Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Who is paying for it? A question.

When I was cutting the video about Jessica, the Moirs and the night of the Olympic free dance, I began to wonder if the supposed sideshow - Skate Canada's involvement - isn't the main event.

Skate Canada is always good for snark, but I've given it more thought, particularly with the facebooks getting further restricted, including Barb MacDonald's. There are a number of reasons to restrict the facebooks - among them, not wanting outsiders to take a second look and see things for what they are, particularly not outside media checking things out.

But what if things are dirtier than that. What the fuck WAS Debbi Wilkes doing in the Kiss'n Cry personally overseeing a public scam, using Skate Canada resources (Debbie Mac and that other guy) - not to mention Wilkes allocating her own time and attention as Team Manager and Director of Public Relations? And appropriating the venue for it too? (The Kiss'nCry became a staging arena for public deception.)

Why is Barb MacDonald - whose job is corporate communications - jumping aboard "Jess Dube's" fb the first night it's set up?

No doubt other skating federations know or wink when their skaters are sanitizing or faking their private life, but do they openly serve up the beard, spend resources on it and market it? Is this a proper way for Debbi Wilkes to use the venue? Is it appropriate for Skatebug to make this sham/scam part of its commentary at an event as it did for Canadians in 2010?

I'd assume the Moirs/Virtues spend the money to ferry Jessica back and forth from Ilderton - but do they? What about the Dominican, which included Veronique Dube and Jonathan Dube? What about Jessica's pere and mere in Paris at TEB 2009 where the parents did a walkabout with Scott's parents and Jessica and Scott for the edification of Jessica and Alma's fans on their facebook albums? The Dubes do not have the $$ resources some other parents have.

What about Monaco? Somebody has to hotel and feed the girl and fly her home from there instead of Italy.

Indisputably, the Jessica arrangement is not handled privately; Skate Canada officials in their professional capacity help manage logistics and execution. That's if any of it can be considered private, since so many of Scott's immediate family are high profile members of Skate Canada.

That top level SC personnel devote on-the-job time and attention to this is without question. What about $?

Jessica being on the same competitive circuit as VM saves money because she generally has Canadians and SC in common with them, and has had TEB in the past - and then last November when Scott posted on Jessica's facebook wall: "Can't wait til next week... Je taime" he was referring to Mississauga, where he and Tessa turned out to have a book promotion appearance and did a signing at the Hershey Center where Jessica was competing singles. Debbi Wilkes interviewed them there for Skatebuzz and plugged their book.

Was this promotional appearance belatedly set up so it coinciding with Jessica's competition would be paid for by the publisher or Skate Canada? Seems like Nationals would have been a more logical place to push that book. But VM had no intention of showing for Nationals and they managed to get a two-fer done in a venue where it wouldn't normally take place.

It might be a challenge this year to get Jessica to Skate Canada, but there is a TBD pairs slot, and what are the odds everything will work out as she hopes, and the less-than-inspiring Dube/Wolfe lp at Quebec will be overlooked. This team was also able to commission a Marina Zoueva short program -  a nice value add for Jessica too.

Is this ongoing situation a legitimate expenditure? SC got something like 1.7 million in gov't funding this year. Should an organization receiving public monies be openly deceiving the public?

Skate Canada has lost sponsors, yet the people in charge of sponsor relations and development seem to enjoy being personally hands-on with this bedroom farce a whole lot more. It's not just improper, it's icky and unprofessional.

Maybe the rationale is that spending this kind of energy making Scott and Tessa comfortable keeps them competing and is good for Skate Canada's bottom line. Maybe someone should ask why Scott and Tessa need this to be comfortable and remind both they're now adults. But who's going to tell them? Nobody at Skate Canada knows what that means.

One of Skate Canada's many dodgy marketing premises has been that they need stars to fill arenas and get television ratings. Skate Canada tends not to re-examine their premises, or consider whether their ideas about creating and marketing stars actually work.

SC got the gold medal from VM but Patrick Chan had to take his own career to Colorado to get results; D&D came up disappointing. SC was unable to keep the Canadian National Champion dance team together (Crone & Poirier). Nor does SC appear to have a clue how to manage press releases or press conferences.

They have no women singles skaters to speak of. I think attendance and TV ratings remain down despite the braggings about rebranding and storytelling, and despite how self-aggrandizing these current officials have been at the expense of their predecessors.

I'm only asking $ questions, I don't know. But unquestionably Debbi Wilkes was using Federation resources - herself, the venue and the volunteers - to bullshit the fans about the private life of the Canadian gold medalists the night they won the gold medal, in the venue where they won it. If she'll do that, what else will they do?

Maybe they believe this was part of the care and management of athletes en route to Olympic gold, no different than sports psychology and informational seminars. I think that angle is specious, but okay.

Tessa and Scott won a year and a half ago.

After Worlds 2010 and Worlds 2011, Tessa and Scott hedged about continuing in the sport without identifying any of the factors that would determine whether they continued or retired. Is this arrangement with Jessica- facilitated by Skate Canada - one of their conditions for staying?

Before last season Michael Slipchuk said that without Own the Podium monies, "if it's a matter of $10,000" between Virtue and Moir staying or going, he didn't see why Skate Canada wouldn't find it. Considering the shows VM do, the high-end wardrobe sported by both Tessa and Scott on and off the ice, the travel, the lifestyle and Tessa owning multiple copies of skating dresses that cost thousands of dollars each - for WHAT and why would they be in need of a "mere" $10,000 as a condition of staying in training? It was a curious amount.

Is this an appropriate allocation of Skate Canada resources - not just money, but attention, planning and time?


