Friday, June 30, 2017

I'm trying to keep to at least one post per month until things heat up skating-wise.


Back April, new website coming "soon" is promised. ^

Figures.

^Screen cap from last night. They're consistent. When it's fan-related, "soon" to them has always been: "Somewhere along the time space continium, but probably never."

Manifesto seems to be their new sports management company. Maybe they got tired of golf. Sportsbox, their previous management firm, had them golfing all over Canada (Sportsbox mostly represented golfers.).

When listing the athletes it represents, Manifesto lists them separately, and also provided this gem in Scott's bio:
After countless unforgettable moments with Tessa, the pair decided to take some personal time to seek new challenges off the ice for the first time since they began their ice dancing careers together.
You can practically see the "time APART" screaming at you from this blurb, but it's not there. Just strenuously implied in the wording.

The photo heading Tessa's bio:

She's also positioned top left on the "Athletes" page.


The photo heading Scott's:



He's somewhere lower down, numerous athletes away
from Tessa.


I'm not feeling Scott's longer hair as a sustainable thing, but clearly they're playing the game, aesthetics-wise. I miss the days when they were the best, knew they were the best, and fuck everybody else. They said as much, many times. Then in the last Olympic cycle they realized it didn't matter if they were the best, and it's been pandering ever since. 

 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Women who "work" and women who actually work


Ivanka Trump's


Finger under chin. Something to say about that later.*
"book", Women Who Work, was mercilessly eviscerated in every review, but Katherine Miller's May 9th Women who Work take on Buzzfeed made me consider what I find offputting about Tessa Virtue's (non-shamming) social media persona. Tessa is an Olympic athlete at the peak of her unusual abilities. But on social media, she and Ivanka are often peas in a pod.

From Miller:

There’s a certain kind of performative feminism, feminism of the affluent, that seems preoccupied with the idea of passion as activity. This is the feminism concerned with the relative corporate positioning and affirmation of women who went to top 20 schools (rather than, like, the interests of a college-dropout mom or the first woman from a black or Latino family to go to a state college). Passion then becomes something you do — like open a bakery or a lifestyle consultancy group after 10 lucrative but crushing years in banking — or self-care as a luxury item or maybe a positive way of branding "intensity." We’re talking the passion of a Nike Instagram ad (running through blue-gray city streets in neon orange sneakers, the word HEART appearing, set to a synth-bass line if you accidentally click the volume).*

I don't think the bit about economically challenged women means to suggest the financially well off can't be "authentic" (one of the worst words ever as currently deployed by nearly everyone). Just that Miller is talking the debasing of the currency. She's talking trend. Passion and brilliance as personal style. My style is to be passionate! And inspired!

Miller is describing Tessa's social media profile all over.
What if we don't have any? 
Or circumstances loosen our grip?
Miller's next remarks are a little all over the place in the explicit examples she uses (Christ's death on the cross AND the World series), but you know exactly what she means:



This all sets aside the idea of passion as intellectual suffering. The archaic definition of the word actually concerns the agony of martyrs (i.e., Christ’s death on the cross). But even the technical modern definition entails interior violence. The word literally means "extreme, compelling emotion" — an emotion that implicitly has an "overpowering or compelling effect," something that NEEDS to be exercised, that owns you in some way, that can inspire sacrifice or despair or euphoria, something that can break you, actually. This ranges from sexual desire to the depth of emotions to a single emotion in the extreme, the personal investment that leaves you crying in some public place over the World Series. Life is difficult and complicated, and passion — an uncontrollable emotional vector — can be realized, or unfulfilled, or eternally fluid between the two, at the mercy of events beyond our rational selves.

To link any significant part of your life with a true abiding passion, then, is to risk fracturing the whole.

I wish Tessa were presented on social media more honestly, instead of as the familiar type she delivers - the upscale, generically high achieving, good-looking woman who jump starts her daily journey towards her best brilliance with Italian blend espresso and a Locanda Verde blueberry-polenta muffin as a special hump day treat. (Ivanka Trumps twitter: "Daily cold-pressed juice we can make at home? Yes please.") Something a little less formatted (not "personal") from time to time. As an athlete of actual unmatched exceptionalism, I speculate that Tessa occupies the realm of Miller's second paragraph. I'd bet as well that the passion driving Tessa is far more vivid and immersive than the passion Ivanka calls upon in her own career as a licensee and would-be lifestyle brand. But on social media Tessa would fit right in with Ivanka's girl squad if Ivanka had one, and IMO that's a shame.

