Friday, September 26, 2014

All the corruption in the world

I'm putting the latest sham post below this one, because it's just a post making fun of some of the sham conceits, such as Tessa and Scott's ability to go places without carrying anything with them, and Jessica and Scott's determination to pose in swimsuits on the bare Santa Monica sand in 2009 despite it barely clearing 60 degrees in Santa Monica on any of the days they were in L.A. for Worlds. Then they get half naked and don't even touch.

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This is the first of what I hope will be three posts by next week (the others are a sham-focused post, and a look at the ice dance short programs that just had their debut).

Before I get started:


Virtue and Moir's paso doble cd from the 2009 World Championships. This performance placed third, but was enough to keep them on the podium after placing sixth in the od and fourth in the free dance. (The free dance placements in this competition were ridiculous, and Virtue and Moir ought to have been first after the cd.). Look at the incredible edge lean, close feet, precision, unison, and remember the condition of Tessa's legs back then, how recently she'd had her original CES surgery, how her legs were still recovering, and bear in mind the toll cds take on the shins, and how little mileage she had on the ice up to this point. This performance was in my mind's eye when I looked at all those healthy skaters doing the paso pattern this week, and this performance answers any questions about what Virtue and Moir can achieve in very little time (particularly from those who believe Virtue and Moir "need to spend every second" on program drills anytime they have an abbreviated training schedule). Remember that Virtue and Moir skated a different cd in all three events they competed that season. Viennese Waltz at Canadians, the Finnstep at the 4CCs, and paso here.

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I decided to google "Figure skating is corrupt" to see if there's anything other than the usual old articles on 2002 and more recent commentary on Slutnikova v. Yuna Kim out there.

Figure Skating is Hopelessly Corrupt

This links to a February 2014 Kevin Drum article in Mother Jones wondering which sport is more corrupt, figure skating or ski jumping. Me, I had no idea there were issues with ski jumping, but that's comforting. Sometimes it's lonely feeling as if all the other sports have actual oversight on the field of play while we're stuck with a sport that does exactly what it wants and fuck the rest of us.

Unsurprisingly, Mother Jones concludes that figure skating is more corrupt than ski jumping:
Normally, my rule of thumb is that the higher up the world ladder you go (local vs. national vs. international) the more corrupt a sport becomes. Thus, I would have guessed that a sport in which the international federation chooses judges would be more corrupt than one in which national federations choose judges. But no!
Drum's primary reference is this February 12, 2014 Washington Post article by Eric Zitzewitz:

How ski jumping gets Olympic judging right and figure skating gets it wrong

Quoting Zitzewitz:
Ski jumping has its international federation select the judges for competitions like the Olympics, and I find that they select the least biased judges. Figure skating lets its national federations select the judges, and my research showed that they select the most biased judges.
This creates different incentives for judges. Ski jumping judges display less nationalism in lower-level competitions — it appears they keep their nationalism under wraps in less important contests to avoid missing their chance at judging the Olympics. Figure skating judges are actually more biased in the lesser contests; they may actually be more biased than they would like to be due to pressure from their federations.
Quoting Drum:
It turns out that ski jumping judges are biased, but the other judges are mostly biased in the other direction, so everything ends up even. Having an American judge doesn't help American jumpers. Figure skating is just the opposite. Not only are national judges biased, the other judges all go along. If an American judge is on the panel, American skaters get higher marks from the American judge and also get higher marks from all the other judges
I appreciate Drum using an American as the example, instead of the usual "Russian" boogeyman, but, unfortunately, neither journalist has bothered to acquire any understanding about the actual skating. Even though Zitzewitz is a legit researcher, he can only, and wrongly, assume 2002 pairs and 2014 ladies are inarguable examples of unfair results. That's always the freaking problem when anyone outside the sport, even an economist/researcher/academic like Zitzewitz, looks at skating. They never feel it's important to understand the actual sport for themselves, nor match a given performance to the protocols FOR THEMSELVES. Drum even has this inane tag to his article:
But corruption can only go so far. That 15-year-old Russian figure skater, Julia Lipnitskaia, is so good that even I could tell how good she was when she skated in the team competition. All the corruption in the world couldn't have robbed her of the top score.
Yeah, no. Not that Lipnitskaia wasn't deserving, but Drum obviously has no idea if her jumps were underrotated or prerotated, if she hit all the correct edges in her footwork, nor is he able to assess anything else that connects her skating with her scores. Not to mention that, if he'd shift his gaze over to ice dance, everybody with eyes could see how much better Virtue and Moir were, and all the corruption in the world, literally, robbed them of the top score. Corruption goes all the way.

Turns out even academics think primary research is unneeded when it's time to examine figure skating. That's the ultimate reason figure skating will never ever ever be fixed have to clean itself up.

Still, the institutional behavior patterns Zitzewitz reports are telling:

Quoting Zitzewitz:
Of all these results, I am most intrigued by the contrast between the ski jumping judges undoing each other’s biases and the figure skating judges reinforcing them. When we make decisions in a group at work, we often encounter individuals with strong biases — say to hire a particular type of job candidate. When we do, we have a choice. We can act like a ski jumping judge, and resist the bias, in an effort to keep things fair. Or we can act like a figure skating judge and say “hiring this guy really seems important to Joe, I wonder what he’ll give me in return if I go along.” We have probably all seen examples of both in our lives.
and
The dysfunctionality of the sport is also revealed by how it reacted to the 2002 judging scandal. The International Skating Union made a couple of sensible reforms, such as increasing the size of the judging panel at least temporarily and making the scoring system more objective although some think they went too far. But most of their response consisted of hiding the evidence of bias. The ISU stopped revealing which judge gave which score, making it much harder for competitors and fans to see whether the judging was fair. The ISU even went back and altered online score sheets from earlier competitions, obfuscating which judge gave which score and even which country each judge represented. They also began randomly dropping scores from three out of 12 judges. As any statistician can tell you, an average of nine out of 12 scores is essentially the average of the 12 scores plus a random number. When Yale statistics professor Jay Emerson noticed that in one case this randomness had altered who won a medal, it appears that the ISU responded by scrambling the order that scores were reported on score sheets. The only plausible purpose of this change was to make it harder to identify cases where randomness had affected results. All this suggests that the focus has been on hiding problems rather than fixing them.
Well, no shit, Eric. :)

I believe the above is a fair description of figure skating's culture and mindset, but not a description of what had to have happened to get Davis White Olympic gold. What happened there was a direct order from on high or its equivalent, an edict that dictated how Davis White were scored, how Virtue and Moir were scored, the pattern of attacking Virtue and Moir's highlight elements at the 11th hour, the hosing of Virtue and Moir by their own Fed at their own championships, the purse-mouthed, side-eying, parsimonious Virtue and Moir narrative that contradicted their spectacular achievements on the ice, and getting every single person in every single comment booth singing from the same hymnal, while coaches and skaters joined the chorus. Whether or not it originated with the USFSA and was executed by the ISU, or was a Dore brainstorm, in the end, it was the ISU/Dore that made it happen. Obviously, though, it's useful to look at the sort of breeding ground that makes a Davis White gold medal heist possible.

