Thursday, October 3, 2013

This just in: Meryl and Charlie are from the mean streets (a/k/a This is what shameless looks like)

ETA: This just in. I looked again at the company owned by Charlie's dad. Below in this entry, I mention I'd assumed his dad worked in a corporate office, but when Charlie mentioned his dad worked "downtown", I found the petroleum bulk station was located in an industrial section of Detroit. I then assumed that this was where his dad went every day, as Charlie had implied. Since it's industrial, and there's cracked asphalt and weeds, it looked gritty to Charlie.

That's the bulk station/bulk plant owned by his dad. His dad's business contact information cites Farmington, MI. I googled that too, saw the street view.

Per wikipedia:
Farmington is a city in Oakland County of the U.S. state of Michigan. It is a part of the affluent northern suburbs of Metropolitan Detroit.
The company retails oil and oil services in Farmington. If one looks at the general business statistics available on the web, including its (quite small) number of employees, the estimated annual revenue, and when the business was established*, it seems a good bet that some time back this company hit the (extremely) sunny side of the income/overhead ratio. The type of company that becomes the foundation mare, so to speak, for money applied to other revenue producing and wealth safe-guarding instruments.

Re the below, as I say towards the end of this entry, there's nothing wrong with coming from comfortable circumstances. It's not a character deficit, any more than poverty is a character attribute.

There is something wrong with appropriating a city's misery as a prop.

Particularly when you live a privileged/comfortable existence in an upscale community immediately adjacent to the city in America with the country's highest misery index, and your actual awareness of that reality is somewhere between invisible and nonexistent. #roadtosochi

I know what Meryl and Charlie are getting at by tacking in this direction, and they don't lack balls.

Detroit Grit Sharpened Davis White

Meryl and Charlie explain their hardscrabble heritage.

From Meryl and Charlie, we learn that in Detroit, nobody is handed anything. It's starting from less than nothing and bootstrapping your way. And that's what they bring to the ice, their immersion in the culture of Detroit.

How do you even organize a post for this? The lake in Meryl's family's backyard? Her tweet about What's a Detroit (10-1 that's been deleted). Their many many tweets indicating they believe their home environment has been produced by Walt Disney (Detroit. Winter. Charlie tweets about how everything around him, all he ever sees, is so stereotypically wintery scenic. I wonder if his home had heat).

Meryl and her sorority sisters?

Meryl on her boat?

Sunday sail with Kelloggs? The $$ Charlie's family spent on violin, hockey and figure skating for Charlie? Family vacations?

The fact that the moms go to every international competition because cost is not a concern?

The fact that they've never had actual jobs because skating and going to school is their job into their mid-twenties, and they still can take island vacations during training break, and meantime Detroit is bankrupt?

That Meryl furniture shopped for her condo on line because despite training at the highest level, which is unbelieveably expensive no matter how much you win, and that she belonged to a sorority, and wears high end clothing such as Burberry, she can buy her condo and furnish it in the middle of her career because none of these other expenses impact her lifestyle financially?

Detroit was the largest city in the United States to ever file for bankruptcy and they did it in, I believe, July 2013.

And this is how Meryl and Charlie react. Use the poverty and afflictions of Detroit to accessorize their public relations. They compare what Detroit is experiencing to their fucking TRAINING EFFORT. A training effort that costs tens of thousands of (disposable, not essential, DISPOSABLE) dollars.

Fuck them.

Pictures will come later (of Meryl and Charlie's struggles) but here's some quick and dirty recent statistics about Detroit that I grabbed from the web.

Detroit’s population has plunged 63% since 1950.
…and it’s down 26% since 2000.
The unemployment rate hit a high of 27.8% in July 2009.
As of April 2013, the unemployment rate was at 16%.
Even though the population fell 63% since 1950, the municipal workforce fell by just 40%, adding to the strain on public finances.
Detroit has the highest violent crime rate of any large U.S. city
…it’s five times higher than the national average.
40% of the city’s street lights don’t work.
78,000 structures and 66,000 lots are abandoned.
Arson accounts for 1,000 of 12,0000 fires per year.
…60% of those arson fires are in dilapidated or empty buildings

Any of this shit shape your nitty gritty work ethic Charlie and Meryl? I wonder if it just "filtered" in the way non-net-users Tessa and Scott experienced the non-existent Carmen criticism via filter.

Here's a Meryl quote:

“Detroit is really a city that has prided itself for a very long time on hard work and starting from not necessarily having anything … kind of paving your own way.”

Got that? NOT HAVING ANYTHING. They're connecting it to THEMSELVES. Also, Meryl is confusing "starting from not necessarily having anything" with "starting with being a dynamic metropolis with a thriving auto industry and then LOSING everything."

Does she know what paving your own way means? She and Charlie talk about Detroit as if poverty is the city's style. Yeah, that's the way we like to do it in Detroit. We start with nothing and pave our own way, only uh, there's no place to go because the city is broke. So we leave.

She has no fucking idea what she is talking about. Neither does Charlie (not leaving him out, but Meryl is the "what about Ann Arbor" genius. That's how she responded to reports of Detroit's suffering in the past. What about us in Ann Arbor? It's great here!)

That's before Detroit's tragedy filtered into the air somehow and became a training regimen value add.

This is what Meryl and Charlie are saying. That all that poverty, personal bankruptcy, municipal bankruptcy, unemployment, food insecurity, homelessness, foreclosures, crime, making your own way, HAS INFORMED THEIR SKATING.

Of course, it's only via osmosis. His dad works downtown, Charlie shares. Just that, itself, kind of, sort of, you know, gets into the air.

They didn't say one word about the actual conditions in Detroit. They simply related everything to themselves.

His dad works downtown!! It's this vague mix of, you know, kind of generic struggle, kind of like, ummm auto industry? and uh - music? and doing it yourself without a hand out, and a million other things that show they have no clue, as if the very heart of this article doesn't demonstrate that already.

P.S. There's nothing wrong with coming from comfortable circumstances. There is plenty wrong with ignorance and gall, and the bred-in-the-bone lack of respect Meryl and Charlie have just shown Detroit.

The pitiful reason they did this is to contrast themselves with classically beautiful Virtue and Moir, who float on the ice. Floating on the ice and how they "make it look easy" is now being twisted by Davis White to imply HAVING it easy, IS easy. Talent is now a character flaw. It's not nitty gritty and there's no work ethic. To that end, they wrapped themselves in the tragedy of Detroit, and invited us to look at Virtue and Moir as if they've just been handed stuff.

When I was reading through Meryl and Charlie's tweets, it's difficult not to notice that their tweets are now devoted almost entirely to embedded corporate shout-outs to Visa, ATT & Kelloggs. Fine - that's true of a lot of people on twitter, although Meryl and Charlie are particularly bad at it. But then in the middle of it all Meryl tweeted out a "never forget!" on 9/11. It was just another sound bite. They're below Piper Gilles level at this point.

I scrolled through Meryl's twitter til day one and her twitter never acknowledged the day - July 18, 2013 - Detroit filed for bankruptcy. There was no mention of Detroit in her tweets in July whatsoever. You know the city where they take "strength" from the "grit" and bring it into the rink. The city they just said helps shape them in some kind of vague, feeling, sensory, something's-out-there-and-it-feels-no-frills type kind of thing, you know, a place that has become what it is today (BANKRUPT) not because anyone handed them anything, but because Detroit worked really hard and paved the way to ... BANKRUPTCY. The work ethic.

That interview was just nuts.

Here's Meryl's profile pic on twitter:
I wonder why they're happy in Ann Arbor. The grittiness? The no frills of everything? The satisfaction of paving the way with your bare hands?

Who doesn't love summer in Detroit?

Colorado's pretty gritty, too.

Well at least she got a hug in reward for all that work ethic.

Roots are important. Detroit roots.

Bid day. When you think about Detroit, it's the first thing that comes to mind.

Bet if those living where what Charlie meaningfully refers to as "downtown" sent out for the good organic honey from a farm in northern Michigan, their happiness index would soar.

It was your escape from all that no frills, nitty gritty you were absorbing on the rink, am I right Meryl?

She got that from Detroit. Bag shopping and sushi is the best way to release the stress of your no-hand-outs work ethic.

Before we get to Charlie, I checked out his Dad's "oil company", because I was curious why he'd have offices in downtown Detroit. (My assumption.) My takeaway (another assumption) was that, when Charlie talked of downtown, he was being Detroit specific. The Detroit downtown. You know, the urban shit got real of it all in the atmosphere that in his growing up seeped into Charlie's pores, was carried into the rink, and exuded out his skate blades. Exposure to the sort of atmosphere that tempers your inner steel or refines your oil.

His dad owns a petroleum refinery located in what is clearly an industrial, not residential or mixed use, area of Detroit, that may be "downtown" but is an industrial section of downtown. Maybe to Charlie "industrial" is kind of a Detroit thing but it's really a most major cities thing. Most cities have an industrial district. Even ones that aren't nitty gritty, and even those that stick their hands out all the time.

Note, when looking for an oil company on line, use the word "petroleum" instead.
Charlie's twitter wallpaper. It's like his face is a map of the town without pity. You have to make your own way in this town. Detroit.

No stranger to fear.  Detroit.

Ann Arbor. It's right nearby... Detroit.  Detroit filed for bankruptcy days after the Ann Arbor car show, but it didn't impact Ann Arbor's happiness index. Nor Charlie's. Maybe he didn't notice. He failed to mention it on twitter.

Sweet. Who else can see the moon? Detroit. Cause 40% of its street lights don't work.

Also a feature of free breakfast programs for many poor students in Detroit.

Not Detroit.

*Charlie's dad's company was established in the 1930s, so it's not as if even Charlie's parents are from that nobody gave you anything stock Charlie and Meryl say characterizes their impression of Detroit's can do, self-reliant, up from nothing (versus down from something which is actually where Detroit is at the moment) climate.

Prior to this article in FREEP, IMO even the general particulars of Charlie's family's business weren't relevant, other than when talking about the advantages of not worrying about training expenses, side jobs, travel, and training value adds. But when Meryl and Charlie show up and try to act as if  the grittier parts of Detroit are in their veins, as if their work ethic has been forged by Detroit's historic struggles, they they deserve to have their asses kicked.


  1. They seem to only understand Detroit as the setting for that Superbowl commercial with Eminem's "Lose Yourself" in the background.

    1. Exactly. That commercial gave the impression that Detroit took a few punches and came back fighting.

      Detroit filed for bankruptcy well after that commercial. Just weeks ago, basically. July 18. It's gotten worse since that commercial. That commercial was just a commercial. It was a morale boost, but not how it is. Meryl and Charlie have lived near Detroit all their lives and all they can draw from when it comes to Detroit is that commercial.


    2. Not gonna lie, I kind of liked that beautifully-shot Superbowl Commercial (I watched it because of Czisny). But the reality of bankruptcy is too sad, too sobering, to be used to inject more interest in D/W's misleading Olympic narrative.

  2. When Meryl implies that they weren't handed anything, I think she means talent. V/M are naturally talented and are coasting on that talent. D/W overcame their talent deficit and became the best by working a lot harder. It's simply a continuation of their PR message, that they deserve to win because they work harder. I didn't realise there was a Working Hard PCS category, I guess it's new this year. And how are you supposed to measure that? Charlie tells us that looking exhausted at the end of a program is one way to do it, so maybe Tessa and Scott should get on that...

    1. It also serves nicely to deflect from criticism about their posture or lines. It's not just lipstick and glitter, y'all! It's ~gritty~

      Sure, they're not perfect, but they're pushing it so hard. So athletic. And this is a sport afterall. So if they don't win, something's very wrong!

      Interesting that they're dumping the "Baryshnikov" angle.

      Suddenly I don't feel so embarrassed about VM's PR.

    2. Well I for one am glad that they dropped the Baryshnikov angle. That was just delusional. Anyone who's seen Misha live or on video (or even in photo stills) could not deny the presence, the *lines* and posture, the utter command of arguably the best male dancer of his generation. Comparing Charlie to Misha was just plain embarrassing for the former.

    3. I know what she was doing/meant but they are using the city of freaking Detroit to make the comparison. And the storyline doesn't even work. She's acting like Detroit is a successful city that's not shiny and smooth, but got where it is by buckling down and doing it for themselves. Detroit is bankrupt!! What the hell are they talking about! They used Detroit as atmosphere. It's not some success story that came about by overcoming obstacles and putting in the fucking hours!

      What is wrong with them?


    4. While I'm sure they love where they've come from, that place is NOT the blue collar, gritty streets of Detroit. It's the wealthier suburbs of the Detroit Metro, with their private schools and planned communities where prosperous individuals hand down their wealth to their children by providing them with the best educational and career opportunities. Those kids may work hard for what they earn, but they've benefited from growing up in positions of privilege. They did not come from nothing.

      Detroit is a mess and has been for some time now. It recently filed for bankruptcy and has accepted bail out funds to keep the city's basic infrastructure running, but doesn't even seem to have the accounting or planning systems in place to properly utilize the money. For the past 30-50 years, Detroit has been defined by poor management, political corruption, and a mostly non-diversified economy in free fall (most of the auto industry has relocated to the suburbs). It's become a ghost town.

    5. This reminds me of Mitt Romney trying to tell middle America that he was one of them...

    6. "Detroit has been defined by poor management, political corruption, and a mostly non-diversified economy in free fall (most of the auto industry has relocated to the suburbs)."

