Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Perception is reality

 
My sympathies, but the real crime was in ice dancing.
For more than a week, I've been writing, then tossing, a bunch of half-written posts about the recent ISU vote to keep figure skating judging anonyous.There was nothing to say that isn't self-evident, or that's how it felt when attempting to bang out a few remarks about the results. Among those in the media who weighed in, the most frustrating take was Beverly Smith's.

Here's Beverly Smith's article:

Beverly Smith fails to get down to business

In my preliminary post efforts, I kept circling, but not nailing down, what really bugs about Smith's article, apart from the fact that this is the sole knowledgeable legit media figure skating writer who has called out Davis White's skating, and yet her article on the ISU vote is a waste of time. It never gets to the heart of the actual problem with anonymous judging. Then, I got it. She's disingenuous.

Smith employs a bunch of rhetorical questions such as - why would such and such a country vote for anonymous judging? Do they think this or that? Do they perceive the situation thus and such instead of thither and yon? It's hard to comprehend, bemoans Smith.

Spare me. Smith is a smart woman. She knows that voting itself is political. The USFSA can cover itself in sanctimony while voting "No" to anonymous judging now that Meryl and Charlie have won an ice dance gold medal thanks to anonymous judging. That's political. That's voting theatre. Same with Korea calling out the ISU then rushing to safety by voting to keep anonymous judging.

Smith's questions show a reluctance to acknowledge that figure skating is as corrupt as it is, and, more disappointing from Smith, as corrupt outside of Russia as it is. Her perspective appears to be that figure skating has wandered down a path that leads people to perceive that it's untrustworthy, and anonymous judging reinforces that unfortunate perception. Even though, and apart from Russia, of course, figure skating is totally trustworthy, because Smith never gets around to saying it's not. Surely if figure skating weren't on the up and up, she'd be able to produce a few non-Russian examples of dubious results. She's not saying, after all, that the ISU's inability to keep Russia on the straight and narrow is the problem with figure skating today. She's saying anonymity is.

All of which makes me wonder why she bothered writing her eulogy for the Sochi ice dance outcome. That's where a set of imposter American ice dancers were handed a gold medal over the Canadian team that actually won the event.

As the Olympic figure skating competition got underway, Smith observed that Davis and White were constantly scored higher than Virtue and Moir despite core deficiencies in Davis and White's skating, deficiencies that violate the standards and criteria set down in CoP. However, the reason this situation came to pass is apparently a big mystery. Smith never asked the basic journalistic questions of who, what, when, where, why.

Was Russia behind it? I don't think Smith believes that. Then who is behind it? How did it happen? A bunch of well-meaning judges, technical specialists, referees, and Federations honestly assessed Meryl and Charlie's wide-stepping, slow, posing, two-footed, blade-flatting jungle-gymnastics as meeting CoP criteria better than Virtue and Moir? Not possible. Amateurs can see Meryl and Charlie blatantly flout CoP. Did Smith think it was purely coincidence, or the fault of Marina/Virtue Moir that every single season, at the last possible second, a key, showcase element/component in Virtue and Moir's programs had the rug pulled out from under it by the nebulous ISU grapevine?

This scoring could not be done without the blessing of David Dore nor without deals and influence peddling by the USFSA. Nor without the cooperation of Skate Canada. The Wizard of Oz didn't give Davis White unearned scores and unearned wins over the past quad. It was people. Powerful people in the ISU, USFSA and Skate Canada.

I'm over the "Bad Russia" narrative. Smith disappoints when she pretends amazement that Russia voted to abolish anonymous judging. Russia has benefitted from anonymous judging more than anyone, she seems to imply. If that's her belief, why did she ever bother lamenting the Sochi ice dance results, and Meryl and Charlie's Grand Prix final victories? Who does she think got that done? Russia? A bunch of well-meaning judges? If everybody but Russia is well-meaning, then what's the difference if judging is anonymous or not? Everybody's acting in good faith regardless!

Smith is challenged to distinguish between actual issues and perceived issues. The whole sport is. The whole sport weasels out of core issues by talking about perception, and dodging reality. The sport can't be trusted But why not? Just because the judging is anonymous and there's no accountability, it can't be trusted? Are there results in recent times that suggest anonymous judging enables unfair results? if so, how about mentioning a non-Russian example? If Russia is the seat of corruption, why not call for the ISU to police the Russian Fed, instead of calling for an end to anonymous judging?

People don't trust figure skating because it's not trustworthy. It's perceived as corrupt because it is corrupt. The cure for that is for the sport to conduct itself with integrity. Until that happens, everybody, including Smith, is going in circles.

43 comments:

  1. "People don't trust figure skating because it's not trustworthy. It's perceived as corrupt because it is corrupt. The cure for that is for the sport to conduct itself with integrity. Until that happens, everybody, including Smith, is going in circles."

    Nailed it. Couldn't say it any better than that.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I agree with anon at 5:52 pm - this is basically the no bullshit statement about figure skating. I just watched the two AGMs videos shared from Skate Canada about the team silver...nothing really interesting because naturally Skate Canada chose to show partial videos...typical...actually one thing that stood out from me was Megan Duhamel indicating that during their warm-up at the team event it was incredibly loud that they couldn't hear the announcers etc and that it was such a distraction..luckily she indicated they skated second in the group and were able to re-focus...and here I am thinking wow - were you guys surprised? Especially after Vancouver 2010 when anyone could see that the Olympics was a different animal in terms of figure skating...there was a reason why Marina Zoueva and Shpilband trained VM, DW and BA to skate their programs without barely hearing the music...possibly recreating the worst ice conditions by not always flooding the ice during practice...Zoueva might not be my favorite coach but she doesn't downplay the mental preparation...
    Anyways I digress...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. OC is correct that people in figure skating spend much of their time talking or writing about the public perception of the sport. They want to alter that perception, so they spend a lot of time explaining that figure skating is difficult, requires great physicality, is a wonderful hybridization of athleticism and artistry, and - most of all - is credible.

