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Author Topic: How do we get figure skating more popular?  (Read 4853 times)

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Offline Neverdull44

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How do we get figure skating more popular?
« on: February 21, 2014, 04:39:30 PM »
The "buzz" is that skating is less popular than ever.

#1)  Is skating really "less popular" then ever?  What's the proof?  Is it based on TV ratings?  Show attendance?  The number of figure skaters enrolled in clubs? 

#2)  If it is less popular, then what is the fix?

Offline AgnesNitt

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Re: How do we get figure skating more popular?
« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2014, 05:17:13 PM »
My suggestions:
http://icedoesntcare.blogspot.com/2013/07/tough-guys-figure-skate.html
To be frank there's too much focus on little girls. USFSA wants more boys and men to skate. Well, 90% of the skaters on their website are girls. How to say, "Boy unfriendly".

For example, all the USFSA Skate Coach apps have all female demonstrators.
Yes I'm in with the 90's. I have a skating blog. http://icedoesntcare.blogspot.com/

Offline ChristyRN

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Re: How do we get figure skating more popular?
« Reply #2 on: February 21, 2014, 07:53:18 PM »
The Skating magazine's kids spotlight seems to focus on 9 and 10 year old girls. I'm not sure I've seen a boy. At least the adult section features men and ladies.
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Offline ONskater74

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Re: How do we get figure skating more popular?
« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2014, 08:09:52 PM »
Exactly AgnesNitt.
The gender imbalance is so blatant. As a man I have endured pretty much everything. The club I was just with has NEVER had a male skater, NEVER had an adult skater, and the coach insists upon treating a 40 yr old man like a teenaged girl. Skate Canada has no adult testing stream.
Getting back to BOYS though. I think that they need role models initially, this needs TV to get the role models out there in the public eye. For every million boys who watch figure skating on TV maybe 4 will sign up for lessons. Of those 4, 2 will drop out or switch to hockey, the third will quit after Canskate, and the lonely last one will actually move on to Starskate. So you need about 30 million boy viewers a year to end up with 30 lonely boys scattered around a vast remote country almost as big as Russia, each of them isolated and belonging to a club that has no other boys. Right now the boy viewership of figure skating here is about 1000..... :-\
Fact is that figure skating moves are fun  :) and physically demanding :o and there's lots of cute girls around  8) ::>)  So put all that into one package and what's not to like? Lots. The attitude of coaches, the animosity however thinly veiled of the other female skaters, the peer pressure from the boy's knuckle dragging friends, the lure of the NHL and a "tough guy" image. The perception that male skaters are all gay. It just goes on and on.
Around here there are tons of clubs and tons of little girls who skate. it is what little girls do after school. Boys play hockey. Clubs would not know what to do with 20 rangy boys who show up for registration, coaches have never taught a boy, my last female coach who has coached for 30+ yrs did not know the male steps beyond the bronze dances. never had to teach them. 99.99% of coaches are women at the club level.
So you make it into a prissy sport and wonder why half the population shows no interest in participating.

To make it more popular? Televise each and every event, have serious knowledgeable commentators, make the scoring system comprehensible, introduce some sort of ranking for "artistic expression" or choreography so people can see that it is not just about landing quads and triples but about interpreting the music, keeping time. Half the skaters you see the music is just background noise that seems to have no correlation to what is happening on the ice. It needs to be obvious.
A double or triple that absolutely soars and floats like magic deserves just as many points as the failed quad that a skater steps out of. use a laser level to measure height of jumps. Use the playbook of the reality shows and allow viewer input into judging, I have said this before. The "pleasure" and WOW! aspect of a skater's program is what people can connect with. Just watching a whole succession of men's singles skaters trip and fall through a dismal few hours is just driving nails into the coffin. Falls need to be HAMMERED with deductions (5 points) and other errors treated equally harshly. if you penalise the falls and tripping and stumbling the skaters will be forced to modify their programs to skate a smooth clean program. if skaters can still rack up points on all these mostly botched elements what is the point? Nobody wants to watch messy programs.

Offline jbruced

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Re: How do we get figure skating more popular?
« Reply #4 on: February 21, 2014, 10:53:03 PM »
For boys/young men hockey is really pretty easy to play. All we needed way back when was a hockey stick and a puck to get on the ice with. The concept is easy to grasp--hit the puck into the goal. Not at all unlike any other sand lot sport. Figure skating on the other hand is difficult, if not impossible, to learn at the sand lot level. Figure skating is not team oriented like the other activities that boys like. They want and need to be a part of a group. Figure skating doesn't meet this criteria.

Even if a boy is interested and his parents have the money for instructors and coaches, the boy most likely doesn't want to be dressed the way they see most male figure skaters on TV. Charlie White only wanted to be dressed in solid black when he was younger and eventually he was given a choice of, "stones or ruffles" according to his mother. Boys don't like this.

