Where have all the skaters gone?

Mathman

Record Breaker
Joined
Jun 21, 2003

Nothing really new, but IMO a well-balanced appraisal.

(Dick Button needs to work on his hands and fingers in the accompanying picture. ;) Nothing wrong with Michelle Kwan, Lu Chen and Irina Slutskaya from 1996, though.)

The author principally blames the continuing elite/expensive aspect of the sport in America.
 

MUALover

Rinkside
Joined
Feb 27, 2010
In my province in Canada, the 2 best skating club are private winter sports club. Membership fees are > $15,000 and $30,000 alone, non transferrable, and yearly fees on top of that are also steep. That is a lot of money. Granted the facilities are nice, there are nice restaurants there, etc.... but still. I'm just saying. It's a lot of money to spend. Plus, there are no NCAA scholarships for skating in the USA.

The running joke in my city is that the sports clubs are for the elite to mix with each other and where business deals are made.
 

el henry

Fangirl of men’s spirals and split jumps
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Joined
Mar 3, 2014
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United-States
Always about the Benjamins💵💵💵

(Although for me it appears the author can't figure out if she is just writing about ladies' skating, with references to Russian dominance, or worldwide popularity, with references to Japan)

As long as the sport is so incredibly expensive in the US, and now with no reasonable expectation of recouping those costs, I don't see a way forward from niche status.
:scratch2:
 

ice coverage

avatar credit: @miyan5605
Record Breaker
Joined
Feb 27, 2012
🙌... Nothing really new, but IMO a well-balanced appraisal. ...

But considering its length, I think this wide-ranging article has some glaring omissions, including (but not limited to):

I am wondering why it did not mention that Jordan Cowan of On Ice Perspectives showcases non-superstars on a regular basis and that OIP's videos of non-superstars have proven to be capable of reaching very large numbers of viewers who are not hard-core skating fans.​
Also wondering why it did not discuss that Peggy Fleming Trophy is a non-traditional competition of national stature.​
(Also Aerial Figure Skating Challenge.)​

I do not think that the article is terrible, but I am not sure that I agree that it is "well-balanced."



ETA:
My usage of "non-superstars" is in the superficial sense of name recognition to potential audiences who are not hard-core fans of the sport. (I do not mean in terms of talent! :bow: 🤗)​
 
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axelanika

On the Ice
Joined
Oct 31, 2020
Country
United-States
In my province in Canada, the 2 best skating club are private winter sports club. Membership fees are > $15,000 and $30,000 alone, non transferrable, and yearly fees on top of that are also steep. That is a lot of money. Granted the facilities are nice, there are nice restaurants there, etc.... but still. I'm just saying. It's a lot of money to spend. Plus, there are no NCAA scholarships for skating in the USA.

The running joke in my city is that the sports clubs are for the elite to mix with each other and where business deals are made.
Oh my god? That is a lot of money for a membership. My membership is like 300 dollars per year and that also covers my USFS membership. Even the Skating Club of Boston which boasts nice restaurants and facilities (even a high altitude room) is no where near that. Their most expensive membership is $375 (edit: plus a required $240 dollars paid in dining, so you get stuff back for this money).

If you do synchronized skating, you can get a scholarship to colleges such as U Mich and Miami, but those aren't NCAA. I know people say FiGuRe sKaTiNg iS nOt a TeAm SpOrT but there are track scholarships, swimming scholarships, diving scholarships, gymnastics scholarships. The real problem is the lack of interest in collegiate skating.
I am wondering why it did not mention that Jordan Cowan of On Ice Perspectives showcases non-superstars on a regular basis and that OIP's videos of non-superstars have proven to be capable of reaching very large numbers of viewers who are not hard-core skating fans.
Was talking to friends who know nothing about skating like two days after Brown/Brown's video came out and they had seen it.
 

jenaj

Record Breaker
Joined
Aug 17, 2003
Country
United-States
This article is only about ladies skating. I'm not so sure that money is the problem with US skating. We have the best men's skater in the world right now with our private-money system. The US may rise again. Remember when a top skater emerged out of South Korea, a country with no established skating program to speak of? It would only take one big talent to bring the fans back and raise the interest in skating among young girls.
 

samkrut@mail.ru

Medalist
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Mar 26, 2014
Another poor attempt to attribute the recent success of Russia just to state-sponsored schools. If it were that simple Russia would excel in everything. In the reality we see that the only individual OGM in Korea was Alina's. No one knows how much money, both state and private has been invested in biathlon. The result is miserable - nothing but doping scandals.

It's not about state-sponsored schools. There are much more important factors than that.
 

Mawwerg

Final Flight
Joined
Nov 8, 2014
Another poor attempt to attribute the recent success of Russia just to state-sponsored schools. If it were that simple Russia would excel in everything. In the reality we see that the only individual OGM in Korea was Alina's. No one knows how much money, both state and private has been invested in biathlon. The result is miserable - nothing but doping scandals.