      Problem is, you can't try to convince people something is credible when it's NOT credible. The sport's defenders seem to believe the perception problem has everything to do with the public mistakenly believing it's too feminine (i.e., "not difficult," which is offensive in and of itself), or it's not a real sport because results are determined by a panel of judges. Except that's not why figure skating gets a bad wrap. The reason figure skating has an image problem isn't because it's a judged sport per se, but because it's run like the freaking mob.

      There is no public oversight. That is the root of the problem. The ISU does what it wants, when it wants, how it wants. If it didn't, why would it be okay for skaters to be told all season that a lift is legal but at the end of the season be told it's a "gray area" and might be called illegal? WTF is a "gray area?" How is that defined and why is it handed down in some "through the grapevine" type fashion? Why is that sort of thing acceptable in a supposedly legitimate sport? Why isn't it questioned?

      In her piece, Smith writes this: "We don’t know what this acceptable corridor was. Nor do we know which countries created it. In the old 6.0 days, the majority rule wasn’t always correct. A good referee would look at results of all judges and sometimes declare that a judge who was out of line had actually judged the event correctly and the others had missed it (or were perhaps colluding.) Everybody could learn how to be better from it."

      Learn to be better from it, how? WHERE is the public oversight? Is everyone supposed to just believe the referee determining the other judges aren't out of line is doing so correctly or fairly? THAT is the underlying problem that plagues figure skating.

      In non-judged sports, the oversight is visual. We can see if a ball is on the line, or if a player stepped out of bounds, or missed the base rounding first, etc. Occasionally, a referee might miss seeing it happen, but those instances are usually few and far between or they can be overturned with video evidence. Figure skating also HAS video evidence and a rulebook. Yet when a judging panel blatantly ignores that evidence, people in the sport have one or both of these reactions: they claim judges will sometimes get it wrong because it's an issue of subjectivity (in which case I have no idea why they have a rulebook at all if that's going to be their excuse), or they blame it on the Russians.

      Delete
    2. It's impossible to get rid of the subjectivity in figure skating, the point of a rulebook is to try to make judging somewhat objective instead of a complete free-for-all.

      The judges don't have the time to replay everything, they don't have time to apply every single criteria in the rulebook to every element. It's a hard job to do well, which is why reputation, official practices, political narratives, personal preference, crowd reaction can all impact even a well-meaning judge's scoring. Just as we tend to categorize people to make things easier for ourselves, judges will essentially pre-judge before the competition even starts, and that's how most politics work, influencing judges to "pre-judge" in your skater's favour.

      Not that there aren't also deals happening as well, but even if everything was completely transparent, you would still see an uproar over the results, partly because audiences are encouraged to see themselves as experts and their emotional reactions as good judging criteria. And partly because faillible humans are never as trustworthy as objective modes of measurement.

      Figure skating, while one of many judged sports, is the only one with grand ambitions of stardom and so they try the impossible balancing act of "it's totally a real sport!" and "these skaters were so much better, they perfomed with their heart and soul". They want the credibility of a sport governed by real rules but, at the same time, are afraid fans won't feel invested if the results can't be explained in emotional terms that they can easily understand. This is why, along with the extra politics, Olympic judging tends to favour the more exciting and accessible performances and programs. The audience is king, even if they have no idea what they're watching.

      I think they're going about it the wrong way. Train commentators to actually inform the public about technique and add, if they wish, their personal appreciation. Celebrate the fact that FS can be enjoyed on both levels but don't try to smudge them together. Make judging more transparent, not as a PR exercise, not only to improve its quality, but also to invite audiences into the FS world, to connect them to something more tangible and believable than a nebulous cloud of emotion, excitement and drama.

      Figure skating is never going to be football or hockey but it's just as pointless to give up and accept secrecy as a necessary aspect of the sport. Guess what? People already think FS is "not a real sport". Addressing problems of politics and corruption isn't going to reveal some big secret, just like admitting there are gays in FS isn't going to be earth-shattering news to most. Audiences are smarter than the FS world think they are.

      Delete
    3. The ISU, the major federations, and the skating media don't give a shit about fans. They never have. Every time they mention that they want to increase fan interest, that's only to give the skating media something to write about -- and the media knows it. You know why they don't care? Because figure skating will always be a marquee sport in the Winter Olympics. That will never, ever, change, because there will always be women wanting to watch figure skating once every four years.

      In the other three years, the ISU and the federations want figure skating to be below the radar, because it's a sport that favors the elite, and the elite are used to having rules bent for them. It's a small club, and if there are too many fans that are allowed in, it messes it up for the people already in. Everyone within the skating world knows that. If (amateur) skating had a chance to be as big as hockey or American football, the ISU and the feds would turn down the opportunity.

      Delete
    4. Bringing this over from a comment under the previous entry:

      "- Was there a non-disclosure form for all FS commentators to never critize DW."