  1. Which kiss and cry/debbi wilkes moment are you referring too? I'm trying to think through Olympic moments...

    Also it's not something that's talked much about in the fandom, but I've often thought Tessa's family must be loaded. Saying your favourite store is Holt Renfrew kinda messes with the small town charm they're going for. Not holding it against her, if she can afford it go for it, but maybe don't play the "everyone can relate to our story" card.

  2. Re: Anon 1, has anyone in the fandom ever been under the impression that Tessa struggled in the first place? I assumed it wasn't discussed because it was never much of a question or marketing point, given her family's well-established background.

  3. Anon #1, the Kiss'n Cry moment in question is at the end of the video below - not the Scott/Jessica spoof video, but two posts below that. FF to the end and you'll see it.

    The money is a question due to Skate Canada's heavy involvement with the Scott and Jessica charade and frankly, with the amount of gall involved in how shamelessly they lie to the public whose interest they desperately want to nurture.

    When you lie this big, you need to do it professionally, not crawl out on a limb and start sawing.

    William Thompson let us know after the Olympics that Scott and Tessa were very valuable to Skate Canada, and that if it were a matter of "$10,000" to enable them to stay in, he was sure SC could find it. Considering what Tessa's skate dresses cost per dress, and how many duplicates she has in different colors, why on earth would $10,000 ever be the difference between staying in training or leaving? Tessa sacrifices the pink or purple or white or black Mahler dress and a couple of pairs of shoes and she and Scott have it.

    Two seasons running they hedge about returning but never say why. They predictably return and it's all "we still want it." Of course they do - they're 22 and 23 (almost 24) - what would they do with retirement?

    What are their conditions for staying? What IS SC's contribution and who does pay for Jessica since it's been awhile since the quid pro quo was a real incentive, and how is that money allocated and from whom? Moirs and Virtues can afford it but does SC kick in some or all of it considering they're involved in all other ways?

    And what else do they do to give Jessica incentive? Is the Skate Canada TBD slot really TBD or does it already belong to Dube/Wolfe?

  4. Anon 1 here

    Thanks Oy Canada, I was confused and thought you meant an actual kiss and cry ie waiting for marks. Thanks for the clarification.

    Anon 2 - I don't really know anything about her family background beyond the fact that her father is a lawyer - what are they, landed nobility? lol But my point wasn't that her family's wealth was in of itself something up for debate or criticism, more that it didn't match with how TS's story is framed. JMO :)

    Several of the top teams in the world re-use one of their two competition costumes for their exhibitions. Tessa and Scott often have multiple costumes for each program. On the one hand, I sympathize with this because I love fashion too (and they usually do enhance the programs). On the other hand, it's kind of a turn off because it can seem unnecessary.

    I struggle with TS on several levels because I LOVE their skating and I do admire them. But they can seem really out of touch, especially if this blog is on the money, which at this point I'm inclined to believe it is.

  5. I think SC pay for V-M costumes. No? And pay for there traning.
    As fore 10 000 - maybe he talk about 100 000, like SC gave to Bourne-Kraatz? Or maybe he talk about 10 000 per mounth.
    I only have question about Scott-Jess future, because she didnt want to move from Montreal, when Scott didnt want to move from Inderton. And if she want to spend more time with him together, why she didnt move with Wolf to traine in Canton. But this is there own lifes.
    And i think Scott give money for all her trips and vacations. Yes, she is lucky to find guy, who love her so much :)

  6. A North American Federation pay for costumes and training? Are you nuts?

  7. Skate Canada pay some skaters for choreo (V-M are in the list). And i read in Shpilband interview, V-M couldnt work with him full time untill they become Junior World Champions and federation with sponsors start pay for them.

  8. They get more funding as junior champions.The Federation doesn't pay in full for their training or their costumes; they simply get "x" amount of funding from SC which, btw, doesn't begin to cover the total expenditures of the sport, particularly not for Scott and Tessa. Don't forget not just high end costumes in multiple number, but bringing in outside dance and figure skating experts as they've done for the Tango Romantica, Farrucus, the samba sd, etc. And they do dress very well off ice. :) And they maintain more than one residence.

    All eligible skaters at a certain level qualify for support from their Federation and get a certain amount of sponsorship, and when a skater is very successful often their costs end up covered because their outside income (individual sponsorship deals outside their Fed) is enough (NOT the Federation itself, which couldn't afford to completely cover VM's training and costumes and other expenditures in whole even if they wanted to do it).

    Alissy Czisny lost her funding after she fell out of the top five of US Nationals. Even when she had it, all her costs weren't covered. There's a difference between having monies earmarked as support from your Fed and being entirely supported by the Fed. What Tessa and Scott spend is far above and beyond what monies are provided by SC. Which is why Jessica is a relevant question. WHY would Mike Slipchuk (him not Thompson as I erroneously said earlier) act as if $10,000 were the difference between VM retiring and staying eligible when VM spend far above and beyond that margin and could easily stay in training on far less than that margin represents? Yes, Scott and Tessa could easily pay for Jessica's travels but do they? Why would SC be looking for $10,000 that they don't need for either costumes or training or living costs? I don't necessarily think that's (Jessica) what it would have been spent on, but if Tessa and Scott don't want to stay eligible and promote themselves at Canadian competitions unless they can remain on the down low, and because everybody is dumbass enough to think the Jessica set-up is the only way to stay on the down low (because they refuse to get competent management), then Jessica might be a cost SC agrees to cough up. They are a completely amateur organization in terms of the management of public relations and communications and marketing. Inept. Their fundamentals suck, their operating premises suck, the plans they devise to put their bad ideas into action suck. They also believe the public are morons who can be persuaded via simplistic propaganda such as elementary word and phrase repetition.

