personality. I doubt it's something one can define. And I don't think it's up to one variable - it's a combination of number of factors.
Natural talent always captivates.
Also, many of tiny details or happenings that show character or courage (like the one with Janet Linn, when she fell and got up smiling, that kind of thing).
Some crack in skater's career or life.
But mostly, I think it's simply matter of natural charisma + consistent skating with musicality/flair + smartness. I think this is the formula!
It wasn't Michelle's personality that made me put her at the top of my fave list; it was her skating. I admire her as a person also, of course, but as many have said, her skating was an unusual combination of natural talent, drive, meticulous skills, consistency, musicality, and connection with the audience. Most skaters have a few of those gifts but not all of them. In a way, you could say that Michelle is both a left-brain and a right-brain skater--like Peggy Fleming, who was musical and graceful but also excelled in school figures. When I watch Michelle and others of her quality, I feel that this is what skating was made for.
Michelle also had one lucky break that lifted her over even what she would have been otherwise: she had the extreme good fortune (or we did!) that her choreographer was Lori Nichol at her best and most innovative. There are a lot of fine skaters who are the eleventy-first to skate to a particular piece of music or the latest movie sound track, while Michelle got Lyra Angelica and Dvorak chamber music. (I know she also did Scheherezade and Rachmaninoff, but they were only a part of her output.) So some of her programs, a felicitous blend of her talent and Nichol's, are as fresh and gorgeous now as they were the day they were skated.
All these factors make her still my favorite American lady, and pretty much still my favorite lady of any nation. She may not be at the top of everyone's list, but the fact that her qualities are rare is proved by the lack of a successor among American ladies.
As for the rest of Skateluvr's question, Adamanna and Miki88 have pretty much stated the case.
It's funny because while looks help, I think that they hurt sometimes. I've seen a lot of Kiira hate because of her beauty; everything she does is negated because she is so gorgeous. It's kind of a darned if you do, darned if you don't situation.
Originally Posted by skateluvr
I know what you mean about Kira - Browning too said he really likes Korpi now, because she went to Shae Lynn to become a deep in the knees skater. I love her sp this year. The costume is the best of the season-the green spring like music-I don't know the name is so appealing and Kira is perfectly beautiful. Almost too perfect. I really like her this year, and I hope the judges see her improvement. The awkwardness is gone. Yuna is an awkward skater at times-Orser said it of her, and I still see it. This years comeback is about the jumps. But who knows what she could look like by next year. She can certainly outjump everyone.
For me, it is beautiful skating. Kristi as a pro is so memorable. Katia even as a single. The way Mao moves across the ice and does her faststep sequence in her Swan LP. MK has several programs to go back to. I think her consistency plus the simpler programs where gliding was skating appeal to me. Basic skating skills that make a skater beloved are skaters like janet, as was mentioned, Michelle. Yuka as a pro, Kristi as a pro. The current people who make me watch are Ashley, MAo, sorry Carolina is not here. Akiko and Osmond are so complete, so musical. I love these skaters. Sasha was so frustrating, but I never stopped watching her because the programs were beautiful. I can only guess what might have been had she been a confident jumper.
I feel going into Sochi, Wagner, if not injured has a great shot at worlds this year. Akiko should be a major contender with Mao, and it appears Yuna can bring back her jumps. She is formidable, and we may see the first repeat OGM since Witt. I just never loved Yuna's skating, at least never more than 'Lark Ascending" which she skated with great feeling. Emotion gets me. hence I am a Dai, Chan fan and jeremy too..
Last edited by skateluvr; 12-09-2012 at 04:35 PM.
I think if you excel in one area/element more than anyone else, it can help your popularity because people will remember your particularly extraordinary ability in that area/element more than someone who is average all-around. Midori Ito will always be remembered for her amazing jumps, Lucinda Ruh and Stephane Lambiel for their spins, Sasha Cohen for her flexible spirals, etc. You mentioned how Tonya Harding is still talked about today in a positive manner (at times) despite the incident, and I would say it's because she excelled in that one area, jumps, so that people still remember them today and will at least give her credit for them. I think people generally respect great athletic ability a lot; even if they don't like the skater's style/artistry, they'll give credit where it's due if the skater was a truly amazing jumper or spinner.
I think inconsistency works against a skater's popularity and credibility, they'll get called a "headcase" and be critcized for not being a good competitor.
I don't think having extreme good looks is essential to being well-liked -- you can be average or above average -- but I think being considered unattractive by many will work against a figure skater, sadly... I wish it wasn't so, but the presentation aspect of the sport means that people would rather watch more conventially attractive skaters.
Great artistry, musicality, and presentation will get a skater noticed and liked, but it's not universal. No skater will appeal to everyone; some people will want emotional connection/passion, others intricate choreography, or simple choreography, or good lines/flexibility, or a classic style, or a unique style, or interesting music choices, or having BOTH amazing athletic ability and artistry (others are satisfied with one or the other), etc. Even with skaters many people believe to have good artistry, others won't get the hype or like their style, and a few might even resent them slightly because they believe the skater(s) to be overrated while their favorite skater doesn't get enough credit.
I think you can be popular both as an underdog and a frontrunner, depending on certain things. If a skater wins all the time but people don't respect the way they're winning, then they might be unpopular, but if they're doing it in a spectacular fashion, they'll be popular and respected. And if a skater's a really talented underdog, they'll probably be popular, but if the skater's an underdog for being talented but inconsistent, they might not be so universally popular or respected. Those are just my thoughts, some of it might be wrong and some of it's probably stating the obvious.
ETA: I can't think of many skaters I dislike because of their personality. Maybe personality is extremely important to some fans, but I figure for the most part we don't really know these skaters well, and I mostly just pay attention to what skaters do on the ice. If a skater comes off extremely arrogant and rude in interviews and such (which isn't too common, I think most try to seem polite and humble), it will make probably make them unpopular for some.
Last edited by avalyn; 12-10-2012 at 07:52 AM.
With regard to unpopularity, I think a lot of times people transfer anger over questionable judging to the skaters themselves.
Also, looks seem to play a role here. If Flatt looked like Czisny, you wouldn't see the same extreme level of utter hatred. I am absolutely convinced of that.
I think sometimes it's even better that we don't know them... The core qualities always show and are very well visible from the distance. When one gets to know a person well, one often gets lost in unimportant details, and the lesser the distance, the more of those details we see.
Originally Posted by avalyn
If you really want an answer to your questions and some others, you can get it easily from those 272 pages: http://www.amazon.com/Subliminal-You...onard+mlodinow
Originally Posted by skateluvr
Unfortunately, this author knows nothing about this subject. (He is a physicist.)
Originally Posted by Daniel5555
But he wrote a wonderful book about the history of geometry for the general reader.
Fortunately, this book was written in cooperation with the leading team of neuroscientists and all information was rigorously checked.
Originally Posted by Mathman
I mean come on, Leonard is a good science writer, he doesn't have to be himself an expert in that particular field to get right everything important and to transmit that to general public. I didn't find any error in this book myself and given that I often see a lot of errors in "pop science", I surely can recommend it.
Now, not every other book he wrote is really good, to be honest...
Anyway, it's pretty undeniable that subliminal has a very big impact on judgement of figure skating, especially on fans. This is actually a very interesting subject that I plan to talk about some time in the future.
Last edited by Daniel5555; 12-10-2012 at 08:22 PM.