Televising events, other than nationals, is probably too costly, but more than likely much more could be by the rinks and clubs to gain publicity for local or regional events. We have 3 tv stations in our local market and in 30+ years of living here I have never seen any mention of the local rink or the club and their activities.

Even when boys get old enough to be interested in girls, the girls are dressed as though they are at a competition and the boy just wants to show up in blue jeans. The boy feels awkward and out of place. The only time I don't see a mismatch in attire is when a dating couple comes to a public skating session.

Old guys like me probably don't need to be learning to jump or do quad jumps or play hockey anymore so we may look to ice dancing. What ice dancing do we see??? All that is on tv is the free dance stuff with the guy twirling the girl around his neck, around his waist and over his shoulder while doing twizzles. What guy above the age of 40 is convinced he can show up to a rink and do that? What woman above the age of 40 would feel safe doing that with any male skater above the age of 40? The pattern dances need to be promoted much more than they are to the general public.

For both male and female, the powers that be over figure skating need to realize that 98% of the people who take up skating are  not in it to compete at the national and world level. Many are not even interested in competing at all; they just want to have fun. Skating with skill and gracefulness can be fun without being a test or a competition.

Offline Neverdull44

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Re: How do we get figure skating more popular?
« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2014, 07:25:38 AM »
In my daughter's dance school, all boys get 100% free tuition/lessons.  Whether it's hip hop, tap, jazz, or ballet.  Free.  And, she's had dancers go on to "So You Think You Can Dance?" because, in part, the financial barriers were taken away.  How about rinks offer all boy skaters "free" figure skating lessons?  I'm thinking a free power class would be popular, especially from the hockey boys.  The best hockey skaters could learn from figure skaters, and the best figure skaters could learn from hockey.

Yes, un-sissify figure skating.  The comments on the Olympic on-line news articles were that figure skating is not a sport, it's a performing art.  The public does not understand how physical the sport is.  Skaters are athletes, first and foremost.  There needs to be shown how strong one has to be to figure skater, calories burned, balance, coordination needed (split second to pull in on jumps, etc.), benefits to bone strength, etc.    Don't we have a nation of unfit, overweight people?

The Olympic commentators "knew" the skaters'  programs that were going to be presented.  They had an idea of the basic point levels.  How about explaining that to the audience?  Do your homework Tara & Johnny?   Say, "The maximum points on the program she designed in practice is X, because  .  . "  How about explaining why a triple lutz gets more points than a triple salchow?  How about explaining the difference of the jumps, rotation needed? How about having a speedometer that clocks the skaters into the jumps, so people can see how fast they are really moving.  Yes, this also goes to un-sissifying and to the commentators duty to report on the sport.

I think every local club needs to reach out to their tv, newspaper, and radio talk show programmers to promote the sport to all genders, ages, and races.  When every 'learn to skate' starts, have the news run spots.  News stations & papers are always looking for stories.  They have to fill up time/space.

Finally, Johnny Weir's outfits on NBC during these Olympics were outrageously embarrassing to both straight and gay people everywhere.  Last night on NBC, he looked like Pee-Wee Herman child molester.  Seeing him as a representative of the sport made me afraid to send my son or daughter to a coach.  Get better representatives for the sport.  Brian Boitano is gay, but not a laugh job.  You have to appeal to average Americans.  Get Todd or Brian to comment.  How about Caryn Kadavy or Linda Fratianne?  They would do her homework on the programs.

The outfits are terrible that the guys feel like they have to choose to win a program.  Not even Lawrence Welk or Fred Astaire would have worn those "frocks."   If you want to know why the sport is dying, it's because the sport is not changing with the times, but is going further into a rut.

And finally, bring back those big 'Holiday on Ice' shows to the US. Make them athletic, sexy, and contemporary.  It was a dreamworld to watch.  Remember Clive Phipson jumping through hoops and over the chorus girls?  No one would dare say he was a sissy (see Youtube).   The current shows are either the "Stars on Ice", which feature just a handful of skaters. The audience does not get the visual smorgasbord of dream-like show.  Plus, you can "see" Stars on Ice" on the television shows.  The TV shows just one skater on the tube!   Or, the shows are the "Disney on Ice" type which appeals to toddlers.  That's good for encouraging the wee-ones to go to the rink, but you are losing the 3rd graders on up. 

I think I should work for the USFSA.   I have a law and a CPA license, ran businesses, and love the sport of figure skating, even if it's always been a struggle of passion.

Offline ONskater74

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Re: How do we get figure skating more popular?
« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2014, 02:44:25 PM »
Travelling Ice Shows are dead. I think Dorothy Hamill gave it her best shot with Ice Capades and just couldn't make it work. Times aren't what they were.