    WHO pays for Jessica's travels? There was Debbi Wilkes, whose job is corporate relationships (even though at the Olympics she was also Team Manager), overseeing the Jessica photo call on free dance night and employing a senior volunteer to escort Jessica over to Scott. (She was not venue manager.) Long after every bit of other post-medal ceremony business was handled, Jessica remained in the stands, parked behind the sisters-in-law, friends, and cousins. The parents were long since out of their seats, down at rink-level behind the boards, taking pictures and cheering. All of the parents. And Tessa's sister. And Bryce Davison and Vaughn Chipeur were also down there (though we didn't see Bryce, I'm sure he had a job to do as well). It was only as a last bit of business that they enacted the Jessica scene. Debbi Wilkes, who interacts constantly with the public at every Canadians and on Skatebuzz, was overseeing a complete lie, acted out for the benefit of the very Canadian fans to whom she constantly panders. Lies happen, shams happen, but there is no way a Director of Public Relations of Skate Canada should be overseeing a blatant lie, using resources to do so, and using the venue, while simultaneously aggressively marketing that lie to the Canadian public. She's making fools of them all.

  9. Neither of VM's residences is in Ilderton but that's where Jessica always visits. Her visits are photo shoots and planning sessions, period.

  10. All Moirs are in Ilderton and Scott came to Ilderton every week-end. Why do you think Scott didnt visit Ilderton? And how could you know, where V or M have there owm house? (i think they didnt have - only rent some houses in Canton).
    And as for money..... Doyou really see sense in your conspiracy theory? This only could be if Scott is a gay and they need to made impression about macho-SCott :)))))) But he isnt. So why SC need to spend money on Jessica vacations? I think things is much easy - you must understand, that even if you want to see someone to be a coupl in reall life this people maybe didnt want to be together. But you could live in dreams in internet, but why you need to hate all this people? I think you will not give me answer again.
    And because of your crazy posts nobody never will see any off-ice photos from Tessa and Scott and from any of Moirs.

  11. Word to the previous anon. We used to get all sorts of fabulous off-ice, candid photos from various Moirs and even Jordan Virtue, if I'm not mistaken but now, we're lucky to get anything at all.

  12. Yes - because this crazy girl start all this stupid gossips and conspiracy theory. Why other skaters could post privit photos and nobody start talking about there lie? Why she choose Tessa and Scott? Why she spend all her days to made this videos, posts, photos?

  13. To the last Anon -

    If this blog disturbs you so much why don't you stop reading it? It's your choice. It's not up to you what anyone else chooses to do or to believe.

  14. Last anon - I think the anon complaining is fearful this blog will force Tessa/Scott to retire. She thinks they're fragile when it comes to staying or going.

    We never got all sorts of candid photographs. All we're missing now is bullshit. They did not share real things, which is their right. But pushing a hoax on the fans they accepted to facebook, and still doing it for those fans they know buy into it and will push it on the internet while congratulating themselves on having the skaters' confidence, is totally wrong. It's making fools of people, which is a problem with the Moirs & Co. They seem to think of fans as "the other" where elementary respect, and - worse, in some ways, elementary self-respect - isn't required because fans are a category of people that's less than.

    Scott on his fan page has always been free to show actual candid photos from his shows and competitions. Not personal - candid.

    Instead he pulls already published photos from the internet, credits them, and puts them in his albums. The only "candids" you're missing are phony.

  15. Complaining anon - Carol Moir still has off-ice albums of Scott and Tessa visible - the steering committee late summer party, the golf outings, the gold medal celebration, Shoeless Joes.

    Nobody is stopping Scott from posting non-personal candids of Virtue Moir at shows or public appearances but he doesn't bother.

    The only photos they make an effort to display have an agenda, and are staged to display a hoax.

  16. I didint read it - yes i watch it 2 or 3 times and every time cant understand, how person could post something like this about such godd people like Tessa and Scott are. Ithink people who talk with them will agree - they are really kind persons and respect there fans.

  17. Oy Canada, are you OK? Why you start talking about things wich you didnt know? Maybe this is because Sott didnt answer you at his FB and delet you from his friends or something like this? How could you know something more then people talk to you? Maybe you have too big fantasy?
    Sorry, but if you feel free post all this lie about other people, i feel free say to you - this isnt normal and this lokk crazy. What about reall live? Did you have reall interests, reall friends?

  18. Dear Anon, even though you're not really anonymous because I think we all know who you are - please stop. I don't always agree with what this blog has to stay, particularly in regards to the "sham relationship" but she (or he) does have a right to stay what they want. I appreciate the discussion that results in the comments. It's more entertaining than the discussion at the usual haunts for Tessa and Scott.

  19. So she have right to say what she want so i have this right too. Or free speach could choose? Dont think so. Free speach let me to say - all this is crazy thoughts and this person try to have more attention. And nobody know what she will made next if she didnt like any Scott or Jess, or Debby word. And you know who i am - its OK but try to made impression you dont know who made this blog? :) I didnt tell- stop posting this i am post my own thoughts about this blog and about people, who support this ideas.

  20. Yeah, you've said what you want over and over. You've called people names and tried to get them to do what you want - to shut down this discussion.
    Do you feel better now?

    Perhaps you would feel less stressed if you got used to the idea that this blog and discussion continues no matter how often you come back to personally attack the blogger.

  21. Debbi Wilkes is and has been since her appointment working way over her head. Every day violating the tired truism that smart people know what they don't know. She has no idea what she doesn't know.

