Friday, December 9, 2011

Oh okay, it's the Canadian people's fault

Patrick Chan stirred up a hornet's nest in more than one spot with his recent remarks about CANADA not supporting figure skating.

And here I thought Canada was such a fabulous figure skating country, much better than say, the United States.

I'll say up front I think everything Patrick said is part of Skate Canada's own internal spin. I.e.:  It's the public's fault the sponsorship situation is bleak. Patrick just parroted it in his own comments. William Thompson rushed to blame the Globe & Mail and demand an apology, but I believe this "the public doesn't support our skaters even as good as CHINA" bullshit is Skate Canada's attempt to spin the fact that its business development "department" is a house of cards. I think even the sleepiest of SC members must be wondering WTF at this point (where's the title sponsor on the horizon), so cue the excuses.
This is their Director of Business Development on the job today.
I just don't understand why Skate Canada's Director of Business Development is interviewing, playing the role of talent at an international competition.  Anyone who knows what the job entails knows a real one would be doing anything but.

Business Development isn't a a job that leaves room for being Team Leader of the skating team during an OLYMPICS while serving as the talking head on Skatebuzz for every high profile skating event during the season. Debbi's not doing that job.

Well - she is doing her real job. Being Director of Business Development is her fake job.

The reason she has time for all the other crap is she doesn't know how to do the job she supposedly has, isn't expected to do it, nor qualified. She doesn't do it, and hasn't done it.

Just blame the Canadian public for any economic failures. We already know what they think of the Canadian public every time we look at photos or wall posts from Jessica Dube's first facebook page, every time we see video from Canadian competitions at 2009-2010 - or look at Ryan Semple sitting next to Tessa at this season's SC.

I think SC wasn't at all surprised by what Patrick said because I believe they've been saying it to any skating parents or media that question them, to the skaters themselves, to the entire infrastructure. NOT OUR FAULT.

Another flag - Skate Canada's swift response to "manage" what Patrick said. Including Rosie DiManno out today with a kiss-ass piece on the apparent "controversy" that the Big Bad Globe & Mail so unfairly created by taking Patrick out of context. And then Barb MacDonald kissing Rosie's ass. It's very over the top - so very like Skate Canada when they're running bullshit.

Patrick's words blaming the public got tons of play at one of the few time periods when figure skating gets widespread coverage. It's the public's fault. Got that?

Skate Canada makes a show of horror and Yay Canada. Still, Patrick's comments are everywhere. Even in the demands for retractions, the message is repeated.

This is Skate Canada's actual attitude. There's them, and there's the homophobic, sheeplike, needy, dumb-ass Canadian public. They have to run all kinds of bullshit just to get these people into the arena. It's not the fault of the skaters, Debbi, Bill, Mike, etc. that the folks are this simple.

At the same time, when they reach out to this unappealing public, the public thinks they want to be friends. Well - ew. No, we just want your money!

So let's feed them crap.

This strategy, though, hasn't been working, and there's noise from skaters about $$ problems. Skate Canada is running around naked, no title sponsor. They need to account for what's going on and they're not going to say it's them.

They now piously declare Patrick's remarks were out of context. It's self-righteous, and William Thompson postured his head off. Nobody at Skate Canada would EVER use the Canadian people as an excuse. Never ever.

This is classic spin.  The key is get the message got out there. Then deny it.  But the message got out.

I know from the 4CCs that the louder SC gets about something, the more likely it is something else is going on. In this case, Patrick's remarks, in exactly the context presented, represent precisely what Skate Canada believes. So of course, Skate Canada is going to make noise in the opposite direction.

It's the public's fault. It's the culture's fault. It's not Skate Canada's fault. They're making a big show of oh-the-horror - neither we nor Patrick would ever blame Canada. But that's exactly what they do. They've been setting up the public, treating them like the "other", lying to them and hoaxing them from the day these officials got their jobs. How do you manage a strategy like that? Pander and kiss ass. Go overboard with Canadian patriotism in public.

Whose fault is it the sponsorship situation is a wasteland and the til is running empty? NOT THEIRS. It's their job to oversee things like that, but the sad truth is, the economy sucks, and if you don't buy that as an excuse, how about Canadian culture is not as supportive of figure skating as China?

Love the comparison to China too - that's convenient. Probably less convenient to point out the USFSA fortunes aren't nearly as dire despite the same crappy economy and a public not in love with figure skating either. It's not like Skate America was packed.

What's the difference? Sponsors, and qualified people at the USFSA doing their job. They understand what they're doing. But it would be extremely discomfiting for someone like Chan to point out how much better the USFSA manages things on the $$$ end in similar circumstances. Then you might get answers that put SC in a bad light. Unflattering comparisons might emerge.

Nah - it's  a cultural thing! China's people are more patriotic, they're proud of their champions, unlike Canada!

Culture. That shit can serve our purpose. Cause who knows anything about China?

Not Patrick, it looks like. ("Human rights violations? I was never told!")

It's not difficult to suspect that in 2007, when Debbi was hired, she was hired to do what she does - pander to the rank and file, suck up to Canadian patriotism, play Everywoman on camera smiling in wonder at the lens, and do all she can to cover up for Scott and Tessa's relationship and do the necessary for any other celebrity figure skater SC hoped would emerge from the Olympics. But how do you give a title to "Director of Manipulating the Public"? That kind of gives a negative impression.