Offline jbruced

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Re: How do we get figure skating more popular?
« Reply #7 on: February 22, 2014, 04:40:14 PM »
The "buzz" is that skating is less popular than ever.

#1)  Is skating really "less popular" then ever?  What's the proof?  Is it based on TV ratings?  Show attendance?  The number of figure skaters enrolled in clubs? 

#2)  If it is less popular, then what is the fix?
TV ratings may be down in reality, or because of the internet. I "followed" this years winter Olympics via the internet. Once I knew the outcome of any event I was interested in there was no need to spend my time watching it.

My wife and I were able to attend 3 of the Stars on Ice shows sponsored by Smuckers several years ago. The first year we went there was good attendance, the following years each declined and you could definitely tell the performers were not really into it anymore. I think their schedule was too demanding and they were tired and somewhat cranky in the after show reception we go to go to.

The local club is mostly young girls 8 to 17 years of age and there seems to be fewer than 18 who are active.

Skating as a spectator sport has little inherent exciting drama. Everybody does pretty much the same spins and jumps that have been seen for years. The skaters doing these either do them well or fall which has been seen many times over during the past many decades.  The pairs skaters do have the lifts and throws but how many of us mere mortals can realistically think about doing such things? The only real drama is the judging/scoring scandals and most people are tired of that.

Regardless of the level of athleticism, maybe skating shouldn't be considered a competitive sport. Maybe it should be considered a performing art and presented as such; similar to ballet.

Offline ChristyRN

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Re: How do we get figure skating more popular?
« Reply #8 on: February 22, 2014, 11:08:15 PM »
TV coverage is abysmal. If you watched any of the Grand Prix, they showed ladies and men, no pairs or dance coverage. Ladies focus is on the teenager. I mean, look at the Olympics. All the focus was on the Russian teenagers, with Mao and Yu-Na a distant second.  When they showed the gala this evening, it was Adelina, Gracie, and (who was the third) along with Charlie and Meryl. The majority focus was on young girls.

My rink (and USFS) tends to focus on youth. I skate at two rinks and both have photo walls and bulletin boards. Neither has any adults pictures. We are working to try to get some adults up.
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Offline Loops

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Re: How do we get figure skating more popular?
« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2014, 04:46:33 AM »
I agree with the vast majority of what NeverDull says above.  Tennis clocks the ball on serves, doesn't baseball too?  Let's clock the skaters.  That will absolutely open some eyes. 

Could USFSA/ISIA and the foreign equivalents (NISA, SKATE CANADA etc) sponsor a prime-time documentary on a non-controversial, preferably male (to attract the boys) or pairs/dance skaters?  Show how they train off and on ice, what the realities behind the sport are?  Or sponsor a good non-disney-esque skating movie?  Is there a Special Olympian figure skater who could be the focus?  Oh gosh- wouldn't it be awesome if there was some sort of "Biggest Loser" thing that involved skating as a, if not the means by which to lose it all!  Get Jillian Michaels and a skating coach together?

I also watched the skating on the internet.  It was nice to see the WHOLE competition (when I could), and I must admit better without commentary.  But I recognise that I (we, really) are in a relatively small community that can fully appreciate what we're looking out without the yakkity yack.  I'm not sure how TV can compete with that, since there were no ads or anything.  I would have, however, paid (not $50 though) to watch it especially if I could somehow have access for a while after the competitions so that I could catch up on what I had to miss.....

AgnesNitt raises some very good points about marketing on her  blog.  Professional looking signs and websites: fork it over if the club must.

What my club is fantastic at is getting us in the local paper.  There's always a spread in the paper the week following competitions.  Plus for our gala, and any other excuse, big or little, they can find.  We are lucky that one of the parents is a professional photographer- so we have some amazing photos we can use.  I bet many clubs can boast the same resources- hopefully they're using them.

My club can improve, but we have more skaters than we have ice time for (we have one slab of ice that supports us, the hockey school AND the professional team plus public ice and schools).  AND a good number of them are older teens/adults.  We actually this year have two training synchro teams- one for the little kids, and one that will feed into the mixed age team and our adult team.  Our adult team might even have alternates next year!!!!!

Host a local competiton even just within the club with free admission for spectators.  Then ideally sell things to the spectators and sell space to vendors- get the local MaryKay or Avon rep in to do makeup for a fee for people, and the competitors (helps if they sell show makeup too, like glitter and crystals). (I was just at a synchro competition that did this with a stage makeup company- they were ALWAYS busy.)  Or host a season ending (or season opening, if you can) show- again, free admission the purpose here is to attract skaters to the LTS program.  Have some drawings to offer free LTS lessons- offer some of these in the local school fundraiser's too.