      Hmm. Maybe the comparison is apt. D/W's skating has been defined by political corruption, has definitely been non-diversified (same twizzles for 4 years), and now, it looks like their PR is poorly managed. I think I see how Detroit is infusing their skating.

    7. You know, we can say the p.r. is poorly managed, but the scores and commentating is following suit. The paranoid side of me suspects the decision has been made already and all of this p.r. is simply justifying ahead of time the results that have already been decided in Sochi. It has that Gilles & Poirier feel to it and lord knows figure skating p.r. isn't super creative.

    8. We're never going to see Charlie stand up straight after he finishes a program this season. Never.

  3. Reminds me of this Chris Rock segment on Justin Timberlake:

    Talk about trying to co-opt a culture (in this case, the lifestyle of the lower class) to make things convenient for you.

  4. The "not having anything" part slays. She's from the same privileged background as Tessa... The mention of Piper Gilles reminds me of how much it rankles Skate Canada is politicking for her.

    1. It's extremely calculated. Charlie said his father works in downtown Detroit - he didn't mention his father owns a petroleum refinery located in the industrial area of Detroit. He just said "works". You know, a working man, in downtown Detroit. And of course where they live, were raised, and hang out isn't Detroit. But they're happy to exploit it, and they somehow also seem to confuse widespread unemployment and foreclosures, gutted municipal services, municipal bankruptcy, a decaying infrastructure and the erosion of the city's once-primary industry with can-do up from nothing Horatio Alger bootstrapping. Which obviously shows both of those things are alien to them. It's all atmosphere to them, like their generic skating programs that are all sort of different but basically the same.

      This comes off like - oh, you know, that blue collar, cracks in the sidewalk, uh, maybe some weeds, 9-5 might be in there, uh, can't sleep late even when you're tired, at least not on a weekday seems like it might be involved, and maybe there's not enough trees and the lighting is kind of harsh. We feel that. We take that into the rink.

      Unemployment/working, hopelessness/making your own way - opposite things! But they don't know it, they can't distinguish because everything to do with actually fending for yourself (or being unable to) is foreign. More than foreign - they don't know what it is.

      For Meryl the "off season" is horseback riding along the Colorado River and then heading into the mountains, decompressing is sushi and bag shopping, and here she and Charlie are in FREEP comparing their work ethic to Detroit's when Detroit's big problem is it's failing.

      They've shown that they've lived adjacent to Detroit all their lives and have no clue or they wouldn't be able to compare themselves to that place. Never in a million years. They wouldn't have the nerve. They have the nerve now because they're ignorant.

      Reviewing Meryl's tweets, she laments about people who object to the focus on the royal wedding and thinks they must not have watched enough Disney as kids. This is her world, a world where despite her previous frequent tweeting in support of various charities, is never invaded by the other 99%. She has no freaking idea.


    2. Yes, that interview was quite misleading. I wonder if they could have gone about it differently, being inspired by Detroit's fight but not casting their career in parallel. It's hard to take them seriously when they're talking from a position of white privilege. I can't help but compare them to those politicians during an election campaign who try hard to show themselves as being like 'ordinary folks', or harkening back to their 'humble roots'.

      The thing is, oc, you're right in the previous post that the Canton Top 3 have all come from privilege, more or less. Thus far it seems to me that it's a mercy the Shib sibs are still happily producing fanservice vids instead of familial-and-federation-approved sham or disingenuous PR concerning a bankrupt city.

    3. You really have to wonder whether D/W's US teammates have started to feel alienated by them. The sense of entitlement both on the ice and off - seems to be rearing its ugly head. The lack of acknowledging the competition over the last three seasons has to at least be recognized by the D/W moderates.

    4. 8:17 what I found offensive was not only did they use Detroit as an accessory, but the interview through and through showed a complete lack of awareness of what Detroit is actually going through. It's as if they live in another country (which in a way, they do) and experience Detroit only by images, which look urban and gritty, and they saw this video that made Detroit look like it was a "fighter" and that's all they know.

      If they are really inspired by Detroit then they're going to literally face plant in every competition this year, finish off the podium and plummet in the standings. That's what happened to Detroit. They're freaking idiots.

  5. The tweet about the breakfast cereal - that's a great point....why have none of D/W's volunteer work been with inner city kids? That's such an obvious choice if they love Detroit so much. Sports and the arts are the backbones of any such program.

    1. Well, maybe that would have been many kinds of awkward, considering that D/W come from a position of (white) privilege. So I suppose it makes more (comfortable) sense that they've done that Classroom Champions stuff. I don't think the CC thing is bad at all--local community, literacy, mentorship etc. It ties in with D/W's image as student-athletes. There might be a struggle to get some common ground with inner-city kids, I don't know. That sort of volunteer work takes commitment. Could they have done a sort of Figure Skating in Harlem-type program? In another world, maybe, but Detroit's very difficult situation today would completely nix that idea.

      What *does* grate is D/W's using the whole 'gritty Detroit' angle to further their Olympic story. Excellent work ethic, yes, that they have. But the 'not having anything' rings false, because we know their families are well-off (oil refinery dad, horseback-riding vacation, sushi and organically-sourced honey), and as the top US ice dance team, have secured funding (and some sponsorships). Whatever sacrifices they've made doesn't compare to the hardships the inner-city kids are going through, or even the real-life hoops that other, less financially-advantaged US figure skaters have to get through. Like Rohene Ward in the past. And others right now.

      It's a bit like those non-Natives wearing Native American headdress as a fashion statement, to look cool--completely out of context, completely disrespectful. "My culture is not a costume," the Natives protest. Or Miley Cyrus appropriating black/urban culture. In D/W's case, they're borrowing the 'tough' image of Detroit to dress up their own. They're appropriating that image to get one-up on their rivals.

    2. Everybody works hard! For Christ's sake. Yes, if you have a standard-issue upper-middle class (or even uppier) childhood, and you're getting up at dawn to figure skate before going to school, and you keep up your grades, and play hockey, and you also take violin, that's a packed schedule and good for you for achieving, but that is also an extremely, extremely fortunate childhood. There are many people who would love music lessons, skating lessons, play hockey, but their families can't afford it. Not just the poor or disadvantaged - for many middle-class families that would extend them too much between the mortgage and the school tuition. There is no reason whatseover to begrudge Meryl and Charlie their upbringing, but let's not pretend they distinguished themselves with fucking sacrifice.

      If you want to be an elite athlete you are going to have to organize your life around that sport. Why do people act like - OMG - sob, the sacrifice! If it's such a sacrifice, don't do it. Otherwise, shut up, you are in a position of rare privilege. Someone like Meagan Duhamel and skaters that actually can't insulate themselves from real life - they have an experience to talk about. Figure skating takes these people (like Duhamel) into a different world from the world they came from. They have access to experience - travel, for one - they'd never get the opportunity to experience otherwise. To get this for their children, parents from families like Meagan's (and I'm no fan of hers) make actual sacrifices - doubling up on jobs, working weekends, long periods of time away from their athlete child because they have neither the time nor the money to travel. That's sacrifice so the child can experience the ADVANTAGE and PRIVILEGE of competing in elite athletics. Elite athletics itself isn't some sacrifice.

      When you're an adult and you're still an elite athlete "puttin in the time" what else are you supposed to be doin with your time? Getting sushi and attending concerts? Hanging out at the bar with your friends? You're an adult! This is adult life. I can hear the lawyers now - oh - sob, I worked 12 hours today and have a conference in the mornng - a SATURDAY! - so I can't hang. Or teachers who teach all day and grade half the night and prepare their lesson plan after that. OMG, it's dark outside and the lights are on and I'm still working! I inspire myself! Sales people who do sales calls all day and at night review their client list and process follow up etc. etc.

      Meryl and Charlie come off as if, if they weren't sacrificing so much to bring the gold medal that already has their name on it back to the USA, they could live the life everybody else lives at their age - hanging out, pursuing their interests, and going to the U of Michigan full time while in their mid-twenties.

    3. I'm curious - do they do volunteer work or do they make appearances, as is the case with most celebrities (not all). Most celebrities affiliated with charities make an appearance to draw attention to the cause.

    4. "Meryl and Charlie come off as if, if they weren't sacrificing so much to bring the gold medal that already has their name on it back to the USA, they could live the life everybody else lives at their age - hanging out, pursuing their interests, and going to the U of Michigan full time while in their mid-twenties. "

      This so much. You're right that even if a high school student is doing this, it's because they are incredibly priviledged. However, in that case - yeah, you can make the case that they're sacrificing a hell of a lot. To get something else more rewarding, of course, but they are choosing to work hard over hanging out with friends or whatever. But once you're D&W's insulting to the millions of North Americans that work just as long of hours as them and sacrifice their free time for other purposes than an Olympic Gold medal, whether it's because their job contributes greatly to society, or because they are trying to help their family get ahead, or because it's necessary just to make ends meet!

    5. And these people - also known as most gainfully employed adults - are not always able to routinely enjoy resorts, horseback riding in Colorado, recreational shopping, and recreational international travel in the "off season" either. If DW can do that, good for them, but let's not try to put ourselves in the same picture as what they seem to believe are classic blue collar strivers of Detroit, is that too much to ask, DW?

      And if dad's offices are in Farmington, and the petroleum refinery he owns is in Detroit, let's not say dad "works downtown in Detroit", thereby sort of implying that when it's "Take Charlie to work day", little Charlie gets an eyeful of how the less fortunate cope.

      Enough with them. If the gold medal is in their laps then find another way to justify it ahead of time. Just the fact that they went this direction in this interview is an example of how completely out of touch they are.

  6. Saw V/M Youtube SD practice clip at Finlandia. The step sequence was marvelously dance-y. :)

    1. The whole thing is pretty much just marvelous. They are absolutely in a class of their own.

    2. Skating a fantastic Finnstep in Finland. Perhaps Rakhamo/Kokko were watching?

    3. We saw how fantastic their sd was when they skated it in Quebec. Now that we've seen everybody else's, theirs looks even better. It's not just their musicality, it's the skating skills required to be able to phrase this program. You have to have the skating skills in order to play with time the way they do it - hold for an extra fraction here, back on the music there, anticipate the music in the next segment, all with technically demanding choreography. They're heads and shoulders and boots and skate blades above everyone else and there is nothing distinguished in the skating of My Fair Lady. DW are going to be getting reputation scoring all season, now that they've cleaned out some of the clutter. The judges are going to call them out NOW for not so fast, not close, not multidirectional, no complexity and fake technique in the elements? Too late. Very clever actually. They scurried it up for three years, got the scores, now they're putting the emptiness of their skating into people's faces and the judges are going to go - oops, we were fooled! Better mark what they're actually doing?

    4. I want to know what happened between practice and time for the SD. In practice, VM seemed confident, relaxed, and looked so sharp. The SD performance was opposite that though.

      I wish they'd had a better day today. I'd hoped for a much better start.

    5. Anon@10:20 AM, I also wonder what happened in between the practice and the actual SD. The practice looked so sharp to me, and the Finnstep section was great. I could see the improvement from the Quebec outing. (My *conspiracy* theory is that they ran into Igor and got off-kilter, haha.)

      I, too, wish they had a better start. But better that they make mistakes now than later in the season. And as other V/M fans pointed elsewhere, remember Skate Canada '09 OD. People had doubts. Well, V/M were cracking when it counted--at the Olympics.

    6. It's so frustrating because quite a few people who were there in person have said that VM looked happy, focused, and great they looked in practice this morning. From the practice clips I've seen, I'd say that was definitely the case. Then, come time to skate, they were nervous and it showed.

      I get what you're saying about early vs. late mistakes, but I felt that they didn't have any room to make even the slightest of errors this season to have any sort of chance.

    7. Anon@4:23PM, it really is curious, as to what changed during that interval between practice and actual comp. This has happened before with lots of other skaters, with some making mistakes in practice but pulling themselves together for the actual skate, and vice-versa.

      I can understand where you're coming from about starting out strong, but I have to try and keep faith that V/M will get much better. Or else I'd go mad, haha. I am concerned about that scoring, but from the play-by-play threads I've read, it seemed that the tech panel at Finlandia was strict. Not necessarily a bad thing--we might see scores rise steadily until Sochi. I think what would be more telling will be the scoring at SA for D/W, SC for V/M and see how much hometown advantage each team will have. I'm worried that Canada will be throwing all their weight behind Chan, and none/little left for V/M, in a season where D/W are USA's strongest contenders in skating.

      Let's pray that they have a good first outing of their FD. This might be their last season as eligibles. I am determined to enjoy it.

    8. I think the scores will go up, but so will DW's and they're starting out from higher numbers. There's no way that VM will ever be able to catch up to them now. It was essential for them to be absolutely perfect today.

    9. That's too pessimistic a view for me (though you're probably right). I will still do my damned best to enjoy V/M's skates this season, the best that ice DANCE offers this generation.

    10. I wonder if V/M could ask Rakhamo/Kokko for some feedback. They're already in Finland...

    11. It's a nice thought, but what good would it actually do?

    12. "It's a nice thought, but what good would it actually do?" Well, when you put it that way...

