Popularity of the sport

Popularity of the sport

Postby gnuwon » Fri Apr 27, 2018 1:08 pm

Hi, I'm new around here but not completely ignorant of the figure skating world. I do understand that the popularity of this sport, like many others, waxes and wanes with the Olympic cycle. I would imagine the media plays a large part in this, but I was wondering if the same effect is felt at the grass roots. I'm not a skater and don't have kids who are, but I'd be interested to know what happens at the club level. Is the number of skaters fairly constant over time?

Thank you to anyone who answers.
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Re: Popularity of the sport

Postby Winnipeg » Fri Apr 27, 2018 3:28 pm

This topic comes up a lot. The sport really peeked following the infamous knee incident. It has steadily waned since then. I can't really say why other than perhaps people became tired of past scoring grievances(especially in dance). I for one used to boycott dance events until the scoring system changed which has, IMHO, greatly improved this - not perfect but improved.

At the local ice level, in MB, girls are more likely to go into hockey now instead of FS. I think this is due to the recent successes of Canada's women's hockey team.
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Re: Popularity of the sport

Postby gnuwon » Fri Apr 27, 2018 9:46 pm

Do the girls go straight into hockey or start in figure skating and move over?
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Re: Popularity of the sport

Postby Nahanni » Sat Apr 28, 2018 4:13 am

Figure skating has certainly waned in North America but is now hugely popular in Asia, especially Japan.

Thinking back as far as the 1980s, it has certainly waxed and waned in some European countries because of particular skaters. Interest always increases if your country has a star.

In the USA, preference, at least by the media, has always been given to the women. As the USA has not had an enduring shining light for many years, I think the sport's popularity has suffered. It is also an expensive sport if you want to skate competitively.

You often hear figure skaters, at least the North American ones, say they wanted to play hockey so took figure skating lessons to become better hockey players. Some of them got hooked. Some NHL teams employ figure skating coaches to improve the hockey players' skating skills.

I'm rambling.... But it has just occurred to me that there are many more winter sport options now. I lost track of all the ski and board competitions at the Olympics, there were so many. Some of those sports look a lot more exciting than figure skating!
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Re: Popularity of the sport

Postby gnuwon » Mon Apr 30, 2018 3:47 am

Does anyone know the effect Javier Fernández has had in Spain? It's nice to see someone emerge from a country you don't really equate with producing quality competitors but can it be repeated?
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Re: Popularity of the sport

Postby Virginia » Mon Apr 30, 2018 5:01 am

Just in recent years there are a number of instances of top skaters emerging from countries that haven't traditionally been powerhouses in the sport. Fernandez is one, but there are others: Denis Ten from Kazakhstan, Yuna Kim from South Korea. In their wake we have Elizabet Tsursynbaeva (that tiny girl who trains with Orser) and Dabin Choi, who much impressed me at Pyongyang. (I thought she was grossly undermarked.)

There's a term thrown around in figure skating circles, gnuwon: "the Big Six". Are you familiar with it? It refers to the six most powerful countries in the sport: Russia, France, Canada, the United States, Japan and China. (Not coincidentally, these are the six nations that host the senior Grand Prix events each autumn.)

Three or four decades ago, China wouldn't have numbered in this elite group; Great Britain held their place. I'm talking about back in the days of John Curry, Robin Cousins, Torvill and Dean. It's been decades since the UK has produced a world-class skater who could approach their caliber, sadly.

But there are a tier of countries that rank just after the "big six" -- Italy and Germany probably head the list, with skaters like Kostner and Savchenko/Massot. I'm always interested to see which countries at this level are rising and might break into the Bix Six, making it a Big Seven. Israel and South Korea both appear to be making gains, as well as Italy and Germany.

I believe strongly that if the sport of figure skating is going to thrive and grow, it needs to break out of the dominance of Big Six and attract skaters and fans from other countries, especially outside Europe and North America. We need places like Spain to get on board. (Barcelona hosted the GP Final twice in this past quadrennial, and to all accounts it was a rousing success.) One of my favorite competitions of the year is Four Continents, because you get to see skaters from all these unusual places like the Philippines, Brazil, Thailand, and Malaysia.

Question for the board: If we did get a seventh GP competition added to the series some day, who do you guys think would host it? Which country will make the Big Six into a Big Seven?
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Re: Popularity of the sport

Postby Maleeva » Mon Apr 30, 2018 12:25 pm

Based on the amazing crowds that showed up every day in Milan I’d vote for Italy.
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Re: Popularity of the sport

Postby bumphystars » Mon Apr 30, 2018 2:10 pm

There are also gains in the sport in Australia—the success of Windsor and Alexandrovskaya.
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Re: Popularity of the sport

Postby Virginia » Mon Apr 30, 2018 6:49 pm

I agree that Alexadrovskaya/Windsor are "comers", but I doubt the ISU will give Australia a senior Grand Prix any time soon because of the difficulty of getting there. The country is just too remote from the rest of the skating world.

In 2000, Brisbane was scheduled to host the World Championships for the first time, when the competition was abruptly yanked away with six months' notice and relocated to Nice, France on the flimsiest of excuses. The ISU claimed that the Australians were incapable of providing an adequate TV feed to the international broadcasters who had licensed the championships.

Six months later, Sydney hosted a minor little sporting event called the Summer Olympics -- and nobody complained about the quality of the Australian TV feed!

