Extending the careers of top single skaters

NaVi

Medalist
Joined
Oct 30, 2014
How to extend singles skaters careers is something I've thought about a lot and the Aurora games prompted me to think about it again. I'm focused on singles because they tend to retire much sooner than pairs and ice dancers who often skater into their early 30s. I find it wasteful how name recognition is just discarded so easily. I wrote this four years ago when Mao was coming back to skating:

I'm hearing conflicting reports on Mao's retirement, but if she does retire the ISU should consider it a complete waste that someone still likely capable and has name value isn't competing in some fashion. It's kind of sad that the ISU doesn't have a plan to keep skaters who have made names for themselves skating competitively till they are at least 30. Without such a plan the "star system" is broken a bit. I'd like to see a Masters Circuit(age 23+) done in the style of the Medal Winners Open(I love the lighting they did for that event).

And while I can't find it now, I definitely suggested in another thread that the biggest boon to figure skating were if the Olympics allowed two age categories for singles.


So here's what I would love to see.

I think the Medal Winner's Open was on the right track. It just needs to be a bit more formal and held 2 times a year along side other major events(which I think in needed for the top skaters to be interested). I'd have a competition of 18 skaters at the World Team Trophy(which should be every year) and let the top 6 do another competition the next season at the Grand Prix Final. I'd restrict it to skaters age 23 and up. There would probably have to be some kind of medal hierarchy taking into account time medals were won. There could be a yearly qualifier where the top 3 non-medal winners could get to skate at the event. There might be a need for those who have won major medals but who do too poorly to requalify. But the big idea and the reason I'm posting this is maybe it could be part of the Olympics(which again, I think is needed for the top skaters to be interested)...

The Olympics puts on demonstration sports and figure skating puts on an noncompetitive gala. If the IOC won't go for medals for age categories, perhaps they would go for a kind of medal winners competition that coincides with the Olympics but would not be an official Olympic medal winning event. They're hungry for content for their channel... and surely they themselves would like to see people who made their name at the Olympics come back more often.

The ISU doing these two events a year would I think lead towards others wanting to sponsor medal winners events and enhance the market and marketability for figure skating shows.


Everything above I wrote a few days ago but lost and had to rewrite again... but as far as the "Artistic" and "Technical" program discussion goes I just prefer focusing on freeing the free program... and having a yearly competition for "Artistic" oriented programs for regular season skaters and two competitions for the older medal winners. And perhaps the rules for such programs would be considered good enough for the IOC which would allow some careers to last longer.
 

dunffvanstorn

Final Flight
Joined
Mar 20, 2019
Really good points. I don’t know if 23 is a good number, though. I hope the ISU is open for this topic, because it would be wonderful.
 

el henry

Fangirl of men’s spirals and split jumps
Record Breaker
Joined
Mar 3, 2014
Country
United-States
I am for any and all proposals that extend the careers of skaters.:agree: This is an interesting one.

As someone who follows mostly the men, 23 plus in age for men is not quite the same as it would be for women. But I am sure it could be tweaked.
 

Ic3Rabbit

Patineuse élite et professionnelle
Record Breaker
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Jan 9, 2017
Country
Canada
We desperately need pro competitions back as well as more than just SOI for a tour that was for pros only but now is mixed..
 

Moxiejan

Medalist
Joined
Jan 11, 2014
Country
United-States
I think the lack of longevity in singles (particularly among the ladies) is an unintended consequence of the elimination of school figures, for multiple reasons:
1. In the Peggy/Janet/Dorothy days, it took years at the senior level to master them & rise through the ranks; there was less chance of a newbie immediately making the podium & more time for audiences to get to know the top skaters during each quad.
2. Time spent on figures meant less time for jumps, which tended to keep bodies healthier. I’ve never seen statistics on this, but injury seems to be much more of a career-ender today than it was in the figures era.
 

Moxiejan

Medalist
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Jan 11, 2014
Country
United-States
As charming as the Aurora Games skating was, the ridiculousness of the scoring brought back for me all the bad feelings I experienced during the pro/cheesefest era. Though there were some wonderful performances back then, I really would have preferred an exhibition format over “competition” that always seemed rather fixed.
 

moonvine

Record Breaker
Joined
Mar 14, 2007
I think the lack of longevity in singles (particularly among the ladies) is an unintended consequence of the elimination of school figures, for multiple reasons:
1. In the Peggy/Janet/Dorothy days, it took years at the senior level to master them & rise through the ranks; there was less chance of a newbie immediately making the podium & more time for audiences to get to know the top skaters during each quad.
2. Time spent on figures meant less time for jumps, which tended to keep bodies healthier. I’ve never seen statistics on this, but injury seems to be much more of a career-ender today than it was in the figures era.