      Besides all the other points Beverly doesn't confront head on, this is another one no one wants to talk about. Every other team is fair game, even the Russians. Every bobble is scrutinized. Every deduction played up and analyzed. How is it DW didn't get the same treatment?

      As this last quadrennial progressed, the praise for DW kept getting louder even as their skating was actually regressing; even as each season they ended with weaker performances instead of stronger. VM, otoh, kept receiving the narrative of a team working through "difficulties" and needing "to fix the levels" or in need of fixing some minute detail, even as their skating, unlike DW's, was getting stronger and better not only every season but from the beginning to the end of each season their programs get better and better. VM are superior to DW in every detail but that was never brought up. It was the other way around. It was framed AS IF Tessa/Scott were the ones playing catch-up to DW's perfection. It's outrageous such a narrative was ever put in place and everyone played along.

      Hell yes, it looks like the ISU (or DW's people) were able to scare everyone away from any DW criticism. Someone needs to ask if the commentators had to sign some kind of non-disclosure of criticism toward DW. Meryl/Charlie's trajectory was corrupt from the moment they joined the senior ranks. It's a scandal. But no one in legit media is allowed to say so. Why is that?

      Another thing. 12:41 wants to give judges the benefit of the doubt, bringing up how little time there is to watch replays, how human it is to depend on the established narratives. The thing is, it's their job as judges in a subjective sport to know the rules and apply them consistently to all teams, regardless of "reputation." It's their job to know and understand the fundamentals of good, proficient skating and dancing. It's the fans who confuse reputation or narratives with good skating. In that case, just choose a panel of fans before each competition and let them decide. What do you need the judges for?

      The judges allow themselves to be bought and corrupted. That was more than evident this last quadrennial in ice dance.

      Delete
    5. I, too, would like to know why DW are singular in the history of skating, not just ice dance, as being immune to criticism. Everyone else in all 4 disciplines has been called out for something at some point in time. It's a lot like how if you just look at the scores it looks like DW never had a bad skate or an off day.

      "Another thing. 12:41 wants to give judges the benefit of the doubt, bringing up how little time there is to watch replays, how human it is to depend on the established narratives. The thing is, it's their job as judges in a subjective sport to know the rules and apply them consistently to all teams, regardless of "reputation." It's their job to know and understand the fundamentals of good, proficient skating and dancing. It's the fans who confuse reputation or narratives with good skating. In that case, just choose a panel of fans before each competition and let them decide. What do you need the judges for?

      The judges allow themselves to be bought and corrupted. That was more than evident this last quadrennial in ice dance. "

      This. I understand that the judges don't have forever to judge a performance, but they're supposed to be trained, as was stated above, to know the rules and consistently apply them. Also, I don't care how much you want to insist the judges only have a limited time and how you can't remove subjectivity entirely, DW's skating was so bad that the complete disconnect between their skating and scores can be hand waved away by these notions. Seeing the deficiencies in DW's skating doesn't require a microscope or frame-by-frame analysis. It's obvious in real time. The only thing that accounts for the discrepancy between scores and performance is complete corruption.

      Delete
    6. "Seeing the deficiencies in DW's skating doesn't require a microscope or frame-by-frame analysis. It's obvious in real time. The only thing that accounts for the discrepancy between scores and performance is complete corruption."

      Yes. Not only that, the deficiencies in DW's skating are in fact *more* obvious when VM are in the same competition. And yet, DW were still handed higher scores. Any bobble of VM's notwithstanding, their overall far superior skating should still put them ahead of any of DW's clean, but inferior, programs.

      The magnitude of what the ISU pulled off for DW is breathtaking. Flagrant corruption. It's a disgrace.

      Delete
    7. "It's impossible to get rid of the subjectivity in figure skating, the point of a rulebook is to try to make judging somewhat objective instead of a complete free-for-all.

      The judges don't have the time to replay everything, they don't have time to apply every single criteria in the rulebook to every element. It's a hard job to do well, which is why reputation, official practices, political narratives, personal preference, crowd reaction can all impact even a well-meaning judge's scoring. Just as we tend to categorize people to make things easier for ourselves, judges will essentially pre-judge before the competition even starts, and that's how most politics work, influencing judges to "pre-judge" in your skater's favour."


      There's a misconception among too many people in the skating world that's become a gospel for them, which is that subjectivity = biased judging based on political narratives or aesthetic preferences that this is impossible to eliminate. That is flat out wrong.

      Subjectivity is a natural part of human nature, yes. That's why there is a rulebook and the judges are bound to abide by the criteria within it. It's not there for them to only sort of follow if there's time or they're feeling up to it. I've read the rulebook. It's not impossible to understand. With proper training and oversight, judges should be able to do so and apply it correctly within a very reasonable margin of error. If they can't, they don't need to be judging, period.

      If "it's a hard job to do well" is the rationale that's going to be thrown out there, then the logical consequence is that figure skating is not a credible sport. It's an athletic event where winners are not determined by their performances on the ice but by those performances combined with off-ice shenanigans (or the off-ice shenanigans only). In that case it's a theatrical-type game, not a credible sport.