The scuttlebutt at the time was that
1) people were complaining about the long flight to Australia and the resultant jetlag, and
2) the French federation was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy and needed the money, so Cinquanta moved the event to France as a favor to Didier Guilhauget.

Conclusion? Australia has no clout in figure skating circles.
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Re: Popularity of the sport

Postby chuckiem » Tue May 01, 2018 4:18 pm

Melbourne, Australia has put in a bid for 2021 Four Continents. The only competition is Taipei City, Taiwan, who is also bidding for Junior Worlds.
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Re: Popularity of the sport

Postby Virginia » Thu May 03, 2018 2:39 am

Four Continents has been in Taipei City twice in the last three years, if memory serves. Or something close to that.

I hope Melbourne does win 4CC -- they deserve it, and it would be new and different. December in Melbourne is summer and HOT (I've read tennis players' descriptions of the killer heat and humidity at the January Australian Open, so I imagine December is much the same). The Aussies might flock to a nice cool ice rink!
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Re: Popularity of the sport

Postby chuckiem » Thu May 03, 2018 3:43 am

A JGP event was held in Australia a couple of years ago, and the audience was terrific---very appreciative and supportive of all the skaters. I would imagine a 4CC event would draw a big, enthusiastic crowd.
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Re: Popularity of the sport

Postby gnuwon » Thu May 03, 2018 9:18 pm

Is it policy not to hold JGP events in countries which hold Grand Prix events?
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Re: Popularity of the sport

Postby Virginia » Fri May 04, 2018 12:36 am

No such policy, I think. Last season's JGP events were in Australia, Austria, Latvia, Belarus, Croatia, Poland and Italy. Not a Big Six country in the bunch.

But 2016-17's competitions were in France, the Czech Republic, Japan, Russia, Slovenia, Estonia, and Germany. Three Big Six countries out of seven.

In 2015-16: Slovakia, Latvia, the US, Austria, Poland, Spain, Croatia. One Big Six country.

And next year: Slovakia, Austria, Lithuania, China, the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Armenia. Only one Big Six country.

It seems like the ISU is deliberately spreading these events around, doesn't it?

The big thing I notice about this list how heavily concentrated in Europe these events are. Interesting ... given the popularity of figure skating in East Asia, I would think placing events in places like China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan would guarantee good ticket sales.
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Re: Popularity of the sport

Postby chuckiem » Fri May 04, 2018 3:03 pm

The JGP for the coming season: Slovakia, Austria, Lithuania, China, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Armenia. Except for Austria, all the European competitions are in Eastern Europe. Usually, JGP events in EE countries are sparsely attended especially on weekdays.
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Re: Popularity of the sport

Postby gnuwon » Tue May 15, 2018 5:18 pm

I would imagine the season is long enough without trying to add more senior events, but what about having a couple of events on at the same time but on opposite sides of the planet so they don't take fans from each other. Is there enough skaters to go around? That way additional sites could perhaps be used.
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Re: Popularity of the sport

Postby chuckiem » Wed May 16, 2018 10:26 pm

The ISU has just announced the CHALLENGER events for fall 2018:

Aug 5-8 ASIAN OPEN TROPHY Bangkok THA

Sept 12-16 LOMBARDIA TROPHY Bergamo ITA

Sept 12-16 US INTL FS CLASSIC Salt Lake City UT USA

Sept 19-22 NEPELA TROPHY Bratislava SVK

Sept 20-22 AUTUMN CLASSIC INTL Oakville ON CAN

Sept 26-29 NEBELHORN TROPHY Oberstdorf GER

Oct 4-10 FINLANDIA TROPHY Espoo FIN

Nov 11-18 INGE SOLAR MEMORIAL ALPEN TROPHY Innsbruck AUT

Nov 26-Dec 2 TALLINN TROPHY Tallinn EST

Dec 5-12 GOLDEN SPIN Zagreb CRO
Last edited by chuckiem on Thu May 17, 2018 3:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Popularity of the sport

Postby Trilogy86 » Thu May 17, 2018 11:18 am

chuckiem wrote:The ISU has just announced the CHALLENGER events for fall 2018:

Aug 5-8 ASIAN OPEN TROPHY Bangkok THA

Sept 12-16 LOMBARDIA TROPHY Bergamo ITA

Sept 12-16 US INTL FS CLASSIC Salt Lake City UT USA

Sept 19-22 NEPELA TROPHY Bratislava SVK

Sept 20-22 AUTUMN CLASSIC INTL Oakville ? CAN

Sept 26-29 NEBELHORN TROPHY Oberstdorf GER

Oct 4-10 FINLANDIA TROPHY Espoo FIN

Nov 11-18 INGE SOLAR MEMORIAL ALPEN TROPHY Innsbruck AUT

Nov 26-Dec 2 TALLINN TROPHY Tallinn EST

Dec 5-12 GOLDEN SPIN Zagreb CRO


Oakville is in Ontario, outside of Toronto / Mississauga
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Re: Popularity of the sport

Postby chuckiem » Thu May 17, 2018 3:14 pm

Thanks! The ISU has no concept of how huge both USA and CAN are.

I'd bet there's more than one Oakville in Canada, and I'd bet there's more than one town named Washington or Lincoln in just about every state in the US. I know for a fact there are several "Washingtons" just in the state of NJ, so you'd have to specify the county to be sure you have the right one. Of course that's because the real General George Washington did hang out in these parts during the War for Independence.
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