Saturday, January 28, 2012

Because, like China, the U.S.A. is a great figure skating nation

A reaction to the U.S. nationals by a discerning fan:

By the way, I've enjoyed watching "In the Tweet Seat" and "AT&T Athlete's Lounge" videos on icenetwork

from the Hilton HHonors Skate America Grand Prix

and Prudential United States Figure Skating Championships
also sponsored by Alka Seltzer Plus and Smuckers and supplied by United Airlines, Main Event Merchandise Group, and Event Video Company.
Doing so makes me totally pumped to venture over to Skatebuzz, check out Debbi's interviews,

  and maybe eat some KozyShack pudding. ;)
Proud sponsor of Skate Canada

Yes indeed. Still, it must be kind of handy to have a global hospitality company and an international airline as corporate partners.

OTOH, after a hard workout ... mmm, pudding.

Thoughts, William Thompson, Skate Canada CEO, former Olympic judge and member of fsu for many years?


  1. I don't want to get too down on Skate Canada for their pudding sponsor. At least it's a sponsor.
    Instead, I'd like to know how they lost their big-name sponsors right after a successful home Olympics. And in light of that success, why are they having trouble finding other big-name sponsors? Of course they'll blame the economy, it's an easy scapegoat. I think it's obvious there's something else going on here besides just the economy.

  2. Nothing against Kozy Shack pudding, but they lost BMO after fifteen years - after Scott and Tessa's gold medal, Joanne Rochette's bronze, and a home Olympics. So WTF? Let's not forget their big talk and boasting prior to the Olympics - about star development, exciting interst in the public, and their other areas of expertise. The economy was already wobbling and none of these people were downplaying expectations. They were confident they knew exactly how to revive figure skating financially and in popularity in Canada. They weren't shy telling us their philosophy. So they can't try and whine about the economy or Canadian corporations or all sports are suffering. If the USFSA has all these sponsors for figure skating - no excuse for Canada.

    BMO was a valuable sponsor because it promoted SC's figure skating events and it also had venues where Skate Canada held training camps - among many other benefits of having a national bank as your title sponsor.

    How can a bunch of former figure skaters with very little business experience or organizational management background be so cavalier about sponsorship? William Thompson bragged about Debbi Wilkes' "relationships" when she came aboard - it was clear he was touting her as a value add in the corporate partner department. It was a dubious implication in the first place, but after all these years Debbi (really Bill) has lost the existing sponsors and brought on board nobody who is really going to defray operational and development and training expenses. So what good is she exactly, from a business stand point? What good is Thompson, for that matter?

    They can't claim it's the economy or Own the Podium when figure skating is no more popular with the American public but the USFSA manages to bring significant partners on board left and right, also has a better website and much better pr for their figure skaters. It definitely appears as if the best interests of Skate Canada run second to the best interests of William Thompson and Debbi Wilkes, and where there's a conflict, they prioritize themselves. If incompetence is what is called for to keep these people viable in their jobs, they'll enable incompetence. If improving departmental operations and management meant making certain people's jobs less secure, they're going to opt to protect the personnel.

    Blaming everything on Own the Podium monies going away is a cop out. Where are the USFSA's Own the Podium monies? They never had that program, still don't, still manage sponsors and a professional operation.

  3. "the USFSA manages to bring significant partners on board left and right, also has a better website and much better pr for their figure skaters."

    Interesting that you bring up the website. If I'm not mistaken, someone on fsu was recently saying what a wonderful addition Skatebuzz is to Skate Canada. They must be looking at a different website, since from day one IMO Skatebuzz has been spectacularly unimpressive.

    And let's not even get started with athlete PR. Here are Tessa and Scott, the Olympic champions at a home-Olympics, and after two years it's still all about whether they are or not a couple, they've managed to lose the Root's endorsement, their personal website is a no-show and as a team they have no official presence on facebook or twitter. Scott's "official" facebook page is kind of a joke. Whatever the reasons for V/M not doing as well as you'd expect from Olympic champions, it certainly reflects poorly on Skate Canada.

    However, if that fsu poster was representing what the Canadian figure skating fan thinks of Skate Canada's internet presence ("it's all good"), then it's no wonder Skate Canada doesn't have to compete with the more professional-looking and sounding organizations. Their constituents are satisfied. Could that satisfied attitude also explain why Skate Canada can get away with incompetence in their business dealings? It looks like there is no outcry for accountability because in fact, the Canadian skating fan (nor the skater's parents who are paying the bills)doesn't think Skate Canada is screwing up at all.

  4. Their constituents may be satisfied but it's too small a group to keep the organization financially healthy. Skate Canada can't afford to cater to such a small group only. In fact, Slipchuk, Thompson and Wilkes were all about how they were going to widen figure skating's appeal and restore the glory of the 1990's or something near it. A 00's version anyway.

