The sport has always been political, but in elevating D/W to the top the way it did, it took the only pure thing the sport had going for it - the actual skating - and bastardized it. In the past, some skaters/teams certainly won on account of political wrangling, but NEVER were attempts made to redefine or obliterate the definitions of every aspect of the skating in order to justify the elevation of one skater/team over another. Until now. Comments section, February 19, 9:08 p.m.*****
It's more athletically demanding to be artistic and to have the proper components. We've packed that program full of technically hard elements with extremely demanding transitions....The bolded sentences in both quotes, especially.
You have to be more of an athlete to be able to execute that.
I still love this free dance. It is a really difficult program to perform and the last minute is really demanding and to finish like that it was special.
Listening to Virtue and Moir's press conference, it almost seems as if everybody thinks they're being daring by discussing the actual skating. But not too much. Even while emphasizing the difficulty of being "artistic" and having proper components, making it implicit that this is what their competition does NOT do, Scott shrunk from being explicit. Must not discuss the skating of their opponents. Where else does this happen in freaking SPORT? Where you have to act like it's a pageant - or at least the Canadian side does. The U.S. side can have it both ways.
Also, that's some very emphatic stuff from Scott. How come in the reality show we had to hear how subpar, underperforming, uncertain and up against it they were? Wouldn't it have been helpful if, in the reality show, the fact that it was more athletically demanding to be artistic and do the proper components had been emphasized so this fact would reach a wider audience? They just spent episode after episode acting like they sucked, didn't trust themselves, had no faith in themselves, and were worried about beating freaking Weaver & Poje. Throughout their reality show we heard NONE of this (well, the Marina stuff, not the stuff about how strong they knew their programs were, and that they fully understood what it demonstrated about their athleticism and their skating skills, and why it then deserved to be rewarded. It was a CANADIAN FREAKING NETWORK, but no. We had to hear that they thought they were BAD and DW were perfect.)
The Marina stuff feels like reality show to me. She can't split herself in two. She had three teams, two of them American. That appears to me to have been the deciding factor in the opening ceremonies. It also is contradictory to say "Needs to bring her A game" in one breath and the next say she pours her heart into your choreography, every note in the free is handcrafted, and you still love it.
THEN WHAT'S THE PROBLEM?
It was unbelieveable to me, however, the yay Skate Canada. On its face, in public, Skate Canada has enabled the selling out of Virtue and Moir to Davis & White. I say don't crawl into their heads with Marina, so I won't crawl into their heads with Skate Canada and assume they don't know what's going on, but their Federation has done them no favors, and their Federation is not a neutral, let the chips fall where they may entity. The Federation is supposed to advocate for them, and only them. Not the Americans. It didn't.
Can any ice dancers even pretend to believe their protocols after this? Look at the pcs up there (and review the KP calls in the short). It's fiction.
Although we've known this was coming pretty much since last season, and particularly after the Letter of Inquiry following the interruption in Carmen, and we knew definitively after the Grand Prix Final that there was nothing Scott and Tessa could do, or DW NOT do, to win, this thing still leaves a stench that's not going away.
What this sport did was spit on itself. It made a DECISION to do so. It's more than awarding a dumbed down, tricked out, politically enabled dance team. In order to do that the sport had to turn around and intentionally repress every single standard of the sport, everything it tells the world ice dance ought to be, everything it has said figure skating is meant to be, down to what is stroking, what are edges, what is speed, what is rhythm - down to every fundamental, this sport repressed the team that fulfills/executes the defined standards of this sport better than anybody before and likely, better than anybody since, in order to reward a team that faked it. It's not just that DW were given a gold medal (they certainly did not win it). It's what the sport did to itself - pretty much shat itself - sorry - to get it done.
Some people complain about - isn't there going to be an investigation?
This was happening in plain sight for almost two years. Not just the elevation of Davis White, but the suppression of Virtue Moir. Everybody saw it coming. If anybody was interested in investigating/stopping, they'd have done it a long time ago.
But as soon as Skate Canada gave the green light, why would anybody bother? Skate Canada left the doors unlocked, the lights on and the safe open.
