Why Not Synchro?

Sharon Whitlock

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fan here, from the old synchroboards. Sitting at home with a broken kneecap (not from skating, sorry to say!), and bored to tears. So I did some web-surfing (does anyone still do that except old people like me?), and decided to join this forum for some conversation and debate.
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I would like to respond to one of the archived threads about the IOC decision to not include synchronized skating in the 2018 Olympics. If you don't like lots of words, don't ever read fan's posts. I'm not a tweeter, and I don't think that this topic can be best served with short amusing statements.
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Many people on that thread presented some variation of the argument that “synchronized skating isn't ready for the Olympics yet.”
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Most of those folks described a competition that they had watched (mainly on one of the online networks), and found boring and/or not at a high level of athleticism, at least in their opinion.
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Let's start out by saying that a few decades ago, many figure skating fans who adored Peggy Fleming, Scott Hamilton, Katarina Witt, etc. found ice dancing dull and unathletic. I remember my husband describing it as “pairs-lite.”
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So “boring” or “dull” is in the eye of the beholder, and usually, that beholder makes their assessment out of ignorance. Since those days, my husband has learned a lot about ice dancing because he became one himself, and now he prefers ice dancing to all other disciplines. Knowledge of what you're watching drives away boredom.
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Kind of like school figures. Those old competitions featuring school figures didn't draw a lot of fans, and seldom made it onto the television broadcast. But for those who knew what they were looking at, the discipline of figures was fascinating, riveting.
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So let's just dismiss the argument that “synchronized skating is boring”, shall we? A few weeks ago, my husband and I attended the Kalamazoo Kickoff (the first big synchro competition of the season in the Midwest), and for 13 hours on Saturday, we watched synchronized skating, and we were NOT bored, because we knew what we were watching, and we understood the different levels and what to expect at those levels.
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Besides, “boring” isn't a factor in Olympic sports. There are few sports more boring to watch than cross-country ski racing, but everyone recognizes that this sport is highly-deserving of Olympic status, and respects those athletes who are capable of doing this sport at the Olympic level.
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So now let's discuss the comment of “not athletic enough.” Again, this argument must be dismissed, because those who actually DO the sport at the high levels (and even at the lower levels) will testify—with raised fists--that synchronized skating demands a high level of athleticism.
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It should be obvious that in this sport, there is no rest for any individual (unlike the discipline of singles, where a skater may “ease off” for a few seconds to get some rest, or even choose to eliminate or simplify an element that they are uncomfortable with at that time). During a synchro program, everyone must be skating with equal speed and power and everyone must skate ALL the elements—no one can decide to “skip” or "downgrade" an element in a synchro program.
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Many of the teams who never make the podium struggle with this—a few strong, fit skaters cannot carry all the rest of the skaters who are not in good physical condition, or who aren't capable of performing the elements of the program. Even if the team consists of 15 fit skaters and one not-so-fit skater, inevitably, that one unfit skater will drag the team down and make it difficult to perform clean, crisp elements. Often, it's possible to see a fall or collision coming because you see the one skater who's just a little slower or a little weaker, and you know that disaster is inevitable.
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In the United States, it's particularly difficult to achieve a synchro team where every single member of the team is at the same high level of fitness. Off-ice training is a luxury that few teams can afford, and if the training is left up to individuals, often their parents, who are already strapped for cash trying to pay for the synchro (plus the singles that all synchro skaters in the U.S. are required to do), will say, “Go out and run.” And this isn't necessarily the best way for every person to train and become fit.
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However, the top teams in the U.S. have managed to achieve high levels of individual fitness, and this is one reason why they are on top. Look at those teams, and then say, “They aren't athletes.” You won't be able to say that.
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In terms of athleticism, we should not expect the sport of synchronized skating to look like singles, pairs, dance, or school figures (a discipline of the sport that I personally believe should be re-instated for those who are interested). The programs look different, and a different set of skills is necessary for synchronized skaters.
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Obviously the good skating skills must be there—that's one reason the U.S. continues to struggle at the international and world competitions in all the disciplines, but especially in synchronized skating—we have a hodge-podge of skating schools across the country, and the results are a population of skaters that varies greatly in the quality of skating skills. Some rinks use I.S.I. while others use U.S. Basic Skills, and still others create their own hybrid of the two methods. Some children skip classes altogether and go straight for a private coach.
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Ask any synchro coach what happened when she/he included a lunge line for their Pre-Juvie team. They will tell you that every single kid on the team did their lunge a different way. That means that 8-16 children all learned a DIFFERENT way to do a lunge.
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That's bad. And it needs to be fixed if we are ever to compete for Gold at the world, international, or hopefully the Olympic level in synchronized skating.