Debbi's Director of Business Development title is just a title, like a secretary who can't type or a mobster who shows up in the back office and is on the phone with his bookie and his crew all day while his payroll "job" is operations manager - a job he never does.

In 2007, Skate Canada's long term title sponsors had stayed sponsors through different SC personnel changes; the Olympics would only solidify these sponsor commitments to SC for years to come and lead to other sponsors competing to join them. So a real person in the Business Development spot wasn't necessary. William Thompson can do all the business stuff and Debbi can skater-wrangle. Get it done by giving her an impressive title and bleat on about her glorious non-qualifications. Just look at Debbi's title and then at what she really does, and understand how much prep time goes into what we see her doing. The two - the job responsibilities implicit in her title, and her on-camera activities and other tasks are not compatible.

Skate Canada CEO William Thompson has called upon the Globe & Mail to retract, claiming it misrepresented Chan's original remarks.  I don't know why the Director of Corporate Communications - Barb MacDonald  - isn't the voice of Skate Canada for this matter - isn't that her job? What is she paid to do - tweet under SC and Skatebuzz and write a newsletter?

This is the second time William Thompson has stepped in to personally address a matter that falls under the responsibility of one of his other Directors.

He talked about finding sponsors when that's the job of Debbi Wilkes. Debbi's never been camera or quote-shy.

I believe it was Mike Slipchuk who post-Olympics said their pre-Olympic athlete development was smoke and mirrors because there was such a short run-up to the Olympics, but now they'd get serious. I don't know if he  meant "serious, serious" or serious as in "We've put our athlete development ideas and conclusions into colorful-celeb-skater-photo-illustrated coffee table book form and why don't you take a look!"

Smoke and mirrors is how SC does business and how it does a lot of things, even though it's more like smog.

ETA - in re-watching Virtue Moir interviews, I was struck by how often they used the word "unique" to describe their relationship.  I imagine in their eyes, their relationship, combined with what they believe to be their prominance in Canadian figure skating, coupled with their attitudes towards Canadian fans and the figure skating world, paired with the fact that they apparently were always intended to be Skate Canada's flagship couple and would have to get out there and whore themselves out for revenue purposes, puts them in a unique situation that justifies their lies. Then you factor in Tessa's comfortable-seeming assertion that the reality of their sport requires them to lie about things like her shins, lest the judges' perception be influenced, or lest the judges have an excuse to undermark.

I believe they have taken their so-called unique circumstances, and Tessa's history with compartment syndrome, and complacently used this as an umbrella justification to lie about everything. They lie as they breathe. Lying is their policy - all swept under "this is our sport." It's another entitlement. They've cooked up enough excuses to justify not ever telling the truth, to go out of their way to lie, to outright market lies. They've also determined that the lies go over well if they really push the disingenuous, un-worldly "kids" angle - this is how they'll be embraced by the older figure skating demographic, and also how they'll get over. Their reality is they are actually more advanced off the ice as well, in many ways, than their peers.

It really is toxic, a certain insularity and complacency coupled with a sense of their own uniqueness and superiority - and entitlement. For "their sport" - everything is on the table. Everything is justified. Even making dupes out of their public.

The reality is, lying is their default inclination, not their training. They are naturally private, and as "stars" are enabled -  provided every rationale on the planet to lie lie lie, rationales they embrace because they're not comfortable in the spotlight off the ice. They've got it backwards, actually. They want to hide, and look for reasons to do so. They don't have reasons that make hiding necessary to this degree.


  1. Skatebuzz is mostly about getting Debbi on camera with the skaters. More videos right now of Ms Wilkes interviewing the skaters (GPF in Quebec this weekend.) Why do they fill up that website with this kind of stuff? Is this the only way for the public to hear from the skaters during a competition?

  2. What's really notable is Debbi's on-camera duties are completely incompatible with her official job, which is Director of freaking BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT. You can be one or the other, not both, especially not with Skate Canada in a sponsor-crisis. The point here is WHO the hell is doing Debbi's job? You CAN'T be on camera, be front and center at events - and do the job she supposedly is tasked with performing. Period. So who is doing it? Anyone?

    I'm sure William Thompson is on it, as he's really the guy doing that stuff - and so effectively.

    Another note - Rosie DiManno, snarkmeister and noteworthy tabloid-esque reporter, has now crawled into the tank furnished by Skate Canada. Barb MacDonald complimented Rosie's piece on Patrick Chan.

    Having known American media types similar to Rosie - a "reporter" who can be vulgar, inappropriate, insensitive and sometimes randomly hostile, crushing on various subjects, fast and loose with actual facts, more of a personality than a journalist - there is one extremely easy way to get on their good side. KISS THEIR ASS. Be really nice to them. Especially if they're prickly and not widely liked. Rosie is that type.

    Skate Canada obviously got on that one swiftly with Rosie during Vancouver 2010. Rosie now gets to be one of the secret-keepers and on the inside, which will make her beyond happy.

  3. Question for you, OY: Do you think all this bad PR and insular game playing is now starting to backfire for V/M? I ask this due to the clear judging and coaching favouritism showed to D/W this year. With the ridiculous world record in the SP at the GPF, it is obvious Igor is doing some hardcore politicking for D/W. I think the skating community, including their coaches, is starting to tire of V/M's "act" and skating choices.