It looks to me as if Virtue and Moir had resolved to be at peace with the results, but it's turning out to be a little more of a task than they expected.
As usual, everybody is focusing on coaching (and Virtue and Moir re-affirmed their faith in Marina after going overly-reality show in post-competition remarks), and not focusing on Federations.
One timeline as I remember it is Marina mentioned in a Vancouver-era interview that the USFSA gave her the third degree about Phantom - wanting to know why Virtue Moir got Mahler and Davis White got seemingly overused, second hand goods.
In 2011-2012, the USFSA kicked Le Strada to the curb and Marina had to set the program to new music with different timing. The USFSA knew what it was doing with Davis White. The USFSA knew what it was aiming to pull off with Davis White.
Meantime, in 2009-2010, Skate Canada assured us that the judging was going to be pristine in Vancouver.
In 2010-2011 Skate Canada proactively pushed Scott and Tessa's lies at us.
And after that, VM were somehow dumped.
Tessa and Scott have never played ball in the same way Davis White have played ball; this is a very petty, obviously 100% political-is-personal and vice versa sport, and maybe some people thought Virtue and Moir were uppity - even in their own Federation.
In 2011-2012 Skate Canada threw Tessa and Scott under the bus at Canadians (Funny Face), and had nothing to say about Funny Face versus Die Fleudermaus - it was all about promoting Gilles & Poirier.
In 2012-2013 Skate Canada threw Scott and Tessa under the bus at Canadians and then backed it up and ran it over them a few times and played "me too" with the ISU by downgrading a key element, forcing VM to rework it and use another. That's the ISU's game - suddenly Skate Canada was playing.
It had nothing to say when mud was slung at Virtue and Moir after the 4CC's interruption. Nor after the Letter of Inquiry from the ISU.
IOW, Skate Canada said to the ISU and the judges at large - do what you want with them. We won't protest. We'll help when we can.
It let Virtue and Moir swing in the wind.
The USFSA, meantime, to say the LEAST, was busy protecting Davis White, from awarding them monstrously inflated scores at every Nationals to dumping the team (Shibutanis) that had been nipping at their heels in 2011.
Skate Canada had nothing to say after the Grand Prix Final 2014 when the ISU hijacked VM's scores, gave them to Davis White and added a bonus so Davis White could win, even though Virtue and Moir had resoundingly defeated Davis White on the ice.
There's more - the U.S. had no problem whatsoever taking potshots at Virtue and Moir (go back and read ice network), while Skate Canada fell over itself promoting the notion that Davis White versus Virtue Moir was "apples and oranges" or a matter of preference, or too close to call because Davis White were superb.
Skate Canada has no conflict of interest. Skate Canada isn't supposed to promote U.S. skaters. Skate Canada spent as much time promoting Meryl and Charlie as being on par with Virtue Moir as it did promoting Virtue Moir - actually much more time, because it didn't promote Virtue Moir at all.
Did the USFSA show respect in turn, acknowledge Virtue Moir as incredible skaters and dangerous rivals?
Virtue Moir who?
It's fine if people want to spit and hiss at Marina Zoueva, who gave Virtue Moir much better programs than the dumbed down reheated material she gave Davis White every year, but I find it outright bizarre that the one entity that is meant to promote Virtue Moir and ONLY Virtue Moir - did worse nothing. Washed their hands. Touted the American rivals. Didn't utter a peep after Virtue and Moir were ripped off at the Grand Prix Final.
What did Mike Slipchuck say after the Sochi free dance? He sounded like freaking Prime of Miss Jean Brodie: "For those who find the results questionable, those will be questionable results."
But never mind, these things happen. (Paraphrasing)
And that was ONLY after the free dance. He couldn't bring himself to question the seven point differential in the team event. After all, Virtue and Moir made a visible wobble and we all know Davis and White made no mistakes, except they did, as they do every single time.
Thanks Mike. I can't wait to hear the fuming from SC next time RUSSIA does something. Since the L'Equipe article came out, again, it was Canada blaming RUSSIA and running interference for the U.S., because it looks to me as if Skate Canada loves Meryl and Charlie as much as the USFSA does.
