Uhhhh - what's a "flesh level analysis?"
I don’t think anyone could boost more popularity of figure skating, unless Ashley hits Gracie in the backyard. (Sorry, it’s a bad joke.)
On the other hand, I secretly hope that Gracie's easy-to-recognize beauty would boost its popularity in the US, so that Dick Button could hold the “World Professional Figure Skating Championships” again. Then we would able to see Mao, Yuna and other retiring skaters to compete with other legendary skaters.
Oh, I will miss Mao, Yuna, Caro, Dai, Jeremy(maybe), Pulshy(maybe), and more. End of an era
Anyone who makes a flawless, engaging performance with personal charisma showing the beauty and poetry of the whole sport.
Also perfection (ala Yu-Na Kim in Vancouver) can attract more fans for the future.
The perfect and emotion-creating performance of the big stars can boost the popularity of the sport (Chan, Hanyu, Takahashi,Kim, Asada,Kostner, Virtue/Moir etc.)
The BIGGEST possible boost will be created by the same quality of the performance by one of the talented, but not usually winning athletes, who is able to "catch the moment".
The first person comes to my mind is Jeremy Abbot. If he -finally- can himself loosen up and deliver his exquisite quality and win with that, that could be THE moment to remember.
Akiko Suzuki , Gracie Gold or Julia Lipnitskaya can also create this memorable moment which is timeless.
The only pair which can create this moment is Pang/Tong, who is the only pairs can skate emotionally involved in it with the certain beauty can come ONLY from this and they are not the favourite one's.
If any other pair wins with a good performance it won't create the same emotions.
I am not sure one shot wonders if they won are such a huge help to skating. They need a fab personality on the ice that is marketable ie Gold. Abbott is quite flat when he doesn't land his jumps. I really hope we don't have a fluke win at olympics but rather fab skates from Ferneandez, Dai, Hanyu and chan. I feel kind of sad that eery four years two performances under 10 minutes and one's identity, dream, goal can be seemingly destroyed - everyoen wants s OGM but there is only one winner.
I agree. Fluke wins have done nothing for skating. People still wanted to see Michelle after both Olympics because she already had the big following and people actually loved her skating. Evan did really change a thing because people weren't in love with his skating. You can't maintain interest if your skating doesn't draw people in. Jeremy or Jason might help a little because people actually love their skating.
BigDeal - is there some reason you left Davis and White out of your list?
None. Skating , as a sport, has significant problems affecting its popularity and until these are addressed no real change in popularity will happen.
Then why is skating thriving in other countries. Well it's because they have skaters who are adored for their skating. They win internationally and medal at worlds. Plus they have been around for awhile. So therefore skating popularity won't be changing in the United States.....not yet anyway.
I think in the U.S., it is quite unlikely that ANY SPORT, including figure skating, will ever be as popular as the big four sports (baseball, football, basketball and soccer). Sure you have flashes of attention, but for the most part, sports outside of those top four don't get a ton of attention from the general public.
Sure you may have a few breakout starts, but those starts don't always compel people to pay more attention to the sport. For example, I know who Lindsay Vonn and Lolo Jones are, but I would be hard pressed to spend more of my time watching skiing, hurdles or bobsled.
I think most sports are smart to appeal to the NICHE rather than try to chance itself to appeal to the general masses, at least in the U.S.
That said, it is possible for a sport to gain more popularity. An example of that is soccer in the U.S. thanks to the expansion of Major League Soccer or obviously skating in Japan. But if I was U.S. Figure Skating, I'd focus less on appealing to football fans/general public and try to figure how to boost my popularity within specific demographics/groups.
I was talking Japan and Korea (Yuna, Mao, Dai)....not really speaking about Russia on this one.
It saddens me to say this but Jason's viral sensation with his Riverdance FD is unlikely to lead to a sustained increase in popularity in the sport. The views on his video went up to 1 million views with in a DAY with the initial buzz from Buzzfeed, Mashable, etc. But after the first million or two, the view rate really leveled off. You can see that with this chart I made.
That said, if Jason has another skate of his life in Sochi, perhaps the video will see another spike....or will it go to a new YT video?
In any case, what we're seeing NOW at this point is likely people viewing the video multiple times (i.e. fans) and that it's unlikely the video is attracting new viewers.
If you did a search for @jasonbskates on Twitter around Jan. 13 or so, you would find a ton of tweets from non-skating fans who are like "OMG I love this program." If you do a search today, they're mostly from fans and other skaters wishing Jason luck (along with media outlets who have local stories from him).
Psy's Gangnam Style has the most YouTube views EVER, I think, but certainly that doesn't mean Psy is now a household name in the U.S. (Though perhaps he attracted new fans of him/k-pop).
Likewise Jason's viral video is unlike to create a doubling boost to skating's popularity, but it does provide some great exposure and probably will bring in a few new fans to Jason/figure skating.
And our Korean fans have noted that Yuna's success in the sport has not resulted in a whole lot of improved infrastructure for Korean figure skating outside of her personal efforts.
I think it's a lot more sustainable in Japan, but I agree that it's a similar situation with Russia in the sense that there isn't a ton of other sports to dominate public attention. The only sport that I think truly dominates in Japan other than figure skating is baseball due to the number of Japanese players who play for MLB. Japan does not have a huge football or basketball culture like the U.S. does. But perhaps a Japanese fan (deedee1) can provide more insight on this?
I'm not Japanese but I can say that quite certainly soccer is also very popular in Japan... wrestling too
Rochette's tragedy and triumph at Vancouver didn't change FS popularity much, even in Canada, despite it being an unexpected touching drama.
The key to increasing the sport's popularity is the two major markets - US and China, one to revive and one to spark start. Lysacek didn't do a thing for the sport with his OGM. I doubt Jason Brown, though more appealing, would do much unless he won Gold or at least medal in a dramatic fashion. Or an American Lady winning gold, preferably with some drama or even controversy.
As for China, the economy and people's interests and propensity to spend on leisure activities and entertainments have changed much since Lu Chen and the prime of S/Z. A Chinese superstar will definitely spark interests, even an "oversea Chinese".