    Not only is it time to hire a proper PR firm, it is time to call it a day at Canton. They just don't seem to be growing with their skating anymore, it seems quite stagnant and this Funny Face program just doesn't cut it.

    They really need a life shake up if they do intend to go to Sochi. Time to grow up, end the Jessica debacle, admit they are a couple and stretch their skating style into a new direction. I really love these two and to see them wasting away due to the bad advice from their families and SC is hard to witness.

  4. I disagree about Canton or scores are due to Igor's politicking. Who could improve on Igor/Marina? Look what happened to Tanith and Ben when they left - Tanith's skating didn't improve, their scores went down, and they finished a place lower in Vancouver than in Salt Lake.

    I think the coaches have nothing to do with this - this is all on V/M themselves, and their Fed, if there's a "this".

    I do think D/W is getting score inflation but if politics plays a role, V/M and Skate Canada have set themselves up to receive a political spanking without help from Igor/Marina.

    It's more that I think D/W are being held up a lot than V/M pushed down, as I think V/M have been fairly scored. They're better than D/W. But any politics would be a reaction, possibly, to the politics V/M have played, not Igor's. At the end of the day, Igor/Marina have to deal with, accept, work with and work around V/M's relationship with their Federation and the decisions VM have made about their public relations, and the decisions VM made last season. Igor and Marina also know enough to know when they need to stay out of something.

    I think they've handled it brilliantly, and they're also smart enough to treat the skaters like adults and if unhappy consequences occur, that's really on V/M.

    The Olympics was and has been spun in the media and within figure skating as a razor thin, too-close-to-call event when the truth is V/M were the gold medalists by better than 5 points over D/W in Vancouver, with D/W skating lights out in both programs and clean. And, I think that's about how it should have happened.

  5. In this weekend's GPF V/M were five points behind D/W in the short after they fell.

    If politics are behind what I consider D/W score inflation, I don't blame their coaches, I "blame" V/M and their Fed and the game playing, going back to 4CCs. Skating is a small community, as Tessa reiterated in some interviews I was re-watching recently. And I definitely think judges are only human, and they do let biases, subjectivity and possibly politics to a degree influence the scoring even with CoP.

    If politics are at play, V/M have set themselves up to be bitten in the ass by politics for sure, because they've played politics with the ISU and they have taken lying to the public (while bragging on their sincerity) to an extreme. That's not so good. They'll be gone after Sochi, leaving this mess behind for others to manage.

    There's a good chance some judges did suspect V/M didn't sit out the GP last season due to her shins alone, knew or heard via the grapevine the reasons V/M would be sitting it out anyway shins or no shins, and found their free dance gambit in the 4CCs quite audacious.

    Meantime, D/W. All the positive publicity they're bringing figure skating - the Japan fund raiser event for instance (Tessa and Scott weren't part of that because they're not with IMG but they DID visit Japan to make $$$ for themselves just prior to Worlds when they shot the Hyundai commercial). There's D/W's conspicuous status as eager college students, never complaining, never bitching about the judging or the scores, changing their Le Strada program (which Charlie, especially, apparently - really wanted to do) after feedback from their own Federation, and in general conducting themselves with humility and good sportsmanship, like they're gunning for the ISU's good citizen award. Everyone around them puts every foot right with the public. We can't say that about V/M.

    D/W replaced Le Strada with music that finesses their lack of organic dance ability. Their new music dances all over the place - it's not a theatre piece, it's a dance program - which the ISU has to be happy about.

    So is V/M's a dance program - and more challenging and sophisticated musically - but that's expected from them.

    Politically - V/M's approach is more "we're the best, we're going to do what we think is best for us from $$ to whatever story we feel like putting out, we will patronize the hell out of everyone in our interviews, and if we don't feel like talking we'll go AWOL and nobody will know what the fuck is going on with us until we feel like talking again. We're unique and we're the best."

    Okay - but the world of figure skating, including judges, is only human. If D/W skates well enough to close the gap and make it a matter of fractions, will they get the edge?

    These are thoughts - not even theories.

    VM's skating style is fine. They have had new directions all the time. New direction in dance is about rhythm, not theme and costumes or even specific steps. Tessa and Scott have skated a lot of different rhythms within their programs the past few years. Ice dance is not theatre and story - because dance is about relating the rhythms of the body and the steps to the rhythms of the music and nobody does that at a higher level of intricacy and difficulty than V/M, and they have more variation, rhythmically, than many other ice dancers. If one removes the costumes and musical "story theme" from many other supposedly more diverse skaters, you'll find that within the music and movement itself they are working within a pretty narrow range and lack V/M's range. V/M's range is extraordinary and Igor and Marian have showcased that.

    Off-ice, however, V/M have acted like divas, made a mess, ignored the mess (in publicity terms), played fast and loose, and could D/W be benefiting?

    Maybe. Is it Igor and Marina's fault? No - they're the best coaches in the sport and they know how to win.

  6. Their PR mess just gets more embarrassing with Scott's pathetically inappropriate "p*** off" comment at the press conference. The V/M image is becoming more toxic by the moment.

    A poster on FSU commented on Tessa saying to Scott "I don't want to tell anyone else yet" before their E/X performance. Wonder what that is about? UGH. I feel like a People magazine reporter. I need a shower ;)

  7. I agree that V/M are getting scored correctly and D/W are perhaps getting a little inflation. I don't think it has anything to do with their coaches, either. The Canton coaching situation IMO is excellent for both teams.

