Monday, November 19, 2012

Official hinkiness

6th Place at TEB and not French = 2 gala performances.

Updated to mention that Hubbell & Donohue were not invited to skate at TEB's gala but P&I skated twice. TWICE.  No last minute fill in because they packed their gala exhibition costumes with them before leaving for the competition.

Maybe if they hadn't skated the second program the team who finished ahead of G&P might have been able to skate the gala once. What's his name again P.J.? He used to skate with Piper? Name not coming to you?

If this is what Skate Canada requests for TEB, imagine what we'll see at Canadians and then Worlds. (As Piper and Paul are already on the team.)

Piper and Paul are prolific social media participants, yet I didn't see either posting their excitement or gratitude at being unexpectedly asked to take a major part in the gala performances usually reserved for medalists and a host country's local and favorite skaters.

Rather, Piper expressed satisfaction with their TEB experience, and, in the same matter-of-course tone as her "come see us in person at Worlds", mentioned the next day's gala.


Piper and Paul are smiley. A lot of people at Skate Canada are big enthusiasts of this team, and striving to make the enthusiasm contagious on the basis of not much more than that.


Tanith Belbin even tweeted out specifically to Piper Gilles (an ex-American skater) how great it was to see someone SMILING in the Kiss'n'Cry at the otherwise apparently Godforsaken Skate Canada Grand Prix. Tanith - do you have this complaint when watching football and hockey - that more team members should smile, no matter what the score? Is figure skating a pageant? What does smiling have to do with anything? It's sports. Or is this preliminary sour grapes on your part over the success of Virtue and Moir's non-smiley but hugely popular Carmen?

It's great to be natural smilers like Tanith and Piper, so the two fawned over each other a bit, but again it seemed like a random reason to single out Gilles and Poirier. And Tanith is USFSA, not SC. But what the fuck, for real.

There's one topic that's avoided and that's the actual skating.

If, like P.J. Kwong, you so strongly believe that Team X deserved a medal over Team Y that you take to twitter and use your coaching credentials to declare this belief unbiased, in my opinion you ought to be able to come up with specific reasons why if you're asked. A valid example of what Team X did better than Team Y - the elements that drove your opinion in the first place. Not - uh, well, I'll have to go back and look.

Go back and look? You don't know? If going back and looking is going to help you find reasons for an expert opinion you've already shared, then why doesn't going back and looking help you preview Paul/Islam? Kwong said on twitter that she couldn't comment on Paul/Islam's programs because she can only judge skating skills in person. Paul/Islam are on youtube, though. Why not check it out?

She's an SC mouthpiece and an ice dance coach, Paul/Islam are Skate Canada National Team ice dancers. P.J. feels comfortable going back to youtube to watch and compare Hubbell/Donohue to Gilles/Poirier at SC so as to retroactively come up with reasons why she's used her status as an expert to declare Gilles/Poirier the rightful Skate Canada bronze medalists, but she's not interested in watching Paul/Islam until she can see them live?

She can only evaluate Piper and Paul - live, video, neither, both - doesn't matter.

Incidentally Hubbell & Donohue outscored Gilles and Poirier by a fairly whopping amount at TEB.

Also incidentally, how does a team like Gilles and Poirier pull down 63(??) in the short dance at last year's Canadians, and despite experts such as P.J. declaring them improved and despite no visible mistakes, pull down a mere 51.+ in front of an international panel outside Canada this year?

There's no Congeniality segment in CoP. There's no Level 4s or high GOES for fun. Or "this program is more appealing" base value.

It's a competition - GP aren't being scored against previous outings, but against other teams. P.J. tells twitter that as an ice dance expert, she can objectively tell us they should have gotten the bronze medal, but can't can't offer a single relevant example off the top of her head of what G/P did better than the bronze medalists.

