Sunday, February 24, 2013

OT - how have Meryl and Charlie improved since 2008-2009?

This is OT  but as D/W've spent yet another season with astronomical scores, and declarations that they're on par with Virtue Moir, I'd like to know how their skating has improved since they were 4th at the World Championships in 2009.

If one looks at Mahler and compares it with any subsequent fd of Virtue and Moir, we can see Virtue and Moir are now faster, considerably more powerful, and have kicked their twizzles into a whole other realm. There is no comparison between the team they were then and the team they are now. Their choreography has become more challenging. Their elements have become more challenging. The entrances and exits to the twizzles, the unison, the control, the speed - it's night and day and they were good back then. Their Mahler lifts look like junior skater lifts compared to what they're doing now. Their overall power blows what they did in Mahler out of the water - they cover a tremendous amount of ice in a single stroke, their patterns are huge.

Of course the ISU doesn't give a shit about that stuff.

I would ascribe it to Tessa being able to put on muscle, train like an athlete instead of using off-ice time for so much pt, which allows her to get deeper into the ice and generate more power. It opens up the possibilities for the two of them and they've taken full advantage.

Meryl and Charlie - same twizzles, same rotational lift (which is the rotational lift used by Belbin/Agosto - so, a 2006-era rotational lift), same dance spin done the same way (once they're in it). Their elements haven't changed at all. But they're getting scored like they've transformed themselves. How have they transformed themselves? They're the same skaters.

What accounts for it? Compared to 2008-2009, Meryl is better at finishing her movements, but neither one of them really uses their entire body to hit their lines - which is okay because they barely ever hold a line more than an instant - and obviously, CoP doesn't particularly care about that type of refinement (not just with them, but with skaters like Yuna Kim, for instance, with a poverty of movement from the knees up). Davis White's phrasing of their programs tends to blur to one note as the skating season goes on; they become more frenetic as they push themselves to be as fast - or at least as constantly busy - as they can.

Marina has created 'busier' choreography that enhances the appearance of tons of action, but it's not skating-centric busyness, and the element execution is the same. They are still choppy, they still generate speed by pushing, running, flinging and racing - and, if we stuck VM on the ice with them to compare - are they really going that fast? I don't think they're faster than Virtue Moir - I think VM are deeper, faster and more powerful with their stroking than Davis White, and move with greater ease and freedom. Their bodies are more open, there's no apparent "work". I think Davis White are 'quicker'.

I have been thinking about this for awhile, but I realized yesterday, while watching video of a Shib show rehearsal, that I've really been thinking about it. How for all the talk of rivalry nobody specifies what it is that makes Meryl and Charlie so close to Virtue Moir as figure skaters.

It's clear to me they don't have Virtue and Moir's power in their stroking. The "power" seems to be in flashy athletic moves, not the actual skating. They push, pull, run and scramble across the ice. Their patterns are nowhere near as huge as VM's anymore.

At -- Worlds 2012? GPF 2011, Meryl/Charlie and Scott/Tessa came out during practice and mimicked the opening movements of the Shibs' fd. Look at the difference between how the two teams move. Of course it's just opening choreography, but the difference between each team's clarity of movement is night and day. Even in those brief seconds I'd say VM are moving more powerfully, more easily, and cover more ice per step doing Shib steps. VM are actually even quicker.
The immediately obvious difference here is the same difference evident when they do their free skate. Virtue and Moir are the more powerful and the faster, but we're not allowed to notice that. It's supposed to be speed and power versus grace and detail. But VM have DW beaten in both categories.

In the rehearsal video of the Shibs yesterday. I saw deep knees, incredibly smooth skating, great control, lots of unison and speed. When they were juniors, they were graceful, but a bit slow and not dynamic. They've made huge strides in speed, power, unison and clarity and ease of movement. Lots of move as one (which is what connection means in figure skating). Their programs are arguably not as difficult as Meryl and Charlie's, but they strike me as much finer dancers and basic skaters, yet since their Worlds bronze medal they're getting crapped on (yes they have had some stumbles, but even when they skate beautifully they are no longer scored near DW in TES or components - I don't think).

The Olympic gold and silver medalists have continued to compete against each other and to be scored within a hair's breath - at least at major events where they compete against each other, the scores get a little bit closer. During the GP, DW's scores blow VM's out of the water, and let's not even talk about their respective nationals. The agenda at the US event appears to be to establish Meryl/Charlie as the best in the world, far out of even VM's reach, and the agenda at Canadians seems to be to establish Gilles/Poirier as the heirs to Virtue Moir.

The gold medalists have improved their skating on every level.The silver medalists have maintained their form, but the message we're supposed to hear is that DW are better or on par with VM. How do the gold medalists improve and the silver medalists maintain, but on the score sheet the silver medalists have advanced to where they're breathing down VM's neck? How does that happen? The team that stayed in place has somehow advanced on a better team that grew still more.

For God's sake, they beat VM on components which should never ever happen in any universe of figure skating, let alone ice dance.

I think their supporters would argue that Meryl and Charlie are finally being appreciated - that they were held down by politics in 2008-2009 (and yes, that result at Worlds was a joke).