    Like someone upthread said, it's hard to witness the direction V/M have taken due to bad advice and decisions. I hope they don't compound these bad decisions by entrenching themselves in arrogant attitudes (Scott's "piss-off" comments after the FD at the GPF). Both V/M and D/W have usually been classy and gracious in any public comments about each other. Scott's comments sounds to me like the entitlement they've had about lying is spilling over into other areas. Now he's feeling entitled to publicly complain about scores and trash his friends/competitors. No matter if he was misunderstood, the fact that he felt free to make these comments is showing that lack of discipline and integrity in dealing with the public.

    IMO, V/M will continue to lose that reputation of being classy and gracious until they fix this mess they're in with all the lying and attitudes of entitlement. Meanwhile, I agree that D/W haven't put a foot wrong in the PR area.

  8. [The V/M image is becoming more toxic by the moment.]

    I think it's amazing it's taken this long for their image to begin getting toxic. When you consider the disgustingly inappropriate facebook shenanigans they started way back in 2008, and only intensified in the years following, it's incredible they lost no public luster.

    Sure, I know facebook is not the general media and so it was confined to the social media. But like Tessa herself pointed out, the figure skating community is small, and you know damn well this community has always been well apprised - just like Scott and Tessa intended - of Scott-Jessica's intimacies, on public display for the pleasure of both fans and skating community.

    Although I love this team, I can't say I feel sorry for their image taking a hit if it will push them to cleaning up their act and getting a PR program that's based on integrity and not lies.

  9. "Look what happened to Tanith and Ben when they left - Tanith's skating didn't improve, their scores went down, and they finished a place lower in Vancouver than in Salt Lake."

    Absolutely untrue. Tanith's skating DID improve, in several ways, but a combination of factors, including the fact that Linichuk tried to package them in a Russian style that didn't suit their natural strengths AT ALL and politics (they were clearly on the downswing with the judges after Tanith's fall in the CD at Worlds that led to them switching coaches), caused them to drop in placements.

  10. Well, well, what a banner week this has been for Skate Canada, PR-wise. Sheesh.

    In looking at the FD scores, I agree there's likely some inflation happening for D/W, but man, Scott, you're already up to 112 points with ten 10s in the PCS. I agree that V/M are the better team and certainly the more artistic skaters, but that's not exactly a shitty score for December no matter how you look at it.

    Everyone has a right to let off steam but doing so in a press conference like that, sitting next to your training-mates, friends, and biggest competitors, who have always had your back in the press, looks petty and entitled, even if the comments aren't being taken as they might have been intended (both teams seem to be genuine friends and get along very well). In PR and media, it doesn't matter what the intent of an original comment might be, it matters how it's received. This isn't being received well and it's no surprise.

    One thing I've always appreciated about Meryl and Charlie is that they handle these kinds of moments so diplomatically. If they don't get the score they hoped for, or something went wrong, their answer is usually "we'll work harder" or some derivation of that kind of comment.

  11. IMO Meryl and Charlie have shown a lot of compassion and forbearance as friends and training mates of V/M even before this event. Kudos to them.

    I'm uploading a new post - it's a video only because it deals with both concurrent and sequential VM media output both social and mainstream, and video was just the most efficient way to deal with the topic. It certainly lacks much merit as a video. BUT when looking at the elements for it, really listening to what interviewers said, and then reading Olympic-era articles, it struck me how often the media would dump shit on fans. Fans were a pretext and a scapegoat for VM's pr and the media colluded.

    In print media in particular, the pieces often pointed to internet fans as basically foaming-at-the-mouth for Virtue/Moir to be together.

    So print media was able to read enough online stuff to declare internet ubers were frantic for Scott and Tessa to be a couple, but somehow missed the numerous message board references to Scott and Jessica's facebook output.

    Which of course means, they didn't miss it. They're aware of it. Hell, there are members of the media on the facebooks as friends and still are. And yet never in any of their post-Olympic interviews did any "journalist" even one familiar with the figure skating circuit, ever ask Scott to talk about his romance with Jessica Dube, or ask if Jessica ever got fan-hate because he was with her and not Tessa. Nope, Jessica had no relevance in any VM interview even when they were interviewed by someone who'd interviewed Jessica in the past. That's not the pattern of entertainment media unless the topic has been ruled off and the media understands why.

    Which they do.

    Anyhow - back to this - entitlement and corruption are not a happy combination. Obviously, the former led to the latter.

  12. what I'm wondering about ryan semple is -- what's in it for him to pretend to be Tessa's boyfriend? I mean, when you watch the video of the virtues/moirs post-olympics, ryan is there, and tessa seems genuinely excited to see him when she comes in.

    NOt that I necessarily think that he's a good choice for Tessa, because he seems like a homophobic prick, but I don't understand what he gets out of some kind of arrangement like the one you suggest.

  13. To the anon above regarding the post-olympic v/m families interview - the first guy that Tessa hugs is her brother Casey - Mr. Semple is not in there...

  14. There's something so undignified about Scott's own mother getting involved in these lies and posting albums featuring Jessica as a star the Moir family revolved around.

    The tone of all the facebook junk has been with a mean attitude toward fans. But I felt that Alma, especially, seemed to delight in jerking the chains and was very openly mocking the fans with her albums. It made me lose respect for her. Now they privatize their facebook pages as if they think that makes up for being jerks.