Unfortunately for all of us, both journalists miss a key problem with figure skating: with this sport, ofttimes accusations, or, more often, insinuations, of corruption are driven by corruption, are aimed towards invalidating a correct, or at least, defensible, result, and represent the advancement of a corrupt agenda. Figure skating is manipulative. We can't trust what the sport says about anything.The only way results will ever truly be verified is if the media and the public decide to educate themselves about the skating, and read the rules, so everyone outside this sport is able to see for themselves if the scores match the skating. The only way. Both journalists treat the 2002 pairs competition and the 2014 ladies result as examples of corruption, because those are the only examples anybody talks about, and because neither journalist is capable of looking at a skating performance and determining its validity for themselves.

131 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. great post OC. I watched some of the new programs and one word, AWFUL. I cannot even watch and I've loved this sport for 30 years.

      I am convinced that without removing the compulsory dance, it would have been a lot harder for the DW fix.

      Also, I rewatched davis white. they suck. I rewatched 2010 Olympics and how they were ever considered in vm league I cannot figure out.

      I do think that dw had three things in their favor: 1, the split lift that looks amazing tho has 10000 points of contact between DW, 2, their speed though full of crap they looked very very fast 3, control, they always looked in control. I know that they could pull this off bc their programs had zero difficulty. but these three elements I think helped add some kind of legitimacy to the nonsense. but this paso dablo from VM I thought was beyond amazing. I love love watching VM's compulsory dances. I think they are even more impressive than the ODs.

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    2. I go back and forth on the CDs and if they would've hurt DW. VM beat them in the CD every time they ever competed, as far as I know, and I remember thinking Scott was a complete dumbass for talking up the dropping of the CD. He sounded like Igor & Marina's puppet, and I was like, bro, why do you want to get rid of the one segment in which you have a big advantage and could take a lead going into every competition?

      DW beating VM in the CDs would have looked like a big joke. However, there would be nothing stopping them from just giving DW sky high PCS and GOE on every CD, just like they did for the SD. And Marina had the political part covered with stunts like calling in the originator of the CD to pre-approve how they skate it (naturally, VM and DW get lumped together even though only VM are the ones that did it well, and no one should need Tchaikovskaya to tell them that).

      But considering the lack of freedom in the CD to do their own hoppy skippy crap, it would have been harder to push and make it seem legit so it was just easier to get rid of the CD altogether, and then choose skippy SDs for the Olympic and pre-Olympic years (and of course, VM outskated them at those rhythms anyway, like they always do and always will, even if Ethnic Ambiguity were the theme). Or I guess they would have had VM "win" the CDs, but by like .02, and then give DW huge SD and FD leads. But by 2013-14 the judges were pretty sure not to ever give VM any type of lead, even if DW made mistakes.

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    3. Yeah, I mean look at how the Finnstep portions of the SD were judged. So I don't think that would have stopped them from doing what they did, but eliminating CDs (still sad about this) sure made it a hell of a lot easier for them and "justified" score inflation in the other portions for speed and excitement. Or whatever they supposedly had that was so special and heads and shoulders above everyone else that allowed them to win by a landslide...

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    4. They gave 110%, lol. Which is not even true. Even if DW were skating with reckless abandon (which more accurately described IK), that wouldn't mean they'd deserve to win. But they didn't even do that. More like giving about 2%, crawling across the ice, totally out of time on the quickstep and with a foxtrot that's choreographed note for note from their waltz, old twizzles and an old lift, with Derek Hough's name slapped on for branding.

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    5. ^7:27 - hah, that's about the size of it. If you ever want to see what slow flailing looks like, watch some of DW's Worlds performances this past quad, culminating in the Olympics.

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    6. My "favorite" DW skate is 2012 4cc. I know the altitude affected a lot of competitors but holy hell, is that bad skating. (I should add I've seen only 4 or so of their performances so I'm sure there are worse ones out there.)

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    7. Was that where the wheels came off in the last minute, they were flopping like fish on a dock, and you could HEAR Tanith and Andrea clenching? And when they fell over at the end, Tanith and Andrea fell over themselves telling us that not until the program was over was it possible to know Charlie and Meryl were the least bit gassed.

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    8. Yes, OC, that's the one. The interesting thing is that DW did in fact lose to VM there, and then again at Worlds. And DW got some negative GOE on the rhumba sequence at Worlds, even though they had no visible mistakes, just because of the lack in quality. 2012 is really the last season that the marking was somewhat reasonable. I mean, not really cause DW wouldn't have been on the podium, but they were closer to PB in 3rd than to VM in 1st, and as a VM fan it was a relief that after their chains had been yanked all season, sanity prevailed in the end and VM won. Once DW debuted the desperate ND and VM their Carmen, I thought we were home free til the Olympics. I always got the sense something changed politically after 2012 Worlds. That was a bad year for Russia, and it became clear they would not fight for more than bronze in Sochi (it was the third year in a row that no Russian dancers made the podium), and I always thought that might have been when deals started to get shored up and really take flight. Until then, at least it seemed like the rest of the world didn't really give a shit who won between VM and DW, and while DW were being pushed too much, VM still had a chance. And of course summer 2012 is also when the Marina/Igor split happened and I still want to know what exactly went down there. Too bad we can't read DW's depositions, hah.

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    9. ^Worth remembering how exposed all the sportswriters who have "figure skating" among their credentials turned out to be when they tried to write about the outcome in Sochi. Steve Milton has more than half a dozen books on figure skating with his name as author, and when he tried to write about the injustice in Sochi he was scrambling. Like everybody else, he grabbed at Petri Kokko's tweet, he grabbed at what Scott said about complex step sequences at the press conference but clearly only had the most tenuous grasp, and he ended up undermining his entire attempt by declaring Davis White fast, classical and technically up to snuff. Because you can be a figure skating expert for two decades and not know shit about figure skating. No problem with that at all.

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    10. 9:43 AM - if you need another favorite DW skate, have a look at their first World Champion performance - 2011.

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  2. That is so depressing.

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  3. Once you see the sport go to the place VM took it, ice dance is bound to be increasingly less interesting in their absence. Even the rivarly between VM and DW will be missed. Regardless of the hand they were dealt, at least we can say we saw original and breathtaking quality skating and expression. Now most programs just feel like a shadow of that era. The sport is going in 2 ways: VM style or DW style, which is no fun. What made VM and DW so special is that they were different and until we get some originality in this sport, a team that really steals the spotlight, I don't care for the standings.

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    1. They were so different because one was clunky, couldn't skate, had no sense of line or style, didn't interpret music, and did the same elements every year. There was nothing fun or exciting about that rivalry. Savchenko Szolkowy vs Volosozhar Trankov was a more interesting rivalry - BOTH could skate, and their biggest strengths were complements of the other (the intricate choreography of SS vs the power and amplitude VT). Both styles could be respected and when one team outskated the other, they were allowed to win. I definitely think VT had the edge politically but every time they won over SS, they truly did perform better on the day.

