Sunday, March 24, 2013

Ice Dance isn't just twizzles and spins

This is more of a placeholder. I went to Meryl and Charlie's tango when I started pulling material together for the lift post, because that's their first World Championship. As it happens, some of the tango content made me think of VM's 2007 Worlds performance of Valse Triste. Some of the moves seemed similar, although execution and "style" very different. So I went to Valse Triste, too.

I realize the best way to go on with this is to look at all the performances since VM and DW started going head-to-head, and just cut all of the components and elements up into gifs and stills. So it's time consuming, but mother of God, some of the stuff in the tango is like - SERIOUSLY? The "seriously"? moments occur so frequently they derail me off task.

The Maurizio Margaglio of 2001 would be challenged to compete in the areas of two foot skating and wide stance leg planting in DW's performance of their tango at Worlds, not to mention how can I skate with a partner while staying as far apart as I can. Some of the gifs are called wtf in my hard drive.

I want to organize them not just vis a vis Valse Triste, but vis a vis the program Virtue Moir did the same year. So as this post uses Valse Triste, consider this post a tangent.

And there's more tangent to come - the Tango and Valse Triste are going to have a twirl off.

You know, a team of dancers are footworking it down the ice, as you do, and let's have some twirls. In Scott and Tessa's case, they both twirl. Scott doesn't like Tessa to have to twirl alone. If she twirls, he twirls, and the best part is they stay within their dance frame. 

In the tango twirling, Charlie tends to twirl Meryl without twirling himself. Where they twirl simulaneously, it's not in dance frame - rather, they line themselves up a la twizzles or a la "let's run to our separate corners!" When done, Charlie makes a mighty lunge towards Meryl to get back into dance frame. Then generally they throw in another twirl where she does another one without him. It's all about doing a lot of stuff. But when you break it up and take the 'stuff' piece by piece, then mother fucker. Talk about the judges deciding to make the whole greater than the sum of its parts - even though CoP explicitly is supposed to be the sum of the parts.

So a Valse Triste v. Tango twirl-off will be another post, mostly because it just cracks me up how happily and easily and with what elan 2007 Scott just twirls his skates off in dance frame with Tessa, while the 2011 Charlie has to go to another rink if he's intending to twirl at the same time as Meryl. He also lifts her a lot so she can kick or do some type of stag pose. But very low to the ice, otherwise I think Charlie's wide legged leg stance would turn into the splits.

So much material, it's created tangents, and this is the first. But I will get back to contemporary VM versus contemporary DW.

First up for the tangent, a rotational lift gif from Davis and White's World Championship performance in 2011:
Wow - that's just fabulous figure skating. If Charlie's legs were planted any wider while rotating he'd be a weather vane. Dangling Meryl off an arm while he hauls her like a sack of laundry. And of course, set Meryl down on a freaking knee slide  (she's got a two-handed overhead grip on his hand, naturally) . We don't want to accidentally look as if we can control our skating at any point whatsoever during this move.
Scott's doing a curve lift into a rotational. Look at his feet, so neatly in a first position (heels closed) while rotating. Look at Tessa set down on an edge.

Plus - Tessa bends forward into the lift without putting her hands on Scott - she reaches behind her back for her skate WHILE she's rotating into position so she's already in position when the curve begins. They get into the lift using the propulsion from her entrance edge and the way she's rotating her body forward. He's not hauling her up and she's not grabbing onto him. Oh - look ma, no hands during the curve, while she's neatly folded against him, motionless in the catch foot.

Scott generates rotational momentum entirely off his own fucking edge curve while his partner is draped across him. He's not getting rotation off the launch, off the energy of his partner adding her impetus to his as she gets into the lift. It's off pure edge.

They were so young. Such a shame they haven't grown, unlike Charlie and Meryl.

I think the above is their curve lift. As usual it takes four arms to hoist Meryl into position, and Charlie's skate blade is rocking like the Oakland coliseum during an earthquake. It looks a little more blade flat than curved to me, but what they lack in 'curve' they make up for with aesthetically pleasing position, wouldn't you say? Let us note that Meryl as usual needs to lean on Charlie for ballast to steady herself after the set down.

Here are some stills from one of their famous lifts that they've been doing since Dubya was president.

The whole thing is more than a little bit "Sebastien Wolfe and Jessica Dube debut at Philadelphia's Liberty summer comp."

Imagine if Meryl weighed any more. Would Charlie have a hernia out there? Look at him.

Some bonus gifs.


Wide stance on two feet, dragging Meryl who is hanging on with both fucking hands. Why no bungee cords?

This up there is an example of the non-skating filler, clock-killing shit that permeates their choreoraphy.

What just happened here? Charlie's got his arms wide, making like he's gonna catch her or something else exciting is about to transpire, but she basically jumps and lands on her two feet while all his open his arms, fling them back, bend his knees went nowhere. It's very "oops, missed the last stair." What was this about?

Charlie lifts his arm so she can twirl or turn but she just steps around on both feet. Alrighty then.

When Tessa and Scott lost their World Championship title to this exemplary performance, the Moirs commenced bitching about which team were the better dancers. Seriously, maybe they should have wondered why the lesser SKATERS took the title.


  1. You're starting to make me emotional, my heart just breaks at how wrong this all is. Keep up the good work though!

    Also, as rough as that first tango lift is - it still looks smoother than in the Worlds Giselle. They're not improving, they're getting sloppier although perhaps faster.

