Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Very Cool News(letter)

Skate Canada's Above The Crowd has come out, with peppy accounts of HPC and summer weddings. It has a real "family newsletter" feeling and tone.

Here's a screen cap of the Above the Crowd HPC photo page - remember the originals posted on twitter were all blurry. Go to Above the Crowd and click on them to get a good look:

I can't without a magnifying glass, Barb.
Oh gee you can't. Just a bunch of small un-click-able images.

There's a new feature  - Summer Weddings!

Craig Buntin's wedding rates a guest list in Above the Crowd, but Annie's does not. Annie, who, like Director of Corporate Communications Barb, lives in Ottawa and works at SC as Manager, Marketing and Sponsorship, was just grabbed to serve as a blind for the Jessica/Scott drop in Craig Bunton's wedding write-up - the only reason the "Summer Wedding" write-up is there is to drop Jessica/Scott. Annie is the equivalent to somebody grabbing their secretary to round-out a dinner table.

And incidentally, Craig Buntin's wedding announcement and a more substantial guest list was released to icenetwork earlier. There, "Jessica Dube, Scott Moir" were listed one after the other among the roster of guests. Here, Barb, Skate Canada is more sophisticated, throwing in a mention of Annie's wedding first (no guest list). Then Craig's wedding, with of course a guest list, paring the list of guest mentions to only four - Jessica's name first, two others in between, and Scott's last. How can anyone keep pace with that kind of subtle? When we consider how popular summer weddings are/were with Scott and Jessica in facebook albums and profile pictures, I expect "Summer Weddings" to be an Above the Crowd staple until after Sochi.

Barb also tweeted about Craig's wedding. I didn't see her Annie wedding tweet. They really are such a family. Craig was not a member of Skate Canada's 2010 Olympic team and he retired before Barb was officially appointed Director of Corporate Communications, yet she gets a wedding invitation. That's TIGHT. I mean, Barb MacDonald is tighter with Craig Buntin than Tessa Virtue is to the Moir family! Tessa got no invite to Danny Moir's wedding this past spring, but Barb was on the spot for Craig's. I think it's sad Tessa is so unpopular she is at almost no summer weddings but Scott and Jessica are always invited.

I also looked again at Debbi Wilkes' credentials for her job as Director of Marketing and Sponsorship: Here's a screen cap of Skate Canada's 2007 announcement of her appointment:

Former national pair champion and Olympic silver medallist Debbi Wilkes joins Skate Canada’s staff as Director of Marketing and Sponsorship.
Inducted into the Skate Canada Hall of Fame in 2001, Wilkes will be based in Toronto and responsible for working with and servicing Skate Canada corporate partners to maximize dialogue between existing and new partners. She will also facilitate the renewed interest in the sport to foster its growth and enhance the image of our sport organization through her existing relationships.
“Skate Canada is ecstatic to have Debbi as part of our team,” said William Thompson, Acting CEO of Skate Canada. “Debbi brings with her such a wealth of experience and expertise from so many areas in the sport of figure skating. From her work at CTV/TSN, to her role as a team leader, to her knowledge as a technical specialist and, of course, her experience as an elite athlete, Debbi is a tremendous asset to our organization. She is universally respected throughout the figure skating community.”
So many areas of ... expertise? Except ...  MARKETING AND SPONSORSHIP.

It must be all in the HOW she works with and services them.

She's been outstanding at "facilitating the renewed interest in the sport and enhancing its image". One year after the Vancouver Olympics and an unprecedented gold medal in ice dance, this is how Skate Canada leveraged its Olympic success: Skate Canada lost BMO after a fifteen year relationship - already lost Homesense directly after the Olympics - and Artistry and others went bye bye too. Their World Champion Patrick Chan can't afford the college of his choice and is organizing his own fund raisers. He's down to one sponsor.

I kind of expect Patrick to be strong-armed into some "wonders of Skate Canada" talking points fairly soon after revealing the above.

Man, Skate Canada really leveraged the Vancouver Olympics into all kinds of revenue opportunities.
Roots has informed an inquiring fan that they are not currently working with Scott and Tessa.Who knows why, but what happened to that "four-year engagement"?

Canadians wasn't exactly sold out. And if Skate Canada has a new title sponsor for 2011-2012, it's not been announced.

Given the above, I expect some type of Salute To Debbi Wilkes accompanied by a promotion/honor and vote of confidence to emerge from Skate Canada and/or enabling third parties any second.

Because, as far as putting out a wealth of sham material and getting her mug on camera - Debbi has been outstanding. Here is her big talent:
Debbi walking, eyes straight, cause the camera is all about the skaters.
She's just personnel.

Man, Debbi must be equipped with a motion sensor.
A very very specific kind of motion sensor.

The camera resumes moving and Debbi resumes walking
a step or two ahead of the lens; eyes front when she's blocked.

Are we sure she didn't play football when she was at Michigan? 
Her ability to find the hole is eerie.

Oh Bill. When a hole opens, you STEP INTO IT.

Bill, Bill, Bill.

