Sunday, January 22, 2012

What is wrong with her?

"Say it!!!"
Debbi Wilkes "interviews" Virtue and Moir
"And I know you talk a lot about now you feel like you're the veterans but I think you also feel that there's a responsibility in that too am I right Scott?"


This woman literally spoons the words into the skaters' mouths. It's all her her her. She's unbearable.

From what I gather Debbi Wilkes was an okay pairs skater who medaled in an Olympics. That's great but she's not a particular stand-out in Canadian skating history. Where does she get her hubris? Where does she get her belief that her audience is a bunch of imbeciles who need her to act. out. her. interviews. Where does she get her idea that the camera loves her face?

Tracy Wilson has about ninety thousand times the resume and recognition factor but does not turn and cheese at the camera to cue us how to react to what was just said, nor does she pry open the skater's mouth and put in the words. And in the category of former skaters as media personalities, there are all kinds of good-natured seeming blithering idiots but none with the self-regard of Debbi Wilkes, none with the absolute belief in his/her own pompous pronouncements. From her interview with Carolina Kostner, which remains epic in recent annals of condescension, to Wilkes shamelessly orchestrating each interview with each figure skater so as to continually reference herself, to how neither she nor Thompson bother pretending she actually attends to the responsibilities attendant with her Director's title, what the unholy fuck with this woman.

Where does this lady get her balls? What higher ups fucked a bunch of goats and because Debbi has the photos they turned Debbi loose in front of a camera and gave her a bunch of phony, ever-evolving titles that essentially build-in on-camera-face time because the job description has "marketing" "public relations" or "communications" in it?

Debbi Wilkes is like a movie character.  Her smarmy demeanor, her just-folks word usage, her power-tripping cloaked in unctuous, control freak manipulation and pandering. Her fake job. Her omnipresence. Her fingers in every pie, and her sticking a bit too close to the skaters' personal lives and in their physical space. The way she makes each little sentence component a little teaching moment because we're so dim witted we can only process information a syllable at a time. Her huge smile - often when no one else is smiling. Her obsession with controlling the narrative and putting words in people's mouths. She's straight out of Central Casting as a stereotypical movie villain - she could go in a comedy sketch as is without tweaking a thing. Sometimes it's hard to believe she's real. 

P.S. - Moore-Towers Moscovitch had a trainwreck of a long program and so Dube/Wolfe got silver after putting down a somewhat cautious, wobbly, apprehensive-feeling but overall clean program. They've improved a lot but even adding in the triple twist, their clean skate finished only about eight points ahead of  MTM's spectacular debacle. They are unlikely to add choreographic content or up the difficulty.

William Thompson is making noise that he might send Phaneuf to Worlds. I think it's ridiculous not to send Lacoste. It doesn't matter if SC sends 1 lady to Worlds next year or twelve when all the ladies suck. Better to send the bronze medalist who can at least do a triple/triple. Instead of kissing mediocre veteran ass, give it to Kaitlyn Osmond so she can start getting international experience under her belt.  Hell, if you're going to play wriggle room games, give the second pairs slot at Worlds to MTM, who are unlikely to go down on a lift again in the same program where Kirsten trips and does a face plant mid jump sequence, and so are likely to place higher than a clean Dube/Wolfe.


  1. Debbi Wilkes is absolutely unbearable. Total ego-tripping - there's no reason for her face to be part of the all these interviews. She's the main reason why the Skatebuzz webpage is such a plain, drab place to visit. Any elementary-age kid can go around with a mic, stick it in people's faces and post the results online. How did SC ever think this was something exciting and useful to the fans?

    The way she walks around sticking that microphone in people's faces makes Skate Canada look like they've never caught up with modern times. She reminds me of those 1970's game-show hosts. Not to mention that it's abundantly clear she has nothing else to do with her time.

  2. Word to your last. This IS her job. Skatebuzz is her showcase - it's not about the skaters at all. She's not a conduit to the skaters - the skaters are just a pretext for Debbi to get on camera. What the hell is behind this vanity position? Politics, yes, but why? Why was this trade-off made. It's like pork barrel - Debbi was taken on by Skate Canada and given a platform/showcase much like a mobster is given a fake job. She's not giving, she's taking. What does Thompson get out of it, who owes her, what's under the rug, where's the mess that's behind it all?

    I don't think SC ever thought it was exciting or useful to fans. When it started, circa Thornhill 2009, the faces were Shae Lynn Bourne, Kurt Browning, I think a little David Pelletier, a little Tracy Wilson, and I saw skaters directly address the camera where we didn't even hear the voice of the person holding the mike. It was a promising start but it was a fake-out, bait and switch. There was no follow through in kind. Every time I returned to Skatebuzz there was Debbi Wilkes talking about something with someone equally mundane and boring and showing us nothing. It turned into a public access channel with Debbi Wilkes thinking up topics she could talk about with a bunch of dullards to keep her face on camera. She talked skating and we saw damn few figure skaters, competitions or figure skaters. We saw Debbi.

    There is something obviously rotton in the Denmark of the Debbi Wilkes situation and her supposed job at Skate Canada.

  3. Forgive me for not knowing much about SC, but comparing it to the USFSA, no one in the organization performs interviews with athletes. That is left up to the networks, or Tracy Wilson, Dick Button, Terry Gannon or actual media personalities. It seems strange that someone like this who works for SC would be performing interviews.

    P.S. Do you have a link to the "epic" Carolina Kostner interview?

  4. Here you go.

    I love how the video thumbnails suggest we'll see a performance and then when you click: Eeeeek! Debbi!!!