But, it remains when I look at their skating from 2008-2009, they're the same skaters today doing the same elements the same way. All they change is their packaging. Die Fliedermaus was the same skating in a waltz package - the program, music, choreoraphy danced - the skaters did not, the elements did not. This year, they're trying to skate in a chemistry package - lots of beseeching arms and fevered facial expressions - still the same skating though - not just how they're skating it - but what they're skating. Is that rotational lift carrying through from 2008 to Sochi or will they actually do something different instead of claiming they are. The only time they actually did something different - the tango - they kept having to simplify it - taking out choreographic detail Moir and Virtue have been able to do since they were both teen-agers.

Virtue Moir have grown tremendously where it counts - where the blade meets the ice. But the scores ignore it.  It makes no sense at all. How have Meryl and Charlie improved since 2008-2009? They are strong individual skaters, in tremendous physical condition but what about their actual skating supports a claim that they are neck-and-neck with VM in ability?

I know CoP doesn't care, but in all the time DW have skated together, and their claims of connection, I've never seen either one react to or take an adjustment based off the other one while they're skating, which is something skaters with a connection should be able to do in a mutually interdependant sport.
P.S. - if there's validity to these observations, I'll go further and say it has nothing to do with Marina politicking for DW.  It's an ISU thing - or the egregiously scratchy, shallow skating of G&P wouldn't have been scored as it was at the 4CCs. IMO in the short at Canadians GP didn't lay down nearly what Paul Islam did but still outscored them - and in that short Paul Islam matched whatever particular assets GP bring to the table. They were fast.  Their twizzles, edges and unison crushed GP.

Is the ISU afraid when Virtue Moir retire there is nobody like them left, so they're overvaluing - once again - hugely theatrical, bombastic performance styles and just looking the other way at the actual skating? The type of thing that made ice dance a joke prior to CoP establishing real criteria?

Is it because Meryl/Charlie are more accessible, dance every dance (so to speak) while VM are mysterious, apart, at times appear to project the belief that they think they're the smartest people in the room, and keep pushing their programs to where, if the ISU appreciated it, it would force the ISU to, you know, work harder, and force the judges and so called tech callers (who don't seem to be actual specialists, but more on par with assignees) to see better and improve their understanding of the sport?

P.S. this is the best place to throw this in - I've read (Sinead Kerr) and heard of (Kurt Browning, for God's sake) people questioning why there's no deduction for stopping a program and then resuming, as if these fine skaters and other people had never heard of such a thing until Virtue and Moir, as if Virtue and Moir got special treatment or slid through a loophole.

Where were these thoughtful people when Zhang & Zhang won the silver medal at the Torino Olympics after they had to stop their program because she landed a throw in a painful split? They got their bearings and resumed and won silver. At a TEB some years ago, Craig Buntin sliced his hand in the middle of a program. They had to stop and bandage his hand to staunch the bleeding. They then resumed, and made the podium. Alex Shibutani experienced a quad spasm, stopped, then he and Maia resumed their program. In all cases the public response was how heroic the skaters were, and good for them! It was a feel good story in the cases of those who resumed and did well enough for a podium finish. Inspiring triumph over adversity.

But VM? It's all "Don't get me wrong - they're one of the best teams ever but should this be allowed?"

What the hell. Is it so threatening to have that much talent?

P.S. I read so much on line fantasizing about the atmosphere at Arctic Edge - fans creating fan fiction, doing a whole lot of projecting, and then adopting their fan fiction and projections as fact. For some fans, it's now fact that things are terribly strained between DW and VM. Prior to this season, it was fact that DW were Igor's creatures and VM were Marina's creatures; one fan insisted it was well known abroad that Meryl and Igor were an item.

Lo and behold Igor is ousted and both teams remain. In this case, it was actually VM who issued the warmest and most sensible remarks on the situation - they kept themselves out of it while letting it be understood they were aware of the issue between Marina and Igor and agreed with the outcome (i.e., Scott saying "They had to part ways". Since Igor disagreed that they had to part ways, that would suggest Scott sees the situation from Marina's perspective). Saying that, they called Igor a friend and expressed confidence in his future success, as well as appreciation for all he'd done while working with them.

Of course Tessa gets her ass chewed later after the season started for saying that change is good and she'd told Margolio she had a renewed appreciation for skating.

While DW's recent remarks got a bye from the fandom. They were extremely chilly. They said it was none of their business, that it had nothing to do with them, and as they knew they were staying at Arctic Edge they focused on their own training, the end.

These were the remarks from the team the entire fandom insisted belonged to Igor, declared they KNEW DW belonged to Igor, and that their loyalty lay with him. And here DW let it be known that when the issues came up, in their view Igor was nonessential - Marina was essential and they considered training at Arctic Edge to = training with her.

A lot of the fandom either just wanked political reasons for why DW chose Igor (they weren't FREE to follow their hearts!) or ignored that DW's choice violated what they claimed was received wisdom. And it's the same now with DW versus VM on a personal level. Make shit up and carry on as if it's now established fact.


  1. I agree the scoring has nothing to do with any influence or politicking of Marina's. It's about the ISU.

    Marina has simply done her job as an outstanding coach and choreographer to give both VM and DW what best showcases their abilities. It's the ISU that has decided to give DW monster scores for things they are in fact not doing, and to suppress the scoring for all the superior details VM bring to their skating.

  2. I don't know enough about skating skills to assess where D/W are in comparison to 2008-10, but would agree it seems about the same. But in terms of the presentation aspect, I think you could argue they've taken a step back rather than stay the same. I know I enjoyed their performances from that time period very much, and now their frenetic style is so OTT that I'm actually no longer a huge fan. Something like Bollywood - were they dancing like V/M? Of course not. But they were moving to the music in some way. I'm not saying they incapable of still doing that, but they sure as hell don't.