Think about it—our top ice dancers are being trained by Canadians, who have amazing basic skills.
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Another skill that is necessary for synchronized skaters is spotting. The synchro skater has to be able to spot where they are in relation to everyone else, and keep track of where they are going.
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Singles skaters don't have to do this. They have the entire ice to themselves. Spotting is tough stuff, as any singles skater will tell you if they try a little synchro! My older daughter is a Senior-level ice dancer who joined an Open team this year (she's in her 30s), and she said, “This is HARD!” mainly because of the spotting. It's one thing to keep track of one partner. But 15 partners?! That's hard. Don't disrespect just how hard it is. If you don't believe me, watch another you-tube or real-life synchro competition, and count all the times the lines are crooked, the blocks are uneven, the circles are eggs, the intersections crash—it just goes to show that the skill of spotting is not easy to master! It's the triple jump of synchronized skating--very few teams can master it!
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These are only three of the athletic skills that must be part of the synchro skater's portfolio—a high level of personal physical fitness including stamina and strength, good basic skating skills, and the ability to spot.
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I could mention others, but it should be obvious that a high level of athleticism is necessary to achieve a high level of synchronized skating. Therefore argument that the sport “isn't athletic enough” is not true. The program look easy because the good athletes doing them MAKE the programs look easy, but don't be fooled. Synchro programs at the Senior level have a level of difficulty comparable to any singles, pairs, or dance program. They're different, but they aren't easier.
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One more thing--it takes months to learn a synchro program, especially a higher-level synchro program, and perform it well. That is another aspect in which synchro is right up there with the other disciplines of figure skating. This isn't a sport where sixteen kids and determined coach can throw a program together in a few hours and win squat with it. It takes many hours of work, and even then, the whole thing can go to pieces at a competition.
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The question still remains—is the sport “ready” for the Olympics?
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Next post.
 

dorispulaski

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Hi Sharon Whitlock! Welcome to Golden Skate. Thank you for a long and thoughtful post.

I am hopeful that the inclusion of a synchro free skate in the GPF competition next week will cause many people who do not think synchro is ready for the Olympics to reconsider their opinion.

However, the best US ice dancers are not trained by Canadians. They are mostly trained by coaching teams led by Russians who have settled in the US. The only top US dance team training in Canada is Hubbell & Donohue, and it could be argued that as Dubreuil and Lauzon trained in France with Zazoui, and as the school did not produce top results until Hagenauer moved from Zazoui's school to Québec, that the expertise shown by that school is more French than Canadian.
 

Sharon Whitlock

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Yes, that's true about the Russian coaches. Sorry for the error. The point is, they're not trained by U.S. coaches. :/
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They are certainly good coaches, and I'm glad that the recent success of U.S. ice dancers has created more interest in ice dancing. It's a very healthy and sociable sport that a skater can do for decades.
 

Sharon Whitlock

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The first time my family ever heard of the sport of “precision skating” was in 1988 at the Ice House in Cary, North Carolina. A group of three older skaters did a spiral line and jokingly called themselves a “precision team.” We asked, and they told us that at the Charlotte competition (I.S.I.A.), there were big precision teams with lots of skaters. We only had 30 figure skaters in the whole rink in Cary, and they were all ages and levels, from ISI Tots through U.S.F.S.A Seniors.
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In 1990, we moved to Rockford, IL, hometown of the great Janet Lynn, and heard about the Rockford Ice Angels, an I.S.I.A team that consisted mainly of all the middle schoolers in the rink (most landing axels and working on their doubles). We didn't actually see them until that summer when our older daughter competed at the I.S.I.A World Championships in Chicago. (She got 3rd!).
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We watched the Ice Angels (they got 3rd, too!), and were entranced. That's the only word I can come up with to describe my reaction, and both of my daughters reacted the same way. When we got back to Rockford, my older daughter tried out for the Ice Angels, and a year later, her little sister tried out, too. Both girls spent six years with this team.
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Along with the basics of precision skating, which back then were pretty simple at that level (I.S.I.A Formation), we learned all about why synchronized skating wasn't a real sport, why it should go away and stop bothering the real sport of figure skating, and why synchronized skaters were all “skaters who couldn't jump” and didn't deserve respect. Boy, did we learn a lot! (sarcasm)

I believe it was at the ice show the next year that the singles skaters from the local club loudly yelled at the Ice Angels to “get off the ice!” during the warm-up that had been reserved for the team. I wrote to the local club board and demanded a written apology to the team, and we got it, and I kept it for many years. I only got rid of it when my girls graduated from high school. I probably had some religious conviction to not be rancorous or bitter or hold grudges. I kind of wish I had kept it as a historical record.