    Then, to shore up the marketing/communications aspects of SC, SC CEO and twitter-incompetent William Thompson hires Barb-fucking-MacDonald. For real. Why the fuck do you hire, after a public relations tempest over SC's "tough" campaign, an anti-gay evangelical Christian who recognizes no division between her personal beliefs and her professional responsibilities, who never worked in a mainstream public or corporate organization so has no idea what she's doing with social media, press relations or corporate communications in the real (non-ministry) world, and whose approach is offensive to the skaters themselves? You don't hire a person whose religious (read "political") mandates are the driving force in her life to oversee the public and sponsor relations of an irreligious, non-political organization.

    I have no use for Barb or Debbi, but if someone takes a hit, it will be them and not Thompson, yet he's the one responsible. It's a typical case - if you yourself are underqualified and incompetent (as CEO, he makes a fine corporate atty, regional (not international) judge and mediocre figure skater, you hire people who won't show you up.

  22. Oy Canada, you are SO right about how they are using fans. Some on fanforum constantly broadcast their 'special access' to Scott's personal facebook, even offering up information and photos, yet they somehow assume the moral high ground by policing. If they honestly think Scott has left them on by accident, the only decent thing to do would be quietly exit from his friends list. I'm only posting here because I feel like screaming yet don't want to disturb the peace that a poster with incredibly polite restraint has allowed at fanforum. But I should just feel sorry for these people because they have every right to trust TS. TS deserve privacy, but it is THEM that have violated the wall between, not the fans. gaaaahhhhhh

    What do you see happening here, will heads ever roll? I just want this to be over with some of my respect for TS still intact. SIGH

  23. I have to say, at first I thought this blog was mean spirited, but having read through the most current postings, I think its genius. Look, we all love VM, however their PR is a disaster. Let's all just admit that (even the FF people, not able to get out of their fan fiction world).

    Why the Virtues/Moirs are going to such great lengths to continue this charade, only they know. I can only say that what they thought seemed like a good idea at the time is now a skeezy lesson in "what not to do" and I don't think they know how to get out of it.

    For those upset this blog exists, what is your issue? Are some of these posts hitting too close to your VM fantasy world? If you believe the Scott/Jess relationship is on the up an up, why exactly are you here? Are you hired by the VM team to jump to their defence? Good luck with that, the internet is a pretty big net to cast.

    I think the blogger is a VM fan like the rest of us and doesn't like seeing what their "people" are doing and is trying to shed some light onto the situation. My question to the blogger is: While I understand how SC and the VM team can keep up this debacle, how are all the other skaters and national teams keeping quiet? I am quite shocked no one (especially DW) has given some big hints. I guess Kurt Browning come out with a comment recently during the YuNa Kim shows, but no one paid much attention.

  24. Last anon, in my experience, when public figures have dug a hole, 9 times out of 10 they keep digging, whatever the original plan. Saving face and not admitting error is huge. So this will go on forever. Not only are VM themselves implicated, but so are the officials of SC, so are VM's family. Do they all want to admit they're idiots? I've never quite understood what is gained by refusing to ADMIT you have blundered when the entire world knows you have, when you're a laughing stock, but that's the last stand. For some reason, people feel not admitting it retains some shred of control.

    Last anon - I've also learned there's a story behind every story, and for whatever reason - usually a cost-benefit analysis of some type - the "story" - a synthesis of publicly available information - is all the public ever gets to know. There's a bunch of stuff that is more or less commonly known, that even civilians can find out if they work any kind of network, but it never gets out because there's no plus side in it for the media - even gossip blogs don't want to risk losing access. Only tabloids don't care, and they're often suspect because they pay.

    Of course other skaters aren't going to rat on Tessa and Scott for the record or even off it. What would motivate DW to rat on them? Or any figure skater - Canadian, American or international? It would be easy to trace and they'd be pariahs. It's a very small world. Most skaters have secrets or keep their private lives private - what do we know - officially - of the private lives of many prominent skaters - who they're with or who they dated prior to whomever they've decided to go public with now? Do we think they don't have one?

    With Virtue/Moir, they're entitled to protect themselves, but how they've done it is grotesque and extremely offensive. They're literally gaslighting fans, and they are literally marketing a flat out hoax. And maybe Virtue/Moir themselves don't think that a man in a lifetime commitment, who is a parent, publicly cozying up to some other woman and pretending to be with her, is offensive, but it IS. There's a time and phase of a relationship for that type of shamming, and VM have long since passed it. It's disgusting. They talked about being "kids" nonstop last year. They're not kids. They have made adult commitments and major adult choices. Cut the shit. Act like the grown-ups you are.

    I can't believe they have this record on their trail for eternity.

    If a tabloid came along and waived money at certain skaters/coaches, got enough substantiation (even if unattributed) I'm sure people would spill for the $$, politics - the usual reasons.

    But they'd also give what they knew to be a self-serving spin, and make up stuff where they didn't know it. It would be second-and-third rank skaters and coaches who would substantiate the story, but it would also be motivated by pushing themselves forward and bringing VM down. The other skaters; the ones at VM's level, have no incentive.