    I must confess I am so bewildered this season. I really thought that TS would pull ahead this year. You'd think it had something to do with SC stupid shenangians, but with PC and G/P, that's obviously not an explanation. Also a good point about the Shibs. I think if we started this whole charade over, having a continual race for silver and bronze among a handful of teams would be more exciting than this. You could still mark V/M down enough that they weren't a 100% lock every competition, it would at least more accurately reflect reality than now.

  3. The ISU is afraid of Figure Skating without the USA, because the USA is the money country. With all the news about skating exploding in Asia, there is little global money or American/European interest in China, Japan and Korea. Those are domestic only markets.

    Evan Lysacek didn't resonate with Americans, so D/W are their hope now.

    Canadians wining do not resonate with Americans either, because, 1, they are non-Americans but also 2, the integrity regarding how Canada seems to achieve figure skating Gold is somewhat shaky. Bitching about Sale/Pelletier to the media is not an honorable Gold, "Chanflation" is not an honorable Gold.

    Integrity plays a big part in building public approval of figure skating.

    1. I'm not sure I subscribe to Chanflation. I think the public maybe doesn't find him charismatic, he doesn't really have what we think of as a "star" personality; he doesn't reach out to the audience and mug them for approval. He's not Mr. Personable in the media.

      But - and while this is not a large number of people - anyone I know who has seen him skate live reports his skating is simply a world apart from any other man's. If he hits his jumps then he's going to win, because the rest of his content is so superior.

      I find it bizarre, though, that in men's, otherwordly skating skills count so much along with the elements, so as to set Chan apart, but it doesn't seem to matter a damn in ice dance.

      Also, your remarks about the US don't realy account for the demotion of the Shibs - unless it's felt that the way to make the USFSA happy is to spread the wealth among US training centers (hence, Chock and Bates).

      How Skate Canada gets gold medals: if it's Olympic gold, you'll never get me disagreeing that Sale and Pelletier's gold was a disgrace, and furthermore I think the entire controversy was manufactured, including the smoking gun of the French judge. There was no investigation of the U.S. and Canadian judges who marked S&P first in the short.

      BUT - it seems odd to point to S&P as an example of dishonorable, back-door dealing by Skate Canada when S&P owe their "gold" most of all to Scott Hamilton (U.S.), a U.S. television network, and U.S. media. Without those interests having a fit, without noted pairs expert Scott Hamilton screaming his head off, SC could have protested all they wanted and gotten nowhere. Scott Hamilton isn't even an expert on his own discipline - at the same Olympics we all know he poor mouthed Yagudin's lp and speculated that Timothy Goebel! had beaten him in the lp.

      But he banged the drums for "S&P were robbed", and he and Bezic commented on B&S's sp as if their every element was was all a sneaky communist plot to show off in front of the judges and rob S&P of their rightful gold. All of their remarks were "Right in front of the judges!" as if it were underhanded to deliver your elements where the judges could see them - and so well, too!

      The U.S. got it done for Canada in that pairs competition. If not for Hamilton's platform and the media following him like a bunch of sheep, the OOC wouldn't have tried to shut it down with a second gold. Unsurprisingly, the other clearly superior figure skater Hamilton tried to undermine in 2002 was also Russian - Yagudin - but even the US media couldn't get on board with the argument that Goebel could come anywhere near him.

    2. Good points - OC. I agree that if it wasn't for the US media and the Olympics being in Salt Lake City - there is no way that Sale/Pelletier would have been granted a gold medal. As for this year - the Shibs have gotten the short end of the stick compared to Chock/Bates but then again - I think that's due to the Igor factor...Getting back to D/W, the USFSA is throwing everything behind them...recently D/W got sponsorship from Kellogg's - which is fine but Kristi Yamaguchi is also sponsored by Kellogg's for next year...So it is so obvious that the USFSA is going to try to establish D/W as frontrunners but also associate them with Kristi..I mean really - nothing against Kristi Yamuguchi but when was the last time she actually skated in a show?
      If Kristi gets to sit with D/W in the Kiss and Cry - can V/M get Gordeeva - hahaha...
      But seriously, if there is one country that knows ice dance and its tradition - it is Russia - so I am hoping that in Sochi the crowd will appreciate V/M...

  4. Speaking of, what about the Olympics next year? Considering the huge following V/M gained in 2010, I think it's obvious people without a background in figure skating can tell they are something special. It wasn't about their chemistry alone. D/W are very impressive in a in-your-face kind of way, but I wonder if a newbie audience, without being aware that speed etc was supposed to be the only important thing, would obviously see V/M as better now. Dance is so popular right now. I think people would assume that "ice dance" was supposed to have something to do with dancing.

    1. If speed is truly as important as people make out, how come it's not noticed that VM are as fast - and I suspect faster - than D/W? As in covering more real estate per stroke, as in simply pure speed. Whoosh - and they're 3/4ths down the rink in a blink.

      Speed is just something to hang on DW to justify their scores. If the scores were really because the ISU is speed mad, they'd reward VM's speed as well, and reward the Shibs.

      When DW are praised, there's an implied comparison or trump card - their speed and power - and does that as a value top what VM bring to the table?