  7. Ugh.....Their attitude is one miserable trail of cat sickness.

  8. more importantly, the finlandia sd? Tessa messed up one of the twizzles but amazing, and they complicated the last lift a bit

  9. Here it is:

  10. to address a few points;

    The wealth and privilege that Meryl and Charlie come from makes Tessa's family look like they are struggling to pay the bills. For those who are not aware of the real economic situation in the detroit area - while the city itself is broke and falling apart, the western suburbs that meryl and charlie come from are not just upper middle class. They are from the same 'hood as the Romney family. There is a crazy amount of compounded 3rd and 4th generation wealth in this area.

    As for doing some charity work in the city, they really have no excuse. If they want to use their working hard detroit angle they should have been doing good work in the city all these years. There are so many great charities/benevolent people in the downtown core which do wonderful work and are always looking for help. Unfortunately for Meryl and Charlie, the "conditions" that they would have to work in would be unacceptable and uncomfortable because they would have to face a reality that they did not know existed. It truly is an opportunity lost for them, as they would have met some of the most generous and loving people in the nitty gritty streets of downtown who truly need persons with any sort of profile advocating for them.

    I'm sure some haters are going to feel like everyone here is picking on Meryl and Charlie and will raise the point that we do not expect the other skaters to do this sort of charitable work, but their reality is different than that of the others. They have never been in want of anything in their entire life (aside from an olympic gold medal), they do not "work" and most importantly they have hijacked an image that they do not understand which is their most narcissistic self indulgent act yet.

    1. The haters bet not try, 11:13 because Meryl and Charlie have this coming. They did it to themselves.

      Nobody's picking on Meryl and Charlie. It's Meryl and Charlie who interfaced with FREEP and called this upon themselves. When it comes to pr, their gall has no ceiling. These two from an area of "compounded 3rd and 4th generation wealth" in Michigan took to FREEP and co-opted metropolitan Detroit's struggles for their own pr - they tried to make it part of their own PERSONA.

      It's obscene. Even more because it was obvious they have no idea what Detroit's struggles actually are. From Meryl and Charlie we'd get the idea Detroit is a can-do city full of self-made success stories who started from scratch. Apparently the auto industry is still thriving there too. You know, the auto industry has factories and stuff - that's work ethic-y, right?

      They're so divorced from Detroit they were unable to specifically mention any way Detroit has influenced them except that they feel somehow being in the semi-vicinity and Charlie's dad owning an oil company with a processing plant in the industrial district creates a climate that seeps into their pores without any actual experience with Detroit. Just being near Detroit, Detroits them.

      Second, their description of Detroit's "character", parades complete ignorance of Detroit. So while shilling their Detroit cred, they showed they haven't paid attention in any way whatsoever to Detroit. Detroit isn't a tough midwestern city with an auto industry that was created from the ground up, where hard-working people build their lives from square fucking one, which is how Meryl and Charlie described (or more accurately, vaguely alluded) to Detroit. The auto industry has largely fled Detroit and the city is failing. Is that the comparison they were drawing? No. It's as the blog post said, Meryl and Charlie are so freaking privileged they don't know the difference between unemployment and working for a living because both are foreign to them, and they don't know the difference between hopelessness and making your own way because those concepts, too, are so outside their experience they get them confused.

    2. "The haters bet not try, 11:13 because Meryl and Charlie have this coming. They did it to themselves."

      I'm curious if Meryl and Charlie will keep pushing this "we're Detroit tough!" angle all the way to the Olympics, because if they do, a lot of non-skating fans who read/hear it are also going to rake them over the coals/mock them incessantly.

    3. "It truly is an opportunity lost for them, as they would have met some of the most generous and loving people in the nitty gritty streets of downtown who truly need persons with any sort of profile advocating for them." This.

      I, too, am curious if they're going to push "we're Detroit". But I'm not so sure the non-skating (and even skating) fans will take them to task. I'm afraid that the non-skating/casual/Olympics-only fans might not particularly care ("It's just skating"). The skating fans who are aware/will become aware of D/W's privileged background might mock them for being disingenuous, but privileged people in skating are/were plenty (Lipinski, Hughes, the Stiegler siblings, the *Gilles* siblings) and thus, nothing to write home about (except for the willfully misleading part). The D/W camp will just label the dissenters haters, and the non-partisans probably won't understand the level of outrage.

      I do wish that one didn't need a Facebook account to comment on the DFP website...

    4. I think they're throwing shit to the wall to see what sticks. It's being Canadian, Baryshnikov, being Detroit Tough, chemistry you can cut with a knife, the hardest workers, whatever. If it doesn't take, they move on to the next soundbite. The Detroit comments and gay rights comments are going to perturb their more liberal minded fans, so they'll stop this before it goes too far.

      It's just what they do. Constantly contradict themselves and/or reality. They had a magical connection and the next season they decided they should do and FD based on not looking at each other to hide a lack of connection.

      I wouldn't be surprised if they decide to co-opt being naturally talented next. Get some of their old coaches (not Chafetz, I guess) to talk about how they knew from the start that this team was born to skate together because they have everything it takes, and everyone came easily to them.

    5. everything* came easily

    6. It's the presumption, it's the willfully misleading part that is incredibly offensive, not privilege. Tara Lipinski's mother whined a lot about her kid not being appreciated but she made no bones that they were in comfortable circumstances. It was part of her spin - I'm not a skating mom because we have plenty and I don't need to live through my child. If she wanted to be playing piano that's the instruction we'd give her. She whined about what she saw as the politics of the skating world, she didn't whine as if Tara had hard-cased it her entire career.

      It's Meryl and Charlie lightbulbing that they live near Detroit, a city that, to restate, just filed bankruptcy, an event that went unacknowledged on both their twitters.

      That slant is obnoxious enough because it implies others don't share the same work ethic. But to try and associate themselves with Detroit, means they think Detroit has an image and they want to use it to prop up their storyline that they're the work ethic skaters. There's an implied "unlike" in there as well, which was obvious the second Tanith first tweeted it.

      That "Please sir, I want some more" photo Tanith tweeted of Meryl and Charlie hunched in their hoodies, laboring under the harsh late night rink lighting, was calculated as fuck. It was p.r. It's the spin that's going out this season.

      I don't think they're selling their way to gold. I think it's very likely they have gold. Tessa and Scott are scored fairly except in competitions vis a vis DW, where DW are scored far too closely to Tessa and Scott, let alone meriting being scored ahead of them. But right off the bat this season here we go - Virtue Moir scored legitimately, DW scored monstrously. If the fix is in, this "work ethic" spin is attempting to sell a deal that's already made. I don't know it, but this season has launched precisely as recent ones - auto-scores for DW as long as they don't fall so as someone in the audience can see they erred, and scores for a real competition for VM. DW are humbling it up (in a near-toxic humble-brag fashion) to make this all go down easily.

  11. I was going to say how they were born with a silver spoon in their mouth but nah that's not true - they were born with PLATINUM spoons in their mouths ;)

    1. I just wanted to add that "casual" skating fans who tune into the Olympics only and run across this "Detroit Tough" obscenity will have no way of knowing Meryl and Charlie's real background. There will be no backlash. This was a FREEP article. It's totally SOP with figure skating "journalism" - pure fantasy, no need to fact check.

    2. I have to disagree, OP. If the FREEP article is still around in February and *that* photo is still the one it's running with, people won't need to know Meryl and Charlie's specific backgrounds to deduce that there's a MAJOR disconnect happening.

    3. Bahaha 11:13, they are a bit Disney-fied, aren't they?

    4. Well, according to their fans, Meryl is a Disney princess, you know? And she sighs regretfully over those people who did not watch enough Disney movies as kids. Also, Charlie has magical wizard hair. They (and their hair) are actually not even half as interesting as Anissina/Peizarat.

      I think some casual fans who will see that article and pic will sense there's disconnect--skating is not cheap--but I don't think they'll care. Skating's not that popular.

    5. spoiled, rich, and boring - just like a disney princess

    6. 11:26 - I have wondered why I react more strongly to Meryl's twitter, and Meryl's public persona, than to Charlie's. Outside of how they spin their skating, which I find obnoxious from both even as I can't blame either.

      I think it's because Charlie's twitter (prior to all of his corporate SEO embeds) is just Charlie talking about his own life. He's not connecting his experiences to larger issues or the outside world. Unlike Meryl, who points to a survey about the happiness index in Michigan, or wonders why people object to the Royal wedding, or equates summertime in general with walking around a gorgeous campus and then a bonfire by a handy lake.

  12. OC, this is off-topic (and meant with respect) but, why don't you use "Read more"/ "More under the cut" thing in your blog posts? Granted, I know next to nothing about setting up a blog, but I can't help but notice other blogs have this and it seems to me that posts look more manageable on the home page.

    1. Just tried it with this post. :) It doesn't seem to change the view in Firefox but it does in internet explorer. It seems as if that might be a good idea for posts of this length, and I'll decide later if that's how it should be going forward. Thanks.

    2. It changes it in my Firefox. It's much appreciated. :)

    3. It also changes in my Firefox. I echo 9:53's appreciation. Thanks, oc. :)

    4. It's random now whether it changes in Firefox for me, apparently depending on how I get to the site. But I agree it looks better and makes the front page cleaner.

  13. First look at V/M's FD; in a word: Brilliant.

  14. V/M's FD:

  15. So, it appears to be that the tech specialist at Finlandia was the same one at SLC. Make of that what you will.

    1. Do we know what country they hail from?

    2. Gyorgy Elek -- used to skate for Hungary.

    3. I'm gonna say he was overly generous at SLC and was told to tone it down. Because there is no way that piece-of-shit program of D/W's should score 110. It shouldn't even break 90.

    4. On the other hand, I suppose we must consider that D/W were skating in the US (SLC) while V/M were not in Canada. Also, Margaglio in the Kiss and Cry seemed to have said that V/M did their jobs (i.e. skating); they (presumably him--and Marina) didn't do theirs. I foresee a lot of tweaking to get the levels.

    5. I'm not quite feeling the program yet, but it is early in the season. Gorgeous music. I am looking forward to see how it evolves.

    6. 1:00 pm, I'm not feeling it either. DW's program isn't great, but really, this one isn't either. I think they need to start over and not reuse old moves.

    7. Is it possible that the Shibs get the best FD out of Canton?

    8. ^LMAO maybe #shibs4sochigold because at least maia has prettier lines than meryl

    9. Of course, when the same caller is calling D&W, he's being generous, but when he happens to be calling the event in which V&M skate, he's been told to be stricter. But how funny that it never happens the opposite way. Can you even imagine D&W getting below 70 in an SD or anywhere near 100 in the FD, no matter what they did? Me neither.

  16. looks like v/m aren't going to win gold with that FD. i knew they were going to end up like torvill and dean aka reusing a lot of elements for their fd while filming a documentary and having to revamp the whole program for the olympics. i wont be surprised if v/m bring back mahler for the gala - like torvil and dean did with bolero.

    god i just hope russia pulls some strings so d/w wont win gold. i rather have b/s win gold and b/s suck.

    1. That's what I'm hoping too--that Russia can pull off the OGM for BS or maybe Igor and France could get it for PB.

    2. First major competition of the season, and very early in the season at that, and you guys have concluded the program isn't a winner and VM have lost.

      You do realize that's the same thing that was said at the beginning of the last Olympic season.

      It's amazing you have a crystal ball to tell the future. *rolleyes*

    3. This program is stunning. Make that both their programs are stunning.

    4. I would much rather a Russian team be given the gold than DW. At least then, the politics behind the medal would be acknowledged. If DW win we'll forever hear how they improved so much that it couldn't be denied they are better than VM.

    5. I think rearranging the podium at this point is very premature. That being said, I don't think the program is stunning. Some very picturesque lifts and the spin, but.....I don't know what's happened, but I don't like the rest. At all. It isn't innovative, it isn't complex. The transitions are by far the most open since Mahler. Mahler was special at the time, but they should be more than that now.

    6. Several have referred to it as watered-down Mahler. It's a very apt description.

      I'm not sure it's even enough to win nationals, compared to WP's tango.

    7. I follow them since 2007 and this is the first time that I don't like their program...I'm so sad...

    8. They completely miscalculated by doing their masterpiece the year before the Olympics. The music is beautiful, but not accessible and familiar. Neither was Mahler at first, but I don't know that lightning can strike twice. Someone posted on the FSU secret thread that Tessa and Scott told her they took months to find the music and this is cut #23.

      Meanwhile, DW have set the standard for themselves so low that their FD doesn't seem so bad. Now they'll make a few phony tweaks for SA, and be on autopilot the rest of the season.

    9. D/W are winning, and it wouldn't matter if V/M skated Carmen or another masterpiece. The IOC receives way too much money from the US to allow for a Russian or Canadian win this year, when the US has no other chance for an individual gold, and NBC is desperately trying to keep US viewers watching the Olympics instead of doing something else.

      What I'd like to know is how much money USFSA paid to V/M to deliberately throw the competition. Toe running, far apart skating, running after each other, skating through the music rather than with it.... Hopefully USFSA is paying for Toddler Moir's entire college education, because anything less doesn't justify this mess.

    10. 3:39, you are right. There is just no way they can win this with all they're up against, it's just that some of us still wish that somehow, someway, talent, dedication, and quality will win out over mediocrity.

      They're not paying VM off, as much as they are fucking with them psychologically and making them second guess everything. Whatever feedback they got this weekend, they'll get the exact opposite at Skate Canada. They should retire.

