Thursday, January 5, 2012

Sandbagged by sandbags

Marijane Stong is in the Skate Canada Hall of Fame. For a long time Stong worked extremely closely with Scott and Tessa, particularly during Tessa's battle with exertional compartment syndrome. She's been a respected coach consultant.

Here's Stong's relevant quote about Scott and Tessa from the crica Worlds 2009 clip below, referring to Tessa's time away after exertional compartment syndrome surgery:
"All the time that she was ailing and she was doing her rehab, they worked every day in Tessa's apartment on little things like the lifts - they put the music on, they play with the expression, they did everything imaginable to try to be in really good shape while she got the legs working again. So it wasn't - I mean when they were off, they weren't just off, they were continuously working.

And they had a very wise way of training when they came back."
 Marijane Stong                    

The period to which Stong is referring is the infamous rift they get melodramatic about in their book.

The clip:

But? I thought the whole time Tessa was ailing in London Scott was in Canton skating with sandbags?

You mean Scott was together with Tessa the whole time?

Clearly Stong had not been through Debbi Wilkes' Seminar for Spoon Fed Spin.

I'm crushed this didn't happen.*
What Stong describes makes sense of course. It's unrealistic that a team desperate to compete in Vancouver would not speak or see each other nor communicate in any way for two months in the run-up to their first competition of the critical pre-Olympic season. They were due to reveal a strategically conceived, innovative new program at Canadians. They'd missed the Grand Prix season and would be heading to Worlds behind everybody else. All else aside - such as the fact that there was no estrangement, the fact that Tessa rushed her recovery, the fact that she and Scott were in a long-term committed relationship, the fact that they made a joint television appearance at Skate America mid-recovery - an Olympic-track dance team letting that happen just prior to a championship is not going to happen.

Scott and Tessa had two stories. In the first - the 2009 rendition -  Scott trained with sandbags and hockey sticks while Tessa stayed in touch from London, cheering him on and consulting on progress, occasionally apparently able to see him train somehow (He is fabulous! said Tessa). And of course, they grew even closer when she came back.

In Version 2, circa 2010-2011, each was clueless about what was going on with the other. Scott kept expecting her back sooner (the most ridiculous spin of all), but basically it was like each had dropped off the face of the earth where the other was concerned, so when she returned to Canton, no work had been done and on top of that, they were estranged and remained estranged for a year.


I'd like to know what's happened to commentators like Stong. Intelligent, not formulaic, not reciting cheesy soundbites, not speaking of the individual skaters in terms of the image stereotype Skate Canada wants to promote. Not talking down to the audience.

She's a throwback. Even though she's very home team, she sounds like an adult. P.J. Kwong, whom I do like, sounds mechanical in comparison, and as if she's pitching to a much stupider crowd.
“Cathy's lies were never innocent. Their purpose was to escape punishment, or work, or responsibility, and they were used for profit. Most liars are tripped up either because they forget what they have told or because the lie is suddenly faced with an incontrovertible truth. But Cathy did not forget her lies, and she developed the most effective method of lying. She stayed close enough to the truth so that one could never be sure. She knew two other methods also -- either to interlard her lies with truth or to tell a truth as though it were a lie. If one is accused of a lie and it turns out to be the truth, there is a backlog that will last a long time and protect a number of untruths.”

John Steinbeck, East of Eden        
I went looking for the above quote, that I remembered from East of Eden, because it's a good description of manipulative lying. Scott and Tessa lie with animation and a lot of earnest-seeming embellishment. I can never figure out if this is as contemptuous as it seems or just disconnect - some idea that if they're nice and understanding about things it is a nicer way to lie. Maybe if you throw down enthusiastic exclamation points on fb while baiting fans it's a nicer way to be a tool. But still, Team VM borrows a lot of very meant-to-be-subtle, sophisticated lying techniques and wreaks hell with the execution. Typical Skate Canada - ambition outflanks competence.

And there's Tessa patting the public on the head and saying she wants couples in movies together too.**  How obnoxious. But maybe she doesn't see it that way - maybe to her it takes away some of the sting of lying.
*Actually, while looking for sandbag gifs, I came across a million images of athletes - both male and female - using them in training. Yet - "Imagine - sandbags!" was presented to us as some miraculous creative innovation and extreme dedication.

**Not to mention this ignores that people want them together based more on off-ice behavior than skating performance.


  1. I can't see the video but I always thought that the whole "estrangement" thing was a load of bull crap.

    Their body language at Nationals, in particular, is not that of two people who haven't spoken in months and had to attend counselling. Scott can't stop pawing at her and telling her how damn proud he is of her.

  2. ^^ (8:44)

    Nah - just good acting, don't you know? That's how brother-sister relationships are. Aren't they?

  3. I believe the longer version of this clip is on youtube and searchable; I'll try to find a link.

    Of course their stories are bull crap - both versions.

    Version 1 said the time apart made them closer and stronger. They're all over different video clips in 2009, swooning about how close they've gotten.

    Version 2 says the time apart created an estrangement.

    The truth is they were never apart - Scott was with her, not training in Canton. Which makes sense. He could check in at Canton, but essentially what needs to be done is for him to stay with Tessa not only because they're together as a couple, but because of the work Stong describes - getting as much done as can possibly be done even when Tessa didn't really have the use of her legs. Lifts would be one of those things (she couldn't bear weight and push into the ice comfortably, but she could do lifts off-ice) - basically working through every aspect of the program they possibly could OFF ice - including working with one of Tessa's ballet instructors, as Stong mentioned - so as to set them up to compensate for Tessa's limited ability to skate when they both returned to Canton. Scott of course could drill his skating in London.