I believe that this was my first “battle” for the discipline of synchronized skating.

But it wasn't the last.

Several years later, in the late 1990s, after my daughters had started skating with Chicago Jazz (a 65-mile one way commute for us three times a week), I spoke with our Park District board about the need to develop the sport of synchronized skating in Rockford. We could afford the commute and the expense of Jazz, but most Rockford skaters couldn't do this. I wanted all the Rockford skaters to have the same opportunity.

I was told by the Board members that the Park District didn't get involved with “passing fads.”

Hey, Park District—it's 2015, and the discipline of synchronized skating is still here. Definitely not a passing fad. (But most of you are gone!)

Do you sense that I still turn blue in the face with anger when I remember that starch-shirted Park District Board member pompously declaring that ridiculous statement?!
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In fact, at one point, U.S. Figure Skating was claiming that synchronized skating is the fastest-growing discipline in the country. I believe it—many of the skaters who grew up skating synchro decide to do it again once they become adults, and now many of our adult teams are no longer “cute,” but formidable. Seriously, the adult teams are doing the stuff that Senior teams did back in the late 1990s, and more than that. The only “cute” teams now are the Basic I teams, consisting of tots. Even the teams with 70 and 80-year-olds are often quite good.

I've never stopped advocating for synchronized skating and I've even received calls from U.S. Figure Skating telling me to “back off.” Well, why not? That's what they do, or at least, it often seems that way. (Cough Cough--”Team Event” Echh. What team?! Several singles/pairs/dance skaters working as a team. That used to be called “Cheesefest.".)

One of the reasons I've written synchronized skating novels (look them up on Amazon) is to advocate for the sport. One girl told me that she took one of the novels to her school teacher and said, “HERE, read THIS. THIS is what I do!”
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My point is, I've been hearing the same argument for over 25 years--”Synchronized skating isn't ready for the Olympics. We need to let it develop more.”

And what I've said for 25 years is what I'm saying now—according to that argument, NO SPORT was or is ready for the Olympics, because no sport is “static." All sports are "developing.”

Let's take the sport of figure skating, which was given Olympic status in 1924. At that time, much of the sport consisted of school figures. Sonja Henie won the Gold Medal three times in row, and never did any jump bigger than a single axel. The first triple jump wasn't landed until 1952 (Richard Button). The first triple jumps by women were done in 1980. And the first quads—I don't even remember, but it wasn't that many decades ago.

And how about pairs? And ice dancing? Although pairs has remained fairly static over the years (I admit, it's my least-favorite figure skating discipline), dance has changed constantly, and continues to evolve.

Good heavens, do you all realize that in 1976, Dorothy Hamill won the Olympic Gold medal with a program that wouldn't even win a national title for a JUVENILE lady in the U.S. Today?!

Sooooo...do any of you think that the sport of figure skating should have waited to be in the Olympics until it developed to the point where it is now—triple jumps by men and ladies, and quads by the men?

Of course you don't think that! It's ridiculous! You accept, as I do, that sports evolve, and that's one thing that makes sports “the human drama of athletic competition.” It's fun watching them change from season to season.

So why do you think that about synchronized skating?

It's my opinion that synchronized skating HAS developed to a point where it is truly an athletic sport, and should be included in the Olympics and most importantly, allowed, as other sports have, to develop UNDER THE OLYMPIC RINGS, not outside of them.

And it will develop. For many years, fan predicted that the number of skaters on synchronized skating teams would decrease, and fan was right. The current number of skaters on a Senior (or other high-level team) is 16 (back in the 1990s, it was 24).

And how about the twizzle? It awes me to think that my daughter skated on Chicago Jazz Juniors the LAST year that twizzles were not included in U.S synchro programs. Now they are in EVERY level of synchro, including the Preliminary level—those cute little girls do single twizzles (or attempt them, at least!). At Kalamazoo a few weeks ago, I gave up trying to figure out how many revolutions the Junior and Senior level synchro teams were trying—it looked like more than triple twizzles.