  25. P.S. - I'm wondering if the reason they elevate the likes of Wilkes and hire the likes of MacDonald is they work cheap? I don't know, but Skate Canada is not rolling in money. The USFSA is staffed with people who possess persuasive credentials for the positions they hold - long experience in other corporations and organizations doing jobs that directly correlate to the jobs they were then hired to do for the USFSA. I know there are problems with the USFSA, that people would prefer officials who were more athlete-sympathetic, maybe, and less good at numbers crunching and promotion. But at least they're good at SOMETHING. I think the USFSA actually entertained BIDS from a variety of companies before choosing a title sponsor (among its many other sponsors). I know they put on a $$ successful US Nationals which was well reviewed too, all without an Olympic gold medalist or "star". Isn't it Canada that is the skating country? Why is the US getting higher TV ratings for figure skating?

  26. Public figures want to have some control over the information that gets out about them. So, for example, if a couple is divorcing and it gets leaked, they'll often deny and pretend everything is rosy so they can make the announcement themselves, at a later date and on their own terms.

    V/M are no different. As long as you continue posting publicly about this mess, there's no way they're going to stop. They don't want to be bullied or forced into coming clean. So the more you post, the harder they try to keep up the charade. I absolutely agree that they've been acting like idiots and disrespecting the fans, but ranting about it only further entrenches them in their position.

    You can write whatever you want, of course. But is a couple more years of this really what you want?

  27. Last anon - I would also wonder how much the blog reinforces any concerns about excessive attention being paid by fans to their personal life. Even with it serving as a reaction to something they've been putting out for years - and yeah, their focus on Jessica and romance denials already shine a bright light on that aspect (even if it is in a phony way) - it does seem, in its own way, like the real person fan fic and the discussions that crop up on message boards whenever a new development arises in one's family or "romantic" life - to demonstrate a very keen degree of public interest in the personal. The blog's popularity obviously does the same. The hits are not coming from people who aren't curious in some way, whether agreeing with the blog or thinking its author is nuts.

    I just think that I would be somewhat leery of believing that degree of interest, and whatever might accompany that at a real world, interactive level (and I think it's never wise to underestimate what some fans can get up to), would wane if I were publicly connected with my public partner. Especially if we any additional parties would be impacted by said interest.

  28. Nobody had more unseemly intense interest in her private life than Katia Gordeeva and IMG managed that very nicely for her. Fans comes with dinner - all fans behave the same, all the skaters and public figures have the same types of fans - Scott and Tessa have intense shipper fans - whatever. It's manageable - that's what sports management companies are for. You control the conversation and everything else is noise. You don't live in reaction or turn it around and blame fans. Citing fan interest is a cop-out. Only twice a year are Scott and Tessa really put in the path of fans - at Skate Canada and Nationals. The rest of the time they're well clear. If they chose, they could use professionals for their CSOI promotional opportunities. Blaming fans is crap.

    If Scott and Tessa really wanted protection and control they wouldn't have handed over their public relations to smarmy, self-serving incompetents who use ethically sketchy methods. They'd PAY ATTENTION to what they're doing. They don't. Camera on or camera off - that's all they care about.

    A couple of more years of this is what we're going to get, this blog or not. They had a contingency window of opportunity to reveal - on their own terms - that pretty much everyone, including those as close to the situation as it gets, thought they'd use - long long before this blog existed. Or at least a definite opportunity to amend their insulting facebook crap. They didn't - they escalated. They swept in thousands of fans each to the facebooks after the Olympics - no screening - it was volume that mattered. These fans were excited and flattered, even though it was a set up. But now that they're no longer useful dupes, they're shut out. How blatant can you get?

    They are not victims of this blog or the fans. They make very strong, specific choices for their personal lives, they do exactly what they want, fans don't stop them. They could have stopped treating fans like utter idiots any time - modified their facebook antics - but didn't, even after continuing in the facebook aspect of the hoax became more and more contemptuous of its target audience and more offensive to personal integrity and common decency.

    These are people who don't hesitate to corrupt just about anything if it helps them sell this. Their relationship. Weddings. Christmas. Tessa's surgery.

    Their choices are not my responsibility. I'm not going to do this with how they react in mind.

  29. I've never gotten the impression that the point of this blog is to "force" anyone to do anything, as far as the actions of those continuing to put on this charade go. I've always felt the intention was to make it clear to fans how they're being used as pawns by these people, how disrespectful that is, and how all of it is tied to a PR plan that is as stupid and self-serving as it is pathetic.

    At present, the people running this sham want to control what people think about them. This is not only an impossible task, but terribly conceited and silly. In order to control what people think about them, they spam with photos of planned appearances, drop some very obvious soundbites in the press, and do what they can to make sure the fans who serve as their willing patsies spread the information around (either in public places or to each other behind the scenes). Then they turn around and throw out the "but we're so tired of being asked about our personal life," card, when in reality they make sure to do everything they can to ensure it keeps being asked about. So in the end, what matters is control.

    If this crew loses that control, and it becomes clear to them that what they're doing isn't working anymore because fans realize they're being fed crap on purpose, then the ball is in this crew's court to up the ante or, I suppose, come clean. It's probably fair to say they won't want to come clean. But upping the ante will simply make them look more desperate, MORE OBVIOUS, and require them to be even more disrespectful to the very fans who spend money to support them (buying their book, going to their appearances, and so on). It's a hole they'll probably keep digging (because they're not smart about any of this and they're so desperate to control what fans think), but the deeper and larger it gets, the more apparent it will be that the hole exists in the first place.

    In my opinion, what this blog reinforces is that the ball is in the FANS' court, not V/M's. And that's why I enjoy the dialogue here so much. Like the tone of the blog, or don't like the tone. Want to quibble about certain details in the blog posts? Sure, go right ahead. But see the underlying point being made over and over - fans are being used by these people and taken as being idiots. And while some fans are clearly willing to go along with the status quo they're being fed, a lot of others are not that gullible, can see through it, and find it extremely distasteful.

