With thanks to canadablue:
You look at the comparison between these teams and it's obvious Paul/Islam didn't arrive at this level of skating yesterday. They've gotten stronger, but they had this talent and have been attentive to the fact that their discipline is ice DANCE and all the nuances of technique and bladework that that entails since their partnership began.
And yet it appeared to me at times, particularly last year, as if Skate Canada would have preferred they'd go away, or at least not do well, because they threatened Skate Canada's promotion of Gilles/Poirier. That's nuts but that's how it looked.
When Skate Canada was in the midst of its Gilles/Poirier promotional frenzy, it didn't seem as if they lifted a finger to get opportunity for Paul/Islam, a team with no reason to take a back seat to Gilles/Poirier in any respect, a team of ice dancers whose ice dance skills and multidirectional bladework done in and out of hold is substantially more developed than Gilles/Poirier's. It was as if Skate Canada wanted us to ignore them, lest anything distract from Piper & Paul.
I don't understand that thinking. Even the "error prone" knock against Paul/Islam doesn't hold water. They're a developing team. They're not going for gold. Patrick Chan fell on his ass left and right in the quad before this and he didn't have a different kind of quad (jump) either, and nobody thought well, he chokes, let him fend for himself. This (and last season, and prior seasons) is the TIME for Paul/Islam to make mistakes, to have bad competitions; that's how you learn what you need to have good competitions, so when their quad arrives, they're experienced.* But you need opportunity. Skate Canada was able to create opportunity out of thin air for Gilles Poirier (freaking TEB gala last year).
Part of the problem is the system, but, to repeat, Skate Canada prioritized opportunity for Gilles/Poirier last season and didn't lift a finger for P/I. And we can see from this comparison it certainly isn't about the skating.
I don't understand the thinking, unless one looks where it's often worthwhile to look where Skate Canada is concerned - at the directors who show every sign of being more interested in feathering their own nests than in supporting their skaters. If there's nothing in it for the directors personally, the skaters go under a bus (even Virtue Moir have experienced this it seems).
(So naturally, one wonders what IS and what WAS in it for Debbi Wilkes & Co. to fall over themselves promoting Gilles/Poirier. Paul Poirier was part of a strong team with his previous partner, but Skate Canada has eyes, and, except for when they can fake it at home, they knew damn well he couldn't skate well enough for two right off the bat.).
When we look at this comparison, clearly there is no skating reason to favor Gilles/Poirier over Paul/Islam. By "skating reason" I mean level of ability, quality of technique. Where they are as a team at this point in time, their place in the competitive picture.
I don't see the U.S. throwing pairs team Donlon Speroff under the bus. That's a gorgeous team in every way with a big gap where her jumps (and sometimes her throw landings, and sometimes his jumps) belong. Easy to write them off as beautiful no-hopers, but, lo and behold, they won Ice Challenge and she was actually in the neighborhood of clean. It's taken time (and as pairs seems more and more a sport for thirtysomethings, they have the time). When she struggled, they weren't banished to their training center.