And the lifts! This was unheard of even in the 1990s! And the pairs elements—Hockettes have made the death spirals a trademark of almost all of their higher-level programs, and they do them very well. And the ice dance—I love seeing the younger level teams pair up and do the actual dance steps.

And the jumps! I watched one team in Kalamazoo skating to a great classical piece (can't remember if it was Carmina Burana?), and they did axels, and my reaction was, “For that music, they should do doubles.” And I'm willing to bet a dollar that we will see double jumps in synchro sooner than later.
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Everything is different! The sport is faster, higher, and stronger than ever, and it will surely get even faster, higher, and stronger.

So at what point will the sport be “developed enough” for the Olympics?

It makes no sense. The sport has spent 60 years developing, often at the fringes of the rink and the skating clubs, and often facing down anti-synchro coaches who actually tell their students, “If you join the synchro team, I will drop you as my student.”

Those coaches should not be allowed to coach because they are obviously too stupid to coach. At the very least, the PSA should discipline coaches who are caught spewing such toxic nonsense.

To those who say that the sport should wait “until it develops,” when exactly will that be? What will the sport look like? Do you even have the expertise to make that kind of assessment about the sport? I know I don't, and I've followed the sport for 25 years.
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It's a ridiculous argument. The sport should be admitted into the Olympics in 2022, not because “we deserve it,” as some synchronized skaters insist, and not because “we will gain legitimacy” as other synchronized skaters claim.

No one “deserves” anything. The only sports that could make an argument for “deserving” Olympic status are the sports originally done in the Olympics back in ancient Greece, and none of those were winter sports.

As for gaining legitimacy, that will, hopefully, happen as a result of Olympic status (although I believe that even then, some figure skating coaches will continue to look down their noses at the synchronized teams). But the IOC can't and shouldn't include sports just so that they can “gain legitimacy.”

The sport should be admitted into the Olympics because it has demonstrated for many years that it is fulfilling the ideals of the Olympic Movement: “Excellence, Friendship, and Respect,” and because it exemplifies the motto “Faster, Higher, Stronger.”

If you read up on the Olympic Movement, you will see that synchronized skating is a good fit, in fact, a perfect fit, into the Movement, and should be included as soon as possible, and fan predicts that if the journalists position it correctly (Go, Johnny and Tara!), it will be very popular, as all the other synchronized sports are popular--yes, even synchronized swimming! This summer, there were at least three ads on network television featuring synchronized swimming--if the sport was not popular, then why would major companies use it in their very expensive television ad campaigns? Of course it's popular and respected--can YOU hold your breath for two minutes or more? When you can, then you've earned the right to dis the sport of synchro swimming.

My personal belief is that the reason synchronized skating wasn't included for the 2018 Olympics is that the IOC didn't wish to debut a new sport with new Olympic athletes in a country (South Korea) that is so close to a country that is committed to violence (North Korea), and is also far away from all the countries that currently field Senior synchro teams. The expense of sending synchro teams to S. Korea would have been a crushing burden for most countries. I believe that the IOC wishes to debut synchronized skating in a country that is safer (if such a country even exists anymore), and is closer geographically to Europe, Russia, Scandinavia, Canada, and the U.S. I believe that after the tragedy in Paris and also Mali and Beirut, that the IOC will be even more committed to the safety of their athletes. I hope I'm right about this. It's JMO.

Why not synchro in the Olympics? The arguments against it don't stand up.
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What I fear is that the sport may lose steam in the U.S. as a result of the IOC decision against inclusion in the 2018 Olympics. it was really a punch in the gut for all of us who have waited for so many years, and we were very hopeful. However, I read that the Porter competition this weekend has a record number of entries, and that gives me hope. Skating is down all over the country, and that's the biggest problem synchro has at this moment in history. We need more skaters, and that's true in all the disciplines. The U.S. certainly isn't carting home medals in any discipline.
 

Sharon Whitlock

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A quick note--I hope I didn't come across as dis-respecting the beautiful Dorothy Hamill. Although her Olympic programs included only double jumps, double axels, and the very nifty delayed axel, the quality of the various elements would definitely far out-do any Juvenile, and many of our top Senior skaters in the U.S. and the World. She had a feeling for her edges, and combined with her "up and down" personality, this made compelling viewing for all the fans. And she has continued to give back to the sport over the years--a truly great Olympic champion!

One of the reasons we got our daughters involved in the sport was a poster at the Cary rink featuring a lovely picture of Dorothy Hamill!