      The reason non-judged sports were mentioned above was not to argue that figure skating could ever be exactly like them, but to point out that the kind of visual determinations built into those non-judged sports provide them with a kind of public oversight that is crucial to their credibility. There is no public oversight in figure skating. Directives are handed down to specific coaches and skaters through grapevines, behind-the-scenes rumor mills, etc. When scores given to skaters do not match up with the video evidence, that is generally dismissed by people within the sport and everyone is told to move on. Those who want to speak out are afraid to do so for fear of retribution or being accused of acting cocky. Skaters who win are expected to step aside for the teams behind them after a certain period of time.

      I've often heard the excuse/affirmation tossed around that there are politics in every sport. That's true. But even in the most political non-judged sports, what happens off the field/out of the rink - the unequal financial situations or power brokering that allows some teams to fill their rosters with more top talent than their competitors - does not change the fact that in order to win, a team or athlete must get it done on the field/court/rink. If you want to win a hockey game, you have to score the most goals. If you want to win in tennis, you have to beat the total number of points accumulated by your opponent, and so on.

      In figure skating, a skater doesn't have to get it done on the ice in order to win. All it takes is their federation/whoever else politicking for them to get it done OFF the ice, and anyone who protests corrupt results are labeled jealous, petty, out of touch, or powerless. When a scapegoat is needed, the Russians are blamed, even though corrupt practices permeate the sport at all levels and on every continent it exists, starting at the top and working its way down, through the federations, the officials, and outward through the media.

      Delete
    8. I completely agree with a lot of what has been said, but I do want to address one topic here... The whole argument of judges not being able to take forever to judge the performance and go back with the video replay frame by frame and check the rule book is crap. Not just anyone can be a judge. There are tests and training and accreditation and levels, just like there are for skaters to advance. We're talking about International judging here. This is the best of the best. These are not random people off the street, spouting their opinions. These are trained professionals who know the rulebook in and out, not only what it says and patterns, but new amendments, etc. They know the point system. Also, most of them are older. Not "can't see old", (although sometimes I wonder), but older in the sense they have been doing this and watching skating for years. If you know skating, you don't need a replay to tell you what edge someone is on, or how many revolutions and spin/lift has, etc. Not to mention basic skating skills, knee bend, deepness of edges, strength, power, agility, stability... You KNOW. It's something that is acquired with time. I've only done a little judging myself, but it's easy to know and pick up the rules when you've been trained in them. Also, most judges were/are skaters themselves. As a skater, even watching performances on tv the first time around I can see the things they're supposed to be picking out and scoring on. It's just something innate.
      Now, I will say that it is a little harder to watch live when someone is on the opposite side of the rink and you may not catch a quick detail... but this is where the replay comes in. There aren't going to be that many moments in reality. Certainly few enough that you can make a quick note to go back and look later, without missing the next element. At the end, during the minutes of bows and getting guards on and going to commercial break and hugging in the k&c, there is plenty of time to re-check then.
      Also, this is not the first time these judges have seen these programs! There are official practices, previous competitions, and other times where they may have been asked to give input or recommendations on these specific programs (not to mention being able to watch tapes from prior performances). They've also watched these skaters skate and perform for years and know exactly what their technique/ability levels are and what they're capable of and can see what improvements have been made. They know what it's supposed to look like. They have information sheets with the elements that are being done in the program and the levels they are supposed to be. This is not brand new information that they all the sudden have to take in at once and give a quick impression and judgement.
      I understand there is, and always will be, a subjective part to the sport. That's ok... but that's not going to have that much bearing on the large overall score. Furthermore, the scoring that has been in question (esp over the last quad) has not had to do with the subjectivity or "feeling" portion anyways. It's the levels achieved, deductions taken, lift legalities questioned, etc. The entire "everyone is good in their own way/just different/apples and oranges/subjective sport" arguments are clearly an excuse and cover-up, so the general public doesn't question the behind the scenes politics that result in pre-determined scores and results.

      It sucks as a skater, because most of the time going in you know exactly what's going to happen, but you do it because you love it and want to experience that high and show what you've been training for. There's always the hope that maybe this time they'll get it right...

      Delete
    9. Thank you 7:04 for the reminder of how much the international level judges really do know and understand. It's enough to make me weep. To think they all do see how terrible DW are and how magnificent VM are. They chose to give in to their mafia federations instead of properly rewarding the best icedance team in the history of the sport. IMO VM are even better than TD.

      It's the greatest travesty that DW should be touted as the elite standard in icedance. (Gag)

      Delete
    10. I hope there comes a day when my blood stops boiling over DW. I HATE THEIR "SKATING" SO MUCH----yet I somehow feel guilty for feeling such extremely negative feelings towards strangers. I may hate the ISU more than their skating though ...

      Delete
    11. CoP was put in, ostensibly, place to make figure skating judging more transparent, but a by-product - whether intended or not, but certainly one that has been acknowledged – is that ‘wait your turn’ became a thing of the past. Except, who knew – along comes an ice dance partnership for the ages. They win an Olympic Gold at the ages of 20 and 22 and suddenly, you’re looking at a possible near ten years of domination – ten years of skaters are going to have to ‘wait their turn’. And not only that, but what they do appears to be so far out of the wheelhouse of most skaters, how can a coach hope to get their own charges to a level that can compete? Were Tessa and Scott just too damn good, they had to be stopped? And no-one called it out, because they have their own interests?

      Delete
    12. I'm new to all this, but is it possible that the lowballing of VM and the inflation of DW is related to the sham? Obviously there are powers at work in the ISU beyond that... but to a certain extent, is the ISU holding its knowledge of VM's sham over their head - you want us to play your game, well then you play ours? The ISU could easily organise for the truth to be leaked so they're holding that power over VM, who knew going into Sochi that they couldn't win the gold?

