Saturday, December 8, 2012

Try hard

The orange team at TEB asks Paul and Piper "What quality do you have that other skaters lack?" Piper's response is instananeous:
Personality. Skaters who aren't us lack it.

Blow me, both of you. Other skaters lack personality? Virtue Moir, MTM, Weaver and Poje, Paul & Islam, Duhamel Radford, Capellini & Lanotte, Pechelat & Bourzat?

The question wasn't "how would you describe your skating or your style on the ice."

It was specifically - what do you have that other skaters LACK.

Other skaters don't have personality. Other skaters aren't fun. We are.

Get a personality, Asher Hill.
(You know Piper is way more fun.)
I kind of took the question as skating-related but if Paul and Piper had to talk about what they have as skaters that other skaters lack there might be a lot of dead air on that video.

So let's not talk about that. 

With these two, Skate Canada pretends that figure skating is just an incidental vehicle for all the personality. There's no there, there.

I don't see that much freaking "personality" there either. I see one note mugging and relentless grinning. Know who else does that? Debbi. And what a lovely personality she does have.

Paul adds 'We're a lot of fun'.

Oh my, they are a blast. There's nothing funner than letting it be known, all casual, like it's your due, that you're guaranteed a place on the World team two months prior to the event that determines the World team. We know how Skate Canada's World Team selection is all about earning it on the ice.

Also fun is when the 4th place finishers at Trophee Eric Bompard don't so much as get to take a bow at the gala but the 6th place finishers (out of 8) get to skate 2 programs plus an additional group spot thanks to pre-comp dealing by their Federation, but they pass it off by smarming that they got the invite thanks to how their programs were received. Those two sets of exhibition costumes they brought along in their luggage? Big-assed coincidence.

Everything about Piper and Paul is fun like that.

Listen, Skate Canada. "We HAVE fun" is fine to say. We ARE fun is presumptuous, because unlike actual skating strengths, it's subjective. One person's fun is another person's obnoxious.

It's no surprise they said this, because fun! and personality! has been the brand message Skate Canada has been clubbing us over the head with since this team was created. "Fun" and "Personality!" was their fallback once it became obvious that Plan A: "Piper brings out Paul's masculinity in a way Vanessa never did", and "chemistry" wasn't going to fly.

The potshots that Carol Lane & Co. took at Vanessa's skating (she's not as 'elegant' as Paul but the girl keeps herself fit and is a hard worker! (Head pat.)) kind of got swept under the rug once we all got a look at just how elegant this new team was and what an outstanding example of classic masculine/feminine Gilles Poirier project on the ice. And we all got a gander at Piper's skating skills, and what an incredible upgrade she was from the skating of dear, hard working Vanessa.

Cue Plan B! Personality!

It's such an exhausting, peurile, juvenile idea of personality. Pose! Mugging! SMILES! Own the camp - and amp it up so everybody knows it's on purpose and nobody mistakenly thinks there's feminine stuff leaking out inadvertantly!

That's personality!
It's so freaking cheerleader/pageant/OTT, not to mention try hard. Skate Canada is striving to sell that one-dimensionality as the the ultimate in entertainment when the reality is it's as trite as it gets. It's also controlling (classic Skate Canada) and bullying and boorish (classic Skate Canada) - almost sort of like the worst of Kurt Browning. Imagine if Kurt Browning were as relentless as he is but not the figure skater he is. It gets a little less fun then.

I know Debbi Wilkes has a marketing degree from the 1870s but she might have misunderstood the whole "Show, don't tell" thing, because all of her ideas are about telling us stuff and never showing anything. We've all seen what a winner that is. Paul & Piper are right up there, classic Debbi - it's all talk about how fun they are, then Paul & Piper strike a "fun" pose to show much personality they've got. We all know that's what personality is. Cartoonishness and teeth.

And that's it. That's the gig.

Supposedly, this cookie-cutter personality show they're putting on, the relentless camera mugging, regular mugging and self-congratulation, justifies pushing them forward, giving them gala slots and inflating their scores.