Certainly today's Juvenile could do the jumps and other elements in her programs, but I don't think they would do them as well as Ms. Hamill.
 

karne

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Why not synchro in the Olympics? The arguments against it don't stand up.

The arguments against it absolutely stand up when you are demanding the inclusion of upwards of 150+ extra athletes at a time when the Olympics is trying its best not to expand. Even for the simple 10-team proposal, you are looking at adding in more athletes for one discipline than for the four disciplines combined!

Which sport are you advocating kicking out of the Olympics to make room for Synchro?
 

sses1

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The Olympics are looking for sports that are excellent for value; youth appeal; attractiveness for TV, media and the general public; gender equality; minimum impact on the number of events and/or quotas; and infrastructure and operational cost and complexity. And unfortunately synchro doesn't fill the majority of the criteria. People need to let go of this wish for synchro to become an olympic sport because it will most likely never happen and if it did it would negatively affect the current figure skating sports.
 

Sharon Whitlock

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The arguments against it absolutely stand up when you are demanding the inclusion of upwards of 150+ extra athletes at a time when the Olympics is trying its best not to expand. Even for the simple 10-team proposal, you are looking at adding in more athletes for one discipline than for the four disciplines combined!

Which sport are you advocating kicking out of the Olympics to make room for Synchro?

The number of athletes is irrelevant. It's the length of their competition that's relevant, and in the case of synchronized skating, the programs are no longer than the Singles/Pairs/Dance events.

And I don't buy the argument that another sport would have to be eliminated. That's puny thinking. It's all about good scheduling and utilizing the night-time hours for practices, which synchro skaters are used to doing all these years. I don't think any synchronized skater would object to a 2 a.m. practice if it means stepping onto Olympic ice. (They already do 2 a.m. practices for local non-qualifying competitions.)

I also think that synchronized skating should be prepared to make some concessions, and two of the concessions that fan has been suggesting for years are (1) reducing the size of Senior and Junior teams to 12 skaters and (2) eliminating the Short Program.

It makes even more sense to eliminate the SP with IJS, as both programs are now simply "technical programs" and therefore redundant. I actually believe that the SP should be eliminated in all the skating disciplines other than ice dancing (after all, in ice dancing, two totally different dances with different steps are done in the SP and the LP).

Eliminating the SP would make the sport cheaper for skaters (in the other disciplines as well as synchro), and would enable them to make more efficient use of the very limited ice time that many local rinks grudgingly eke out to figure skating because they would rather sell it to The Amazing and Profitable Hockey Gods.

Only one program, one shot at a medal, would make the sport more exciting for the audiences. It would also make scheduling much easier for Worlds/Olympics. A Senior competition could be done in about 6-8 hours, start to finish, from walking into the arena to walking out of the arena. Even now, a Senior competition with only 10 teams would be done in four hours, start to finish, and with two programs (Short and Long), this would mean a total of 8-10 hours of competition ice. Don't try to tell me that this is too much for the Olympics. Again, that's very puny thinking in this day and age. Time can be utilized very efficiently.

As for the 12 skaters--yes, I know that synchro skaters and coaches are against this and protest fan's suggestion with fervor. However, after watching Opens for years, I KNOW that the choreography for 12 skaters can be beautiful and complex. I think the biggest problem with this at the local level is that it makes the sport more expensive (dividing the expenses between 12 skaters as opposed to dividing it between 16 skaters, plus the alternates, of course). But it makes the sport more compact and TV-friendly. Also, it makes it necessary for the synchro coaches to select only the most skilled skaters for the line, and this will force skaters to work harder to achieve the skills necessary to be one of the 12.

Perhaps you were thinking of lodging rather than the actual competition. Again, I say that adding 150 extra athletes is no big deal--you build a few more stories onto the hotel. I believe that the Olympic Village will be out in future Olympic games--too dangerous in this age of terrorism, and not conducive to healthy athletes (too many infectious diseases--I work in a microbiology lab, so I'm uber aware of bad boys like MRSA, ESBL, food-borne illnesses, etc.).

Many synchronized skating teams currently happily stay in hotels far away from the competition, and I have no doubt that they would be happy to do the same for an Olympic competition.
 
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karne

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Perhaps you were thinking of lodging rather than the actual competition. Again, I say that adding 150 extra athletes is no big deal--you build a few more stories onto the hotel. I believe that the Olympic Village will be out in future Olympic games--too dangerous in this age of terrorism, and not conducive to healthy athletes (too many infectious diseases--I work in a microbiology lab, so I'm uber aware of bad boys like MRSA, ESBL, food-borne illnesses, etc.).