      I don't know. I just think it's an interesting coincidence that the shammers are also the worst victims of the ISU's corruption.

      Delete
    13. @1:53

      I've seen previous speculation about this. How much, exactly, has the sham influenced any PTB in skating?

      IMO the decision to get DW to the top happened independently of VM. However, it's possible VM's sheninagans made it easier for judges to rationalize "punishing" them. Or perhaps VM's lies created a negative perception about them that made it easy to buy into other deliberate lies about their skating. Such as "rumours" that Virtue's legs were causing them to regress, or that VM weren't "meeting expectations" (whatever those are) in "hitting the right notes" (again, whatever that is).

      How the sham influenced skating politics for VM is speculation unless someone can say they know something for sure. Where I think the sham did have great negative fallout was that VM positioned themselves in such a way as to be powerless to fight back against the increasing stranglehold of DW's PR narratives.

      VM's PR, such as it is, is for the most part centered around false personal narratives. They don't treat the skating itself as important. It's all about sham and, consequently, hiding their true personal story, which leads to Moirville's involvement also revolving around sham instead of real, professional and positive PR for Tessa and Scott. Maybe in real life these people are nice and sincere and all that. But the sham *actions* give the perception of people with a chip on their shoulders. Of mean-girls cliques.

      Those surrounding Tessa and Scott who should have been working against the DW PR machine have been busy with sham instead of looking for all the possible legitimate avenues to highlight the SKATING. Looking for ways to say how VM were meeting all the COP criteria while DW were not. Most of those close to VM ran to shut down their social media accounts instead of using them as positive promotion and advertisement for VM.

      Look how active Charlie's Mom is on twitter, for example. That's very positive PR for her son and for DW the team. Not Moirville. Up to now, when they've been public on social media they're either participating in sham in a way that's mean toward the fans, or saying something foolish (like whining about scores or DW or gays) that only serves to undermine VM. Moirville knows so many important people in media, they had the ear of TPTB of Skate Canada. They had the most amazing platforms to educate the public about icedance and to play up all of VM's qualities as superior icedancers (keeping to the topic of them as *skaters*, there's never any need to get personal). Instead, during all of VM's years as seniors this great potential has been wasted on misguided, immature games. The level of moronic incompetence is astounding, and I think VM did pay a price in that no one in their corner fought back in a professional manner against DW's PR.

      Oh, but they did all get the message across that VM are platonic, that Scott has a working, heterosexual penis and that the fans are stupid and deserve to be lied to.

      Delete
    14. "... is the ISU holding its knowledge of VM's sham over their head - you want us to play your game, well then you play ours? The ISU could easily organise for the truth to be leaked so they're holding that power over VM, who knew going into Sochi that they couldn't win the gold?"

      I don't know if it's as personal as the ISU vs VM directly... however, since SC is so involved in (started?) the shamming and the ISU deals with the countries/federations' politics, I could definitely see them using that knowledge to keep SC in their place, punishing their "stars", VM. The ISU has the power, and they want to keep it and will wield it however they deem the most profitable for them.

      Delete
    15. 4:19
      The thing is, during this last quadrennial Skate Canada didn't look like a federation that was trying to politik for VM at all. If the ISU was "punishing" their stars, SC sure didn't look it mattered or they cared. They were too caught up in promoting darling Poirier. VM? VM who?

      It was SC's own national judges who undermined VM during every Nationals, giving the appearance they didn't really have confidence in them. That had to be a message that was received loud and clear on the international stage. Gilles/Poirier were consistently scored very close (to VM!! Heresy!) and any bobble of VM's was treated practically as if they'd fallen on their faces. Going by SC's scores at Canadians, you'd never know VM were the elite of the elite in the World, better than any previous team in the whole history of ice dance. Then of course you add in the way SC was on the bandwagon of DW and VM being equals, that it was "rude" to question any marks, etc. They were gladly throwing VM under the bus to promote Gilles/Poirier, DW, and anyone else over their own "stars."

      I guess I'm just not seeing that SC was chafing under any power of the ISU to hold VM down. SC was doing that more than anyone else. Heck, even many foreign commentators had better things to say about VM than their own federation.

      Delete
    16. Looking back, the plan to put DW on top of the podium in Sochi was in place going back to well before Vancouver and into the very earliest days of the sham. I think the sham may have made things easier to railroad at certain points, but I also think that even if VM had never hidden their true status and there had never been a sham that DW on top of Sochi would have still happened.

      I agree that SC's tech panels undermined VM at nationals during this past quad, but also keep in mind that David Dore is ISU. Benoit Lavoie made the move to the ISU during this past quad.

      Delete
    17. Right, this is what I'm saying. SC was getting pressure from the ISU to go along with the "plan" by holding things over their head; ISU could have said, "do this or else..." I'm not saying this is what happened. I was just throwing it out as a scenario if there was any connection between the ISU and shamming, I would think it would occur higher up the chain.

      Delete
    18. Who is the ISU supposed to be, exactly? Is there an actual person who would be giving them this information?

      Delete
    19. Well with regards to Skate Canada - let's not forget that having Patrick Chan as an Olympic Champion was their goal rather than VM being a repeat Olympic Champion...and Mr. Chan was lucky that Mr. Plushenko withdrew from the individual event or there was a good chance that Patrick would have ended up with the individual bronze....