(Debbi must think Plushenko's "Sex Bomb" exhibition is the best show program of all time because whenever I see Paul & Piper's act on and off the ice, that's the program I think about.)

In Piper Gilles, Skate Canada appears to have landed someone as voracious for self-promotion as Debbi Wilkes. Piper hasn't done anything yet (she's had something handed to her - not the same thing), and, as an American, she's brand-new to Skate Canada, yet her unearned sense of entitlement and lack of humility is eyebrow raising.

This whole thing is comparative on a personal level that's absolutely ridiculous. For instance, Piper & Paul are "refreshing". Compared to whom? Who are the tedious skaters from whom Piper & Paul are a refreshing change? 
Probably Paul Islam (here with J Butt).
Bleach your hair to straw, Alex, pound on the make-up
like a tranny and hot glue some rick-rack
to your skating dresses.Then we'll tak about fun.
I find Gilles Poirier as predictable as all the other camera hogs in sports who make the same faces, strike the same poses, put on the same stupid costumes (Dorks in lame' hot pants! Hilarious). Their schtick is as predictable as Mark Ballas surfacing in floodwater pants, spats and fish faces. It's common as dirt.

Skate Canada is trying to control the conversation here, change the subject, discuss the team only in the context that serves their purpose and justifies pushing this team forward. What about Piper and Paul's skating, her skating skills, her ice dance skills, their elements?

Uh, I'll have to look at youtube and get back to you!

When you want to sell yourself as crazy fun and full of personality, you might want to not come off like an asshole, as Piper has been doing for some time now.

When P.J. Kwong was quizzed about her "unbiased" opinion that Piper & Paul ought to have beaten Hubbell Donohue at Skate Canada, P.J. had no case. She could only turn questions around. It's the sort of thing where a reasonable question comes up and you answer questions with a question because you're full of shit and don't want to be pinned down, so you just muddy the waters and focus on the questioner.

"We're fun - we have personality!" Isn't something you say about your freaking SELF. It's not something you say others LACK, especially when many of those others are your teammates.

Gilles Poirier, know who finds you fun? You do. You know who loves your personality the most? You do.* You're gonna need rotator cuff surgery from patting yourself on the back.

WHY are Skate Canada skaters such morons? I get that Debbi is. Where's the reality check for the rest of them?

Look how idiotic Charlie White and Meryl Davis sounded when they started sort of talking about themselves in the third person this season - "chemistry you can cut with a knife" and their other attributes. It sounded weird and phony and not like them at all. Fortunately, they've pretty much kicked that experiment to the curb and are back to sounding normal. And that's Charlie White and Meryl Davis, who actually have a resume.

These two haven't earned anything, and that includes their scores at Canadians last season.

*I want to bash Tanith a little more for her shout out to Piper about how great it was to see someone SMILE in the KnC.When that type of remark is made, it sounds the opposite of fun and smiley - it sounds passive-aggressive bitchy, and hostile to the rest of the competitors. It's also also putting the focus on the wrong things, which I realize is the whole idea.

And, Tanith, I think more figure skaters would smile in the Kiss'nCry no matter where they placed if they knew they were going to go to Worlds no matter how they did on the Grand Prix or how they skated at Nationals, and if they were getting all of the perks and promotion of success prior to being successful. Everybody would be smiling!

P.S. I'll tell you what first struck me as hinky about Gilles/Poirier, and that's before all this other crap started.

It was the overcompensation. Successful teams have split before - Yanakowskas/Coughlin, Bobek/Beharry - why not Crone/Poirier?

It's just that as soon as Paul settled on Piper the verdict started rolling in as if it had been banked and scripted and just waiting for opening night. It was a little too on-the-spot.

There was nothing organic. It was practiced, conspicuous, compensatory bullshit. A whole lot of "I loved Vanessa and Paul ... BUT". They were really forcing the point, just like now with the fun thing.

What actually happened there? Does Vanessa really know? Do we? Was it all Paul's decision or did anyone else of interest have their fingerprints on the dumpage?