      The problem is, that's a fallacy. VM have speed and power that matches or exceeds DWs (certainly bigger, more powerful stroking), and a bunch of stuff they don't have. It's what 1:01 says - the ISU has decided to reward DW for things they are not in fact doing, and figure skating has also mounted a false narrative that DW are the fastest and most powerful team out there.

      But they are not. The problem is if that were acknowledged then it would be difficult to continue with the 'ying and yang but equal' b.s. when the rivalry is discussed. There are deficiencies hiding behind the 'speed and power' storyline, most of which have to do with blade drive, interconnectedness, level of skating difficulty (versus flashy acrobatics), degree of control, the ability to vary tempo, and much more.

      DW are frenzied. They work their asses off and never breathe in their programs. They appear to be achieving their frantic movement through exhausting effort. That's not synonymous with 'speed and power', and it's becoming more and more obvious that VM more than match them in that department, but it's absolutely ignored that they do. They need speed and power to be DW's calling card in order to deliver the marks they're gifted.

    2. I would pay serious money to have the compulsory dance back for Sochi..and undoubtedly there you can see the difference b/w D/W and V/M in terms of control, speed and power..but alas we cannot go back in time. D/W are lucky that the Finnstep is next year as the SD and I don't think that both the Yankee Polka and the Finnstep were a coincidence in terms of ISU choices.
      Don't get me wrong D/W are a great team - but I think they have been definitely over-rated in this last quad. I am just glad V/M already have their gold...

    3. You're right, and I should have been more clear, I meant if audiences aren't aware that the APPEARANCE of being fast is supposed to be the most important thing. I was watching the CBC coverage this afternoon...maybe it was the camera angle, but it looked like D/W's twizzles barely covered any ice at all, the last one espeically looked practically stationary! And look at the GOE!! Do none of the judges have different opinions? I don't understand why this direction is so unanimous...

    4. The judging has been interesting to say the least. But I also want to point out that the tech specialists have also been inconsistent. As has been pointed out earlier, in the other disciplines, at least singles and pairs - those that are pushing the envelope are being rewarded to some extent. Ice dance not so much. And it's a real pity because I am not optomistic for next year - if the judging is not rewarding originality, musicality etc now - hell I cringe at what we get next year. I think hardcore D/W fans who are honest with themselves would say that Samson and Delilah was their best FD. Folks that's a while ago...and it's funny how Meryl always quotes their Bollywood OD for either costuming, originality etc...yes it was a great OD but since then - have they pushed the envelope? Not really..I think what distinguishes ice dance is also the expectation to show versatility and I think in 5 years time - when we compare these teams - V/M will come out on top...

    5. I don't get it either - VM has leapt far past them in ice coverage. DW are just constantly in motion out there, but they're not covering the ice the way VM are covering the ice.

      If you pay attention to the ice, to the environment, and not simply to the impression of "motion", it's fairly easy to tell what team trumps the others in power and speed. For example, in pairs, I, like many skating fans, enjoy both Savchenco/Szolkowy and Volosozhar/Trankov but it's pretty obvious that VT are a much faster, more powerful team with wonderful ice coverage. Watch a single stroke they do as a pair and compare it to every other team out there - there is no comparison. Element to element is where the rivalry rests, as both teams are extremely strong there, and S&S really can go balls to the walls with transition choices.

      The GOES with DW don't seem to have anything to do with how their elements actually are executed. I don't think they show remarkable twizzle speed, and their skating overall, is frenzied. When I first saw Die Fleudermaus last season, I almost thought it would be impossible for Funny Face to beat it. Funny Face was more difficult but it was quieter - it didn't take the audience on the ride Die Fleudermaus was driving. Marina is a musical genius - nobody can place highlights as brilliantly as she can - she's wonderful at placing program highlights where they anticipate, extend, or create momentum with the music - versus simply putting them TO the high points of the music. She's a genius at using tension and release. All of this has been a great boon to DW, whom I think would flounder with a less musically astute choreorapher. There were moments in Die Fleudermaus that made it just the most spectacular show program around (even though it was the fd). But as the season wore on the program flattened out. Meryl and Charlie stopped using the music. They just focused on keeping up attack, attack attack, as if, if they let the program breathe or a single moment they'd lose points. They lost all the tension and release in that program, particularly my favorite highlight move, Charlie lifting and then setting Meryl into a pirhouette (she sure did a ton of pirhouettes in that program, as I recall - I wonder how it would have gone over if Tessa had repeated one particular highlight move over and over in her program for use in transitions and musical accent moves).

      But it doesn't matter. As long as they go out and attack, movement quality, blade drive, actual speed, actual depth of edge, unison, interpretation, etc. will be scored highly no matter what they actually do.

      Figure skating has been known as a political sport and this rivalry - at least the argument that DW are on VM's level while VM's scores are indeed suppressed - is an example of a political creature. It's also possible because nobody covering the sport knows a damn thing about it or knows how to look at it, so they fall in line like sheep. The commentators and "analysts" almost uniformly critique programs on a performance level and are extremely unhelpful and even misleading in letting us know why something is scored as it is - and former skaters are some of the worst at this. Often as not they're politicking up there, they've got their own axes to grind or agendas to support, and as well, often don't know what they're talking about or understand their own sport. It's the perfect environment for an organization like the ISU to create a story for DW that doesn't actually match their skating because there's nobody who knows enough to call it out.