I imagine that as Skate Canada is one big family, it is run like many big familes. There's mommy's favorite, the scapegoat, the attention whore, the moody one everybody is afraid to confront, the control freak, the one who manages to slither out of taking any responsibility and turns it around, the one who won't listen to a word against the other one, the ones in charge who refuse to deal with certain things or change anything even though it's freaking everybody out over the mess that will be left behind when they're dead, and a whole bunch of secret-but-not-secret stuff nobody acknowledges or talks about. Like a family business - you know, where mom and dad use their control of the business to control the kids, including their personal lives, where this one shits gold bricks no matter how they fuck up and that one can't do anything right no matter how hard they work or how effective they become, but don't say a word against it or about it cause nobody's listening.

It might be interesting to figure out who the Skate Canada Directors' council is - who put Thompson in his position - and trace those qualifications/relationships/history. It might be nice to know the annual budget too. The USFSA lists theirs.

Hold up - news bulletin from Barb Above the Crowd! Skate Canada has come up with a family-friendly, very cool promotional/fan-outreach venture!

Skate Canada Trading Cards!
I hope the demand doesn't crash Skate Canada's website.

Above the Crowd also says Bryce Davison "officially" retired in 2011. Last I read, Bryce gave an interview overtly correcting Skate Canada's previous article listing him as officially retired. Now Above the Crowd repeats that it's official. Meaning - he will not test out his jumps and knee when his healing is complete, nor - even if he can perform - will he be putting out feelers for a new partner. I will wait for Bryce to confirm, to see if his retirement was bought with a nice commemorative photo at HPC and some opportunities for high profile participation in Skate Canada.


USFSA Director of Communications Barbara Reichert:  USFSA Director of Communications

Here's the USFSA Department Directory and Staff: USFSA is an Actual Organization

Special mention of the background of David Raith, their Executive Director. Oddly, he is not a former figure skater, figure skating judge, and corporate lawyer. His qualifications have direct relevance to his responsibilities at the USFSA:  Executive Director, USFSA

Notice the relative transparency. Annual budget and a breakdown, in specificity, of day-to-day responsibilities of his department. No empty generalizations or weasel words, no artful (or inartful) dodging.


  1. "I hope the demand doesn't crash Skate Canada's website."


    David Raith is top-notch, regarding both his qualifications to run the USFSA and his vision for the future of skating in the US. What's particularly impressive is that he's selling his product in a down economic period and he's doing it exceptionally well. Nationals set records for attendance last year, and that was without any major stars (no Evan, no Johnny) attached to the competition (Meryl Davis and Charlie White are fabulous but they, nor any of the other skaters, are nowhere near Michelle Kwan-levels of popularity).

  2. I thought Tessa and Scott signed a 4-year contract? What happened?!?

    These entries about Skate Canada have been most informative. It's very disturbing to realize how incompetent they are. Take the "Above the Crowd" newsletter. Still sent by email only to those who sign up, like the way things were done in the 90's (the younger generation is so not into email anymore). Small, crappy pictures that can't be enlarged. News that isn't news (we've seen all of it already through either the SC website or other outlets). This is typical of the way SC "shares" with the fans. I've griped about this for years.

    Their stingy sharing with the fans has been tolerated because we figure we're lucky to get anything. However, it's scary to look over the way you've been breaking down all this SC stuff and see their absolute, asinine handling of their sponsors (which they lost), their focus on personnel and not skaters, the handling of their biggest stars (V/M, Patrick Chan). Something stinks over there at SC and the skaters are the ones paying the price.

    Oh, and skater cards? What are we now, grade-school kids? LOL

  3. I actually think skater cards are good for marketing to kids (though I agree they're very age-limited), which is of course one thing SC needs to focus on when trying to expand on their public appeal. But I sincerely hope they're doing *more* than just that to reach out to kids. A lot more. And not just to kids who are members of local clubs, but to kids who are not.

  4. I imagine the cards will be interesting to the skaters' families and home clubs. Other than that, who cares about this? This is promotion of the skaters only to a very small group of people and probably not at all to anyone not personally connected to the skaters. I know I won't be running out to get skater-cards (nor would I be getting any to give to anyone else).

    What I would love to see is lots of pictures of the skaters from HPC and from the competitions (on and off the ice). SC never delivers.

    It looks like Debbi and her friends have been busy designing cards instead of getting real Sponsors. And WTH happened with Roots and V/M?

  5. One wonders if SC officials get their own trading cards too. Wouldn't that be fun? It would be like, "how many Patrick Chans can I trade for a Debbi?" Her card seems like it would be worth more to SC given the amount of time she spends on camera relative to the skaters.

  6. "I imagine the cards will be interesting to the skaters' families and home clubs. Other than that, who cares about this? This is promotion of the skaters only to a very small group of people and probably not at all to anyone not personally connected to the skaters. I know I won't be running out to get skater-cards (nor would I be getting any to give to anyone else)."

    Bingo. Everything about this is so insular. When you're in need of more (any?) major sponsors and fans, the point is to reach out to the public beyond the skating clubs.