I do know that big competitions are money makers for clubs- I'm not suggesting making those free, but do an event on the community scale to get people into the rink to watch the figure skating.  Families are always looking for free activities.

Something my club does, which I think is BRILLIANT, is has a library of decent beginner level skates (they have a variety of brands- all standard width, but at the Jackson Artiste/Mystique level) people can borrow (for an annual fee).  This might be a good investment, because it will take the financial bite out of getting serious about the sport.   The skaters are responsible for sharpening and general care of of the skates, but not having to fork over $$$ for the skates initially I think helps.  None, not even the three year olds of the LTS skaters in my club uses traditional rental skates.   They can even borrow dresses for competition- these could  be donated by parents.

I dunno  I bet there's lots of ideas out there!

Offline 4711

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Re: How do we get figure skating more popular?
« Reply #10 on: February 23, 2014, 11:33:32 AM »
TV coverage is abysmal.
This, 100x over!
For people who might like it but are not 'into' it, like myself, it's more hit than miss to catch a broadcast.
It was pure chance for me to catch last year's Nationals, I was cheated out of Worlds....thanks, TV....
Of course the ratings are dismal, when it's not on.

It seems like the national body is leaving the base hanging.

And this is an observation that is not skating specific:
I think most clubs (again, not only skating) don't make the best use of the media they have at their disposal which would directly impact them, like the internet in general with a good website, Facebook in particular.
An interested person should not have to sift through pages and pages of information to find an ice rink and instruction.
I think that is business 101, really.
The local news papers are eager to get local stories. I had no problem to have them print a little feel good story about my girl scouts: A short write up (in txt format, who would have thought they can't open Open Office or MS Word...) and a couple of pictures in the email. bam, Community page.
Also, local TV stations love to have some good stuff going.

While my Taekwondo school was pretty even in terms of adult male to female ratio (actually more ladies than gentlemen) Martial Arts have the revers problem skating does, how do you attract more females. Somebody suggested to offer some female items in the locker room, like hygene products and hair ribbons, like a locker room a little less like in Rocky........not exactly something important for guys, but the idea was to make them a bit more appreciated.
Also, they suggested female instructors to lower the thresh hold for ladies...


I love the ideas of the local shows with free admission. It's the concessions where you make the money anyhow.
Also something my husband and I always discuss when we watch the pro sports with empty stands (again selling hotdogs is where the money is) they should give tickets away to groups like the Scouts, Boys and Girls club, the Y, etc, to get people in the stands and grow their young audience which is not priced out of the market.

I think the rental pool for equipment is fantastic. I am sure (like band instruments) there are plenty of skates in closets that have lost their appeal to the owner. If they knew there was a use for them, they might part with the gear. (of course, always appreciate your supporters and volunteers)

Re: Boys.
There is a merit badge for boy scouts for skating. it can be earned on roller skates, but it could be a big draw if the club's instructors got signed up as counselors. It's easy, a bit of paperwork, maybe an hour of schooling to cover your assets, then, should the ice be free for a spell, host a badge fair and invite the local troops. It is a pain to find people who are willing to teach these things within a certain radius. Everybody is welcome. If you can structure it unpink, you might find a few boys who want to give it a try once they see what fun it is.

As for TV/Docus/Movies....
I think this is something the base has to pitch. Not waiting for somebody else to write the stories, but to break out the pen (or word processor) and get writing! it's not easy. But it gets easier down the road.
There was a show on 'Rodeo Girls' which was reportedly conceived by one of the participants. (it was horrible I have been told, but hey...)
Find a film maker and suggest this as a project. Find interested kids and support this as a project to them.

I think just a few years back there was not much to do, so people went out and joined clubs.
Now every activity is in competition with so much other stuff (and first and foremost internet and smartphones) that you really can't rely on sitting back and waiting for people to come by.
You really need to work hard to attract just one willing victim. My son's scout troop stagnates around 15 boys, my girls is one step forward, two back, gain two, lose one, talk to ten people, wait for nibbles.

As far as examples of the sport, I think there have been plenty who were manly enough even if not straight. Boy Johnny not withstanding. (But we are still light years away from a healthy relationship with the softer side of human nature and 'sexuality' as certain outburst in the scout community have shown when BSA dropped the ban on gay boys. It was funny on one side, seeing these guys get all worked up, very sad on the other. Much work left to be done to allow boys to be who they are and do what they want to do. Girls have it a lot easier now. They can play hockey, do Biathlon, even box and wrestle. Boy dances or skates...oye veh!)
:blush: ~ I should be writing~ :blush:

Offline Neverdull44

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Re: How do we get figure skating more popular?
« Reply #11 on: February 23, 2014, 12:29:42 PM »
OK, how about this for the start of group classes.  To be sent to the newspapers, children's magazines, etc.  Along with pictures of adults, children, champions, and newbie skaters.