    6. I'll be honest - sometimes I wish V/M or D/W did not have the same coach (Zoueva). For future business, I think Zoueva is hoping that D/W win Olympic gold since the training center is in the US and if Tanith is part of the new academy with Zoueva - it would not surprise me if either Meryl or Charlie would be coaching later and be part of the team.
      Don't get me wrong - Marina is a great coach and is definitely professional. But you have to admit that even the Shibs have gotten the short end of choreography from her this year...

    7. I don't think Marina could have forseen how spectacularly undermarked Carmen has been in comparison to others. Therefore I don't see how that can be her strategy. It's a masterpiece, and while she may be happy for D/W, I think she's probably as confused as we are.

    8. I agree - when you look at the two programs there is absolutely no way Marina forsaw this. She already has a reputation going back more than 20 years - and there is no difference between Arctic Edge training a two time Olympic team from Canada or one from Canada and one from the US. The skating world and the figure skaters know what Marina brings to the table simply by looking at her product - it's that good.

      I read so much about what is supposedly going on at Arctic Edge, most of it fandom fantasies, and then people proceed as if it's true. I've read that DW and VM's personal relationship must be strained, for example.

      Marina has often welcomed friends family to the rink for their contribution if they have something to contribute. Tanith is there because Charlie is training there. Fedor was there because he was at loose ends and busted financially.

      It doesn't mean she intends to make either one or anyone else the foundation of her post-Sochi training center. VM aren't stupid when it comes to their skating. They trust her for good reason.

  5. I am happy you brought this up. I truly do not understand the over inflated scores that DW are receiving. I see the same elements year after year from them. And yet they are being rewarded for it. Yet VM come up with new and innovative routines every season where they are pushing themselves. And yet we are led to believe that they are close in talent.
    I feel that the ISU is taking away the legacy from VM. They are so much better than this stupid rivalry the camps want us to think.
    I keep thinking that DW are winning worlds this season when they really shouldn't be.

  6. Let's not pretend like V/M didn't win Worlds by hook and crook judges last year.

    1. Let's not pretend that they didn't outskate DW by a lot and that that Die Fleudermaus flattened out and got sloppy at the end of the season.

    2. P.S.- it's amazing - VM aren't supposed to win unless they have an absolutely perfect skate because otherwise DW are supposed to win just by staying on their feet. The attitude that VM shouldn't have won last year is based on THEIR skate, not DW's skate, which wasn't stellar. VM just aren't supposed to enjoy the same consideration DW receive - they're held to a higher standard. That win was deserved on the skating merits.

    3. To anon at 10:38 - oh let me see - are you one of those fans that totally dismisses the short-dance cuz last year at Worlds in Nice - V/M totally killed the latin SD and D/W should not have been that close to V/M after the SD and there was even a handful of knowledgeable fans who argued that P/B should have been second after the SD...

    4. Here are some observations - when there are personable skaters with rough aspects to their skating, both the commentators and the fans decide the rough aspects - flaws, IOW - are actually features. Which is total crap. Sloppy and wild isn't a "style" choice. DW tried to refine their skating in 2011 - that year, not this year, was the time they tried something new - and it was at times painful to watch. In the end they had mostly a typical DW program in a tango package and most of what they'd been attempting had been jettisoned.

      There's the infamous case of G&G versus M&D in 1994 where some people claim M&D were flawless, and since G&G had a few imperfections, M&D were robbed. This is only possible if you accept M&D's sloppiness as style, and but refuse to accept a glitch from G&G because their "style" is perfection. This is an extremely self-serving, imbalanced, and ridiculous perspective. In M&D's case, Artur stumbled in the middle of the program and had to run to catch up with Natalia; the free foot of Natalie's skate blade brushed the ice when she landed her jump, and none of their individual elements were executed with the power and height of G&G. But we can dispense with the imperfections in M&D because in their case, it's a style and the imperfections are beauty spots. Besides, the sloppiness and scratchiness went well with the flailing arms and bent over posture of Artur's.

      I'm being way more harsh on Dmietriev than I want to be - I love M&D and think he's an incredible competitor. But double standards need to be called out. "Perfection" should not be a stick to whip someone with. VM are as entitled to win at less than their best as DW are entitled to win at less than THEIR best, especially if VM at less than their best are still better than DW at less than theirs. We're not supposed to hold it against DW - only VM.

  7. Is there anyways that TS' off-ice games have caused any problems judging wise? I don't know how much the judges would know as part of the figure skating community, and I doubt they'd know about most of the online crap anyways, and obviously off-ice drama isn't anything new...but say something that crossed over like the 2011 4CCs withdrawal? Is there a reason they have to work harder for the marks, a problem with how they are perceived?

    1. I've wondered that myself - but it's only speculation.

      I do look at something like Sinead Kerr's tweet and think - REALLY Sinead? Her whole disingenuous - "I love them, don't get me wrong BUT" - shouldn't they have been penalized for stopping? when there have been plenty of high profile cases of skaters stopping, resuming, and even making the podium - and considered heroic - really raised eyebrows.

      There is, IMO, definitely a double standard in the attitude towards VM. I personally think some of it is jealousy - what they do is out of reach for a lot of skaters. Some skaters resent it and can't relate. They look like a fairy story, as Adam Rippon said. I've seen that impact commentating too - some skaters in the booth inflating the performance of a try hard and poor mouthing the skater with unusual talent.

      As for the rest of it, I don't know. They certainly don't appear to extend themselves in the non-home "figure skating community" the way other skaters do, but they have a lot on their plate the other skaters don't.