      It is disturbing to see some of these young teams copying DW, but the ones that rip off VM are crappy in their own way, especially Sinitsina Katsalapov from the limited amount we've seen.

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    2. I completely disagree. There was nothing special about DW. Any team who skated a crap program without falling on its face and had a narrative push behind it would have served. There was no "original and breathtaking quality and expression" in DW - they were shit.

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    3. I think DW, however uninspired their programs were, did have qualities that made them likeable to the public and i can appreciate the speed they skate with while being in sync. I'm a VM supporter but even i can admit the brilliance of something like Notre Dame.
      I was only stating that despite individual preferences these were the 2 dominate teams that have left a huge footprint on ice skating as of late and its evident by the way in which their styles are imitated, albeit in disturbing ways, its an insult to the original.

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    4. Notre Dame? You've got to be troll. Are you Tessa Virtue?

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    5. Notre Dame was same old, same old. *Dramatic* music, excessive (and unnecessary movement), etc etc. Samson and Delilah, PotO, Notre Dame, Scheherazade, they all blur together.

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    6. They all suck but ND really took the cake. Even the DW fans weren't very enthused about it and seemed terrified of Carmen. Actually, scratch "not enthused" - more like embarrassed. It was POTO, but in French. ND was like DW doing a parody of themselves.

      If the person had said Bollywood, Giselle, DF, or S&D, I could maybe believe it, because a lot of people liked the packaging of those and think they are "brilliant programs."

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    7. "I'm a VM supporter but even i can admit the brilliance of something like Notre Dame."

      Get out.

      Any "poor imitation" of DW can only be an improvement.

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    8. what rivalry? there was no rivalry at the end since the competitions were rigged in dw's favour

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    9. Brilliance and DW skating should never be mentioned in the same sentence!

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    10. Okay then why did Notre Dame receive a more enthusiastic applause than Carmen at Worlds in London, Ontario of all places?

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    11. The crowd in London gave a standing ovation to every crappy skater who managed it to stay on his feet.

      It did hurt the perception though because the US media used it to justify DW's inflated scores.

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    12. I heard there were actual people who left during dw's performance of NDDP in London.

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    13. Davis White are actually more "effective" on television than in person. In person they're not using the entire rink, they tend to skate in straight lines and not curves, and they're miles apart. All of this is more obvious in person, and they're obviously slower not just than VM, but other teams. If a team or skater is begging for applause, is falling over gasping, then the audience tends to oblige. Standing o's aren't hard to come by. The genuine ones tend to happen before a program has even finished.

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  4. OT, but apparently Tessa has a World Champion Chili recipe.

    http://ottawacitizen.com/health/diet-fitness/they-shoot-they-score-with-cookbook-for-hockey-families

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    1. OT, but on her instagram, Tessa is either in a Fit 'n'Flex type class with a whole bunch of pregnant women, or this Olympic level athlete thinks a stretch and flex class with a bunch of ladies carrying spare tires is pretty much where she is, athletically and fitness-wise, this fall. Of course this is not searing insight - Tessa is trolling.

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    2. ROFLLL, I hadn't looked at the pic from yoga class. OMG! That is so fucking funny. http://instagram.com/p/tajCmBSG B4/

      Tessa is kind of a bitch. Has to go make those poor, non Olympian women athletes feel bad about themselves.

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    3. They look like pregnant women to me, which is why I said she's trolling. Tessa Virtue is not taking a fitness class with a bunch of out-of-shape women. What would be the point? She's a damn Olympian and 25 years old. Most advanced fitness classes would be like Senior Fitness for Tessa. I don't think those women are unfit. We're meant to believe they're all pregnant. Tessa is trolling.

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    4. Continuing OT, now I checked out the instagram and she also posted a pic of France 4 days ago and one from #TIFF2014 appropriately hashtagged just 3 days ago. Stop trying to make TIFF happen, Tessa! I guess she's counting on it to last her a while. She must really not want to go out with Ryan again.

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    5. I understand they're pregnant, I'm referring to Tessa having to show up and show these women with natural beautiful pregnant bodies how she's all pregnant and thin.

      And of course nobody in the comments mentions how fucking weird the photo is. It's like you said - Tessa herself could be the one sporting the pregnant belly, and no one would say boo.

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    6. As I've said, I think the woman was so incredibly full of herself with that red carpet walk, she couldn't see straight. I think the fandom was meant to collectively faint, with a point of impact strong enough to register something like a 5 on the fandom Richter scale. The problem is when they go really, really large, the fandom shrinks back. Too large, the self-regard shows, and why would self-regard be highlighted when someone is simply stepping out with their SO? The takeaway from the TIFF red carpet wasn't Ryan/Tessa, but Tessa's crazy face. Just like the takeaway from Scott and co-Sondra on the model room sofa was creepiness. Fans pretend it didn't happen, and Tessa can't make TIFF happen because of that. Fans don't like Psycho Tessa.

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    7. Got it, 6:32. Despite the fact that these women all have larger builds than Tessa, are apparently not current Olympians, and are more visibly pregnant, you can still see the curve from Tessa's pelvic floor, so to speak, to around approximately her naval. Her scale is just different. But as soon as you look at this image and get a look at every other woman there, you either ask why is the greatest female ice dancer on the planet, an Olympic athlete, a woman supposedly NOT pregnant (remember, Tessa is petite, slim and NOT pregnant), taking a flex/fit class with a bunch of out of shape thirtysomethingish ladies, or you figure most of these women are pregnant, as they're all notably hefty around the midsection, even when they're not hefty anywhere else. Tessa is tiny next to them, but that's hand waved by asking what the hell she's doing in that class in the first place.

      She knows all this. As I said, this is a troll.

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    8. I can't speak for the other women, but she's most definitely looking different these days. Still, though, she is the smallest woman there, so she, of course, appears "tiny".
      This one she had someone post for her, and then re-posted. However, as you've pointed out and has previously been discussed, everything she puts on there is pointed. Esp the past few days it feels like she's trying to up her game, whether defensively or offensively.

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    9. TIFF Tessa is too much like "Tessa and Scott" Tessa. Sure, TIFF Tessa is all "comin atcha" with the red carpet pseudo confidence, while "Tessa and Scott" Tessa made Carrie Bradshaw look like a stoic, but both Tessas are brittle, rigid and plastic.

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    10. Anyhow, the condition of all the other women in the class is completely blatant, and Tessa knows it. It's like the fork lift image. Something big must be happening. Maybe she's the one with the sex tape.

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    11. It's been ever since the interviews. Or the talk on here (in the previous post), which was started by the interviews. Trying to decide if it's been in response to that, or gearing up for something new. Based on history, it's probably for whatever is coming next. Yay.
      The only other thought I had (and I really don't think this is it) is that if they *are* done and therefore giving up the sham, they decided to make a game out of it and are gonna post stuff to see how long it takes fans to "get it". Unless she posts one of those entire family pictures with their daughter holding some clever sign about the new addition, they're gonna be waiting awhile. And even then, some fans would probably still take it as a joke.
      Like I said, I don't believe were there yet though, and more than likely it's the bait before another round of sham, but either way she has been extra pointed as of late.

