Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Carmen accomplished this much, at least

This quote from Tatiana Tarasova is making the rounds:

Tessa Virtue - a diamond in figure skating. In a very expensive cut.
She’s the strongest technically among all current females in ice dance. She has unique, stunning skating skills. This is a real gift from God. — Tatiana Tarasova

As Scott has said, he and Tessa were both incredibly lucky to, among other things, be compatibly talented, to have their talent grow at the same pace. Scott has a way of moving on his skates that makes skating seem as natural to him as breathing or walking. You don't see the technique. In the past, some observers in the skating world have admired this so much they almost implicitly dissed Tessa as his talent sidecar. Also implicit was the idea that she was conventional compared to Scott.

I can hardly think of a less conventional ice dance sensibility, or a less conventional, more brilliant talent, than Tessa Virtue, despite superb, textbook-and-beyond skating technique.

While the ISU (and the judges at the Canadian championships) disgraced the sport in their scoring of Carmen vis a vis Notre Damethis past season, I think Carmen at least made it impossible for anyone to pretend Tessa was second to Scott or second to anyone.

There's a lot of pride that Scott and Tessa bring to their performances. That's not an excuse for the ISU judging system to pretend they don't see that Scott and Tessa are a million miles beyond Davis White every time they take the ice, that they should, as some observers in the comments sections have said, be able to absorb more than one mistake before they lose to a relatively "clean" Davis and White. They are as beyond Davis White as Yuna Kim is beyond most of her contemporaries and as Patrick Chan is beyond most of his contemporaries.

I believe the ISU and everyone else, including the USFSA, depends upon the ignorance among the skating public and media to pull this off, and also relies upon the idea that the skater or skating team who most strenuously begs the audience for approval and admiration is probably the skater who's doing the better job.

As anyone who looks at stills from SOI - or really stills from anything Tessa Virtue does - her ability to manage her body in space, her balance, her lines, her control, her awareness - is second to none. But I'd also look at how that body awareness and control enables stunning blade work. And then look at how Meryl's lack of control, stability and awareness negatively impacts her blade work - or prevents real blade work from happening (Charlie is no better on his feet than she is, but this is just comparing the women). I've never seen a pair of ice dancers who work around both dancing and skating as strenuously as Davis White. The moments of skating and/or dance are short-lived intersticials between filler and bullshit.

What happened last season is criminal.

P.S. Scott is, needless to say, in love with Tessa, proud of her, and supportive of her. So for the past many years when he's called her the best figure skater in the world, described himself as needing to keep up with her, called her his most admired athlete, people might believe it's out of love. He says it because it's true. He knows skating better, IMO, than most skaters competing today. He, better than anyone, knows what she's doing out there, knows what's obvious about her talent and also is well aware of the aspects of her skating that are both absolutely breathtaking and sail straight over people's heads because she's not begging the crowd for approval the second she does it. They've both got too much pride for choreographic exclamation points and underscoring that have no purpose but to encourage both audience and judges to believe they've done something great.

P.S. - too apt, Derek Hough is on "Just Jared" saying that Davis White taught him a trick he might do with Kellie Pickler on DWTs. Of course. What Davis & White do seldom has anything to do with skating skills. This is why they score so highly in pcs. Pcs don't mean anything more than the judges playing the politics card.


  1. the fact that tessa and scott keep on losing to d/w is a crime against the sport. the judging has become more like sytycd aka focuses more on PERSHUNALITY instead of dance skills

  2. even if ice dance was a popularity contest v/m would still win. they might have a lot of haters but they also have a lot of fans. even their haters are more obsessed with them than they are obsessed with their favs.

    1. 10:33

      Yeah, if it was a popularity contest, PChan wouldn't win all the time.

      Rewatching the tapes of Worlds, it's very obvious Tracy can't say what she really thinks and has to pay tribute to the idea of "equal but different" and that it's simply a matter of "taste." Such a load of crap. Didn't PJ Kwong also say something similar? Of course they know it's bull.

      It all feels very much like a mafia.

