Friday, November 2, 2012 weighs in on Debbi's in-house commentary.

For those who aren't aware, is a terrific web site covering competitive ice dance. Their contributors are observant, timely, well-researched, informative and fair, and are especially good at letting us know what to watch for at each competition, focusing quickly on what's important and why.

Below are's remarks about the in-house commentary at Skate Canada. I feel as if would have preferred to shrug it off, but the in-house commentary by Debbi Wilkes and Liz Manley was such an egregiously unprofessional, inconsiderate, super-embarrasing exercise in vanity, it interfered with the ability of those in attendance to enjoy the competition, and so had to address it.

As Skate Canada has not revealed if this is going to be an element at Canadians and Words, had no choice but to weigh in on what the experience was like for everyone - public, skaters, judges, etc. - attending Skate Canada. Forewarned is forearmed.
Okay. I have to say something about the in-house commentators. For anyone that’s not aware, Skate Canada had Debbi Wilkes and Liz Manley on hand with microphones. From a booth down by the kiss & cry, they got on their mics after every skater and commented on their program. The dialogue was sometimes error-ridden, usually cringeworthy, and basically unnecessary. I am not usually a harsh person, but this was one of the worst ideas that Skate Canada has ever had. Beyond being annoying for attendees who didn’t want to listen to it, it was unprofessional, as the remarks were being broadcast through the arena while the judges and technical panel were still working. Plus, it was awkward at best when someone skated poorly, and they tried to say things like, “So’n’so is such a fighter, even though that didn’t go as planned.” I’m one of those people who hides her face during an embarrassing scene in a movie, because I can’t stand the awkwardness, and for most of this commentary in Windsor, I had my shoulders up around my ears, like I was a turtle that could retract into my shell. Awful. I didn’t hear any positive feedback about the experiment, so I hope hope hope that they never put an arena through that again.

Here's what I think. At the moment, the story is there was a "glitch" with Skatebug, and Debbi/Liz was the fill-in.

Sure. A glitch with skatebug.

 Competition is stressful enough for the figure skaters, their families, friends, supporters and coaches.

It's potentially stressful for the public which has made the decision to spend a substantial amount of disposable income on a figure skating competition, and are hoping for a good experience.

They don't need to be subject to Debbi Wilkes' vanity on blast. The absolute second Lynn Rutherford's twitter announced that Skate Canada had decided to "enhance" the event with Debbi Wilkes' unavoidable and relentless in-house commentary, everyone knew the Orwellian fix was in.

What Debbi Dimwit seems incapable of grasping is people aren't as dumb as she thinks they are. She can say "enhance" til she's blue in the face, the people in the seats are going to experience it for what it is: the obnoxious and vanity-bloated exercise of a woman who doesn't want to live outside the spotlight.

Skate Canada owes those who attended Skate Canada a discount.

Debbi, shut the fuck up.

P.S. When I went to wikipedia to be reminded how Revell/Wilkes's bronze medal was bumped up to silver, I found this:
Wilkes and Revell had to withdraw from the 1963 World Figure Skating Championships when Wilkes fell from a lift while posing for press photographs prior to the event. She hit the ice head-first and fractured her skull.
It's coming on fifty years since this happened - can I laugh?

I kept going back to re-read and make sure it wasn't a metaphor.

Debbi, you ought to have taken the hint back then. You were literally clubbed in the head.


  1. If there really was a glitch with Skatebug it doesn't mean of course that Skate Canada was obliged to provide all of the attendees that which was usually only available to those who wanted it (and even then, the ticket-buyer had control over the pesky little things and could turn them off and on at will).

    This "glitch" doesn't explain Debbi setting herself up in a clearly designated space right next to the Kiss&Cry. Very visible, with the SC logo (which SC is inexplicably enraptured with) surrounding her and with comfortable table and chairs. The ticket-buyers were not only supposed to listen to her, they also had to actually look at her during the whole competition. Where are everyone's eyes when the skaters aren't on the ice? On the Kiss&Cry. Debbi was as close to that area of the rink as she could possibly get without being in the skaters' laps while they were waiting for their scores. It was truly revolting.

    This special set-up for Debbi did not have the look of a hastily thrown-together idea because of an electronic glitch. In my view it looked like something that had been carefully planned for maximum exposure and attention. I can't believe she not only gets away with this, it looks like the Federation applauds it.

  2. Of course it was set up for maximum exposure and attention!!!

    How does a simple application such as skatebug experience a glitch that can't be worked out in time for the event?

    Let's look at what had to happen:

    1) It's sudden, last-minute. It is brought to Debbi's attention, because of course she's the first person you'd run to with a technical issue.

    Debbi's all about making sure the fans are taken care of and where would they be without this optional audio feature of which only a few people take advantage? Quick - reserve prime real estate in the Kiss'n'Cry! See if Liz Manley is available to serve as foil and stooge! Wire Debbi up a la public address system so it's even better than skatebug -whereas fans can choose whether or not to use skatebug, Debbi decides every single person in that venue will hear her voice and see her nonstop, event start to event finish.

    That's how it happened?- skatebug blew out suddenly and Debbi Wilkes was the person the venue operators went to for a solution and they quickly put that solution together, the logistics, how it would work. That's why she's paid the big bucks. Phew, emergency averted!