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    12. I hate this plastic Tessa, so full of herself. This is not attractive in the least.

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    13. I was also laughing to myself at the photo on the way to the library...who took that pic? Sad thing is this is how many people present themselves today, not only Tessa, we see a fake version of people via social media. It's pretty normalized

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    14. God, you're so full of yourself. Bother to check flx yoga web site? There are no classes for pregnant women.

      She took the original level because she never FLX'ed before. Everything's so simple when you're not desperately seeking for conspiracy

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    15. 1:56, exactly. And her comment about taking the sportflx class... she knows the basic class wasn't enough of a challenge. The sportflx class was developed by a physiotherapist with experience working with elite athletes, seems more suited for Tessa.

      Though I suppose that London Knights trainer in the back is also pregnant.

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    16. Who said this was a class specifically for pregnant women?

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    17. It is obviously a class full of incredibly fit women, or Tessa wouldn't be taking it. And yet many of them are carrying a whole lot more in the middle than we see in people who earn their living in the fitness or athletic world. Fit and flex is great for pregnancy, and fit athletes who are pregnant, and there's more than one in that photo Tessa instagrammed, are going to need more than a basic fitness class for pregnant women, just like Tessa.

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  5. Wasn't Scott supposed to be at the fair tonight, judging or something? Funny, no pictures or sightings. Or have I just missed them all?

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    1. How is he not recognized and tweeted/uploaded to here and back at the damn Ilderton Fair? He's the favorite son.

      We'll have to wait until Kaitlyn Lawes is back from Sweden before Scott is once again recognized by the many ice dance and curling enthusiasts with active twitter accounts that litter every block in every Canadian town and city.

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    2. They're coming... the planted ones always seem to take several days to a week to show up, lol.

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    3. LOL and there he is! What was that, an hour?

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    4. So let me get this straight.
      Now she is into baggy flannel, and he is participating in fashion events?
      This is kind of funny.

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    5. Are there new pictures ?

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    6. Well it appears that Scott is participating in a fashion event in London for a charity for the Kidney Foundation of Canada. It appears that it will be a low-key event - definitely not TIFF - so good for Scott.
      As for Nebelhorn, WP won gold and I just saw a picture on the podium where Kaitlyn Weaver is taking a group selfie of the three teams. I understand that she was probably excited and Nebelhorn is a Senior B competition - but really a selfie on the podium? Do you think the Shibs would have a phone on them on the podium...

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    7. It seems Chock & Bates won the free? Nice. The new ice dance is all about taking turns. Wonder how the Shibs feel, though. It's as if the people behind them in line leapfrogged over them. Maybe the ISU/USFSA is trying to send a message to the Shibutani mere and pere that all of the $$$ investment in figure skating shouldn't go straight to just helping their kids' skating - at least not quite so literally.

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    8. Lol OC - yes I think the Shibs and their entourage need to realize that a white envelope as a thank you note will be required for future reference. Unfortunately, this may also apply to Paul/Islam...these kids aren't necessarily getting younger...

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    9. 7:27 - Tessa also apparently has that chili recipe. If there's more of a down home, hanging in the country, I love camping, #tailgateseason food than chili, somebody's keeping it a secret. Next, she'll instagram herself hauling through a muddy field in an ATV, while Scott pops up on someone else's instagram enjoying white wine and nutella crepes in the south of France.

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  6. Yes to new ice dance programs post! I really miss VM's CDs though; their 2009 paso doble was *sick*.

    The only American team I'm thinking of rooting for is Hawayek/Baker--I can't stand Chock/Bates and the Shibs (though superb), bore me. H/B still sometimes seem sloppy, but I think they're making good progress, considering how relatively recently they teamed up. I feel like Baker is the better skater/is more naturally talented, but I am looking forward to their growth.

    Hopefully Paul/Islam's programs are good this season--their quality of skating has never been in doubt.

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  7. she went to a studio to exercise with regular women. All sizes and shapes. For christ sakes quit trying to turn it into somethng that its not. You are relentless and and say the most ridiculous things about everything.

    And BTW ....She certainly does not look 7-8 months pregnant in that photo either LOL

    Time to backtrack! miscarriage? abortion?

    Whats it gonna be???

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    1. 8:48
      All sizes and shapes? Where? They're all similar size except Tessa. This is so NOT a "regular" class with "regular" people. It's a class where all the women look pregnant. YOU are relentless trying to counter what's right in front of our eyes. Courtesy of Tessa herself, thank you very much.

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    2. You have no idea what pregnant looks on Tessa, and you have chosen to ignore ALL the information, explained by people a whole lot more patient than I am with this shit, about how a woman can be well along in her pregnancy and not show, and how the way Tessa carries differs from the supposed "norm" but she is by no means unique. You don't know what a 7-8 month pregnant woman looks like, you only know what some of them look like. Do not comment in the comments section when you choose to ignore what's been said here.

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    3. I checked the schedule, and FLXyoga doesn't seem to have a prenatal class. How would they have gotten all those pregnant women to be in the same class?

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    4. I have no idea if those women were all pregnant or not (because you can't look at someone at one point in time to determine if they're pregnant since everyone looks different), or if this was a pre-natal class or not. Having said that, it in no way excludes the possibility that it was a private class set up for that purpose and not listed on the site. We don't know if the instructor set this up with some of her friends, or as part of a mom's group, or through a hospital, etc. Just because she attended a class the other morning doesn't mean it had to be the one listed on the site. Again, maybe it was the one listed she attended, but it's a little ignorant, imo, to say that there is no way there is anything else going on in that gym than what is listed on the website.
      It the same thought process as everything else with them. If "we" don't know about it, it can't possibly exist.

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    5. I agree with 4:07. Maybe someone local to that area could call or email them and say that they saw the photo on instagram and are interested in the pre-natal class.

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    6. It could also be a class that has become popular with pregnant athletes without being an official "pregnant athlete" class, simply because it's set up to hit all the stuff a pregnant athlete might be focused on. That kind of thing happens all the time.

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    7. But the bottom line, Tessa ok'd that picture being posted, she knew all the other women were obviously pregnant, so there's no point in debating what the picture shows, just - note. Tessa ok'd it, she's trolling, what else is new.

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  8. Look again!! Everyday women. Not athletes! All shapes and sizes. YOU are not living in reality!

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    1. You're not. Tessa Virtue is an elite athlete. You have no idea what that means. She is not going to be in a fit and flex class for every day women. Even show skaters aren't. That would be like your next door neighbor, who runs every morning and does half marathons, choosing to work out at a geriatric rehab center for the physically impaired.

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    2. I agree. I'm overweight, I look similar to those women, but I'm not pregnant. But Tessa most definitely would not be in the same classes as me. What on earth could she get out of working out at that fitness level?

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    3. The satisfaction of knowing she's soooooooo much better than them.