    2. After the 4CCs stoppage this year - the tweets towards V/M were ugly. Sarah and Drew tweeted that V/M had stopped their program. Who tweeted back stating - hoping that they are okay? Jeff Buttle - pure class. Then you get Sinead Kerr's tweet and she's talking the lack of deduction and how without a deduction - it hurts the perception of the sport. Sinead really? The ISU rules have been the same for some time and after several incidents - no one has really peeped a word and then after V/M at 4CCs (not even Worlds) - you pipe up? Yeah - it's personal - cuz you didn't mention that it took guts for them to go back and finish the program. Lastly - if there wasn't a backlash on the internet - V/M shouldn't have skated in the gala - the next day - but they did because that's who they are. Did anyone criticize Ashley Wagner when she did not perform in a gala this year - after her injury? No...It's funny at 4CCs this year - Nathalie Pechelat commented for Eurosport and stated that V/M were her favourite couple in this competition during the SD. Kaitlyn Weaver stated earlier in the season that she thinks that V/M are a great team because they can basically do anything. I think Kaitlyn's appreciation grew from last year's Stars on Ice experience. So here you have Krylova's camp - being complimentary and then you have Sinead's tweet being well - disingenuine.
      God knows if there is this much hatred on the net for V/M - I cringe to think what will happen if Yuna Kim brings it at Worlds and next year...

    3. I just want to co-sign that Jeff Buttle is pure class - all the more since his retirement. He conducts himself with such unassuming intelligence and decency - and humor.

    4. I know people LOVE Kurt Browning and I think he is a great skater and has done great work with Stars On Ice. But this might be an unpopular opinion - but I think that Kurt Browning comes off as self serving and loves the attention. In watching the CBC commentary yesterday from 4CCs - I was disappointed with the broadcasters' comments regarding the bizarre stoppage. It did feel that Browning was throwing Tessa under the bus...
      When was the last time Kurt choreographed a competitive skate?

    5. I can't stand him. He's exhausting. I completely agree that he comes off as self-serving and he uses his need for attention to control the environment. He doesn't really brook debate and he dislikes being contradicted. Browning knows perfectly well about all of the other figure skaters who stopped and resumed and were applauded, but now he's joining those trying to whomp up a false issue here. I wonder if VM have distanced themselves from him in some way and that accounts for it. He reminds me of Hamilton. I read Scott Hamilton's autobiography - in his account of his hospital stay (for testicular cancer) he described all of his shenanagins at the hospital - stunts with chairs and gurneys. Can you imagine? That doesn't come from good will or high spirits - there's an aggression and hostility behind that - and a complete lack of consideration. Get out of the spotlight for five seconds and let other people do their job. Don't make work for them.

      That last was a digression but I know what I read from Hamilton is what I see in Kurt Browning - he has to take over, he can't ever leave a moment alone, and it's not hilarious if you refuse to stop even when it's appropriate to stop.

    6. I definitely can understand why not everyone is a Kurt fan, but I think putting him in the Scott Hamilton camp is a bit harsh. There are some simliarites, yes, but I just don't get the same vibe from the two of them. I completely agree with your take on Scott Hamilton, I can't stand him and there is some sort of weird aggression there. Kurt, on the other hand, I think he's ADD, I think he speaks before he thinks - that's not an excuse, but it's an explanation - that you can have a good heart and not be aware of how something is coming across. And I think you hear pretty warm things about him from Canadian skaters, including TS, don't you? I also thought he did a great job on SOI this year.

      Commentating may not be his strong suit, but on the other hand, I sometimes like how he says stuff off the cuff, he does get in some digs at D/W's style that you never hear elsewhere on English language commentary. Tracy is the best, obviously, but she's so guarded that she almost never says anything negative, mabye just "what this team needs to work on". And at the very least, Kurt never goes into histronics on air like Hamilton does. Listening to Hamilton is sometimes like listening to cat in heat. Kurt on the other hand, at the most I sometimes just roll my eyes. That's for me, at least.

      PS: I have someone I'm close to who seems to be exactly like Kurt. He's exhausting, but also a really great person. I think a lot of the annoying stuff ends up being low self esteem, and as I said, ADD. Hamilton just seems more twisted than that. Anways, point is, I realize that Kurt may not be anything like my friend, but...I still love Kurt even with is faults, I feel I can give him the benefit of the doubt.

    7. And one other thing, on the commentary yesterday - Tracy was more sensible on the deduction part than Kurt, but kept saying it didn't appear like T was hurt...I guess it's a difficult situation to handle for them, when they know what happened in 2011.

    8. Okay, maybe I went too far putting him in Hamilton's class. However, I have absolutely hated his remarks about Johnny Weir. If you want to pull a Tarasova and call out Weir for not preparing or being ready (in the second half of his career) - that's on. But Browning doesn't address the skating - he addresses the persona. I think he's ignorant, and allows himself to say shit about Weir because Weir is gay that would be off bounds to say about any other skater. He is also far to strenuous with the camp for my taste - it is all working overtime to distance himself from the sport's dreaded 'gay image'.

      And my other gritted teeth moment with Browning comes from a competition he and Tracy were calling - he and Tracy ended up disagreeing on something and there was an edge to Kurt's tone - more than that actually - when she spoke to her disagreement with what he'd said. The "more than that" was his interrupting, the tight edge in his voice, and trying to shut her off.

