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Thread: Wishes for the future - Pro Skating

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    Hopeless fan Doggygirl's Avatar
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    Wishes for the future - Pro Skating

    I'm about half way through reading Frozen Assets. The first half of the book is largely about the "history" of the professional skating - pre and post the infamous knee whack.

    It got me thinking about what part of the post knee-whack pro skating frenzy that I liked, didn't care for, and what I'd like to see again (all IMO of course).

    I do not miss the cheezy theme oriented exhibitions-of-the-moment or the cheezy competitions (i.e. America Against The World or whatever that team thing was - is that still around??). I think COI and SOI in their current forms are plenty to cover the exhibition scene.

    I really miss the World Professional Championships. I would love to see a revival of a more serious competitive environment for the pros individually/pairs (not the cheezy team stuff). Maybe even including a "Masters" division for skaters over age X where there are limits on jumps and the focus is more completely on the creative side of things.

    What do you all want to see in the future of professional skating?

    DG

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    In my heart, I'm actually Canadian....
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doggygirl
    I do not miss the cheezy theme oriented exhibitions-of-the-moment or the cheezy competitions (i.e. America Against The World or whatever that team thing was - is that still around??). I think COI and SOI in their current forms are plenty to cover the exhibition scene.

    I really miss the World Professional Championships. I would love to see a revival of a more serious competitive environment for the pros individually/pairs (not the cheezy team stuff). Maybe even including a "Masters" division for skaters over age X where there are limits on jumps and the focus is more completely on the creative side of things.

    DG
    Yeah, I know -- The Rock N Roll Figure Skating Championships, stuff like that, isn't missed by me either. And I thought the team competitions were just absolutely silly, too, given the fact that skating is NOT a team sport and none of the skaters involved would have any kind of actual team mentality so therefore it was pretty much meaningless and stupid to those involved. Also, the glut of schlock like that is pretty much what killed pro skating. Things like that were one of the reasons I never really paid much attention to pro skating, even if skaters I adored as amateurs were involved; I just found it way too meaningless.

    I too would like to see a revival of the World Pros, and I'd like to see it with an expanded field; not just 4 selected skaters. I'd like to see it open to everybody eligible for it; perhaps even get a competition circuit going that goes an entire season, culminating in the World Pros. This would (assuming that any kind of decent TV contract was negotiated, which in the current climate seems a bit unlikely) give us a chance to see some of the lesser-knowns like Rory Flack, Scott Williams and Charlene Wong compete. I like the "Masters Division" idea as well. Showing people like Toller Cranston, Peggy Fleming, and the Protopopovs (who last I heard were still going at more or less full tilt), would show the current generation of skaters (and current fans as well) what TRUE technique is supposed to look like.

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    Hopeless fan Doggygirl's Avatar
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    ITA with everything you said Johnnycoop. Some sort of a season that is inclusive of a number of skaters, and a meaningful championship.

    When I mentioned the "Masters" wish, I was thinking of a pro competition back in that post '94 era where Dorothy Hammil skated a breathtaking program. Of course she didn't have the jumps and so forth, but just was class of the field in terms of choreography and interpretation. I would love to see a forum for some of the "older" skaters to keep WOWING us in a competitive arena with things that only maturity and experience can bring.

    That also brings to mind a Kristi Y number I saw on TV this past season - although it was an old re-run so not sure what year or tour it was from. It was choreographed by Dean, and involved some of the most interesting footwork I have ever seen. She was interviewed during the program, and said it was one of the most difficult programs she ever tried to master. While "eligible" competition will always be my favorite (I think LOL!) I would love to see a forum like that for pro skaters to just bring it on creatively. And I would LOVE to see the Protopopovs (botched spelling, I'm sure) in that sort of forum.

    DG

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    wish

    Ice Dancing Pros
    Linny

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    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Unfortunately, "pro" means money. It would be easy to start up a slam-bam pro circuit and meaningful championship events if Daddy Warbucks would step up with the prize money.