Why are Piper & Paul skating at the TEB gala? Is it a special request by Skate Canada because they're the 2013 Canadian bronze medalists and have a bye to the World Team? How does that affect the lower ranked teams who will be battling it out for fourth place at Canadians 2013? I want to hear from them.

Sure, a lot of figure skaters find galas a chore and if Piper & Paul eagerly present themselves as willing to round out an afternoon's closing fun, why not.

Can Skate Canada talk about other things this season that doesn't come off as "We interrupt this 24/7 promotion of Piper and Paul to pay lip service to some other non World medalist team Canada skaters. Hi!

Now - back to your regularly scheduled Piper and Paul!"

For example, how about some follow through on Dube/Wolfe? Last season Skate Canada blatantly hyped and favored Dube/Wolfe - well, the Dube part of that - rewriting the story of how the team got together while promoting Dube's work ethic and championship mentality. True to form as we've experienced it lo these many years, Dube rewarded them by blimping out over this past summer, getting a "late start" (it was said) compounded by an ankle issue (it was said), missed all the summer comps, wasn't ready for HPC, and missed the GPS.

You go girl, you hard working champion, you.

It just cracks me up.

Skate Canada has dropped Dube/Wolfe like a hot rock. The only time they're mentioned is if a fan presses someone on twitter (Skate Canada, P.J., etc.). Otherwise it's Dube Wolfe who?

Where's the follow up? What are their current plans - what is their status?

Instead of 24/7 Gilles/Poirier from Skate Canada and their p.r. mouthpiece, P.J., what if Skate Canada interviewed (not just skyped) W&P about their Grand Prix experience? Based on Kaitlyn Weaver's social media remarks, she and Andrew were shaken by the feedback and the scores they received, were considerably disheartened, but are now re-motivating themselves and revamping. It seems there's a lot to talk about there, and maybe some pumping up, expressions of faith, and overall support is called for from their Federation, considering the team still managed to medal in both GPs despite their disappointment. Where's the Skate Canada drumbeat for them?

They are SC's second ranked ice dance team. Is SC completely uninterested in W&P, preferring to hype a 51 point sd team from TEB?

There's another possibility. Which is that even the lower ranked skaters at Skate Canada are disenchanted with their Federation and prefer minimal engagement. This leaves the Federation looking as if they hardly have access to their own figure skaters.

Sure, during competitions the skaters are compelled to present themselves to be interviewed, but maybe much of the rest of the time maybe they're avoiding Skate Canada's embrace. Piper and Paul step in to fill the void. They don't know the word "no". Their availability gives Skate Canada something to do or to appear to be doing on the daily, as it appears to me that the highest profile directors in Skate Canada's communications and public relations areas have nothing but patronage jobs to begin with (Debbi and Barb).

P.S. - apparently the last-place finishing French place team was unable to participate in the gala due to one of them being under the weather. Perhaps the Canadian Piper and Pal stepped in to replace them.

This is beyond weird, the media whoring and attention seeking. Yes, fan outreach is nice but this is ham-handed and it's self-serving. Are they jostling for a reality show? Is there a voting contest in which they're entered so they're out there trying to drum up brand awareness and support? Where is all this intended to get them in a competitive sport where nobody's crowned homecoming King and Queen? How does Skate Canada envision this translating to success for Gilles/Poirier?

Until something else emerges, my working hypothesis is A) the other teams are keeping Skate Canada at arms' length except when required and B) this push is filler because Barb and Debbi don't have enough other things going on to show how busy they are. And they're a bit embarrassed that the figure skaters are trying to disassociate themselves from their federation on the pr end when at all possible. Using that hypothesis, the overhype of Gilles/Poirier is necessary to convince the public they are worth obsessing over, otherwise the public would be - why is Skate Canada all over this new, low-ranked team who have not impressed at their first international? Why them up in Thomas Sabo's grill, why them getting instagrammed, why are they the bff's of P.J. and Skate Canada? Skate Canada is pumping them up so as to justify talking about them a lot, and they're doing that because they don't have enough else to talk about.