    1. These gifs so much confirm Marina is a genius choreographer. She understands Cop and she knows how to make DW look good.

    2. The tango was probably their slowest looking program ever because they had to make all of their usual stuff look like precise, controlled, tango moves. The number of times Charlie just skates like 'whatever' in order to hoist Meryl a couple of inches off the ice so she can hit a pseudo tango pose are almost too numerous to be counted.

      They really had to get the tango 'style' in there without actually tango-ing, and that slowed them down.

      The lift and haul while Meryl did poses took the place of a lot of the skippy stuff and the running they usually do.

      And Charlie had to at least turn a few times when Meryl turned, even if, as mentioned they had to leave dance frame to do it (what dance frame they have). All of this slows them down.

      Also, in their spin (not giffed here, but I have the gif for another post), unlike the spin this year, Charlie is not lifting her and literally swinging her into rotation (the way he did this year).

      The latter is an example of the non-blade driven impetus they often employ to create "speed".

      In spin transitions, one of their visual tricks is to have Meryl pirhouette (while stationery) during a change of position transition. Consider the visual. Rotate the first spin, then in transition, Meryl does a very quick stationery pirhouette. The solo, stationery pirhouette actually enhances the impression that the dance spin they do in combination is faster than it is. She pirhouettes in the tango dance spin directly after it the spin finishes as well.

      Marina is a genius of placing movement with music to anticipate or extend momentum. Most people who are very musical do this instead of matching movement highlights directly with musical highlights. I especially love how she'll put in a movement highlight into a transitional musical phrase directly after a musical highlight - the effect is thrilling and extends the momentum from the musical highlight and it also creates a little bit of an adrenalin shock in the audience because it's a surprise.

      Marina is equally adroit at matching choreographic moves to elements so as to enhance the impression of what the skaters have accomplished in an element.

      You have to really watch to separate out the stuff she puts in there to 'extend' or supplement the impression something has been done, from the element itself.

      But that's the key to her choreoraphy for Meryl Charlie.

      If they can't do the thing itself as well as Virtue Moir - and they mostly can't come near - then the "impression" the element or component leaves is extended and supplemented by Marina with non-element choreoraphy, most of it not dance based, and it's also extraneous, but she matches it with the element really well, so you think - great lift!

      When really, the lift itself is pedestrian, but it's packaged so you take the package as part of the lift.

      With Virtue Moir, she pretty much does the opposite. Everything they do is the thing itself.

      So she knows exactly what she's doing. She understands completely the difference between the teams. Virtue and Moir can stand extreme exposure - they just show themselves as great the more they're exposed.

      Davis & White require every bell and whistle in Marina's arsenal, and she's got quite an arsenal. She's doing her job. I wish the judges would do their real job, not the dirty work that was apparently their job this season.

    3. "I wish the judges would do their real job, not the dirty work that was apparently their job this season."

      This season it just became more obviously egregious, but really the dirty work in ice-dance judging, re. DW vs VM, has been going on for a couple years now.

      It's fascinating to see the breakdown of specific elements and the way DW are adding all these little flourishes to enhance the visual impressions, but they're not really adding to the skating itself. It makes me appreciate VM's pure skating skills all the more.

    4. And it's been said before but it's pcs where DW are beating VM. What a mind fuck, huh?

      I can almost give it to them (DW) for the high choreoraphy mark even though Carmen is a work of art because the Notre Dame choreography is some hard working choreography - it's doing some serious skating fakery.

      I don't see why the ice dance team should benefit from the mark though. I think the choreographer with the most points at the end of each season should receive some type of recognition and once the total is high enough, get a bye into the Hall of Fame. :)

    5. 5:12--My heart is breaking too. I've been a fan of ice dancing for roughly two decades now, and my heart breaks for the sport as much as it does for V/M.

      If D/W were Russian or European, the North American media would be pitching an absolute fit over the fact that they'd been placed over V/M. There would be no end to the outrage. Instead, because D/W are from the US, nothing is said. Somehow, I guess being American (and I say this as a US citizen) makes it impossible to cheat or be given undeserved titles.

      People want to know why skating is losing fans. Well, it's bullshit like this. Who wants to be a fan of something this corrupt?

      "Davis & White require every bell and whistle in Marina's arsenal, and she's got quite an arsenal. She's doing her job. I wish the judges would do their real job, not the dirty work that was apparently their job this season."

      That's pretty much the crux of it. Marina's doing her job, but it's the judges job to look through the adornments and at the actual skating being done, then mark it according to a set of pre-definded criteria and standards. The judges most definitely aren't doing their jobs right now and haven't for quite sometime. If they were doing their jobs--if judging were truly healthy in this sport--then V/M would be four-time world champions right now.

    6. "I don't see why the ice dance team should benefit from the mark though. I think the choreographer with the most points at the end of each season should receive some type of recognition and once the total is high enough, get a bye into the Hall of Fame. :)"

      I have never understood that either. Unless the skater has in fact choreographed their own program, the choreography is a reflection of the skill of another person, not of the skater or team out there. Needless to say, Marina's skills as a choreographer run circles around D/W's skills as skaters and dancers.

    7. I would say the choreo mark makes sense as a kind of measure of "what the team can handle/interpret". The way it is being applied to DW is the exact opposite. They are rewarding brilliant choreography that covers for all they can't do.