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    4. Balance. Tessa hates identifying as a skater, as an athlete, she's soooo much more than *just* a skater. She needs to work out alongside normal women so nobody would dare to associate her with those pesky figure skaters.

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    5. Or maybe she wanted to look small compared to the rest of the women in the class, to "prove" she isn't pregnant? That would be my guess.

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    6. 9:55. Give up. Blogger hasn't seen the light of day in4+ years because she too busy tracking down the lives of figure skater. What a waste of time.

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    7. That's pretty funny 7:33 AM, you spend more time here than I do.

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  9. That Paso Doble is one of my absolute favourite VM programs. Assassins Tango and Tango Romantico too. I just have to sigh...they just ROCK!!! If they do retire it's like wasted talent.

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  10. WP averaged a 9 for choreography in a pre-season event. SMH.

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    1. And they didn't even win the FD .

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    2. That was Chock & Bates, going by the scores. I actually zoned out in the middle of their free dance.

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    3. The 9 was to WP. They won the PCS. http://www.isuresults.com/results/nt2014/SEG008.HTM

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    4. I meant - Chock/Bates won the fd?

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    5. I've only seen WP thus far. They still looked really slow through a lot of it, but it's the beginning of the season, so I will give them the benefit of the doubt on that one, along with the sloppiness of some of the lifts. I like it way better than their short though, and I like the cuts of music they chose. Good variance.
      I did want to yell at them (especially Kaitlyn) to BEND their knees. Goodness.

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    6. This is anon again at 3:58. I watched CB...who the hell is in charge of their footwork? And I use that term loosely. It almost became comical. Yes, we see you've learned crossovers and Choctaws...albeit, not well on the later. Talk about repeating the same thing over and over throughout a program. Most of it felt like filler. Maybe they haven't finished choreo yet and it *was* mostly filler. Guess we'll have to wait and see if it acquires more substance as the year progresses. I did enjoy 1-2 of their lifts, but lifts do not a program make. There's no way that FD should have beat WP (and that's not saying much). They definitely follow the DW pattern of not really doing anything in between the "elements" and with less speed. However, I think I would still rather watch them (over DW) because her posture is better, and he doesn't look like he may fall over or drop her when he lifts her. And less arm flailing (still more than I care) since they spend more time in hold than DW did. At least this program.
      Still debating whether or not I want to try to watch this season, or if it will just continue to frustrate the hell outta me...
      I did have to go watch some VM after these to cleanse my palate. Heheh.

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    7. There is entirely too much focus on lifts in COP ice dance and if they eliminated them entirely I wouldn't mind at all. Highlight moves are nice and all but when they're worth nearly as much as footwork, take up a good chunk of training time and become the main event, it seems to me the whole point of *dance* has been lost. Imagine what ice dancers could do if they spent all the time and energy currently directed towards lifts on basics (CDs!), dance training, complex choreo, anything really. Of course eliminating one of the FD lifts is probably as far as we're going to go as I know lifts are really popular with audiences. The same could be said for a lots of pairs moves that don't count or aren't allowed in competition but I guess pairs was considered exciting enough by TPTB...

      I get frustrated when people talk about lifts as a key factor in ranking teams and then I realize...wait, they're right! If a team has far superior footwork but had some rough lifts, an argument can be made that they were the weaker technical skaters - in a sport called *ice dance* not *acrobatics on ice*. Go watch KP's 92 Olympic FD, most of their lifts were a little messy, they wouldn't be getting +3 GOE, but they fit the dance very well and, more importantly, their basics were incredible. Should that skate be considered technically weak now? I sometimes wonder what they think of the sport nowadays. They've collaborated with Igor and sent their son to him for coaching so who knows, maybe they approve. But I guess you can tell I don't ;)

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    8. And the one team that impressed me at Nebelhorn was Hawayek/Baker. They still have a lot of work to do, especially her, but the potential is there to be much better ice dancers than WP will ever be. (their lifts are basic and I don't care, the rest more than makes up for it).

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    9. WP may be the top team at the DSC right now but all of PI, HD, and HB have more talented and I think, in the end, all 3 will overtake WP and be much better teams in what they put on the ice. WP have gone as far or almost as far as their ability will take them. The other three aren't even close right now and all have a higher ceiling.

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    10. And Skate Canada probably wouldn't politic enough for WP to keep them on top anyway.
      I don't know how much USFSA still cares about ice dance though now that they stole the gold and Gracie Gold has a chance to medal in 2018.
      I wouldn't count out the Russians yet either. They all are talented and with their fed behind them they might dominate the quad.
      And there are still CL, even if TAT doesn't believe in them.

      I have very little hope for PI though. SC doesn't care about them, international judges dropped them at worlds and if Paul Poirier had not been injured last summer they would have sent him and his Barbie doll to the Olympics. They would need an " exciting " FD like IK's Swan Lake to move up the ranks. It's all about music selections these days anyway.

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    11. ^All I get from Chock & Bates is that Igor is a horrible choreographer. If it weren't for youtube I don't know how he'd put programs together. I don't put a particular value on "original" moves - I'm not sure there's any such thing. But he's so damn clunky. I remember when Chock & Bates tried a dumbed down goose - Chock looked like she was trying to climb a tree just getting up there. Or crawling onto a cliff. In the free they have a bastardized version of Virtue and Moir's seasons lift crossed with that prow of a ship thing Davis and White did to death.

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    12. Thanks to an earlier comment, I looked at a Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov exhibition. I guess they're going to be working the looks; the skating was funereal and, as I guess has become the new standard in ice dance, the bodies/skates were miles apart.

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    13. Hawayek/Baker actually skate interdependantly, which isn't happening in any of the other free dances, not even Weaver & Poje. Weaver & Poje's program doesn't even set up for that to happen.

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    14. 7PM - this is a pretty good link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8Z2QCEsdHg - Kseniya Ponomaryova and Oleg Altukhov's official channel. They explain the basic choctaw in a way that I think is accessible to many people. Many people are familiar with the basic foot positions in ballet, and this video grounds the choctaw in the fifth position. Once that's understood, it's easy to see what's happening.

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    15. Oh I'm very familiar with Choctaws, lol. I know why they're putting them in there. Even though a basic choctaw is not that hard, their execution of them is still not very good. Now, the way that VM do them takes a little more practice. They can be made incredibly more difficult depending on how deep an edge, and consequently curve, you take. If your body is not properly aligned and checked, you will fall on your butt. It's thrown in these programs because almost everyone can do a basic one (or twenty...), and it gets checked off as a "dance move". This is where the -3 to +3 should come into play, but we all know what a crock that is.
      It was more a commentary about how it seemed like that's the only "step" that was choreographed into their FD.