    11. At this point, I don't give a shit about the gold medal. I want my incredible V/M back, even if it means enjoying them all season and having to watch them lose. This program is pathetic.

    12. I feel the same, 4:20. I thought at least their fd would be a great program to enjoy instead of a steaming hot mess.

      They need a new fd.

    13. They've spent the whole quadrennial pushing themselves and trying new things, why would they throw all of that out with their Olympic FD? I'd rather see them attempt something interesting and fail badly than win with a pale imitation of a previous program that they've outgrown long ago. The resulting program might not turn out to be a masterpiece, but at least they would have tried. How can a team go from Carmen to this? And why do they take risks in the SD choreography but absolutely none

    14. i cant believe marina gave them this crap i think im going to cry. They need an intervention STAT. all we can hope for now is that d/w end up like BA

    15. I would pay $$$ to know what Tracey Wilson thinks of this FD. I have a mixed reaction to it. And to be honest from what I have seen so far this year - this is not going to be a memorable year for ice-dancing. At least we have seen some great stuff from VM over the last 3 years.

    16. I fail to understand the gnashing and wailing over the program instead of the skating. Both programs are fantastic. The ice coverage and speed that's the current baseline in the Seasons program is eye-popping.

      I can't crawl inside Scott and Tessa's heads in this regard but it seems to me the problems are these:

      DW get monster - monstrous scores the second they unveil their programs, no matter how the programs are actually skated or how little skating goes on or how faked the element mechanics.

      The media - the US media that has the highest profile on twitter and on the web because for the most part Canadian media is inane a day late a dollar short, or comatose - hypes up DW and their scores, but when VM score 76 in Quebec, the likes of Lynn Rutherford asides that it's a summer competition.

      In return, VM skate and make mistakes, which plays into the judging situation. Once they make mistakes tens become nines all over the place, levels drop - I think mistakes anywhere allow the scores to drop across the board. Last season and this season were the same, and unprecedented from the previous seasons - they made mistakes in both programs.

      This doesn't impact DW who are skating more slowly, covering less ice, and twizzling with more mediocrity than I have ever seen them. Unless they visibly stumble, where it's clearly unintentional, they will be given hyped up numbers.

      Unlike DW, VM have to earn their high scores, and the judges and tech caller get all "this is a serious sport" with them. They're more than capable, and instead Finlandia launched as last season ended - with mistakes in both programs. Both the free and the short are well within VM's comfort zone, we can see perfectly well that the speed and power are miles ahead of where their speed power would have been at the start of the season a few years ago, and they seem well within themselves technically.

      Even the discussion of last season is mostly about how Carmen wasn't properly appreciated. Nobody, not even in Russia, is wondering why DW walk out onto the ice the first competition of the season and get Olympic competition scores. Nobody. That happened last year and this year.

      I don't have an answer but the issue definitely isn't in the programs. Scott and Tessa had stunning short dance practices and a stiff competitive performance that allowed the judges to drop their marks fucking 9 points from Quebec. There were tech calls in the free dance and a twizzle problem in the free dance, compounded by, as has been pointed out, it's the same tech caller that oversaw the 112 score for DW in SLC.

      And the fandom is flipping out over the PROGRAMS? The PROGRAMS?

    17. The programs are not the problem. The problem is DW are scored like record breakers every time they take the ice as long as they stay on their feet. Their program content doesn't matter. All their fake, and the empty in between and the simplistic non multidirectional have passed ISU muster.

      And the other problem is that in response Scott and Tessa are making mistakes all over the place. Are they trying to force the issue because the DW scores are so high, and they know they have to actually SKATE that level (unlike DW), so they're pushing? I don't know.

      The problem is DW's scores and VM making mistakes. It seems to me Tessa's legs must be okay based on how she practices, how she skated in Quebec, how she looks (as if she's still training with Maria Mountain) and how she deals with her legs in the Kiss'n'Cry (slide on the skate guards, otherwise doesn't seem to be concerned with them).

      If figure skating were a sport, if ice dance were legitimate, the next part doesn't matter but I don't know why VM didn't even have early iteration costumes for either program. Meryl Davis and Charlie White debut their programs wearing brand-new costumes that look like they're on loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Cost a Motherfucking Fortune, Tessa and Scott skate and practice their short dance in the same costumes - OLD, and skate and practice their 2014 program in their 2010 program costumes, also OLD - costumes which were worn to death not just doing Mahler competitively, but doing Mahler in shows, and then repurposed for other programs they skated in shows. Along with the mistakes, that gives the impression of not ready and less than full confidence and conviction.

      And ice dance and figure skating is not a sport of geniuses. I think all this stuff has an influence.

      I don't know how to fix it, needless to say, but the programs are fine. Scott and Tessa's skating is also fine. Their execution is concerning.

      If I were them, and thank God I'm not, I might notice that with their new, non frantic programs, it's very obvious that DW do not cover a lot of ice, even if they try to lunge half their programs. It's very obvious how small those twizzles are - no footprint and that second one is practically stationary. It's very obvious that Scott and Tessa are kicking their ass in terms of blade run, no matter how many fool the eye extension moves are employed in DW's program.

      Scott and Tessa - and of course, fans - can't control DW's scoring. I think what they can do is notice that they now naturally skate bigger and more powerfully than DW, and just skate instead of pushing. I think they can notice their twizzles book down the ice and cover a lot of it, and just do their twizzles, don't rush it and don't push it. They don't have to reach for it, it's where their skating is now vis a vis DW's.

      They do it in practice. They're not doing it in competition.

      I'm lifting an eyebrow on this:

      last year DW were rocking it in the pcs, which anybody who knows anything knows should never be happening vis a vis VM. This year VM are getting high pcs but the TES is gutted, even where they don't make mistakes, such as the second lift. I might think differently when I break it down (and, I hope, read more about it) but the same tech caller passing muster on DW unto 112 points is level 1-ing VM's second rotational- that's worth an eyebrow raise.

    18. OC - I agree that the bigger issue is that D/W were overscored again at SLC and this trend will continue for programs that are inferior to VMs...I think its blatantly obvious that these tech controllers have way too much influence on the score and if anything there should be 3 tech controllers on the panel. I mean for the same tech controller at SLC and Finlandia to be that more severe in Finlandia - yeah no coincidence there...I really feel for the athletes because anyone can see that the judges in ice-dancing are not following the ISU rulebook..unfortunately the judging or lack of it has influenced the programs this year rather than encouraging risk and creativity....

    19. Bottom line, it's down to Scott and Tessa. There is no sports body more pig headed than the ISU - we're not going to influence them and get them to honest up how DW are scored. With them, it's the same principle as everything else - continue what you're doing to make what you've already done seem right.

      Scott and Tessa have no control over that, NONE. And there is absolutely no need for them to PUSH to meet those scores, because they can skate to meet those scores well within themselves. I think since childhood they have been accustomed to the mantra "power and speed, power and speed" because that was the one thing some said they failed to project. That has long since been laid to rest. They have more power and speed than any ice dancers in the "sport". It's not what they need to acquire, it's who they are. It's now how they skate. That's in their toolbox. They cover more ice and are faster and more powerful. Their twizzles are faster, better, and cover more ice than DW's. They don't need to push anything, one up anything. They need to skate clean, because as we all have noticed, a mistake becomes an excuse for the judges. It seems to me the mistakes aren't happening because they're choking or afraid of making mistakes. It seems to me the mistakes are happening because they're trying to be bigger and faster than what is already huge and fast skating, and they don't need to. They're faster than DW. They need to be clean. We can see in their practices they blow DW out of the water. They don't need to change it up in competition.

    20. "fail to understand the gnashing and wailing over the program instead of the skating. "

      I'm confused why it's not valid to be disappointed in this program. Is their skating still miles ahead of D/W? Of course. Was the scoring vs D/W beyond ridiculous? Yes. But since when does what they do and why we love them have solely to do with well-just-as-long-as-they're-skating-way-better-than-D/W. Since when does saying "this program is not worthy of them" have to equal "OMG they're horrible skaters in this program". Either I'm misunderstanding what you're saying, or you're missing the point some of us are making. I want to see a program I love for the season regardless of the situation with D/W. Except for a couple of the elements, I am not seeing particularly difficult (for what they're capable of) or innovative skating in the program. There's a lot of openness. And so while what they're doing, they're doing very well, I'm disappointed that they couldn't come out with something fresher and more complex. I don't understand why that's not a valid criticism. I'm also not seeing any of their brilliant musicality in this program. If you feel this program is brilliant, musical and has a lot of interesting skating, not just well- executed skating, I'm begging you to do a post on it, because I'm not seeing it all, and really wish I did.

      (But I agree completely that V/M aren't helping matters because they are pushing too much for some reason.)

    21. Nobody has specified why it's not worthy of them. Nobody has made any non-emotion, non-aesthetic, non-subjective argument why it's not worthy of them. I'm still waiting for that. Not emotion-driven reasons, but why the content, layout, music cuts, choreography, elements, etc. are disappointing.

    22. There's personal preference and there's "This isn't worthy of them as a program!" Those are two different things.

    23. OC, I think most of us know that the odds of V/M winning gold in Sochi are miniscule, and are at the point where we simply want to enjoy good programs. How can you criticize D/W for repeating programs to different music when V/M are skating to Mahler 2 and mainly ignoring the music? How can you call out the openness of their FD when V/M's is considerably more open? They've even copied some of the bizarre hopping that their rivals are famous for. And of course they're doing one of the most popular lifts on the Junior Circuit. It wouldn’t be so bad if it fit the program well but it really doesn’t, same thing for their second rotational and frankly all the rest of the lifts too.

      I thought V/M had too much pride to go the D/W route and it's disappointing, that’s all. They're going to end up in second place anyway, but they'll have sacrificed their artistic and athletic integrity in a hopeless attempt at winning gold. I wish V/M were scored appropriately as they are the far superior skaters and should be winning handily. Still, it isn’t happening and it’s not going to happen, while the quality of V/M’s FD choreography is something that can change. They’re better than this FD and they deserve better.

    24. Where specifically do you see a lack of musicality? Musicality is responsiveness to the music. It's playing with time. It's interacting with the music and relating to it, sometimes skating with it, sometimes skating in counterpoint, sometimes anticipating, sometimes responding, but always having a relationship with it, not just counting.

      Where are they not doing it? Is it the music itself, or is it how they interact with it and phrase it that makes you believe their musicality is missing?

    25. I'm going to put both programs up, because anybody who says Seasons is "considerably" more open than freaking Schez doesn't know skating, IMO. You can't BE more open than Scherz. I may even compare this to past VM programs to see exactly how there's more "hopping" in this than any past program.

    26. Furthermore, it seems to me that now people are freaking out because their visceral reaction (if there's been an actual deconstruction that relates to technique has taken place, I don't know) is they think this program isn't "worthy". This is a major contrast to the conversation about Marina that happened prior to seeing Seasons, which is she gives them shit that is too innovative and too difficult and too challenging, and they stumble and challenge the judges too much while meanwhile DW sail on with their umpteenth reworked version of Samson & Deliliah. And why the hell doesn't Marina do the same with VM?

      Now suddenly Carmen, the touchstone for an earlier blog discussion about why they need to ditch Marina, is the beloved Carmen and Seasons is the crap for the opposite reasons Carmen was the crap.

      So basically the answer is whatever Marina does sucks. Maybe if she dressed them up in Disneyfied middle-eastern costumes the Marina critics would be delighted but I fail to realize how a huge comments section claiming Carmen was Exhibit 1 for why they need to leave Marina is now replicating itself in this post complaining that Seasons is no Carmen.

    27. Sorry OC but I have to agree 7:41 - as much as I love V/M the FD is shit. I didn't think V/M would stoop so low to D/W's level. This is so depressing. The program is doing VM no justice nor is it doing the music justice

    28. It's very difficult to take seriously the same people who, after last season was over, wanted to ditch innovation, dance, pushing the envelope and advancing ice dance technically, and just fucking pander and WIN, who are now pissed that VM aren't going to go down in flames and do another program along the lines of the program these fans bitched to high heaven about after last season was over.

      When did this shift take place? Last I saw, Carmen was fabulous but over the judges heads and the fans that argued VM ought to dumb down were arguing that VM needed to fucking WIN, and innovation wasn't helping them win, so fuck innovation, start pandering.

      Now here's what VM are describing as a sequel to Mahler (and it is a sequel but not a pale imitation - take one look at Mahler in 2009 and note the difference in every single element and the skating itself - all to Seasons' advantage) and fans are bitching that VM ought to have come out with Carmen II.

      So give me a break.

      Here's what VM needed to do - ALL they could have done. Skated the short the way they did in practice. Skated Seasons clean. Fuck the tech caller, and if you ARE driving the roller coaster Scott, break out some new fucking costumes, it's the Olympic season.

      VM need to serenity prayer this season and that's it. The programs are fine.

    29. 7:55 pm - why don't you break the program down and describe (along the lines of skating technique, level of difficulty and how ice skating is scored) why you think so? You claim they're stooping to DW's level but you're also stooping to the level of DW fans because you're not supporting what you say. If you're technically savvy enough to know this isn't up to par, lay it out and relate it to technique.

