Thursday, December 13, 2007

The bigger picture

I think this is a trend that I have noticed developing over the last decade. First, I must report, Champions on Ice Tour is gone.

Post Lillehammer in 1994...the sport of figure skating blew up in our face! Nancy and Tonya's ice drama captivated everyones attention. The ladies' short and free programs from the 1994 Olympics remains some of the highest watched sports competitions of all time. In the years to follow the airwaves were saturated with figure skating shows, competitions, specials, etc.

But something happened when we all tuned into those Lillehammer Olympics that I don't think was considered as the sport exploded. We liked the intense competition aspect of the sport. We liked comparing the number of jumps Nancy did versus Oksana. We liked debating who really won: Urmanov or Stojko? And we were captivated by a young girl who didn't even get to compete at the Olympics in 1994 and would drive the popularity of figure skating in our country for more than a decade.

All these shows continued to be put in front of us. Young skaters turned pro to cash in on the exploding market but we grew old of it. These shows and competitions just didn't have the appeal that competitive skating had. How many times can we get excited about Rosalyn Sumners attempting a double axel? How many times can we listen to commentators get excited because Katarina Witt landed a two-footed triple toe loop in her program? Oh my goodness, Yuka Sato just did a triple loop! The shows and programs were boring.

Everyone got so caught up the show side of the sport, we forgot the "sport" side of the sport! Michelle didn't go pro after 1998! She didn't go pro after 2002! She still hasn't gone pro! Skating shows are delegated to Bravo and Oxygen and it's competitive figure skating that is getting prime time spots. We need to refocus our attention on the sport and work toward rebuilding the sport and its ratings in this way and leave all the fluff behind.

I will miss Champions on Ice...but it isn't the future of the sport, it's the past. Time to move forward.

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