    In 2010 Scott was able to say he was hanging out with Tessa in London while she recovered from a second surgery, that he kept in shape there, blah blah blah. This was presented as a departure from what had happened before. No, it was exactly what happened before, only back then they worked with even greater intensity.

  4. Scott might in fact have worked with sandbags and hockey sticks at various times. But you're right, the way it was presented, as if those props were all that was available; as if he was in a different city from Tessa all of the time, can only be ridiculous lies.

    I'm not really doubting their story that they went for some counseling, but that must have been another one of those partial truths and the real reason for the counseling is buried, or not told at all, amidst a bunch of other fabricated "stories."

    It does make one wonder. If this part of the book is lies, how much else is also lies. I suspect a great deal.

  5. Yes, there are a LOT of lies in the book.

    And what you're saying about 'some truth' goes to the East of Eden quote - a re-arrangement and repurposing of some things that contain truth, setting them in a different context, creating a veneer that sells the lie.

    I also don't doubt they went to some counseling and in connection with that, I also wonder about Scott declaring that a particular timeline was always being changed - he'd get excited and then it wouldn't happen, whereupon he'd be angry and frustrated.

    I wonder if both the counseling and the "timeline" that excited Scott were actually connected in some way to the reveal groundwork Scott and Tessa appeared to be laying in the media from spring 2009 to the second half of 2010 - when it stopped completely.

    Yes, and sandbags are a conventional training tool, something Scott would use in the ordinary course, especially with his partner temporarily off ice - not OMG, I'm so dedicated I used a sandbag and named it Tessa!

    Just google "sandbag". I expected to see levee type sandbags, hurricane sandbags. I was blitzed with athletic sandbags and images of athletes - men and women - strength training with sandbags.

  6. Hmmm - I'm remembering some of those book interviews from the Fall of 2010. Didn't Scott emphasize several times that the content in the book was "very accurate" and that's one of the things he was so proud of? *rolleyes*
    Great pictures in the book - but can I get my money back for all the rest?

  7. They really have giant amount of hubris. When your public life is pinned to a lie as big as theirs, you don't go "hey, let's write a book, put the lies inside the book and pro-actively promote the lies inside, and of course charge money for them!

    Who the hell does that? They do. Tessa, that doesn't go to "nature of our sport" btw. That's called greedy, contemptuous and wanting your cake and eat it too. I want the protection of lies but the profit of a reveal so we'll just pretend the book reveals stuff - that is actually lies.

    Unbelieveable, really.

    Everybody should get their money back, since VM and Skate Canada were fully aware the book had lies, and since Tessa and Scott went around to numerous media outlets to promote the lies they told. How many interviews pivoted around the great shin estrangement?

    This is, I believe, another reason that they'll be long gone when the news is out. LONG gone. This crew is not a fan of accountability and they've got a giant sense of entitlement. So everyone connected with this hoax will be outta there, and those who replace them won't know nothin.

    What did we get that wasn't lies? Facebook quality pictures that they hoarded for profit while promoting similar-quality photos of Jessica and Scott for free on actual facebooks.

  8. "Great pictures in the book - but can I get my money back for all the rest?"

    Loved it :) so true. And sad.

  9. "What did we get that wasn't lies? Facebook quality pictures that they hoarded for profit while promoting similar-quality photos of Jessica and Scott for free on actual facebooks. "

    There is such an enormous amount of facebook Scott-Jessica photos. They could make money selling a book with all of those, too. Tell us all about the great romance with Jessica, Scott. I don't think the fans will care they've already seen all the photos on facebook, nor will they care if it's true or not. You can figure out a way to market the great sham, complete with pictures. Bet you can make some more $$$. Isn't that what it's all about? (Except you might have to split profits with Jessica.)

  10. ^^ (10:47)

    And include all the special, private, intimate updates and wall posts. We all saw them already anyhow. Put them all in one place, with the "private" photos, of course.

    I think you got yourself another book.


    compare to

  12. ^ Thanks anon directly above.

    The links are to the full length (nearly 14 minutes) ice dance discussion between PJ Kwong and Marijane Stong on Bold TV, from which the Scott/Tessa part has been excerpted for this post. It's interesting in its own right too.

    And the second link is Scott/Tessa doing big eyes on Q TV, lying their faces off about the "rift" while the d.j. quizzes them about their communication black-out during their time apart, and asks if they were angry with each other. They don't even fidget.

    THIS is where the whole thing goes off the rails. Protect your privacy with a sham if that's what makes sense to you. But "nature of our sport" is not an entitlement to make fools out of the public, pretending they're getting real stuff when they're getting fiction.

  13. What an interesting contrast, seeing those two videos one right after the other. Two completely different versions of that time period. Did they think if things are in an "official" book that makes it real? It makes it off-limits to be questioned, with contradictory stories already out there on the record? I still have a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that they would actually write and sell a book with so many falsehoods.

  14. Right in the middle of her recovery, Scott and Tessa had also appeared together at Skate America on national broadcast television, interviewed by Kurt Browning. That's on youtube too, of course, along with interviews a year later of them pretending that never happened.

    I'm trying to remember if P.J. Kwong ever interviewed them about their "rift" or the book.