It's so normal, but the spin that followed wasn't. That made me pause. If it were just another partner split, well, that's figure skating. But this one came with pre-fab spin. Why does a partner split need a clearly rehearsed sales pitch that pretends to praise the former partner while actually backhanding her, while overselling the new team.

The initial reports pretended that Paul and Piper were burning up the ice with chemistry and sex appeal. Of course as soon as everyone else got a look the whole thing was re-set and we started getting the "fun" meme, but it still doesn't answer why everything felt as if Vanessa getting dumped and Piper getting brought on board was a little bit executed, like some battle plan that came with a built-in marketing scheme.

That article out of Scarborough pretty much positioning Paul as the real star of the team and Vanessa as his well-intentioned, try-hard but basically lesser cohort was a red flag.

There was the report that Vanessa wanted a new coaching environment and Paul didn't, and so he surprised her by dumping her. If that happened, sure, coach Carol Lane will talk up Paul as a major talent and backhand Vanessa. That's survival. It was all over that article.

However, if you know skating you know that Vanessa Crone carried herself lightly, was precise, musical, focused. She wasn't classically gorgeous in the way Paul projected (and Scarborough costumes its female ice dancers like shit - make-up too). She didn't swan and swoop like Paul, but she was the organizing principle in their performances. She was the one who made them a unit.

And that said, good teams split all the time, often for reasons that have little to do with what's on the ice, but the sell on Paul's teaming up with Piper was extremely quick on the draw.

P.S.  About three years ago I saw this 2008 video of Piper Gilles at Lake Placid

 personality for days

where she and Zach Donohue chat about their new partnership. I don't think I ever got through the whole thing mostly because I kept wondering if she were fully awake. I went looking for it after I put up this post.

There's nothing remarkable about it - that's for sure - but I was wondering where all the personality came from that Skate Canada is currently hyping as this video seems a little deficient in that area. And I wonder if the Skate Canada noise about Gilles Poirier is all in two dimensions. Strike a pose! Wear colorful, tacky-on-purpose costumes! Work yellow hair and smile, smile smile!!  Because it's not on the ice.


  1. CBC plugged the documentary twice today, 2 different previews....the first one begins with a brief clip of scott doing ropes....and then no TS in sight for the rest of the 2 spots. The doc appears to be about every current Canadian figure skater except the two of them.

  2. "You're gonna need rotator cuff surgery from patting yourself on the back."

    You totally made my day with this comment.


    ..................O.o.................could you possibly be telling the truth..........

    1. Meryl and Charlie have the same (type of) sign.

  4. What's your take on the video (and subsequent gifs) of Scott fussing over Tessa before the FD. Genuine moment or just another thing to tease the fans with.

    They then also allowed themselves to be photographed candidly in the same shot after the banquet.

    1. He's been doing that stuff since they were teen-agers (fussing with her, stroking her arm, etc.). People just didn't get it, I guess, or thought it was platonic. They also hold hands more boy/girl, etc.

      Slow dancing in the dark on the rink sidelines while you're checking out that the cameras are aimed your way is a different deal.

      I can't begin to understand why it's okay for them to exit and enter some places (hotels, rinks, venues, etc.) together, but they have to ignore each other and walk in separately to a banquet, and also avoid if possible being seen dining at the same table, or sitting next to each other on a bus. Their logic is distorted, and so is their focus, is all I can guess.

    2. P.S. - I just think fans who see Scott fuss over Tessa, see them do "real" hand holding on the ice, or show up in a seeming "candid" photo and because of that hope the two of them are prepping to reveal or have finally dropped the crap are setting themselves up for disappointment. Don't forget that at this point they also have the excuse that they'd implicate Skate Canada in the lies, as Skate Canada outright hoaxed the public many times over - the "book signing" video at the Hershey Center in 2010, the Jessica photo call hug at PNE after the ice dance medal ceremony, all of Barb's endeavors. Not to mention if it came out officially that they're married that officially casts a fresh eye on the 4CC's 2011.

  5. As many others have pointed out, Tessa and Scott are not behaving any differently than they ever have, nor for that matter saying anything different (for those who think what they say matters at all).

    Isn't it interesting nothing changes, whether they supposedly have separate SO's or not.