(And on another level, I wish the social media enthusiasm for a generically defined passion and brilliance were, on occasion, tempered overall.) As another scathing review of Women Who Work put it: "The ideal reader is probably best described as someone who thinks often about budgeting her time, and never about budgeting her money."

*Everybody's scared of the under the chin shot. It's not even flattering on dogs. But Ivanka is unusually vigilent making sure that chin is framed. I noticed back during the campaign that Ivanka doesn't even move in three dimensions - she tries to make each move a pose. Watch her ascend the stairs at any one of the debates.
_______
All this past season I was thinking that barring a big whoops along the lines of Scott's near big oops in the 2017 World Champion free, Virtue and Moir would wind up their careers with four World Champions, so there. I only recently "doh'd" that they're not going to go to worlds if they win the gold in PyeongChang, and even if they don't.


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Checking in



In deference to the blog's origins, I keep tabs on her:

Jessica Dube instagram a bit over
3 months ago.
"Montreal, see you in 7 months."
She's off to the Caribbean,
Mediterranean and Baltic!

Then the usual:



Then -

This poor dog. What a one-way street.
Why is she home and sad when she's supposed to have four more months cruising crystal clear waters? What "gray days"? - it's spring! (Ok  - it's a spring that looks a lot like early February, but still).

With the charitable spirit that consistently infuses me when I contemplate Jessica Dube, I googled:

How to Get Fired from a Cruise Ship

Why not get familiar with things Royal Caribbean so as to better speculate why she's landlubbing it in Montreal four months ahead of schedule.

However I learned that, along with the fact that there are countless  "How I got fired from my cruise ship job" pieces out there, cruise ships are hives of personal and corporate politics - exploitative, back-stabbing, treacherous laws unto themselves sans accountability, and everyone is constantly under video surveillance. It's Orange is the New Black with puka shells. You could get fired for breaking a rule or because somebody in better with your supervisor didn't like you. Somebody drunk could fire you for being drunk. There are a million reasons you could get fired, including any reason and no reason.

Perhaps Jessica thought that since she had remained a favorite of the Canadian figure skating fed despite habitually underachieving, her lucky star would continue to shine on her in an enormous, even more unstable, unfair, money-obsessed, everybody out for themselves universe.

I also read that not many Americans work on cruise ships because they won't put up with the pay/hours ratio (one is low, the other can be basically around the clock). One American earned more than her supervisor because the cruise ship rationalized something about what the dollar was worth in the U.S. versus in her supervisor's country of origin. So it's also possible that, based on her resume, Jessica negotiated a slightly larger salary than they usually pay figure skaters, and midway through this third stint, somebody asked "Why the fuck are we paying her again? Who is she? Get rid of her!" and somebody cheaper and more clever took over the Carmen on ice or Santana girl costume.

I was hoping there were only a few major reasons to get fired, but the big, obvious reasons - hooking up with a passenger, failing to show up for all aboard, being late to wherever you're supposed to be (and "late" is not a hand wave - you clock in on cards), being really drunk and failing a BAC test - are just the fun reasons among many reasons.

So now I will keep an eye peeled for Jessica's next career adventure  - which could be on another cruise line, just not on - according to what I've read - another of Royal Caribbean's bazillion boats. But I hope not. I'm ready for something new. And I want to see Bella get some therapy for abandonment trauma. It's like abuse. Gimme the love! Here's my baby! Then - bam - bye! See you when I see you! It's a dog. It's not good for her.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

What's with the one-way street?