  15. OC, I really see what you mean about the diversity of TS' programs if you look at the rhythms they skate to etc. But I think they may be milking the "characters in love" theme too much. Even though I can see how challenging Funny Face is, I'm still not connecting with it as much as I thought I would. And I'm confused why...I was a shipper before I was a fs fan, I like their lovey-doveyness. Maybe now that I finally see what they've been pulling it's hard to enjoy them appearing innocent LOL. I don't for a minute blame this on their coaches - of the paranoid fans half think the judges are ignoring a clearly superior program, the other half are convinced the coaches haven't given TS good material - I can completely believe this is what TS wanted to skate to...but it seems too easy even though dance-wise it's anything but. I don't dislike the program, but I wish I could like it more, it just feels too familiar.

  16. Well, I have totally subjective, personal-taste reactions to Funny Face vis a vis the Strauss program so may as well put it here. It doesn't go to the judging, obviously, but here's thoughts:

    The 1950's were a technicolor era for the movies.

    Scott and Tessa are mimicking the characters but not the look of the movie period. Fred Astaire is iconic. He was a snazzy dresser, very colorful. Scott comes out in yet another white shirt. His clothes for the tsn photoshoot were fantastic - why couldn't he wear something similar to the blue shirt/brown pants there? No cardigan or jacket required since he seems to feel he can't skate in either. I know the Fred costume Scott's costume is based upon, but it's reading as Scott in a white shirt again.

    The tailoring of his free dance clothing doesn't seem suggestive of the 1950s movie era nor of Funny Face - maybe it is, technically, but it's not reading.

    These are picayune points, granted, but for whatever reason I feel the absence in Funny Face more than in a less specific-character driven program. It's not the same old same old program - why is Scott dressing like it is? If he can wear a white shirt - he will, but I think this program needs a more character-driven, exuberant sort of costume that helps take the audience to the era - not some sad white shirt. I appreciate that he's gelled and side-parted his hair, but still - that's a super-generic, bland costume he's got going on while skating a personality-driven (performance-wise) program.

    Meantime Charlie White is out there flinging himself all over the ice in his free dance wearing a freaking coat and tails. And some type of fancy-looking neckwear to boot. His coat tails are flying, his hair is flying and he looks happy as hell. They both look totally committed, completely immersed in what they're doing.

    Scott and Tessa are as ever committed to their program but on a cosmetic level it feels like Scott's cheating.

    For me, some of the look of Funny Face is flatter than the look of Strauss - so - obviously, totally non-skating reasons.

    oc, not signed in.

  17. With regards to the FD, I would have to agree that Scott's costume needs to be updated and to really reflect the era. I also think that Tessa herself is not 100% sure that she will stick to her own red dress. Back to Scott's costume, I agree that the white shirt has to go. I mean last year I think he rocked the dark blue vest, light blue shirt with the yellow/goldish tie for the SD and that outfit was actually more I mean the guy can pull off the classic look...I guess most fans are thinking that it doesn't seem that much thought has been put into Scott's outfit...

    My 2 cents, LOL....

  18. Yeah - it's totally unfair since when I look at Funny Face stills I see what Scott's doing - it's a faithful take on a Fred look from the film minus the cardigan - but minus the cardigan it doesn't look very Fred. It looks like Scott's cheating - I have the tie and my hair is parted on the side - what more do you want!!

    Well, you've been in a plain white shirt for Mahler, Valse Triste, the Charleston, and now this. That's why people are like - oh - and feel a bit let down - especially when it's a big Parmaount color spectacular from the 1950s. We don't have the Paris scenery or the sets. We have the gorgeous skating and him and Tessa and a huge amount of white space out there, with Scott's wan white shirt.

    His outfit doesn't suggest his character's job at all or that he's a man with a profession - the hair is saying "period" but he could just as easily be Pat Boone on a singing engagement in Europe or a madrigal singer from the Ivy League of the 50s. Callow.

    There's something gritty and manly about Fred - this outfit isn't saying it.

    Since he can't wear the cardigan, don't do the rest of it. It's a little different than Tessa not wearing gloves. What about one of the photographer dark-room type looks - the one in the movie from the Funny Face song or the blue shirt? Fred and Audrey don't have to "match" - they're different worlds sort of people - she's lovely, gawky and esoteric, he's street smart, experienced, worldly and confident.

    I don't know why this particular white shirt looks cheap - but it does. It's embarrassing to say because I'm certain it's not and I'm sure a lot of thought went into it, but it doesn't read - not to me anyway.

    oc, not logged in

  19. "There's something gritty and manly about Fred - this outfit isn't saying it."

    I love Fred Astaire but I would have never described him as gritty and manly.

    I do agree Scott needs to look more like the era. Perhaps a sweater-vest that would give that cardigan feeling. Or just a different colored shirt. And he needs to wear a belt. I think those things would go a long way toward looking more like the 1950's.

  20. I re-posted this because I ETA to say- OMG, a belt. An Astaire signature. He always had some type of belt - it made the outfit pop (and I hate the term "pop").

    Scott is 30+ years younger than Fred was in the movie, but he's trying to personify the Dick Avery character. The judges aren't seeing it close-up - they're seeing a mid-range shot.

    I'm eager to see the story and not "just" the (great) skating. The outfit situation has me working to see the story. I keep expecting the performance with light, camera, action, color. But in terms of the presentation it feels like a run-through. I can't imagine it's because Scott's white shirt blends with the ice, but - maybe that's it.