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    16. ^I figured you were completely familiar with choctaws, and I understood your point, but there are a lot of people who intuitively know what VM do is incredible, and that C&B are basic, but aren't familiar enough with technique to suss it out for themselves. For those who want to follow along, footwork can seem daunting, mostly (IMO) because of changes of direction and the position of the feet can make it tricky to isolate for a newcomer. The link I used is really useful because it pretty much tells you - skating from fifth position either forward or backward, the foot in back (remember, fifth position), is inside edge, the foot in front (ballet fifth position) is outside edge, can be done traveling forward or backward. The "Fifth position" key word helps orient those unfamiliar to choctaw technique, I think, which is why I believe the link may be useful.

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    17. ^obviously, move across the ice changing weight from front foot to back foot, outside edge to inside edge, and also changing direction from forward to backward.

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    18. And how hard is it to describe? Would it be difficult for a figure skating competition broadcast to show us? Here's the basic - here's how the best in the world do it.

      Anyone remember in 2008 when they had to drill really, really deep to find the fraction that gave a Chinese gymnast (apologies for not having her name) the balance beam gold over Luikin. Gymnastics doesn't seem to have a problem showing us where the margin of victory happened. In ice dance, isn't it logical to tell us, well, Virtue and Moir LOOKED fabulous, but DW won it in pcs and GOE - here's how!

      Are you kidding? Any video they used would show VM smoking DW - and a lot of teams smoking DW.

      Additionally, and as someone else said in this comments section, God FORBID we get the angle the judges get, God forbid the point where a level or GOE was lost be isolated from the angle the judges saw. That's for real sports.

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    19. ^correction - uneven parallel bars gold over Luikin.

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    20. The Ice Dance Analyst blog was doing an excellent job explaining, and without being negative to DW or anyone else. They were literally just saying maybe this angle got credited, or maybe that one did, and proposing how the level came to be. But of course people at FSU bitterly attacked it because it didn't portray DW in glowing terms, and that blogger stopped posting. A real shame.

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    21. There's almost no support for people who really want to look at the sport. People in and around figure skating are enablers. Many regular FSU posters are either poseurs or groupies (both categories populated by those who had a kid in skating, or adult skate, or know someone in the sport). They all want to protect the image of figure skating as something that can only be comprehended by a select few, and, you know, when they're questioned too closely, out comes the "I don't have the time - I COULD, but I don't have the time." All the time in the world for gossip, setting other posters straight, fantasizing about programs and costumes they want to see, playing mix and match with currently competing teams, wondering what female might be better matched with what mail, and passing along ambiguous and elliptical references to current gossip. Actually demonstrating that DW are better than VM and deserved gold in Sochi according to the rules by which the sport is judged, rules which are in the public domain? No time for that noise.

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    22. That said, I hope that blog reactivates for the new season.

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    23. Pfft, you just don't understand, because you've never had to organize the Australian Nationals.

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    24. Australian nationals seem to take a toll on everybody even remotely involved ( or those who are just watching it online ). Every time somebody on FSU dares to say something negative about an Aussie skater an Australian fan will attack them.
      Just recently somebody threw a hissy fit because Johnny Weir criticised an Australian dance team. The poster argued it was mean because said team were such great people who worked so hard that any critic on them is mean and inappropriate ( hmm, where have I heard this before ? ).

      Australian skating is serious business. The ISU should send somebody down under before it gets out of control.

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    25. Does anyone have a link to H/B FD?

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    26. You can find all videos from Nebelhorn here: http://new.livestream.com/accounts/10053677/events/3397094

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    27. Does anyone know of a link to a higher quality of H/B's FD? The archived stream seems to be of much lower quality than some of the uploads of the live stream on youtube, but no one has posted H/B's publicly.

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    28. Thanks 2:52PM.

      When I started skating I was taught and had *drilled* into me basic skating skills. All my coaches at every single level focused on the importance of this. I can't tell you how much time and clinics were spent on (boring-lol) simple stroking, crossovers and edges... but the results from it were the proof, and I came to see a big difference in the skaters that had this training and those that did not.

      Forget CD's, just have teams stroke around the ice together doing crossovers, and you can tell instantly who the best teams are. It's simple, but it can't be disguised or distracted by tricks and arm flailing and toe pick digging.

      Even though I feel H/B still have a ways to go (some of their stuff is great, some needs work), they have those basic skating skills down. Just watching their crossovers in their ex, you can see it. They have the "look" of VM in that they float, because they know how to use their knees and edges to get the maximum effort and can pull power from the push off and glide. This is also something that will continue to grow as they get more mileage on them.

      Maybe I was just taught differently, but it seems along with the elimination of CD's (and in singles, figures-yes I'm going old school here), core skating skills are no longer prioritized, enforced and practiced like they used (had) to be . Therefore these programs suffer.
      Yes, they all still have to pass dances and moves to get to Sr, but the judging for those are so basic. Although, every once in awhile you get a skater so bad I wonder if someone has bribed even that level.

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    29. I don't know how the sport comes back from this. Standards out the window. It's clear the new season is going to play out with the same disregard for the actual skating as last season, only with new players. The disregard is so FLAGRANT, and, unlike past eras in ice dance, the "chosen" teams are conspicuous measures worse than the teams that don't rate.

      I was just thinking that Virtue and Moir have their Olympic gold and two world titles in an era where those titles mean crap. What does it matter that they got a gold in ice dance when DW got one at the next Olympics, and, if neither team comes back for 2018, some crap team is going to get World and Olympic titles while much better teams are going to be slotted in no man's land somewhere.

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  11. I wish IK were still together. They at least had an appreciation for the fundamentals and were just starting to come into their own.

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    1. yes, IK had something. pechalat and joubert should have one silver to VM's gold in Sochi, but yes, IK had something promising. it's sad weaver and poje could only go so far. they are great too but cant get to VM level.

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    2. Podium in Sochi should have been VM, PB, IK.

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    3. IK skated SO far apart though.

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    4. So did DW...

      Who do you think should have had bronze? The next highest team was BS in 5th, then WP, and CL. Just as a point of reference, not that you have to go by the judges rank, obviously. The score for IK was way too high, but I think their edges and power give it to them because all the other teams also had something incomplete about their skating and program construction. Only VM presented a full package. IK were the second best skaters in the competition, but PB are also excellent skaters and outdid them on enough that I'd have them second.

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    5. I don't know - I'll have to go through the lower-placed finishers. IK was just MILES apart (as were DW) to the point where one had to question how secure their skating skills were as a team, if they needed to be that far apart for their program. Of course DW were flagrantly far apart throughout their free dance, with the most elementary holds (arm's length face to face, hand holding side by side, dragging and pushing by holding onto a hand and yanking).

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    6. ^I was looking forward to Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov until I read the comment upthread, and thought "Uh oh." Then I checked it out for myself, and unless there's some magic being worked at Canton, that is pitiful. Unhappily, I could see them winning, because of the look - her look evokes Navka, they pose nicely, etc. and figure skating has no standards anyway.

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    7. ^should be "ice dance" has no standards.

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    8. 11:30PM - Cinquanta's track record is that of an official who only cares about box office and popular appeal - if he has to trash a sport for that to happen, he'll sign off. He also seems like one of those lame duck types who likes to leave a bloody mess behind, instead of sedately leaving things be so the successor has more scope.