If Paul and Piper nominated themselves to fill in for the ailing French team, it would have been nice if Piper had facebooked an acknowledgment that they were under the weather but she and Paul were honored to be skating. It's the "This is just how it is for us - a bye to Worlds, and of course the gala" tone that calls attention to itself.

Scratch the above. Piper and Paul had costumes for their two performances, so they knew ahead of time - the gala costumes were in their luggage prior to the competition. Fun.

Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, who scored much higher than they did, didn't perform in the gala at all.

Past the top three medalists, gala participants at TEB are down to the discretion of the organizers, as it turns out. What do we think happened?

The organizers said - let's invite that fun, colorful, happy pair of sixth place Canadian ice dancers to skate two gala programs and bomb Gao's as well! Hope they have costumes!

Or Skate Canada contacted the organisers in advance of TEB and requested Piper and Paul's participation, so that Piper & Paul would be able to really show themselves to full advantage by packing their gala wear?


  1. A bit of humility and modesty would go a long way for Piper and Paul.

    1. They have a lot to be humble about right now, but they get perks without achievement, so why should they change?

  2. "Last season Skate Canada blatantly hyped and favored Dube/Wolfe - well, the Dube part of that - rewriting the story of how the team got together. while promoting Dube's work ethic and championship mentality."

    Yeah, whatever happened with this? It's very conspicuous how Skate Canada has not released any formal statement about Dube/Wolf. Girl was supposed to be the making of Sebastien, teaching him all about being a champion and patiently bringing him up to her level, RIGHT, SC? And all this after poor Dube was left without a partner because Bryce was forced to retire. Sebastien was so lucky that suddenly Dube was in need of a partner (imagine that!)

    Both SC and the Canadian skating media treat the public like dummies. What, we're too stupid to remember the real story at the time of the Dube/Davison breakup? All they did was make me roll my eyes last season every time they trumpeted their revised version of the facts regarding Dube/Wolf, and of course the accompanying "facts" about Jessica's strong work ethic (Since when? And no, I have not forgotten all about her work-ethic issues with Bryce). The hype did nothing to endear her (or the team) to me.

    Now with the OTT promotion of Gilles/Poirier they're again treating the public like we're brainless. I can see for myself how G/P compare to more experienced teams, thank-you-very-much. All that SC accomplishes is to make me start disliking a team that does have some good qualities. They just are not at the level of W/P (just as an example) and do not deserve all the hype. No matter how often SC tells me all about G/P's "fun" qualities, it won't change my mind about their skating...on the contrary...right now I just hope not only W/P but R/H and P/I leave them in the dust.

  3. Isn't anyone thinking of Scott...The same way I am??? If you have to question him, then he probablly is??? It's sad he has to pretend who he is not. I wish he were forthcomiong. I would Love to see who he would be with??? By the way Tessa & Scott Anna Karenina

    1. Isn't anyone thinking of Scott...The same way I am???


  4. They are obviously a ragged team. They're fine for a new team where one partner is much more skilled than the other. The problems are that the disparity shows and it often seems as if Paul is dragging Piper around the ice like a rag doll, and as if the choreography is trying to make a virtue of that necessity.

    The spin from Gilles & Poirier is also that this is their "style". Under CoP, though, you still have to skate. Shallow edges, lack of unison, short blade drive, and a host of other rough-looking elements aren't "style".

    P.J. Kwong's opinion that G&P ought to have beaten H&D (she couldn't remember Zach's name) at Skate Canada is particularly remarkable when one compares the teams a month later. As soon as the music started at the Rostelcom Cup it was immediately apparent that H&D were much deeper into the ice, had deeper, softer knees, longer, smoother blade drive and were skating with a great deal more power, smoothness and control than G&P. If G&P ought to have been bronze at Skate Canada, that's some regression by them at Rostelcom and some development by H&D, because H&D were obviously the superior team at this event.