    What happened? Well, boiled down, they were amateurs who didn't know what they were talking about in marketing, business, or market analysis.

  5. anyone notice jessica changed her profile pic to one of just her....when was the last time she didn't have one of her and scott? .... trouble in paradise?....God I hope so lol

  6. There is no Jessica and Scott, so her photo has nothing to do with their nonexistent relationship.

    Does it imply something about the sham? Don't know - in the past a switch like that has signaled a placeholder for some big sham re-set and a yet unseen sham photo.

    1. Jessica posted a link to a superbowl commercial on her brother Jonathan's public wall and posted that Scott told her to show it to him.

  7. I wouldn't really say Scott's official facebook page is a joke. It's more like it's obvious he's doing this on his own and he's not committed to any kind of professional outreach to fans. It is nice that he tries, linking to stuff in the news, posting the occasional skating photo. But... you wonder if Scott and Tessa have ever compared this to the professionally-managed pages set up for the Teams of Weaver/Poje, Davis/White, etc. It's not just about one member of the team, it's about the team (together), and they do a good job staying on top of news, photos, charity events, etc. They also appropriately share off-ice pictures.

    I do in fact expect V/M's time to be taken up with training. That's why they need someone (a professional, not Skate Canada) to manage these things. Then there wouldn't be that impression of sporadic, indifferent attention to fan outreach. It would also help these guys avoid the pitfalls of using these places as a sham bulletin board. Scott has already tried a couple attempts on his official facebook page (if I'm remembering correctly, the Birthday Muskoka mention, and Alma's post, I don't remember if there have been any others). They probably think they're being clever but if they want to be truly professional about a social media presence, they need to cut that out.

    Sometimes I think he's been so used to thinking of facebook as the place that's about giving out to the public his fake private life - that "private" life he and Jessica and the Moirs have been so anxious to share with the public - he doesn't know what it means to have a social media site that's genuine and a true outreach to fans (and, you know, to further his career in good ways).

    Their weird views concerning pr, fan outreach, public-career management, can be seen in the fact that Scott did attempt to use his "official" facebook page for sham posts. I think they don't just need a professional manager, they need to be reeducated in what appropriate pr is all about. They've been too long yanked around by the demands of the fake public personas. It's actually quite sad.

  8. Agreed - it's sad. ^Thanks - I think you've described it really well.

    There was another misfire - Scott asking for profile photo suggestions. The problem there was context. Even if you've shared appropriate off-ice photos, you don't ask fans for input then reveal your insincerity. Not when you've had a habit of never sharing anything, never following through and leaving fans disappointed or with an "oh well" feeling. Fans were excited because he'd never invited their input about his facebook or shared anything, and their response was completely genuine. Then the Audrey/Fred photo and silence from Scott when it went up, too. No - here it is! Nothing. He disappears. The saddest part was after he put up Audrey/Fred and was criticized, some of the fans who'd eagerly offered profile picture suggestions for pics of him and Tessa reassured him that they liked his new pic. That's just pathetic - fans falling over themselves to reassure a skater that it's okay he fucked with them, because they value even his cursory participation in his fan page and fear driving him off.

    It had the stamp of SC's blinkered, unprofessional professionals all over it but clearly, Scott and Tessa follow their instructions. Even though they'd fire coaches who were that inept, and even though other management is available. They have to care enough.

    There's also Scott mindlessly posting "soon!" about his web page update. Then the page remains stagnant for months, then the domain expires, then it's reserved again, and now the page is restored exactly as it was before - old. He can praise Canadian fans all he wants in interview sound bites but this is the stuff where his priorities show. No respect. Even when he says "we have some really dedicated fans" we know what his subtextual implication is and to that I say - so what. Every public arena has fans like that. It's not an excuse for this shit.

    They're not children. Do they have a lot on their plate - yes. So have other figure skaters. There's no excuse for them - this is a choice. They refuse professional assistance - real, top notch professional assistance and why - they don't want the trade off. They really want everything on their own terms but they want the profit of a professionally run pr program and the entitlements of it too. It doesn't work that way. That's a very spoiled attitude. Who ends up paying the price? Fans.

    P.S. - Scott and Tessa always talk about Canadian fans are the best, skating at home is the best. Yet it's for Canadian competitions that they pro-actively lie the most, sham the most, throw up the biggest barriers. So their words most kindly can be read as overcompensation - we feel guilty for how these well-meant fans freak us out, so we want to emphasize we really really DO appreciate the good parts of having them as fans!!! Or it's analogous to the cheating spouse amping up the pda to cover their tracks. Or it's just absolute brazen insincerity. But in a way, all of this protest-too-much fan "appreciation" is another self-indulgence - it makes them feel less guilty but really doesn't ameliorate their behavior. Words are just words.

