Thursday, February 28, 2013

This is a P.J. Kwong interview with Jeffrey Buttle about his choreoraphy for Patrick Chan's short program. The part of Buttle's answer to the question about what he's learned from David Wilson* that applies to the current discussion on the blog is this:
This is such a simplified way of putting it but that age old rule for women when you get ready to go out and you look yourself in the mirror and you take one thing off. It's sort of that - that simplified idea. It's that more often than not, less is more. You look at a skater's style and you - the less complicated a movement is, the more effective it can be. and he taught me that, he taught me the art of less is more. It's just ... doing it properly. In most recent years, watching [Patrick] skate, he's so powerful, he's such a powerful skater, and he's capable of doing all of this, all the moves, big leaps, and I just sort of wanted him to try something different. And as a general rule I find that as skaters mature ... as Michelle became a greater skater for example, it became less busy. The choreography became less busy. It became more about showing the maturity of her skating. And he's at that point where he's such a strong skater he can sustain such a gorgeous beautiful edge and I wanted to give him the opportunity to do that, to hold and sustain these moments. 
The emphasis in italics is mine.

Mature skating" doesn't mean style or persona (an example of that would be the worldly Argentine tango style projected by Domnina and Shabalin in their Olympic cd).

Mature skating means "fully developed."  The skater is in complete command of his or her skating to the point where they can skate anything.

"Simple" doesn't mean "basic" "simplistic" or "easy" here. It means there's nothing unnecessary to the moment or movement. A movement can be complex, with an extraordinary degree of difficulty, without being complicated if its components are integral and if the movement evolves.

Davis and White are mature skaters (age and experience) who aren't showing mature skating. Their skating is busy.

CoP does pressure skaters to hit their elements, get their levels in the elements by showing the features of the highest level, but Virtue and Moir have been able to do that while showing mature skating - fully developed skating.

I don't think the system should be used to help a skater or skating team conceal the aspects of their skating that aren't developed, particularly if the undeveloped aspects of their skating are true partnering skills and the run of blade that go to the core of ice dance. A skating team that is athletic with eye-catching tricks but doesn't demonstrate the fully developed skating of another team that also has the elements and the difficulty should not be scored on par with or higher than that other team - ever.

In pairs, Shen and Zao had impressive qualities when they first hit the scene - athletic talent, big tricks (the sort of tricks that are actually required in pairs skating, not trickery that gets around shortcomings of basic skating and partnering). They made the podium, but they didn't start winning against the other big teams until their skating became fully developed. And that's pairs. I think the same is the least that can be asked of ice dance.

*It's a bit of an eye roller that these remarks are Jeff explaining what he's learned from David Wilson, choreographer of the sleep aid that was D&D's long program years on end. But I'll put that down to Jessica - he did do a terrific Carmen for them, but afterwards it seems she made it clear she preferred to keep skating to variations on The Blowers Daughter. And he does do those 'Everybody Point!' pieces for Yuna's show, but if you can get money for nothing, why not.


  1. Something has to get fixed in the ISU scores ice-dance. Still, with all the flaws, this is much better than the old system, where ice-dance medals were based on politiks and not necessarily the best skate of the day.

    When you compare V/M's programs from the first years of seniors, including Mahler, with the last few years it's absolutely clear they have grown in every area and they are now fully mature skaters. I hope they are correctly rewarded at Worlds.

  2. All the opinions I've seen expressed by the blogger regarding Tessa and Scott's skating are very appreciative and complimentary. This is one of the only places that favorably analyzes VM's skating and shows in precise ways how and why VM are the best ice-dancers in the world today. Much of the so-called analyzing I've seen in other places is with the intention of doing that smoke and mirrors thing that was mentioned before. It's to try and discredit VM and pretend DW are better than they are.

    How ironic that VM and Co. - actually the Moirs and Co. - have decided to get into a pissing match with the blog.

    Many fans may be looking at VM's off-ice stories with a skeptical eye, but from what I've seen here (and other places) is love and appreciation for their skating. The fans want to them to be the best they can be. They want them to win. Is it too much to hope that VM and Moirville would disappear the malicious crap they spew on social media and start treating the fans with some respect? We all want them to concentrate on being the good skaters that they are. No need to feed us social media crap nor whine to the press about how ungrateful we are for not liking Carmen (please with that - stop lying!).

    We're all wishing them the best at Worlds in 2 weeks.
    I hope they show ANY respect for our best wishes.

    1. THANK YOU! I don't understand how believing that Scott and Tessa are lying about their off-ice lives translates into being "lesser" fans of their skating. Somehow, those of us who have "seen the light" are no longer true fans. I certainly hope that the last few entries on this blog have dispelled that particular myth. I have yet to see anyone else present a clear and precise picture as to how and why Virtue and Moir are the best in the world.

      I too hope that they can respect the fans enough to accept our well wishes and kick the disgusting social media crap to the curb. It's not necessary. It never was, but particularly now. There are so many other things in the bigger picture to worry about.

    2. Quite some time ago Davis White mentioned how, when their career was over, not to expect stunning or shocking revelations. I thought it was an interesting thing to say, as unsaid was not to expect it *from them* - i.e., you might get it from others.