    There's nothing wrong with putting together a new team with talented skaters and watching them develop while cheering them on. And nothing wrong with enjoying their skating no matter where they land on the leaderboard.

    There is something wrong when that team's skating federation puts on the pressure to reward this team disproportionately, and unfairly, and there's something wrong when one of their mouthpieces tweets that they ought to have beaten what is to any even semi-informed observer a clearly stronger pairing. Especially when this mouthpiece claims she's unbiased because she's speaking from her expertise as an ice dance coach, but when questioned about why her choice was the superior performance, can't cite a single specific.

    The problem with the hype for G&P is that with this type of hype you have to be able to at least fake that you deserve it, and you need more than bells and whistles to fake it convincingly.

    If Skate Canada wants the public to appreciate that Scott and Tessa are the once-in-a-generation, sublime ice dancers they are, the best of their era - the best of several eras - they can't on the flip side simultaneously try and shove Gilles & Poirier down our throats. Credibility goes straight out the window.

  5. Although G/P have made improvements, I think that they have been marked consistently in the GP series. Yes PJ Kwong has a personal interest with the Lane group and I find it hard to believe that she has yet to check out P/I's programs on youtube. Interesting that Tracy Wilson coaches out of the Cricket Club in Toronto and yet it doesn't appear that she has ever worked with students from the Lane group which is just outstide of Toronto - a suburb. You also have to wonder why someone like Paul MacIntosh is not being asked to help put the Lane group. I think the Lane group has a problem in not addressing their teams weakness' which surprises me...I just hope that P/I can put together 2 solid skates at Nationals and edge G/P for bronze...again it's nothing personal against G/P but I hope that Nationals is less skewed this year....

  6. "Credibility goes straight out the window."

    Does Skate Canada give a rip about credibility? The way they handled V/M's PR, together with Dube, and now G/P. They're clueless and incompetent.

    "again it's nothing personal against G/P but I hope that Nationals is less skewed this year...."

    Unless the current team running SC is kicked out the door, there's every reason to expect G/P to be gifted again at Canadians.

    1. I think you're correct. And of course credibility goes out the window - as soon as I typed it I understood how irrelevant that is to Skate Canada.

      Skate Canada's current top personnel have little interest in the success of the institution itself; I don't think they care that they have no title sponsors, I don't think they care about anything but self-aggrandizement - as Debbi's grasping gambit during Skate Canada demonstrates. The woman has nothing to do but set up a no-exit, trapped audience spotlight for herself.

      As much of the Skate Canada delegation at national level are a bunch of boors so contemptuous of both public and figure skaters they have little interest in disguising this when they're at events - what we must ask about Gilles & Poirier is what's in it for the people promoting them? That's where the answer is. It's just a value add that P.J. is in the tank due to her connections with their training center.

      Skate Canada's interest in G&P isn't about G&P themselves or their potential as an audience draw or their potential as future international medalists or Olympic or World team members. What's in this promotional overkill for Skate Canada?

      Is it something to do with the Gilles family? Do they have a nice place to invite top level Skate Canada personnel for the summer, boating, skiing? Any other perks? Something else?

      I think lowest common denominator speculation starts as "it's something to do." These Skate Canada people love to LOOK as if they're doing something and since G&P are obviously spotlight hungry themselves, they're happy to play along. There's not much of much getting done at Skate Canada to justify the positions the likes of Wilkes and MacDonald occupy, and I do get the impression that many of the figure skaters are trying to keep their distance when possible.

      So if Skate Canada can take Piper & Paul and tweet, instagram, link, cross-link, to where G&P spam has become competitive with the heyday of Jessica/Scott shamming across facebooks and other internet platforms, then it's a useful time waster and time killer. I'd say "make work" but "work", not even "make work" isn't something these people do unless the payoff is putting themselves in the spotlight.

      You know the old story about background players in theatre going around saying "peas and carrots, peas and carrots" to create a low conversational buzz and look like they're having real conversation? But they're saying nothing? This is kind of like that - at least speculation should start there. Look, we're busy outreaching, sponsor-plugging and skater promoting!