If you want to visualize Virtue and Moir as trying to keep a lid on their anger while steam keeps escaping, we can see that their reality show sales job is starting to fray. Scott mentioned that since the reality show, they're used to "playing for the camera" and that he and Tessa did it on cue after seeing DW's scores. Playing for the camera? What's that Scott?
They always do this. They get in front of the camera and assert that they're the most honest genuine straight up open and transparent duo ever to draw breath, then they stand on the sidelines doing running commentary, helpfully pointing out the bullshit we may have missed. What have they knocked/mocked so far since the free dance? Hall & Oates. Being really real in front of the camera. Scott rooting only for Canadian sports teams.
(For years Scott pretended he roots for no American teams, suddenly he proactively outs himself as a Red Wings fan - a freaking American HOCKEY team. We all knew it, but he'd never admit it. Now he volunteers it.)
Scott also suddenly knows Tessa's favorite television shows, music, etc.
It says something about this "sport" that it will engineer a scheme to award Olympic ice dance gold to the US team in the same era the greatest ice dance team of all time is competing, a team that twice in a row destroyed the US team on the ice and still were only allowed to receive the silver medal.
I hope the petty bureaucrats and self-dealing homers that got this done are prepared to deal with the fallout because there will be fallout. The reason this can get done in ice dance is that ice dance is about skating skills, and the once every four years public isn't supposed to be able to tell good skating skills from bad skating skills. Except this time, they did and could and the public knows what happened. We could see the game plan - give DW a track record so nobody would question when they won again, when it really counted.
The problem is a billion people watched the Sochi ice dance competition and didn't give a shit that DW had been beating VM in the past, on the ice in front of their faces they saw a team that was conspicuously, blatantly, clearly, obviously, SKATING much better than the other team, and losing. That same audience can figure that's how DW won in the past.
That's how much better VM are than DW. The whole - create momentum - let's create a scoring pattern/precedent - did nothing to make viewers believe their eyes were lying watching the ice dance event in Sochi.
P.S. The following is my impression:.
This "gold" is a notch on the USFSA bedpost, PERIOD. Davis White aren't as popular as Virtue and Moir, not even in the U.S. One of the biggest fallacies ever, promoted on message boards in particular, is that Davis and White are "crowd pleasing". Davis and White haven't been crowd pleasing since Die Fleudermaus. Prior to that, they were crowd pleasing with Bollywood.
I believe there are as many skating fans in the U.S. pissed off at this result as there are skating fans pissed off in Canada and points overseas and further south.
There's always been a sort of fallacious reverse zero sum with the marketing of Davis White - they may not be sophisticated, so they must be "crowd pleasing." No. They're not "smooth" so they must be the more athletic. No, what Virtue and Moir do takes more athleticism. They have no control, so they must be fast. No, Virtue and Moir are faster.
It might not seem "fair" that Virtue and Moir are better at every point, but Virtue and Moir ARE better at every point. Leagues better. Scott has faster feet than Charlie and better blade run too.
I read something interesting at fsuniverse - of course nobody took it and ran, but it did make me think a little bit. Somebody said nobody objected to the ascension of Davis and White, even though it was the ascension of fake skating (that's my interjection) until they started beating Virtue and Moir. IOW, somebody should have cried foul when they beat Belbin & Agosto, when they started reliably burying - not just winning, burying - teams on the international circuit. I agree, it should have been called out in its own right, not just vis a vis Virtue Moir. That a non-skating PACKAGE was hustled for two years and then railroaded in Sochi.
We can't call it a "hustle" in Sochi - it was daylight robbery. Nobody got hustled. Everybody had no choice but to stand and watch. But, we all saw it coming and we all watched it happen, knowing what was happening while it was happening, and Skate Canada helped.
And it's another one of those fun skating things - THEY know we know.
P.P.S. I want to reprint this from the comment at 4:29pm in the post below this one.