    I personally don't care if V/M keep their private life quiet, that's not what this is about for me. This is about the personal only as far as it highlights the larger issue of what's acceptable and, frankly, ethical when crafting an image and selling it to the public. This is a group of people who take every opportunity to reiterate how sincere they are, and how much they appreciate their fans, ask for the public's money and support, and then turn around and have the audacity to treat that public like they're all simple-minded fools who can be easily manipulated with a PR stratagem that's so sophisticated it's a generation beyond "hey, do me a favor and look over there while I hide this from you over here!"

  30. In my perspective, it is an extreme cop-out to behave as if Virtue/Moir are uniquely beset by fans and need to protect themselves and, as you put it, any third party. That's crap. Their interaction with fans is extremely controlled. They're in Canada for two competitions a year, and when they tour with CSOI they're surrounded by a security and public relations infrastructure. In their personal lives, they can - as they've said many times - go way below the radar. They live well clear of any actual fan access to their real lives or real training. Arctic Edge has things well in hand, and fans have no idea where VM live.

    ALL fans have trouble recognizing boundaries, or the line between good and bad taste, public and private conversation. All of them. (By "all" I mean fans as understood by the celebs.) They speculate NOW about VM's sex life, personal feelings, history, future, outside relationships. If VM came clean there would be what they said and then in short order fans would begin to spin their own take on it. It's all noise. How would the acknowledgment of the existence of a third party make that third party visible and vulnerable?

    As I've said, Gordeeva, at the height of figure skating mania in the US, lived in an extremely small town that was accessible to many skating fans who did indeed show up to stalk her at the rink. Because she was a widow and many fans fetishized her relationship with her husband, there was a preoccupation with her romantic life, rumors, speculation, on-line arguments, trash talk and debate. She helped create that because she participated in a high-rated US television special based off her book, providing interviews with the family, re-enactments by Gordeeva and her daughter, and previously unaired film footage. So she, too, lived in a world where she wanted to capitali$e and feed - and did - fan interest but maintain a zone of privacy.

    She was managed the entire time by IMG. She had sponsorship deals with Target, MacDonalds, Limoge. She made public appearances. Did a book tour. Went on talk shows. Toured with SOI. There were three or four web sites dedicated to her, with "reports" sections for the purpose of stalkers/curious returning to share their findings. The entire time she carried on serenely with her life on her own terms, never denied the relationships she had but neither did she expound on them, never let her buttons be pushed, and went through eight months of public pregnancy while fans were at odds over whether she was even pregnant. Finally there was a simple, very well done announcement by IMG on her behalf that she was expecting and that was that.

    Interest in her took a few years to wane and nobody laid eyes on the kid til she was a toddler, while Gordeeva continued her public life. This is how you do it when you have people who know what they're doing handling your affairs.

    Fan interest is not Tessa and Scott's problem. They don't need to hide to protect themselves from inappropriate fans and never did. They needed intelligent management, people who know what the issues are and how to manage them, people who have been successful in public relations in the past and have a track record, people who know what they're doing.

    Instead they teamed up with opportunistic amateurs who inflated the problem and created a distracting circus of a solution, generating more problems than they were supposed to be solving.

    They've created this situation and this interest - not their romance, but their inconsistent, contradictory behavior, the entire matrix. They are not reacting to overly intense interest, of which this blog is an illustration, they are CREATING it by the absolute bungle they've made, the mystery, the contradictions, the pattern of setting up and pulling the rug out, the stress and anxiety they create in fans that fans can't really talk about. This is NOT driven by how romantic and cute they are. That fades. The turn around doesn't work.

  31. Anyone who becomes a celebrity (small or great) will have to deal with fans. Tessa and Scott are no different than any other celebrity. Did they think they could win competitions, the Olympics, have some endorsements, be a known public factor, and still be able to live in complete obscurity? Apparently they thought they could have it both ways, but real life doesn't work that way. Whoever guided them (and their families) down this path was seriously deluded and inept.

    I'm appalled at the way they continually escalate instead of putting into motion a plan to Deescalate and get out of this. But I guess for that you would need intelligent and experienced representation and that's what's missing here.

  32. "Should an organization receiving public monies be openly deceiving the public?"

    Absolutely not. Even if that's not the case and no specific federation monetary resources are being used for such an activity, given that the Skate Canada federation is allotted government funds to run its operations, Canadians have a right to expect it be run by competent, qualified individuals.

    If they are struggling to sell tickets or fill arenas, are losing sponsors, or are wasting their time propagating bad PR approaches that will do nothing to actually grow fans for the sport, it might be time to consider new management rather than just blaming the public for their problems (oh the public loves hockey too much, they think figure skating is gay sport and that's why they don't support it as much as other sports, etc). A year ago, Canada pulled off a very successful winter Olympics in which three of the biggest stars were figure skaters, but Skate Canada has thus far failed spectacularly at marketing them for the long term.

  33. Skate Canada seems to function like an political fiefdom with bureaucrats feeding their vanity and egos out of the trough, piggybacking on the fame of their figure skaters and taking unseemly pleasure pulling the wool over the eyes of the public. They’ve been in figure skating so long they think of it as a private club and forget that with the federal monies at issue they are also part of the public trust and should not be pro-actively bamboozling the public.

    As for Scott and Tessa, in general terms their desire for privacy is easy to understand, but if we attempted to follow the sequence of reasoning that resulted in this botch we’d be continually tripping over fallacies.

    It appears at times that Scott and Tessa have doled out the privilege of fucking up their public relations to different people they feel they "owe". "For your help, you get the privilege of being one of the select few responsible for making a botch of our marketing. Feel free to bask in our reflected glory and preen yourself over controlling the message and the access. Thanks again."