    As it is, it seems like SOI and COI are just about all the skating that the market will bear -- and both of them have to cut back in the non-Olympic years.

    But you never know. Just like Danika Patrick might rejuvenate interest in open-wheel racing (it was KOed in recent years by NASCAR), maybe when Michelle "goes pro" they will be able to build something around her. ...Some time after the 2014 Olympics.

    MM

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    Go Figure!
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonnyCoop
    the Protopopovs (who last I heard were still going at more or less full tilt), would show the current generation of skaters (and current fans as well) what TRUE technique is supposed to look like.
    Yes they are. Besides being in a couple shows in the Boston area this past winter, they spend the summers in Lake Placid and perform in the Summer Ice Show in August up there.

    On a personal note, I find it a thrill when the Protopopovs come out and practice during Adult Skate Week in August on the same ice with a bunch of adults of varying ability. They are really great people and have fun in helping us lesser skaters out.

  7. #7
    Hopeless fan Doggygirl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman
    Unfortunately, "pro" means money. It would be easy to start up a slam-bam pro circuit and meaningful championship events if Daddy Warbucks would step up with the prize money.

    As it is, it seems like SOI and COI are just about all the skating that the market will bear -- and both of them have to cut back in the non-Olympic years.

    But you never know. Just like Danika Patrick might rejuvenate interest in open-wheel racing (it was KOed in recent years by NASCAR), maybe when Michelle "goes pro" they will be able to build something around her. ...Some time after the 2014 Olympics.

    MM
    A big part of the KO between open wheel (Indy car) racing and NASCAR in recent years has to do with the big split within the CART organization. From my limited knowledge, this all boils down to a power play between the CART organization and the owners of the Indianapolis Speedway (Indy 500 is biggest money maker for the Indy cars). It sounds like they have all figured out that the split was not beneficial for the sport, or the track / team owners, and the lines between the two organizations are starting to blur again. And of course a "novelty" like Danika doesn't hurt!!

    Pro skating IMO went down with too many players, a glut of silly events, etc. Most of the pro scene seems to have disappeared when SFX bought a number of companies (Dick Button's included) around 1998, and then over $100 million later, decided not to put anything behind the sport.

    So I think there is a business opportunity for someone to re-start a more "sane" pro competitive circuit. I can only hope I'm not the only one who would watch a reasonable (non-glutty) come back in that specific area of the sport.

    DG

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    Sorry DG - Can't agree. I found the Pro skating championships extremely sophmoric and without redeeming value as a sport. It was just a group of kids doing their best to out do each other in their most outlandish ways. It was fun for the avid fans to watch these silly competitions for want of more skating on TV whether or not it was good sport. for the skaters, though, it was big bucks.

    Does anyone really remember who won these things? and did you really care?

    Joe

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    Hopeless fan Doggygirl's Avatar
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    As I already mentioned...

    Quote Originally Posted by Joesitz
    Sorry DG - Can't agree. I found the Pro skating championships extremely sophmoric and without redeeming value as a sport. It was just a group of kids doing their best to out do each other in their most outlandish ways. It was fun for the avid fans to watch these silly competitions for want of more skating on TV whether or not it was good sport. for the skaters, though, it was big bucks.

    Does anyone really remember who won these things? and did you really care?

    Joe
    As already mentioned....... I remember Dorothy in one of these comps duiring the 90's "frenzy." She stole the show IMO. As I stated, I have no interest in the "pro frenzy" of the 90's happening again, but I think some of the "old fart skaters" have a lot to offer that I would be interested in watching - in a competitive environment. It's still a sport to me LOL. I believe we agree on that part of things.

    Or maybe since I'm now an "old fart" myself, I might just be psychologically trying to revive my youth. But if that was the case, I'd be pitching a beer drinking contest. WOW!! Umm..... St. Louis might be a good venue for that???? See you takers in January...

    DG

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joesitz
    Sorry DG - Can't agree. I found the Pro skating championships extremely sophmoric and without redeeming value as a sport. It was just a group of kids doing their best to out do each other in their most outlandish ways. It was fun for the avid fans to watch these silly competitions for want of more skating on TV whether or not it was good sport. for the skaters, though, it was big bucks.