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    9. WP are so plain and their program choices are uninspired. Yes they have some nice skating skills but they don't have the charisma to match. They're only skating to get that gold medal and if they get it they will retire.

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    10. I only enjoy them when their music and skating is "in the middle". When they go for dramatic/intense, the deficits in both their technique and performance chops are highlighted (she tends to get sloppy either way, more than in the middle), ditto when they are effortfully carefree, light and chipper. Basic lyrical suits them best, that's their sweet spot, technically and in performance.

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    11. That said, both W&P's programs appear to be playing it safe - a holding pattern or even a step back from some of the things they tried in the last quad. I get that - a lot of times the idea is to strategically push yourself past your comfort zone. Then when you default back to your zone, everything's better. You're doing the same stuff, but there's more power, speed, amplitude, attack.

      Not seeing it.

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    12. I don't know that I agree, OC. I would say their FD is difficult in a different way than some of their recent programs. It's really packed, I don't think they could have managed it a few seasons ago, and I think some power and cleanliness will come with more outings. H/B have much more natural talent than W/P, but I think WP are showing *some* interdependent movement. They stay in contact almost the entire program, and there are sections where they are required to show some spatial awareness of each other or things could go wrong. I think most other teams would be tripping over themselves to perform the same choreography. Some of it looked like a struggle this outing, but they did get through it. Am I saying objectively it is an incredibly interdependent program? No, but I think to say there's nothing there undersells the program compared to what most of the rest of the field are doing (unless there are several impressive surprises from the teams we have yet to see. But likewise, I will be very suprised if P/I haven't improved enough over the summer to deserve to seriously contend for the Nats title.) As an aside, I agree that this style suits them well, especially bringing out some musicality in them.

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    13. ^I'll look again. I WAS comparing them to "them", not to other teams, and coming up "eh", and at first blush they are less interdependent than H&B, in addition, I felt they were skating further apart, even when in hold, than you'd expect from a top team. I only watched it once, and I know from VM and "Seasons" that a first look can be deceiving.

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    14. I'm already finding discussion confusing with the turnover this season, haha - are people meaning how teams stack up against the others still competing? Against V/M and the criteria (same thing, heh) ? Against themselves, have they improved? All valid discussions. I'm definitely troubled by the inflation we're seeing with the scoring - CoP is supposed to be an objective standard, not a ranking tool, but I'm also preoccupied with how the teams deserve to place relative to one another since it seems entirely possible certain terrible teams will be gifted with medals this season.

      Let me just add to my comment, though - I would agree that H/B's *execution* of interdependent skating is more successful in areas and more natural than W/P's. I guess I just mean I see the attempt at it in W/P's choreography, that there are such a small handful of teams making that attempt, and that I think they may be able to grow with this program (although I agree with the general consensus that they're nearing their ceiling).

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    15. I think there is some confusion, but I think at this point it is natural and to be expected that teams will be compared to themselves, each other, and of course to VM too.

      What feels impossible to me at this point is that there are really two conversations as we try to rank how the teams should be ranked according to CoP when it looks like we're about to have another round of terrible teams being gifted with scores and medals they didn't earn on the ice.

      I think we are seeing WP make attempts at things like interdependent skating, but WP don't have the natural talent that we see in some of the other teams.

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    16. "But likewise, I will be very suprised if P/I haven't improved enough over the summer to deserve to seriously contend for the Nats title."

      I'd be as well, as long as the emphasis is on "deserve to". I'd also be very surprised if Skate Canada decided to notice. They're setting up to be the Shibs of Skate Canada, although, fingers crossed, there's not as much evidence of them being thrown under the bus as there is with the Shibs. They got strong scores at Canadians last season, but I'm side eyeing their finish at Worlds, and suspecting Skate Canada wants to ratify that vis a vis Gilles Poirier.

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    17. I would rather wait and see for myself whether PI have actually improved, than to just predict that it would be surprising if they haven't. That smacks of something USFS would say about CB or DW - well, another year has passed, they have a great coach, so surely they improved over the summer. And WP, likewise, could have improved or will improve post-Nebelhorn, to the point that they extend their lead over PI.

      Let's watch the actual skating progress.

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    18. Well, wouldn't it be surprising if they haven't? If they haven't, I think everybody will say so, but based on their improvement from the 2012-2013 season to the 2013-2014, I think people will be surprised if they don't improve further. That doesn't mean fans won't acknowledge a lack of improvement, should that turn out to be the case. It's just saying what expectations are based on the progression of the last two seasons.

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    19. " I'm definitely troubled by the inflation we're seeing with the scoring - CoP is supposed to be an objective standard, "

      I'm concerned about the inflation too, and not just as a VM fan who doesn't like seeing people score as well as they did for far lesser programs.

      How come after TD won with straight 6.0s in 1984, we didn't see anything close to that again until GP in 1997 (and that was not nearly as many), and then we only saw the rare 6.0 until 2004 Worlds where everyone on the podium got a bunch because it was the last time they were used, but still, not nearly the straight row that TD got?

      (Nationals aside of course. Couples like Bourne Kraatz and Grushina Goncharov got straight 6.0s at their nationals.)

      How come just because VM (and DW, lol) are retired, everyone's bar resets to 9.0s and surely 10s by the end of the season? Where are all those standards? It bothers me in the sense that if VM returned, or some other couple with amazing skating skills and execution came along, there would be no room for them. IMO it's ok to say these are not the greatest times in ice dance, and no one deserves 9s right now. And then it will be meaningful when someone comes along and earns them for real. There are criteria - if someone's skating skills or transitions or interpretation doesn't match the ideal, give them an 8.

      There are definitely some token favorite skaters in singles and pairs, but there doesn't seem to be this automatic giving of huge scores to whoever is the lead of the moment, plus everyone else around them. CL and WP are passable, but mediocre skaters.

      The problem is that if these skaters need to improve, they won't be able to look at their scores and say ok we have deep edges so let's add more multi-directional skating, or let's add harder transitions. Everyone is getting the same scores. It's going to come down to "what the judges like and who gave 110%" which means again the programs are all going to be scored on bullshit and emotion with no criteria.

      How is this better than 6.0 again?

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    20. "Well, wouldn't it be surprising if they haven't? If they haven't, I think everybody will say so, but based on their improvement from the 2012-2013 season to the 2013-2014, I think people will be surprised if they don't improve further. That doesn't mean fans won't acknowledge a lack of improvement, should that turn out to be the case. It's just saying what expectations are based on the progression of the last two seasons."

      I think everyone tends to improve some each season, but that alone doesn't tell me enough (and I guess it also depends on what one thinks the gap between WP and PI was).

      PI improving tells me nothing. The marks are supposed to be given for the skating, not the improving. They can improve a ton, but so can everyone around them, or someone else could improve less, but still be better.

      I get picky about this because it was always an argument for DW that they had improved so much since 2010 and VM fans refused to see it. Let's just assume they did improve. What those commenters are ignoring is that EVERYONE in the field improved, most of them improved a lot more than DW did (WP and PB for example), and many of them were better than DW to begin with. Even if DW had improved 100% and VM only 5% (of course it was much more than that), DW would still be worse, because their starting point was extremely low.