    There’s also this weird paradox of devising an extremely ambitious hoax/marketing scheme while blithely assuming it can be implemented by a bunch of clowns. That’s not terribly flatting to the public, is it?

    Nobody appears to have an inkling of context or how scheme A will impact Scheme B. For example, Menage a Trois Sur La Glace was aimed at fans since to the Virtue/Moirs, anything in the French-Canadian language is twin sister to facebook – doesn’t count. The agenda was to announce Scott/Jessica as a couple but also inform fans that they probably wouldn’t SEE Scott/Jessica BE a couple at competitions, because they each had a separate job to focus on. But don’t let that fool you – they ARE a couple.

    Now WTF? What kind of a psa was that? Then they have Bryce allow as how it’s hard to see her and her beau together. One would wonder when he sees them, as Scott trains in Ontario, D&D in Quebec, they have ‘separate jobs to focus on” at competitions, and Bryce doesn’t accompany Jessica when she visits her amoureux, but okey doke.

    But I guess THIS is how he sees them together – Bryce was having premonitions of the near future when Jessica spammed facebook with a set of the cheesiest, smarmiest, most mortifying, self-parodying, inappropriate, horrifying set of pseudo-intimate photo shoot photos supplemented by a spray of photos chronicling an evening of Dominican hijinks at a restaurant and on the dance floor. What DICKS! Jessica makes one of the photos her profile picture, their friends and family egg them on in comments, all of this in full view of Bryce, his friends, family and the USFSA and SC. This was either gross exhibitionism, egoism and insensitivity, or plain old viciousness. They humiliated the guy on purpose!

    But it wasn’t any of those things, it was dumb assery. Everybody forgot how the two sham gambits – “Menage” and the Dominican – correlate in the eyes of fans who were suckered into their scam. These people have the attention span of a bunch of fleas.

  34. I'd like to think that Scott and Tessa aren't stupid. They don't come across as stupid in interviews. They often come across as overly-rehearsed - as though they're trying too hard to say the line in a script someone's written out for them - but not stupid. In fact, they seem quite intelligent, kind, and personable. So why can't they see how dumb all of this really is?

    Perhaps they're lacking context. They're certainly lacking a team of people who know what they're doing.

    The entire thing is so badly run it's a joke. Scott can't say in the press that his personal life is private, that he doesn't talk about his relationship with his significant other, and that he has no intention of making anything about his personal life public to fans, and then turn around and sweep 5,000 fans he doesn't know onto his facebook profile so they can see pre-arranged wall posts and posed photos of he and his significant other in the very "relationship" he claims he wants to keep private. Facebook fans are not different from the fans that aren't on facebook. They all read the same articles, the same denials and lies, in the press.

    They're incredibly lazy when it comes to this stuff. They contradict themselves all the time, and none of those contradictions have anything to do with what happens on the ice. They seem to approach this with a "fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants" approach. If fans on message boards notice something in their public behavior, Tessa and Scott will respond with a dumbass attempt to cover it up in an interview. Hence their "well, we said this, but actually it happened this way, but no actually that never happened, this happened instead" approaches to so many things. "Oh I said I was here but actually I wasn't, I was there instead, and we only hung out together because people expect us to be together, but really we weren't talking at all, but we spend all our time together off the ice, except no we hardly see each other off the ice when we're not training," and so on.

    God, it's like an episode of "The Three Stooges." I used to not care much at all about their actions off the ice, but after reading a bit of their press realized they weren't just lying, but doing a TERRIBLE job of it.

    If you're not guilty of what you're being accused of, DON'T ACT LIKE IT.

    Except they are guilty. And what they're guilty of is *gasp* being in a romantic relationship with each other! Egad! What will people think!?! We can't have people thinking about how normal that actually is! How could we be marketed as "the pair you wish was romantically involved but isn't" if people know we actually ARE romantically involved with each other and always have been? That might not bring in the straight male hockey fans to the sport! Right? RIGHT? No, wait...that's not right. Who is our target audience again? We can't remember.

    Instead, we have to talk about how much we love each other (platonically) and how we don't talk about our private lives (though we have no problem creating fake private lives and shoving them in select fan's faces on facebook via more photoshoots and soundbites). It's okay though, since being criticized about this last year, we've closed off some facebooks to a lot of fans but kept the ones we know will continue to spread our stuff around. That might make us look more credible! Aren't we clever?!?

    There's nothing wrong with keeping private lives private. And it IS possible to be truthful and still maintain privacy. But the contradiction in their words and actions is egregious. I've never seen a PR campaign like this so badly handled. It's embarrassing for everyone involved.

  35. Even Scott's fan page facebook is done half-assed, a display of self-serving hypocrisy and hurting fan feelings.

    His excuse for starting the fan page was he hit his friends limit on his "personal" facebook (after a month of strenuous effort to do exactly that) and facetiously announces that since he's a big deal and has hit his limit, he's opening a fan page open to all because he doesn't want to leave anyone out.

    Fine. Then he starts deleting fans from his personal fan page, only not all of them, and his personal page stays active. I wonder what some of his genuine fans feel when they find themselves deleted but "Jane Doe" and "Jane Doe II" and a bunch of other fans - the ones who aggressively support the sham and police internet discussion - are left on the list and still have access? Does this gambit cut the deleted fans off not just from his facebook, but from reaching conclusions and having opinions about Scott's hypocrisy? Let's hope it does because otherwise, he looks like an ass who is playing favorites while pretending to do everyone a favor. And how do you qualify as a "favorite"? Be a conspicuous patsy.