    Minus the full rig Charlie's wearing, the Strauss program wouldn't be as effective.

    Judges are trained in the specifics of CoP and need to justify their scores according to settled criteria. Bit here, we're talking fractions of a point. I've read quotes from judges - even recently - that made my eyebrows go up and think - WHY are you saying that? That has nothing to do with the rulebook and shouldn't even be in your mind!

    They're people. They're Fans. They have biases.

    As to "manly" Fred - he is, extremely, but it's not conventional and it's of the period - but it's also classic. First off, Fred Astaire is sophisticated. Even as a photographer in Funny Face - everything about the way he moves is sophisticated, and the way he dresses is particular, detailed and very confident. He's got definite style in the way he looks. It's more than period style, it's Fred. He was a style icon with clothes, not just a dance icon.

    With the side-parted hair and the sad white shirt, Scott looks like he's in the Pat Boone Glee Club, or a gawky collegiate guy from a P.G. Wodehouse period piece on PBS. It's not a confident look. It's a self-protective look.

    He moves with confidence but the look is safe - there's none of the casual statement-type sophistication of Fred, none of the detail.

    Astaire is pretty masculine if you can get past a "lightweight" physical appearance. He's very in charge when he dances, it's all very assured. He projects a ton of confidence. The gritty part I guess came with maturity - just no-nonsense and athletic. There's no vanity there. And he's very brisk.

    The look of the Funny Face program, for me, washes out with all that ice, and Scott's white shirt, and then this movie music that's colorful, romantic, tells a story across moods in a technicolor spirit - and yet there's so much white space. There's always white space in figure skating, but it gets in the way here.

    All we've got is Tessa's red column dress. This stark red oblong moving along white space - which isn't really the spirit of the program.

    Of course the judges aren't taking into account any of this stuff -but I'm giving it thought just because I can see the skating is great, I'm a fan of the music, and I believe they've done a terrific job with the characterization - and yet I feel it's under-dressed.

    I do wonder if some of the complaints about the program wouldn't be improved by the look. Imagine Meryl skating Strauss in a plain shift dress and Charlie White in a white shirt and pants.

    There's a lot more going on with FF than "reads" - there's so much character to it, and I think a different costume would help. Face acting can't do all of it.

    Choreographically it's terrific, mostly, and the skating is unbelieveable. There's a .05 difference so this is just talk. I've never felt that way about their costumes though - had different expectations from Scott, especially.

  21. "All we've got is Tessa's red column dress. This stark red oblong moving along white space - which isn't really the spirit of the program."

    OMG, this describes it so well.

    I love this program, but I agree there's been something underwhelming about it and I think you've found what it is. Also, the very tailored feeling of the red dress, including the tight bun, doesn't go along with the whole spirit of the story. Yes, for that particular FF scene of Audrey in the red dress. But it doesn't capture the playfulness of the story, the 'oomph' of colors, if you will. Maybe if Tessa kept the red dress but had a softer hairstyle, like a loose ponytail. That would still look like Audrey, I think, but less severe.

    And there's definitely a 'tired' feeling to seeing Scott yet again in a white shirt/black pants. It feels like he just threw on what was left over from Mahler and wants to make it into Astair by adding the red scarf (which I don't like at all, it's distracting to have that piece of cloth waving around so close to his face). Subconsciously, I could see the judges feeling he didn't care enough to take more pains with his costume.

    However, I do think Tessa and Scott still need to match somewhat. I've seen comments that because Fred and Audrey don't match in the movie, they don't need to match in this program. I don't agree. It's jarring to see a team on the ice that looks like they each picked out their own outfit and forgot to consult with each other. I don't think it helps give the feeling of unity an ice-dance couple needs to portray. So they need to figure out how to make Scott look more appropriate to the era/the story without completely mismatching with Tessa.

  22. I'm the Anon who just wrote the above post.

    I wanted to add - I concede your point about Fred Astair being masculine and gritty. You're right that one needs to look past the first impression of a lightweight physical appearance.

    Astair was manly. :)

  23. From this blog entry:

    "The reality is, lying is their default inclination, not their training. They are naturally private, and as "stars" are enabled - provided every rationale on the planet to lie lie lie, rationales they embrace because they're not comfortable in the spotlight off the ice. They've got it backwards, actually. They want to hide, and look for reasons to do so. They don't have reasons that make hiding necessary to this degree."

    Agreed with your opinions about the way they've handled a natural desire for privacy. Now that they've gone to these extremes, are they feeling trapped by their own lies? How do they change the story from Scott-Jessica to Scott-always-with-Tessa without looking like fools? (That is, if they would even want to.)

  24. If past is precedent, then they keep this up til Sochi, after Sochi the facebooks disappear and there's no interactive internet presence. However they decide to go public will not include acknowledging all the b.s. with Jessica as that would drag Skate Canada into it. Everyone would know Debbi, Slipchuk, Barb, Thompson et al. used the SC resources to basically hoax the public. No matter how justified they feel, they can't ever admit they did that.

