Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Somebody shared their thoughts on Skate Canada, public relations, Skatebuzz and HPC in a more measured and comprehensive way than I'm about to talk about it, and after I vent out my rant below, I'll share their point of view in another post.

About High Performance Camp:

Watching Skate Canada go about what for want of a better word I'll call its "business" it seems to me that promoting itself (Skate Canada) and promoting the officials (Debbi and Barb) takes precedence over promoting Canadian figure skating and figure skaters in a way that engages the public. Skate Canada wants to be very visible, very "busy" about what it's doing, impress people about how good the current officials are in their jobs, particularly Debbi and Barb, but it seems to me these women SIT ON THEIR ASS when it comes to other responsibilities as reflected in their titles.They don't know what to do with themselves other than event management (a logistics job) and telling us how cool Skate Canada is or impress with how big time it all seems.

The recent High Performance Camp promotion is a case in point. The USFSA had its Champs Camp immediately prior. Many of their skaters, already on twitter, tweeted entertaining photos from the camp-like activities (teams dressed up a la classic US television), funny volleyball, off-ice goofing off, and a great twit pic of a late night pizza delivery. All seemingly straight from the skaters to us. When video interviews came up, the skaters were interviewed in a hallway just off the ice, it seemed, and the interviewer was not visible. So again, no visible filter between the audience and the skaters.

Of course the USFSA was all over Champs Camp. But they KNOW THEIR JOBS on the promotion end. We didn't SEE the USFSA all over everything - they did some tweeting, but the "experience" part of it came largely from the skaters.*

But Skate Canada wants us to see - Skate Canada. To show how very busy they are - ON CAMERA. How professional it all looks -  a scrum (that word scrum is so inside-baseball too)! Look - the directors milling about on-site, overseeing the action (on camera)!

And - I love PJ Kwong, but she was just as visible in the interviews as the skaters. Skate Canada really wants those bodies between the skaters and the public, doesn't it? It's funny, when the WSJ and NBC did segments with Virtue/Moir after the Olympics (and other skaters) JUST THE SKATERS were on camera.

Barb and Debbi appear to want to brand Barb and Debbi with the public, so the public will see Barb and Debbi as their touchstone and conduit to the skaters. What a wonderful public relations scheme by Barb and Debbi - for the benefit of Barb and Debbi. If there's an apparent priority to anything either of these women do as they perform whatever their duties are supposed to be, it's self-aggrandizement and job-protection.

So what happens at HPC? They, too, have 'team building' exercises -  an activity that's usually promoted at the earlier summer meeting. But nobody's on twitter, so Skate Canada's twitter account tweets poorly lit, out-of focus blackberry captures from the HPC "fun and games" with "amusing" captions in flagrant imitation of the USFSA skaters' tweets (Let's face it, that SC twitter is likely Barb). Barb, as Barb, also tweets this:
I don't know who the fuck any of the people are in this photo.
What's supposed to be very cool? The way awesome back-lighting?
Is there anything we CAN'T see in a stock photo?
Part of the fun and games was a contest drawing Skate Canada's logo. I can just picture the congratulatory back slapping over that one.

Mostly Barb and the others seem intent on promoting themselves, concertedly branding themselves in these jobs with the public, while DOING SHIT.

Barb, one of the few Skate Canadians ON twitter by HPC (hey, why encourage the figure skaters to be on when the officials are already on?) linked to a Skatebuzz video of practice (with the worst, youtube audio-library-type audio track in the WORLD) with the tweet "What's been keeping me busy."

I still don't get it Barb. WHAT has been keeping you busy? Why are you all up in HPC? You're the Director of Corporate Communications. HPC from the media end is all about sports media and the usual figure skating groupie-cum-reporters catching quotes and writing up pre-season blurbs. Did you round-up a whole bunch of potential sponsors and persuade them to attend/observe the awesome? 

If Barb and Debbie are really glorified show-runners, venue managers and bullshit artists (not really artists - hacks), then WHO the hell is doing the business development, sponsor-solicitation, etc.?  Debbi's marketing contributions appears to be telling skaters to start emphasizing how tough this sport is. (They key word now is "masculine.") Skate Canada also seems to have a vague idea that it would be effective to tell everyone that figure skating improves your hockey playing.**  And of course, doing a change-your-off-ice-partner-and-dance hoax perpetuated through social media. And -- what else, that isn't just logistics?

Once HPC was over, apparently Skatebuzz leaned on all of its figure skaters to get themselves on twitter posthaste. And figure skaters did, openly sharing that their Fed wanted them to get on twitter.

So Barb and Debbi are paid at least partially to "us too" what the USFSA has just successfully done (that Barb and Debbi didn't think of doing themselves), but half-assed and too late.

The Canadian Skating Federation is one of the major players in the international world of figure skating. It has a magnificent history. It's currently run like the Skating Federation of DumbFuck. It reminds me of Albany in New York, or the days of Tammany Hall. Cronytown.

If anyone is interested, I'd encourage them to look up the USFSA officials in jobs similar to those held by the familiar faces at SC. Look at their qualifications and background, look at what they seem to spend their time doing, and look at their faces to see how familiar their faces are to the public. Look at the challenges they face - no different from those facing Skate Canada. And look at recent attendance and television ratings for U.S. Nationals versus Canadian Nationals.

I think when this is all over, Debbi and Barb will have a comfortable retirement, be familiar faces they can capitalize on as consultants, they will market their previous association with Skate Canada to a fare-thee-well to get consultant fees, and Skate Canada as an organization will be on its ass with no coherent marketing plan, no competent public relations infrastructure, half-empty arenas, low television ratings and still "not enough men."  Barb and Debbi though, will be doing GREAT.***
*And, their body language was relaxed and natural, their faces animated and expressive, their remarks at least seemed extemporaneous. Not like Skate Canada, where they smiled like pageant robots, stood more or less rigidly in place and we could see the seconds ticking by in their eyes, waiting for the encounter to be over. Their facial lines seemed tense, their responses neat little bumper stickers. Programmed can't come close enough to describe them.

**Canadian Figure Skating. Still Not Gay.

***I have a question, and it's not rhetorical. When I read Canadian skater stuff, I read that there's not enough men. There's never enough men in figure skating, but it really seems to bother Skate Canada SO much. But then I look at the Skate Canada skating disciplines. Skate Canada has had two different men's World Champions in 3 years, and they have a very promising junior guy coming up. They have the Olympic gold medalists in a young ice dance team, and a fairly strong ice dance roster behind them. And it turns out there are a number of strong N.A. ice dance men on the loose too, partnerless. Ice dance men. ON THE LOOSE. The world is upside down! Out of nowhere, pairs is suddenly on the upswing and instead of the high maintenance, mood-case champs exemplified by Jessica Dube in D&D, the two top teams are hungry, driven and eager to take risks.  But then we get to the women, where the Skate Canada junior national champion can do ... a double axel. The American junior national champion can do triple/triples. The RUSSIAN National Champion, who is younger than the SC junior national champion and ineligible for the ISU international senior scene this season, can also do triple triples and everything else. As can at least two other girls in Russia, including their Russian junior champion.

Are Skate Canada's skating programs not making enough money because there's not enough guys? Is that it? Why are they so obsessed with men?


  1. What the hell am I looking at in that photo? Are they setting up for a Justin Timberlake concert or something? Beyonce?

  2. "Canadian Figure Skating. Still Not Gay."

    Is this the new tag line for this season? If not, I suggest "Skate Canada - now with %50 more acts of speed and power!"