That V/M "literally did nothing" is both true and untrue. Their skating is pure, but that doesn't mean they haven't benefited from the cancerous system in which they've skated for all these years. They have. The system turned against them. Instead of calling that out and explaining that their sport does that to skaters - it facilitates their victories but can also turn around and fuck them up the ass when it wants to - they let the story revolve around the relationship with their coach. Which isn't to say that isn't part of their story, but so much of success in ice dance depends on the PR narratives that drive it forward. D/W's narrative won out. V/M's narrative was focused on selling lies about their personal life and "letting the skating speak for itself." The first part is bullshit, the second part I agree with. But if you're going to go with the second part, and train with the coach who also happens to train your biggest competition, and then lose because you won't sell out your skating (which is commendable), you can't go throw your coach under the bus and not expect that to play bad in the press. She got on board the "we won't sell out our skating" with them, and then it plays like they sold her out in the aftermath.
The question of whether changing coaches would have mattered, or if their own coach could have done more for them, etc. - any attempts to lay blame or say "if things had gone differently," or "if they'd done this instead of that," are useless. They miss the reality of what is happening. The entire sport is infected by an aggressive and terminal cancer. All of the "what ifs" or "maybe that's" are like treatments everybody knows deep down won't save the patient's life but will only prolong the suffering.and 2:12pm, below.
For the past 48 hours, V/M have looked lost and defeated. They can claim they're resigned to the results and maybe they are, but that doesn't mean they aren't still hurt by them. Thing is, though, they've been part of that system all this time. They've benefited from it in the past. It turned on them.
They grew their programs beautifully. They got to GPF and outskated D/W. They still lost. If they or their coach had spoken out then, and claimed a fix was in, would it have mattered? Wouldn't they have been further beaten down for speaking out? They tinkered with their programs in an effort to fix any issues they believed (or were told) they had, and look what it got them: a five point deficit in the overall individual event at the Olympics. It wouldn't have mattered what they did in the end. They were destined to lose no matter what they are or their coaches tried to do. Maybe Marina was right to want them to stick as closely to the original vision of the program as possible. I know that doesn't mesh with the mentalities of fierce competitors, though. So I can understand the frustration V/M probably felt. But they were all up against the fucking wall. They didn't have the political power to overcome it, period. Even if they'd switched coaches, that lack of political power would have remained because V/M aren't American and it was the USFSA's turn to get the gold in ice dance.Their FEDERATION should have spoken out. Their Federation was too busy proclaiming the system was fair. Skate Canada is complicit in this defeat. It helped lay the groundwork. It participated in DW's getting gold.
A component - no double meaning intended - of the system was toying with, undermining Virtue Moir season after season. As Beverly Smith said "It's always something." Their own Federation got in on the act twice in a row for the team's biggest showcase before the sport's biggest event. It shat on them before Worlds 2012. And last year it not only lowballed the scores, it gutted an element. The very fucking thing the ISU loved to do to VM.
The game is systematic. Look at that idiot, Lynn Rutherford, linking to an article that said because VM have had a pattern of getting L3 on the Finn Step, the call of L3 on the Finn Step in Sochi was likely justified. Really? How about this Lynn, that it was the previous L3's that weren't justified? And if a flat or shallow edge gets L3, how come time after time Meryl Davis's flats and shallow edges got L4?
Past protocols justify present protocols. That was understood when the past protocols were CREATED for VM. Dock VM on the Finnstep KPs. Ignore Meryl Davis on the Finnstep kp. Voila - a track record in the protocols.
The whole system is working hard hard hard to take the narrative away from the skating. Don't look at skating, look at numbers. Don't critique the numbers!
EVERYBODY was in on it, everybody who worked to promote or comment on ice dance this season and last.
I really wouldn't worry about the pushback trying to paint VM as whiners. Sale & Pelletier were painted as martyrs on the cover of Time magazine and even today people kind of cringe when they try to make Salt Lake City a scandal, because all anybody has to do is go to youtube to put that to rest. B&S were that much better than S&P. The public narrative limps along, but there's no conviction behind it.
BTW - it's a sign of just how undeserving, how BAD, DW are that once the fix was in there was no more trading off victories, no more "rivalry". Virtue and Moir had to absolutely be SMOTHERED, not allowed to win at all. There would already be so much doubt where it should count - on the ice, that there was no room for doubt in the record.