It's not about state-sponsored schools. There are much more important factors than that.
Biathlon is an epic mess.
 

katymay

Medalist
Joined
Mar 7, 2006
Another poor attempt to attribute the recent success of Russia just to state-sponsored schools. If it were that simple Russia would excel in everything. In the reality we see that the only individual OGM in Korea was Alina's. No one knows how much money, both state and private has been invested in biathlon. The result is miserable - nothing but doping scandals.

It's not about state-sponsored schools. There are much more important factors than that.
True. There is a whole culture of ballet/ice skating/rhythmic gymnastics for young children in Russia. In the U.S. there is a culture of little league, (boys)soccer leagues (boys and girls) and artistic gymnastics for girls. There may not be a rink close by in the U.S. but every neighborhood has a gymnastics program, soccer leagues etc. I think even swim teams for children are much more popular in the U.S. than in Russia. Russia has ice rinks, we have pools. Lots and lots of pools. lol.
 

alexocfp

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Nov 28, 2020
Country
United-States
So what the article is saying is that one skater needs to hire someone to wack another skater in the knee. Haha

Joking aside, it doesn’t matter if it’s popular or not in the USA. You can watch the best in the world almost every week online.

In terms of ladies, it doesn’t matter if they get more funding.

Money has nothing to do with the fact that American skaters aren’t willing to pay the same price the Russian and Japanese skaters do. And that’s fine.

It will become popular once America’s ladies start becoming Olympic threats. And to do that, you need to out perform the Russian and Japanese ladies for starters.

But I will give the article credit for not disintegrating into the usual sour milk dreck that we are accustomed to.
 
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Shayuki

Record Breaker
Joined
Nov 2, 2013
The main culprit is actually the lack of freely available figure skating content, for free. All significant figure skating content should be freely and easily available.

Figure skating is quite a special sport in that plenty of people who generally don't care at all for sports might watch it. These people would not buy cable sports packages and such and definitely wouldn't pay just to watch figure skating, but might watch it when it's available. This would increase the sport's audience and popularity and bring new talent into the sport. I think that this needs to be the starting point, it probably isn't very profitable to make the access easier when all that many people aren't even able to be introduced to the sport.

Unfortunately, all the marketing and monetization platforms seem to just be designed to milk the hardcore fanbase for what they're worth and aren't at all attempting to grow the sport's accessibility and popularity. It's no wonder that there's no new talent in the horizon when no young people get inspired to try, because they never saw it.
 

Decoder

On the Ice
Joined
Oct 5, 2019
If you do synchronized skating, you can get a scholarship to colleges such as U Mich and Miami, but those aren't NCAA. I know people say FiGuRe sKaTiNg iS nOt a TeAm SpOrT but there are track scholarships, swimming scholarships, diving scholarships, gymnastics scholarships. The real problem is the lack of interest in collegiate skating.
So no FS scholarships? I wonder if N. Chen or V.Zhou's figure skating experiences helped them get into Yale/Brown. Sure there aren't many US kids with a FS background as strong as theirs. I didn't hear much talking about figure skating among my friends and neighbors, although there are several ice rinks in my county, and there is even a skating academy 5 minutes away from my office. I only went there once, to pick up my son after he attended a birthday party there (long time ago).

Things won't change easily in US if parents/kids don't see much coming out of skating when they have to invest a lot (both time and money). I am probably too pragmatic here, but I agree with you, that collegiate skating might help. I see people (include me) make plans for their kids and they always keep an eye on their future college applications.


Joking aside, it doesn’t matter if it’s popular or not in the USA. You can watch the best in the world almost every week online.
(y)
 

mrrice

Record Breaker
Joined
Jul 9, 2014
The main culprit is actually the lack of freely available figure skating content, for free. All significant figure skating content should be freely and easily available.

Figure skating is quite a special sport in that plenty of people who generally don't care at all for sports might watch it. These people would not buy cable sports packages and such and definitely wouldn't pay just to watch figure skating, but might watch it when it's available. This would increase the sport's audience and popularity and bring new talent into the sport. I think that this needs to be the starting point, it probably isn't very profitable to make the access easier when all that many people aren't even able to be introduced to the sport.

Unfortunately, all the marketing and monetization platforms seem to just be designed to milk the hardcore fanbase for what they're worth and aren't at all attempting to grow the sport's accessibility and popularity. It's no wonder that there's no new talent in the horizon when no young people get inspired to try, because they never saw it.
This is exactly how I feel. I remember when the GP series was on Wide World Of Sports every Saturday. Skaters like Janet Lynn, Peggy Fleming, and Dorothy Hammil were featured on National Commercials and Nationals was preceded by weeks of commercials and we all watched them. I still haven't seen the Russian or Japanese skaters this year and if I can't find them, the casual fan never will.
 