      Delete
    20. VM committed PR suicide and did everything in their power to appear weak and less committed than DW or even GP.
      While all the other teams sold their stories of hard work and devotion Tessa couldn't shut up about how she needs balance and needs to do other things instead of training. It doesn't matter that she most likely put in more time and work than the others; the story she sold was that she doesn't and that she believes DW are " perfection ".
      Scott sold the narrative of being too busy sleeping with his girlfriend and being annoyed with Tessa.
      The ISU didn't have to do anything , VM destroyed their image on their own.

      Even without the sham VM would have been quiet about it because Moirville needs Skate Canada's support to keep the ISC going.

      Delete
    21. 11:17--I think there are ways VM and Moirville could have fought back against the DW pr without stepping on Skate Canada's toes. The main problem is the sham's priority for VM and Co., along with the lack of professional management. Those two things combined really destroyed VM'S pr and any fight against DW'S narratives.

      Delete
    22. I think David Dore, Skate Canada to his toes, and long term vice president of the ISU, and the highest ranking skating-knowledgeable official in the ISU, is the person most responsible for VM's suppression and DW's false trajectory. Otherwise we're meant to believe it all happened out of his control, or he failed to notice, or a whole bunch of judging panels scored the same way over the past quad and he washed his hands. I don't believe that. Lavoie had to cooperate, and get SC on board, and I think anybody with an ounce of common sense knows Shawn Rettstatt was getting it done Stateside. Makes me wonder if the incessant promotion of Gilles & Poirier was sort of so we wouldn't notice nobody was promoting Virtue Moir.

      I very much appreciate the input of those up above, particularly the reminder that judges are educated observers, not babes in the woods. They're not doing some on-the-fly visual weeding out. They know what wrong looks like and what right looks like, and, as pointed out, if something is in question, that's what replay is for. Replay we never see, of course. Gymnastics has had some scoring wonkiness, but is not as troubled as figure skating, yet gymnastics judges have a task that a civilian might see to be just as difficult as the task facing ice dance judges, yet it's presumed gymnastics judges are capable of evaluating one bar routine from the next, one floor exercise from the next, in execution as well as content.

      The figure skating commentariat, and those involved in the sport itself have historically muddied the waters by pretending scandal exists where it doesn't, and ignoring corruption where it's actually taking place. I wonder if a non-Russian skater had defeated Yuna Kim with the same performance as Slotnikova, if everyone would have jumped on the "foul play" bandwagon so immediately. Subjectivity in this sport isn't "opinion" and "taste". It's weighing values, but there have to be values to weigh, and those values are proscribed in the rulebook. The only big "scandal" this sport recognizes is the supposed Salt Lake City scandal, which was a completely fabricated load of bullshit. The real scandal there was S&P's inflated scoring vis a vis B&S, but of course, B&S were Russian. When this sport jumps on a Russian result, it's almost as if they're showing off that yes, they do care about corruption. But they don't. It's just histrionics. It's a show, with Russia always playing the villain so that the rest of the skating world can pretend to be pure. The irony is that in the aggregate, Russia probably has the best skaters in the world. What a role for Russia to be assigned.

      Delete
    23. "Subjectivity in this sport isn't "opinion" and "taste". It's weighing values, but there have to be values to weigh, and those values are proscribed in the rulebook."

      THANK YOU. That is EXACTLY what I was trying to get across in a comment above but you did a much better job of parsing it down to a simple explanation.

      Subjectivity is not defined as "whatever a judge or set of judges personally like or prefer." Judges, like all human beings, do not possess a natural ability to be completely objective (because no one ever can). That's why, in skating, there's a rulebook. To provide judges with a reasonable, agreed upon margin of error within which slight variations can exist. In other words, the rulebook constructs a framework for subjectivity judges must work within.

      If/when judges give marks to skaters based on personal or aesthetic preferences? That's not subjectivity. That's downright incompetence or corruption.

      Delete
  3. Very detailed look at "lifts" DW vs VM with pictures...
    http://cuteiceprincesslove.tumblr.com/post/89308953246/virtue-moir-and-davis-white-vertical-lift

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, that's wonderful. I'm going to use it (with credit) and link. I love this stuff.

      Delete
  4. More infuriating comparisons!!
    http://cuteiceprincesslove.tumblr.com/post/89358444396/virtue-moir-and-davis-white-polka-comparision

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 9:02 and 8:34 --
      INFURIATING is right. Appalling, blatant corruption.

      DW are not getting it done. Their results are a fraud.

      Delete
  5. I guess the podiums next year are going to be SK, WP, and ChockBates. Also, the part about CL only winning worlds because of who was on the panel is interesting in many ways.

    http://www.sovsport.ru/gazeta/article-item/720223

    Q: Sinitsina and Katsalapov have already performed for the audience. The opinions were different…
    A: It’s a completely different team. I wasn’t in favor of Nikita’s break up with Lena Ilinykh. But even matches made in heaven can be broken, and if you simply cannot stand holding this person’s hand anymore… Apparently, we have to accept it as a done deal. Katsalapov and Sinitsina have already done a lot. There is direction, there are elements. The short dance is very good. And the free dance is due to be ready by now.

    Q: Do you believe in them?
    A: I believe in their coach, Marina Zoueva. She is such a reformator… She is always in avant-garde. They are really lucky that they are with her and she is with them.

