Although beautiful, I was glad to see spirals go. The spiral is a maneuver which can be performed by even a beginner skater. Spirals had no place as a featured 'scored item' in a competition field where skaters are regularly doing very athletic triple-triple combinations.
I also found the maneuver to be demeaning athletically. Did/do the men have a similar 'required' element? Uh, no.
I'm in the process of doing an about-face when it comes to figure skating. Please forgive a rambling post, as I am trying to work out my thought processes.
I have been and still am a supporter of the IJS, and I love seeing figure skating as "technical" rather than artistic. I love the "idea" of the IJS.
But I believe that this system of rewarding technical skills only is really killing the sport, and I don't really think we are succeeding in rewarding only the technical skills--there is still a great deal of subjectivity in the judging.
I think if we don't do something soon, the sport will dwindle in numbers of skaters and fans to the point where rinks will close or become strictly hockey centers, which will decrease the numbers of figure skaters even more, which means a decrease in the talent pool, which means poor performances from American skaters in International and World competitions.
IMO, what's sorely needed in figure skating competition is the ARTISTIC program along with the TECHNICAL program. I think that bringing this back in all its unfair glory would be big boost for the sport. The public LOVES artistry. They don't "get" edges. They "get" beauty, spirituality, excitement, sex appeal, etc. And in the past, they've been willing to pay to see it. Now, even an Olympic champion can't fill an arena with ticket-buying audience members. Most people have probably never heard of the Olympic champion.
The discipline of Ice Dance has the right idea--two totally separate programs: an original dance and a free dance. There are two totally different emphases in the judging for these programs, and for the audience, the free dance is the "entertainment" factor of figure skating that is sorely missed in Singles, Pairs, and Synchro competitions.
Yes, I know that trying to judge Artistic Programs is a huge stinky pain in the buttoon, and in the past, outcries of "UNFAIR JUDGING" have plagued the sport!
But those same judging scandals have also brought in huge television ratings!
I personally don't think an Artistic Program should be judged by "figure skating judges," but rather, by non-skating arts professionals; e.g.,those involved in theater, music, dance, visual, even writing fiction. But that's JMO, and I'm sure I'll be shot down for it. I recognize that there has to be some figure skating experts evaluating the artistic programs, or they would turn into non-skating show numbers.
I think that in an artistic program, jumps should be severely limited (1 jump or 1 jump combo).
I know that the ISU is trying to respond to all the criticisms that figure skating is just a "beauty contest" by creating IJS, which rewards technical skill. That's good, and like I said, I have supported this movement towards "skating as sport" for years.
But it's not working, people! We're dying here! I hear the crickets chirping in almost every rink these days!
As other posters have pointed out, IJS has failed to eliminate "favoritism" from the judging. We need to accept that in figure skating, favoritism will never be eliminated. We need to embrace that and run with it! Skaters need to be trained from the very beginning of their classes and lessons to know that there is a subjective aspect to the judging in figure skating and that even if they do everything right technically, they can still fail to place. If people KNOW this, then they can accept it. It's when people (especially parents) have the idea that everything will be fair and objective that they get angry when they perceive "unfair judging."
To me, the "subjective" aspect of the judging is part of the challenge of competing in this sport. Yes, it can be horribly frustrating to not be able to break through and figure out how to woo the judges. BUT...conversely, it is a gigantic thrill to finally "get it" and figure out "the game" and not only learn how to skate with technical superiority, but also figure out the best way to get the judges in your corner! It's a rush.
And this "subjective" aspect of judging figure skating is also appealing to the non-skating public and to the fans. who enjoy the controversy. Again, I think we need to own this and go with it in the sport of figure skating, rather than trying to turn our sport into "track and field" or 'swimming" that is judged entirely by a totally inhuman clock.
Yes, I would love to see figure skating continue as just a "sport" and forget all about the artistic aspect of the sport. I would love to see the sport judged by "computers" who see only what happens and don't play favorites. That's OK with me.
But I recognize that if we fail to attract public interest, we drastically shrink our "talent pool" of new recruits to the sport, and we also drastically shrink our pool of potential sponsors, both individual and corporate. Most corporations are not interested in providing funding for a sport that no one watches.
One other thing--I would like to see a major, historic overhaul of figure skating competition structure. What I think would be ideal and would attract more interest is to take a clue from the sport of gymnastics and offer many different events for Singles skaters: Technical Program, Artistic Program, Combination Event (Technical and Artistic), Jumps, Spins, Footwork, Team (not synchro--an event like the one that will be premiered at the 2014 Olympics). And of course, I would like to see the Pairs event continue, but with a combined Technical and Artistic event, although I would not have a problem with Pairs entering just a Technical program or just an Artistic program. And of course, Synchronized skating should be given a higher status in the ISU--there is a large number of people who prefer team events and "games," and would find synchronized skating much more interesting than SIngles, Pairs, or Dance.
I am not sorry to see IJS spirals go. These became the same stinkin' spirals repeated in the same pattern at varying quality from skater to skater. Basically, it was try and stick your foot in your ear, hold it for six seconds, then try and pull your foot up over your head, and then look like a dog peeing on a fire hydrant. (OK, so this all changed a BIT from the initial incarnation of IJS but you get my point).
I LIKE the idea of the choreographic sequence because there is more and more opportunity for originality based on the strengths of the skater. I've seen a bunch of unlisted jump elements (walleys, split jumps, inside Axels) with a couple spirals sprinkled in between them, I've seen a spiral for 1/2 the ice and a bauer for half the ice, and other more interesting choreographic quirks. Where the ISU got THIS one wrong is dictating that it MUST be after the leveled step sequence (I think it should be a choreographic step sequence at a BV,(not leveled as it's become a zzzz zamboni sequence with the skater having a seizure to get a level 3 or level 4) and a choreographic sequence in EITHER ORDER).
Anyway, I am HOPEFUL that these will be more interesting than the IJS spiral sequence. I LOVED Wagner's in Samson and Delilah!