    30. I'm 7:34. I said "Except for a couple of the elements, I am not seeing particularly difficult (for what they're capable of) or innovative skating in the program. There's a lot of openness." It wasn't very specific, but it was not based on emotion. In the transitions, I don't see innovative bladework and changes of holds that we've never seen before, like we did with Carmen or FF or their SD last season. I agree with much of what 7:41 said. The curved lift is being done in juniors. They seem to be doing more hopping, more twirling, more skating hand in hand - they're doing it properly, not cheating it like D/W, so yeah, they're techique is still great. But it's still not very complex. And I'm sorry that I'm not seeing what you're seeing, but I thought they were skating through the music. I didn't see them interacting with it.

      My concern IS the skating. I don't know as much about the subject as you do, but I'm trying to learn. My reaction is not about aethestics, or if it is, it's because I'm missing something when studying the skating, not because I'm only caring about that and not focusing on the skating at all. Because you have an advantage that some of us haven't been able to catch up to you in skating knowledge yet, try as we might, can you do us a public duty and explain why this program is so amazing. Not why it's better than D/W's. Not why it should meet all that's necessary under the scoring guide. Why it's amazing onto itself. Because that's what some of us are upset about. And that's valid as a point on its own.

      And I did NOT say it was more open than Scherz. It's not. It's more open that what I wish V/M were doing compared to what they could do. You're taking these comments far too much as being vs. D/W. A lot of us are upset at the program completely and solely to do with what we were hoping from V/M, not as a comparison to what D/W have put out.

      And as for the 7:52 comment, that does not apply to me at all. I've been 100% behind Marina this summer, I never EVER wished Carmen was simpler. I want another program as difficult as Carmen, so at least I'm being consistent. I knew that probably wasn't realistic, but to me this seems like a huge step down. Again, if you can point out why I'm wrong - not why it's better than Scherz, because duh. Why it's the best that V/M could put out for their Olympic and last FD.

    31. I loved Carmen and never faulted Marina for that. But there is a rather large gap between the difficulty of Carmen and of Seasons. I think V/M have overreacted to last season's results by going too far in the opposite direction. Again, not Marina's fault. Answering you detailed questions would take a very long time, so I'm going to pass for today and attempt it later. Still, I'm interested, could you describe why you think the Seasons program is a great display of musicality? And surely you'd agree that the program is at least more open than anything they've done since Mahler? Why should they go back to that?

    32. I'm 7:34 & 8:08, and I see now the "relative openess of Scherz vs Seasons" thing wasn't directed at me. Scherz is more open, Seasons has much better speed and flow. But I think V/M could still have achieved that with a more difficult problem, which is why I'm disappointed.

    33. "difficult program"

    34. the curve lift needs to be ditched along with all the other lifts (except maybe the b2b rotationals - which still need some tweaking anyway) i still dont understand why marina gave them s/s's lift - why the fuck would she do that??

    35. 7:43, again - if I didn't make it clear, I'm not upset with ALL of the elements. Some of the lifts are stunners. The spin's nice too. It's the rest of the elements, and especially the transitions, save perhaps the opening to the first lift, that I'm not getting.

      8:32, which one is S/S's??? The straightline? That one's enough of a variation to ones others have done that I'm fine with it. The lifts are the strongest and only truly unique part of the whole program IMO, so I obviously disagree, although I do agree that the curved lift is not difficult enough (in terms of their past ones).

    36. this lift (this is the curve lift right?):
      and they're not the first to use it
      i wonder what the hell was going to marina's mind when she gave them that lift. this is NOT the kind of lifts you give to oly champs

    37. "And I did NOT say it was more open than Scherz. It's not. It's more open that what I wish V/M were doing compared to what they could do."

      Jumping in here to comment: I think some people have a tendency to equate "openness" with something being easier, and that's not always the case. D/W use openness to avoid having to be in hold as much as possible. V/M aren't doing that. They use those moments of openness a few times as part of their transitions in and out of different holds. In other words, they aren't being open to avoid skating with one another like D/W do.

    38. D/W's FD: Skate apart and pose, pose, pose, closed hold, open hold, lift, pose, open hold, pose, pose, spin, pose, lift, open hold, pose, open hold, pose, pose, etc.

      V/M's FD: closed hold, closed hold, closed hold, lift, closed hold, closed hold, open hold, closed hold, spin, closed hold, open hold, closed hold, lift, etc.

    39. 9:58, yes. And thanks.

      I hate to say it but if you watch G&G's 1994 skate and the version of Moonlight Sonata they're using, this program is the exact same concept, musically, even as it's the same concept thematically. They're not skating THROUGH the music. The music itself is a sustained through line. It's a persistent wave.

      The music they've used since Mahler, while diverse in style and genre, were all very layered pieces. Lot of instrumental texture (horns, percussion, symbols, and all of them also had vocals), and very very obvious rhythm anybody could actually count out loud. Bam bam bam BAM. And bambambam BAM BAM de bam (trying to do jazz with that one) All of them also had a ton of tempo changes. Carmen had very very dramatic mood changes and momentum shifts. These musical choices had lots and lots of contrast built in. Scott and Tessa could relate to the music in counterpoint, on the beat, anticipating the beat, following a momentum shift or tempo change, or anticipating a tempo shift or momentum change, or extending it.

      This music has sustained tempo and tonality. Its increase in intensity is incremental, but it does intensify. Scott and Tessa are riding it like a wave, in and out but always relating to that line. They are not skating through it.

      As to TES, the video isn't that great but it looks to me as if Scott messed up the twizzles. He also had trouble with a rotation in the spin. The spin, however, was startlingly fast for VM straight out of the gate at the start of the season. Both of those dropped their levels. The main question mark for me is why did the second rotational drop to Level 1.

      Except for the spin, the mistakes were the type of mistake a casual viewer can pick up. Not sloppiness. Obvious missteps. Element mistakes or level calls are going to leak a lot of points. This doesn't help with the fact that DW's scores are a scandal. But it does point to a fairly positive reception for this program from the judges PROVIDED VM aren't plagued with tech caller shit from now til retirement.

    40. "This music has sustained tempo and tonality. Its increase in intensity is incremental, but it does intensify. Scott and Tessa are riding it like a wave, in and out but always relating to that line. They are not skating through it."

      Yep. It should also be pointed out that the music for their SD - the Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong pieces - fits the more layered, instrumentally textured category, with lots of rhythms for V/M and to play with and anticipate in their movements.

      And yes, Scott seemed to come off an edge in the second twizzle set, though he did complete all the required rotations. If he hadn't, they'd have dropped another level.

      In the K&C, V/M and their coaches can all be heard talking about something that happened in the spin (possibly a rotational problem with the first position).

  17. The blog not long ago referenced a interview with a former skater/coach who'd had some connection to Sonjia Henie and also participated in the creation of CoP (I'll be able to name check him later when I review that interview/article.) The blog quoted him because he also thought the media treats the skating public like morons and should stop.

    It also caught my eye that he believes things like speed, and other quantifiable components of a figure skating performance, need to be objectively measured.

    They're not. For years, the simplest video comparisons demonstrated that Secretariat, and not Canonero, held the fastest time record in the Preakness Stakes. It took 24 years for the Pimlico race course to concede that the timed comparisons giving the edge to Secretariat were correct.

    There is no objective measurement used to determine which skaters actually are faster than other skaters. There's no objective measurement used to determine how much ice is covered in a twizzle sequence or how fast the rotation in a twizzle sequence. When we see VM and DW together on practice ice, VM are not just bigger and faster, they're also quicker. There's no comparison in blade run. We can see in a simple clip of both teams imitating the Shibs that it's the same thing - the clarity of movement is night and day. VM articulate their movement, are able to edge while doing to, and finish their movement, but they also start and finish quicker than DW.

    I remember when, in a televised (or youtubed) show, Alyssa Czisny and Mirai Nagasu were on the ice at the same time. Their moves were simple, but many viewers were surprised that Mirai was better at all of them. Better spins, better lines, better extension and amplitude. And faster. Many had assumed it was Alyssa.

    It makes no sense for the naked eye to decide who is faster, who is covering more ice. There's no way.

  18. OC - as a fan who stated earlier that I had mixed feelings with this FD - I also think I need to see this program grow. Perhaps one of the reasons why we all loved Carmen was because in terms of modern dance - we saw the growth of V/M from Pink Floyd also a modern dance. I also would argue that for some fans Pink Floyd was a special FD for them and pushed the envelope. Now if this FD is suppose to be the extension of Mahler - wow expectations are set to be high. It's a unfair comparison but if the team is putting out a message that this is the extension of Mahler - well then you need to deliver.

    1. Yeah, it's the we all loved Carmen that is giving me pause. I don't know if everyone else has forgotten, but I haven't forgotten the last wailing and gnashing over over how fucking horrible it is that Marina coaches them and it was all ABOUT Carmen. It wasn't yeah! Who cares if they lose worlds - they're pushing the envelope and being who they are!

      It was bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch. Somebody needs to put VM in check. Somebody needs to get VM a program that isn't always throwing down.

      The entire comments thread was about the resume. My argument, and the argument of some others, was that VM aren't as obsessed with the resume as they are with winning as themselves. They don't want to win via pandering.

      WHO KNEW that argument made by myself and others was so compelling it had instantly converted all of those who used Carmen as Exhibit A for why they needed to get rid of Marina? Nobody shared! This is the first I've heard.

      I agree they need to deliver. The choreography delivers. The skating didn't deliver but if anybody compares the content to Mahler, Seasons is four years of skating evolution later.

      Furthermore, I think it takes a lot of balls and hypocrisy to call out DW fans for never specifying why DW are the awesome and then turn around and call Seasons subpar without relating what's in Seasons to specific knowledge of skating technique (IOW, demonstrate via deconstruction why the element being disparaged is subpar - don't be descriptive. Be specific and relate it to CoP and also relate it to the specifics of the blade and the technique/mechanics). Use specific examples and then break down those examples relating it to technique and level of difficulty. If you won't or can't, I respectfully suggest you've just forfeited your right to belittle DW fans for failing to make the case for their favorites.


    2. THANK YOU, OC. The reactions to this program are typical of a fandom full of several people who care more about V/M beating D/W than they do about V/M skating programs they believe they can grow to win.

      The program is not a problem. It's lovely. It's also night and day more difficult than Mahler and is nowhere near a carbon copy of that program or whatever some people are arguing. It's chock full of complex transitions V/M handle with absolute finesse. It needs work of course. But that's expected given the complexity of the music and the movement.

    3. i think it takes alot of balls for D/W fans to call seasons mahler 2.0 when D/W were going for bollywood 2.0 with their fd and their sd looks like die fledermaus but with a change of rhythm

    4. "The entire comments thread was about the resume. My argument, and the argument of some others, was that VM aren't as obsessed with the resume as they are with winning as themselves. They don't want to win via pandering."

      I was on the same side as you during that argument, but I do think with Seasons they are pandering. Why are you assuming that some of those who defended Carmen aren't the ones who are disappointed in Seasons? Isn't that more logical? I understand that there's a mix of reactions over on FSU, but in my case, there has been no conversion. You keep implying that Seasons isn't as difficult as Carmen (unless I'm misunderstanding you) - there's your answer. Some of us are disappointed because Seasons isn't anywhere near as difficult or innovative as Carmen.

      For those of us who only got serious about understanding the subject in the past year, it's much simpler to point out how D/W AREN'T meeting CoP criteria, than it is to explain how V/M ARE meeting CoP criteria, but STILL are not doing something as difficult as they're capable of. It's also easier to analyze specific elements vs an overall package of lacklustre but acceptable transitions.

      Since you seem to relish the chance to show how stupid D/W fans can be (and I don't blame you), I hope you'll also explain to us what's so amazing about Seasons. Yes, Seasons is definitely an improvement on Mahler. But why is the benchmark a program they did four years ago, rather than their two (or three) more recent FDs? Is it better than Carmen? Is it better than Funny Face? I think the Waltz Goes On appears to be a more difficult program than this FD. I want to be wrong. I want to understand what I'm missing. But you haven't stopped insulting and misidentifying people's motives long enough to actually defend Seasons - beyond some points as to why it's way better than Scherz and Mahler. I assume that's probably forthcoming, so great. But I think it takes a lot of gall for you to suggest that fans don't genuinely care about the skating here - fans who really appreciate what you've done to help us understand it better - just because right now we don't see what you see, or because we can't speak about it as intelligently as you have done at other times.

      9:09 - can you point out where this complex movement you speak of is happening? I like most of the lifts, the spin and the transition from the beginning pose to the first lift. I'm completely at a loss as to why the rest is special. I'd truly appreciate it if you could point some of it out.

    5. I actually want to change "stupid D/W fans" to "full-of-it D/W fans". There's a difference between having trouble understanding something and asking for help vs not attempting to understand it at all.

    6. "Some of us are disappointed because Seasons isn't anywhere near as difficult or innovative as Carmen."

      IMO, Carmen was the most difficult thing ever put on ice by any team, ever. But much of that difficulty was on account of the way V/M utilized modern movement while staying on top of their blades. In the Seasons FD, that same type of difficulty isn't there because it doesn't fit the movement vocabulary they've chosen to use for the program. But that doesn't mean what they're doing isn't incredibly difficult. It is. It's simply a different type of difficulty.

  19. 9:46, this blog has many repeat visitors. I should specify that I am reacting to those who say it's more open than DW's program, to those who say it's not enough to beat W&P at fucking Canadians! to those who declare they want the real VM back even if they lose when they had an entirely different point of view last time VM and Marina were discussed.