    8. Of course, makes sense. Everything with them is opposite.

  2. It is not just about the lifts and twizzles you are right and someone posted this link over on fsu as a hint at what to expect next year based on what VM did at 2005 Canadians.

    The skating skills displayed almost 10 years ago are incredible compared to what we are seeing from DW

    1. Yep - and according to the judges DW have the edge on HOW they execute. The verdict in the pcs are DW are purer skaters.

      Looking at these gifs, I'd like to point out that Charlie "Baryshnikov" White is no figure skating paragon held back by a partner less adroit. Charlie's technique in some moves is inferior to some junior men. He and Meryl need to be in the physical condition they are in to sustain the exhausting, non-stop (and non-skating) frenzy they put on out there - a frenzy that is meant to fool the eye and discourage scrutiny.

      I am very curious why Charlie looks so strained getting Meryl into lifts and positions and why so much depends on grip. Meryl weighs what - three pounds? What's going on with that? Can't they do elements and skate at the same time?

      There's another way to look at Meryl's extreme thinness. That 'sylph-like' silhouette praised by DW fans. A lot of what Davis & White do would look flat out awful executed by bodies with any contour. The issues would be a whole lot more obvious.

      So an additional advantage is that that 'look' makes the whole exercise at least a little more aesthetically tolerable and helps finesse the tells of poor technique and sloppy execution.

      It could also be the consequence of the number of calories they each burn performing strenuous programs executed with tremendous frenzy while lacking the technique to let the ice help you.

    2. I don't know whether to laugh, rage or cry at Charlie being compared to Baryshnikov. Charlie doesn't have Misha's facility of body, or his line. Athleticism? Perhaps. But Misha was above all, a *dancer*, and he tempered his athleticism with *precision* and *artistry*. Even when the dance required great energy, passion, or liveliness, Baryshnikov was NOT sloppy.

      Until his body began to fail him, Baryshnikov could leap with grace, power, height, and land softly on his feet. Even now when he's remade himself into a dancer of modern and post-modern works, he still pays meticulous attention to line and the choreographic intent, to the soul of the dance. The formidable technique (and what's left of it) has always been in service to his artistic vision.

      There is a clip of him on Youtube guest-teaching a class of male ballet students in Havana (2007).
      Even with the language barrier, he makes the dancers pay attention to the ballet positions. He mimes as if to say, "No flopping around" or perhaps "Stop jumping/landing so noisily/heavily".

      One of his ABT Kitris, Cynthia Harvey, had been known to wryly relate an anecdote where, during a rehearsal, Misha had criticized her arms as moving like 'chicken wings'.

      Let's look at another aspect of Misha's dancing: his partnering. There have been mixed reports from the ballerinas he's partnered over the years--he's probably never been considered 'partner of the year'. But watch his videos. The connection to his partners is very palpable. Whether it's a story ballet, or a plot-less one (like most of Balanchine), you could sense it even in a video taped decades ago.
      Baryshnikov dancing with Kirkland at ABT (1978):

      Also, he (and other dancers) make it a point to make everything look *easy*, even if what they're doing is hard. And it's not easy when Misha was 5'7"--he was at the short end of the partnering range.

      I'm sure there are other people who could articulate further why it's a disservice to Charlie to compare him to Baryshnikov--and I'm sure Charlie doesn't think of himself that way at all. An on-ice Baryshnikov, for me, would combine Christopher Dean's cool precision, intellectual and artistic bent, Sergei Ponomarenko's lines, and Evgeny Platov's passion and charisma.

    3. Oh, and I forgot to add that one of the qualities that made Baryshnikov great was his openness to new things. He was willing to *experiment*, to push himself, to expand his horizons. Ballet, jazz, Broadway, modern--he tried them all. (Well, maybe not hip-hop.:)Perhaps if he were a bit younger, he would have.) His level of commitment, his thirst for dance, was astounding.

    4. I've read Gelsey Kirkland's biography ("Dancing on My Grave") and many articles on Baryshnikov, so it was just wonderful to see a minor ballroom dancer compare Charlie White to Baryshnikov largely, I suspect, on the basis of his hair. Baryshnikov had a wonderful head of light colored hair in his prime, worthy of a shampoo commercial.

    5. I did consider putting the hair into my comparison discussion, but I thought it was too superficial a point.

    6. It is but I think that's exactly what caused the ballroom dancer on icenetwork to see the similarities.

      I'm currently assembling - or dis-assembling - most of the rest of the tango in gif form, and I don't know what Charlie's doing out there, but it's a mess.


  3. Before ever reading this blog, I rewatched all of V&M's and D&W's FD's on Youtube, and was struck by the following:

    D&W's FD (Chocolat) is as complex as anything they've done since.

    Their most choreographically interesting FD was 06-07's Prince Igor, where they took things a bit more slowly. This was the FD that made me fall in love with them, the FD that made them my second favourite dance team after V&M, and it's the only one that stands the test of time. Samson & Delilah, which I loved at the time, doesn't. Die Fledermaus, which I loved last year, most definitely doesn't, maybe because by the time I got to it I'd already see the same dance 5 times that day, just set to different music.

    D&W never, but NEVER finish a dance looking at each other. Not once. Not. One. Single. Time. Sometimes one is looking at another, but never both.