  7. I love the way this blogger has been finding Debbi and Barb stealing camera time through Scott and Tessa. Lol

  8. If Debbi and Barb get their own trading cards, wouldn't their faces on the cards have to be perfectly spaced between a shot of Tessa and Scott or other star skaters? LOL.

    Maybe there could be a trading card of SC's personnel dressed in Christmas sweaters, arms around their skaters, a la family holiday fun. I WOULD SO PURCHASE THAT CARD.

  9. I though this blog was about Jessica/Scott/Tessa love triangle??? It seems to have become more about Debbi and Barb!?!?

  10. There is no Jessica/Scott/Tessa love "triangle".

    Jessica and Scott have a fake relationship, Tessa and Scott have a real one. Debbie and Barb, as Skate Canada's Directors of Marketing and Sponsorship/Corporate Communications, help fake Jessica and Scott's relationship. Barb dropped a sham plant right in the current newsletter.

  11. I find that hard to believe but whatever...people get their kicks in different ways!

  12. "I though this blog was about Jessica/Scott/Tessa love triangle??? It seems to have become more about Debbi and Barb!?!?"

    I take it you haven't actually read the blog, then. Or you've just let your assumptions about the blog and blogger prevent you from actually reading through the posts.

  13. "I take it you haven't actually read the blog, then. Or you've just let your assumptions about the blog and blogger prevent you from actually reading through the posts."

    Ohhh I've read through it and I think anyone who believes this is bat shit crazy.

  14. Clearly, you haven't read it if you think the point of the blog has anything to do with an actual love triangle (since that's never been proposed by the blogger), or don't know why Debbi and Barb are being included in the discussion.

  15. "I love the way this blogger has been finding Debbi and Barb stealing camera time through Scott and Tessa. Lol"

    It is funny, but at the same time it probably is also a good indication, like this blogger says, of the level of self-absorption and ineptitude of the SC officials.

    How the hell did SC become involved in V/M's private business? It's positively revolting to see these little SC fingerprints (Debbi? Barb?) all over the Scott-Jessica "relationship." There are all these little "mentions in passing" deliberately linking S-J together, or other enabling moments (like that outrageous photo-call moment after the Olympic FD, or announcing it over Skatebug). I have to agree that SC most definitely seems to be very involved and invested in promoting this story to the public. They're exhibiting an astounding lack of professionalism. There's also the issue of all the lies and their active endorsement and promotion of the lies, and continually adding more and embellishing them. Whatever happened to integrity? And this also continues to beg the question - who is paying for all the traveling involved in their ridiculous schemes? Someone with $$, and willing to spend it on this, is pulling lots of strings to keep this going.

    Meanwhile, SC is losing sponsors left and right and they've just put out another one in a long series of stupid "Newsletters" that looks like something produced by a neighborhood kids' club. Even my local high-school puts out better quality editing, news stories and pictures.

    I am so disgusted. Is there any way to have SC investigated by ANYONE who could demand some accountability?

  16. I get TS not being big enough fish to care about (from a journalistic point of view), but corruption at Skate Canada is a different issue. CBC does do excellent investigative reporting on certain topics, but as an organization overall they can make incredibly short sighted decisions (for eg, continuing to pay Don Cherry way more than he's worth). I'd like to think they'd look into this, but I don't feel confident that they would.

    How aware would investigative journalists be of this issue? I'm talking those not directly related to sports broadcasting. Some of those tv shows welcome tips from viewers.

  17. Barb used commas when she listed the guests, instead of listing "Jessica Dube and Scott Moir" as a unit. This is called a "work around". Skate Canada covering its professional ethical ass via a technical dodge, but still pushing the Scott/Jessica sham on two fronts - icenetwork.com and Above the Crowd.

    We all know Jessica and Scott love having their photos taken together at weddings and tagging "Jess" for fans to see them. "Jess" routinely slapping a Scott/Jessica-are-a-couple-at-this wedding-event photo up as a public profile photo on facebook - all summer they've laid the groundwork for Barb's sham drops.

    Poor Annie Bellemare's (no guest mentions!) wedding item in Above the Crowd is a blind.

    I love that the latest Scott/Jessica scam is planted in the oh-so-cozy family-style Above the Crowd Newsletter. All concerned really are whores, I'm sorry. They'll use birthdays, weddings - even their own family weddings - the Skate Canada family! newsletter to sucker the public - nothing is sacred.

    We just listed the guests! We used commas! It was totally random that icenetwork.com had Jessica and Scott listed one after the other. Look at Above The Crowd! Their names aren't even next to each other!

    Yeah, and Jessica and Scott remaining as only two of the four guests Above the Crowd named was happenstance.(The ice-network list was more extensive.)

    They are such weasels. Really really stupid weasels. I'm glad to see Barb's carried her Christian ethics over to Skate Canada. We know Jesus is all about the technicalities. I'll have to check One Way Ministries to see if they worked this morally gray "get around it" strategy in their Christian outreach.