    The argument with some of these same people went exactly in the opposite direction last time the comments section hosted a choreography/Marina, etc. etc. debate. If there were those who hoped that this season, they'd top or equal Carmen in strict identifiable dance vocabulary expressing every piece of choreography and every single inch of the program expressed in that choreography, they did not assert themselves in that discussion.

    For those commenting here who were hoping that for the Olympics, VM would see Carmen and then raise the bar and fuck the results, I'm not talking to those people.

    I'm talking to the ones who are like, this is crap! It sucks! And ESPECIALLY to those who were furious at Carmen, and Marina, thought she had them skating over their heads, thought they were her puppets for her ego and she lost them Worlds last year by biting off more than they could chew, and are now in here wailing and lamenting that they're going to fall off the Olympic podium with this shit program that can't even beat DW, and it's all Marina's fault.

    I think if you compare the programs up above, VM's is clearly more complex, it's faster, it's more multidirectional, it's got more hold changes, it covers more ice, and the lifts are night and day better. I don't know what happened with the spin scoring but both the positions and rotational speed kick DW ass. There is no reason on earth it shouldn't defeat DW.

    I will also remind everybody that VM got clear feedback last year from the ISU about what the ISU wanted from them for this season. We know what Carmen represented. Clearly the ISU doesn't want ice dance to actually be ice dance, because Carmen was the purest representation of that ever skated, which means it was the gold standard for difficulty, and the ISU feedback was - please take a step back.

    And thus the ISU decided ice dance shouldn't be a sport. It's a completely unnecessary division of figure skating if you're going to ask dancers to please not dance their programs quite so literally. That's what the ISU did with Carmen, by the way it scored Carmen, and the way that non-dance-nothing ND was scored.

    1. I do not recall everyone expecting the most amazing VM program ever for Sochi. If that's what people are arguing - we were looking for the next level up from Carmen and this isn't it, I don't know why anyone thinks that's the position I'm taking. That is not even a logical evolution of the prior discussion about Marina, choreography, and DW versus VM.

      I recall that the agenda was for VM to produce a program that reflected what the ISU told them it wanted, while holding as much ground as they felt they could, and the agenda was also win gold in Sochi. There is no reason on earth this program can't beat DW if it's skated clean, unless the tech callers intend to fuck with them all season long, as tradition holds. It's amazing how DW never run into this, yet there they were with 112 and yet Meryl draped across Charlie's neck and shoulders, and here on twitter I'm reading they're working on new lifts. What, is it "shhh, here's 112 points but go back to the drawing board and don't tell anyone!"

      That sucks, but if VM reacted by flipping them the bird and upping the ante, then why are they competing in Sochi at all? They're here as competitors, as ridiculous a non-sport as ice dance has decided to become once again, as political as it's decided to become once again, after basking for about five whole seconds in the back patting from 2010 that the sport was finally legit.

      This program is a reflection of the feedback and wish list of the ISU, among other things. When VM talked about their Olympic program, the ISU feedback, and put a zillion caveats in front about how we're not going back, that meant they were going back, but kicking and screaming and upgrading to 2012.

      And lastly I would say, people are of course, needless to say, entitled to their reaction, but yes, if they're not informed enough to deconstruct something technically, it is not as valid an opinion on the technical merits of a skating program as an opinion that is informed. Feelings are one thing, opinion on technical merits and content without being especially grounded in either are another.

    2. Is there even a "next level up" from Carmen? That thing was mindblowingly difficult, and it almost killed V/M in the process.

      I'm trying to imagine what a program more difficult than Carmen would even look like.

    3. Furthermore, although people - especially on FSU - used to talk about "modern" or contemporary dance and movement, they seldom had any idea what they were talking about in any dance or skating sense, and as best as I could grasp by "modern" they meant "abstract" and then they wanted that abstract theme executed with theatrical movement, which is a hodgepodge and where dance was drifting - theatre on ice, adagio acrobatic the common style.

      Modern movement is actually very specific. The center of gravity is low, the feet are natural, not turned out. And if you want to consider real difficulty in Carmen, modern dance puts the stress and emphasis on the torso, and ballet puts it on the feet. Figure skating puts the emphasis on the feet, to state the obvious. How the hell do you create an ice dance program using modern dance vocabulary and still skate every inch of your program? Scott and Tessa did so by lowering their center of gravity and following their pelvis and core, and every single move in that program reflected the character of that dance style. Furthermore, there was an added challenge, which was that every move they made had specific psychological intent. Was choreographed. There was no improvisation, expressively, as there is between the lines in almost every other program they've ever skated, short, ods, free dances. Then they had to fulfill this as choreography, make it their own, perform it organically, and execute the choreography seamlessly with their skating technique.

      Scott and Tessa in Seasons are back to lyrical, which is up from the skate blades, which does not require the same problem-solving as Carmen, and which has a looser expressive frame than Carmen.

    4. With the lifts, especially the so-called s/s lift, I think people are focused too much on the pose (which is how DW want everyone to roll) and not, in the case of the S/S lift, the incredible lean and curve of Scott's blades, the incredible stillness and control of Tessa's position, and the clean in and out. I also think the other lifts are doing a reverse DW. DW have taken elements done better by VM, junked them up and hit the pose. VM might be said to be deconstructing that approach here.

    5. 9:46 here. Thank you for your response OC.

      First, I just want to point this out as an example of how you tend to jump ahead to assuming you know where a particular poster is coming from.

      "those who declare they want the real VM back even if they lose when they had an entirely different point of view last time VM and Marina were discussed"

      That was me. I most certainly did not have a different point of view back then. I don't feel - this part I concede is partially an emotional reaction - I don't feel that this program is really V/M. I think they can do better. And hell yes, I think they're giving into the ISU wishlist, which was precisely what my comment referred to. I would rather they were still pushing it, even if it meant them getting silver. I know that's not my decision to make, but I still have a right to be disappointed that they're playing it this safe.

      "that meant they were going back, but kicking and screaming and upgrading to 2012."

      I know this was a typo, so I'm not trying to be snarky - but this is exactly how I feel. It seems like Mahler with maybe two years of improvement instead of four. It was inaccurate of me to say that I'm disappointed this program is not as difficult as Carmen. I never realistically expected that. This seems like a huge step down though, not a moderately backed-off follow-up.

      "if they're not informed enough to deconstruct something technically, it is not as valid an opinion on the technical merits of a skating program as an opinion that isinformed. Feelings are one thing, opinion on technical merits and content without being especially grounded in either are another."

      I've made it clear that I'm well aware that I'm not as informed on this subject as you, but I really am trying. Can you explain to me (or confirm that you will do a post) as to why this program is one to be wowed at? Your deconstruction of last year's programs post-Worlds made me appreciate Carmen more, which I didn't think was possible, and brought real insight into their SD that was previously lacking. To give an idea for what I'm really not liking in Seasons- how are these transitions complex and motivated by the music/dance?
      at 1:46, 2:10, 2:50, 3:12, 3:28, and 3:57

      There is a special moment here or there, like Tessa's leg movement before the spin, but it seems like a whole lot of skipping and being apart.

      "DW have taken elements done better by VM, junked them up and hit the pose. VM might be said to be deconstructing that approach here."

      I think it looks like they've done exactly this with their transitions. I see that they're done much much better than D/W, but I still don't understand why it's complex skating, or why it adds something to the dance they're portraying. It honestly seems like filler to me. Skated filler, yes, but not something meaningful in a choreographic sense. Has the problem with D/W been just that they weren't skating? I thought it was a given that even if D/W skated their programs, they'd still be awful because they are so generic. Does this have all of Meryl’s hops or all of Charlie’s feet wtfs? No, not even close. However, it feels like V/M have taken everything we’ve been sniggering at with D/W, and made it pretty and proper, but it still just looks kind of lame to me.

      And the post from 10:02
      “But that doesn't mean what they're doing isn't incredibly difficult. It is. It's simply a different type of difficulty.”

      I would never mean to suggest that anything V/M do isn’t incredibly difficult relative to everyone else. (I have doubts about the curved lift, but I also see what OC is saying at 10:48) . My question is – is this as difficult as they could reasonable be this season? Where is the incredible difficulty in this program compared with their recent body of work?

    6. "When VM talked about their Olympic program, the ISU feedback, and put a zillion caveats in front about how we're not going back, that meant they were going back, but kicking and screaming and upgrading to 2012."

      Oh, I see you might have meant "they were going back to 2012 [before Carmen scared the shit out of the ISU], but only by kicking and screaming and upgrading". I had interpreted it to mean "they were going back to Mahler, but only by kicking and screaming and upgrading it to 2014".

    7. Yes. And this is the only thing that really bothers me about Seasons. I figured that their Olympic program WOULD pretty much be a "story" - their story, all along. I didn't know the actual music would hew along the Moonlight Sonata tone as much as it is, but I'm not surprised. (That's not what bothers me - I'm getting to that).

      What bothers me about seasons is Virtue and Moir did Carmen, and the reason they didn't win the GPF, 4CCs and Worlds with Carmen is they made mistakes when they competed against DW and DW were as ever overscored. The most promising event of last season was VM beating DW in the short dance at 4CCs and leading them in GOE when they interrupted the free. But when worlds came along, the judges slapped them down by awarding D/W 77 points for a short program done on toe picks. VM made a mistake in their short and had a mistake in Carmen, and Carmen was still so fabulous that while DW were predictably scored ahead of them in ND, it was still a much more muted score than DW's short dance received.

      Where I'm leading here is an argument can be made that Carmen was a brilliant program that could have won GPF, 4CCs and Worlds but did not because VM made mistakes in the crunch, and with DW getting their scores no matter what, that's why they lost. (All except the 77 points in the Worlds sd for DW which was an overreach and a slap in the face and IMO, an insurance score to boost DW onto the top rung of the podium).

      Therefore, one would think that when the ISU and the judges gave VM their feedback, there might be some discussion about the mistakes, VM might give their views as to how they occurred, and then everybody breaks for the season.

      Instead VM were told they needed to be "VM", which meant Mahler. By saying they didn't mean Mahler it was obvious they'd heard "Mahler". Their remarks were too much in the style of people who caveat, caveat, caveat, and you wait til after the but (or in some cases, only listen UNTIL the "but") and that's what is really going on.

      That, to me, says the ISU (judges) didn't care that the only reason Carmen didn't win the big ones was VM made mistakes - they didn't want to see another Carmen, or another effort LIKE Carmen.

      THAT's what bothers me. That even if Carmen had been skated clean all season, the feedback would have been - no more of that.

      When I started responding to the reactions to Seasons, 12:08, I did not, and should have, specified that my comments were aimed towards those who were saying the things I recited in my post a bit above - crappy program, more open than DW, blame Marina, can't beat W&P at Worlds, etc. That was not you, and I withdraw what I said that directly responded to your remarks without recognizing yours were made from a different perspective.

      I don't agree with your evaluation of Seasons but I will ask this - what do you mean by "meaningful"? I can think of a whole bunch of things that say "this is NOT meaningful" (someone could answer this question by saying - well, the choreography doesn't this and doesn't that, and it's also not this) but what to you IS meaningful choreography? What are its hallmarks?

      Here we have their "story", presumably told abstractly (lyrical, ballet vocabulary) and representationally, not literally. It's a translation of their story, obviously, not a danced-out series of events.

    8. Ok, I’m finding your viewpoint confusing. You’re bothered that V/M didn’t have a choice for what program to put out (if they wanted to win gold), but you’re also quite happy with this program that will meet the ISU please-don’t-hardcore-dance wishlist? Do you, after seeing Seasons, at all wish they could have done something different, or is this program just as good as any of the impossible-to-be-at-the-level-of-Carmen-but-still-amazing FDs that could have theoretically happened?

      If it's the former, and all you’re saying is that this is the best they could possibly do while keeping their options for gold as open as they’ll ever be, you might be right. I don’t like that they kept their options THIS open (pun not originally intended, but it works), even aside from the fact that I wish they ignored the ISU’s requests in the first place. I think they've sold their soul here. [obviously premature because we don't know how much they'll change it]. I might see the light at some point, of course, but right now - after several rewatchings -this program to me does not have the same V/M...character for the lack of a better word, even though I mean it in terms of the actual skating and choreo, and not in the PJ-esque way....that signifies their programs, a quality that has only become more defined over the last quadrennial.

      From further above - "Clearly the ISU doesn't want ice dance to actually be ice dance”

      It’s definitely OTT to be claiming that V/M aren’t ice dancing, so keep in mind, I’m just making a point. If the ISU is pleased with this, does that not mean there might be something lacking with it somewhere?

      “but what to you IS meaningful choreography? What are its hallmarks?”

      I basically mean that the movement is expressing something specific. A connection is being made to the music that is then being translated through the movement to communicate something. If that's happening here, I'm totally missing the message. I have never seen a program of theirs that seemed like it had movement for the sake of doing something, instead of it being both unique and fitting perfectly into a coherent program. If it was just a weak spot here or there, sure. But to me it's the majority of the transitions, as well as a couple of the elements.

      One of the clearest most skating-specific non-Carmen examples I can think of is the Waltz Goes On - the opening to the polka sequence. What they are actually doing with their blades there ends up MEANING something. The program grew a lot over the season, but I remember noticing some of it in the first outing. There are moments in this program, but not a single transition has the same continuous expressive impact to me as that segment of TWGO.