    Does anyone really remember who won these things? and did you really care?

    Joe
    Actually, a lot of people remember (and still debate -- and still care) who won some of these competitions you call "sophmoric (sic)". And some of the best pro skating performances over the years were done in some of these competitions.

    While the celebrity-judged and audience-judged competitions didn't interest me much, I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with them or that they necessarily are "bad" for the sport. (For years, "Battle of the Network Stars" was a big deal, the "Rock-n-roll Gymnastics Championships" have been around for an age, the "NFL Skills Challenge" and "Golf Skills Challenge," etc., make regular appearances on TV -- the audience doesn't seem to have any trouble figuring out that "NFL Skills Challenge" isn't the Super Bowl, and some enjoy watching their favorites perform in a different way. If people are interested enough to watch, it's probably good for the sport, because it means people are interested in the sport overall -- and they'll likely watch the Super Bowl, too).

    But the "real" pro competitions really were competitions. At least, the group of skaters from the 1980s-mid 90s era for the most part approached them that way. What does it take to have any "redeeming value" as a sport? Triple axels? (Those were part of the competitions from the time Boitano joined the pro ranks), Triple-triples? (Again, Boitano was doing triple flip-triple toe through many years, Yagudin had triple lutz-triple toe and triple flip-triple toe at that cheesy Ice Wars this year). New skills? (Josef Sabovcik hit the first triple axel combination of his CAREER at an Ice Wars event -- Boitano did spins in both directions for the first time in a Landover event and created his spread eagle approach into the Tano lutz after he turned pro; Mishkutenok & Dmitriev (I think it was them) tried a thow quad toe at a World Pro). Athletes competing with injuries? Almost all the pros have had and still struggle with long-standing and newly cropped up injuries, but they rehab and work and train and come back and skate.

    Who cares who won? Who remembers? Well, Brian Boitano is still introduced often as 4x U.S. champion, 2x world champion, Olympic gold medalist and 6x World Professional champion. He obviously remembers. Kurt Browning was quoted in a story several years ago as saying his three World Pro titles were almost as important to him as his four "amateur" world titles -- so he obviously cares. Scott Hamilton, for goodness sake, had VANITY plates made to commemorate his victory over Brian B. at the Gold Championship. I think that means Scotty remembers -- and cares. (And I fail to see how programs like Boitano's "Carousel Waltz," "Un Amor," "Music of the Night," "Cavallerria Rusticana," "The Pirate," "Big Man on Mulberry Street," etc., Kurt's "That's Entertainment," "Brick House," "Nyah," "Bring Him Home;" Robin Cousins' "Satan Takes a Holiday," "Busy Being Blue" and -- I can't remember the name, but one World Pro where his highlight moves were all the kinds of spins in both directions; Scott's "In The Mood," "Hamilton Fantasy," "Fabulous Feet," "Mr. Bojangles;" Kristi Yamaguchi's "Skating 101," "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows," "Trouble," and a HOST of others, Denise Biellman's many and varied programs, almost anything Martini & Underhill did (Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, When a Man Loves at Woman, Orange Colored Sky, etc.), several of Bechke & Petrov (I loved them, but can't recall right now the names of their programs), Klimova & Ponomarenko's Beethovan's 5th program, etc., etc., etc., could be considered "just a group of kids doing their best to out do each other in their most outlandish ways." Perhaps Jositz could explain what was "outlandish" about those programs (and how 20-something, 30-something and lately 40-something skaters still doing big jumps, spins and footwork through a variety of injuries can be considered "kids").

    Even things like Boitano's "Wild Elephants" and Kristi's "Never Gonna Get It" were examples of skaters moving away from the tried and true and taking chances, trying something new. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't, but heck, they took the risk (and usually still included some pretty dang good skating "skills" in jumps, spins, footwork, etc.) Some programs I, too, thought were "outlandish" and over-the-top (Candeloro dancing with an ape? yes, indeed) and not really something that should have been offered in a competition -- but the vast majority were not in that category.

