Wednesday, December 14, 2011

How do they do that without Debbi there?*

Members of Team USA wish us a happy holiday season.

How do they do that?

I guess the US has advanced technology.

*Or PJ, or Barb.

P.S. - I don't think this outreach will go over well - there's no dumb ass catch phrase like "Are you ready."


  1. I've read quite a few comments on the skating forums about the deplorable state of the USFSA. If they think they have incompetence, what in the world would you call SC? They're a zillion times worse than anything the USFSA does.

    Just compare this really nice video to anything on Skatebuzz, where as you correctly point out, it's all about Debbi and other various SC executives more than about skaters or reaching out to fans. The SC incompetence is mind-boggling. And from the information on this blog, it would appear there is a lot more than just professional ignorance and incompetence going on in SC. It seems there's also a system of politics for personal gain and corruption. Are the Canadians too nice to demand some accountability?

  2. I think the figure skating world in Canada is insular and inbred top to bottom and everybody has known the current officials forever. God forbid anyone be brought in from outside "our crowd" who was competent - these current people would be out of a job. A lot of the complaints about the USFSA is oh woe, they only care about money and not the art or the sport of it - but if the money isn't there not much of the other two is going to be either. I actually find it healthy that the USFSA skaters occasionally whine about the Fed - that means at least that they're adults and they're not all in the land of Stepford Wives or some fraudulent, Orwellian utopia.

    With Skate Canada, everybody knowing everybody and it all being a crony thing means protecting your friends. At skater-level I wonder what it means, however, and if all of the skaters and their families are on board with how this is managed.

    Debbi's style - all of the on camera stuff - treats the skaters as if they're "special". Not special as in extraordinary in the conventional sense, special as in differently abled, and we're differently abled too, mentally. We're all slow. Everything has to be enunciated, helpful faces made so we get the point, Debbie emotes her interviews, she doesn't interview - she acts them out.

    She has to check in with the lens (us) to be sure we're hearing this and marveling and it's all pitched at an audience they think is simple-minded and never leaves the yard.

    It appears to me that Skate Canada's pr preference for telling and not showing is about controlling access to the skaters and allowing the audience to experience them only filtered through the SC official's personalities - which is absurd. It's some kind of quid pro quo that seems built into the game - if we want to see the skaters, we have to get Debbi, and Debbi gets to use them to promote herself. Barb has worked that way too - HPC was about creating a credential for herself - not about seeing the skaters.

    In the video above we get a little glimpse of everybody's personality - not their personal lives - their personality. That doesn't happen in Skate Canada. Instead they're instructed to TELL us about their personality, or we're told. Why - because the access is so restricted we can never see for ourselves - without Debbi. Or it's ridiculously scripted so Debbi may as well be there (the "are you ready" embarrassment). So the skaters wear t-shirts with a personality trait on it ("Determined" "Strong") but the photos are in 2-D. PJ Kwong asks skaters to describe things in a phrase. Who gives a damn PJ - we need to see these people. Show and not tell, that's a basic. We get nothing when someone says "One word - excitement!" And it's horribly patronizing. Skate Canada believes that word association is what marketing is about - just say the words and we'll associate those words with whatever the picture they put in front of us. It doesn't work, but they haven't come up with any other idea - possibly because they're uninterested in any idea that doesn't require the on camera presence of non-skating personnel.

  3. A little more Debbi - another fan recently mentioned something that had turned them off and since it had turned me off too, I figure there might be more.

    In an Olympic-season interview, Debbi asked them about their early days together. Scott talked about holding Tessa's hand back then. Debbi turns to the camera and goes "And Tessa was probably saying "a boy - ewwwwwwww." and then she turned to the camera with a big clown grin.

    Debbi - shut the fuck up. I don't want to know what you think. I was so pissed at that - I wanted to hear what they would actually say, not Debbi ham-handedly both putting herself into the conversation, putting words in their mouths, AND clearly having a brainstorm that her little "ew" interjection would make "us" out here all "relate" to the children little Scott and Tessa had been. SHUT UP. These are small, occasionally charming moments that are rare enough in the control-freak interview environment of SC - don't finish their sentences, don't put words in their mouths, don't create something they're not putting there.

    It got on my nerves. I never said anything because - how petty. Too picky. But then almost two years later another fan used it as an example of something Debbi did that totally turned her off and got on her nerves. She bulldozed right over their responses because she thought she had a great idea.

    It's like when she stomped in on a later interview and said "GREAT PARENTS!" when the question was for Scott and Tessa.