    I suspect the present-day personnel also plan to only stick around til after Sochi. They'll be long gone too. In Debbi and Barb's case resurfacing on the seminar and consultation circuit, leveraging their experience with SC, but not accountable to the public. The new officials will be all "We don't know nothin about that" (what went down with VM and SC) - even if it ever comes up. The media is unlikely to press as the media plays ball now and even helps Barb stage her scrum photo ops. Anything that gets said - if anything does - will blame the fans. The conversation is already out there - the profiles of the super fans who think of the skaters as family, the patronizing references to ubers - it will all be the fans' fault - part of a high profile skater's reality. How OTT, meanspirited and chain-jerking VM got with it will be ignored. The book situation will be ignored.

    oc, not logged in

  25. Just more on costumes - I understand the challenge with a black outfit for Tessa, but every time I've seen her in the black beatnik style practice outfit, it suits the character, the spirit of the movement, and the free-spirit/gawky Audrey persona. Even the librarian type skirt Audrey wore in the early stages of the movie might convey the character better.

    Now I feel like I belong on fsu. This is just spitballing of course.

    The red dress works as a reference to the movie but if you don't know the movie it doesn't particularly sell the character or work with the movement (jazzy, modern, etc.)

  26. "after Sochi the facebooks disappear and there's no interactive internet presence."

    It is looking like they're thinking along these lines. However, this blog is proof that all the pictures they have posted have been downloaded, along with all the wall posts, updates, photo-comments, etc.

    There's no telling how many people have a permanent record of the very prolific photo story-telling of the Scott/Jessica "romance." If these guys think this is going to disappear they're very much mistaken.

  27. I put the photos on the blog because I'm not going to enable the farce that the photos are like drug-dealing - there's the dealer and his/her loyal, "trusted" customer base - it will all get done in the virtual schoolyard or backroom - don't tell anyone.

    What a crock. There has never been anything private or personal about what fans can see on facebook - it's staged so fans can see it on facebook, and the blog will treat these photos as what they are, and not as artifacts of somebody's personal life. They're artifacts of a hoax.

  28. ^ About Scott mismatching - they won't mismatch if they're both referencing the same movie and same style. Audrey didn't dress like Fred in that movie because they were different characters and people, but they went together.

    There's no need for Scott to literally match or to have red because Tessa's in red, or be dressed up because she is - if she remains dressed up. The characters work, the story is clear, the right costumes (as I see the "right" costumes) will bring it together. They don't have to "match" they just have to work together to tell the story.

  29. "I put the photos on the blog because I'm not going to enable the farce ...
    What a crock. There has never been anything private or personal about what fans can see on facebook - it's staged so fans can see it on facebook, and the blog will treat these photos as what they are, and not as artifacts of somebody's personal life. They're artifacts of a hoax."

    ^^Completely agree with this.
    The photos should absolutely be exposed as fraudulent information.

  30. ^ It's not even about exposing them as fraudulent - it's just not playing the role of a certain type of fan, treating the photos with kid gloves, like they're oh so private. OMG, Scott is kissing Jessica - it's private. Pass it around under the table!

    That means fans are helping the skaters lie - without knowing about it - and helping to protect the skaters from their lies - without realizing it.

    I know these are bullshit photos. I put them on the blog not as an expose' but because the blog discusses this situation, that's one, and two, they're staged for the public and it's farcical to tiptoe around that. There's nothing hot button or loaded about them, nor private and personal. They're full of shit, so treat them like any other public domain image. That's the point, more than an expose.

  31. On sort of costume jag so may as well continue -the red dress Tessa is wearing is in "Funny Face" but for me it evokes Hepburn in "My Fair Lady" - it's so similar to the transformation 'look' of Hepburn in that later film, where a key story point was Eliza Doolittle passing herself off as aristocracy.

    The red dress is kind of incidental to "Funny Face"'s plot.

    For me, it doesn't enable Tessa's characterization or help the audience relate to the story. She looks like a princess or member of the aristocracy some brash upstart is trying to woo. She looks very sophisticated, even though there are choreographic phrases trying to emphasize she's gawky, adorable and sheltered. I guess in theory having a dressed-up girl be a little gauche should work - but it's not quite happening lookswise in this for me anyway. The costume and persona work against each other.

    For the audience, IMO they need to relate to her as the charming beatnik/intellectual book store girl who meets up with an outgoing, brash, urbane sophisticate and ends up having unexpected fun and gets swept away in a tide of romance by the end. Audrey wears a plain skirt and shirt in the early parts of the movie - with a smock she later removes. Very simple - but there's a skirt and the look is who this girl is.

    It's one thing to have a girl dressed to the nines carried off in a triumphant musical denouement, it's another to have an adorable egghead bookstore clerk get taken out of herself to the extent she's doing a "King of the World!" open-armed over sway atop Scott's thigh after gaining enough confidence to do some jitterbug and waltzing and sexy jazz dancing. It should be adorable.

    There's just something so charming seeing someone who LOOKS introverted finding the spirit to act not introverted. Tessa doesn't look introverted and self-contained in the red dress - she looks regal and polished. The spirit present in the tsn Funny Face feature was there because the characters were already there and whoever styled the shoot did it perfectly. In the fd we only have the characters - the look of it isn't saying anything.

    I think it should be a lot more fun, and Scott should be more colorful. FRED is the colorful one in this movie - he's the one with the color punch, despite the little fashion show in the middle (which is not key to the story - it was just an excuse to parade Audrey in couture). It's a colorful, snazzy, confident guy who attracts the introvert and before we know it there she is at the end, sailing away with him. It's not some Eddie Haskell type smarming up to the debutante and succeeding.