"It's just so amazing to be in the conversation with the French team.
We knew they'd bring it; they have an unsurpassed magic unique
to the ice dance experience; they're incredible, amazing,
we had our work cut out for us. We know we're basically
unworthy to stand higher on the podium than they stand. We know
we're forbidden to do more difficult things than the other teams, but we
are still allowed to do stuff BETTER than the other teams,
and so far it's worked, but today was a close call what with Scott's little 

glitch, because nobody is allowed to admit we're still better
even if he'd glitched six or seven times. So it was awkward.
No excuses, but Scott's eyes may have been temporarily
blinded by the dazzling aura lingering in the arena
after the French free - I think their skin glitters more than 
Edward Cullen. 
The sound of their blades on the ice is mesmerizing, even though
it's better if blades are quiet, although who remembers that one,
it's just like when Davis White scampered over the ice without
touching it people said it was a good thing. Anyhow, I hope we
can hold on til next year, it's gonna be tough with the Frenchies.

I hope you guys don't mind that we won.
It's all been worked out ahead of time, and if you knew what skating

skills look like, you'd know we deserve it with our skating, but we can't 
say that. Just have some French champagne and notice how it can't even
approximate the soulful effervescence of the French ice dancers."

Then:

"We just went out there and magicked it up. There is no secret,
it's just the intensity and the unshakeable unit of we-ness that starts to flow

 between Gabby and me. Although, technically speaking, the secret could
be the complete absence of upper body tension even when
our actual edges and the skating itself is pedestrian. Are we the first
ice dancers to figure that out? What took so long? Just let that hair
flow, keep the facial expression serenely ecstatic and the arms and

back limply undulating like damp home made pasta drying in the breeze. 
If imperfect skating technique doesn't trouble you, it won't bother the judges. 
Most ice dancers are perfectionists - when something bad happens, usually 
someone's face freezes for an instant. Not us. We're bohemian. Free spirits. 
We skate with our soul. We notice nothing of our skates.
This is not tears of disappointment in Gabby's huge eyes, nor suffering 
in the lines of my face at possible, mystifying, unwarranted injustice. 
Next season we go back to our comfort zone stuff and hope/expect the judges 
will just hand that gold medal over. If things are fair, of course.
Gabby and I had the Worlds of our dreams here in Helsinki 
- if you want to say the result was clearly wrong fine, I won't say it but 
you can say it. We don't know what was in the judges' mind."
I didn't get to really see Worlds until after Worlds, but I was able to see pieces of the news from Worlds. Now that I've seen it, particularly the clip above of Virtue and Moir, I like to think Scott is torn between feeling a bit abashed that he erred in the free dance, and wanting to say that they're at least 10 splats better than the French, and so are a whole bunch of other teams he could name. Get real, this pretense is wearing on him.

And I want to know how come the deal is that Virtue and Moir kiss nonstop Papadakis Cizeron ass but PC pay lip service to Virtue and Moir if they say anything at all. I mean, why would they not win? Is it possible there are other teams of quality at this competition? Non non.

It's the song of me with them. Are Virtue and Moir going to have to pay and pay and pay forever for being as good as they are? It's been going on for three Olympic cycles. Oh well, God knows they dish it out enough off the ice, and I guess it's just one big circle.

Pairs:


To me this is the judges saying to Duhamel Radford - when your tricks aren't there, your skating isn't much. But to Ilyushechkina Moscovitch - eh, the tricks... but oh the skating!! (And save the jumps, the tricks were lovely). Still, would never have dreamed any scenario would place them above Duhamel Radford. Dylan is now about where he was when he and KMT split. KMT is watching at home. Maybe if he and KMT had stayed a team, they'd be on the podium, but watching KMT's approach to her skating in her new partnership, I don't think so.

And

I wanted him to win again, but I had a feeling what
happened would happen after he won the short.
He's one of those who is better from behind.

I wonder if Patrick Chan ever tires of explaining himself to us or even to himself. For awhile there, a few years ago, he was the guy he was always touted to become, and now he's back to being that 2009-2010 dude whose talking about it game is way stronger than his doing it game. I know other performers like that.

Finally:

5th in the short?
WTF.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Helsinki 2017


In the "truer words" department:
"The mantle of being the first, we proudly wear,” [Charlie] White said. “I don’t want to take away from it, but we did it on the back of everyone else. It was a group project."
I'll say.*

I'll be traveling during Worlds, and not sure how much wifi I'm going to have or when I'll be able to use it. I don't think it will be too bad, but I won't have my laptop with me, just a smaller and less powerful device.

My hope, and even expectation, for dance is:
Virtue Moir
Shibutanis
Papadakis Cizeron.

