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Thread: "Skate Canada still searching for its lost mojo" (Mar 11, National Post)

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    Gambatte, Max Aaron/"No letting off the gas pedal" golden411's Avatar
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    "Skate Canada still searching for its lost mojo" (Mar 11, National Post)

    Skate Canada still searching for its lost mojo
    Cam Cole
    13/03/11 | Last Updated: 13/03/11 7:37 PM ET
    http://sports.nationalpost.com/2013/...for-lost-mojo/

    Discussion of the status and future of figure skating in Canada.

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    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
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    This is about, among other things, why Worlds is being held in a 7,000 seat arena, not an 18,000 seat arena, among other things.

    Canada can't, of course, put the decline down to bad results by Canadians.

    They mention the Salt Lake scandal, and the IJS as problems. They mention the odd premise that old skate fans who remember 6.0 will have to die out before the sport is popular again.

    A bright point:



    “But what is encouraging is that the demographics, which have tended to be female, and older, are changing with technology, Twitter, what’s happening with the internet and a younger audience’s connection with the skaters,” Boland said.

    “And we have 190,000 members in this country. We’re still the largest skating federation in the world, and that obviously includes CanSkate, which is where Patrick started and where (Carolina Hurricanes’) Jeff Skinner started — he was our juvenile men’s podium winner at one time — so that’s important.
    And they sing the praises of socila media for getting some younger folks involved. with skating fandom (and skating).

    I wonder how long before all Skate Canada international team members will have to tweet & facebook?

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    Well, they have a long time to wait if they are going to wait for the "OLD' skate fans who remember 6.0 to die out. In fact, after those loyal "oldies" (who put up with much too much to follow the sport) die out, they may have a lot less fans. I plan on being here at least another 30 years!!!!!!

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    Odd that they discuss going to a smaller arena for Worlds and avoiding places like Scotiabank in Ottawa and MTS in Winnipeg. Scotiabank has actually had skating events over the past few years. It's an interesting inconsistency.

    The article briefly mentions Cinquanta won't be there this year. I wonder why not, since he's usually there.

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    How odd that they think that skating will be better off if its main fans die out. Speaking as a member of the uncool demographic they denigrate, I take umbrage. Do they imply that young fans won't approach skating as long as we are here to drag the thing down? I wonder whether they've noticed that a lot of young kids don't seem to mind being Beatles or Lord of the Rings fans even though they have to share with other generations.

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    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dorispulaski View Post
    They mention the Salt Lake scandal, and the IJS as problems.
    Salt Lake City and the IJS cannot be the cause, because the decline started well before 2002. Nor is it the lack of a female superstar -- in the U.S. at least, Michelle Kwan was at her very Kwaniest when the decline began to be a big concern to skating organizations.

    I think we have to look at larger societal entertainment trends that are far beyond the reach of the figure skating establishment to affect.

    As for hoping that old fans will die, well, that may be a good thing just on general principles , but it won't help figure skating attract a new audience.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Antilles View Post
    The article briefly mentions Cinquanta won't be there this year. I wonder why not, since he's usually there.
    Perhaps he's too embarrassed because the recent Junior Worlds in Milan was such a technical and organizational fiasco.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Icey View Post
    Well, they have a long time to wait if they are going to wait for the "OLD' skate fans who remember 6.0 to die out. In fact, after those loyal "oldies" (who put up with much too much to follow the sport) die out, they may have a lot less fans. I plan on being here at least another 30 years!!!!!!
    Um, I'm in my late 30s and remember the 6.0 system! I plan to live a LONG time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Icey View Post
    Well, they have a long time to wait if they are going to wait for the "OLD' skate fans who remember 6.0 to die out. In fact, after those loyal "oldies" (who put up with much too much to follow the sport) die out, they may have a lot less fans. I plan on being here at least another 30 years!!!!!!
    The article says "The hunch is that it might take a full generation for the old 6.0 crowd to give up the ghost, and for audiences to recognize (and the ISU to more strenuously promote) record-setting skates." That's the author's wording, not a quote from any of the officials. We don't know whether he's speculating on his own or paraphrasing what the official informants had to say, and if the latter what exactly they said.

    Literally "give up the ghost" means to die, but it's often used just to mean "give up." In this context it could mean something more along the lines of "give up clinging to the past" -- and either stop following skating or embrace the new scoring system. Obviously the latter would be best for the sport.


    Although this discussion does remind me of when I did my masters degree directing a play that was fairly sexually explicit and left-wing in its politics at a university that had built its fairly conservative theatre department reputation and audience 50 years earlier. Those members of the original audience who were still attending performances on campus were not likely to enjoy my thesis show. My thought was that the university needed to serve the needs of the students it had in the 1990s and develop new outside audiences who would appreciate the newer repertory, not simply to cater to an older audience, because eventually that audience would disappear by attrition. But if the shows were advertised accurately, then each potential spectator could make an informed decision about which plays they were most interested in attending.

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    Gambatte, Max Aaron/"No letting off the gas pedal" golden411's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dorispulaski View Post
    I wonder how long before all Skate Canada international team members will have to tweet & facebook?
    Many, many skaters from Team Canada and elsewhere seem to happily use social media. And I would bet that most started to do so and would continue to do so completely on their own volition, not because of any arm-twisting or edict from Skate Canada or another federation.
    Embracing social media is hardly unnatural for the age range of competitive skaters (or for any age range, at this point).
    Most social media platforms were created for and remain very popular for -- guess what? -- pure socializing.
    Once the eyes of Skate Canada and other feds were opened to the marketing power of social media, no doubt that the skaters have been encouraged to think in those terms more often. But the purpose and value of social media certainly are not limited to self-promotion.