    9. (continued, character limit)

      Do you disagree that a lot of the transitions seem like they’re out of the D/W playbook (although yes, executed on another level entirely)? To me, that’s not enough. I don’t think the content itself is somehow elevated to V/M's standard just by them executing it. Compared to their baseline, I see a lot of hop/skip/run/whatever you want to call it, some arm flailing, generic twirl-waltz-hold combos, and SO much time apart for a V/M program. Or, I haven’t timed it, if it’s not more than FF or Carmen, they were executing intentional choreography during those times that is invisible to me at this point in Seasons. Take the transition between the second rotational and the diagonal step sequence. What on earth are they doing that is worth them being out of hold? It's certainly more difficult than what D/W do, they're both skating, they're not having to chase each other to reconnect. But what does it say that couldn't be said clearer with more unique, interesting and challenging skating? If the whole point is to show they can do the simple-for-them stuff that D/W pretend to do - mission accomplished. I don't like the mission, maybe that's the point.

      Going back to your comments about aesthetics or whatever, I just want to clarify that I don’t have a problem in the slightest with the concept or feel of this program, although I’m not sold on the music from beginning to end. I think the story is lovely and fitting. It’s the actual choreography –skating - that isn’t working for me. And again, several of the elements are stunning. I'm not saying this program has no value whatsover. But I think as a whole package, it's so much weaker than what I envisioned, even as I prepared myself for a we-pretended-to-consider-ISU-feedback Mahler pt 2. I never thought they'd actually give in to this extent.

    10. Good points from all sides. I also think that since Funny Face and Carmen had stories to draw from - there was an obvious reference. This is less so with this FD. They will get there...
      I know it was pointed out about the same technical specialist being at both SLC and Finlandia and the difference in calling the events. My other gripe is if true - what the hell is Skate Canada's president doing being on the judging panel? Last year apparently one of the judges who was previously suspended - came back and their first assignment back was Worlds? Are you kidding me? Then we know how objective Judy Bloomberg was at last year's Worlds was....then you have Skate Canada's president still judging - hello conflict of interest....the mind the end I am just happy to see V/M skate and if they are happy with their programs and are healthy - that's my takeaway...

    11. Skate Canada's president is only concerned about her own judging and trips. Will happily throw the skaters under the bus.

    12. There were some people who emphasized her solid business credentials as reason to hope she was a good choice, but IMO a judge who lives in Boston and intends to remain there who passionately wants to be president anyway is working from a personal, subjective, emotion based agenda.

  20. No need for V/M to ask feedback from the Finnstep's creators after all. Mr. Kokko can see fine just like the rest of us. :)

    I don't think he's aware V/M are not really on twitter ...

  21. 3:36 YES I disagree that the transitions are out of the DW playbook because if they're executed on "another level entirely" THAT is the whole damn point (none of my emphasis here is personal). The WHOLE PLAYBOOK in figure skating is the skating first and foremost.

    >>>Ok, I’m finding your viewpoint confusing. You’re bothered that V/M didn’t have a choice for what program to put out (if they wanted to win gold), but you’re also quite happy with this program that will meet the ISU please-don’t-hardcore-dance wishlist? Do you, after seeing Seasons, at all wish they could have done something different, or is this program just as good as any of the impossible-to-be-at-the-level-of-Carmen-but-still-amazing FDs that could have theoretically happened? <<<<

    I am saying that I prioritize the vehicle a whole lot less than, apparently, most people and always have. Whenever a new program is unveiled by any skaters, message boards talk about the music and the non-skating aspects of the choreography, they talk about originality without really defining it (not that you're doing that - when I say "they" I don't mean "you" except where you think it may apply), they talk about performance.

    "Meaning" for me, is a non-skating aspect of the choreography. I have to view and review the program more to see if I agree about that aspect of the Seasons choreography (more on that later), but my focus is how it's skated and especially how it's skated and what is skated vis a vis what DW are doing and how, and their technical merit and skating skills vis a vis DW. Always.

    I really don't give a damn if something is out of the so-called DW playbook - the essence of the DW playbook is faking something - if VM aren't faking something they're not out of the same playbook.

    It matters to me when DW do it or pretend to do it, because their scores are so shady it feels to me that when they do it, it's so the judges can pull the wool over our eyes to perpetuate the fallacy that they're on par with VM. That's not what's going on with VM.

    How they're skating and WHAT they're skating (degree of technical difficulty and caliber of skating skills executing that technique) is my priority always, and I much as I loved loved loved Carmen, that was my priority last season as well.

    Not so much that a superior program kept getting scored lower than a piece of shit, but that much superior SKATING kept getting scored lower than the skating in Notre Dame, and dear God, the non-skating in Giselle.

    (continued below)

    1. (continued from above)

      I realize that my perspective can be framed and contextualized with a lot more clarity, especially in discussion threads, so I'm saying it now. I want to enjoy the program as 'performance. I will always marvel at Carmen. But it seems to me that fans who are following Olympic competition, whether they're in it because they love dance/music and seeing how VM do it on ice, or for whatever reason, still immediately seize on everything but TES and PCs in the program, when that ought to be their first focus because that is what the judges are going to focus on.

      An informed viewer can evaluate for themselves how and what VM are skating vis a vis DW (or in the case of other skaters, vis a vis the field). And then they can see if the scoring during the season is legitimate or not. With DW, it has not been.

      Some fans, in discussing the merits of a vehicle, the music, the choreography, the style, etc., seem to think that the judges who view visual noise like "Wild Spirits" and and all kinds of random choreography are judging the same things - choreographic meaning, the vehicle, whether something looks like what another skater has done.

      They're not. Not the way fans obsess about it. If they're scoring with legitimacy, they're looking at TES and PCs. The choreographic guidelines are extremely non-nuanced, don't rise to the standard of evaluating meaning, and are far more "don't polka when you're waltzing" (a generic guideline they still manage to ignore with DW).

      But with many fans, the focus is all vehicle and they seem to believe the judges are comparing vehicles. It's all what's the story how does the choreography express the story, is what I'm seeing new (versus is what I'm seeing difficult - and difficult can be HOW something is done (with extraordinary control, deep edges, great speed) as well as WHAT is being done (the pose, the mechanics, etc.)

      (continued below)

    2. Pairs skating also has TES and PCs. Every pairs skater at competing at the top does a split triple twist. The fans don't go OMG, Team A has a split twist as the first element and Team B has a split twist as the first element, and they both have split twists with a loop entrance in their program! OMG!

      A split twist is a split twist, just as a lutz is a lutz. There are juniors doing lutzes. Does anybody get them confused with Yuna Kim's lutzes?

      Go down the ranks and for years there have been a team or two - even now in juniors they exist - who mimic VM's "style" and some of their expressive characteristics, and some of them do a decent job of it. Does this vault them to the front of the line alongside VM and DW?

      Chock and Bates did a sort of bastardized goose a couple of years ago. Did that make raise them to VM's level somehow? The execution was on a whole other level (WORSE), but it was still the same kind of thing!

    3. The reason I'm reacting with such impatience to the hand wringing over the vehicle is I'm concerned about the skating and even though other people's concerns aren't my business, I think other people should be more concerned about the skating. I'm worried about the skating and I'm worried about the way the tech caller is employed to pull the level out from under VM.

      It's a given, whether it's fair or not, that VM are going to have to skate clean to beat an "apparently" clean DW. As long as DW look intentional, they're considered clean and VM have to be clean.

      They're not clean. In their first Olympic season, and their first full season after that, they followed a pattern of growing and refining their programs. They built in power and speed, particularly in transitions and in the spin. They might tweak an element, but essentially if you graph it, it was a steady climb until they passed DW. There wasn't a pattern of element mistakes. There wasn't a pattern of dropping a critical element to level one. Last year, a lot of people assumed Carmen was on that same track. It was a challenging program and there were some stumbles. Then at Canadians instead of that being the launch of the "important" part of the season, a great performance of Carmen pulled a low score and the judges decided the spin was Level 1, meaning VM had to go back and substitute that element (not tweak it. When they changed the Goose, it was a tweak). Then they did 4CCs and interrupted the free dance after winning the short. As well, all along the short program was worry free (even if it felt artificial) and Carmen was the challenge. But it went - low scores at Canadians and lose the levels in the spin. (Tech caller). Then it went interrupt the program at 4CCs (I think they said they overtrained? But I have no idea what happened there). Then at Worlds they made mistakes in both the short AND the long.

      Here, they had a brilliant outing for their short in Quebec. But when they skated it in Finlandia they messed up the twizzles and they lost 9 points (IMO the Quebec score was legit and then some). Then they do the free and it's tech caller, tech caller, tech caller. Scott messing up a spin and the twizzles and the tech caller dropping the level in the spin.

      THAT is what worries me. A repeat of the Carmen situation last year. That VM are going to be error prone throughout this season and that will somehow open the door for tech caller fuckery. WHY did they make mistakes in every outing last season? Why did mistakes appear in the short of all things at Worlds? And why is it carrying through this season? THAT is the problem that concerns me. Not the vehicle.

      (continued below yet again)

    4. To amplify my attitude towards this vehicle, when it comes to vehicles, I LOVE rhythm and I love momentum shifts. I also love strong, accessible melodic lines. I can talk all day about the components of the Carmen choreography and how brilliantly it was integrated into the skating and how brilliantly Scott and Tessa executed (as a whole) but actually, when I look back and review, Funny Face went a long way to doing the same thing. And there were many more stylistic (dance style) shifts in Funny Face than in Carmen (Carmen was modern throughout) and Funny Face used all those styles in the actual skating.

      I like Carmen a whole lot better because the momentum and music in that program is right up my alley. So's the music in their short this year.

      When it comes to Mahler, as a VEHICLE, I'm as meh as it gets. It was a brilliant vehicle, clearly, but to my personal taste, it was not. What did the choreography mean, phrase by phrase? I have no freaking clue. You couldn't go by me. I used context clues, not choreography, to know what I was seeing. She's in bridalesque/honeymoon negligee wear. He's on his knees holding her hands, she's bent over their hands, looking moved and thrilled. A proposal!! They skate around all joyous and stuff.

      What they're expressing in the Goose, in terms of meaning, I really don't know, nor am I especially clear on the rest, including what they're expressing with the ina bauer transition in between twizzle passes.

      They do t-stops and get a faraway look in their eyes (and face it, that's acting more than it is choreo) and I read that that's them looking at the future with them old and gray still in love and there's grandchildren.

      Wonderful! Then they fly off again and it seems to me the meaning in general is they're awfully happy but the meaning specifically I have no idea. Until the end when they settle into the final embrace and I get the meaning there is "they're embracing because they're in love and have finally consummated or fulfilled it in some way." Congratulations you guys!

      Here's a link to G&G's 1994 Moonlight Sonata LP in Lillehammer. At 1:56, Tracy Wilson says: It's the story of their life, they're telling. This section, is about their love, for each other." (the commas are in Wilson's delivery, you'll hear them).

      That is a program purely integrated with the music, observes the music - but meaning? I'll take their word for it. I invite anyone to watch and see the choreographic meaning without the liner notes.

    5. I also need to acknowledge that the term was "meaningful", not meaning, but the point still said "communicate something specific". And again, I believe Moonlight Sonata (G&G's) is a brilliant program whose "story" is only important to the people skating it. It can also be viewed just as successfully as an abstraction, as G&G harmonizing with, weaving in and out of the melodic line, and responding to its subtle increases in intensity, with G&G just a three dimensional component and part of the whole. Rather than the music supporting a story or some meaning G&G are carrying with them that they want to communicate to the audience. I don't know if it's possible to take pieces of that choreography and identify what is being communicated in specificity, other than how they're using the music physically and rhythmically and expressively (expressing energy, rhythm, pace, etc.), and I don't think that is a deficit in Moonlight Sonata.

      There are other programs where the intention is to communicate something specific in the sense of "what it means", but it's not, IMO, a principle of dance or choreography.

    6. Also noticed I said "here's the link" to G&G and the link didn't take or I didn't Ctrl + v.

      Here's the link:

      If I've mistaken this, I'll be told, but it seems to me people are looking for VM's choreographic components to be developed four fold from Mahler and they find Seasons falling short.

      *I* find VM's skating attributes developed more than four fold from Mahler and IMO that is where the focus belongs.

      Their run of blade and depth of edge makes them almost entirely new skaters than the team that skated Mahler. The increase in natural power and speed as well. These are the foundational qualities of figure skating, and the first component of ice dance is still figure skating.

      Figure skating is used to express choreography and to (supposedly) dance on ice and execute the elements specific to the discipline, but at the end of the day what is being judged first is the figure skating and that's what separates out the superior skaters. Not the choreo. Choreo is a vehicle.

      In fact, one of the arguments in favor of DW, now exposed as false, is that they deserved to win because they were stronger in the foundational figure skating attributes of power and speed (a comparison would be the less complex choreography of VT in pairs versus some of the ambitious choreo among their competitors, an apparent deficit neutralized by the fact that they cover about a hundred miles more per stroke than anyone else and their elements are gigantic). These are not parenthetical attributes or caveats. This is the heart of it.

      DW aren't faster and more powerful than VM. They're manifestly not.