I can't really say I HOPE P/C are third, but I think that's the absolute best anyone who knows what Papadakis/Cizeron's skating is really worth can anticipate. There was an opportunity to start dropping them down during Europeans, but no other team took it.

I tried checking out the skating forums to catch up with anything I've been missing, but where dance is concerned it's all the same conflation of perceived (theatrical, non-skating expressive) performance value combined with "do I personally enjoy the choreography."

In pairs, just please no threepeat for Duhamel Radford. I am pretty hypocritical where they're concerned. I can convince myself that I appreciate what they've accomplished, but whenever there's a chance they'll be overthrown, I'm all about it and don't care much what team does it.

Rosie DiManno is still around. Not looking a gift horse in the mouth - her article is all about how ice dancing judging is corrupt. She excuses herself from knowing anything specific about scoring because she claims it's unfathomable to even insiders. Well that's true to a point -  it's unfathomable to many insiders because many have never bothered learning a thing about skating, let alone ice dance. But still. Skating is not unfathomable, and even scoring is not unfathomable. Just corrupt. When it doesn't match what happened on the ice, what's going on is pretty clear.

Rosie DiManno never goes away

So apparently this was a ground-breaking year, choreographically, for Papadakis Cizeron, and next year they'll pull back into their comfort zone:
(Guillame Cizeron) "We have some ideas, but I think this year - even if we kept a side of ourselves that we had in the last 2 or 3 programs - it's also a program where we kind of come out of our comfort zone. That's why we are taking a risk this year. And I think maybe next year we'll go with something less risky, something that we feel will allow us to get the gold."
Well alrighty then. Put it right out there. You believe the best way to beat the best ice dance team that's ever skated is to play it safe, be comfortable. Why not. it's been done before.


*The "back of everyone else" includes the knives in Virtue and Moir's.





Saturday, February 18, 2017

Have been binge watching Crazy Ex Girlfriend on Netflix. In Season 2, the disordered protagonist

"Rebecca Bunch"
thought she was in the center of a love triangle, but ended up dumped by both guys. So she hit re-set with a complete makeover:

Pairs skater Kirsten Moore-Towers
"Rebecca Bunch"
Now I won't be able to watch MTM II without waiting for chunks of Kirsten's hair to come unglued and litter up the ice.

I followed Four Continents on Goldenskate, learning that, as usual, the best skating is a combination of appealing program, a musical selection that doesn't depend on musicality for fans to appreciate (in fact, for some fans, the less rythmic, the better), and undefined performance attributes. The reality that so many fans critique ice dance programs while ignoring the skating explains why so many fans side-eyed the fact that the Shibs pcs came so close to Virtue and Moir's. I'd be down with that if a) the Shibs' skating in the free dance wasn't exquisite and b) if the opinion weren't accompanied by the comment that only Papadakis & Cizeron could deservedly approach Virtue and Moir's pcs. In reality, Papadakis & Cizeron's skating skills should have them off the podium, and probably in the bottom part of the top 10.



I love the integrity of the Shibutanis' skating. I lacked the motivation to create gifs of Davis White and Papadakis Cizeron's own knee slide transitions, but they're slop. A blatant stratagem to reset by not skating. But with the Shibs, as Alex swings Maia into her set up for her transition out of the spin, she is set down on an inside edge, slides out on an inside edge and transitions in the slide to an outside edge. She doesn't have to. She's on a knee. She can be as sloppy as she wants, but she's not. This is why I love Zoueva, this is why I love the two of them. The reason so many fans don't appreciate the Shibs is skating is the last thing they're looking at when they watch ice dance. And the commentators mash-up skating skills with performance values that's just a projection of their personal taste and shit they make up. Unlike with other sports, even gymnastics, the goal of the figure skating commentator is to make sure we know less, not more, about what's going on, and what factors into results, once the event is over.

I think everybody has a good idea where Worlds is heading, and I hope I'm right about it. But I also hope that the Shibs are standing on the second tier of the podium. The gap between Virtue and Moir and the rest of the field (placing the Shibs behind them) is nearly matched by the gap between the Shibs and the rest of the field.

