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Thread: What´s Going On To Pro Skaters?

  1. #1
    Rinkside
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    What´s Going On To Pro Skaters?

    There are very few pro events.
    Michelle was right to stay eligible, Lucinda Ruh isnt very happy in her new statatus as pro skater, Tara is out, many male skaters have dissapeared of the map. What is the fate of professional skating?

  2. #2
    ~ Figure Skating Is My Passion ~ Ladskater's Avatar
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    Lantz:

    I am not sure if there is a "pat" answer to this. Are you mainly talking about professional competitions? I don't think there are as many of these events as there was.

    Of course, all skaters in the past knew once they left the amateur ranks they would turn "pro." Most of them either went on to teach or to join an ice show. Really, years ago their were few options. I think today's skaters have more doors open for them. Some have expressed a desire to act or to persue other avenues in the entertainment industry. Robin Cousins has had an amazing career. There is also open the opportunity to become a choreographer (like Sandra Bezic for example).

    Skaters remain in the amateur ranks longer now and compete for a longer period as well so lucrative careers in skating do come their way eventually.

    I don't think it's as bad as you think!!! We just don't get the opportunity to see our favorite skaters as long as we would like.

  3. #3
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    It arose from the ashes of a phoenix known as "Nancy-Tonya" and as FS has slowled down in the eyes of the general public, there is less opprotunity and desire to see FS on TV, where a lot of pro competitions were aired.

    ETA: Of course Pro skating, including SOI, COI, World Pros etc. existed before Lillehammer, but those events set off a huge public appetite in skating. That's why it seemed like there were so many professional skating comps and events.


    The mid 1990s were in a way a "golden age" of pro skating, where there used to be a comp almost every other week.
    Last edited by lulu; 02-19-2004 at 11:25 PM.

  4. #4
    ~ Figure Skating Is My Passion ~ Ladskater's Avatar
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    lulu:

    Alas, the public is "fickle." Yes, the Kerrigan-Harding fiasco packed them into the skating rinks and around the tube, but after the "dust" settled figure skating went back to its roots - mainly for skaters and previous skaters (like me) to sit and enjoy without putting on our skates.

    As for the opportunites - skaters still reap rewarding careers from their amateur competitive pursuits. Of course, as always, the more medals and titles they have the better they do.

    Figure skating is still a passion here in Canada for most people and will always fill the rinks when the great skaters hit town - either for a show or a competition - so that remains the same. As long as we have that I am happy. And I can still head down to my local rink and put on my skates when I get the urge!

  5. #5
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    Was there a World Pros last year? I don't remember reading about one. It would be a shame if there wasn't at least one big competion where professional skaters could compete in each year.

  6. #6
    Rinkside
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    Pro Skating

    There are hardly any pro skating events left. I was thinking that I miss them, but then again when I think about the last team competition (can’t remember the name) it seemed like a big deal when a lady landed a triple toe. I think in one of her programs Nicole Bobek did not even attempt a triple and opted for a double flip. Many juvenile skaters and lower can do a double flip. The quality, especially in ladies, is just not the same in the pro ranks these days as it was in the mid-nineties. I think the public enjoyed watching pro skating for its entertainment value. But this got old after a while. The quality of the skating declined, and many pro skaters put routines together that were waaaay over the top, which got old, too, after a while. Not to mention that the pro skaters were on television almost every week performing the same programs. Also, pro skaters really have nothing on the line, which is another problem. Pro-skating never organized and put serious competitions together. I always wished that there would be a pro worlds where skaters had to qualify, as opposed to the former World pro’s where only a few invited skaters were allowed to perform. Wouldn’t it be great if someone who never made it as an amateur for whatever reason could qualify and compete in a world pro championship against a former Olympian and maybe even beat them?

  7. #7
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    Ice Wars competition/show was very well attended and the broadcast rating was notably higher than for eligible skating. I read that on a skating forum.

    World Pro was not held in 2003, which is a great pity. The previous one was in 2002 and it was not an all-pro event as it should have been. As a pro-am it did not win much interest. I remember reading negative comments and skating fans wishing that it would have been a true pro event.

    Marjaana

  8. #8
    Custom Title Joesitz's Avatar
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    Pro competitions killed themselves. Very little 'sport' involved. Mostly silly routines and sillier costumes and no one gets lower marks than 9,7.

    Show skating is still around although box office is less than before. This could be due to the economy.

    Joe

  9. #9
    Keeper of Michelle's Nose berthes ghost's Avatar
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    Poor business plan.

    Tonya/Nancy provided a boom that pro skating neither engineered nor expected.