Many synchronized skating teams currently happily stay in hotels far away from the competition, and I have no doubt that they would be happy to do the same for an Olympic competition.

You are COMPLETELY clueless about the issues, aren't you? THE IOC DOES NOT WANT TO INCLUDE ANY MORE ATHLETES IN THE OLYMPICS. It's really not that hard to understand. The ONLY reason figure skating was allowed to include the team event at Sochi was the proviso that it meant NO MORE ATHLETES than usual in that sport.

The IOC is, quite rightly, going to laugh in the face of anyone who says "Oh, we want to add a sport that will add over 150+ athletes/support staff to the Olympics. Just build another couple of stories in the hotel." What a ridiculous way to think. The logistics are far greater than just "oh just build another story on the hotel"!
 

Précision

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The Olympics are looking for sports that are excellent for value; youth appeal; attractiveness for TV, media and the general public; gender equality; minimum impact on the number of events and/or quotas; and infrastructure and operational cost and complexity. And unfortunately synchro doesn't fill the majority of the criteria. People need to let go of this wish for synchro to become an olympic sport because it will most likely never happen and if it did it would negatively affect the current figure skating sports.

Actually, ISU made some calculations concerning this matter for the IOC. Compared to other figure skating disciplines, synchro is the most youth appealing discipline of them all at the moment. Teams may have also boys/men in teams, so the sport itself is supporting gender equality, it's just that there aren't many male synchro skaters out there. The Infrastructure and operational cost are the same as in other figure skating disciplines: and since all the others are included in the Olympics already, all the infrastucture is already present.

So I wouldn't say the dream is impossible to acchieve in the Future. The sport is growing in Russia and China, and I think with these countries also in the mix, 2022 might be a possibility. We all know that there is the problem including the 150+ athletetes, but ISU is now making big efforts supporting and marketing synchro (GP Final, Shanghai Trophy), so if the IOC were just laughing when ISU sent the application, why would ISU continue to make the sport more media appealing if there's no hope given?
 
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SoundtracksOnIce

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The IOC's general rule to adding any new disciplines for any sport is that the spots will have to be taken from another discipline. People want Endurance Riding added to the Olympics, but to do so they would have to cut either Show Jumping, 3-Day Eventing, or Dressage. When trampoline was added as a gymnastics discipline, places were taken from artistic gymnastics. The only way we could get synchro would be to cut places from other disciplines, and it requires so many people that you would need to lose too many places.
 

Sharon Whitlock

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The IOC consists of men and women who are free to do as they please, of course.
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However, the IOC is charged with the responsibility of furthering the Olympic Movement, and to close the door to new and developing sports is not in keeping with the Olympic Movement. Look it up.
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One of the main tenets of the Olympic Movement is to encourage increased participation in athletic competition.
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In future years, more sports will be created and will thrive or dwindle. E.g. one of the sports that is becoming wildly popular is pickle ball, and I have no doubt that as the sport becomes more organized and played by younger people/athletes, it will probably make a bid for admission into the Olympics.
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The IOC, a committee of people who exists in this time period, has the grave responsibility to further the Olympic Movement and its ideals. They are not dictators who can arbitrarily halt the development and proliferation of new sports. This policy is not in keeping with the Olympic Movement.
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The Olympics are NOT a business, although obviously they must be presented in such a way that doesn't drain a country/LOC of its monies.
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As I said, the IOC members are free to do as they please, and it's possible that they can dump the Olympic Movement and convert the Olympics into a pure business, existing primarily to make money for its investors. I think it's likely that this is essentially and sadly what the Olympics have become.
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Is this what the World wants? I don't think so. But then, fan doesn't have a clue, does she?
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No, I don't think this is what the World wants. I think that many of us want the Olympics to be something higher than a mere business.
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And I think that it's likely that as the Olympics become more and more outlandishly expensive, the IOC will attempt a return to the ideals of the Olympic Movement and try to scale the Olympics down, not by eliminating sports and denying entry to more sports, but by streamlining the "production" of the Olympic competition. Perhaps rather than making it one ginormous "event," they will turn it into a series of events that occur throughout the year. I would go for this. It would certainly make it easier to watch--it's actually quite impossible at the moment to devote two weeks of our lives to watching TV 24/7. This is just one idea, and there are no doubt many other creative ways to handle the Olympics in a way that would INCLUDE rather than EXCLUDE.
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Keep in mind that the IOC will lose and gain new members through the decades, and the IOC of tomorrow may reject the policies of today's IOC. So just because THE IOC DOES NOT WANT TO INCLUDE ANY MORE ATHLETES IN THE OLYMPICS today is not a predictor of what future IOC members will want.
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BTW, most event planners recognize that "the more butts in the seats = more money." So I'm frankly puzzled that the IOC wants to turn potential money-spenders away. (And no one spends more money at competitions than synchro fans! We will buy anything synchro!)
 