"Figure Skating Classes to Start at “X Rink”

"X Rink" announces the start of its (#number) week group figure skating classes beginning on (Date).    Both children and adults are welcome to give this fun sport a try.  Figure skating develops strength, balance, and endurance like no other activity can offer.  And, talk about the calorie burn!  Certified coaches teach each small, group class.  Please call XXX-XXX-XXXX or see www.clubsite.com for more information."

Offline 4711

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Re: How do we get figure skating more popular?
« Reply #12 on: February 23, 2014, 12:49:17 PM »
OK, how about this for the start of group classes.  To be sent to the newspapers, children's magazines, etc.  Along with pictures of adults, children, champions, and newbie skaters.

"Figure Skating Classes to Start at “X Rink”

"X Rink" announces the start of its (#number) week group figure skating classes beginning on (Date).    Both children and adults are welcome to give this fun sport a try.  Figure skating develops strength, balance, and endurance like no other activity can offer.  And, talk about the calorie burn!  Certified coaches teach each small, group class.  Please call XXX-XXX-XXXX or see www.clubsite.com for more information."

Yes, just like that!
Then of course follow up with a picture of the happy bunch at the conclusion of the cycle.
:blush: ~ I should be writing~ :blush:

Offline TreSk8sAZ

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Re: How do we get figure skating more popular?
« Reply #13 on: February 23, 2014, 01:19:45 PM »
I think part of the perception of the popularity of skating really depends on where you are from and the culture of the rinks and programs around you. I think that people in larger cities (which therefore have larger training centers) see a very different view than what is posted here so far. I agree with everything that everyone has posted in general, but in practice in some locales these suggestions may not work.

Most people seriously wouldn't think Arizona would have much draw for figure skating (or hockey, for that matter). But we have 6 rinks in our metropolitan area, all of which are busy nearly every hour of the day. We have freestyle ice nearly all day on at least one sheet, and in some cases during peak times on two sheets split by level. At my main rink, although hockey obviously attracts more boys, we have a number of boys at all levels of figure skating and generally send at least 1-2 boys to Nationals at various levels every year (including Senior). We have nationally ranked pairs teams at various levels, and we have at least 5 male figure skating coaches on our staff that I can think of off the top of my head. Our learn to skate program is in the Top 10 enrollments every year (and there are both boys and girls that come through the program), and we also have classes that cater to home school kids. We do free or discounted "get to know skating" lessons or fun sessions throughout the year.

As for attracting boys to the sport, I think that a part of the problem is once the boys get to a certain level then they move to where the training is. If you are in a smaller city that doesn't necessarily have the resources (such as no male coaches, or coaches who don't know how to teach boys) then I think the boys will be pulled away to places that have these things. Therefore, the numbers may appear more skewed as the boys simply leave to find other boys they can skate with or rinks that have the resources they need. Think of Colorado Springs - (relatively) lots of boys, and they all move there to train because that's where the skating is. I think the support that boy skaters can give other boys is invaluable because of the stigma that is attached, and if a boy is the lone boy at the rink he may not continue if the teasing and such gets out of hand.

Regarding getting stories in the paper, do you know how hard that is in a large city? Last year we had an Intermediate boys National Medalist - we couldn't get the papers to do more than a "local city" q and a type write up. Out of all of the Press Releases that have been distributed to every media outlet here, only one was picked up before Regionals. We had a little press on our National Medalists (one pairs team, and one member of another pairs team, both gold at different levels) in the form of a small write up by the paper, and one "fluff" interview on the local news. That's it. Our rink pays for advertising for the learn to skate program, and every once in awhile is on a morning show or something like that. I have a background in journalism so the stories that I send out are publishable in proper journalistic format, and it's still incredibly difficult.

Our club does have a yearly competition (free admission) and the rink has yearly or twice yearly shows (Christmas was free this year, summer show has a small charge for tickets). We are lucky enough that our Regional, Sectionals and National Teams are invited to do a show at a resort ice rink that gets us some press and does get public exposure. However, even with advertising and such it's often people that are already in the rink community that come to watch - not the general public (except at the resort, and that's more they're walking by and stop to watch). And, let's be honest, how many of you if you weren't involved in skating would want to come watch basic skills kids do a little group number while waiting for the solo of a bigger name? For most clubs, having a show with exclusively recognizable names is difficult monetarily (if not impossible) for them to do. Plus, remember that often it is either the rink or the club that puts on the shows. If the Club puts on the show, then likely they do not get concessions money as that would go to the rink (I don't think ours would ever let us sell our own food because we have a snack bar plus two restaurants). If the rink does, then likely the club gets nothing - not even entry fees.