    They took full advantage of their good luck by making as much money during thier 15 minutes of fame as they could, but there was never any thought of long term or prolongment or even a future.

    Once the audience got bored, the carnies pulled-up the tent stakes and drove out of town. I'm sure that Dick Button and Scott Hamilton made quite tidy little retirement packages for themselves. The skaters limped back off to Harvard Business school or wherever they were headed anyway, this time with fatter wallets is all, and pro skating was back to business as usual as if the boom had never happened.
    Last edited by berthes ghost; 02-20-2004 at 08:51 AM.

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    Re: Pro Skating

    Originally posted by Destiny
    Wouldn’t it be great if someone who never made it as an amateur for whatever reason could qualify and compete in a world pro championship against a former Olympian and maybe even beat them?
    A while back (maybe 1998 or 1999 ?) Leonova and Khvalko won the world pro title in pairs. In doing so, they did beat former Olympians. I don't think either of them had any success as senior skaters.

    Of course, that's the only example that I can think of

    Yana

  11. #11
    Rinkside
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    Hi all,
    I usually just read the boards, and don't post much, but this issue is close to my heart, and I have to put my two cents in. I am the mom of a former competitive skater, and have been watching skating since I was a little girl. My first favorite skater was Janet Lynn, to give you all an idea of how long I have been watching.

    The problem with pro skating these days: a catch 22. There are no opportunities for pro skaters, because there are no new skaters turning pro. There are no new skaters turning pro, because there are no opportunities.

    The late 80's and early 90's were the golden age of pro skating. The skaters went to World Pros and the Challenge of Champions with their best stuff, and really took it seriously. Back then, of course, a skater could lose their eligibility by taking anything worth more than $25 dollars, so they HAD to go pro. You trained, got as high as you could, and if you were lucky, had a pro career. American skaters would never stay eligible after medaling at an Olympics, because you couldn't expect mom and dad to keep footing the bill for your training. Boitano has said many times that he really didn't want to turn pro in 88. His family had been footing the bill for long enough, and it was time to start making money.

    IMHO, the reason the rules were changed to allow skaters to make money was not to help out the skater, it was to help the ISU maintain control. The pro events were very well attended, and the pros were talking about organizing. The pros were starting to have control, and the ISU wanted to stop that. The mid 90's were an abberation, with the public not being able to get enough skating due to the Tonya-Nancy thing. Most of the events were silly, and the public eventually tired of it.
    In the meantime, there were no new USA skaters turning pro. Why turn pro when you can stay eligible and get paid for apearances, make commercials, and win prize money for competing in the Olympic ranks. The new pros were mostly from the old soviet countries, and they weren't always able to capture the American audiences.

    When your highest profile skaters stay eligible (Michelle Kwan) or stay in the not quite eligible but not pro status (Todd Eldridge for those years) of course people will watch the eligible competitions more than the pro events.

    What killed the World Pros, again IMHO, was the year that they opened it up to the eligible skaters. The highest profile USA skaters (Yamaguchi and Boitano) stopped competing, because it was no longer truly a pro event.
    Now, the pro opportunities are shows, and the pros have to compete with the eligible skaters to be invited to shows.
    The reason you see the same pros over and over is due to the fact that IMG has so much power. Most of the pros are IMG skaters, and if you are not, you basically don't get work. (Except for Boitano, who has no formal represention.)
    The skaters DO use the same programs over and over, because as anyone who has ever skated knows, it takes months to perfect a program and make it audience ready. If you are on tour, and preparing for multiple shows (say, all the IMG skaters who are the SOI crowd) you just don't have time to have a lot of different programs.
    The eligible skaters use the same program all season as well of course, you have a short program and a long program, and probably an exibition program or two for competition gala's and tours if you are lucky enough to be invited to be on it. For some reason that doesn't seem to bother the audience, but heaven forbid the pros use the same programs over and over...

    The most successful North American pros are still the classes of 84, 88 and 92 (Hamilton, Orser, Sumners, Witt, Boitano, Kadavy, Browning, Yamaguchi, and Wylie.) These skaters (except for Browning) all turned pro BEFORE a skater could make money in the eligible ranks. (I am not including the Russian pros, Ilia, Katia, Viktor, Oksana, etc, I am talking about the Americans now.)
    These skaters all took their pro career extremely seriously, and still do. They were (and are) successful as pros because they were grateful for a way to make money after working hard and having success in the amateur ranks. It was the way they paid the bills, and you needed to work hard, and keep up your technical content, so people would pay to see you skate.