    Or -

    2) skatebug had problems decently in advance of Skate Canada and all the engineering and tech talent in Ontario couldn't get that thing operational. What to do, what to do. Cue the Debbi Solution, which is even better than skatebug, cause now everyone gets to hear her whether they want to or not.

    Which of those scenarios happened, do you think?

    Since when has skatebug been essential? Why would its removal from Skate Canada require an omnipresent Debbi as a substitute?

    Of course skatebug didn't malfunction. That Debbi set up was no last minute make-do, let's be real. Look at who we're dealing with here. This was a gambit.

    How do we distinguish between "Skate Canada" and Debbi? Who do we mean, these days, when we say "Skate Canada"? WHO is approving of Debbi? Thompson, who hired her, is gone. She's still there.

    Do we think Debbi asked permission/approval for her Skate Canada stunt, or did Director Wilkes make an executive decision, order it done and folks hopped to it? Let's again be real - she did this.

    I suspect that's it. Her idea, nobody had to approve it, that was that.

    To whom is she acountable? Who is this woman's supervisor? Does she have one?

    The Federation still pays Debbi even though she is obviously doing absolutely no business development whatsoever, and it certainly appears to me that she and Barb have desperately seized upon Piper and Paul as something to promote so they can appear to be doing some type of job.

    (And never mind if that ham-handed promotion is insulting to all of the other up coming ice dancers at Skate Canada and all of the other engaging personalities on the national team, many of whom, IMO, are more engaging than Paul and Piper.)

    Looking back at Debbi from day one of her directorship, it's obvious Debbi was never ever expected to perform the responsiblities suggested by her ever-evolving titles. The only constant with Debbi is camera time, and that's it. She's done nothing else.

    This gig was cosmetic/sham from the first. The scam was to provide Debbi with a generic marketing rep/communications position whose agenda was marketing Debbi Wilkes. The woman is shameless.

    1. What should be asked is - what does Skate Canada get out of this? We know what Debbi gets out of it. Who are the personalities keeping her on? What do they get out of keeping her there?

      Debbi did a lot of pro-active narrative-control in the heyday of the sham, that's true. She was hands on in the marketing of two outright hoaxes involving Scott and Tessa - the Jessica hug, where she supervised Jessica's deployment in the Kiss'n'Cry after the Olympic ice dance medal ceremony, and the "book signing" in Mississauga, where she fed Scott and Tessa their lines.

      Was that considered such a value add it was worth the resources and salary they spent/spend on Debbi?

      Virtue Moir, IMO, have a lot to answer for if they diverted Skate Canada resources to a scam - a scam whose rationale was supported only by the non-skating based neurosis and control freak issues of Virtue Moir. Their neurosis were so severe they required an in-house sham coordinator who made no other contribution to Skate Canada yet was paid out of Skate Canada's coffers and still is?

      Has this paid off for Skate Canada? Has protecting their hot house flower gold medalists even in ways that are not Skate Canada's job (and should not be Skate Canada's job), produced packed houses to see these stars compete? So, IOW, good return on their investment?

      What justifies Debbi now? The sham is in low gear.

      Debbi pasted herself onto everything Scott and Tessa did, and she used their fame as a bait and switch for herself, used their spotlight as a platform to shine the spotlight on herself.

      Has she made a real contribution to Skate Canada since assuming the directorship? It looks to me that what few sponsors Skate Canada scraped together (for God's sake they even lost Kozy Shack!) were Thompson's "work". Every time there was some public thing to manage it was Thompson and his foot-in-mouth out there holding forth - whether it was finances, event planning or skater p.r.

      Why did Skate Canada give Debbi her own show? Skate Canada sort of functions like a small network or production company and Debbi has her own show inside it. What does that contribute to the organization? Why are they justified paying her salary? What does she do media wise that isn't done more effectively by just about everybody else?

      The mystery here are the names and identities of the person or persons responsible for keeping Debbi on, and then the mystery is why.

  3. P.S.

    I can see Debbi feeling entitled to whatever she can get out of Skate Canada, whatever pork she can gorge herself on, meagre as the offerings are. After all the time she's put in with Skate Canada, as old as she is - and is she Tracy Wilson yet? She is not! And Tracy only won a bronze. Debbi won a bronze that was later upgraded to silver when the ISU learned the silver medalists had signed a pro contract prior to the Games!

    Set aside that Tracy Wilson has made an actual contribution to figure skating commentary, that she's good at it, and that she's justifiably popular behind the scenes and with the audience. Shouldn't feeling entitled to the rewards of the media spotlight count for more? Fuck what other people say and think. She's getting hers.

    And let's not forget that Debbi Wilkes, no spring chicken, spent quite a lot of time sucking up to and doing the shady work for a couple of freaking 20 year olds who were probably set to earn more money than she's ever seen in her life. Life is not fair, by God, but nobody ever gave Debbi Wilkes anything (except that unearned silver medal and some other stuff). She's had to get it for herself.

  4. Sc has W/P as great couple, why promoting G/P ??

  5. According to ice network, Elizabeth Manley is going to be doing "the same sort of work for Skate Canada at the upcoming Canadian and World Championships." Does this mean that they're continuing the in-house commentary? Is there anything fans can do to stop this? I'm going to those events and I really don't want to hear in-house commentary after each skater.