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Thread: Why is pairs skating the least popular of the 4 disciplines amongst fans?

  1. #16
    Spiral Lover tulosai's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pasdedeux View Post
    Buttercup, I stand corrected then . I have no idea about protocol anyway.

    About who ends up in pairs, perhaps it is not wise to make generalizations. I only have a few examples: Gordeeva in her book said she started as a singles skater but was never a strong jumper, so she got switched to pairs. Robin Szolkowy said in an interview that he also skated singles but other boys started surpassing him at one point so he switched. I am pretty sure I read somewhere that Meagan Duhamel was a singles skater (I think they were complimenting her on her ability to jump the lutz) but had issues with nerves and found it easier to skate with someone else (?)... Two young girls I skate on the same ice with here in the US recently switched to pairs because their jumping was not good enough for singles. So I guess, I just made that conclusion . I don't know much at all about how pairs are made up in China where it is obviously a very popular discipline.
    I mean, while some probably make the switch for the reasons you describe, in reality pairs requires many skills that single skating does not, and is (IMO) more difficult than singles skating, if anything.

    First, to be a pairs skater (even more than any other discipline) you need a very special body type. Many people I thinka re encouraged to make the switch (especially short, tiny ladies) simply because they have this body type and almost totally beyond any other considerations.

    Once you've crossed that threshold, you have to be comfortable executing lifts and throws, both of which are much harder than they look. You have to learn to skate in unison with your partner (much much harder than it looks) and you have to have or work to develop some 'connection' with your partner that others can see. You need to be committed not just to skating but also to the partnership.

    So I think it is way more nuanced than just 'those who can't jump, pair' and it is really not true that the jumps are harder than other elements that the pairs are expected to execute.

  2. #17
    Off the ice Buttercup's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pasdedeux View Post
    Buttercup, I stand corrected then . I have no idea about protocol anyway.

    About who ends up in pairs, perhaps it is not wise to make generalizations. I only have a few examples: Gordeeva in her book said she started as a singles skater but was never a strong jumper, so she got switched to pairs. Robin Szolkowy said in an interview that he also skated singles but other boys started surpassing him at one point so he switched. I am pretty sure I read somewhere that Meagan Duhamel was a singles skater (I think they were complimenting her on her ability to jump the lutz) but had issues with nerves and found it easier to skate with someone else (?)... Two young girls I skate on the same ice with here in the US recently switched to pairs because their jumping was not good enough for singles. So I guess, I just made that conclusion . I don't know much at all about how pairs are made up in China where it is obviously a very popular discipline.
    No worries, joining a forum is the best way to get more information and perspectives!

    Re singles to pairs, there are of course such examples - a famous one is that Maxim Marinin made the switch after losing to a much younger Evgeni Plushenko. But some skaters were always meant to go into pairs, while others competed in more than one discipline until finding the best fit. There are also skaters who switched from singles to ice dance, which is tough because the skill set is quite different. John Kerr is a notable example, and at a lower level, Alper Ucar, the male half of the first Turkish dance team to qualify for the Olympics. The Spanish ice dancers Hurtado/Diaz were singles skaters who really wanted to go into ice dance, and got the go-ahead from their federation when she was 15 and he was 18. Nathalie Pechalat made the switch at a younger age, having apparently decided that she "liked jumping but not falling"

    There are of course some skaters who went in the opposite direction, like Yamaguchi/Galindo, but that's probably less common. Although some female pairs skaters who found themselves partnerless have tried singles - Jamie Sale did so before pairing up with David Pelletier, and Israel's Dani Montalbano is now skating in ladies rather than pairs after her partnership ended.

    A lot of the Canadian skaters would compete in more than one discipline at the National level, even as seniors (Jessica Dube and Paul Poirier come to mind), and some Americans too (Charlie White also skated in singles when he was in junior).

  3. #18
    Sometimes bad skating happens to good people... LiamForeman's Avatar
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    I just find it excruciating with this new judging system. So much horrible choreography, and ugly moves for the sake of points. I also am not a fan of any pair team, they just do nothing to my sense of aesthetics.

  4. #19
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    I really enjoy pairs skating. And alot of good points have been made in this thread so far. BUT, speaking only for myself, I lose interest when there isn't anybody interesting to watch! I loved Shen and Zhao, loved Gordeeva and Grinkov, loved Sale and Pelletier, loved Sikh and his partner, and I'm really liking Denney and Coughlin. But there hasn't really been anybody other than Caydee and John in North America that strikes my interest enough to get really involved. Not a fan of Duhamel and her partner. She's way too athletic looking and I don't think they are graceful. None of the American pairs stay together long enough for anybody to get really attached to - hoping Denney and Coughlin don't retire after this year. And while CoP may have something to do with - it's certainly always easy to blame the scoring system - I do think the lack of TV coverage is the main problem. I have Universal this year and am enjoying the heck out of watching the younger pairs and wondering how long they'll stick around. But the point about North Americans getting interested in Ice Dance because of V&M and W &D is a great point. There are purists who just love skating in general - no matter who it is on the ice. Then there are people like me who have to feel some sort of attachment to maintain interest.