    2. I was re-reading a piece from 2010 about taking out the original exit from The Goose. I have no problem with the original exit ruled illegal. The problem is it wasn't ruled anything. The article quite matter-of-factly "explained" that it was a "gray area" and the judges might or might not rule it illegal come the Olympics, and this wasn't seen as the slightest bit inconsistent with it apparently having been legal throughout the Grand Prix.

      Not a single reporter questioned the legitimacy of a sport where an element is a "gray area" and why this so called issue isn't brought to the attention of and resolved publicly by the governing body. Why in a so-called sport the skaters would have to compete without complete information and it would be up to the personal, individual interpretation of the judges whether it was legal or not.

      If it's a sport something like that exit has a definitive answer. It's not a fucking gray area. I understand - it can be something new, never considered in ice dance before. So what you do is you address it before the skaters have spent most of the season competing it and arrive at an answer that has uniform applicability in every competition and clarifies it for everybody. Not a "gray area".

      This isn't really a sport. It IS the mafia of athletics and the weird part is the sports media takes it for granted and gets off on the drama instead of questioning its legitimacy.

      I wonder WHY the sport traffics in things like the grapevine, grey areas and "what judges want to see." Why does the sport pretend to codify its standards and then not conduct itself like a sport that has standards, criteria, definitions, rules and regulations? Why do they like to have murky, arcane areas and why isn't this called out? Instead this seems to be something the sportswriters love about the sport. They love the drama, the politics - things that have no place in a legitimate sport, and no place in the Olympics. It's obvious the ISU isn't interested in clarity. They want the murk.

    3. Davis & White's skating has turned ice dance inside out. The way they're scored, and the way they execute their elements, they're able to construct an entire program while rarely either dancing or skating. For that to be possible, something has gone wrong with the scoring and the judging. Something's hinky with the levels and the GOE.

      Figure skating itself should never become extraneous to the performance of a figure skating program. Ice dance should never become incidental to ice dance.

      But that's where we are. It's incidental that what Davis White do takes place on skates. Is a lot of it athletic and dangerous, yes. Is much of it good form - no. Does much of it have anything to do with skating skills or the ability to use the medium of ice and blades to dance on ice? No.

      The current world champions got their second title while neither skating nor dancing much in either of their highly scored programs. When the elements created to challenge and show off your skating skills become possible to do without real skating skills and are awarded, then the elements become an end in themselves, more important than the skating and they may as well move the entire discipline off the ice. They do their elements despite being on skates and while contriving every maneuver they can think of to get off their edges and to add insult to injury, the non-skating mechanics of their elements are no great shakes in their own right. They're pretty basic, just executed with great energy.

      The cart is driving the horse - it's come to this in the most blade-centric discipline in all of figure skating, and both the USFSA and Skate Canada are enthusiastically promoting it.

    4. "It's obvious the ISU isn't interested in clarity. They want the murk."

      This has been the ISU culture forever. It's corrupt and smacks of mafioso-type politics. But what can be done about it? The skaters know they're in a helpless position -- VM had no legitimate channel to protest what happened to them re. The Goose and also that final lift in Farrucas, at the 2010 World Championships.

      Those "gray areas" are bad enough, and that they only apply to some skaters and not others. But this last season was outrageously corrupt in the way DW were scored. Their skating is nothing but slop, and they're given higher points than VM? And by the end of the season, everyone with a public voice felt obligated to go along with it. HOW does that happen?

    5. It's possible because the layperson is presumed to not know much about figure skating. The media, too, even those who've reported on it for years, don't know anything. "Knowing figure skating" in media terms means being familiar with the personalities, not the sport.

      Steve Milton has not only done Virtue and Moir's book, he's done an entire book on figure skating. Does Steve Milton know fuck all about one edge from the other? He wrote two books and has been around the sport for two decades and he doesn't think it's important to know.

      The skating industry has made it so most people believe it's much too difficult to tell one edge from another or to distinguish a skating skill from an athletic feat unless you're exposed to it at age three or four. Bezic thinks people who have some clue about it are "uber fans" and her tone wasn't ultra warm when she called them that, either. The public is supposed to get into the personalities. Leave the judging to the ISU. The skating media is only too happy with that arrangement as the edge thing with the scoring stuff just looks so hard and kind of super technical plus there's math.