    I don't get the obsession of analyzing every little detail as if something were different. Nothing is different.

    1. I think no matter what, it doesn't register with fans that Scott and Tessa are aware of what they're doing when they're in public always. Always.

      They are. Fans also resist the idea that public includes anywhere fans are around.

      Does that make everything they do inauthentic (such as Scott fussing over Tessa, stroking her arm?). Does it mean Scott hasn't played outside the margins sometimes?

      It doesn't, but they are never going to do anything inadvertantly. Oops, I said our kid's name! Whoops, I kissed you on the lips outside of our program! Oops, I'm behaving like this with Tessa because my guard is down.

      It doesn't happen. If natural affection shows, or they're candid around fans, it's because they decide to be, think it doesn't matter, have judged the circumstances and don't care. They are never, however, not aware of what they're doing, even if what they're doing is idiotic (they don't realize it's idiotic, but whatever it is in public, they're conscious of it. There's a choice.). They're never unguarded in this respect - they never let something out by accident.
      Tacking something off topic (off-post topic, not off blog topic). I was wondering if it should be a blog post and maybe it will if it reverbs at 4CCs and Worlds, but the comment is this: On facebook, one of their longterm family-friends/sham enablers is - again- being catty and bitchy about Meryl and Charlie. This is the same person who has chatted with the parental and auntal Moirs on fb, and often dropped rah rah Scott and Jessica comments on sham spams. She's the one who extolled the what-you-see-is-what-you-get-ness of Scott and Tessa. Yet after GPF - she's fucking bitchy and catty about Meryl and Charlie. Downright nasty and spiteful.

      What did they do to her? They skated their absolute best - they won GPF as they've done since 2009. This person should consider their win a good luck charm as to VM's prospects for Worlds, but no. Why get bitchy and personal? But she did.

      It made me wonder if Scott and Tessa, with their enormous circle of family, friends and community - experience a heightened and intense investment in their lives from people they actually know. If everyone they know shoves in their two cents in the guise of being supportive, their two cents about everything from their relationship to their coaching to their program choices. And if to Scott and Tessa, at least initially, the idea of exposing the facts (not the day to day, just the facts) of their relationship status to fans felt like adding a few hundred thousand more people who thought they had standing to hand out advice to them about their personal business as well as their skating business. And that made them receptive to Skate Canada's public relations schemes, and their parents receptive as well.

      It's the old double edged sword - the community is generous, supportive, but also smothering, needy and oppressive - and that's people they know. Maybe their experience with the extended community (and the guilt or ambivalence about possibly not enjoying some of the ways "everybody feels part of it") did make them susceptible.

      If so, I think they did the math wrong. It's always easier to have a bunch of strangers up in your business - or thinking they're up in your business - than it is with the sort of small town community they come from. Fans/strangers are easily re-directed, engaged and satisfied with very basic management tactics (I don't know how involved management gets with what the Shibs do, but their twitter stuff and their Shibsibs videos engage the fans and make the fans feel part of things without sharing a single thing that's the slightest bit personal. "Community" of extended family, friends, acquaintances, etc., can't be managed like that.

      I think if this played a role at all, they got it totally backwards, as usual with everything they do in terms of p.r.

    2. The speculation above relates only to the origins of the sham, not to what it became, which was Scott and Tessa giving their extended community license to join Scott and Tessa in having a lot of sport and getting tons of yuks manipulating and duping the stupid "not one of us" public gullible enough to fall for what Scott and Tessa said.

    3. Any hints as to the name of this longterm family friend who's upset over the GPF, pretty please? Is it a Moir? I'd like to see what they wrote.

    4. You can find the person if you go back to a blog post on Worlds 2011 discussing a short but sour grapes conversation being held on Carol Moir's wall about Worlds 2011. This person is participating in that conversation and isn't a Moir.

  6. Thank you. From one Ms. J? There's some interesting comments from a Ms. L on Ms. J's posts about Tessa and Scott.

    1. They're just all class.

      But you know, as long as they're good to their own, who cares if they're petty bitches to people who've never done anything but compete against their favorites.