    Debbi - shut UP. YOU are not being interviewed, and you're not them. Don't do that on camera. It's freaking annoying.

    Stop PANDERING. You're not the pander-genius you think you are.

  4. Tessa and Scott's website domain is now registered to IMG. Interesting...hopefully they have them managing them now!

  5. It is?

    I guess a first sign will be if "coming soon" means "soon" or means "we're embarrassed we let the domain renewal expire and so we shelled out the $11.99 for another year for fear some crazy fan would take it first."

    I still hesitate to imagine they'd ever go with IMG considering the PR they've got now is like a train VM are pulling loaded down with friends, family and SC personnel, and their operations strategy is in conflict with basic business ethics.

    But hope is eternal!

  6. "still hesitate to imagine they'd ever go with IMG considering the PR they've got now is like a train VM are pulling loaded down with friends, family and SC personnel, and their operations strategy is in conflict with basic business ethics."

    Is it possible a reputable company like IMG would allow V/M's specifically created "bubble" to go unaddressed? I can't imagine - but this will be very interesting to watch.

    Who knows what the hell happened to the Roots' deal, but I did quetion whether V/M had been upfront with them, from the beginning, about their reality. When they signed with Roots, V/M were very much in the public eye within this sham. They had announced a coming book, the facebook output was abundant, they were continually talking about how they weren't a couple. Did Roots take all of that at face value and only later discovered things were not as V/M were portraying? Did that kill the Roots' association?

    If they have indeed signed with IMG, I hope everything is not only in the open with them but they have a sensible strategy for moving forward without these lies.

  7. Perhaps it was the opposite - possibly Roots anticipated that the sham would be a thing of the past sooner rather than later, and perhaps at the time Tessa and Scott also thought they'd be revealing their actual status in the near future.

    If Tessa and Scott later realized they could get through the season without coming clean and so opted to carry on, Roots may have decided it hadn't signed up for an ongoing hoax that was getting more compound by the month, and so all parties amicably went their separate ways.

  8. Who is providing clothing for team members of Skate Canada? Could Tessa and Scott have run into a conflict between the providers of the official team clothing and Roots?

    I really hope they have signed with IMG.

  9. The Skatebuzz "GPF Spotlight" videos are real gems. They look like grade 5 "my favourite activity" presentations...bad ones that is, no need to insult the children.


    Those are horrible!

  11. With regards to the videos, the one that bugs me the most is Debbi with Carolina Kostner - I mean really...all sorts of wrong..oieee...

  12. Interesting how they lose their major sponsors, they don't seem to be capable of getting others, and yet they seem to have no inducement to put up professional-looking and sounding videos nor to improve their pathetic website that frankly, is an embarrassment to SC.

    I think you're spot on that these guys know they have job security and there's no need to actually, you know, DO a job. It doesn't matter what they produce or what they're doing for their skaters or the fans who love Canadian skating. The SC officials are in - regardless of results. They can spend their time sucking up to skaters like V/M and promoting skaters who are going nowhere, like Jessica Dube.

  13. But it also seems to me that Skatebuzz is some kind of Debbi perk in the guise of a Skate Canada website. All that stuff can go on her little Debbi Wilkes dvd or Wilkes Consultants, Inc. web page down the line.

    It feels like an incentive for her that they're pretending is the SC web page but it really isn't and was never supposed to be. When it started it was exciting because it focused on Thornhill, skaters spoke directly to the camera, and I saw Browning, Bourne, Tracy Wilson and others. Subsequently, when I'd go back to the site I'd see a headline about a competition and expect to see comp video and instead it would be Wilkes talking to some other boring person ABOUT the competition in front of some dreary background. And on it went like that. That's not a SC webpage. Event the advertising for upcoming Canadian competitions seems half-baked.

    It's impossible not to see that if you want the skaters, you have to get the personnel. That's more than lazy, or complacent. If they were lazy and complacent Debbi wouldn't be there all the time. It's important to DEBBI, isn't it. She makes sure she's there. Which makes one suspect the actual purpose of Skatebuzz was to promote Debbi.

    Thompson is the one doing all the supposed business-development, and some type of low-profile, shoe string infrastructure. Debbi and Barb are doing totally different jobs and their Director titles are fig leaves.

    oc, not logged in

  14. I do hope that V/M have signed with IMG. They probably read/heard all the complaining we've been doing. Then we don't have to discuss SC's lack of competence as much. but lol imo we're still gonna discuss SC & their fail!plans regarding JD

  15. "I do hope that V/M have signed with IMG."

