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Thread: The Longevity of Figure Skating Fans

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    “Our blade takes us in the most amazing places.” skatingfan4ever's Avatar
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    The Longevity of Figure Skating Fans

    At some point near the end of each Olympic cycle, the thought crosses my mind that “maybe I won’t get so emotionally invested in figure skating over the next four years.” This thought especially comes if I know it’s likely that skaters I particularly enjoy will be retiring from competition soon. I tend to think, “Gosh, maybe I’ll actually be able to watch the next Olympics calmly, without getting so nervous.” However, these thoughts have proven to be entirely untrue for every Olympic cycle that I can remember. (I've been a diehard, devoted figure skating fan since 1996). I never fail to find new skaters to be nervous for and/or different reasons to be nervous for the same skaters. My nervousness and excitement never ends. My mother, on the other hand, is what I call a “Michelle Kwan and before” fan. She enjoys the cheesy pro shows because she recognizes many skaters of the past, but she doesn't know or follow the current skaters at all. As for me, every time I think I’m done being a diehard figure skating fan, I soon discover that I’m not.

    So, for us diehards, what is it about figure skating itself (as opposed to just Skater X or Skater Y) that keeps us constantly coming back for more? Part of it for me is sheer amazement at what the human body is capable of doing. I also love figure skating’s combination of art and sport. My first exposure to many pieces of music was/is through figure skating. When I hear the piece in a different context, I think about the applicable skating program(s) while listening. I can’t really explain why I care so much about figure skating, but the fact is that I do, and probably always will. My fellow diehards, why does figure skating continuously captivate you? Fire away!

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    I have to admit I like skating less now that I have since 1994. There are a few reasons. First, it seems every up-and-comer I like flames out a year or two after a good season. Second, there isn't an American lady who is world champion caliber; we had Kristi/Nancy/Tonya, then Michelle, then Sasha, then we thought Mirai but she never improved after 2010. Finally, as a fan it frustrates me seeing a program that I thought would win end up losing because of marginal UR calls.

    However, what I do like is that since COP has made skating so difficult, it is a truly special moment when we witness it all come together for a skater because it happens quite infrequently now. In addition, I think Johnny and Tara's insight into COP makes watching more fun.

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    The longevity of the fandom for figure skating is largely dependent upon the perpetuity of cyber-culture discourse, flame wars. What makes you think why Mao and Yuna is still skating for god's sake, with the latter being already an Olympic gold medalist? - For their respective (and respectful) fans, that's why!

    Oh my God, I can't wait for the coming eight years of Lipnitskaya vs. Radionova! It's gonna be wonderful.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AllYouDoIsTalk View Post
    The longevity of the fandom for figure skating is largely dependent upon the perpetuity of cyber-culture discourse, flame wars. What makes you think why Mao and Yuna is still skating for god's sake, with the latter being already an Olympic gold medalist? - For their respective (and respectful) fans, that's why!

    Oh my God, I can't wait for the coming eight years of Lipnitskaya vs. Radionova! It's gonna be wonderful.
    I have the impression that Yuna wanted to be in the Olympic Committee as an athlete representative. To do so she has to be active within certain length of period of time. I forgot the detail but it was reported some time ago.

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    I've been following figure skating since the late 50's (and yes, I'm dating myself by stating that) It was difficult then because you didn't get to see much - only read about it. I think what kept me going in the later years was getting attached to people like Kurt Browning and Gordeeva and Grinkov, to name a few and those wonderful days when we had great TV coverage without having to buy a sports package. Having SOI and the World Champion tours just made it all the better because you could actually see some of these skaters in person that before you only saw on TV.

    There are times when I hate the internet because it allows people to be anonymous and tee off on anybody they want to - without responsibility for their comments. On the other hand, there are wonderful YouTubes where you can go back and look at classic performances, live streaming, etc. And I do enjoy some of the insider stuff that gets posted.

    What does bother me, however, are the fans who literally worship their favorite skater to almost a fault - offset by the fans that criticize everything down to a skater's hairdo. Neither polarized opinions are very entertaining after awhile. But for longevity, there always seems to be someone up and coming that attracts my attention and makes me want to see what their future will hold in the sport.