    They spend so much time apart! I went back and measured how many seconds each team spent apart outside of the elements- so not including twizzles, or time apart during step sequences (this is from Seniors Worlds/Olys only):
    '07: D&W 10 sec, V&M 7 sec. I already mentioned this as D&W's most different FD.
    '08: D&W 21 sec, V&M 23. This has always been my least favourite V&M FD, and I realized why- it's their most D&W'ish. More on that later.
    '09: D&W 26 sec, V&M 19 sec. Most of what accounts for V&M's time apart is the modern dance section of "Money". More on that later.
    '10: D&W 23 sec, V&M 13. V&M's is mostly the start of Mahler where they're apart.
    '11: D&W 21 sec, V&M 11 sec. 21 seconds apart in a Tango!
    '12: D&W 29 sec, V&M 27 sec. More on this later.
    '13: D&W 21 sec, V&M 17 sec.
    So D&W are apart longer almost across the board. More important, though, is the nature of them being apart. When V&M are apart they're either mirroring each other or shadowing each other: they cross the rink in UoC by skating apart, coming together, crossing each other, going apart and coming back together again, all in a perfectly symmetrical pattern. In PF and Carmen they do modern dance, in FF it's jazzy, but they're doing the same steps side by side in unison, or they're doing the same in opposite directions, or they're doing the same in cannon.
    D&W are just apart, each doing their own thing.

    D&W's skating could be made into a drinking game. Drink if any of the following happens:
    - One partner twirls away from the other partner, who runs (yes, RUNS) to catch up.
    - Charlie twirls Meryl under his arm. Two drinks if she's hunched over and not just bending her knee.
    - One or both partners glides along on one knee.
    - One partner flings him/herself around the other, using the partner's body as a springboard off which to gain momentum.
    - Charlie lifts Meryl briefly and puts her down on the other side of him.
    - They rush toward each other, hands outstretched, and as they touch they switch places and directions. Two drinks if they're on their knees.
    - Charlie does a butterfly.
    - Triple drink if a strand of Meryl's hair gets stuck in her mouth and she's too busy "dancing" to remove it.

    And that's just the transitions...

    V&M tried some of these transitions, just once, in UoC, and they were less frantic by far.

    I also rewatched D&W's Tango from 2010 SA, just to see the difference from there to Worlds. They had more difficult transitions at Skate America. And just when I was thinking "yes, that's an interesting transition" they both fell on their bums.

    Needless to say, they were gone by Worlds.

    (to be continued due to length restriction)

    1. The stuff you describe in Davis & White's programs - none of it skating - is the stuff I'm cutting up into gifs and half the time I'm like - will you knock it off! Just for my own sake I wish they'd skate more.

      Just when I think I'm going after another piece of the program, they do something so egregiously empty (like that "leap" Meryl does and then lamely lands on ice in the gif above) I have to stop in my tracks to see what the hell this has to do with skating.

      That moment above (the "missed the last stair" leap Meryl makes) is also notable for the huge freaking dramatic deal Charlie is making on the ice opposite Meryl. He flings his hair back, flexes his knees, opens his arms with a mighty swing, and finishes with a little leap - and what was it for? He does absolutely nothing.

      Another thing they love to do is bend over at the waist and then fling their torso upward with a dramatic opening of the arms and tossing back of the head. That repeats, repeats, repeats.

      None of this would be notable if the elements themselves were executed with strong technique and refinement and this was just their style, as many of their partisans claim. But they're doing this instead of showing either technique or refinement. They're doing this because they can't and this is how they cover it up.

    2. I believe you could break this down still further to look at what the teams are doing when they're together.

      Compare what VM are doing when they're in any kind of hold, and what Davis White are doing when they're physically connected in some way - and let's define that as "touching".

    3. Compare that tango to VM at 2005 Junior worlds LOL

    4. As long as I'm up to my neck in gif making, and as long as I'm cutting up these programs into gifs, maybe I should take your drinking game and just illustrate it with gifs proving it, from each program.

      The upsetting part of course is, what do you have if you strip away all of the smoke and mirrors. And the answer is, not much.

    5. Thanks for sharing that analysis 2:28. Wow.

    6. Regarding what they do when they're touching-

      D&W have 3 positions relative to each other in motion when they're going in the same direction:
      1. Side by side.
      2. Facing each other, with one going forwards and the other backwards.
      3. Single file, both facing forward.

      V&M do those, but also:
      4. Both going backwards side by side.
      5. Both going backwards in single file.
      6. Back-to-back, with one going forwards and the other backwards.

      When D&W reconnect after being apart they are always facing each other. V&M frequently reconnect with one or even both partners facing the other way- much more difficult.

    7. And again, DW are beating V&M in pcs. I really look forward to looking at the pc point system in CoP and what it is supposed to award, and then look at how pcs are used to hold down skaters who actually have sublime program components and boost skaters who are ragged.

      IOW, they're using pcs to pad the points of the skaters doing the exact opposite of what pcs are supposed to reward.

  4. (continued)

    I feel bad for D&W. They have tried more complexity in some of their OD's (not the SD's so much though- so we're talking last quadrennial). Bollywood in particular (which is not a favourite of mine) had some interesting things in it. They never did them particularly cleanly or elegantly, but at least they tried. If they'd gone on trying they would have gotten it by now. But, starting the following season, they just gave up.

    They can't possibly believe they're the best. They train with V&M. They know what they do. They know V&M are doing new things every year, and they know they themselves are repeating everything.

    In years to come, Tessa & Scott will be remembered as great athletes and artists who pushed the sport, while Meryl and Charlie will be remembered as great competitors who pushed Tessa & Scott.