    Those HPC photos are typical too. Above the Crowd uses its latest issue to reinforce the sham, and as our sweetener, provides the HPC photos everyone's wanted to see; but too tiny for anyone to see them. We can't click/enlarge like we can with every other photograph in the internet universe. Maybe nobody wanted us to "stick" on the photos - maybe they wanted us to move on down to "Summer Weddings."

  18. but what about journalists who do not work on a front where fans are involved? surely an organization who takes government money for corrupt purposes is a story that is newsworthy and has little to do with fans at all?

  19. Media-wise, figure skating is a cottage-industry sport. Even when it was popular sportswriters didn't really know much about it, not even those all over it (like Ed Swift of Sports Illustrated). CBC shows Skate Canada figure skating, and the media is not exactly on the side of the public when it comes to many issues anyway.

    When Scott and Tessa are finally revealed as the committed couple and family they are, if the years of denials are addressed at all the media will patiently explain to the clueless public the reasons some public figures choose to deny their true relationship status. We can't expect to understand - we're fans. The media does, and public figures do.

    The media isn't even paying attention - this is all fan stuff. Fans are lower than low in the eyes of most of those in the public eye as well as those in the media. And figure skating fans! Oy!

    Haven't we all read little potshots in the media about "uber fans"? Skating fans referred to pretty directly as a bit over-enthusiastic and over-invested? Fans are nameless and faceless - there's no benefit for the media to suck up to fans - there is to write sympathetically about public figures.

    Now, many figure skating fans ARE all those icky things. But this particular Scott/Jessica hoax has, as one comment said beneath a past post, gone off the deep end. It's wandered far far off the reservation. It's amateurish, nasty-spirited and obnoxious, and the smarmy hypocrisy is nauseating. It's also unethical. What the hell was Debbi Wilkes doing commandeering the Kiss'nCry at the PNE to stage a hoax the night of the free dance? The PNE wasn't Skate Canada's front porch that night. It belonged to the IOC.

    But - when this is over - none of the ins-and-outs will be talked about - the media will focus on the most sympathetic context and ignore the egregious and exploitative character of this entire enterprise. If it's alluded to at all. And Scott and Tessa are nice people who obviously felt bad about having to lie.

  20. "And Scott and Tessa are nice people who obviously felt bad about having to lie."

    And you know what, as far as Scott and Tessa go, I wouldn't mind in the least if this is how it's spinned for them and it goes no further. SC, however, is a different matter altogether. It's disheartening to think they would never be exposed as inept and corrupt or that the media and the public at large wouldn't care. I hate the thought of SC getting away with this.

  21. "Investigative journalism" is rare in the States. I imagine it's the same in Canada. News organizations have slashed budgets and are slaves to a (less than) 24-hour news cycle. The hit-and-run entertainment media model has crept into news "reporting."

    A news cycle has no beginning/end thanks to twitter and the rest of the web. Who is going to spend the time and effort digging into a figure skating federation? Where's the market for the story?

    If someone were to tip off a tabloid, the tabloid would likely bite due to Scott and Tessa's youth, beauty, sex appeal and the soap opera, but, as tabloids pay for info, they'd get a spun version from people who spilled the goods on Scott and Tessa from an unflattering angle. It's doubtful people close to them would take money to rat them out. Those who know who would take the money would also likely make up what they didn't know (motives, dynamics, etc.).

    For me, among the areas of curiosity are SC's financials. Why are Barb and Debbi doing marketing theatre but no actual major marketing?

    It's self-promotion, staging stuff and bullshit. What really seems to interest the Marketing, Sponsorship and Communications Directors is getting their hands on Skate Canada's figure skaters. Barb and Debbi live up their figure skaters' hind ends.

    The sense of trying to rigidly control how these skaters are presented is oppressive. It leaches the personality out of SC's skaters at events like HPC.

    The USFSA skaters at Champs Camp were relaxed. Despite having pre-set questions, the rhythms of the interviews were natural, and the interviewer responded to the answers in a natural way.

    While I respect PJ Kwong, she asked her pre-sets mechanically, directing which skater should answer (if she was interviewing a team), and when they recited their answer, she'd utter a rote "That's great!" or "Wonderful!" no matter what was said. Not that anybody said anything that wasn't canned. No Mirai Nagasus here.

    The skaters standing next to that Skate Canada logo board often had rigid posture and fixed smiles.

    If you look at the media/marketing/communications infrastructure and department responsibilities at the USFSA, it's clear neither Barb nor Debbi is accomplishing any of the business their titles would suggest. Especially Debbi.

    Is the pay so little nobody qualified could be found? Why is there such a gigantic gap between the credentials of Skate Canada's CEO and the USFSA's executive director? What's the budget, what are the salaries - is Canada lacking qualified candidates for these jobs? Why did someone like Mike Slipchuk - a high performance director - hold forth about creating stars, as he did prior to the Olympics. How was he qualified?

    It appears that after the Olympics, Skate Canada expected Scott and Tessa would solve all their problems. That seems to be the alpha and omega of their public relations. So much that Barb and Debbi ickily paste THEMSELVES to Scott and Tessa - attempting to generate positive public relations for themselves and enhance their own status by proxy.

