The International Skating Union’s announcement on June 17 was a longtime coming. They voted to nix compulsory dance at junior and senior competition, and will devise a plan to retool a short dance and free dance for this coming season.
Before this decision, the dance portion had three segments which consisted of the compulsory dance, the original dance and the free dance.
In compulsory dance, each dance pair would perform to a specified tempo, chosen by the ISU. The couple would incorporate different steps to the dances, such as a Rhumba, Golden Waltz, or my personal favourite, the Yankee Polka. The compulsory dance had the lowest viewership for a reason. It was dry and dull to watch, and similar to watching compulsory figures. Interesting, at first, but then the novelty kind of died.
So, is the ISU re-tinkering figure skating, again, just for their benefit?
When the ISU made the announcement to drop compulsory figures in 1990, an uproar ranged within the figure skating community. Some skaters and coaches, armed with their scribes and skate guards, tried unsuccessfully to change the minds of the ISU. Their argument was that the sport was called figure skating for a reason. Without the figures, the sport was now just skating. Other skaters sighed in relief. Since the 1992 Albertville Olympics where just around the corner, they could focus just on their programs instead of mindless circles.
The decision to drop figures was not a hasty one. And doubted this was either. But is the ISU taking anything away from figure skating with removing the compulsory dance segment? I would say no, because the elements from the compulsories are already incorporated into the other segments of the dance competition.
But I can’t remember the last time someone performed a forward-change-loop in their free skate program.