    1. I think even though both teams have 2 World titles each, most will remember how D/W were in the shadows of V/M. V/M were anointed by half of the world since they were juniors. Remember that the ISU included V/M in their instructional videos when they were kids. It only got better after V/M won their junior World title. V/M are also obviously the ones praised by dance legends and their peers. V/M strive to combine and balance the sport and art of ice dance. D/W are an athletic team that carefully hid their weaknesses behind clever programs; they're also now taking advantage of the American media being more vocal.

    2. I suspect Meryl and Charlie tell themselves they're different than VM but what they do has comparable value, sort of the way very rough-edged skaters describe their lack of refinement as a "style" or "exciting". You don't spend a decade plus at the highest level of a sport and acknowledge to yourself you're not even close to your competition. It takes a lot of distortion though, for a team like DW to tell themselves that in a discipline like ice dance.

      Another post coming down the pike will look at pcs. I want to see the standards for the highest points in various program components and then do the whole gif/still thing to see what DW are doing to almost max out the pcs and how they're able to beat VM on pcs, and I might even look at Valse Triste again just on its own, to see why the ISU judges thought VM's pcs should be lower than their tech in that performance. Does the ISU even know what fucking pcs are supposed to value?

    3. Further, I believe if D/W weren't Americans they would be torn apart precisely the way the Russians were torn apart in Vancouver. Instead we get lies, lies, lies.

      If you go to youtube and google the ice dance competition of 1994, you'll see youtubes of Grishok & Platov's Rock'n'Roll obsessively pointing out where they apparently broke the rule against a team physically separating for more than five seconds. The North Americans (and Western Europeans) were so obsessed over Torvill & Dean's bronze medal they went after Grishok & Platov hammer and tong. What they came up with was the technical violation - I didn't see an attempt to bash the skating itself, although I've read that the skating wasn't necessarily clearly the best, and speed played a role in the win. However, I think there's more than a legitimate case to make them the winners.

      When it was Berezhnaya and Sikhuerlidze versus Sale & Pelletier, North American skating interests went ballistic over Anton's stumble, ignoring the reality that even under 6.0 the scores were an aggregate of what you did, and B&S did plenty enough to win. Those that went all technical on Sale & Pelletier (Pelletier had his hand on her thigh in a lift, instead of her hip. His hand belonged on her hip, closer to her center of gravity) - were of course ignored.

      What we have here is a hustle. It's kind of ironic that the American media gave Canada such a huge boost in the Sale & Pelletier brouhaha and is now using those tactics to bury the greatest ice dancers of a generation. Going by Skate Canada's summing up of Worlds, they have truly thrown Virtue Moir under the bus. You don't cut off Debbi and still get their best pr efforts. It was all - oh, isn't it funny, people expected VM to do well cause it was in Canada but the Americans were PERFECT and VM couldn't get it done, but that's okay because the audience's hearts were with Weaver & Poje!

    4. Bollywood is notable for openness, and compared to Farrucas it's notable for how often Charlie is simply a stable base for something Meryl's doing - a two footed stable base. If they do something simultaneously they much prefer to be side by side instead of facing each other. Farrucas is notable for how intricately and intimately entwined Virtue and Moir are when in hold, and when skating out of hold their blades are so close together it's terrifying, all while, as in Carmen, using Flamenco dance vocabulary to accomplish their elements (look at the twizzles) and a consistent Flamenco style of the dance.

    5. I think as the years pass and people look back, V/M are going to be regarded as one of the all-time great ice dance teams. They'll be grouped in there right along with the likes of T/D and K/P. D/W will be nothing more than a footnote in the history of ice dance. Same for the programs. In 5, 10, 15+ years down the road, when people come back to this season, people are going to watch Carmen and DF and be all WTF over the judging. Along with that, no one is ever going to forget Carmen. ND won't because it's exactly like all of the other FD's D/W have done. There's just nothing remarkable, memorable, or special about that program.

      "What we have here is a hustle. It's kind of ironic that the American media gave Canada such a huge boost in the Sale & Pelletier brouhaha and is now using those tactics to bury the greatest ice dancers of a generation. Going by Skate Canada's summing up of Worlds, they have truly thrown Virtue Moir under the bus. You don't cut off Debbi and still get their best pr efforts. It was all - oh, isn't it funny, people expected VM to do well cause it was in Canada but the Americans were PERFECT and VM couldn't get it done, but that's okay because the audience's hearts were with Weaver & Poje!"

      All of this just makes me weep, literally. V/M are not just the greatest team of a generation , but one of the greatest teams ever. They have been bullied and buried. Their fed has thrown them under a bus, and no one is coming to their defense because D/W are American and that somehow makes what's being done to V/M as fine, I guess. The only person who's even vaguely hinted at the judging not being correct is Zhulin.

      I've seen quite a few comments out there from V/M fans wishing they were Russian because the if the Russian fed had a team like V/M, they'd never let what has happened happen. I feel the same way.

      V/M's ice dancing is like a rare, beautiful work of art. You're supposed to put something like that on dispaly, revere it, admire it, and protect it. You're not supposed to grab it with both hands and throw it on the floor as hard as you can, then step on it and kick at it.