    Sure, the skaters had fun with each other and with competing, but for the most part, they came prepared. And while they'll all say that the outcome wasn't life-and-death, they will still talk about how terribly nervous they were at events like Landover and Gold Championship and they CARED about their performances. (OK, some were quick to say they "didn't care" about the outcome and it "wasn't real," but in many cases, they had said the same types of things in amateur competition -- if they didn't win when they thought they should, they'd say it was because the judging was suspect, etc). In the non-celebrity judged competitions, the judges were former skaters, coaches and choreographers. They didn't have pages and pages of rules to judge the skaters by, but that doesn't mean they couldn't make informed decisions on what they thought was the best skating on the night. Were the outcomes sometimes incomprehensible? Of course (but then, it seems to me there are pages and pages of debates over amateur results that have been pretty incomprehensible over the years, too). Was it legit? Depends on your definition. Let's see, skaters took it seriously, judges took their jobs seriously (again, some -- well, one in particular I cant hink off -- would say it wasn't important to them, but all those I've talked to, and that's quite a few, said they tried to honestly do their best, and I figure that most of them are pretty legitimate figures in the skating world), so I would think that makes it pretty legit.

    Yes, some of the comps, especially since about 1998 or so, degenerated into who could do the most outlandish thing, and for a while, the pro judges rewarded that. And that's when I stopped watching much of it. And much of it disappeared. But that doesn't, to me, cast a shadow on all the great skating that went on before. (And hey, I quit watching a lot of amateur skating the past few years, too, because the judging and the results became way too "outlandish" for me to be willing to invest my time in something I felt was not legit -- and I have become bored with seeing the same thing over and over from the same people.)

    By the way, Doggygirl -- I agree with you on Kristi's Chris Dean-choreographed program. It was fantastic! However, I do believe what you were seeing it in was that "cheesy, America vs. the World or whatever" competition called Ice Wars. Kristi did "Belleville Rendezvous" in Ice Wars this year, coming back to competition (well, she called it competition, but I guess it doesn't really rate as that by Jositz's definition) after taking a year off when she had her baby, and she said it was her first time doing a Chris Dean-choreographed program and it was very challenging for her. Triple toe, double axel, nice spins, fantastic footwork -- not bad for a 30-something mother -- oops, or rather, a "kid doing something outlandish." (I've been to many of those "cheesy" Ice Wars competitions over the years and seen some awfully good skating and very creative ideas and programs -- and seen the skaters have a good time being on a "team").

    I loved the old pro comp days -- I didn't watch the competitions that were not my cup of tea (but I realize other fans and skaters enjoyed those) and I watched and cheered on my favorites in the comps I did enjoy (and would debate with friends over the results. It wasn't life and death, it wasn't "the Olympics" or anything like that, but hey, any time my favorites are involved with a judge handing out marks, I want my favorite to be judged the best). And it was fun to watch -- and debate -- the decisions of people like Irina Rodnina, Frank Carroll, Oleg Vassiliev, Tim Wood, Barbara Ann Scott, Charlie Tickner, Mary Lynn Gelderman, Bernard Ford, Petra Burka and others. They know skating, and have as much right as anyone to decide who should win. And I had a right to disagree (which I did with regularity). Of course, during that time, my interest in skating had to be fed by also watching the amateur events, agonizing over favorites there (in competitions that were much more "life and death" than the pro comps). I watched the amateurs, looking forward to continuing to see them in the pro ranks as a new crop of amateurs came along. I think pro skating helped promote interest in amateur skating. The two fed off each other.