I also think a large part of the decline in popularity is the general direction that kids sports are taking. It is very difficult for kids to do multiple, seasonal sports anymore. My boss' son does lacrosse - he used to play baseball as well, but in order to stay competitive in lacrosse he now is on clubs that travel year round, plus plays the school season. I'm finding that is more and more true of all sports. Kids are having to choose which one they want to specialize in earlier and earlier in their lives. Very often, they have exposure to other sports before skating, so they would have to LOVE it in order to focus on just that at the exclusion of a soccer club or lacrosse club.

Offline Neverdull44

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Re: How do we get figure skating more popular?
« Reply #14 on: February 23, 2014, 01:36:57 PM »
I penned this pretty quickly . .  .

What Figure Skating Teaches   

Figure skating.   Everyone dreams of being the next Olympic champion, but few can achieve that goal.   Is it worthless for the rest?  Not at all.

First, young, adults, elderly, and disabled people all enjoy skating.  Achieving an edge and gliding on one foot down the rink, it is flying.   It is “in the moment.”  Sometimes, it is effortless.  Many times, it is exhausting.  Most definitely, it is addictive like a runner’s high.

What skating teaches is three things:  Listening, working hard, and never quitting.    Skating is a listening sport.  It is orally handed down from coach to student.  The wrong placement of a body part, and the skater falls.  The coach customizes corrections for the skater’s benefit.  But, a skater can only benefit if he learns to listen and apply.   It means that the skater has to first shut up, listen, understand, and then apply the coach’s knowledge.   Skating taught me to listen, first to my coach and then to my teachers in school, and now to my clients.
 
Skating requires the student to work hard.  Ice time is precious and expensive.  You learn rather quickly that “chit chat” at the rink boards during a freestyle session is not tolerated.  Better to spend ice time skating.  I took this lesson to school.  School was for learning, not for wasting time.   Writing my spelling words seven times seemed a cinch, compared to learning a skating move which took thousands of times.

Learning to proficiently stroke forward around the rink, takes an average abled person about six months to learn, at three times a week sessions.  Crossovers in all directions, including backwards, is about at the one year mark.  A one-foot spin is barely attempted at the first year of skating, and not mastered until the second or third year.   During all of this, there are falls.  Never quitting are how one gets beyond.   Writing my spelling words seven times seemed a cinch, compared to learning a skating move which took thousands of times.  Whether you quit or succeed, in skating or life, you and everyone around you are affected.  Skating teaches its students to never quit.


Offline FigureSpins

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Re: How do we get figure skating more popular?
« Reply #15 on: February 23, 2014, 02:43:37 PM »
I had the same thoughts last week.

Skating teaches skaters the value of:

. Hard work
. Basic skills
. Focus
. Courage!
. Determination
. Perseverance
. Sportsmanship

This is not a sport for the faint of heart. 
"If you still look good after skating practice, you didn't work hard enough."

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Offline Neverdull44

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Re: How do we get figure skating more popular?
« Reply #16 on: February 23, 2014, 03:44:19 PM »
Southwest Florida has three rinks.  Sarasota, Fort Myers, and Estero.  Many of the population here are transplants from the Mid-West and Canada.    They brought with them a love of skating and hockey.  And, I think the fact that it's so hot here helps people go to a cold rink.  Is Arizona similar?

Offline Neverdull44

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Re: How do we get figure skating more popular?
« Reply #17 on: February 23, 2014, 03:54:16 PM »
As a sideline, I help people get out of a certain cult that is rather large and some think is "mainstream."   From that work, I know two documentary makers, and have ties to both NBC and ABC doing nightly news (and AP, but that person there retired).     

These people are usually open to hearing suggestions for documentary ideas.  What would a skating documentary have?  Some ideas I have are:

1)  Focus on a few skaters who are seriously training, but not nationally known.  Then, have some nationally known skaters comment too.
2)  Views from coaches on what it takes to skate,
3)  Views from others: parents, non-skating siblings, athletic trainers, doctors, dance teachers, sports psychologists,
4)  Judges, the sacrifices of becoming a judge, who judges, the point system, their views,
5)  Boot and blade makers, costume makers,
6)  Rink owners/managers,
7)  Famous people who skated but went onto other things afterwards (thinking Vera Wang, Condeleeza Rice)
8)  USFSA and other governing boards of skating.

All the while showing the physical & mental side of skating...   what else?
 

Offline Query

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Re: How do we get figure skating more popular?
« Reply #18 on: February 23, 2014, 07:26:35 PM »
This topic has come up many times on this and other boards.

Most adults need to feel the things they do are reasonably safe. As long as people are taught that falling is horribly dangerous, skating will be too. I believe that people should be taught how to fall gently, and be given a sufficient amount of practice falling to create reflexes that are fast enough to make falls reasonably safe.

I'm not even sure we should try to make skating more popular. Absent that training and practice, skating is a pretty dangerous sport.