Not only that but they seem to have improved skating skills so much. We won’t ever get them back though. Not exciting for TV watchers. Who cares if the ladies are mostly chewed up and spit out by 24?
 

Ic3Rabbit

Patineuse élite et professionnelle
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Joined
Jan 9, 2017
Country
Canada
Not only that but they seem to have improved skating skills so much. We won’t ever get them back though. Not exciting for TV watchers. Who cares if the ladies are mostly chewed up and spit out by 24?

Figures did improve many skating skills and regardless of if figures exist ever again in competition or not, more emphasis should be put on quality edge work and SS. And I'm not talking about a transition into a quad or triple either.

And as far as the statement on the ladies. Many of us care: We work long and hard at this and tons of blood, sweat, tears and money are put into our sport. We'd all love to have longer careers and more substantial professional careers post competition years. Not a woman, but look at Kurt Browning, he's still top notch show performing in his 50's. There are several ladies doing the same, but many more deserve this.
 

yume

Record Breaker
Joined
Mar 11, 2016
The ironic thing is that they did eveything for Mao to retire. If she had received Kostner's treatment maybe she would have get the motivation to rest her knee and train for the olympic season.
 

moonvine

Record Breaker
Joined
Mar 14, 2007
Figures did improve many skating skills and regardless of if figures exist ever again in competition or not, more emphasis should be put on quality edge work and SS. And I'm not talking about a transition into a quad or triple either.

And as far as the statement on the ladies. Many of us care: We work long and hard at this and tons of blood, sweat, tears and money are put into our sport. We'd all love to have longer careers and more substantial professional careers post competition years. Not a woman, but look at Kurt Browning, he's still top notch show performing in his 50's. There are several ladies doing the same, but many more deserve this.

I apologize. When I said “who cares?” I meant NBC, ISU, etc. I’m pretty sure almost everyone on this board cares. I would love to see the professional comps back. To do that I assume skating has to get more popular. How do we do that? And I want to see ladies skating much longer competitively. Look at Keegan Messing, he’s pushing 30 and just won a GP medal last year.
 

Mathman

Record Breaker
Joined
Jun 21, 2003
With regard to the plan to have separate age group competitions at major events like the Olympics, I thik there is a danger.

Casual fans might notice that the teenagers are jumping circles around the veterans and ask, why I am I wasting my time watching the elder contests at all.
 
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andromache

Record Breaker
Joined
Mar 23, 2014
There are, to my knowledge, zero Olympic sports divided by age. I think having different age divisions for figure skating would be a bad look for the sport and undermine its legitimacy.

I certainly think a pro circuit of some kind could work in Japan, considering the popularity of skating there. Their shows are extremely popular - why not host competitions as well? Lower the technical standards, judge technical and artistic using a 10.0 scale, and have Mao versus Carolina be the headline (Mao versus Yuna would be ideal, but Yuna probably would never do it). Get other retired skaters to also compete, alongside a few popular skaters who are still competing.
 

NaVi

Medalist
Joined
Oct 30, 2014
There are, to my knowledge, zero Olympic sports divided by age. I think having different age divisions for figure skating would be a bad look for the sport and undermine its legitimacy.

Olympic soccer/football is age limited to 23. A potential over 23 figure skating event would/could have functionally different rules(lets say, just 5 jumps passes judged by height to be creative) and could be considered a new event... so technically it wouldn't be an age category but a new event with just an different age requirement.
 

skylark

Gazing at a Glorious Great Lakes sunset
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Joined
Aug 12, 2014
I think the lack of longevity in singles (particularly among the ladies) is an unintended consequence of the elimination of school figures, for multiple reasons:
1. In the Peggy/Janet/Dorothy days, it took years at the senior level to master them & rise through the ranks; there was less chance of a newbie immediately making the podium & more time for audiences to get to know the top skaters during each quad.
2. Time spent on figures meant less time for jumps, which tended to keep bodies healthier. I’ve never seen statistics on this, but injury seems to be much more of a career-ender today than it was in the figures era.

