For generations, the sport insisted on using intricate tracings on a 10 X 30 foot bit of ice for 60% of competitor’s marks, relegating free skating performances to only 40%. Skaters like Janet Lynn drew audiences but never judges’ marks enough to win Olympic titles.
When the watching-grass-grow school figures were finally dropped, fans everywhere were relieved and skaters like Michele Kwan lighted arenas. But skatings’ managers believed that skaters’ theatrical art should be minimized in favor of measured athleticism; they shifted judgring from opinions of the performances to points-per-jump. A doubly bad decision since art fled, taking the audiences with it but the desperately needed jumps often splat, spoiling such performances as there are. And with the declining audience, TV has nearly abandoned the sport too.
The officials (some of whom still regret dumping the school figures) declare defensively that the move was necessary to restore confidence in the judging, which had produced a couple of scandals at imternational events. There’ve been no subsequent scandals–the judges’ names no longer accompany their marks–but few understand the marking now well enough to decide when it’s scandalous. And fewer care: Attendance Dropping At Skating Events describes the trend.
Figure skating today seems reminiscent of a beautiful child turned into an unattractive teen. That’s depriving it of revenue needed to fund its international events; a problem that will only accelerate with current world economic troubles. Its notable that, just as European and North American politicians continue the economic policies that have ruined their economies, figure skating managers continue failed policies in a matching parallel. The skating managers are also elected politicians, perhaps that explains it…