    6. I also hate the false equivolencies made when Davis White and Virtue Moir are compared. It's usually set up like this: Virtue Moir are perfect but Davis White are exciting. It's the exact same arrogant nonsense I see on a show like Dancing with the Stars - some celebrity will talking head that they're breaking the rules out of consideration for the audience. They want to entertain.

      This is such bullshit. The two concepts aren't incompatible - good technique and an exciting performance. They go hand in hand.

      Arlene Croce, one of the dance critics for the New Yorker in the last century, once remarked of "Singing in the Rain" that great as it is, the fun of it doesn't have very much to do with dancing.

      The enjoyment of watching Davis White doesn't have anything to do with figure skating or dancing because they're not doing either one terribly well.

  5. I saw Tessa went to Toronto Fashion Week. Could you do a post about that?

    1. I'm not OC but I don't see how that's worthy of a post. Good for Tessa for going. She enjoys fashion and it's nice to see her get front row treatment.

  6. Way off topic, but I remember seeing a video on youtube of Tessa walking into the 2011 worlds banquet. (Scott walked in with Cynthia Pahneuf,"Locking arms" Does anyone have that video. Tessa looked Stunning???

  7. Benoit Lavoie leaving SC. Over at ISU they already have him elected as ISU president, now that is a terrifying thought. Hope this means better things for SC though, not terribly likely I guess.

    1. ^lol I meant "over at FSU"

    2. And of course Benoit is going to be embraced by the International ISU after a tenure spent driving Skate Canada onto the financial rocks, hiring a brace of grasping, parasites/leaches to fill key positions, hoaxing the public with its star ice dance champions, crawling up the butt of 18th place worlds finishers while neglecting other up and coming ice dancers - a tenure that saw all of Skate Canada's international champions train in the US. He's got so much to offer.

  8. Anon 12:49--I've been wondering the same thing. There's always some hope for real change, but as long as other SC officials, such as Debbi and Barb, are allowed to stay, can things really change?

    Does anyone know how a new SC president is elected/appointed? Does someone like Debbi get a say? And what if Debbi herself got this job - I cannot imagine anything worse.

    It will be very interesting to see if things do stay the same or not.

    1. I think there was or has been way too much complacency and "Go Canada go!" inside the ranks and nobody is really dealing with the emerging reality that the problem is themselves. It's been run on personalities. Personalities and relationships matter more than credentials and effective management across multiple areas of concern (financial a big one, some type of assignment criteria for lower ranked skaters another, and let's not even talk marketing and public relations which has not just stunk, but has been used more for hoaxes in the past few years than for reaching out to the public and trying to bring back the audience for the sport.)

      These personalities are manipulative and have bought into the star system - create stars and we'll all make money and maybe even become stars ourselves. I see that from the directors on over to the Moirs. They're so sure of themselves and their friends they haven't paid attention to the dysfunction in their own organization (except for the usual disdain for Quebec).

      I do think Virtue Moir can change the conversation about the so called rivalry but they have to do it exactly the way they went about choosing their coach, their conditioning trainer, their choreographer, and all of the other first class people who have helped them develop as skaters. There are very smart, very knowledgeable, very articulate people around skating but they're not the ones we hear from. These are the people Virtue Moir would have to work with, even if when they spoke up they weren't explicitly doing it at the behest of Virtue Moir. If Virtue and Moir and the people around them are at all interested in pushing back against the club-handed DW spin they have to work with the best, and define the best using the same criteria as they used for coaching and other aspects of their training. I'm not expecting that to happen.

  9. I've been obsessed with the lift in the first gif tonight, especially the second half. No part of that lift is pretty, but in that second half, Meryl is just kind of haphazardly bobbing along in space there while Charlie holds on with all of his might. Meryl has zero control of her body during that lift.

    One of the stupid memes from this season was that V/M were struggling with their lifts and looked labored. Sure, they botched the SD lift at SC, but I didn't see a team that was struggling with lifts or who looked labored while performing them. Meryl and Charlie's lifts always remind me of "let's just get through it" exercises. They're recycled. Meryl's positions aren't pretty and they're not held well/at all. Compare to Tessa in a lift. There's never an ugly position--take a picture at any point, she's looking gorgeous up there. Tessa's control and ability to carry herself is incredible. These things alone elevate the quality of V/M's lifts above their competitors. As an added bonus, neither Tessa nor Scott ever appear to be in danger of bodily harm. Yet, people try to say that V/M's lifts aren't as good as D/W's. Give me a break.

    1. ikr? lol Like Meryl can even compare to Tessa's superiority. Even in lifts, Tessa points her toes while Meryl doesn't hence her inferior lines.

    2. As has been happening, when I'm making gifs my intention for the upcoming post has taken a turn.

      When the tango is turned into gifs for the purpose of looking at the tango piece by piece, it becomes apparent that taken moment by moment, haphazard isn't even the word for how Davis and White skate this program. On a skating basis this program is complete junk. The program is junky, the skating is junk.

      After the new post is up I welcome any DW fan to come in here and point out in the program where good figure skating is going on. Not good skating comparable to Virtue Moir's. Good skating - anywhere.

    3. 9:54 - wait until you see the whole program broken into gifs. That's what ended up happening. Meryl in that lift is the least of it.

      The new post will show the tanto gif by gif. The only parts left out are the gifs already presented in the current post.

    4. Well, I think that "dangling" lift demonstrates Meryl has a strong core, even if she is unable to control her limbs. Charlie isn't hanging on, he's just displaying her like a folded towel at the sports club while she's bent over his arm and his feet are planted wide apart. What that says about their skills in lifts or their skating skills or their partnering skills is - nothing. Meryl can do upside down sit ups, that's about all we can get from that.