  22. What gets me is how much SC blames the public for its problems. In the past they've claimed that the public thinks skating is too soft, or is too focused on flash and not substance (code for GAY!), so they were setting out to correct that image by emphasizing how tough it is, how hard the skaters train, and focusing on acts of speed and power. "No tassels on the costumes, boys! Tell them about how you like to date girls, that when you fall on the ice it hurts, and that you can move faster than football, basketball, and hockey players! (We don't have any actual data for that but we're pretty sure it's true so say that anyway.)"

    SC can't sell enough tickets to the public in a country that's just had a successful Winter Olympics in which three of it's big stars were figure skaters, and that prides itself on it's winter sports - especially the ones on ice. But SC can't sell out arenas, even for Nationals, unless they take place during an Olympic year in London, Ontario, where half the population is somehow related to their ice dance stars. In the United States, a country that does not see itself as a winter sport powerhouse, that, including college athletics, has six major sports leagues that dominate the American athletic landscape, the USFSA set attendance records at Nationals with no marquee stars on the roster. Why? Because David Raith came out in 2010 and said "these are down economic times, skating is a niche sport, and because of that we're going to redirect our approach towards the public." He didn't blame the public for any problems related to ticket sales or overall popularity, he simply talked about the economic realities facing Americans and that the USFSA needed to acknowledge that and work to make skating accessible for them in other ways. And they have, and it's worked incredibly well to bring new fans to the sport.

    SC officials spend all of their time pasting themselves to the sides of their stars and selling those stars on their personal story rather than their skating. Or, if they do talk about skating, it's all about how it's a tough sport. It's all such a backward approach. If fans are pissed about how the federation is being run, they should voice their displeasure. Demand more competent leadership. Especially if their tax dollars are going towards any government funding of the organization.

  23. Skate Canada's Directors are either not qualified with a nonexistent learning curve, or they're inept. Take this "masculine thing".

    Here's something I wonder when it comes to that masculine/tough thing. Did they really think it would work? Or was it more a matter of - if it works, it works, if it doesn't, it doesn't - but it will reassure the skating clubs and parents, send a signal that Debbi is on their side. Debbi understands parents don't want their kids on ice with a bunch of gay guys. Well, actually, the problem is the parents don't want anybody thinking junior is gay. And Barb was a great add on - she doesn't believe in gay at all. Gay can be prayed away.

    There's more than one route to job security. One is being good at your job. Clearly, that one is out of Debbi and Barb's reach.

    Another is to pander to people whose support you need. Debbi seems to have chosen this with her "tough" campaign -aimed straight at the gay panic that is apparently part of Canadian Skating's culture. Don't get rid of Debbi! She understands we don't like gay stuff!

    If Skate Canada is making money - eh, that's secondary.

    The "marketing" done by Skate Canada's two directors in the general area of media/public relations/sponsorship/communications is so cursory I am beginning to suspect they were hired only to reassure the skating moms and dads and get their support. They do that by pandering to their (presumed) paranoia, insularity, bigotry and parochialism. The parents are reassured, and let it be known they love Debbi. Skate Canada's financial bottom line is full of holes? Oh well. Economic times are tough blah blah blah. It's the public's fault, the economy's fault, it's Own the Podium's fault.

    In another thread I mentioned that Skate Canada seems to function like Albany in New York State, or the days of Tammany Hall. It's a crony-driven organization where who likes who is more important than what gets done. It's who has your back. I don't think financial health is really what Debbi's after - or any of these Skate Canada officials. They're after making themselves secure in their positions.

  24. Anyway, even setting the above aside, money remains an interesting consideration. The following is only speculation.

    Debbi was hired in 2007. I'll guess Skate Canada's budget isn't big. It did have a major sponsor in BMO that had endured through several regimes of SC officials, so maybe William Thompson concluded BMO was a SC-personnel-proof, lifetime sponsor. SC also had other seemingly die-hard sponsors.

    Did Thompson really need to hire a credentialed marketing person just to babysit these partners/sponsors? That's expensive!

    The Olympics were coming. Olympics in Canada. In 2007 Skate Canada knew they'd have a young, fresh, good-looking team, a number of whom were likely medal contender; one team a possible gold medal contender. Did they need a real marketing person to solicit new sponsors when new sponsors would be falling into Skate Canada's lap after Vancouver?

    Maybe that was the calculation. Hire a figurehead who came cheaper than an experienced, credentialed marketing professional. Give her the title, but she really doesn't need to nor is she expected to do marketing. She needs to keep the rabble pacified - the rabble at the skating clubs and the sheep they hope will fill the stands at the arenas. And that's really it. So somebody who knows their way around both figure skating and a camera is really all that's required - not a real marketing/media/public relations infrastructure.

    Call me cynical, but I could see a corporate lawyer thinking marketing is kind of a b.s. job and you don't need to be a real professional to do it. Especially not if you're sort of all set in the sponsor and future sponsor department, as Skate Canada appeared to be.