Sharon Whitlock

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The IOC's general rule to adding any new disciplines for any sport is that the spots will have to be taken from another discipline. People want Endurance Riding added to the Olympics, but to do so they would have to cut either Show Jumping, 3-Day Eventing, or Dressage. When trampoline was added as a gymnastics discipline, places were taken from artistic gymnastics. The only way we could get synchro would be to cut places from other disciplines, and it requires so many people that you would need to lose too many places.

So that's how it goes, eh? Then it's an easy fix. Cut the CheeseFest...the Figure Skating Team event. That would make plenty of room for synchronized skating.
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This is what SHOULD have been done to begin with! The Team event is an I.S.I. thing, and it's good and fun for I.S.I. competitions and in fan's opinion, 95% of U.S. A. figure skaters should be involved in I.S.I. competitions to learn about contributing their individual skills to their team. That's everyday life and business for most Americans.
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But this has no place in I.S.U. skating. U.S. Figure Skating should have spoken up and said, "NO!" to the Team event in 2014, and held out for the REAL figure skating team event--Synchronized Skating.
 

Sharon Whitlock

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The Olympics are looking for sports that are excellent for value; youth appeal; attractiveness for TV, media and the general public; gender equality; minimum impact on the number of events and/or quotas; and infrastructure and operational cost and complexity. And unfortunately synchro doesn't fill the majority of the criteria. People need to let go of this wish for synchro to become an olympic sport because it will most likely never happen and if it did it would negatively affect the current figure skating sports.

Apparently the ISU disagrees with this assessment, as they lobbied pretty hard for synchronized skating's inclusion in the 2018 Olympics. Also, the current President of U.S. Figure Skating disagrees, as he has made public statements strongly pledging his commitment to lobby for the inclusion of synchronized skating in the Olympics.
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fan personally thinks he should get busy and put some action behind his words, and one way he could do this is to try very hard to get some kind of network television coverage for synchronized skating other than the annual one-time appearance of the Haydenettes at Rockefeller Plaza (they skate a very watered-down program that's pretty, but isn't very impressive for figure skating fans who are used to singles, pairs, and dance).
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fan thinks that U.S. Figure Skating should sit down with some experts and design a very calculated and deliberate PR campaign that would introduce synchronized skating to the public and to potential sponsors and create a desire for the sport. That's what advertising is all about--when I see the product in the ad, I WANT the product in the ad, and I will do almost anything to GET the product in the ad! That's what synchro needs and has needed for decades--good promotion by people other than synchro moms and dads.
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This would involve television exposure as well as exposure in print media (e.g., articles in women's magazines and other magazines, lots more online coverage with daily updates not depending on local skating clubs, etc.).
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For years, fan has said that during the broadcast of singles/pairs/dance competitions, the silly little stories about a skaters' beanie baby collection or passion for baking should be replaced with updates about important synchronized skating competitions, with video of the actual programs as well as interviews with the synchro coaches (just a few words, no five-minute chats). NFL coverage currently does this--throughout any big game, there will be small bites of coverage of other games, as well as other major sporting events. Not big stories--just little bites. But it gives the audience something to chew on--this approach would really work wonders for getting synchronized skating out there and create a demand by the public for more of the sport and of course, for Olympic synchro. And excellent commentators like Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski are already supportive of synchro, and I think they would be ideal at pulling this off.
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One more thing, and this is a whole 'nother topic for another section of this Forum. fan believes that at this time in history, U.S. Figure Skating needs to stop relying on the local figure skating clubs to do their promotion work. It's not working. Many figure skating clubs are struggling to acquire members. People in the U.S. are reluctant to commit to anything or anyone unless there are obvious benefits to them. For competitive figure skaters, a figure skating club membership is a requirement, of course--or is it? fan sees more and more people who choose to join U.S. Figure Skating as "Individual Members" because it's cheaper, confers the same benefits (testing and competition privileges), and it gets them OUT of the requirement to VOLUNTEER to help out their local figure skating club. What this means is that the volunteer base in many local figure skating clubs is pretty puny, and it means that promoting synchronized skating (or pretty much any figure skating discipline) to their community is going to be darn low on the club priority list. Along with all of this "lack of commitment thing," the Reality in 2015 is that most adults are working; in our local figure skating club, there are no moms or dads that I know of who aren't working outside their home. No one sits around the rink beading dresses and chatting about skating anymore. So U.S. Figure Skating needs to gird up their loins and do their own promotion, as they can no longer count on a lot of dedicated skating moms who have all the time and money in the world to reach out to their community and extol the joys of skating. Skating clubs are rapidly becoming dinosaurs.
 