      I'm sympathetic with ADHD but. He's a professional. It's his job. And it's not always about him.

    9. OC - I agree with you that Kurt Browning has a hard time with the gay image and his remarks about Weir. Even this year - on his twitter account - he made a comment about Shawn Sawyer's practice outfit being interesting...I mean bigger than that....
      To the anon 3:45 - yes I agree that Hamilton and Sandra Bezic just grate as commentators and that Browning is an asset to figure skating - no doubt. It would be interesting to know whether Brian Orser and Kurt get two cents..

    10. I hadn't seen that - Kurt Browning tweeting about Shawn Sawyer's practice outfit. Because why, Kurt? Sean's a popular guy, not a poseur, he's being true to his taste so what's your problem? People were nice to you when you burned your own house down with a stunt that would embarrass a college sophmore, so learn to shut up.

      About Tracy saying Tessa didn't seem hurt - the time to say that was in 2011 4CCs, not 2013. It just seems cheap to me. Everyone is too political to address Virtue and Moir's ACTUAL gambits, so let's muddy the waters and piggyback our commentary onto something legit (and thus, I guess 'safe').

      It's a Boy Who Cried Wolf dynamic. Except that Tracy probably knows perfectly well Tessa WAS hurt this time, but she knows Tessa wasn't hurt last time, and is using this time to comment on the last (or at least hedge a bit). It's tiresome.

  8. I have also spent a lot of time this season (as in past seasons, particularly last year) wanting someone to explain to me exactly how it is that D/W are equal to or, as some claim, better than V/M when it's clear that it's not the case at all. For all the reasons outlined in the original post and comments, V/M are superior to D/W and have made improvements in all areas of their skating since Vancouver while D/W have truly remained stagnate.

    I do think that politics is playing a significant role in what we're seeing with the disconnect between what the teams are actually doing and capble of and what the scores are. Marina may not be pushing one team over the other, but I'm willing to say that the USFSA has been politcking for D/W like crazy given that they really haven't had any contenders in singles or pairs this quad. The USFSA likes to play like they're completely innocent when it comes to politics, but I've heard and been told that they're actually one of the worst feds when it comes to that sort of thing.

    "I have been thinking about this for awhile, but I realized yesterday, while watching video of a Shib show rehearsal, that I've really been thinking about it. How for all the talk of rivalry nobody specifies what it is that makes Meryl and Charlie so close to Virtue Moir as figure skaters."

    This has also driven me up the walls. People mumble vague things about D/W being fast (V/M are just as fast), having more difficulty (V/M's programs are actually more difficult and it seems like their wins over D/W come from out-leveling them), and skating with "raw abandon" (code for sloppy and messy). No one has used real skating terms to explain why their better. For all the whining about the subjectivity of ice dance and skating, a good portion of it, especially under IJS is actually objective--especially when it comes to something like skating skills. Some only call it subjective and matter of opinion because they haven't taken the time to or don't want to educate themselves. The truth of the situation is that V/M excel over D/W in every way.

    I know the original post and discussion is primarily that of V/M vs. D/W and the disconnect in what the teams are doing and the scoring. That said, I think that as long as we're talking skating skills, what team is really doing it better, and what team has improved, France's P/B are also getting shortchanged in the scoring compared to D/W. P/B have made great strides in their skating. They have appropriate difficulty in their elements to earn level 4's, but their transitions, etc. are more challenging than those of D/W. They have better skating skills than D/W. While they are not as good as V/M, they do actually dance together, play off each other, adjust to one another. In other words, they're also a team that has improved and are doing it better than D/W, yet they also don't get the scores.

    1. Excellent post - if we think that V/M have to be frustrated with how D/W are being scored than P/B have to feel deflated as well. If I remember correctly, when Fabian was recently injured - icenetwork's headline was "French toast" - wtf? So the USFSA via icenetwork are not only targeting V/M but P/B as well and well it's less than classy to say the least. I remember at the beginning of the season on another forum - I pointed out that although I wasn't in love with P/B's FD - I acknowledged that it was difficult and full of transitions. Then I pointed out that even though W/P had a lovely FD this year - it was lacking in terms of transitions and difficulty - boy did I ruffle some feathers. Look we all have favourites and no team is perfect including V/M but if we can't acknowledge weakness' than why bother...and I think that's what so sad about the boards and the tweets now before Worlds the personal attacks..I mean a couple of days ago Tony Wheeler, a blogger - used Scott's quote "OMG I hate this event" to tweet that he isn't too crazy about the team event at Sochi...As usual the usual suspects (V/M haters) commended Tony on the tweet without really thinking that the tweet was about the team event...but Tony Wheeler if he was a professional - did not have to use Scott as bait for his was below the belt...
      And I'll say it - I am glad that V/M already have their gold but it's too bad about these personal swipes...also as a side note - we have Piper Gilles in an IFS article...(same issue as Ashley Wagner on the cover)...boy is she getting exposure to the hilt...must be nice to be on the inside track...

    2. Well no sooner did Paul partner with Piper than the publicity overkill started in earnest. I agree this has little to do with ability and is mostly politics - on a number of levels - the Gilles family, Scarborough, SC, etc.

      I find it ironic that Carol Lane and Paul Poirier provided unattributed backhanded slams about Vanessa Crone in an article about the split (she wasn't as elegant or talented as Paul) - only to partner Paul up with Piper Gilles, who makes Vanessa Crone look like Tessa Virtue.