    But then BMO and others went away. And new sponsors didn't fall into their laps after the Olympics. And the public isn't crowding the box office. And the people in place have no idea what to do about it, because they're not credentialed, or experienced, or connected properly, and they're not professionals at the supposed jobs they perform. They're event managers. Debi is more what you call "talent." Barb is sort of a glorified internal memo writer.

  25. "Debi is more what you call "talent." Barb is sort of a glorified internal memo writer. " LOL

    I don't think it's accurate to suggest that Canada is like the US re: investigative journalism. CBC does excellent reporting on several fronts. The problem is that's only one part of the organization, and I don't know if they'd get the green light when CBC Sports is so involved with figure skating. Plus their investigative side seems to specialize in international and parliamentary topics. I don't know that Skate Canada would qualify as a Big Issue. But I think anyone who watches CBC, and to an extent CTV as well, would see a big difference in the depth of the news vs the big US networks. There IS less flash, more substance. JMO.

    (sorry if too off topic, it's just if I have any hope at all for this coming to light, it's with the Canadian non-sports journalists, not the tabloids)

  26. My eyeballs rolled clear into the back of my head when I saw Craig Buntin's wedding announcement and strategically mentioned guest list on icenetwork.com. No matter what, Skate Canada doesn't understand it's the same people reading all this stuff. It's not compartmentalized. There's not one group reading the interviews in the mainstream media and watching on television with no overlap with those looking at skating web sites and social media. There's a big section reading all of it.

    Skate Canada has no business being up to its teeth in the Scott and Jessica fraud. No matter what. What have they done lately? Tried to figure out ways to go forward and not get caught.

  27. What saves Skate Canada is the current obscurity of figure skating. It is not big enough to matter anymore. Nobody in the mainstream cares that it is all falling apart. BMO, Nabisco, Artistry and Roots just hit the road and never looked back. The CEO of Skate Canada could run naked through the streets of Ottawa and never get noticed or reported outside of the local Crime in the City column.

  28. ^ I agree. Nobody would care.

    Skate Canada gives off the impression of an understaffed, self-impressed, mom-and-pop operation run on a shoe string, and they've just discovered some cool apps on the internet (circa 2002, say) and have run up their own advertising showing it off - and forgot to clean up after themselves.

    They give off a duality in their tone - "we're a family" but one of those families that are smiling and sugary on the surface but toxic and controlling underneath. I found the demeanor of the teams being interviewed by PJ Kwong - Virtue/Moir and Moore-Towers/Moscovitch - disconcerting. Canned answers, canned sounding, with smiles pasted in place. Meantime the USFSA makes no bones about being a skating association, not a family, yet all of their skaters seemed comfortable in their own skin and their personalities registered as real. Last season, interviewed by Wilkes, Moore-Towers rattled on when she answered questions - but was telling a real story and putting across a real point of view. Now she stands with a fixed smile and spits out little sound bites. How does this help? The USFSA skaters are fun. Skate Canada skaters are robots.

    But, the weirdness is, despite this shoe-string, amateur-hour feel, Skate Canada is a major skating Federation and, historically as well as today, a big player on the international scene. Perhaps not of interest to the media, but as a Federation they weren't created yesterday. How did their marketing and public relations come to this?

  29. What I don't understand is why a federation with three huge stars (four if you include Joannie Rochette, who isn't actively competing right now) in the skating world can't do more to market them to the public in a country that loves it winter sports. I know the federation isn't getting huge amounts of government funding, but despite that they've got the top male skater and dance team in the world. All of whom are young, at the top of their game, and are helping usher the sport into a new era (in ice dance, particularly). All three of them are also attractive and personable. And yet - SC does very little to market them to the public outside of their backward campaign focusing on Tessa and Scott's personal journey with its "don'tcha wish they were together?" emphasis.

    I get that when it comes to Tessa fighting through the chronic condition with her legs, the woman is a badass. She is. But it's time to move on from that in the press. Focus on the skating. Tessa and Scott are doing INSANELY COOL stuff on the ice right now. And look at how popular dancing shows are on television. Tessa and Scott are doing a samba on ice! Canadians love their sports on ice! Think about the marketing potential in that alone. Come see these two ice dancers! They're attractive, the best in the world, and they're taking all these things the public loves about dance and translating it to the ice! I'm sure some figure skating purists will cringe at the thought of marketing Tessa and Scott that way, but the point is to get butts in the seats! Bring in the fans by focusing on the skaters and then, when they get there, teach them about the sport.

    Figure skating will always be a niche sport, but it doesn't have to fall into total obscurity. If nothing else, a different marketing approach is worth a shot. SC has the skating talent needed to sell the sport to the public. The federation itself just needs to quit cutting off its nose to spite its face. And the blame for that starts at the top.

  30. Skate Canada seems more focused on convincing us Patrick and VM are huge stars (look - a scrum) than actually marketing them.