  32. "Now it's more like he's some brash kid trying to charm a sweet and wealthy princess."

    I think so too.

  33. "It's one thing to have a girl dressed to the nines carried off in a triumphant musical denouement, it's another to have an adorable egghead bookstore clerk get taken out of herself to the extent she's doing a "King of the World!" open-armed over sway atop Scott's thigh after gaining enough confidence to do some jitterbug and waltzing and sexy jazz dancing. It should be adorable. "

    YES, I actually think I enjoyed the performances that I saw before I saw the movie (Finlandia and SCI). Once I saw the movie, I just felt confused. It was like the best parts of the movie weren't reflected in the FD. Incredibly beautiful skating, but something just doesn't ring true. Costume changes might go a long way to fixing that.

  34. ^I enjoyed the ones before I watched the movie MORE. I have enjoyed all the performances, just not connected with them as much as I usually do for TS.

  35. Hope everyone had a relaxing weekend. These latest comments on the FD costumes on spot on. Yes we have been harping on Scott's costume - but Tessa's regal red is not in line with Audrey Hepburn's true character in the movie even though Tessa looks great in red. The white wedding dress used in Finlandia didn't exactly fit the bill either. Ideally I would have Tessa in a black turtleneck and tights (even though pants may be illegal) and Scott in a blue shirt with gray pants that are tailed to a Fred Astaire style. As others have pointed out, these characters do not have to match and actually they shouldn't since they are 2 different personalities with different life experiences....and I love the comment above the brash kid trying to charm the wealthy princess...that's how the present costumes read...

  36. In a book-signing appearance last year Tessa wore what appeared to be a leotard style top or leatard-cut sweater with a tweedy looking skirt. It actually looks quite a bit like the bookstore clothing Audrey wears in the beginning of the movie, with black tights. I also think she wears a skirt in the "Funny Face" scene in the dark room.

    Audrey isn't a dressed up character in Funny Face. She's dressed up at the end and for a fun sequence not essential to the spot. The girl herself is the girl in the little bookstore skirts or the beatnik cigarette pants and top. Tessa has noted the pants aren't acceptable in ice dance, but why not one of the other looks? Nathalie Pechalet has pulled off some non-dressy, "real person" costumes in her programs. Honestly, when I heard about Funny Face I was watching a performance from Korea. Scott and Tessa were fooling around with a spin where they were both spinning - while he had her slightly lifted. I was disappointed not to see the spin in the fd because it sort of evoked the spirit of Fred spinning Audrey on the stool in the darkroom. But it was then I pictured Audrey-Tessa in the simple black turtleneck, boatneck top or leotard, with a skirt that was plaid or tweed, and tights, and how unbelievably charming for her to find herself spinning and dancing with "Fred".

    Fun as the Finlandia performance was I wasn't expecting the wedding dress and although Audrey wore red in Funny Face that look is way more central to a movie like My Fair Lady and honestly has nothing to do with the FD story they're dancing. The only reason she's in it is it's a recognizable Audrey "look". The problem is it's not a look that works with the characterizations and the interaction on ice.

  37. Tessa has the right facial expressions/body language in capturing Hepburn's spirit in the movie...but red is just not the right colour...I mean it's kind of picturing Julie Andrew's character in Sound of Music wearing red...does this make sense?

  38. Well I am the anon with the comment about Julie Andrew's character wearing red in the sound of music...I just wanted to say that I am still ectstatic that V/M are still competing and let's face it this year not everything is perfect with their fd. But that's ok with me since Funny Face is a harder sell than D/W's FD and at the end of the season V/M will have learned from this "journey" LOL...And the judging well in general needs tweeking in all disciplines for PCS...but that's another discussion..and maybe one of my New Year's resolution should be not to read FSU as often...happy holiday season...

  39. Oh totally agree with it's kind of like if Tessa were skating Sound of Music and wore Maria Von Trapp's wedding dress or nun's habit for the program. It's choosing a peripheral costume theme instead of the signature look for the film. Tessa has mentioned that the pants and top are the signature look but alas she's required to wear a skirt - but I don't see the problem with wearing a take on the book store intellectual look as that defines the character in the first half of the film.

    Even if the characterizations and relationship are spot on - which they are in FF - the costumes are not helping to tell the story. They're a movie quote, but not a key one, and that's it.

    I think it's a great fd as well, but I can see where and why the judges give the edge to Charlie/Meryl - CoP or 6.0 judges are often dazzled by busy, athletic programs versus subtle programs. They may be trained but how musical and rhythmic are the judges themselves? Musicality is rare in figure skaters; I'm not sure all judges are able to appreciate it beyond observing that the movement of the skaters is in character with their music and the technique is strong.

    A lot of fans think PCs are where politics get buried - but PCs, like the "presentation" score in the old system, are actually another technical mark. Like "presentation" this is not an "interpretation" mark. Unfortunately, IMO, everybody who talks to the public about figure skating disseminates misinformation - Scott Hamilton used to bleat on about taste constantly - which do the judges prefer - like a medal could be won or lost on a judge liking classical over avant garde. Nope, the judging panels are not stacked with people of the fsu mindset. The universal sports guys talk about costumes - wishing Scott were a bit more dressed up in the sd. Zhulin talks about eye contact. I do think that Scott and Tessa have a better connection - obviously - than Meryl/Charlie and a lot of the chemistry and man/woman elements give them appeal - but their superiority is in the actual skating.