    For example:
    Canadian national champions Chan, Duhamel, Radford, and Osmond seem to enjoy active use of social media.
    As do Weaver/Poje, Gilles, Poirier, Orford, Williams, Paul, Islam, Ralph, Hill, Moore-Towers, Moscovitch, Lawrence, Lacoste ....
    (Although Virtue/Moir are exceptions who are more comfortable without social media for self-promotion, my understanding is that Moir at least has a private Facebook account -- the point being that FB itself is not some kind of hardship for him.)

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    I still maintain that the decline in figure skating enthusiasm has more to do with the lack of exposure to it than anything else! Here in the US we're getting 3 hours of coverage AFTER THE COMPETITION IS OVER. The stupid Universal channel that the USFSA shook hands with is elite and difficult to find - and costs an arm and a leg and you get a bunch of other channels in the package you'll never watch in a million years. My local cable carrier had never even heard of Universal! Also the decline in popularity of Stars on Ice, the demise of World Tour of Figure Skaters and skating shows in general. The USFSA does little or nothing to advertise or promote figure skating. The 2012 Nationals was in San Jose, Califoria, and it was pitiful how few people even knew it was going on. Get some of the elite skaters on talk shows, have them interviewed on television news and magazine shows (Extra E!News, Entertainment Tonite, Access, etc.) Talk it up!

    I have no idea what goes on in Canada but the TV coverage there is superb compared to the lower 48!

    And another gripe (I'm on a roll) The cost of tickets for competitions is getting to be totally outrageous! $200 to watch the exhibition after the Boston Nationals. How many families could take their children to that event? It just seems to me like the sport of figure skating is shooting itself in the foot and then complaining about the foot hurting! HELLO!!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by noskates View Post
    I still maintain that the decline in figure skating enthusiasm has more to do with the lack of exposure to it than anything else! Here in the US we're getting 3 hours of coverage AFTER THE COMPETITION IS OVER. The stupid Universal channel that the USFSA shook hands with is elite and difficult to find - and costs an arm and a leg and you get a bunch of other channels in the package you'll never watch in a million years. My local cable carrier had never even heard of Universal! Also the decline in popularity of Stars on Ice, the demise of World Tour of Figure Skaters and skating shows in general. The USFSA does little or nothing to advertise or promote figure skating. The 2012 Nationals was in San Jose, Califoria, and it was pitiful how few people even knew it was going on. Get some of the elite skaters on talk shows, have them interviewed on television news and magazine shows (Extra E!News, Entertainment Tonite, Access, etc.) Talk it up!

    I have no idea what goes on in Canada but the TV coverage there is superb compared to the lower 48!

    And another gripe (I'm on a roll) The cost of tickets for competitions is getting to be totally outrageous! $200 to watch the exhibition after the Boston Nationals. How many families could take their children to that event? It just seems to me like the sport of figure skating is shooting itself in the foot and then complaining about the foot hurting! HELLO!!!!
    USFSA is worried that figure skating is falling in popularity here in the US but they don't seem to want to make it easy or affordable to watch due to their deal with Universal. Plus all the inherent excitement of watching skaters battle it out in live, high-pressure competitions is eroded because of NBC's tape delay. I actually heard that NBC is going to show highlights of the World Championships a WEEK after the competition. So the old days, when you could casually flip through Saturday afternoon sports channels and maybe stumble upon an exciting skating competition are gone, and with it, the opportunity to appeal to a broader range of people who might want to take up the sport and/or follow it and go to ice shows.

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    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gkelly View Post
    The article says "The hunch is that it might take a full generation for the old 6.0 crowd to give up the ghost, and for audiences to recognize (and the ISU to more strenuously promote) record-setting skates."
    Maybe. But if what a sports fan seeks is higher, faster, stronger, more quads, more points, that fan has many sport to choose from (except for the quads part ). There is no reason for such a sports fan to choose figure skating to take an interest in. Figure skating needs to dig in and emphasize what makes it different from other sports, not what makes it the same.

    As to "recognizing" great skating, the problem is that when someone attends a sporting event for entertainment, that fan does not want to handed his homework assignment at the door.

    The theater department at a university is an interesting comparison. To me, the purpose of having a theater department is to allow students to learn something about theater and to train to become actors. If the old fogies don't want to attend the plays, so be it. I guess figure skating is the same -- except then we can't simultaneously complain about "the decline of audience interest."

    Quote Originally Posted by noskates View Post
    I still maintain that the decline in figure skating enthusiasm has more to do with the lack of exposure to it than anything else! Here in the US we're getting 3 hours of coverage AFTER THE COMPETITION IS OVER.
    But is it the chicken or the egg? Has interest declined because TV coverage has dropped off, or is it the other way around?

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    It's Capitalism people. Figure skating isn't a pro sport, which means it's not profitable. In the old days when CEOs don't make millions a year, profits are not everything and TV stations put some time away for showing stuff that's actually happening. They don't bother anymore, which is normal.
    Keep in mind that, it's also a sport better watched on youtube than live. In a way, figure skating kills itself with the Internet arising literally by being figure skating. That being said, I don't see anything wrong with figure skating being a chill, minor Olympic sport. It's still by far the most popular winter olympics sport.

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    Are sports like skiing, track etc that profitable, yet the events are frequently shown on tv? Skating probably needs to modernize itself in some ways to have mass appeal. This is tongue in cheek but: they could start by replacing the flower girls with some sexy football cheerleader types to draw in the guys. ROTF Question: why no flower boys? lol Tennis has ball boys.

    Re a comment above: All of us "oldies" are not clinging to the 6.0 system.

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