      And of course overreaching, such as trying to keep Piper & Paul a going concern by leaning on the judges at last season's Canadians, which obviously went on. First of all, William Thompson showing up to deny it may as well have been his confession, when you consider all the more substantive criticism Skate Canada ignores and he never gave a shit about. Also, Skate Canada's pattern of lying throughout the sham has been to pretty much say the opposite of whatever the truth is, and so William Thompson's visit to fsu to deny home cooking for G&P is practically a de facto confession.

      I've thought about it since I've talked about his fsu visit last, and I think perhaps the idea that he got obsessed with what a mere couple of fans were speculating is selling him short. I suspect more than a couple of fans were saying the scores were cooked - that it was the buzz at Canadians and in the "skating community" because there was a substantial disparity between G&P's skating and their scores - particularly at an event where the judges were strict with Virtue and Moir. In the guise of treating fans to his virtual presence to directly address their concerns, I think Thompson was actually angling to quiet the buzz elsewhere.

    2. "In the guise of treating fans to his virtual presence to directly address their concerns, I think Thompson was actually angling to quiet the buzz elsewhere."


      It makes perfect sense. FSU is nothing, just a gossip and discussion board, what do their opinions matter? But "buzz elsewhere" would be a concern. It's just too bad none of that buzz has turned into a productive investigation of Skate Canada's dealings and a demand for transparency and accountability.

  7. Are we to expect that G/P will leap from that 51 back up to oh, let's say 65 at Nationals? The mouthpieces will be crowing about how IMPROVED and WONDERFUL they are while everyone in the stands (and anyone watching who has, you know, eyes) will be left scratching their heads.

    1. 11:00

      I'm so disappointed in P.J. Up to now I had considered her such a good and objective commentator. Is it not possible for anyone to get close to the skaters and Skate Canada's events, such as HPC, without feeling obligated to adhere to the party line?

      Like it's been said, the hype for G/P is nothing but BS, as was the hype for Dube/Wolf.

    2. P.J. is already saying she thinks they were scored too low at TEB (in addition to having been robbed at Skate Canada), and did you know she's an ice dance coach, so she's not biased.

      The spin will be the judging panel at TEB was too harsh, and so the Canadian panel will reward them appropriately.

      The teams who are battling only for 4th place need a medal of their own - or maybe a separate competition schedule. The bronze medal is already awarded, so The Battle for Fourth" needs its own flight, its own evening, and its own medal.

    3. 11:26 - I had so many typos in the comment to which you're replying (too many "it's" instead of "its") - I deleted as you were responding.

      No, it's not possible to get access at HPC or get close to the skaters without becoming a promotional mouthpiece for the official spin. Figure Skating would have to be a much bigger sport before that ever happened. Even when a Sports Illustrated or major network covers figure skating they're working off approved content. There's nobody working that "beat" - they'd starve. Not only are they basically a promotional arm for the sport's official version of itself but even if they didn't want to be they have no other information. Who is going to spend their time doing an independent investigation?

      Even when Christine Brennan started thinking figure skating was a good bandwagon to jump on, her books were mostly "Figure Skating According to Lori Nichols." She got a source, one back scratched the other, and there you go.

    4. "Who is going to spend their time doing an independent investigation?"

      So basically they'll get away with all their bull***
      I guess not even the parents who pay for the skating bills have the time or power to do anything about this Federation.

  8. Anon 10:26

    Just like last year at Canadians. Did anyone (except the SC cheerleaders) in the stands or watching on TV think G/P were so good they should receive such high scores? They had just been together less than a year, but omg, they're almost caught up to W/P already!?! It was bs.

    1. And already better than Crone & Poirier!

  9. G/P arnt even close to W/P - they should be getting he marketing and promotion; fantastic skaters and lovely people - fingers crossed they make the world podium soon!