    Q: And they are also lucky that she was free to take them.
    A: Even if her Olympic champions of Vancouver and Sochi, Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir and Meryl Davis/Charlie White, respectively, had not quit, it wouldn’t change anything. Marina has so many experts in Detroit, and the roles are so well distributed… I was the first to start working in this manner: when a certain expert is responsible for his field – and the coach doesn’t have to try to do it all.

    Q: But don’t you have an impression that Sinitsina is not yet quite on Katsalapov level?
    A: I don’t see it like that. I wouldn’t exaggerate Katsalapov that much.

    Q: But Marina Zoueva thinks he is a best partner in the world right now.
    A: For me, right now, Katsalapov is an amazing skater with great promise and desire to become a good partner. For me, the best partner in the world is the one who leads his partner and she sails like on a boat. I think it is easier to find a good husband than a good partner in ice dancing! Nikita did what he wanted to. Let’s hope he will become the one he wants to. And his partner will become a great discovery for us.

    The competition in the upcoming season will be hard. Incredible. And I don’t invite the European and World champions Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte to this company. I respect their coach, but their results have a distinct correlation with the composition of the panel of judges. Teams like that were lucky to make top 5 in the past.

    Q: Who will be the main competitors?
    A: The Americans Madison Chock/Evan Bates, coached by Igor Shpilband. The Canadians Weather/Poje, coached by Angelika Krylova. Yes, they are all coached by Russian coaches. These are the 80-s’ losses.
    Bobrova and Soloviev? I think Their Coach Alexander Zhulin is a year too late with “Anna Karenina” program for them. When we did “Professionals’ Cup” on TV, and I had a honour to judge it, Navka skated to “Anna Karenina”. And I shouted him back then: “Why didn’t you take it for your team?” Such a year of stagnation… I was so sorry for them… But I did think that in the end, Zhulin would take “Anna Karenina” for them. Why go far if the idea is right here? It’s hard to make predictions about the next season and their perspectives on the world level. We have already seen their best in the previous season. Everything will depend on their dances, and even more it will depend on how they skate them. I would like the most for Bobrova/Soloviev to be interesting to watch, to see the dance, as the great writers put it: “which is in the Russians’ soul”.

    Q: You didn’t say a word about Ilinykh/Zhiganshin for some reason. You don’t take them seriously?
    A: I haven’t seen them yet. I called their coach Svetlana Alexeeva, turned out they are on vacation. But Lena is also very interesting dancer… If her character allows her to be patient with new hard workload, the results can be unpredictable. I wish all of us and all of them, crazy figure skating fans, our beautiful champions, happy next four years.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tarasova’s comments indicate nothing, actually the opposite usually happens. I watched the whole Sochi ice dance event with her commenting. She made it absolutely clear that she prefers V/M short dance, called it a masterpiece and was outraged when they didn't get their seasons best. ( Don’t know what she thinks of Scheherazade because she left when D/W appeared on the ice and never came back). She also critiqued C/L a lot, the most out of all the teams. She hates their lack of connection and Anna’s skating skills. She said that it’s the last time they scored higher than W/P. And they still won at the worlds… S/K are not guaranteed anything, not even the Russian nationals championship. BTW, based on what Navka and Kostomarov did on the TV show, B/S free dance sounds really bad.

      Delete
    2. ( Don’t know what she thinks of Scheherazade because she left when D/W appeared on the ice and never came back).

      Wow, that alone is quite an indictment of DW's skills!!! I know that Averbukh gave VM a standing ovation from the moment they took to the ice for their FD.

      I heard that Averbukh really laid into DW about their lack of skating skills and recycled elements. Pity I don't speak Russian.

      Delete
    3. Yeah, Averbukh's commentary was the best. He was speechless after V/M performance.He said the he would have never dared to himself to use a music like that and that it's true mastery and art. He ended with " it doesn't matter how the judges place V/M because in history they'll always be number one". He also didn't forget to mention last year's Carmen. Did a pretty good job on critiquing D/W's free dance as well. He called them soulless and asked the other commentator " What is their dance even about?". The other commentator had a really hard time answering...

      Delete
    4. Wow! That sounds awesome! Wish I could have heard that with my own ears. Russian redemption ;)

      Delete
    5. "Figure skating, while one of many judged sports, is the only one with grand ambitions of stardom and so they try the impossible balancing act of "it's totally a real sport!" and "these skaters were so much better, they perfomed with their heart and soul". They want the credibility of a sport governed by real rules but, at the same time, are afraid fans won't feel invested if the results can't be explained in emotional terms that they can easily understand. This is why, along with the extra politics, Olympic judging tends to favour the more exciting and accessible performances and programs. The audience is king, even if they have no idea what they're watching."

      I would say narrative is king, not the audience. The audience is manipulated along the lines of "what do you trust - a panel of experts, or your lying eyes?" Like many, I know casual viewers of Olympic ice dance who could clearly see VM were better. VM defeated DW in the visceral as well. VM had more passion, they were more intense. They had attack. They grabbed the audience. They weren't some academic exercise. If the Olympic judges were favoring the more exciting and accessible programs, VM would NEVER have lost to DW, not freaking EVER, except, possibly, in 2012, when DW planting their feet at a standstill, crouching, flinging their arms, running, separating for miles, appparently convinced some people their performance was better than VM's master skating skills class, Funny Face. And even so, DW's Die Fleudermaus performance flattened out so much over the course of the season, that only one performance (not performed vis a vis VM) really delivered the sleight-of-hand built into DF. By Worlds it was flat. VM are more dynamic, more exciting, more crowd-pleasing than DW.