----

Then there is the question of why most boys and men stay away from figure skating.

If you watched the Olympics and/or the Grand Prix competitions, and listened to sportscasters Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski, several things about the way figure skating guys are judged were completely obvious. The guys who moved the way most guys imagine themselves moving, clearly display power and strength, like Plushenko and a couple hockey-player-turned-figure-skater, were inevitably viewed as not being artistic by those sportscasters - and they were evaluated with with poor program components by the judges. The guys who are viewed as artistic, and who got good program components move the way we expect ladies - and effeminate men - to move. In addition, straight men aren't generally expected to display too much emotion - the ones viewed as artistic and who get good program components scores have ranges of expression that are characteristic of girls and ladies. (And then there is the attire. E.g., in most western cultures, straight guys don't wear pink, or lace.)

Even if a boy wasn't aware of the frequent connection between gay men and figure skating, they would figure it out by watching the way skaters are judged.

In other words, male figure skaters are judged inartistic and get poor program components scores unless they move and express themselves in an effeminate manner. Most guys don't want to be seen that way.

As long as this judging bias exists, most males will stay away from figure skating.That string obvious bias is so ingrained in the way figure skating is judged, that it is hard to imagine it changing.

There are some other dance-like activities, like ballroom and social dance, where these biases are not obviously apparent. And correspondingly, those activities are much more effective ways for guys and gals to socialize. Most teen or adult guys want to socialize with ladies. That generally isn't a factor with pre-teens, but kids still make fun of figure skating boys.

-----------------

And we all know that one of the biggest reasons for skating reduced unpopularity in the U.S. is that most figure skating competitions are not televised on broadcast television.

You have to get a subscription to Universal Sports - not even possible on Comcast, the largest cable TV provider - and expensive through other TV feed providers. Icenetworks.com is also relatively expensive, and frequently doesn't work for a lot of people - a lot of us in the U.S. found that Icenetwork's web pages decided we weren't in the U.S., and that was that. Plus, for those who got it too work, there were frequently a lot of discontinuities in the streaming, for whatever reasons.

If you want skating to be popular - put it back on broadcast TV. Of course, that makes less money for the USFSA and ISU.




Offline ChristyRN

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Re: How do we get figure skating more popular?
« Reply #19 on: February 23, 2014, 07:41:00 PM »
As a sideline, I help people get out of a certain cult that is rather large and some think is "mainstream."   From that work, I know two documentary makers, and have ties to both NBC and ABC doing nightly news (and AP, but that person there retired).     

These people are usually open to hearing suggestions for documentary ideas.  What would a skating documentary have?  Some ideas I have are:

1)  Focus on a few skaters who are seriously training, but not nationally known.  Then, have some nationally known skaters comment too.
2)  Views from coaches on what it takes to skate,
3)  Views from others: parents, non-skating siblings, athletic trainers, doctors, dance teachers, sports psychologists,
4)  Judges, the sacrifices of becoming a judge, who judges, the point system, their views,
5)  Boot and blade makers, costume makers,
6)  Rink owners/managers,
7)  Famous people who skated but went onto other things afterwards (thinking Vera Wang, Condeleeza Rice)
8)  USFSA and other governing boards of skating.

All the while showing the physical & mental side of skating...   what else?

How about from adults that started as adults? Just to show that not only kids skate.

As to the men looking effeminate--how many of the costumes did you look at this season and say "that would make a really pretty women's dress?" The Japanese male that won the gold in the Olympics--I would wear his costume with a skirt attached. Same with Plushenko's. Costuming says a lot about the skater and too many male skaters either wear head to to black or go to the opposite extreme.
Once in his life, every man is entitled to fall madly in love with one gorgeous redhead.  (Lucille Ball)

Offline jbruced

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Re: How do we get figure skating more popular?
« Reply #20 on: February 23, 2014, 08:33:48 PM »

Most adults need to feel the things they do are reasonably safe. As long as people are taught that falling is horribly dangerous, skating will be too. I believe that people should be taught how to fall gently, and be given a sufficient amount of practice falling to create reflexes that are fast enough to make falls reasonably safe.

I'm not even sure we should try to make skating more popular. Absent that training and practice, skating is a pretty dangerous sport.

This paragraph brought to mind the comments on the ice doesn't care blog about Jeremy Abbotts fall. It looks at how he reacted during the fall. That reminded me of the training that people go through in judo and aikido early in their training. They learn how to break their falls to reduce the risk of injury when being thrown. Maybe skating should borrow some of the basic techniques and actively teach them. Judo or aikido might be good off ice training for skaters instead of learning by trial and error.