    I absolutely refuse to believe that at this stage Scott and Tessa and those closest to them still don't have the big picture. Continuing with this is a choice. How they treat this particular group of others - fans - is very low. They're a lower caste. They're a necessary evil. And they can get away with it, and that's all that matters.

  9. You mentioned somewhere else that you think a big reason for not ending the sham is because they can't, or won't, admit to any mistake or wrongdoing.

    Which do you think plays a bigger role at this stage? Refusing to admit doing something wrong (pride), or is it this attitude that the fans don't count and who cares what garbage is fed to them?

    Absolutely, by now they must be aware of the big picture. That means, then, that there's some specific reason(s) why they don't stop behaving like this. Although these actions are immature, I doubt they're really stupid and immature.
    So what gives.

  10. I think it's a big helping of both with the balance tilting towards the first. Just because that's how it always goes. Once someone has taken a position, they can't back out unless a smoking gun is produced. I don't know why that is but there it is - not just in business and politics but also in non-profit, religion and just about every other example where public shame is involved. I think there are too many people who eagerly got their hands dirty with this - most of all Skate Canada's directors. They lied their faces off and put their names to the lies. Looks to me as if they all cover themselves in sanctimony - they're doing this for the skaters. Never mind their first obligation to the skaters is to run a functional organization, which they don't.

    I'm not going to say they're not stupid and immature. Some of the stuff that's been done is absolutely ridiculous and leaves ordinary people with a WTF face. Even if you factor in that they condescend to both sponsors and the public and have a huge opinion of themselves, the logic they use doesn't work. There are institutional screws loose. I mean just look at the "tough" campaign. What sense did that make? Absolutely none. But they publicly bragged about it! What sense does it make to live in fragile economic times and take your big bank sponsor for granted? What sense does it make to have a marketing strategy that invites the audience to be impressed and in awe of your skating stars instead of positioning yourself as a people-friendly organization who wants nothing more than to show you figure skating is fun and a worthwhile way to spend your money?

    I think they are stupid. There's nothing else that accounts for doing stupid things on facebook that all the fans can see - Alma dissing Meryl and Charlie and even now Carol Moir featuring a profile photo of Grandpa Mac giving the finger. Adorable. Very role model-y.

    Nothing else accounts for the fact that while everyone else on the planet knows less is more with lies, Skate Canada and Tessa and Scott figured the more they pile it on the better. Nothing else accounts for how LOUDLY they misdirect - they are almost telling you they're really doing whatever it is they deny.

    They don't seem to have any real world frame of references whatsoever and I'm really not sure how that happens, but there's too much evidence suggesting that's the case.

    Even if they're not stupid, immature they are. That's how it is when you want to live in a bubble and go to these types of extremes so you can. Don't forget spoiled, because it takes a lot of privilege to live like that. Every component of this requires a lot of people participating. Maybe not hard work or time, but a lot of participation. Not all of us could get basically an entire community on board with our bubble maintenance.

    1. Did you hear their intro at the nationals gala "Ultimate role models...." Again, breaking the rule of less is more when you are lying. The worst part is they are good skaters- they COULD be the ultimate role models without this PR bullshit clouding their image.

    2. Yeah, I heard that introduction. That's all they've got. Words. That's Debbi's grandiosity. TELL and not show. The public is stupid, they're smart, tell the public what to think, no need to back it up, just say it and the sheep will follow.

  11. "I think they are stupid. There's nothing else that accounts for doing stupid things on facebook that all the fans can see - Alma dissing Meryl and Charlie and even now Carol Moir featuring a profile photo of Grandpa Mac giving the finger. Adorable. Very role model-y."

    I was very surprised as well to see that profile picture. Alma and Carol coach a lot of children, it's strange they don't consider these little details as something that is so public as to be taken as role-modeling. I'm sure it's hard sometimes to draw that line between "being myself" and "being a role-model" but I would have thought this particular decision would be a no-brainer. EVERYONE is on facebook these days, even young children.

  12. Was it just me or was the interview lady during the US Nats Gala a little Debbie-esque? *cringe*

  13. I missed the interview lady at US nats.

    I know "Grandpa Mac" "GMac" is beloved and all and that might be such a "typical" photo that they wanted to use it - after all it was part of a visible album for a long time, and within a family context it might be endearing. Or something.

    But there's more than a family context. Fans can see Carol's profile pic, fans who have no idea who Grandpa Mac is and who aren't in on the family back and forth.

    If you want your facebook to be family stuff - fine. If you want it to be fan stuff, fine. It really can't be both. That's unprofessional. It can't be - here, have some sham. Here's stuff I put there especially for fans I don't know to see. And then OTOH to literally have a profile photo with Grandpa Mac saying fuck you.