      It's those two things - the compete ignorance of the fans that follow it, and the complete ignorance of the reporters/groupies who write about it, that enable the corruption.

    6. OC@1:40

      It's known Canadian sports' writers, like Milton and Pyette, who should be raising a stink about these scores and what happened to Tessa and Scott. They are among the logical media sources that would carry weight in the court of public opinion, and by extension probably with Skate Canada and the ISU.

      It's such a shame they can't be bothered to scrutinize and write about this.

    7. Pyette and Milton would both have to become informed about figure skating, and if they haven't bothered in the last two decades I'm sure neither is motivated to start. They're considered experts anyway.

      Neither is aware that there's anything wrong with the scores. Neither is aware that anything is happening with Tessa and Scott. Neither understands that the scoring at Worlds in the short dance especially was a flat out hustle. How are they going to take a stand when they don't know anything about the subject and lack the information to make the case? They don't know there IS a case. They don't know that VM are that much better than DW. The entire point I'm making, and these two are Exhibits 1 and 2 of my point, is skating "journalists" like them don't know anything about skating. They don't know there IS a problem.

    8. For Pyette and Milton - figure skating is filler period. And any published pieces that have asked any interesting questions have been from Look at Pyette at this Worlds in his backyard literally and even for Milton - no articles on Weaver/Poje and Towers-Moore/Moscovitch. WTH? Both teams have members from Ontario - instead we get a Meryl Davis story about how basically she is Canadian. And the articles on V/M were CRAP. He just doesn't care. On twitter, because he was forced to go to practices all he would say that skater A was wearing a baseball cap with a certain NHL team on it or another skater wearing t-shirt with an NHL logo on it and then the best - he had a great conversation about hockey with the current US male figure skating champ..Max Aaron...I mean for real...Pyette would be more interested in poker as a sport than figure skating...shakes head...and to boot he is not even a great reporter for local hockey...

    9. All he would say is all he COULD say because he's a figure skating reporter who doesn't know fuck all about figure skating. Unless somebody threw someone out there he wouldn't know if he were watching pairs or dance. In singles he couldn't tell a loop from a toe loop from a salchow. If I were him I wouldn't want to go to practices either. That's taking a joke too far.

      There are 'regular' sportswriters who are apparently attracted to the drama, soap opera and access of figure skating and that's why they've gravitated towards it. They are clueless about it as a sport and think that's okay. A lot of them will write pieces arguing that it's okay to write about it not knowing CoP or one edge from another because it's incomprehensible for the latter and inpenetrable for the other. Excuse for laziness is all that is, and basically when they write stuff like that they're revealing why they're actually covering figure skating. To exercise their tabloid side.

  3. So happy we are back on the topic of their superior skating skills

    1. Why can't both things be discussed?

    2. 8:30

      I think the same. Many things the blog has talked about do happen concurrently -- skating (and scores), VM's crappy pr and ham-handed sham activities, Skate Canada's crappy pr and corruption, etc, etc.....
      It's the blogger's decision what gets talked about, of course, but none of these things happen in a vaccum.

    3. The topic of the blog is actually the sham. The egregious scoring of Davis and White vis a vis Virtue Moir, and the accompanying propoganda steamroller that's impacting Virtue and Moir's competitive career book ends the methods they've used to lie to the public about their private life, which is ironic and also relevant to the blog's focus. If the two issues didn't dovetail what's going on with Davis White wouldn't be pertinent.

    4. The comment was simply meant as a compliment to the discussion all of the gifs and videos had stimulated and the points made by the author. While I am very well aware that things to not happen in a vacuum, it was nice for a change to have a place to go for intelligent conversation relating to figure skating technique. Though there are other websites out there, the actual educated and animated discussions that were happening here was significant and I hope that they continue.

  4. Haha. Ouch @ the new header. If he doesn't already, Scott will someday really regret that beautiful daughter comment.

    1. I kind of get the idea he was trying to speak on a couple of levels but it doesn't scan. It was a complete fail and it's a heartbreaker.

  5. The mafia culture of skating just bugs so much. Any "sport" that operates like that isn't a sport and the political games that are being played have no place in the Olympic games.