    You don't say I don't want to leave anyone out - then LEAVE EVERYONE OUT. Barely upkeep your facebook fan page and continue to aim sham shit in your "private" facebook at the enabling fans you selected to stay on your "private" page, fans who go around making people aware they HAVE been singled out to be left out, that the private page is still very active and guess what, Jessica and Scott are still dating. These people SUCK at this, everywhere you turn, it's asshole. And I don't think that's who they are, but they are lazy about this. It's so big, so insistent, and they compound it with the old "turn it around", pandering and patronizing, and yet -- LAZY. Hypocritical and lazy.

    How can fans be left "by accident" when they announce their status every five seconds to fans who were struck from the list? Shouldn't Scott have caught on to the accident by now? Oh, I forgot, he hardly pays attention to facebook.

    Scott is extremely erratic on his fan facebook page, trending towards tourettes-like bouts of status updating followed by weeks and weeks of nothing. He links stuff fans have put up, he will re-post and credit photos already published on the web, usually wire service photos or stills from public appearances - and that's it. This from a guy who had a side career as the Zoolander of romantic sham-promotion - posing everywhere - paneled basements, living rooms, beaches, hotel lobbies, restaurants, canyons, apple orchards, playgrounds, baseball stadiums, Botown, the Olympic village, the Paris metro, Paris landmarks, Santa Domingo, Ilderton pubs, aunt's kitchens, a community center hallway, wedding reception tables, dance floors, the base of monuments and under palm trees. But when he goes to Worlds, 4CCs, Korea, L.A. - it's like nobody taught him to use a camera. He forgets how to pose when he's with his platonic, professional, long-term ice-dance partner, and can't operate a camera. It seems as if the fan page was mostly a cover for the purging of the "private page." "Don't look here - look over there!"

  36. "They've created this situation and this interest - not their romance, but their inconsistent, contradictory behavior, the entire matrix. They are not reacting to overly intense interest, of which this blog is an illustration, they are CREATING it by the absolute bungle they've made, the mystery, the contradictions, the pattern of setting up and pulling the rug out, the stress and anxiety they create in fans that fans can't really talk about. This is NOT driven by how romantic and cute they are. That fades. The turn around doesn't work. "


    Two unforseen things happened to me during the 2010 Olympics - first I was very ill during the games, so I literally sat in front of TV and watched EVERYTHING - and as a result, the second thing was that I watched TS by accident and fell in love with them. I have since become a figure skating fan and will be forever grateful to them.

    Did I want them to be together? OF COURSE, who didn't??? But there were two very simple ways to deal with fan interest:
    1. Scott is with Jessica (minus the fb crap and blatant contradictions)
    my reaction: *sad sigh* I hope TS will be together someday ...MOVE ON
    2. TS is together and in love!!
    my reaction: *happy sigh* all is right with the world.....MOVE ON

    They are so perfect, for lack of a better word, that new shippers, who I initally proudly counted myself among, were an unavoidable workplace hazard. But both the mature responses above would have allowed the hype to die out in a timely fashion, leaving a community who were truly focused on their incredible skating and could feel connected to their genuine but PUBLIC personas.

    The only reason that didn't happen, that I didn't just move on from focusing on their private relationship, was exactly what you outlined above. The contradictions were impossible to ignore and made my head hurt. They baited and trapped us with every new interview, then their fan police made us feel guilty to even talk about the confusion.

    It was a slow and uncomfortable process realizing what bs this all is. When honest talk finally started on forums and then later this blog came out, it only explained what I'd felt in my gut all along, that something was rotten in SkateCanadaLand. I'll always love TS, but I'll never feel quite the same about them.

  37. It's hard not to speculate that Debbi Wilkes and her co-horts don't actually get off on screwing with the public. Something has to explain the gratuitous overkill, how the sham purveyors almost looked for ways to fuck with fans' heads. You could strip down this charade to less than a 20th of what they did and still have more than enough, but I swear they're addicted to pushing buttons - little pishers who like to feel powerful.

    For example, when Scott and Tessa were participating in a Q&A at last year's Skate Canada Volunteer Awards in June and discussed their long partnership, Debbi Wilkes interrupted. "That's longer than most people are married!" REALLY Debbi? You ass.

    Then when the topic of media training was raised, so as to be dismissed, Wilkes interrupts THAT to proclaim Scott and Tessa were poised in front of the media due to - "GREAT PARENTS." With a little bit - a LOT - of righteous pride and self-congratulation in her delivery. The woman's shameless and hypocritical pandering is pretty sickening.

  38. OMG (ugh, what am I a teenage girl?) I wish there were "like" buttons for some of these posts. This discussion is some of the most articulate and non-emotional I have seen regarding VM. I very much appreciate coming into this blog for very thoughtful and intelligent conversation. Please keep it up.

    Oh, and Debbi Wilkes was a crap ass figure skater and commentator, how could she possibly lead a proper PR campaign for "Canada's sweethearts"? Its ridiculous just thinking about it.

    PS - I noticed IMG mentioned earlier. Do you know whether IMG approached VM before/after Olympics for management? And if so, who re-buffed them? VM, SC or the families?? I have a sad feeling VM are going to fade into oblivion after their amateur careers, as most of their competitors have been set up nicely for professional careers and endorsements. VM just have some long ago Roots deal that went nowhere and a Body Shop deal headed the same way.

  39. I would love to know what you think happened with the Roots deal, Oy Canada. So weird how it apparently has fizzled. Do they even wear Roots anymore?