      In terms of power, VM are barely recognizable as the Mahler skaters. The effortless drive with each stroke. The edge lean. The blade security. Their coverage is HUGE with every stroke. The twizzles (when they actually execute) cover much more ice, are executed with much more attack, and in fact I'm not sure if DW's twizzles have actually gotten more mediocre or if it's that Scott and Tessa's have become so much better they make DW's look mediocre in comparison. They are more complex than Mahlers twizzles - the transitions in between, the way their bodies observe the character of the dance, and most especially, the exit.

      People pay so much attention to the poses in lifts - the final line. Look at Scott's blades, look how much ice he's covering, look at the transition in and out and where his edge is and what Tessa's is doing and look at how economical the mechanics are. The lifts are where the pairs comparison can be useful, IMO, as pairs elements are similar across divisions but it's night and day between the execution at the international podium level and the execution lower down, most of it having to do with edge depth, power, speed and security and then all of the refinements that derive (or don't) from that - line, unison, carriage, etc.

      So yes, I maintain that this is not a weak iteration of Mahler because people are focusing on the choreography and assigning it far too much value and taking the skating as kind of an "of course" when it's the central concern, and as VM are struggling to be clean, and, unlike VT, apparently can't win with a level drop or a stumble, that is where I focus my concern. The other stuff is a luxury.

    7. OC, I'm not quite following what you mean here:

      "...that VM are going to be error prone throughout this season and that will somehow open the door for tech caller fuckery. WHY did they make mistakes in every outing last season? Why did mistakes appear in the short of all things at Worlds? And why is it carrying through this season?"

      Are you saying that the errors last season gave the tech callers an excuse and/or out to mark them lower than what they deserved (considering the difficulty and better mechanics of what they are executing vis-a-vis to D/W)?

    8. I'm not OC, but 10:57, I think that is fair to say. VM get penalized extremely harshly for any mistakes. It's simply not the case that making a mistake should always equal not winning. I doubt anyone would expect DW to lose to CB just because they make mistakes. VM's overall skating is on a much higher level and should be able to absorb small mistakes. That shaky twizzle at Worlds was not worth 4 points, and considering a clean Carmen should have at least 10 points over ND, they should have won the competition easily.

      At 2006 Europeans, NK had a terrible performance in the FD and still won, despite holding a lead of only 1.25 The French crowd was so angry that they were nearly booed off the podium. The narrative those years was that NK were such good skaters with such good lines that they deserved high scores even with mistakes; surely, VM are at least at that level. Or you can look to pairs and singles, like VT getting a 10 in P/E when he fell on the throw at Worlds, or Chan and Kostner's astronomical skating skills marks with falls.

  22. The focus here on alleged manipulations and politiking by USFS is way, way off. USFS could not politik its way out of a traffic ticket and would not even try unless it involved Ashley Wagner or Gracie Gold. If there is any politiking against V/M going on, it is coming from Moscow. Do you really believe Piseev and co. will be satisfied by bronze in Sochi? That politiking, combined with the changes in leadership that have weakened Skate Canada, could have an impact this season IF Bobrova & Soliviev skate well. And that is that.

    1. Yep, I think this is correct. And the ISU is quite happy Skate Canada is weakened. Notice the COO is gone. Really, mostly the inmates left running the asylum - Debbi & Co. And a board that is mostly judges worried only about themselves. And look at the junior events, Canada is headed to oblivion.

    2. There is absolutely a hierarchy in USFS and ladies is absolutely at the top of that, followed by the men. If USFS could choose which gold medal to win, it would be Gold or Wagner in ladies, without a doubt.

      But let's face facts - DW are the only US skaters to have won a medal at Worlds this quad. Lysacek and Weir aren't coming back. They would take a second Lysacek gold over a DW gold too, but they're not living in fantasyland.

      DW are the only contenders from the United States with any chance of an Olympic gold medal in figure skating. Period. That means all of the resources are behind them. They'll take what they can get. No, they never cared about ice dance before (they don't about it now either), but they had strong singles skaters then. Asia has really taken over in singles and for a while in pairs with the Chinese. USFS is a business. They recognize they're losing ground in singles and pairs. Ice dancing never caught on in Asia, and was always a Russian stranglehold, but that's been weakened now that many of the Russian coaches are in the US. It makes perfect sense that they've moved towards ice dancing as the prime place to peddle their skaters.

      It's a business/marketing move. They recognized a weak market (ice dance) and they are trying to get a market share there. That's why there's a huge push for DW. It's nothing against VM, per se. They just happen to be the ones in the way. If it were a Russian team they had to dethrone, it might be harder, only because the Russian fed would fight harder than SC.

    3. 9:10, the USFSA is known to be notorious with the politicking despite trying to play innocent like they do no such thing.

    4. 9:34 - what is "COO"? Chief Operating Officer? Do you mean that as separate from the departure of William Thompson as CEO, the fact that the post was left empty for a long time, and then the installation of a Canadian Tire marketing guy as CEO?

    5. Yes, a Cheryl McEvoy. I have a friend who coaches who is more tied in. Apparently also lost a number of strong lower level staff in the last year.

      Looks like a deliberate weakening of staff by the new President who is apparently tied into the ISU. Apparently the coaches think she is a crap skater who became a mediocre judge and is out for herself.

      The coach also told me that he heard that the old CEO had had enough of this. Wanted under performers gone and saw the problems but was not given the power to deal with it. So got tired of being the fall guy for everything else. But since he left, the tailspin has started.

    6. 2:16, thanks for the clarification. Interesting about Thompson considering that he was publicly tagged with the hiring of Debbi Wilkes, and whatever power Wilkes has or hasn't (I tend to think not much), she's representative of not just an under-performer, but a do nothing. She was never going to be anything but a do nothing - she wasn't qualified for the original position she was hired to perform, and never intended to do it.

      My first reaction to the hiring of the new president was in line with what you report is the reaction of some coaches, simply because it was reported that she was "so passionate" about wanting to be president despite living outside of Canada. An emotion-based rationale always raises a red flag for me with Skate Canada. That she was a judge at 4CC's also made me uncomfortable. Along with the installation of a Canadian Tire marketing guy as CEO, this had, to me, the hallmarks of installing someone else who saw Skate Canada as a platform for self-aggrandizement.

    7. The old Thompson is an interesting one. He didn't need the job. According to my friend, he stepped right back into the private corporate world. This got me wondering so I looked back at the press from years ago. If you look back at the timing, Wilkes was hired before Thompson. She was fall 2006 and he was at the end of 2006. I think he got stuck with her and had to make the best of it. I'm thinking quite a few of the things he is tagged with, he was not the initiator.

      My friend said that he was quite willing to go into the rinks and try to help the athletes with there programs and performances and elevating themselves. I think he just got fed up, didn't need the BS (given his profession) and said fuck this.

      Regardless, we are now with a crap new President, a CEO who doesn't know anything and results going down the toilet. Look at the junior grand prix results. For sure, winning junior worlds doesn't mean everything but aside from dance, canada has no man in the top 10, may have a lady, will barely have a pair in the top 10 (PATHETIC!!! given the number of pairs in the world) and may have 1 lady. And even there, way off world standard.

      If you think things are bleak now with VM (clearly the best team by a mile in the world and clearly getting fucked by the ISU and the new Skate Canada administration who are only worried about their status in the ISU), just wait until after Sochi.

      Remember, this is the same Skate Canada administration who just thought a meeting at the Chateau Laurier was a good idea. No entitlement there!!!

    8. In this link:

      Thompson is already CEO when Debbi was brought aboard. I know I've read this elsewhere because the blog has a post quoting CEO Thompson upon her hire. Those remarks are also in the link:

      "Debbi brings with her such a wealth of experience and expertise from so many areas in the sport of figure skating. From her work at CTV/TSN, to her role as a team leader, to her knowledge as a technical specialist and, of course, her experience as an elite athlete, Debbi is a tremendous asset to our organization. She is universally respected throughout the figure skating community."

      Thompson was, at the time, "acting" CEO. But he was already there, before Wilkes.

    9. Also, I have to disagree about your statement that they'll barely have a pair in the top ten. Duhamel Radford are the reigning world bronze medalists and MTM finished fourth at worlds. That's much much better than "a" pair in the top ten. That's two pairs, one on the podium, in the top five. That's about on par with the best of Canada's pairs tradition.

    10. Finally, whatever Thompson is saying now, it's not unusual for someone to get out before the day of reckoning, leaving others holding the bag. For someone like him, who didn't "need" the job, he's perfectly positioned to get out and then point the fingers at the people left behind. It doesn't mean he's not responsible for what went down at Skate Canada. It means he saw the writing on the wall, knew the shit would hit the fan at some point, and because he didn't need Skate Canada to earn a living, he got out while the getting was good.

      He'd already gotten out of it what most of the "name" directors appear to want out of it - self-aggrandizement. Not all of them, perhaps, are is his position of not needing the money, so they're sticking around and continuing to bleed out of it what they can, ride that horse til it drops dead beneath them - pick your analogy.

    11. If you read my post, I was referring to the junior pairs not current senior pairs. For sure the current seniors are doing well but they are nearing the end of their careers. My point was that there is nothing coming up behind them. Look at the junior pairs rankings on the ISU site. That is where there should be concern about the future.

      As for the rest, your view doesn't match what I've heard via the coach. There was never any indication Thompson is saying anything now. But that is your opinion and there is no way to reach any conclusion based on fact here. The main point being that I think there is way more power being wielded by faceless "volunteers" [mostly judges] than people realize. And these people are never held accountable and some attention should be focused there.

  23. Of course USFS is "pushing" for Davis and White. That means a few more articles in a few more media, a few more TV appearances. That is NOT politicking, it is simply PR; after all, V/M are getting an entire series in Canada. Big deal. Icenetwork, the Detroit FREEP et. al. can write anything they like, and all it will do is rouse ire here and in the FSU uber thread.

    The real stuff goes on at competitions, at meetings, at parties, etc. Here, USFS skills are woefully lacking. Unfortunately for V/M and Chan, Skate Canada is no longer too good, either. Composition of judging panels - discussions on skill sets -- words passed that "it's a shame V/M are degrading technically; did you notice?" -- all that comes from Moscow. Reading most of the posts here proves few of you know much about the ISU's inner workings. It is true USFS is notorious for politicking -- it is notoriously POOR at politicking.

    1. If that's what's up Russia needs to get its people on board because the message from Russia is that VM are much better ice dancers and skaters than DW.

    2. Yeah, right. Nothing Russia, i.e. Zhulin, says publically matters. Neither he nor the federation cares who is better, VM or DW. You don't get it. You've got this one message, and you're sticking to it.

      It is absolutely true Russia may fail to secure a higher medal; look what happened to Soloviev at the Grand Prix Final. But I guarantee, the Russians (along with Didier) are trying.

    3. 10:50, you're right about what politicking really is, but why do you think the USFS is incapable of that? D&W are the ones in the ISU promotional videos now, not Bobrova & Soloviev. The ISU dropped the CDs. The last two compulsory patterns were selected to favor D&W (Yankee Polka and Finnstep). The ISU experimented with adding hip hop as an option for the SD on the junior level, and its communication linked to two SYTYCD programs as examples.

      Whom is all of that supposed to benefit, if not US ice dancers?

      The US can absolutely help drive these conversations. The caller was the same at SLC and Finlandia, but both comps had American assistant technical callers. Rest assured there was a pre-event meeting at Finlandia in which they discussed that they had to really crack down here.

      If the Russians are so powerful now, where were the Russians on the podium at Moscow Worlds? Oh that's right, there were two American teams there. The Russians just won their first World medal in ice dance since 2009, and barely (4th in the FD). Their teams finished 5th and 6th last year in GPF. In Sochi.

      Obviously Russia is very involved in political conversations, but they haven't been on that level since 2006. It's clear to me when looking at the scores right now that they have placed their eggs in the pairs basket as USFS has done with dance and Canada with the men. I actually think Russia WOULD be ok with just an ice dance bronze in Sochi because they're grasping for that as it is. They don't want to finish off the podium for the first time ever. The Russians know quality, and all of the best Russian skaters have been uniform in their praise for VM's skills. Even Zhulin can't say anything good about his own skaters, BS, other than they work hard.

    4. 11:09, I'm sure the Russians are trying, as are the French, but that does not mean the Americans are not trying, and clearly they are the most successful. Unless you really believe DW are that good.

    5. For the sake of discussion and buying into your perspective 11:09, you're saying the Russian agenda is gold, the podium, or booting VM down to bronze? What are you saying in terms of results?

      If, for example, the Russians are looking at silver, that means the USFSA are politicking very successfully, because obviously it is VM they're looking to kick downstairs, not DW.

    6. Yes, obviously the Russians' best hope for gold is pairs. My eyes are rolling down the street at the JCS selection for VT, I hate the music, in terms of cuts I don't see how a JCS program that focuses on "Magdalena and JC" omits the most popular melody (i.e., "I don't know how to love him") but I think S&S are up against it. Their choreography is more challenging but they, so far, can't match the speed, power, and ice coverage of VT. And there's no element that S&S perform that isn't matched or exceeded by VT. As good as S/S are, it's a large burden for S/S to put on choreography.

  24. Meryl and Charlie--- such "gangstas." They know what life is like on the mean streets! They've seen the movie "Eight Mile," and it, like, totally influences their skating, because they are, like, FROM Detroit! (sort of----does growing up half an hour away count?) And they're doing a Persian dance, with real Persian dance movements!