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    Custom Title spikydurian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noskates View Post
    I've been following figure skating since the late 50's (and yes, I'm dating myself by stating that) It was difficult then because you didn't get to see much - only read about it. I think what kept me going in the later years was getting attached to people like Kurt Browning and Gordeeva and Grinkov, to name a few and those wonderful days when we had great TV coverage without having to buy a sports package. Having SOI and the World Champion tours just made it all the better because you could actually see some of these skaters in person that before you only saw on TV.

    There are times when I hate the internet because it allows people to be anonymous and tee off on anybody they want to - without responsibility for their comments. On the other hand, there are wonderful YouTubes where you can go back and look at classic performances, live streaming, etc. And I do enjoy some of the insider stuff that gets posted.

    What does bother me, however, are the fans who literally worship their favorite skater to almost a fault - offset by the fans that criticize everything down to a skater's hairdo. Neither polarized opinions are very entertaining after awhile. But for longevity, there always seems to be someone up and coming that attracts my attention and makes me want to see what their future will hold in the sport.
    Thanks noskates. You said it all for me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by drivingmissdaisy View Post
    I have to admit I like skating less now that I have since 1994. There are a few reasons. First, it seems every up-and-comer I like flames out a year or two after a good season. Second, there isn't an American lady who is world champion caliber; we had Kristi/Nancy/Tonya, then Michelle, then Sasha, then we thought Mirai but she never improved after 2010. Finally, as a fan it frustrates me seeing a program that I thought would win end up losing because of marginal UR calls.

    However, what I do like is that since COP has made skating so difficult, it is a truly special moment when we witness it all come together for a skater because it happens quite infrequently now. In addition, I think Johnny and Tara's insight into COP makes watching more fun.
    I didn't write the above quote, but I might as well have. Agree completely.

    I've been an FS fan since 84 Sarajevo. Probably even earlier since I grew up in NJ where Elaine Zayak was a state treasure. We all loved her and followed her competitions like crazy. So it's been a long and winding road since then. I do get amused when the 'rivalries' come up and skating boards get into a basic rumble. Mao v. Yuna? LOL. Yuna has so many weaknesses as does Mao, I find it amusing the passionate defenses to these skaters. Don't worry, I was Tiffany Chin's defender until she imploded. (Was there ever a more beautiful and exquisite skater than Tiffany Chin???? God, that was 30 years ago and I'm still hung up on her skating, but I digress....)

    The 'new' judging system just made me check out. All the spins were the same, the footwork the same and had nothing to do with the music. I used to know everything and all things figure skating. Today I just watch on Youtube the programs that seem to get buzz.

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    and... World Peace! Tonichelle's Avatar
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    Fan wars and just the ugliness that the internet brings out in people is why I am not as gungho as I was a few years ago. It just got too tired.

    I still enjoy what the sport is, and I'm one of those that has very little problem with the CoP era. I do miss the personalities of the "Golden Era" (here in N America anyway) but honestly I normally like the skaters after they just do show skating more than I do their competitive persona(s).

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    After rooting for Tonya Harding, I learned not to get too caught up in the fate of any specific skater.

    I stay interested because I'm interested in skating -- in all the different things skaters can do with blades on ice, and the different ways to inflect the basic technical moves to express music and add up to something more than just technical skills.

    So I'm always interested in who can push the limits on doing something really difficult, or doing something really really well, or varying and combining skills in original ways.

    With the advent of IJS I'm less interested in comparing skaters to each other and more interested in evaluating how well they did each move and how well they fulfill the various PCS criteria.

    One criterion of the Choreography component is Purpose, which was never an official criterion under 6.0. It's always been rare for a program to have a coherent purpose. Maybe there was a period in the late 1980s-early 1990s (ice dance) and a little later in freestyle when more skaters made this a priority, and maybe it's become less common in long programs under IJS since there are so many requirements to tick off.

    Short programs have always been about ticking requirements, and it's easier to maintain coherence in a shorter program, so I don't see much change in the degree of "Purpose" in short programs.

    It does seem to me that there's less of a sense now of evaluating whether are sufficiently "feminine" or "masculine" (as the case may be) or "mature" enough, as though that should be a deciding factor in results. So that's a welcome development but maybe leaves out some of the interesting tension.