    I wish.

    When the comment from upthread said the website was under IMG I got excited. But I can't say I'm seeing any indications that they've signed with anyone like IMG, or that anything is different from the established status quo. Someone had said probably the website was retained by V/M mostly so it wouldn't fall into the wrong hands, not because anything in their management is necessarily going to change.

    Unless someone out there has seen/heard something else?

  16. ^I don't think VM are with IMG as in on their Olympic athlete client roster - if they've got regional associations for particular facets of their career that's different - I don't think this changes anything or is any different from the past.

    ^ anon upthread, I watched Wilkes' Kostner interview and dear God. Kostner herself was charming and genuine as it gets.

    When Kostner mentioned hoping in the future to be happier with her skate, Wilkes decided to have an ostentatious teaching moment. She told Kostner that she had once asked an elite - very elite, very top level - figure skater to do some homework for her (WTF?) she asked this skater to ask figure skaters they admired how many times they'd had a perfect skate.

    And do you know what they said? asked Debbie - putting the microphone in Caroline's face like she was in second grade and expected her to answer. And of course Caroline was all "uh - no."

    And then Debbie enunciated the lightbulb moment - maybe ONCE these skaters felt they'd had a perfect skate.

    Thank you Debbi, for that "a ha" pitched towards people who repeated pre-K.

    Where does she get off? Why is she shoving herself into the interview? Debbi is all mannerism, unctuousness and pandering, NO brains. Nothing genuine.

    She's like the queen of kiss ass for the slow! That question was rhetorical, it was also a simple story that could have been related in like half the time and minus the do you know what they said. Debbi's posturing is so obnoxious - sharing little nuggets of life wisdom for our edification. She's a phony. Learn to tell the truth, Debbi, then you can work on this other shit.

    Of course, this brand of laying on the oil is probably what got her in good with whoever can do her good in the first place but I think she needs to change up her game. Who would suspect somebody with the demeanor of a kindergarten teacher?

    Use your business development voice Debbi. The adult voice. The one you use when you have dinners and meetings with prospective sponsors.

    Oh I forgot you don't do that.

    oc, not logged in


    here is Skatebuzz's happy holidays... just to stay in topic

  18. "here is Skatebuzz's happy holidays... just to stay in topic"

    Copying, much?

    I wish SC didn't so often come off looking like the USFSA's poor relative.

  19. For what it's worth, the clips were filmed during the GPF -- the USFSA uploaded their holiday video on December 13.

  20. ^^ I'm the Anon who said SC wasn't comparing well to the USFSA.

    I did realize this had been taped during the GPF and before the US clips were posted.

    But I stand by my opinion that the overall production of these things coming out of SC is of inferior quality and many times they look like a poor rip-off of some idea they first saw somewhere else. It's not like these Holiday greetings aren't done every year. By now they should know how to make them look attractively professional.

  21. Well, the passing of the microphone around or holding it isn't as nice as relaxed skaters just speaking to the camera.

    Obviously both spots were filmed during the GPF.

    What grates with SC is they TELL us what the fuck it is. REALLY? The "World's Best Figure Skaters Have A Special Holiday Greeting for You!"

    That goes to the compulsion to TELL us everything. Listen SC, we get it. The snowflakes, the time of year, the words of figure skaters saying "Happy Holidays" - we KNOW. And what is very special about it? The fact that it's the world's best figure skaters? So therefore, by definition, the world's best figure skaters wishing us happy holidays is special and you don't need to add that part - it's redundant. Those were ordinary holiday greetings.

    I think SC thinks everybody is "very special" in a not good way. You're special.

  22. And it also, to repeat, drives me insane - and I'm not alone - that Debbi uses her skater interviews as a personal platform. She's their self-appointed psychologist and she's also a self-appointed interpreter - if we didn't have her, we wouldn't understand these skaters. They and we need her help. Which she interjects very very conspicuously. She'll hijack the exchange as she did with Kostner - she's just horrific. Self-aggrandizing and patronizing beyond belief. And what I want to know is - when did she decide this was okay? When did she decide this was a useful contribution? When did she conclude SHE was the one who ought to give them advice? The self-satisfaction, ego and hubris there is distasteful. She's not a skating star or personality a la Kurt Browning who, to the audience, is a star in their own right. But she assumes the entitlements and perogatives of one by making herself a component of the interview.

    Not to mention her words of wisdom qualify her for a third-rate fortune cookie concession.