    My question is, are today's skaters -- and fans -- are interested in pro competitions? I don't see it. Most of the fans of the current eligible crop seem to be interested only in seeing skaters do short and long programs and win medals. That's fine. Like Jositz, many seem to feel that anything that isn't ISU-style skating is sophomoric (I find that a bit amusing, seeing that almost all of today's eligible stars have participated in numerous "pro" style events, but people debate those outcomes, too). And most of the skaters have expressed the same viewpoint during their eligible careers -- they've been "pros" for many years, done nationals, worlds, Olympics, ISU pro-ams, USFSA "cheesefests," etc., and don't seem interested or challenged by the idea of turning pro and having no restrictions, which the former skaters who didn't have those opportunities when they were "amateurs" looked forward to. They like to stay eligible as long as their bodies will hold out and compete in the ISU (or USFSA cheesefest) circuit. That's fine, they should do what interests them. But that also means they usually have little left to offer when they're through competing -- they're usually pretty banged up and have developed such an ingrained "style" that they really aren't looking to try new things. That's fine, too -- that way, it appears both they and their fans get what they want, and Jositz, at least, is can be happy watching "legitimate" sport and not be annoyed by the thought that some skaters and fans are enjoying participating in/watching "non-legitimate" sport.

  11. #11
    Custom Title heyang's Avatar
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    I think it was Scott Williams who tried to create a pro championship similar to the Grand Prix series. Skaters like Rory Burghart, Hartshorn/Sweiding, Charlene Wong, etc competed at several of the competitions. Watching these competitions made me aware of these skaters who I would not have known of otherwise. It failed because it didn't attract the A-list skaters that would have generated more revenue.

    I don't object to Ice Wars or USA vs the World since they are typically judged by people with knowledge. What killed pro skating IMO was competitions like Rock'N'Roll' skating and Battle of the Sexes.

    The World Pro Championship was killed when Dick Button sold the rights and the organizers let amateurs compete. The best pros boycotted and we saw an all amateur competition (which is MK's one world pro title). After that is was never the same, even with Boitano's fun Wild Elephants and a number of other notable programs. The pro world also killed itself with the use of props - a la Candleloro's George of the Jungle, etc.

    This past year, I think we saw a larger variety of skaters in televised shows. I'm guessing Disson decided they needed to invite non-IMG skaters since the top names (i.e Kristi, Katerina, Scott, etc) were reducing their schedules.

    I'd like to see more pro competitions, as long as they are judged by people knowledgable about skating - no celebrity judges who have never skated competitively.

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    Custom Title Joesitz's Avatar
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    Mememe - WOW!!! But you have to admit, the antics of the 90s drove skating off the television all together. NASCAR and golf continue on Sunday viewing in addition to the team-sport games. There was a budding skating sport before the 90s antics which unfortunately was replaced by the kids having fun.

    Heyang - ITA on everything you said.

    Joe

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    Tripping on the Podium
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    I'd love to see them bring back The World Pros, with a series of skating competitions kind of like the GP series (maybe call it The Masters series, like in tennis) leading up to it. In other words, they would have to qualify (like the eligibles) to compete at World Pros. There has been a U.S. Open, a Canadian Open, a Japan Open...all they need to do is take it a step further and add a few more competitions like that. Then have something like a Nationals for participating countries. The top three placements would go on to Worlds. I don't think that it would work though without all four disciplines. There has to be some way for the pairs and ice dancers to be included in the competitions. They've been excluded for far too long. Just rambling, go back to what you were discussing.


    Kathie

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    Eville Eastern Bloc Poster
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    REAL Pro competitions instead of USA/Canada vs. the rest of the world cheesefests!

    GET MORE than just one male Russian in these comps., right now it looks like Northamerican skaters (audiences???) and promoters are too afraid to invite more of them, for which reasons ever ...

    FAIR judging! No longer extra sweets for Northamerican skaters!

    BRING BACK ProAm comps.!

    BRING BACK Improv Ice!!!!!!


    Anke

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    World Pro

    IIRC, it was Candlero's Wild Wild West that one in Landover with a mess of props, not George of the Jungle. Both were henious.

    I also think it was Kazakova and Dmitriev who attempted the quad throw at Landover.

    Yes, there were some pretty awful programs in the later part of the pro competitions, but it was also a time when Pro Wrestling was bringing in a lot of viewers. Taken in context, it pales.

    Linny

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