    They don't know how. Debbi Wilkes is not a marketing person. Barb is a word generalist - she helped One Way Ministries "find the words." The stuff Barb tweets, or puts out in Above the Crowd - that's her area. The other area is what everyone at SC can do in their sleep - stage an event and operate a venue during an event, understand the logistics of an event.

    Marketing and public relations they don't know what they're doing.

  31. "Marketing and public relations they don't know what they're doing."

    And there's absolutely no excuse for that. But SC's found a way to blame the public for their poor ticket sales anyway.

  32. The whole De-Gay figure skating thing is not going to go over very well with the Showbiz crowd. Maybe Skate Canada is running up against resistance. Marketing and Promotional incompetence I'm sure also plays a role as glaringly obvious from the new "Sinking Maple Leaf" logo.

  33. Now my opinion may be unpopular but haven't you thought that the mentions, the guest list and everything mentioned is just SC and V/M way to stop romantic fans from hallucinating?
    If you had a relationship with a certain person and half the country wanted you to get hooked with another wouldn't you try to make it CLEAR?
    There is no person,expect for naive pre teens and romantic soap opera fans to believe that Skate Canada who is known for its manipulation,PR tactics,creation of scandals,etc, wouldn't capitalise on the relationship of its two most popular ice dancers?They'd milk the cow right her and right now.V/M relationship would be for SC a cash cow!And they would promote it like there is no tomorrow.Even if the skaters themselves didn't want to do it,SC would.We're talking about a federation that thrives on personal stories.What's best then?
    V/M are no saints for me,they're playing their little game,they're making fans believe that there is a conspiracy,they stage everything,off ice,on ice, they even have choreographed hugs at the end of their programs.See how impulsive the russian and french teams are,and then look at V/M.Everything is part of the impression they want to create.
    Why wasn't Tessa a guest to the wedding? If she was,which is what us fans expect,it would be normal.Nobody would say anything.So why hide it?It's absolutely ridiculous.It's more probable that Tessa and Scott and their families just don't have the relationship SC let us fans think they have.They could very easily hate each other guts like most of the other teams.But this is not what they sell.They sell connection,and bond,and smilies,and blinking eyes,and fans swooning.
    Why hide a relationship that would help their cause? Why did they hide her relationship with Pelletier after all?The funniest part is that while everyone knows, they are ordered to just shut up.
    Where is their Roots contract?Why Roots signed for 4 years and then backed off...Is it something they learnt?Is it something that isn't suitable for their company's profile?I mean ,come on, it's so staged,it's so fake,and that's why I never like SC,but for completely different reasons than most people here.

  34. Last anon - in VM's case, I KNOW that they are together and Jessica is fake.

    As for the rest:

    "There is no person,expect for naive pre teens and romantic soap opera fans to believe that Skate Canada who is known for its manipulation,PR tactics,creation of scandals,etc, wouldn't capitalise on the relationship of its two most popular ice dancers?They'd milk the cow right her and right now.V/M relationship would be for SC a cash cow!And they would promote it like there is no tomorrow.Even if the skaters themselves didn't want to do it,SC would.We're talking about a federation that thrives on personal stories."

    You just made your own case for why VM have chosen to hide their relationship and for Scott to fake it with Jessica. Every figure skater in Skate Canada is either too blinkered to push back against the egregiously STUPID ideas put into action by Skate Canada's public relations "professionals" or they're too chicken/meek/robotic/over-obedient/not paying attention to push back. So of course, rather than say - no, I don't want Skate Canada exploiting the hell out of my private life, they'd go - okay, we'll make UP a private life and a platonic passion to market, AND a fake relationship for Scott.

    That's Skate Canada all over. There is no there there, and not half a brain cell to be shared among the skaters and the officials when it comes to public relations. All their premises are too ridiculous to even merit consideration, yet their operations are based upon them.

  35. "Last anon - in VM's case, I KNOW that they are together and Jessica is fake."

    Reading this specifically has me thinking that I'm sure some people will say that's not enough to convince them, because it's your word on the situation and they can't take that as fact. And I used to be one of those people. Until I really sat back, looked at everything, and realized that I was letting myself be manipulated by marketing tactics that are some of the oldest in the book. Meaning - faking a relationship to hide a real one. It's done quite often.

    SC's marketing tactics are horribly limited and a bastardization of how this kind of stuff SHOULD be done, but nevertheless, they're taking fans for a ride and they're doing it on the backs of their star skaters. PT Barnum was right. There's a sucker born every minute. And that sounds really condescending and of course, it is in a sense. But it's also the basis for all marketing and PR nowadays. People's opinions are manipulated all the time, whether it's about a product, or a politician, or whatever. Where I'm from, there was a recent scandal involving an athletic coach who was accused of being too harsh on his players. And the family of one of the players who was accusing the coach actually hired a PR firm to spread their opinions about this coach as fact not only in the press, but on message boards and around various fan venues also. Was it fact? No, but the PR firm produced an entire campaign to make it seem that way. Eventually, someone inside leaked the emails between the PR firm and this particular family, and the truth all came out. And lo and behold, lots of fans were like "I believed what was being said was true and it's really not? I can't believe I fell for that." But why wouldn't they have fallen for it? PR firms are good at what they do, and a lot of it in this particular situation was done via the internet.

