Monday, April 8, 2013

Say what now?

From Marina Zoueva:

last year so many judges came to me and spoke with me: we would like to see Tessa and Scott do something unusual, something unbelievable...but with theme that we could identify (something well-known), and there and then I precisely decided it has to be Carmen. Who doesn't recognize (could not identify) her? But how could we make it unusual? We really had to think about it."

So, ISU judges are similar to restaurant customers - entitled to request specific menu items from the figure skaters?

What standing do "the judges" have for communicating their program preferences to a coach?

There's a rulebook for a reason - it give music guidelines, it sets the components of a short and long program, it establishes criteria and assigns value. THE END.

Where's the part that stipulates the judges may give guidelines to the coach about the specific sort of program they'd like to see from specific skaters but if they have no interest in what the others are doing that's okay.

There is apparently "feedback" between the skaters and the tech specialists (I really want to go back and learn the name of the tech specialist at every fucking ISU competition in which Davis & White have participated) and the skaters and judges, but one would imagine such feedback would be about skating. "Clean up your edges here". "Stronger core there". Sort of what they see that maybe is preventing a team or a skater from getting the most points out of their performance, and then the coach and skaters work on it. Fine. That makes sense.

But what's this with "judges" ordering up a program from Virtue Moir. How is it their business? What does it have to do with Virtue and Moir's actual skating? Where in the rules does it say that judges shall propose program themes and styles to specific skating teams? Where in the rules is this within the scope of their responsibilities?

Because implicit in this sort of communication is if the skater does it they'll get the points (before they've even skated!) and if they don't, they might not.

Which - how is this a sport and not, again, just a secret society making its money and advancing the status of its officials and indulging some of their perverse personalities on the backs of costumed athletes?

It's not a sport. This stuff doesn't happen in sport. In a real sport, we know the names of the athletes, and we know the names of the officials, and we know how the sport operates. We understand the organizational structure and the relationship between the organization and the athletes. There's corruption, but it's not official corruption. Officially, there's transparency. Who is in charge? We know. Who made that decision? We know. When was it made? We know (i.e., preliminary discussions at such and such a meeting/conference, decision made by such and such a date with so-and-so signing off. And this other so-and-so was the biggest proponent and made the most compelling case, so their argument was carried). What is the rationale that legitimizes the decision? We know. Does everything abide by the sport's own rules and regulations? Yes.

In Figure Skating, just on a national level, nobody even seems to have any fucking idea who signs Debbi Wilkes' paychecks, or even if she gets one at all. Who is going to appoint the new president? Who is actually running things now? To whom are the directors accountable? How is job performance evaluated? IS job performance evaluated? Who evaluates it?

Since Benoit Lavoie didn't replace William Thompson when Thompson left, what was Thompson actually doing to earn HIS (CEO) paycheck before he left?

That's just in Canada. Internationally, it's more of a swamp.

Now Marina is a savvy woman, so who knows if her comments are literal or allegorical. But I will proceed on the assumption she meant this actually happened. So other questions I have are

WHAT ISU judges offered this advice?

There are a lot of judges. Which judges passed this on to Marina? Did ALL of the ISU's credentialed ice dance judges and other officials have a meeting and talk turned to - "now, Virtue and Moir.  I'm seeing something unusual, but familiar, different, but at the same time, we'll all know what it is right away."

And then they pass a motion to tell Marina?

What's the origin of such a communication? What's the decision-making hierarchy? Upon what rules and guidelines is this sort of advice based, and when and where is this type of consensus reached?
When it was time for the Olympics in 2010, Marina said that she heard from so many people, judges, people in the sport - how happy they were that Scott and Tessa were doing this romantic Mahler program after having done Pink Floyd.

Concurrently, Marina said that the USFSA said to her something like "Phantom? What is with the Phantom!?" - they were somewhat worried whether or not Marina was considering Virtue Moir her A team and just giving an old warhorse to Davis White as the bench warmers.  Marina explained that she and Charlie White were the biggest believers in Phantom and had to get it through the USFSA.

But she never said the ISU gave one good shit what Davis White are skating. The USFSA did. The ISU didn't.

Here is what I want to know about the Secret Society that is figure skating, because it is not a sport.

What judges are communicating with Marina about the sorts of "themes" they like to see Virtue and Moir skate, and what does that have to do with the ISU rulebook, which is all that should concern the ISU?

How many ISU judges contributed to that decision, when the fuck did the conversation happen, and between how many judges occupying what positions; how was a consensus reached and where in the rulebook or standards of conduct or whatever organizational laws and rules govern figure skating is this conversation within their scope of authority?

And upon whose authority was this "advice" communicated to Marina?

Why is the ISU up Virtue and Moir's ass? What's it to them what Virtue and Moir skate, as long as it conforms to the rules and guidelines explicitly set out in their own publicly available rules of ice dance?

Where can I see it in print? Why is this information transmitted via heavy, mafioso type hinting?

How does Marina say stuff like that and nobody in sports media goes "Hold on a hot fucking second - WHO said that to you? Judges - WHAT judges? What are their names?

Is there an organizational structure regulating this topic, a specific hierarchy that's accountable so this sort of conversation has institutional standing?