    I hope there's not a message in that profile pic because that would be ridiculous. nobody's done anything to these people, not even this blog. THEY'VE done stuff, and been called out. It's not something to take a stand about, for Christ's sake. They screwed around with other people, messed with people's heads, robbed their wallets, so fuck who again? Please.

    And again, on the one hand the profile picture gives the impression of "this is us, we don't care." Okay, then if you don't care, why are you control freaks about shamming with Jessica, promoting that hoax and setting shit up? You don't care or you do care; not both.

    They ALL need to grow up. It's not cute. And maybe think two seconds ahead about things other than their next clever set up.

    1. "I hope there's not a message in that profile pic because that would be ridiculous. nobody's done anything to these people, not even this blog. THEY'VE done stuff,a'

      I really hope they're not doing this. That really would be such a childish motive, and so unprofessional. Scott and Tessa can't get a break - not even from their own families.

    2. Look, what I've gotten just from the public records, setting aside what I know that thus far is not on the public record - these people are very sure of themselves. Going way back very sure that Kurt Browning was aces for the extremely important "masculine" image of figure skating that the likes of Brian Boitano had damaged. That's right up there with Kurt's actual contributions on the ice.

      FF and Boitano is on US ice helping to usher in Michelle Kwan to the USFSA Hall of Fame while the USFSA is up to its eyeballs in sponsors. SC can't fill the house for Canadians, loses sponsors, and can't even get programs to people who cared enough to pay for a seat. They know their audience, right? We hear about that enough. They know mobility might be an issue for some. Should the fans have to go scouting for programs or should they be available where people can see them? Oh well, we know where that is on the priority list.

      Masculinity - hell yeah. That's where the focus should have been - good call with that Debs and Bill.

      Others may get a different impression but mine is that the people running Skate Canada are very convinced, very sure of themselves, and any problems are us and not them. Look at William Thompson's tone posting at fsu. He sounded like a perfect ass. For taking fsu as synonymous with "fans" or the public at large. Second for thinking that descending from the mount and "correcting" the spec that he's a shady operator with the judges will settle the matter. People aren't their own judge and jury William - you're a freaking lawyer. Third for bothering. Fourth for returning. Fifth for taking himself so seriously in such a ridiculous context. Sixth for wading into just that topic, but, as CEO of an organization that gets public funding and depends upon public interest, ignoring the topics about attendance at Canadians. You either want to clarify or you don't Bill, you want to know what "fans" are saying or not.

      They will never, ever get it. They should take that photo of GMac and make it into a logo like "Uncle Sam Wants You" in the US, only with GMac's finger aimed at the public or anyone else who dares utter a peep and refuses to behave as if SC is doing them a favor.

    3. I also think that if the GMac photo is a "message" then how selfish, how bratty. Make kids, loyal fans, people who have nothing to do with the blog or anything look at that because they want to have a small juvenile spoiled tantrum. How dare someone criticize!!

      Again, they haven't been attacked. The blog didn't paint a target and go after them. They targeted fans, were nasty and obnoxious about it, made fools of them, the blog pushed back a bit and that's how you live in the freaking world of adults. It ain't only one person's playgroud.

      But come to think of it - in Ilderton, figure skating WAS the playground of only one family, the MOIRS. THEY ran it. So maybe they think it is their show and nobody should talk back. The audience's job is to shut up and applaud.

  14. "So maybe they think it is their show and nobody should talk back. The audience's job is to shut up and applaud."

    It is weird how in all other respects, the Moirs, and Scott and Tessa, seem like the nicest people. But when it comes to anything to do with Scott/Jessica/the sham, from the very beginning they, and the sham, have come across as malicious, mocking, entitled....I could go on and many ugly terms come to mind regarding how they have portrayed themselves and handled themselves regarding this issue. They went overboard in their desire to sell the public a lie and now they're caught in their own web.

    What a bunch of losers, that instead of owning up to the truth both about Tessa and Scott and about this sham, they give every indication of entrenching themselves even further. They have lost all perspective about ethical behavior and policies and even what's best for Tessa and Scott's future. Have they all forgotten that some day the skating will be over and Tessa and Scott will be all about building a profitable career from their skating success? They're only damaging themselves. The fans aren't the ones who will pay the consequences.

  15. Well the fans pay for everything else why shouldn't this be sloughed off on fans? Fans will be scapegoated, I guarantee you. The "media" isn't any fonder of fans than Skate Canada, especially skating fans - a very unglamorous, uncool crowd.

    One of the ways they're nice is to express gratitude but they're not really grateful, IMO, or they'd treat people better, be less arrogant, have more basic human humility as people. It's all about actions having meaning. Words lose meaning. Gratitude to fans is words. It's condescending, not really felt. Behavior is what matters, not demeanor, not words.