      They also said that they didn't mislead people about their relationship as they felt the fans understood and respected it as it was. That was a nice statement of respect for fans.

      I really no longer believe fans are much of an issue for Virtue Moir. VM certainly have had no problems treating fans exactly as badly as they please - there's no need for a big cover up to protect themselves. I believe it really is as the blog has surmised - the sham serves other purposes - the main one being, it gives untold numbers of friends, family, and, for most of its duration, members of Skate Canada - something to do and a way to participate and it keeps them out of VM's hair to a certain degree. Fans are a pretext and, as such, a whipping post.

      The blog is also a godsend to the sham as it gives a reason for the sham to keep pushing, although obviously they'd have kept pushing anyway. I.e. see Xmas while Tessa was pregnant, and other post-Olympic nonsense when there was no blog.

      It seems to me that the McCormick sisters and their connections, having lived and breathed nothing but figure skating since before their kids were born, felt there was nothing they needed to learn when their own won the Olympics. They'd had a lifetime of preparation. It doesn't seem as if they recognized that the Olympics involved more than what they'd learned running the Ilderton Skating Club and having kids (besides Scott and Tessa) on the national and international skating scene, and knowing everyone there was to know at the clubs and Skate Canada. In fact, a whole lot of non figure skating experience seems to be exactly what they were missing and precisely what was needed. The absence of any sort of big picture vision, of cause and effect, is apparently an absence of any experience outside a very insular figure skating world. It's big fish in small pond syndrome and they appeared unwilling to learn anything from the bigger world - the real world. In fact, they appeared to believe the larger world had something to learn from them.

      oc, not logged in

    3. "It's big fish in small pond syndrome and they appeared unwilling to learn anything from the bigger world - the real world. In fact, they appeared to believe the larger world had something to learn from them."

      Besides the sham being something to occupy their nearest and dearest, I wonder what the heck they believe the world is supposed to learn from them in the way they run these social media scams, and in general, their participation in mediocre PR for their champions.

      I think you're dead on about their insular viewpoints. Look at Alma's open facebook albums, featuring some really egregious shamming (and yes, as you point out, stuff like that was way before this blog existed). It was like junior-high girls tee-heeing over a joke they were playing on the kids they pick on. No concept at all of the fallout of something that can be seen in the whole world (literally). You would hardly believe she and her sister otherwise run some very successful endeavors. It's the weirdest how off-track they got with this whole mess. They all apparently think they're being so smart about it now with cutting back on the amount of stuff and trying to appear "private." They still are not getting it.

    4. If you go back to internet archives after 2006, you will find commentary and interviews from an entire clutch of newly installed Skate Canada officials very eager to tell the world all the obvious ways their predecessors had botched things, and to announce all the obvious ways they, who "got it" were going to set things to rights at Skate Canada.

      Boiled down, their strategy appeared to be based on the cult of celebrity. The way to energize SC and attract sponsors and fans was to create celebrity figure skaters. They also had a definite idea of how to create celebrity figure skaters. Get their personal stories out there!

      Canada had had celebrity figure skaters in the recent past, but they hadn't become celebrities because the organization said "let's make some celebrities!" Nor because Skate Canada marketed their "personal stories."

      It happened like this. Canada had some exceptionally talented, successful figure skaters who made a splash in international competition year after year. It was after these successful skaters had been on the scene for some time, and it was after these successful figure skaters had benefitted from the boom times for figure skating both amateur and pro, that they "became celebrities." And it was then that people learned a bit more of their personal stories and books were written. All of the celebrity stuff was in reaction to success and popularity that were already part of the picture.

      So right from the start the people who would advise and oversee VM's pr had no concept of the big picture and no idea of cause-and-effect or context. They had everything the wrong way around, and continue to have everything backwards.

      oc, not logged in

  3. Sounds like a little someone who doesn't officially exist made an appearance in mommy and daddy's phone interview with CBC.

    Talk about the (screaming) elephant in the room.

  4. What? A kid? What kid?
    Wow, I never knew Scott and Cassandra already had a baby!! That Mr. Scott Moir works fast! He and Cassandra must be so happy. Awww.
    (Running to look for pregnant-Cass pictures. I bet she was cute). Awwww.

    1. *snort* Scott Moir and his wonder sperm. Have they even been officially dating for nine months? How scandalous!

    2. Oh geez. "Well, sweetie, I took THAT kissy face picture with the strange lady who isn't mommy cause you were screaming where people could hear you, and we had to pretend you didn't exist. That's why YOU aren't in any pictures from then."

      Mabye their convictions that Ilderton specifically and Canada in general represent the ultimate ground zero of family wholesomeness blinds them to the grotesquerie of it all. Hey Ilderton - people from the U.S., people from Asia, yeah unto people from your despised Russia, all know how cracked this is and you don't. Here's a thought - maybe it's you.

    3. I'm listening to the interview now - funny they revisit how VM stopped at this 4CCs but it's like the entire media agreed to ignore the time it happened before once the 4CC 2011 was over.