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... Then it's an easy fix. Cut the CheeseFest...the Figure Skating Team event. That would make plenty of room for synchronized skating. ...

It is no fix at all. The Sochi team skating event caused no increase in the head count of skaters competing at the Games.

Whereas synchro would cause a sizeable increase in the head count.

Reiterating what karne already noted above:
Per the very clear rules, skaters were not allowed in the Sochi team event unless they already were there to compete in the traditional Olympic events for individual disciplines.

(The rules theoretically did allow for rare exceptions, but no exceptions were needed in Sochi, iirc.)

[I've got nothing against synchro, but eliminating the Olympic team event will not help with the head-count issue.]
 
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Sharon Whitlock

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It is no fix at all. The Sochi team skating event caused no increase in the head count of skaters competing at the Games.

Whereas synchro would cause a sizeable increase in the head count.

Reiterating what karne already noted above:
Per the very clear rules, skaters were not allowed in the Sochi team event unless they already were there to compete in the traditional Olympic events for individual disciplines.

(The rules theoretically did allow for rare exceptions, but no exceptions were needed in Sochi, iirc.)

[I've got nothing against synchro, but eliminating the Olympic team event will not help with the head-count issue.]

The "rules?"

Are they set in stone? Part of some Divine Decree? What happens if the "rules" are changed? Will life on earth end? (sarcasm, apologies).

The "rules" were made at a certain time to accommodate the needs of that time.

The "rules" can and SHOULD be changed as times and needs change.

There is no reason these days to limit the number of athletes/entourages/fans/media/security, etc.. There are creative minds who can come up with ways to accommodate more athletes and the accompanying crowds. The technology of today allows for so many options that were never dreamed of when the "rules" were made.

Years ago, fan was in charge of an ice show in her city. We had invited school children for daytime performance, and expected a certain number of children. But then unexpected buses pulled up, and 150 children waited in the lobby. (Not fan's error, BTW, but it really doesn't matter!). We accommodated them. It was crowded and probably not to fire code, but for one hour, we managed, and it was thrill for our skaters to step through the gate and see so many children in the audience. Our "star" skater that year told fan afterwards that when she stepped onto the ice, she was late starting her solo because she just stopped and stared and couldn't believe how many kids came to see the show. Delightful!

fan chooses to be an optimist who believes there are answers, not a pessimist who believes that there is no cure and submission is inevitable.
 

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The "rules?"

Are they set in stone? Part of some Divine Decree? What happens if the "rules" are changed? Will life on earth end? (sarcasm, apologies). ...

Please leave me out of your sarcasm.

I merely made reference to the 2014 rules for the Sochi team figure skating event.

And I stand by my post that the Sochi team event did not increase the overall head count of skaters.

So your previous post was based on a false premise.

As I said above, I have nothing against synchro.

But your belligerence in response to my fact-based post certainly is not going to increase my support for synchro.

Life on earth will not end if synchro never is accepted into the Olympics.
 
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karne

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Life on earth will not end if synchro never is accepted into the Olympics.

Oh, but apparently it will. After all, we all know synchro is the most ~important~ discipline, after all, they're the ones who take up room on practice sessions not meant for them, they're the ones who scream uncontrollably during their events and induce day-long headaches in the unfortunate officials and make it hard to do their jobs, and they're the ones who pile en masse out of the rink when their event is done, with no consideration for watching or supporting the other skaters...

There was actually one skater added for the Team Event in Sochi - the British man. But he was added for the SP only (since obviously Team GB did not make the free skate) and adding one skater for one tiny portion of the Games is a totally different prospect to the militant demands of the synchro community for the inclusion of 150+ extra athletes. After all, they should just build another few stories on the hotel...
 

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Sam-Skwantch

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