    This is not a V/M example, but while mulling things over, I remembered something that happened with Brian Joubert during the 07-08 season. His SP music that season had a little bit of voice in it that his team had thought was fine and thought fell under the provision that vocals were ok if the human voice was being used as an instrument. He goes through the entire season as the reigning world champion and no one says a thing to him or his team about the music. Then, they get to worlds and he's hit with a music deduction. If I'm remembering correctly, he was pissed, and rightly so, stating to the press that if the music was a problem, then they should have said something to him at the beginning of the season when the program debuted and he would have had it taken out.

    It's the changing the rules on the fly for certain skaters that's so very disgusting, amongst other things. No legitimate sport operates that way.

    1. Nope, and it's not a legitimate sport.

      Yet the media that writes about it considers the shady practices to actually be part of the sport. And the media only gets worked up about it when it's in their self-interest - when those plucky North American skaters were cheated out of gold by those conniving Russians, or when those athletic and charming American ice dancers might be cheated by those duplicitous and error-prone Canadians.

      Otherwise, they report on stuff like Joubert's music and Virtue and Moir's elements as if this is how the sport works. NO real sport works like that. NO legitimate sport decides what's legal and illegal on the fucking fly. They have a governing body for a reason. Anything in question, it's resolved. There has to be a mechanism for these decisions to be made pre-season and/or as soon as everyone's programs are out if there's any question, and once it's cleared, it's cleared. Otherwise it's not a sport.

      But, it's enabled because sports "journalists" act as if these sort of practices are a legitimate part of figure skating. There not a legitimate part of any sport. You can't bend logic into a pretzel and decide that illegitimate practices are a legitimate part of certain sports. This is not a "gray" area.

    2. I totally agree OC. I mean seriously there should be no anonymous judging. After each grand prix, any move deemed illegal or borderline illegal should be stated in writing to the team and NOT through the grapevine. And how about this idea - a judging panel that it split on both sides of the rink and not all on one side. And seriously the PCS judging in all disciplines needs a closer look. This is not rocket science but as you stated - it would be mean that skating federations, officials and judges would have to be accountable. No wonder this sport has lost fans. In terms of ice-dance, the difficulty of lifts needs to be reviewed and hell if it takes a seminar with all eligible judges to be given by a biomechanics/dance/ballet/gymnastics/diving expert(s) well hell yeah - educate people dammit. I mean look at other judged sports such as synchronized swimming and diving - where you have synchronized diving - where unison and lines are important - these judges will undoubtedly point out some teams weakness'. If there isn't much change in the next cycle, figure skating will ultimately be kicked out of the Olympics. And seriously who would want to put their kids in skating when there is this lack of accountability. The trend of girls choosing hockey/ringuette over skating will continue in North America. In Russia, girls will continue to choose gymnastics or tennis. In Asia, girls will opt for golf and tennis. And it's too bad...

    3. The other aspect to changing the rules on the sly or hinting that there may or may not be a problem is it keeps the skaters who are targeted for these games off balance. Especially when a figure skater has been doing an element one way without a problem throughout the Grand Prix series and onto nationals, and only then are they told it might need to be changed. These elements get into their muscle memory over the course of a season. When they have to create a new one or change what they're doing right before worlds it takes them out of their bodies, out of their muscle memory, and into their heads.

      The fact that it's been done repeatedly, repeatedly, repeatedly to Virtue and Moir is, IMO, no coincidence. It's the ISU setting up trip wires.

      Meantime D/W only have to change something if they decide on their own to change it. Once the USFSA has their say at training camp, it's beyond obvious that the ISU doesn't give a damn what D/W do out there because they're going to get monster scores no matter what. That's the game.


  6. 9:49

    Absolutely agree 100% with Brian. If something is 'illegal' in March it's 'illegal' in October or else it's BS and this 'sport' gets away with their corrupt BS all too often.

  7. Hey OC, is there a way that anyone can send you something privately without having to post a link in the comments here?

  8. Virtue and Moir's Carmen: A Haiku

    A pair of methed-up,
    Epileptic hoochie hogs
    Humping on the rink.