  9. I'd meant to mention this in my previous post, but the video with V/M and D/W doing the Shibs choreography was from a practice at the 2011 GPF.

    1. Thanks. I know the information was right there but I just skipped confirming the event - I will correct it later.

      For me the larger point is the difference between those two teams and the difference between Tessa/Meryl and Scott/Charlie - is HUGE in just those seconds of the Shib choreography. The timing, the size of the movement, the amount of ground each even walking stride takes - how VM manage to be clearer, move more freely AND are quicker than than DW. VM give each move it's full value - super big and clear, but also switch to the next faster than DW. THEIR attack is sharper.

      It's a complete Emporer's New Clothes situation here, and it's precisely right that nobody is able to specify what it is that DW do better - in skating terms. The protocols simply don't match what was delivered on the ice - the level of difficulty for elements that are years old - some of which were features in old Belbin Agosto programs - is just ridiculous.

      Go back and look at last season's 4CC's. DW were gassed - it makes sense - all of their skates involve pushing pushing pushing (and btw, despite the Moir camp facebook snark, this is just as true of Charlie as of Meryl - possibly (IMO at least) even more so). They seldom let the ice help them, let their "connectedness" help them. There's a forced aspect to what they do. Keep doing that instead of letting the work you've already done help you, and you're going to start to wear out. In an altitude such as at the 4CCs you're going to hurt. They were hurting, and it SHOWED they were hurting considerably before they were gasping and panting during their bows. Immediately Andrea Joyce started spinning - claiming you absolutely couldn't tell for a single second that they'd been impacted by the altitude. Are you kidding me?

      The worst, IMO, was because DW managed to stay upright and breathe, Joyce and Belbin anticipated that of course they'd be crowned 4CC's champs. When they fell short, Joyce did her best Bezic tone, like "Hmm. They didn't get it." as if it puzzled her completely. After all, DW hadn't made an egregious error and neither had VM - and if that's the case DW is supposed to win. I've never seen such an obvious case of ignoring what was right in front of our noses.

      During the GPF event this year, Tanith ignores the spectacular twizzles, the spectacular lifts, the incredible power and dynamic choreography in VM's program, and muses during a softer sequence that this is really what VM do best.

      I feel as if the idea is to really damn VM with faint praise, and then fawn over Meryl and Charlie, and the public will see the frenzy on the ice Meryl and Charlie are doing and figure that has to be more challenging than what VM are doing. VM have to compete against their own best selves (however each commentator imagines that) or else they're considered unworthy winners, but DW are given a free pass.

  10. Any thoughts on the rumor that was posted this afternoon on FSU by someone claiming there were whispers around rink that Tessa wasn't into skating anymore and that they would be retiring after worlds and SC forced them to keep competing after Vancouver?

    Also, are people so blind that they can't see that Tessa was favoring her left thigh at 4CC, not her shins/calves?

    1. Well it's hard to know what the truth is currently behind Tessa's injury. With regards to Tessa not being into skating anymore - I have doubts about that. I think we would be naive to think that every day at the rink is a glorious one...but in the one interview with PJ Kwong at Nationals, one thing that Jennifer Swan stated is that she is excited for both Tessa and Scott and what the next couple of years is in store for them. Would it absolutely shock me if they retired after Worlds this year? No. But I don't think that decision has been made. If the injury to Tessa is serious - then I would think that they will withdraw from Worlds and WTT and possibly skip Stars on Ice and then evaluate from there.
      I doubt that Skate Canada forced them to compete after Vancouver. They would have made more money touring a la Joannie Rochette...

    2. What Tessa has or had is a condition, not an injury. Chronic exertional compartment syndrome is not unusual among runners or soccer players. I have not been able to search engine up evidence that it's common among either dancers or figure skaters, so how Tessa came to be afflicted is mysterious. Her technique appears superb. She doesn't appear to be accomplishing fabulous results with wonky mechanics - something that has prematurely ended the careers of figure skaters before her. She is, IMO, in the hands of one of the most brilliant trainers in the world in Maria Mountain. It could be that her particular physiogamy makes her vulnerable to CES - because, although it's a common enough athletic condition, it's not common among figure skaters. Tessa's experience is certainly living up to the 'chronic' part of its name.

  11. All of the writing on this blog including the comments seem strangely similar in style. I wonder why that is. ...

    1. The writing on the blog - including the comments - seems strangely similar in style?

      Why would you say - including the comments? Because of fucking COURSE all the writing on the blog is similar - the posts are all written by the same person. Does it say somewhere the blog has multiple authors?

      The comments aren't similar in style at all.

    2. Hi Anon at 9:51,

      As I am not the blogger - I have no clue how many posters there are - but I have contributed to the comments section on occasion over the last several months and I don't necessarily agree with all the viewpoints here. If indeed there was only one person commenting - then how come there has been a handful of posts from Oy Canada with no comments? Some posts just resonate more and naturally you do have opinions that are similar and perhaps that's what you observe as posts being similar. But there have been disagreements and on occasion - topics can go off-tangent or someone brings another analogy to the table.My two cents...

  12. Anon 9:51

    I may be misreading this but...the time for passive aggressive attempts to discredit the blog are long past. I suspect you are frustrated (pretending to be amused but frurstrated all the same) at the sheer number of people who appear to think that this blog hosts a conversation that is worth having.