    The epic moment occurs when she tells Carolina about some "homework" she gave a very big, special, famous skater, which was to ask other skaters how many times they'd skated a perfect program. Debs then says "And do you know what he said?"

    And she sticks the mike in Carolina's face so she can guess! Carolina is like - uh, no? And then Debbi intones her little wisdom nugget.

    She's missed her calling as the library reading lady for pre-K up to Grade 2.

    1. P.S. - epic interview #2 up now on Skatebuzz - and I haven't even watched it - Debbi Wilkes interviews Sandra Bezic. This is a clash of the titans.

      WHO is going to talk down to whom? WHO is going to utter the most insipid words of wisdom with the most self-impressed demeanor and languid intonation? Who can create the most dead air between individual syllables of individual words? Who will pause the longest after saying something so we can register how blown away we are?

    2. LOL LOL LOL

      and then I watched it...they're celestial beings, that's why they're so special!!! I really enjoyed Battle of the Blades at first, and I still like it some, but Sandra is insufferable. If they dropped her,
      Ron & Don, JR and the new twitter girl, the watch-ability would go up about 80%...since that's half the staff, it's unlikely.

      And getting hockey players to figure skate has NOT raised the public Canadian profile of real actual competitive figure skating if attendance at Nats is any judge. Sure it's nice to hear a hockey player acknowledge how difficult figure skating is, but if they couldn't tell that it was difficult just by watching it, knowing how skates work and stuff, then they are just morons. And the vast majority of NHL players are actually NOT morons. I'm guessing a lot of folks like the show because it's funny to watch NHL players do badly at something, a lot of folks like it because they will watch any reality show at all, some may enjoy the figure skating because they find the new juding system too hard and this is like the good old days, and some like myself will be watching because skaters like Shae Lynn, Marie-France and Katia manage to pull out some performances that are worth watching if one can stomach all the condecension and cheese. And good for the players who are open to trying something new and work hard at it, most of them are very likable. But has it brought in a bunch of new fans to the actual sport? At most it's reminded a few fans of the original target audience that figure skating still exists. I seriously doubt it has pulled in anyone new beyond that demographic. And they don't even try to teach the audience about figure skating in its current form. Why do they feel so special at receiving this endorsement from the hockey gods? OC, you are so right (in past posts), it HAS to be the gay thing.

  5. Just watched Debbie/Carolina interview. Debbie gave a little too much rambling, homespun wisdom. It was a bit uncomfortable to watch. Carolina was gracious, but seemed weirded out. All the Canadian skaters seem to know Debbie very well which is strange for an interview. The interviewer typically has a professional barrier between the athlete which prevents any grandiose arse-kissing, but that is missing here.

    1. The problem is she's phony. She's acting the role of an interviewer, not being one. If you're genuine you don't go sticking the microphone into a skater's face after posing a question like "Do you know what he said"? That's not real life. That's a persona. A real interviewer wouldn't act like they expected Carolina to GUESS - which of course Debbi didn't expect - she was just setting Carolina up. So it was stupid as well as phony, a common exacta when Debbi is around.

      All Debbi was doing was setting up Carolina to cue Debbi for Debbi's punch line. Debbi was making a production of something she could have said in three words, but to her, these interviews are about her, not the skater.

      She's worse than Rod Black in forcing "moments" for herself. He seems like a genuine histrionic. She's affected. It's disrespectful. She uses these people to show herself off.

      Of course all the Canadian skaters are familiar with Debbi. She's at all the training camps. She's at the AGCM awards. Rehearsals for the AGCM too. If there are cameras around a skater, Debbi is there. When they're interviewed by other media or by P.J. Kwong at events, she's overseeing. She's all over Skatebuzz wielding a giant microphone and making herself an equal focus.

      She's rinkside at all the practices, including galas. She has her face up in their personal business. She has MC'd medal ceremonies. She was the Olympic figure skating team's team leader. She was rinkside with Alma Moir and Debbi's aid de camp, Debbie "Mac" for the 2010 Canadians gala practice overseeing when a few Scott and Jessica poses were struck. At one point, Tessa and Bryce were shunted down a row of skaters sitting by the boards, several skaters in between them and their partners, so the fans in attendance could register that Scott briefly sat down next to Jessica.

      Did they not have the budget for a professional so William Thompson amped up her nonqualifications as cover for the fact she's a figurehead? He and/or Slipchuk have said in the past that a lot of the run-up to Vancouver was "smoke and mirrors" since, it was claimed, they really hadn't been in place long enough to turn athlete development around. The whole infrastructure is smoke and mirrors. It's political.

      Skate Canada has a huge distrust of sincerity. Maybe it's the control freak in them. When I was watching Kirsten Moore-Towers at Canadians I was wondering what the hell happened to her. She was deer-in-the-headlights all the way through. A lot of skaters have a skate like that in their lives but it was bizarre to see KMT so frozen. I couldn't help worrying that SC wants to stamp out anything natural and instinctual wherever it exists and replace it with plastic political robots they cue and prompt and control, and they get their paws on any skater who starts to make a splash, forcing them into a rigid plastic mold.

    2. Some people just want to insert themselves into every moment to validate their own self-importance. If I was a skater, I would roll my eyes every time she came around wielding the mic, but strangely the skaters seem to enjoy her presence during the interviews. What is that saying about "one hand washing the other." She must be doing something really great for the skaters for them to tolerate her omnipresence.

    3. I don't see enjoyment, never have. She's an official in their Federation, everybody plays along, smile smile smile. The skaters aren't brain trusts, they're thinking about their own careers.