      They love their two-footed skating in this program, that's for damn sure.

    5. OC 7:18 -- In the last couple days I reread through the pbp threads at FSU of the SD and FD from Worlds. It's evident DW's skating communicates excitement and beauty to many viewers. I couldn't see that anyone who loved their programs were interested in any specific details of perfect skills, it was about a whole package. The few who said they preferred VM's Carmen were specific, as far as saying for example that VM are better dancers.

      I think DW are very good at what they do and they will probably be great show skaters. The problem is the judging is *supposed* to be about the specific details and execution of skating skills. It looks like the judges allowed themselves to get swept up in whatever emotions DW communicated to them and forgot this is a judged sport, not a show.

    6. I would amend your comments to say DW's "performance" communicates excitement and beauty to their fans because skating is not what they're doing a large part of the time, even though they are on figure skates. Their programs are broken down into frenzied segments with an enormous amount of non-skating based theatrical posturing and melodramatic gesturing, any actual skating is of extremely short duration and not sustained through a transition, and their "transitions" are used to help them re-set and re-stablize. Charlie in particular has a habit of flinging his arms, leaping and throwing back his head at the beginning and end of something while gritting his teeth and hanging on for dear life executing a not-so-high-level thing itself.

    7. The problem with DW is more than the "specific details" - if you compare fine motor skills to gross motor skills, they struggle at some of the gross motor skills. It would be an improvement if all they needed was refinement.

      They have element work-arounds up the whazoo because doing the elements at the level they're supposed to be done at the level in which DW compete and win is actually difficult for them.

      Furthermore the skating media and the commentary helps this along by calling some of what DW do amazing and difficult, and when it's done by another team of skaters it's not worthy of any note.

      There's this backwards analysis where if something is done with an assist the commentary acts like the assist makes the element harder.

      For example, I think anything done off an edge is more difficult than something where the other skater is pulling or yanking their partner into it, while keeping their body a comfortable distance from their partner's. But when DW's programs are broadcast, often as not the person in the booth will say whatever it is they're doing - no matter what it is - is difficult and amazing. The only time the reality principle sets in is if they're having any obvious edge issues in the footwork or stroking.

    8. 8:01 & 8:07
      Unquestionably - the commentators are a huge part of the problem. They haven't done their job to inform about what is or not good ice-dancing. Are they really that uneducated in the specifics of icedance or how in the world did they all agree to say what DW do is "great" skating? This has been going on for years! It's not just this season.

    9. It's also a tremendous double standard because when DW do it it's great and when another team does something similar it's easier than the other teams are doing.

      Two years ago the Shibs did a lift identical to one DW use yearly and Tracy Wilson says here's where they (the Shibs) don't have the complexity/difficulty of the top teams. It's a little simpler.

      It's the same freaking lift! Only difference is the Shibs had better unison, a more controlled exit and entrance, and they didn't gussy it up with a lot of extraneous gesture announcing to the crowd that what they'd just done was amazing.

    10. And note - the Shibs pcs have gone way down since they about tied DW in TES at a competition a couple of years ago. PCs strike again. Yes, Alex and Maia have struggled with injury, but how has their skating quality suffered?

      Don't skate too quietly or with too much speed and power generated off the glide. Your pcs will drop like the DOW in 08.

    11. I just wanted to add that in terms of show skating - I would prefer to P/B to D/W any day of the week...Nathalie's personality would be enough...I also kind of get a kick out of the fact that some D/W fans would love for D/W to go on Dancing with the Stars...I actually would pay money to see this - just to see how their form and musicality would be judged...

    12. Tessa in mid air looks better than Meryl holding a supported position and the Carmen gifs will show this.

      But the larger point is the VM lifts are far more difficult and have a much higher quality of execution, and that quality of execution includes ease of movement and fluidity.

    13. Anon 10:26
      I'm sure skating fans have all sorts of preferences for who they would like as show skaters. The problem is that the ISU ice-dance judges and most of the commentators have all decided that DW's particular brand of skating - which IMO more and more just looks like fancy show performances on skates - is *it* right now, and deserving of the highest marks. Looking at these gifs, I find it completely baffling that DW have been given the scores they have.

    14. I definitely can't wait to see the gifs of the tango program. I've been insisting since the FD wrapped up at worlds in 2011 that V/M should have won. Save for a couple of other likeminded others, people have just patted me on the head and left it at "Well, Tessa was winded at the end and they were a bit rough compared to their usual." I'd suggest that they go look hard at the actual performances, but no one seemed to keen to do that. Of course I knew that Tessa winded and that V/M were a little rough, but V/M weren't competing against their best selves; they were competing against what D/W had put down that day. In that comparison, the not 100% V/M outdid the had-a-full-season D/W. Were V/M perfect? No. Did they do enough to pass D/W? You betcha.

      I have a feeling the gifs are going to leave me feeling more outraged than ever. I suspect for as much as I caught about D/W's tango, there are things I somehow missed.

      @10:26--My skating preference, show and otherwise, is P/B over D/W. P/B were undertrained at worlds due to Fabian's injury, but when healthy, they trump D/W pretty easily these days, IMO, when it comes to actual skating and dancing. Heck, they even beat D/W in the SD at worlds last year on TES.