    Now success in the eligible world is the reward in itself (read $$$$) These skaters think of the pro world as a place to have fun and relax when you are done competiting. This view is not wrong, just a different way of approaching the pro world than when you couldn't make money competiting.

    Besides putting a dagger in the heart of pro skating, the fact that skaters no longer HAVE to go pro have changed the face of eligible skating in the USA. It is hard for the up and coming skaters to be able to have their day in the sun, because the old champions never leave. Again, I am not saying this is good or bad, just that it is a fact of life in the new world of skating.

  12. #12
    Keeper of Michelle's Nose berthes ghost's Avatar
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    For some reason that doesn't seem to bother the audience, but heaven forbid the pros use the same programs over and over...
    Very true.

    One thing that would have helped though, is if the pro events had a hierarchy to them like the eligable events do.

    It's very well established that Euros is more impresive than Lalique and that worlds is more impressive than Euros etc... but what is the difference between Ice Wars, Gold, and Hershey's Kisses Classic?

    I really enjoyed the short lived event back from the classic Nancy vs Oksana days that had 3 parts, so you could follow the progress. "OK, Denise beat Caryn and Liz in the first part, but will she beat Yuka and Oksana in the second part" etc..

  13. #13
    Rinkside
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    I agree, berthes ghost, that there should have been a hierarchy to the pro competitions. They tried to do that once, I think, near the end of the World Pros. The skaters who won the US Pros or the Canadian Pros were automatically invited to the World Pros, for example. But, by that time the World Pros were already on life support, and the Pro competitons were on the way out.

    People make fun of Ice Wars, but Ilia did two triple axles in his technical program, and Boitano did a triple-triple combination and a Lutz in his technical. What ever anyone thinks of the actual programs, the men came to Albany with their best stuff.

  14. #14
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    I remember how cool it was to see different skaters in the World Pro championships like Rory Flack-Burghart and Charlene Wong. What really pissed me off about those competitions was how a skater with an OM or well known would beat a good performance from one of those skaters just because of reputation. Why have a competition just to hold up a pathetic skate from Katarina Witt? I like Kat Witt, but she didn't do any triples and Charlene Wong did 2 of them and was just as graceful.. the technical content was not there for Kat. I think there are lots of skaters out there who can really shine in the pro ranks because they don't need all the triples and can concentrate on having nice programs.

    As for doing the same program over and over again... with all the eligible events going on, it gets really stale seeing the same eligible programs over and over again which is why the ratings aren't so great there. Pro skating was pretty big before 1994 b/c Brian Boitano and others were competing in well organized events. I think that the downfall happened when they stopped organizing their events well and had them at a whim.

  15. #15
    Salchows and Shimmies!!!
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    It wasn't helped by the sheer junk that crept into the pro world. The "Rock N' Roll Skating Championship." "Too Hot to Skate" and that horrific one where the audience voted for the winners (gee, lets watch Scott Hamilton mug and ham it up and do double jumps and win over skaters with much better programs and more difficult technique). Ladies skating draws the highest ratings in the US, and I don't mean to sound harsh, but after 1994, the top Ladies turning pro left a lot to be desired, competition-wise. Baiul was injured shortly into her pro career and then her life fell apart and her pro performances became exercises in histrionics instead of quality skating. Nancy Kerrigan's early pro days were affected by her bitterness over the Olympics and she gave careless performances that looked like they were phoned in. (She once commented something to the effect that it didn't matter how she placed because all the skaters were being paid the same to appear!!) Tara's less than stellar pro career featured either team competitions or comps designed specifically for her where her toughest competitor was Surya Bonaly and she was guaranteed to win no matter how she performed (I won't even go into her total avoidance of pro-ams to insure that she would never face Michelle Kwan again in head to head competition). Just based on these three alone, I can see why Michelle wouldn't want to go pro!!!!

    Pro skating used to mean Landover World Pros and truly quality competition (I still sigh when I remember Kristi at one World Pro comp furious with herself for a fall, and Kristy Naess soothing her saying, "You just sat down, you just sat down"--she was head to head against Midori and the performances were brilliant). Than after 94 it slid down into a "make a killing and run" little comps with Scott mugging it up, Phillipe taking his shirt off, Oksana laying on the ice for two minutes clutching her stomach and Kat gyrating and looking sexy which tended to bury the skaters who tended to give truly quality performances such as Boitano, Orser, Sato and Kadavy. Overkill and lack of quality did pro skating in, and I hope to see it rise like a Phoenix from the ashes, someday.
    Last edited by Yazmeen; 02-20-2004 at 02:01 PM.

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