    I don't understand fans who say "there's no way what you're saying is possible because SC wouldn't need to lie, or if Tessa and Scott were really in a relationship they wouldn't want to hide it, they'd want to shout it from the rooftops! Their coaches would love it and want to tell everyone about it as well! They wouldn't want to fake anything. They wouldn't go to the trouble of putting stuff on the internet to mislead fans. That would be a logistical nightmare! It would take so many people to pull that off it's not feasible or believable! It just doesn't make any sense!"

    All assumption on the part of a fan based on his or her worldview. All assumption regarding what the skaters or coaches are thinking, feeling, want, or need.

  36. Fans who argue that one thing is absolutely impossible (meaning, that in this case Scott would never use a fake relationship to cover up his real one or that his federation wouldn't help facilitate that) because they themselves can't imagine WHY it would be done, are immensely limiting themselves. I don't always understand why some people do things, but it doesn't mean I choose not to believe something isn't possible because it doesn't fit into my worldview.

    What is clear is that SC sucks at marketing and PR. One only has to look at ticket sales and a loss of major sponsors to see that. The proof is in the pudding, because the USFSA has found itself in the same economic situation AND with a lack of any marquee stars, and yet it has managed to make a profit, bring in new fans, and keep it's sponsors. What is also clear is that over the past year and a half, since statements about them lying became more prominent online, the people running this relationship sham have reacted to it time and time again. That was followed by contradictory statements in the press, backtracking, and other kinds of suspicious moves that IMO, scream "WE'RE GUILTY OF WHAT WE'RE BEING ACCUSED OF" (not to mention the fact that SC has helped facilitate so much of this with skatebugg, the post-Olympic display, and so on). There's a difference between plain internet rumor spread by fans, and year's worth of moves by Tessa/Scott, and SC that people familiar with marketing and PR can see through immediately.

  37. [PR is about selective emphasis, not about being a fraud.]


    From the beginning, way back when they were juniors, when people were very interested in whether Scott and Tessa were an off-ice couple, they could have started practicing saying "No comment - We don't comment about our personal lives - We'll talk about our skating and leave it at that...." By now they would have it down so pat and no one would expect it to be any different. There are so many ways they could have asked the media to back off, we see it all the time with other public figures. It's asinine that instead they became part of a circus.

    I agree - SC is STUPID.

  38. I don't think Skate Canada is actually DOING any marketing and pr! I think they thought the Olympics would take care of that for them, automatically, and that longstanding sponsors would never go anywhere.

    Oops. Now they have nobody in place to turn things around.

    Those NOT familiar with pr and marketing include Debbi and Barb. They rip off what they see others do without understanding the operating principles or the what "not" to dos; they mimic an end result without understanding the importance of context. The premises and assumptions upon which they base their actions are ludicrously flawed.

    These people don't even understand lying. The more elaborate and frequent the lie, the more chance of getting caught or tripping yourself up. Scott and Tessa couldn't stop tripping over their own bullshit after their Olympic win.

    Without intruding on personal lives, the USFSA and icenetwork make their skaters seem accessible. They had skater talking heads from Champs Camp, talking "freely" to the camera.

    Skate Canada is rigidly controlling and oppressive and appears to be trying to have all of their figure skaters present themselves like robots; limiting the audience's experience of the skaters while aggressively pushing Skate Canada and its personnel as the entities of interest.

    Looking through Barb's tweets and Skatebuzz, it's clear her one idea is 'scrum' as an exciting image to put out there. Never mind that it's asinine to present a scrum at a figure skating performance camp in early September. Even the 'scrum' at Worlds in Russia was low key, mellow. No forcing skaters into a tight shot against some Federation logo and instructing media to stick out their recorders and crowd them. The post-practice media interaction at Worlds came across as a relaxed conversation.

    But Skate Canada stages scrums in Mississauga in September using the crisis image model? They're idiots.

    I think one reason the Scott/Jessa fake-up is so completely overdone is the people in Skate Canada's so-called marketing department have nothing else to do with their time. Virtue/Moir are also "stars" so they're obsessed with Virtue/Moir as the sum of their marketing plan. They don't have a plan B because they didn't even have a plan A.

    Do they even have an Exit Plan? I'm almost scared to think what it would be, they are so ridiculous. But, if I were to bet, I'd bet they forgot that part. I think they probably expected everything to work a whole lot better than it has, and for that success to naturally take them to the next steps. Instead nothing's working, sponsors are gone, and Skate Canada is an empty (pants) suit.

  39. "These people don't even understand lying. The more elaborate and frequent the lie, the more chance of getting caught or tripping yourself up. Scott and Tessa couldn't stop tripping over their own bullshit after their Olympic win."

    YEP. And then they took their platonic relationship story bullshit, which had changed over time because they kept tripping up over it, put those lies in their book, and asked fans to pay money for it. AND insisted in interviews they were being sincere in what they were saying in the book. Sorry, but no.