    There's still tension among power and freedom and technical control and refinement, just less gendered.

    Creativity in transitions gets me excited.

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    I have been a skating fan since the 1998 Olympics. While I acknowledge the merits of the COP system, I can't help feeling some of the magic under 6.0 is missing from skating nowadays. I believe the system has helped improved skating overall. I remember some programs under 6.0 being almost completely devoid of choreography besides the jumps. At least now, skaters are required to complete a variety of skating elements. However, at the same time, because skaters are conforming to the same requirements, programs tend to become somewhat predictable. The old system allowed for more spontaneity and originality, which led to more excitement for the viewers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by skatingfan4ever View Post
    At some point near the end of each Olympic cycle, the thought crosses my mind that “maybe I won’t get so emotionally invested in figure skating over the next four years.” This thought especially comes if I know it’s likely that skaters I particularly enjoy will be retiring from competition soon.
    This is the best part! Old skaters that we've seen way too much of clearing out so we get to see some new faces.

    Quote Originally Posted by skatingfan4ever View Post
    So, for us diehards, what is it about figure skating itself (as opposed to just Skater X or Skater Y) that keeps us constantly coming back for more?
    Sometimes I get invested in certain skaters more but in general a skater is only as good as their last program/performance, IMO. I have never understood fandom and never will.

    It's the sport itself that's amazing. The fact that it's so complex and that it has so many aspects to it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ziggy View Post
    It's the sport itself that's amazing. The fact that it's so complex and that it has so many aspects to it.
    I share this sentiment completely.

    The reason I like skating more than other sports is the complexity and the tensions between contradictory aspects.

    Well, and it's just fun to do it, as well, even at a much lower level.

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    “Our blade takes us in the most amazing places.” skatingfan4ever's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ziggy View Post
    This is the best part! Old skaters that we've seen way too much of clearing out so we get to see some new faces.

    It's the sport itself that's amazing. The fact that it's so complex and that it has so many aspects to it.
    This is what I'm discovering as the years go by. I'm discovering that I actually enjoy the sport itself, regardless of the particular skaters or scoring system involved. At first, I thought IJS could never be as great to watch as 6.0. but then skaters like Patrick, Dai, YuNa, Mao, Carolina, Akiko, etc came along and made IJS beautiful to watch. It's always fun to see skaters grow and develop over time. When new faces come on the scene, they often have a youthful exuberance that is contagious. I love to see skaters succeed. Their excitement gets me excited!

    This is such a happy, positive thread. Thanks for all the wonderful posts so far. Keep them coming! Pepe Nero, you're welcome. I also find these types of threads very interesting.

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    I started to watch figure skating in early sixties and got really interested in men´s skating because of John Curry in early seventies. It is the the sport of figure skating that really I love, lots of favourites have appeared and gone and new ones have arrived on the ice, but the sport goes on... Figure skating forums I started to read in 1996 and to follow skating competition reviews as I got my computer for that reason (had seen at work what wonderful things a computer can offer for a figure skating fan).

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    I wish I had started this thread because I ask myself the same question at the start of every new season.

    My interest began in the early 70s, particularly the 1972 Olympics. As a non-athletic type, I was dazzled by what the skaters could do on that thin blade, just as I was by gymnasts. Also back then it was easier to keep up with the sport since so much of it was broadcast on ABC’s Wide World of Sports and such. Now I struggle to find scraps of news on the Internet and in forums like this, which, of course pales in comparison to seeing the actual skating competitions.

    Michelle Kwan kept me interested until 2006, then Alissa Czisny captured my attention, both because she is an exquisite skater (if not competitor) and because she is from Bowling Green, Ohio where I completed my undergraduate degree. I want to see the “hometown girl” succeed.

    I’m assuming Alissa will retire from skating after this season, and after the Sochi games, I’m retiring from it too. It just all seems to have lost its punch and sparkle, I’m tired of the “one season wonders”, I don’t get to watch it anymore, and I’m over the nastiness that crops up on the forums, so it’ll be a natural, gradual withdraw. * sigh *

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