CoyoteChris

Record Breaker
Joined
Dec 4, 2004
Not gonna nit pick the article....skating is expensive but if it is popular, and you have talent, there would be commerical backing. Look at who many of the Japanese skaters represent. Companies.
I dont think the article addresses fundimental changes in the US society, and maybe other societies around the world. These are complex and have to do with what people are now, in this wonderful age of technology, interested in. I have heard it said that if you consider pro skaters as well as am. ones, skating in the US on TV was bigger than basketball. Those were the days of getting 4 channels on the Telly. No cell phones. Land phones with cords. No computers. People went to movies without action scenes.... The Japanese love their fav skaters for sure..and not just from Japan..but they also have attention spans and appreciate the performances, IMHO. And I hope for a long time. We shall see.
 

dante

a dark lord
Final Flight
Joined
Oct 16, 2017
Country
Russia
Am I the only one who finds this article ridiculous?
The biggest problem with competitive figure skating in the US is its prohibitive expenses. So, the solutions for this are...
1. Encouraging those who aren't going to compete anyway.
2. Penalizing taking too much risk (sorry, Nathan).
3. Returning to the more subjective 6.0 system (as if Americans require those scandals to win).
4. Recruiting more minority skaters
5. Well, funding clubs and promising students would actually help, but it's impossible, so, it's okay not to win. The medals are probably sour anyway.

There is some elusive similarity between such articles (I see them more and more often each year in the English-speaking part of the Internet) and the late Soviet book publishing. Like a volume of Shakespeare with a 100-page foreword explaining why the story of Romeo and Juliet is relevant and important in the light of oncoming Communism (I'm not even exaggerating).
 
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karne

in Emergency Backup Mode
Record Breaker
Joined
Jan 1, 2013
Country
Australia
I find it hilarious that she notes the USFS are dinosaurs who take forever to adjust...and then proceeds to really prove the point by harping the "IJS ruined American skating" line. Like, honey, you're part of the problem.

When you have commentators still calling it the "new scoring system" now, when some of the stars of modern skating weren't even born yet when it was introduced, therein lies a symptom of your problem.

This is a very ladies-centric article - and that also is a problem, in that USFS seems to have this attitude that if the ladies aren't doing well it's all screwed. They also have a dreadful way of hyperfixating on one skater to the detriment of all others - I'm sure we all remember watching US Nationals a couple of years ago and getting sick of Nathan Chen's name being uttered every two seconds regardless of who was skating. And I'm still quite convinced that that didn't help Chen's mindset ahead of the Olympics. And of course, let's not forget what that fixation did to Gracie Gold.

The point about USFS seeming allergic to the internet is a good one, though. Skating is only viewable (legally) on subscription television in the US, and then you have blunders like the fact they did not seem to bother with a legal international stream the one year it was the literal only skating event to watch. Jason's Sinnerman disappears off Youtube faster than anything. Jimmy Ma, literally just months after his viral Turn Down For What, is told his new Weeknd program is "too modern" and to go back to Rachmaninoff.
 

katymay

Medalist
Joined
Mar 7, 2006
So no FS scholarships? I wonder if N. Chen or V.Zhou's figure skating experiences helped them get into Yale/Brown. Sure there aren't many US kids with a FS background as strong as theirs. I didn't hear much talking about figure skating among my friends and neighbors, although there are several ice rinks in my county, and there is even a skating academy 5 minutes away from my office. I only went there once, to pick up my son after he attended a birthday party there (long time ago).

Things won't change easily in US if parents/kids don't see much coming out of skating when they have to invest a lot (both time and money). I am probably too pragmatic here, but I agree with you, that collegiate skating might help. I see people (include me) make plans for their kids and they always keep an eye on their future college applications.



(y)
If you are an elite skater-competing internationally etc, YES, it helps you get into an Ivy League school. (The Ivy League does not offer athletic scholarships). Zhou has a genius IQ and some impressive academic credentials, so he probably could have gotten into an Ivy without skating.
 

Apple1078

Rinkside
Joined
Mar 6, 2020
If you are an elite skater-competing internationally etc, YES, it helps you get into an Ivy League school. (The Ivy League does not offer athletic scholarships). Zhou has a genius IQ and some impressive academic credentials, so he probably could have gotten into an Ivy without skating.
I think skating definitely helped both Nathan, Vincent and Karen get into their Ivies but like you said, they are all pretty smart. According to a Phil Hersh article, Nathan maintained a 4.0 GPA before the pandemic hit which is pretty impressive. And I'm fairly sure neither Harvard or Yale offer A+ grades to students, meaning he's receiving top grades.
 
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Charlotte 71

On the Ice
Joined
Oct 27, 2005

Nothing really new, but IMO a well-balanced appraisal.

(Dick Button needs to work on his hands and fingers in the accompanying picture. ;) Nothing wrong with Michelle Kwan, Lu Chen and Irina Slutskaya from 1996, though.)

The author principally blames the continuing elite/expensive aspect of the sport in America.

Is skating as fun to watch as it used to be, especially for viewers who can't tell one jump from another? The IJS has propelled the sport to new technical heights, but the programs might seem all the same and less creative impact for many viewers. Skating programs are a lot "busier" now than they used to be and there is less opportunity to appreciate elements like spirals and split jumps that people like to see.

Somebody posted an exhibition performance from 1978 by Priscilla Hill somewhere on this site recently - she did one double loop and a lot of absolutely beautiful gliding around, and she was mesmerizing. Not saying I enjoyed it more or less than a Sasha Trusova program with four quads, and skating is obviously not going to go backwards, but from the general public's perspective, something is missing.
 
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