      And now everyone including Tracy Wilson is claiming skaters shouldn't be allowed to stop and restart if they need to stop. Why now is this the outcry? Skaters have stopped and restarted since the 1980's - Gordeeva and Grinkov were penalized for not stopping after Grinkov's pant strap broke and a whistle blew. That was the freaking 1980s. Tonya Harding's skate lace broke in 1994 and she was allowed to stop and start again later. It's been going on decades, IOW, and only now is there an outcry that the rule should change. Why is that?

    4. I'm completely flabbergasted about the outcry that the rules on stopping should be changed for the reasons you listed. It's been going on for decades, but just now, everyone is all outraged? The rule is pretty much in place to protect skaters from theirselves.

      If it had been any other team or skaters, this wouldn't be happening. Especially if it had been D/W who had stopped, the reaction would have been completely different. While people have been crying out for the rule change, I've spent some time imagining the level of outrage if there was a rule in place with severe point penalities or if it meant disqualification and D/W had to stop.

      Do you think that the unecessary outrage over the stop is going to hurt V/M come worlds with their scores?

    5. I don't know - I just think it's ridiculous how threatening VM are - it's just a shame that there's this better team standing in the way of D/W's coronation - maybe they can bully VM out of the way.

      Of course if DW had had to stop there would have been no outcry whatsoever. It appears to me some of this is implying VM got an advantage from stopping. Perhaps if they'd had to press on they'd have dropped off the podium or been bronze - that's like a D/W uber's dream come true and the stop and restart thwarted it.

      It's all extremely try hard but of course with a lot of American interest behind it it's very loud. It's very inconvenient for those who think the stopping was a way to avoid having DW win outright that VM won the short - I've noticed most of the outcry ignores that completely.

    6. P.S. - although Scott Hamilton doesn't call dance, all of this makes one wonder if the US figure skating interests aren't warming up their lungs to scream bloody murder if VM kick up so much as a snow flake when they compete at Worlds and still win. The travesty! Of course DW can skate however they like. Imperfection is their style. This feels very S&P - ironic, huh.

      Back thens it was all - will the deserving North Americans (in the American broadcast media S&P were "North Americans", not Canadians) defeat the evil Russians who've had an unbroken string of pairs wins since before anyone can remember? The "unbroken string of wins" was framed as if they'd won underhanded. It was all - finally, here is a team that can take them on. Will the Evil get away with it again?

      The public dynamics now have the same smell. It's because the received wisdom is the World Champions this year have the momentum for Olympic gold. So of course, high stakes. VM are being maneuvered into the B&S role - vastly superior figure skaters, but if they win, it's shady in all kinds of unspecified ways. DW are just so GOOD you see.

      IOW, they can't win on the ice - not fairly - so let's force the issue in the media. It worked before and this feels like then.

      I'm calling bullshit on the umbrage over VM stopping. The rule has been in place and has been enacted for decades without a fuss til now - in fact skaters who came back and finished were admired - til now. And let's not pretend and posture and act like this wasn't a gift to those who advocate for DW. VM gave them a gift - fuel for complaining and martyring and acting like it all somehow robbed DW of the convincing win they were surely headed for instead of the victory-with-an-asterisk they got - never mind that VM had won the short. As I said before, the only way DW advocates can believe DW were robbed somehow is if they believe Tessa really was hurt, and so believe if she'd had to continue anyway, she and Scott might have limped to a finish ending up bronze or fourth - a DW advocates wet dream.

      If these complaints are sincere it's because that type of blood in the water outcome is their most cherished fantasy. Otherwise, it's hypocrisy because if Tessa hadn't cramped up odds are that like last season, VM would have won the 4CCs.

    7. So IOW a lot of DW ubers are actually exploiting VM's stop. It's a boon to them. There's no unfairness, there's just the opportunity to posture and once more attempt to spin that DW are so much better than VM VM are afraid of them and the damage an outright loss would deal to VM's reputation. Because of course if they'd skated the program without interruption, they'd have lost. They aren't in DW's league!

      And if that doesn't cover it, lets pretend that VM's skate as skated, interruption and all, didn't merit the pcs it received. I think people who say that don't understand figure skating or the quality of what VM do every time they step on the ice. They must think the baseline quality is a whole lot lower than it is, or wish it is.

      The only reason that some DW ubers can believe DW were bound to defeat VM in the fd outright is because they know DW are going to get monster scores no matter what THEY put on the ice.

  5. There WAS outrage when Tonya Harding stopped and changed her laces. Scott Hamilton kept saying how "unfair it was to Josee."

    1. That's what I was saying - I thought it was unfair that they rushed Josee to the ice, but not that they allowed Tonya to stop and restart. I don't know why they didn't take a 2 minute pause to fix the skate lace and have Tonya skate in the same place in the line-up where she'd paused.

      It was definitely unfair to Josee to rush her to the ice; however, I think Josee would have ended up skating about the same regardless, based on her track record.

    2. And that said, and although I agree with Hamilton in this instance, I'd never rely on ANY pronouncement of his to form an opinion.

  6. 9:01
    The outrage was because Josee was forced to skate earlier and she wasn't as prepared as she might have been. It was not because of Tonya's stop in and of itself.