  5. #20
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    Pairs is my favourite discipline. I love the SBS jumps, the throws, the lifts, the spins and the many variations on the death spiral (didn't at first though). There is a real sense of exictement about it, I would always look for the pairs videos on youtube which is now much easier due to MAO88's hard work. It takes real committment and dedication with a real sense of bravery/daredevilery to succeed in Pairs. There has been so many great and exciting couples down through the years mostly from Russia but in the current generation I like the Russians, S/S, P/T, MT/M, the new chinese teams, B/H.

    I would still think it is very popular in Russia and China but I would have thought it was always the least popular in the States and that the US focus was always on singles as that is where they had all their success. I think all the disciplines have been impacted by COP mostly in a bad way, I find the calling of levels difficult at least with jumps, throws, lifts, spins (to a lesser extent) you can see what has happened.

    If one event has been ruined by COP it is definitely Ice dance, nowadays every one seems to be doing the same thing and I have no idea how all the levels are worked out, many performances I enjoyed score low due to not hitting levels. One thing I think happens now is the D/W and V/M will be way ahead of the field but in terms of PCS I find that very hard to believe, are the rest that far behind? In the last few years I am not sure there is that many routines I consider memorable, I would definitely go with V/M for Mahler and Carmen, for one of the lower teams I would pick Z/S from a few years ago.

    In summary Pairs is best.

  6. #21
    Custom Title FSGMT's Avatar
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    I think it is because CoP has made most of the elements look extremely awkward, even if they are very well executed: the lifts are endless and with ugly positions, the girls have to perform terrible positions in the death spirals and the pair spins are just SLOW most of the times; this leads to program that most of the times give to a spectator the feeling of something labored, without flow and without any artistic part

  7. #22
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    The best team was an obscure german team for 3 or 4 seasons. They had some charisma but not the most charisma! They weren't Chinese they weren't Russian they were a good German team and that had no cache in AMerica. I am just juding north America. Maybe S/S are very popular in Europe and asia or whatever but sometimes there is a time when not everyone is G/G or S/Z!

  8. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by tulosai View Post
    I mean, while some probably make the switch for the reasons you describe, in reality pairs requires many skills that single skating does not, and is (IMO) more difficult than singles skating, if anything.

    First, to be a pairs skater (even more than any other discipline) you need a very special body type. Many people I thinka re encouraged to make the switch (especially short, tiny ladies) simply because they have this body type and almost totally beyond any other considerations.

    Once you've crossed that threshold, you have to be comfortable executing lifts and throws, both of which are much harder than they look. You have to learn to skate in unison with your partner (much much harder than it looks) and you have to have or work to develop some 'connection' with your partner that others can see. You need to be committed not just to skating but also to the partnership.

    So I think it is way more nuanced than just 'those who can't jump, pair' and it is really not true that the jumps are harder than other elements that the pairs are expected to execute.
    I never meant to say that not being a strong jumper translates into the absence of any skating ability or athleticism or courage. Of course pairs skating is difficult, and it is no wonder that many successful pairs teams are relatively older. It is, as you said, about finding what works (and jumping is only one, although important, aspect of it). But given that pairs and singles skaters do some of the same elements it makes sense that a lot of pairs skaters start out as singles and then switch (although Yamaguchi/Galindo is a good example of things going the other way, but it is very rare).

  9. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by gmyers View Post
    The best team was an obscure german team for 3 or 4 seasons. They had some charisma but not the most charisma! They weren't Chinese they weren't Russian they were a good German team and that had no cache in AMerica. I am just juding north America. Maybe S/S are very popular in Europe and asia or whatever but sometimes there is a time when not everyone is G/G or S/Z!
    Gmyers, I am an ethnic Russian, classically trained and still missing G/G and the Russian dominance in pairs (but maybe that's coming back). That said, I am a big, big admirer of S/S. I love watching their programs, even when their costumes make my eyes water (Lost in Space?) Their originality, intricacy and quirkiness has been such a breath of fresh air for me that I can't help but prefer them to V/T (whom I tried hard but failed to love). I respect Aljona's courage and hope they get their throw triple Axel. Sometimes when I watch their past performance I wish they would leave their double axels or triple sals out entirely and just skate the rest of the program (I wouldn't enjoy it any less).

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    So many great posts here- I've thoroughly enjoyed reading these!

    I too am tradtionally a big fan of pairs- in fact, growing up in the 80s, my favorite disciplines were Mens and Pairs. Here are my thoughts on why pairs' popularity has declined, and I do think it has declined most dramatically in North America but also a bit in Europe.

    1) No real timeless stars in the field for a while now. I totally agree that the golden age of Tai and Randy, G & G, M & D, B & S, J & P, S & Z spoiled us a bit.