      "But the larger point is the VM lifts are far more difficult and have a much higher quality of execution, and that quality of execution includes ease of movement and fluidity"

      This. One of the many things that has my blood boiling right now are the GOE's for the lifts at worlds. It shouldn't be close, yet... Of course, GOE is fairly easily manipulated. GOE is supposed to reflect the quality of a lift. It's obvious as day which team has the lifts of higher quality.

      Thank you, btw, for making all of the gifs.

      On the Shibs, I think it was 2011 Nationals where they outdid D/W on the TES. There was talk of them surpassing D/W before too long. They went to worlds and won a medal. Then, the next season, their PCS started to drop.

      I'm starting to feel like everytime a team comes close to passing D/W or it's suggested they might, something is done to put them back well behind D/W. Likewise, if there's a better team, there is a full-out effort to get them out of the way. What is so special about D/W? If it was just a top American team, why not the Shibs, or, and I know they had the injury and split, S/B (another team that seemed poised to pass D/W sooner rather than later)?

    15. The gifs of the program as a whole are worse.

    16. I think because Meryl/Charlie and Virtue/Moir finished one/two at the Olympics and Meryl/Charlie are senior to the shibs, and because Meryl/Charlie are so different than Virtue/Moir.

      The Shibs have really good skating skills at blade level - Alex is a wonderful partner, and they're both musical. If you compare them to Virtue Moir it's like comparing similar things, only you can see where Virtue Moir's TES is much higher without their pcs suffering. So a real impression of a neck-and-neck competition can't be drummed up.

      Davis and White are a completely different animal - they do nothing like Virtue Moir - and actually do very little like a strong figure skating partnership or ice dancers, and in their basic skating they are very flawed - something that shows strongly when they're asked to sustain anything (they can't).

      So you can bullshit the rivalry better with Davis White, actually.

    17. It would be interesting to see a sbs comparison of the Latin dance with the tango.

      I always thought VM should have won, the gist of it being they have better skating skills and lines, and they interpreted Latin dance better than DW tango'd. I had not given a lot of thought to the composition of either program.

      In fact - even as a VM FAN - in my mind I remember DW having all these difficult transitions and tango moves (again, not done particularly well, but at least in my mind, they existed) and VM doing more shimmying and posing. You've completely shattered my illusion of the "difficult transitions" in the tango so a look at how much skating content exists in the Latin seems due.

      At the time, I would have ceded transitions and choreography to DW, with VM winning on the other components. But I bet there a lot more hidden difficulty in the Latin than most give them credit for.

      And honestly - that should be a thing. Compare any DW program with any VM program and see which one is better.

      Because - if DW came out with VM's exact Valse Triste choreo and performed it the way VM performed it in 2007 - people would be shitting themselves. The improvement would be considered epic and unbelievable. So much so that I can't picture it happening in a million years.

      I'm not so sure DW's tango is better than VM's from 2005, for that matter.

      DW's Russian folk OD from 2008 vs VM's FD from 2005? Hm. Swear to God - first time I saw VM's FD back in the day, I could not get over how adorable their twizzle variation was (a sit spin position, like Russian folk dancers). They did that even then and that was the hybrid CoP year and they were like 4!

      If VM came out next year skating anything like DW have in the last couple of years, people would be pretty much ready to take Tessa out back and shoot her. Extreme injury could be the only possible explanation for such lack of skills. People would be all over Scott for forcing her to skate in such a poor condition, having to repeat old elements, hold onto her partner with both arms, not extend her body lines or stand up straight, etc. When DW do it though, it's their style, and it's exciting.

  10. These gifs and what happens with VM's GOE's (and DW's GOEs) piss me off. Really. ISU is a shame, how this whole shit can be stopped?? It's ridicolous! Just because people love musics like ND or DF that can be danced also by my 2-years-old sister, it can't be that people believe Meryl and Charlie are superior! It's crazy!

    1. It doesn't matter if people think DW are superior, or love them more; it does matter that DW are scored as if they're competitive with Virtue Moir when they're nowhere near. It's a scandal. If they skated for any country but the United States this would be called out, and very easily too.

    2. I agree, it's a scandal and it's all about the ISU judging the sport and the USFSA selling the propaganda. When I talk about people that think DW are superior I talk about the ones who think that DW should have taken the gold last year with DF.
      I think DF is a program that doesn't have skating in it, just twizzles, pirouettes, frantic arm movements, hops, all coreography. And what is worse, with re-packaged lifts and set of twizzles. But people go all blind and say "it just fits perfectly with the music!"

  11. I just re-watched V/M free dance @ Worlds and then laughed at loud and clapped at how amazing and brilliant it is. I think it's the first time I watched it without feeling bitter about the result and just appreciated it for what it is. A masterpiece.

    Just sharing, LOL.

  12. I am going to pull the latin dance, but my original intention was to do the turns in the Tango and compare them to Valse Triste, as both are close partner style dances as opposed to a Latin party dance, but yes, it makes sense to look at what the Tango beat.

    The post I'm about to start has a link to Virtue & Moir's 'Assasination Tango' od from 07. Then it basically cuts up the gifs from Davis & White's worlds gold medal tango, leaving out the pieces that are already gifed. Transition? Wait til you see.

  13. Have you seen the new pics of Scott and Cassandra?? Mighty interesting.

    1. Can you link them for the rest of us, please?

    2. Seconded. Where are these pics hiding??