Which skater's performance at Sochi 2014 is most likely to boost the sports popularity?
Certain individuals have the charisma to take sports to new heights of popularity through their performances. Sonja Henie was the pioneer who accomplished that in figure skating. Borg and McEnroe achieved something similar in Tennis, and Usain Bolt has done wonders for the popularity of Athletics in recent times. Other sporting figures have more of an impact in their home country/area of the world, rather than world wide. Peggy Fleming, for instance, boosted the popularity of figure skating in the United States by winning the 1968 Olympics, whilst Mao Asada has been key to enhancing its popularity in Japan (likewise Kim Yuna in South Korea).
Nevertheless, in terms of the world wide popularity of figure skating, is there any one skater who could produce a brilliant performance at the 2014 Olympics which would significantly improve the popularity of figure skating? If so, who is the most likely to produce it?
Forever stuck on those steps
I'll answer what a lot of people will: Jason Brown.
If I'd have to pick a lady, it would probably be Kaetlyn Osmond. They have that engaging quality, which I think is at least as important as medal chances
Adelina Sotnikova can boost the sport, although it isn't very likely that she'll be clean enough to medal. Aside from Yuna, Mao, and Caro most of the women look like robots skating their programs.
world popularity ? not likely
but regional or continental boost/popularity could happen if the following skaters win:
aside from Mao and Yuna who are already superstars in their respective countries
Yuzuru Hanyu - what the men's japanese has been waiting for , the most perfect prototype of a skater
attarctive, beautiful lines, effortless jumps, the skater without any flaws even Chan can't compete with that !!!
Jason Brown - for men's popularity in North America, he incorporates showmanship and most wont see him as effiminate
he is a perfect blend to get attention to men's FS
Gracie Gold - her looks alone if she wins will get a lot of buzz in the media and the us
the America's sweetheart, America's love for a beautiful blonde girl, Grace Kelly dead ringer and Hollywood beauty type
projects good acting on ice in artistry, speed, big jumps and power. I can go on about Gracie being the most superior skater
she is what the US has been looking for since Dorothy Hamil
Julia Lipnitskaya - will bring interest from younger girls and will push a new face in figure skating
a more younger audience and 16-18 year old figure skater Olympian winners will be more common
overall, I think Gracie will be the biggest face and change if she wins
I have never seen before close to a perfect skater, physically and body type is very ideal
How's that 4S coming along?
Originally Posted by sky_fly20
better rate landing them than Chan's falling 3A and quads
Originally Posted by CanadianSkaterGuy
I think Jason Brown has that potential for the men while Julia Lipnitskaya does for the ladies. I could see them comparing her to Sasha here in the US for her flexibility.
I don't believe any one individual skater has the power to boost skatings popularity "world wide". Within their own countries, yes.
worldwide wont happen but regional is possible
Originally Posted by merrywidow
Gracie Gold comes to mind immediately
For sure Jason Brown. I think Osmond also has the charisma factor. Yuzu's SP can wow a lot of people. If Mao somehow hits all her triple axels and other jumps that would be amazing.
I don't know if any of the classical pieces (yep, that includes Chan, Gold, Kim, Hanyu's FS) are going to do it. Casual viewers love seeing performances that are different and change people's conventions about figure skating, like Davis/White's OD (actually whoever came up with the idea to do a "national" OD theme should have gotten a huge raise, as that made the OD immensely more interesting in the last Olympics).
It's a bit unfortunate that the top favourites (V/T, Chan, Kim, D/W) have all gone the classical route and none are really "fun" or as entertaining to watch as Brown's.
And of course, there either needs to be some sort of controversy, magical moment of perseverance (like Elvis in 1998 or the Zhangs) or story (like Joannie last time) that gets people talking.
I'm thinking Ashley might also do or say something that shows support of LGBT people (and not some full on protest/demonstration) that will get people talking.
thats beyond the stretch of imagination
Originally Posted by CanadianSkaterGuy
I think Fumie Suguri can compete with that
I am not sure. Jason Brown did very well at the U.S. Nationals though he is not quite there yet. When he skated to Riverdance, I can't help but thinking about the most famous Riverdance in Figure Skating : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t3K5Qwj3UFI
Originally Posted by Danibellerika
In comparison, you can see why Brown's Riverdance is well, not quite there yet. More specifically, he hasn't quite mastered the upper body movement that comes with a total performance. Right now, he still looks a little frantic, trying to do too much at the same time, looking like he isn't in control. In any event, the only discipline that matters in the U.S. is the ladies, anything else is mere details.
I think part of it helped because of the footwork and spirals and transitions going into jumps. Casual viewers don't look at him only executing one clean 3A and two-footing the other, or that he doesn't have a quad. They look at the overall performance, and not many skaters have that showmanship quality, in general or in their program selections this season.
The only thing that will boost the popularity of this sport is another scandal like Tonya/Nancy. COP has alienated casual fans that can't understand how a skater can fall three times and still beat a clean skate.
Casual fans didn't care about the sport under 6.0 either. The sport got lucky because Tonya/Nancy brought in viewers and they stuck around for Kwan & Sasha. COP has it's flaws, but the 6.0 system also notoriously confounded casual fans because judging bias and politics often resulted in winners that appeared inferior to skaters ranked lower. The controversy over the pairs double gold that brought about COP to begin with hit at a time when the sport was naturally trending back to its pre tonya/nancy obscurity and the US' most popular stars were on their way out.
Originally Posted by TonyaHardlyEver
I think the largest reason popularity is down in the US is we haven't had a star in the ladies event since Sasha. In other parts of the world, I suspect the sport is doing better because of popular skaters in those countries.