Finally:

Mirai Nagasu wins bronze at 4CC
Mirai Nagasu remains, by far, the biggest ladies singles talent in North America. I don't know the reason why she has struggled to keep her head in the game, but certainly the USFSA has treated her as expendable despite clutch performances that outdo its pets Gracie Gold and Ashley Wagner. Gold is the definition of a talent that can't keep herself together long enough to put together a successful season, but the USFSA is always willing to start fresh with her. Nagasu they have been pushing out the door since 2013. So this makes me very happy.

This

Bronze medal 

Last year I figured between Dylan's injury, and what I had begun to figure was Lubov's ability to enjoy pairs skating without being intense about the result, they would end up 6 or 7 and never push to podium contention, which is where their combined talents appeared to position them when they first teamed up. Everybody says Ilyushechkina doesn't have her triple jumps, but she did have them once she and Dylan got their inaugural feet under them. This outcome says they can podium in Korea.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Human Error

I've been watching and rewatching figure skating - US Nationals, Canadian Championships, European Championships, but
Prince Regent and Guardian of the Sovereign
Steve Bannon
mostly I've been watching the end of the United States. I thought the U.S. had a shot of lasting as long as the Roman Empire (507 years) but the world has speeded up (both "sped" and "speeded" are correct).

From following Europeans on the skating boards, I realized a lot of P/C fans couldn't spot these errors:






I felt the judges were prepared to leave P/C third if not for rocky outings from Cappellini Lanotte and Bobrova Soloviev in the fd. P/C are still protected some, what with being out of sync, non-matching lines/angles and slightly off time (most of this happening during direction changes) still being viewed as a feature with them. As well, there was a lot of peculiar two-footing from Gabriella in P/Cs fd, but, bygones.

Eric Radford and Meghan Duhamel think their TES should get higher scores, myopic to the fact that if their TES actually showed off their skating or was at least accompanied by skating, it might. Their quads don't do that, not to mention their quads are more jumps than throws. That said, I found this quote from Eric interesting:
......"I believe there are specific people in the skating world and the [International Skating Union] who are afraid of a runaway effect — of a skater coming along that can do so much technically that they're going to beat the most artistic. But if you eliminate that aspect of it and you say 'Oh no, the artistry has to be the most important,' I would be the first person to say that you should take figure skating out of the Olympics. Because it's not a real sport if you take that away."
Let's set aside the part about "artistry". There is no "artistry". There is TES and skating skills and it's really ok if skating skills are the most important part of the sport of figure skating.
This part:
......"I believe there are specific people in the skating world and the [International Skating Union] who are afraid of a runaway effect — of a skater coming along that can do so much ...
*I* suspect a reason Davis White were railroaded to gold is because specific people in the skating world disliked that Scott and Tessa were in another universe of ability than anyone else in the sport and, if scored correctly, would have run away with every gold medal for ensuing ten years. These specific people did their utmost to let Scott and Tessa know their showing off was unwelcome, which is why VM now have the programs they have, with TES that accessible to other skaters, but it's ok if VM win on execution. When an ice dance team had unobtainable, unreachable TES, as VM had, seamlessly wedded to nearly unreachable execution, as VM had, the sport saw that as a problem. It didn't want the team to run away with everything, even though that was what VM earned on the ice.

As to the recently concluded European Championships, I believe the French Fed complained, either inside the hour that the rules allow or perhaps outside the time limits, that the judges had failed to properly deduct for an over-rotated choreographic lift from Cappellini and Lanotte's score. I read this:
4. Protest restrictions
A. Figure Skating
i) No protests against evaluations by Referees, Judges and the Technical Panel (Technical Controller, Technical Specialists, Data & Replay Operator) of Skaters’ performances are allowed;
ii) Protests against results are permitted only in the case of incorrect mathematical calculation. A wrong identification of an element or of a level of difficulty, although it results in a lower or higher score, is a human error and not an incorrect mathematical calculation;
Even if it's 8 years where in every single competition a particular team that skates two footed on wobbly edges and just as often on flats is scored higher than a team that is brilliant, do not protest. It is human error. This must be why we don't get to see the video the judges use.  If a skater consistently is scored as if he/she made the key point when they didn't, it doesn't matter. It's human error, so it's really pointless for fans to see the that video.

The regulations were posted by a fan on one of the skating forums. I'm taking them at face value and will be very happy if that's a mistake on my part.