Offline Neverdull44

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Re: How do we get figure skating more popular?
« Reply #21 on: February 23, 2014, 08:49:44 PM »
Here's my explanation to non-skaters of what it's like to fall:   

"Most of the time, falling doesn't hurt.  Most falls are sliding, and the sliding across the ice changes the force of the fall to where the energy is released over time.   I'm not a physicist, but just letting you know that most falls slide and it takes away a lot of the downward force.  Coaches long ago told me to relax when I fall.  I don't know if I ever do that, because I have no time to think.  The fall occurs in a spilt second.   I just say, "Oh well, I'm down on the ice."   As an adult, I don't skate above my level.  The result is that I don't normally fall during a session.  (I did fall the other day on a single lutz jump.  I don't know how I got on the ice, but I did.  I was like, "Oh, fell again.")

The falls that really hurt are those stupid falls.  I get those about three times a year.  The ones that take the breath out of your lungs, that you think you cracked a hip.  But, wait a second or a few minutes, and "Oh well, I'm ok."  The ones where you go straight down on your knees after running across a public skating sticker that someone lost from their clothes.  Or, when you are doing a backspin after giving birth 5 weeks before and didn't wait to let your hips set back to normal (my worst fall ever).   When you move up in jumps, skaters wear all sorts of protective padding.  And, any beginner can and should wear helmet protection, wrist pads, knee pads, and even a tail bone protector.  But, most likely you are not going to need it.  But, if it makes you feel safer, do it.  But most of all, don't worry about falling.  Skate within your level."

Offline TreSk8sAZ

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Re: How do we get figure skating more popular?
« Reply #22 on: February 24, 2014, 11:44:50 AM »
Southwest Florida has three rinks.  Sarasota, Fort Myers, and Estero.  Many of the population here are transplants from the Mid-West and Canada.    They brought with them a love of skating and hockey.  And, I think the fact that it's so hot here helps people go to a cold rink.  Is Arizona similar?

Our 6 rinks are within 45 minutes of each other, at the most. Although we do have transplants and snowbirds, that applies more to adult skaters than it does the parents of the kid skaters, I think. I'm sure there are some families where the parents moved from elsewhere, but I'm not sure it affects the popularity.

The biggest affect, at least for hockey, is having an NHL team in town. That at least helps bring the kids into Learn to Skate, and then the bridge programs and hockey programs we have keep them going.

I forgot to add we also have a large adult skating contingent as well. They are included in Learn to Skate adult classes, then once they "graduate" there is a 1.5 hour session 2 weekdays and on Sundays that include a 20 minute "specialty" class. That also keeps people going because they can take private lessons on that session to improve, then once they start testing they slowly move to freestyles.

I will say, though, there is nothing better when it is 120*F out than going into the rink, getting cold, and coming back out into the sun.

Offline icedancer

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Re: How do we get figure skating more popular?
« Reply #23 on: February 24, 2014, 12:20:37 PM »
It strikes me that figure skating IS popular -

There is figure skating where there never used to be figure skating - Florida, Arizona, Alabama, Iowa, Hawaii,

When I was growing up in the Detroit area there were maybe two rinks when I first started training and then by the time I was a teenager there were a few more.  Now ever municipality has a skating rink and at least half of the dance teams at the Olympics train in the Detroit area - and a lot of the singles skaters as well.

The same is true with Boston - there are rinks everywhere and LTS programs are very very popular -

And with these past Olympics we have more people who are coming back to skating - in fact a gentleman who used to skate approached one of the dancers on our social dance session yesterday to ask if he would be welcome to come to the group! AND in the last two weeks we have had at least a dozen kids coming to the social dance sessions wanting to learn to ice dance!  I would like to thank Meryl and Charlie personally for this interest in ice dance.

The shows are no longer popular - my guess is that the tickets are too expensive and the budget can only handle so much - they used to be much more affordable.

I like the idea of inviting the public to the ice shows at the rinks.  In our area having a rink in a mall is a big draw... the show is very popular at Christmas time and Summer shows with open viewing for anyone who just happens to be in the mall that day...

Offline Bill_S

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Re: How do we get figure skating more popular?
« Reply #24 on: February 24, 2014, 07:50:31 PM »
I have one little suggestion. Allow jumps and spins at public sessions, within reason.

At my rink and many others that I attend, doing jumps and spins is forbidden on public ice regardless of how few skaters are present. I understand the reasons, but each time I sneak in a scratch spin, I will guarantee that one or two youngsters will approach me to ask about it.

If they see the cool "tricks", they are instantly interested. Boys are too unless they are already deep into hockey machismo. This might be a time to tell them to check out the bulletin board or grab a brochure for LTS, or whatever the rink offers.

One more little suggestion: When I was a young man in my first job out of college, I considered figure skating lessons. In the rink, there was no advertising or notice even suggesting that it was possible. I assumed incorrectly that classes were not offered. So, if your rink offers lessons, don't keep them a secret.
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