In one or the other of Scott Hamilton's most recent books, he spent a lot of time talking about why figures were so valuable. He believes that because doing figures well uses so many micro-muscular movements, muscle strength was developed in a way that made injuries far less common than they are today.

That makes sense.
 

NaVi

Medalist
Joined
Oct 30, 2014
I could see figures helping to extend careers by de-emphasizing jumps, I think early retirements have more to do with...

1. Triple-triple combinations become harder to do...
2. Not wanting to lose prestige by losing to younger skaters.... who have an easier time doing harder jumps...
3. Boredom with doing mechanical programs.
 

curious

Final Flight
Joined
Aug 15, 2003
In one or the other of Scott Hamilton's most recent books, he spent a lot of time talking about why figures were so valuable. He believes that because doing figures well uses so many micro-muscular movements, muscle strength was developed in a way that made injuries far less common than they are today.

That makes sense.

that's true. it was because of figures that scott beat a 19 year old brian orser at the sarajevo's 1984 olys
 

andromache

Record Breaker
Joined
Mar 23, 2014
I could see figures helping to extend careers by de-emphasizing jumps, I think early retirements have more to do with...

1. Triple-triple combinations become harder to do...
2. Not wanting to lose prestige by losing to younger skaters.... who have an easier time doing harder jumps...
3. Boredom with doing mechanical programs.

Let's not underrate the more difficult spins under IJS, especially for the ladies. Biellmans used to be rare. Now every top lady does them. It inevitably leads to more back injuries and chronic, long-term pain.
 

drivingmissdaisy

Record Breaker
Joined
Feb 17, 2010
In one or the other of Scott Hamilton's most recent books, he spent a lot of time talking about why figures were so valuable. He believes that because doing figures well uses so many micro-muscular movements, muscle strength was developed in a way that made injuries far less common than they are today.

That makes sense.

Maybe so, but it's hard to discount the effect of the much higher technical level we see now. Hamilton won OGM without a 3A, while Witt won in 1988 with only two different triples.
 

Georgya

On the Ice
Joined
Sep 6, 2018
Olympic soccer/football is age limited to 23. A potential over 23 figure skating event would/could have functionally different rules(lets say, just 5 jumps passes judged by height to be creative) and could be considered a new event... so technically it wouldn't be an age category but a new event with just an different age requirement.

As someone who follows football, that is a stupid rule that has nothing to do with promoting or extending careers. 1. It's only for men, there are no age restriction for women 2. a maximum of three male players who do not meet this age limit may also be included in the official list. 3 the IOC is weak and agreed to this not to upset FIFA (organises the world cup every 4 years) and UEFA ( organises every year champions league and europe league). These and the internal competitions in many contries, mostly from Europe, are making the olympics an inconvenience in the football world. The players are too tired for it and making the olympic more relevant in football would "affect" the world cup. It's laughable
 

Elucidus

Match Penalty
Joined
Nov 19, 2017
How to extend singles skaters careers is something I've thought about a lot
Why? I think it's the most important question which always seems to be forgotten in such discussions.
I, for one, don't see any need to extend (or shorten) careers of athletes. Moreover, any special rules or artificial manipulation of any kind trying to interfere with sport rules known as "stronger, higher, farther" or natural "survival of the fittest" system - is seed of corruption and detrimental to the sport. Because it brings personal bias where is no place for it.
I can understand such a viewpoint from fan of particular skater perspective. However it can't be sufficient justification for changing rules - because rules meant for everybody. From whole system point of view there aren't any skater who is more deserving than other, or more worthy etc. They all are equal, they all have the same rights. However, trying to extend careers of ones - you are shortening careers of others, Why? It's simple - there are always only 3 places on podium. The longer one skater is encouraged to staying in sport by putting him on podium instead of others (giving him artificial advantage such as reputational PCS judging, artistic programs, increasing age limit etc.) - the shorter will be careers of less known athletes since they will start to lack motivation. It's good result for particular "stars" fans - but it's very unfair for others. I can't call such system anything but corrupt. Sport should be just and impartial - it's my deep conviction.

As for special tournaments for "oldies" only - be my guest, give them a go. However I think you are forgetting one important thing - as a fan you want to see them as long as possible. But will they want that too? Did you ask them about it? After certain age in fs there are lots of injuries and health problems accumulating in one's body. Majority of those who ended their career - did it exactly due to health issues. Will any new rules or competitions be able to bring them back? No.
 
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