I could see the ISU thinking Virtue and Moir were an audience draw, and wanting to max it out, and so informally saying something like - you know, if they're all romantic and stuff we think we'll get better box office, so help us out, if you can! But these are judges, with no financial stake in the box office. Presumably.

The ISU ice dance rules already exist to tell Virtue and Moir everything they need to know before they choose music and create their programs. One informational resource for everyone. 

But Virtue and Moir seem to get all of these "suggestions" which carry with them the implication that if they don't follow the suggestion, it will show in the scores. Of course they can follow the suggestion and get fucked anyhow, like this season.

P.S. - I know that some will believe all this swampy, political crap is due to the former eastern bloc countries' historic way of doing business - all the collusion, the favor-swapping, and deal-making that supposedly went down - a way of operating that reflected the way the governments of these countries did business or used to do business. It's culture.

But then we have Skate Canada, two Canadians in a row, Gilles & Poirier/Virtue Moir. So lets say that SC is doing what seems to be the Candian way "THEY do it so WE have to do it!" Uh huh. What about outside the field of play? What about your institution? How come nobody knows how its hierarchy operates? How come nobody knows who is accountable to whom? How come it operates like a front, the way organized crime sets up shadow businesses in order to cover for their real work? Skate Canada doesn't seem to have much of a requirement for actual officials doing actual work for its actual athletes.

So it's just as bad as the ISU. Very compatible.


  1. What a great day! Creating choreo for #2010olympicchamps Scott and Tessa #theroadforsochi2014 Jean Marc Genereux

  2. would you please provide a link for the Marina article that quote came from OC?

    Thank you, all of these latest posts have been extremely illuminating.

    What a corrupt system, i feel bad for the hard working athletes.

    1. I don't have the link - I'll try to find it and paste it here.

      How would it be if before the new football season the head referee came to a head coach and said - "we really like the lateral pass on third and goal - it's been working for you. But the guys would like to see the q-back drive in up the middle - want to see him get his hair mussed this season. What say you?"

      There's feedback and conversations that take place between the judges and the skaters, ostensibly to help the skaters understand the protocols and understand what they might need to work on. Deciding to pay special attention to this team - especially the Olympic champions, which makes the judges look like power-hungry little star fuckers - and tell them what kind of program they want to see has nothing whatsoever to do with legitimate sport and is outside their realm of responsibility.

    2. The original Russian article is here:

      The English translation is in a recent post on the Compulsory Dances V/M news blog:

    3. I especially love this quote :

      "nadezhda: so your position is that athletes at such high level have to always be innovators?
      marina: undoubtedly. olympic champions and world champions have to bring something new in ice dancing. and even if you are just wannabe champion — you shouldn't execute last year's lifts. "

      Did she forget that she also coaches Meryl and Charlie who will be caught dead before changing a lift ?

    4. 1:51
      Ah, but DW are special.
      Didn't you know their style is the "new direction" ice dance is going...according to their fans.

      CoP? Rules? Skating skills? Creativity that adheres to tecnique?
      Eh. Who cares about that old-school stuff.

    5. Somehow I want to get a t-shirt with Marina's quote and distribute everyone...including Dick Button, Scott Hamilton, Tanith Belbin, Judy Bloomberg, Kurt Browning, Lois Elfman, Lynn Rutherford, Mike Slipchik, Sandra Bezic, Tracey Wilson, Aunt Joyce,, technical specialists - "Have a blast - don't exceute last 5 year's lifts"....

  3. All of this just pisses me off so very badly. I'm angry that the judges are even suggesting what kind of programs they should do in the first place. I'm livid that when Team V/M went and did what was asked, they got fucked over for it.

    1. Thanks 7:42 AM.

      Note in the article Marina says that because Scott and Tessa are Olympic champions they're judged more harshly than others.

      Because that's how a legitimate, Olympic-eligible sport SHOULD be judged. That's why CoP was created, to perpetuate political double standard bullshit and manipulation of results.

      I love how Skate Canada, which has often loved to play victim, has jumped in with both feet when it comes to score fixing and manipulation, without losing any of the self-righteousness that makes them so appealing.

    2. The rules are supposed to provide the program guidelines. The ISU issues communiques each season with amendments and guidelines specific to the new season. After the skaters skate, there is, I understand, the opportunity to get feedback from the judges as to what's in the protocols.

      The part where the judges inform the coach what they want the skaters to do, like the skaters are fantasy figures or a couple of puppets, is disgusting. I don't even so much care that Scott and Tessa did it, did it brilliantly, and got screwed in favor of a total garbage program with cheated technique. I care that they were asked to do it in the first place.

      It's revolting to see so many skaters and others who are connected to the "sport" on twitter doing the "turn it around" manipulative game, the same ones who complained about the perversities of the sport now using social media to exploit the ignorance of the public, frame a question around false issues, and attempt to make the corruption and scams in the sport work for their own agenda, whether because their boyfriend is competing or because they'll get more icenetwork assignments or because they're low enough in life that sucking up to Debbi Wilkes is a good thing in their world. Or because they're jealous of the natural talent possessed by Virtue and Moir and everything else they've been given as skaters.