    2) No great human interest stories in pairs for a while now. Not only was the skating quality so extraordinary with the above teams but there were amazingly compelling personal stories: Tai and Randy's 1st world championship for the US in many many years followed by their heartbreaking withdrawal from the Olympics, Katia's fairy-tale come true with G & G falling in love, marrying, and having a baby, then returning to the Olympics, M & D's struggles w emotional issues that affected their performances (her eating disorder, her sadness when he chose another woman romantically etc) then being overcome with a triumphant and extraordinary performance in the '94 Olympics, Berezhnya's horrific accident and Anton's tender caring for her, S & P's improbable rise and love story on and off the ice, S & Z's overcoming poverty and poor conditions plus early issues with their skating (unison etc) to have a fantastic career and a beautiful love story. We just haven't had any dramatic stories like that of late in pairs.

    3) The break-up of the Soviet Union really harmed pairs. We no longer had an extraordinary Russian team to look forward to every season. Ice conditions were terrible there for a while, coaches were leaving, etc.

    4) No good US pairs in so so so long! I agree with the poster who said that North American media is dominant and does to some extent sway the rest of the world. This lack of good US pairs is due to the game of musical chairs our pairs teams have been playing of late, teams breaking up too quickly etc.

    5) The new judging system putting more of the emphasis on elements rather than mood, story, tone, casting a spell.

  11. #26
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    American pairs don't stay together. There's not much to get excited about.

  12. #27
    Celebrating the Excellence of #VirtueMoir golden411's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lcd View Post
    ... It also has not helped that many of the top teams over the past cycle or so, have not done much to either develop their personas beyond their status as athletes. I really couldn't tell you much about the personalities or the relationships between the athletes in many of the given teams.

    The 'gold standards' in both of these regards - skating skills and 'human interest' - such as Rodnina/Zaitsev, Tai/Randy, Gordeeva/Grinkov and arguably the Salt Lake co-gold medalists plus Shen/Zhao - all gave so much more to admire in these departments, than the current crop of skaters either CAN or do, IMO.
    Among all skaters from all disciplines from all countries:
    - Trankov is one of the most active on social media. He tweets and Instagrams like crazy -- sometimes in Russian, sometimes in English. He often tweets messages back and forth to other skaters (from pairs and other disciplines). Volosozhar sometimes chimes in too.
    - Tran and Moore-Towers also have an esp. lively presence on social media.

    As for other North Americans, honorable mentions to: Moscovitch; Duhamel/Radford; Scimeca/Knierim, Castelli, Zhang/Bartholomay, Coughlin, etc.

    You get the idea. Just like those from other disciplines, plenty of pairs skaters happily do share their personalities. If you feel you have no sense of them off the ice, it is not for lack of their efforts.

  13. #28
    and... World Peace! Tonichelle's Avatar
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    It's just too difficult to follow. In North America a lot of the teams can't even stick it out together for four years much less a competitive career. Just about the time they gel something happens and they split. Hard to get behind teams when you're always worried it "won't work out" for them to make it. It also seems like it really is becoming the sport to pick up if you "can't make it" in singles (or even dance). It's so slow and labored and I don't buy into the idea that CoP has made it that way. If ice dancers can get the speed and even the slowest of the singles skaters can get speeds more than the pairs in the footwork section then they really have no excuse IMO. Even the non footwork skating is slow and labored looking by most teams.

  14. #29
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    I like pair and its actually very exciting with jumps and lifts and at has at least drama and music. Dancing is the most boring of the 4 events and you know who is going to end up on podium even before the competition begins.

  15. #30
    Custom Title heyang's Avatar
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    As Dick Button has said, pairs should be 2 skaters skating as one. I just don't see that anymore. Pang/Tong were probably the last pairs team that I enjoyed. Since then, no one seems to have the technical and connection.

    USA has been 'weak' in pairs for many years. So, it's not surprising that there would be little pairs coverage on air. As Toni has mentioned, I don't think there's a team that has survived the last Olympics - everyone who is still skating is with a different partner and some have switched multiple times during the past 4 years.

    I don't think pairs skaters are worse then single's skaters - there are very different demands. Having all the triples is very important in singles skating. However, a great deal of team work, timing and strength (for twists, lifts, throw jumps, etc) and Nerves of steel are required for pairs jumping. I'd say that very few singles skaters, especially the ladies, have the nerves to deal with being lifted overhead and spun in the air and change positions, etc. In many ways, pairs skaters are probably more athletic than singles skaters due to the forces put on their bodies. I recall many commentators naming female pairs skaters as some of the best athletes. Also, some people compete better as part of a team vs individually - needing someone to share training and to push/pull/calm each other out on ice vs relying solely on self - while others don't like competing in teams to avoid disappointing partner or can't find an equal partner.

    I really hope to see a complete pair competing soon - otherwise, pairs could 'disappear'

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