    1. Skate Canada has never promoted W/P. Before G/P it was all about Crone/Poirier. I used to think it was because Kaitlyn is American, but then so is Piper. I don't understand Skate Canada's fascination with Poirier over and above the other ice-dancers who are his competitors and arguably equal in talent and skill--Andrew Poje, Mitch Islam, Asher Hill--it sucks for them.

  10. Anon 4:15 - it's easy to understand if you just get how these people running SC's pr operate. They don't look around and think about promoting the way professionals do. They think - what's in it for me? Where do I come in?

    With Virtue Moir, as long as the sham was running, they were surgically attached to either Virtue/Moir or the Virtue Moir families, glomming onto the reflected spotlight at every turn, because they had a role to play that provided plenty of fodder for media whores like this crew and so they had plenty of access and more than plenty of opportunity to call attention to themselves.

    When that toned down they had to look for other opportunities to enhance THEMselves. They're not looking to enhance figure skaters. They have contempt for many of their own skaters - contempt and big mouths.

    Let me just emphasize even more - they're not fascinated by Piper & Paul. They're fascinated by THEMselves. Piper & Paul are a means to an end, yet another channel to keep in play their sole agenda, which is self-promotion and self-aggrandizement.

    Why Piper & Paul for this and not other skaters? Look at the set up:

    Poirier trains in Canada, albeit coached by a Brit or former Brit, but at least it's at a Canadian training center. Most of SC's top skaters train in the States, under non-Canadian coaches. This includes W&P. I think Mitch Islam's training was under family before he relocated to DSC. And Asher/Hill are clearly the stepchild of Scarborough.

    Skate Canada is just starving for anything they can share the credit for and the pickings are slim. The most successful current coach in Canada, Brian Orser, doesn't coach an international medalist-calibre Canadian (Phaneuf retired and she's dicey anyway). Joanne Rochette's coach retired, I think.

    It's possible that other accomplished coaches in Canada aren't interested in all that comes with crawling into bed with the marketing, public relations and communications terrors at Skate Canada, so the options narrow further (the options narrow for the terrors at Skate Canada. They're seeking publicity opportunities for themselves, not for the skaters. You don't get one without the other, and if you're not happy to share the spotlight with them, you don't get no spotlight. See how it works?).

    So Skate Canada (in the form of the individuals relevant here) has access to Gilles/Poirier, and, between competitions, that's not always the case with the skaters who don't train on home soil, and we see how Debbi gets when deprived of the spotlight for too long - she becomes ravenous, and we get a Skate Canada in-house commentary "enhancement" situation.

    The training in Canada piece of it not only serves Skate Canada's interests when it comes to bragging rights, but also on the media end. Scarborough is obviously willing to have Skate Canada all up in their grill - at least up in Paul and Piper's, and there's nothing the Skate Canada crowd enjoys more than second hand media attention and publicity.

    I make an exception for PJ as I don't think she's self-aggrandizing, but her dancing-around, turn-it-around, respond-but-don't answer performance on twitter didn't look good on her. I'll don't think she's cut from the same cloth as the worst of SC but she deserved to be called out on that.

  11. Remember that Worlds is in London. Look what Debbi pulled at Skate Canada alone.

    Of the prospective Canadian World team members, who among them are most likely to quid pro quo with Debbi & Co. and provide her with multiple pretexts to shove her mug on camera or video or get mentioned or instagrammed? Virtue and Moir? They were the only team she didn't get to interview at Skate Canada. Patrick Chan? W&P? Amelie "they didn't want me at Worlds" Lacoste? MTM (Debbi and Skate Canada: "MTM who?") Duhamel Radford? That other pairs team whose name neither I nor SC can remember?

    Who would let Debbi & SC go to town and provide many opportunities to get name checked above and beyond what they do when they pretend to do their job?

    I bet that's Piper & Paul, and I bet that's why Piper & Paul know they're going to London.