      Everything about DW is narrative. Everything. The judges aren't being swayed. If they were swayed by the visceral, VM would be GPF and Olympic and world champions.

      Delete
  6. http://www.suggest.com/lifestyle/577/famous-baby-bumps-12-celebrities-who-filmed-while-pregnant?cmp=fb-de-577#slide/0

    I thought this was worth sharing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. While we're on that, I happened upon this photo from All That Skate 2010, taken probably October 2nd. If that isn't a pregnant skater, then I must be blind.

      http://38.media.tumblr.com/2baac968e867d09aeebf96b6b59ec192/tumblr_n7ov3uoAlL1sanikko1_400.png

      Delete
    2. 11:46 again - I tried to take a screen grab, but go to 3:10 on this video, only a year later, for comparison...

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F77UjVczp5Y

      Delete
    3. ^^ I know, right? Willful blindness on the part of some people. I'd never seen that still before, although I've seen the performance many times and you can see the bump over the ribbon, but the still makes it even more obvious.

      Delete
    4. I've been reading a bio of Anna Wintour (I KNOW - it wasn't intentional, the book just crossed my path). When she was 37, she was pregnant for the first time. She didn't wear maternity clothes. Well into her third trimester, it would have been difficultg to tell she was pregnant. She used her Chanel jackets (she'd keep them open, so people focused on the lines within the jacket's opening, not anything concealed by the jacket), and she'd have her pants and skirts opened at the back by the tailor. With each pregnancy, she was back in the office within days (and, despite her "Nuclear Wintour" image, she was apparently an attentive, responsible mom.

      Delete
    5. 7:04 - not just anyone can be a judge; I aqree. Not just anyone can be the vp of the ISU either. And yet, without David Dore's directive, the elevation of DW over VM couldn't happen. Corruption isn't ignorance. Corrupton is knowing better, but doing the wrong thing anyway. That goes from David Dore down to the judging panels who scored DW lower than VM in GPFS, Worlds and Olympics. I don't believe DW's success had jackshit to do with well-trained, well-meaning, but time-pressed anything. It's corrupton. We know who did it better, and we're going to ignore that, and score differently. That's corruption.

      Delete
    6. OC @ 7:13 - you can bet your bottom dollar our little fashonista has read that bio and taken Ms Wintour's methods to heart.

      Delete

  7. About Skate Canada lowballing Virtue Moir, promoting Gilles Poirier to excess, and thus sending a message to the ISU - I suspect that Skate Canada was doing the ISU's bidding. I don't think the ISU took its cue from SC, or realized it could undermine Virtue Moir because it's own Fed took the lead. I think the ISU took the lead, and Skate Canada played the role it had agreed to play. It's the ISU (Dore) in bed with Benoit Lavoie (SC), Skate Canada doing its job, which was setting the table for the international judges. If your own Federation cuts the guts out of your scores at Canadians, it's open season at Worlds.

    The ISU certainly could organize it for Virtue and Moir's sham to be outed, certainly could get a few Skate Canada officials caught in a vise along with it, but we don't know if it they needed to go there that blatantly. However, it certainly appeared to me, around the time of the 4CC free dance interruption, that the "skating community - observers, the ISU, other skaters - were exploiting the free floating idea out on social media (and due in large part to the sham) that Virtue Moir weren't on the up and up. Nobody asked why suddenly it was okay to challenge the legitimacy of the defending Olympic and World Champions interrupting their program, as if they were lesser skaters who could only win by trickery. That whole thing was part of the narrative. They're shady. When did it become okay to say that about Virtue Moir? Those wholesome, genuine Canadian kids? I think some of it was sham discussion and the off-ice lies nobody acknowledges, but that inform perception, and some of it was just getting the narrative out there that the defending Olympic and World champions didn't think they could defeat Davis White (despite winning the short dance) with freaking CARMEN. Unbelieveable.

    No, there's no public oversight of figure skating. That keeps the other sports honest in the most basic way - it has to be done on the field of play. The public oversight comes from the nature of the sport, as pointed out - it's visible, the ball is inbounds or not, the player crossed the goal line or didn't, etc. Figure skating is a hell of a lot more visible than many people pretend, however, but the media pretends it's unknowable. As long as the media pretends that, they don't need to become educated observers. Furthermore, they can muddy the waters themselves and do more harm than good with their erzatz muckraking (like all the supposed VM journalistic partisans who "admitted" that DW were technical wizards and super fast but what about beauty, musicality and refinement! That sort of bullshit favors DW, and I'm not so sure the journalists don't know it. It's also a lie. VM are the technical wizards. VM's speed smokes DW.

    Even to the extent that figure skating is visible, figure skating reserves the argument that we don't see what the judges see on video. Why not? Why can't we see it? If we "don't understand" then what a great opportunity to explain. Show us the video replays the judges see.

    Scott Moir was likewise hamstrung by his entire family being shills for figure skating. It's Moirville's business. Every Scott and Tessa competition was accompanied by a hustle for ISC fundraising. The ISC promotes figure skating, promotes Skate Canada, wants bodies in the feeder programs, want people to think figure skating is a grand and glorious sport like no other. The ISC is a Skate Canada club. They can't call out what happened to Virtue and Moir without biting the hand that feeds them.

    ReplyDelete