      I just don't see the helpfulness in saying let's assume PI will have improved enough by January to contend for the title, in a vacuum, without likewise assuming improvements from everyone else that could keep the results the same or even have someone pass PI.

      I also wouldn't necessarily assume that they will improve at the same rate as previous years. They had a lot of problems in 2012-13, so 2013-14 was a huge improvement just in terms of being able to put two programs together. The improvements for this season might not be as dramatic.

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    21. Well let me be clear, then 10:30 AM, I believe P/I can legitimately contend for the Canadian championship based on their skating skills vis a vis the other contenders, not comparing them to prior versions of themselves. They're a fantastic ice dance team, as dancers and as skaters. I thought it was clear, when *I* and the previous poster, said "improve enough" we didn't mean "compared to themselves" but enough to legitimately compete for the top spot. Thanks for the explanation about comparing something to itself versus comparing something to other things, and then explaining how the "thing" that has improved the most doesn't automatically become better than the thing that improved the least, but I a) get it already, and b) wasn't suggesting the Canadian championship should be awarded to the "most improved." I was suggesting P/I could legitimately contend in 2014-2015.

      Who said they need to improve "at the same rate?" You must think they are much further back in the Canadian field than I do. I think on the merits they're the clear number 2, and would have to compare ice coverage and run of blade vis a vis WP to see how close to (or beyond) WP they are at this point.

      I believe Alex Paul had to recover from an injury (not sure of the chron), and Paul Islam had a big error in the free program at the Canadian championships in 2013. They didn't struggle with their skating skills or their dance skills, and combine the two better than any other ice dancers currently competing in Canada, along with the most interdependent choreography and directional changes than any other team.

      If I were to focus on an issue in 2012-2013 from what I saw, it was what I'd call a slight Sasha Cohen problem. Sasha Cohen didn't just possess wonderful amplitude and flexed back and all the pretty stuff, she was VERY athletic. Her jumps got a lot of air, she rotated very quickly. If she didn't jump as high or rotate as fast, her "eh" edge strength/security might have sufficed. Although she improved a lot, her edge strength/security never did match her athletic ability, and was often unequal to the task of securing her landings, and stabilizing her spins (that was more of an early problem) - or getting her spirals across the ice with good coverage and speed.

      Alexandra Paul works with a lot of intricacy, close footwork, multiple changes of hold and directions in hold, and sometimes would trip up in a transitional move or rotational move. It appeared that her edge wasn't always as secure in transitions and rotations, particularly as Paul Islam do very little telegraphing of either (less prep, often greater difficulty). She'd look stricken. This issue (not positive this WAS the issue in this instance, but anyway) reached its nadir when she and Mitch Islam wiped out at one point in their free at Canadians. It appears to have been the best thing to happen to them, because they came back with the attitude that they were going to skate with attack and conviction no matter what happened in the program. It also appears that, unlike Cohen, whose coaches struggled for years in vain to get her to drill her edges and her stroking (to keep pace with her choreography and her athleticism), Paul's edges strengthened between season's end 2013 and the beginning of 2013-2014, and only got stronger as the season wore on. She's much deeper into the ice than she used to be, and stays in it when she's transitioning and rotating, and I think that's what accounts for their improvement, and by improvement I mean power, strength and security. It's similar to how Kirsten Moore Towers worked over the summer to improve her stretch and strength. She carried her weight completely differently, she was stretching through her entire body, and it made a huge difference in her security in her throw and jump landings. She, too, was also deeper into the ice.

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    22. I don't see a lot of problems with their short program at Canadians 2013. Here's canadblue's comparison with Gilles Poirier's short program at Canadians 2013.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pUzQCp3TcFE&feature=player_detailpage

      Not really sure what Gilles Poirier accomplished on the ice to justify higher scores than Paul Islam in the short.

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    23. 5:19 here. OC has covered it, but yes, I meant (a) they've been clearly superior to G/P for a while, and they are already better in some areas and skating more difficult content than W/P, and are close in the areas they need to improve. Even if both W/P and P/I improve, the differential doesn't need to be large for P/I to be tied heading into Nats.

      Also on topic - the 2014 SD comparison with W/P
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tM33tdL9Q4o

      (b) you can make *predictions* about how a team might have improved based on what they've shown in the past. It's called extrapolation. They've improved the last couple of seasons in far more ways than just skating clean. Of course, skating clean is probably a direct result of their improvements as OC explained (I agree with the assessment of where Alex's weaknesses used to lie, and I don't think they would have had near the mistakes in competition they've had if they were skating the content of their competitors.) To compare it to the propaganda surrounding D/W and C/B is ludicrous. There was/is no past precedent to expect significant improvements like there is in P/I's case, and this is fans speculating, not saying "well, if P/I don't win at Nats, something's definitely screwy" and not Skate Canada suggesting publicly that P/I will obviously be the ones to beat this season because of their unseen improvement.

      Just some corrections/additions to OC's excellent comments.

      Just to clarify for those perhaps not familiar with the team, Islam's first name is Mitch, and I think by "Paul Islam", OC is meaning the team as a whole (Paul/Islam).

      Injury Timeline for Alex
      -Skate Canada 2010 goes very well for a first senior event, albeit with a bobble in the SD - they are 2nd in the FD.
      -While training for CoR 2010, Alex pulls a rib muscle.
      -They have a fall in the CoR 2010 SD which aggravates the injury, and they withdraw.
      -They come back to win bronze at their first Sr Nats in V/M's absence.
      -In Summer of 2011, her knee meniscus is injured.
      -2011 Skate America is a disaster.
      -She sustains a cut to her thigh in a warmup collision at 2011 NHK.
      -The rest of the season is shaky. Despite all the calamities, there is an overall improvement in their skating since 2010-11, in their twizzles for example.
      -No known injuries starting in 2012-13 (except withdrawing from the FD at Challenge due to Mitch getting food poisoning).
      -Mitch is the one who took the team down in the 2013 Nats FD diagonal, although Alex had a minor twizzle bobble right beforehand.
      -They themselves say an attitude change was in order and that Nats 2013 was a good motivator. At 2013 SC, Tracy Wilson says that Krylova told her she yells at them whenever they start to doubt themselves.
      -They had bobbles in the 2013-14 season, but that's only to be expected with a team skating incredibly difficult content, and they had several fantastic skates.

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    24. I think all of the DW discussion, not to mention the DW narrative itself, has corrupted the word "deserve". It doesn't always mean "Deserve it despite not being the best or even close." It can mean "deserve" because of their skating.

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  12. OT but I see Nathalie Pechalat and Brian Joubert are taking part in Danse Avec le Stars. FWIW, this is week 1 of the show:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MmCPklR9Tok

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5By09YUUv4

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    1. Even Brian is a better dancer than Meryl.

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    2. Well, he had better edges and posture than she did on the ice, so that doesn't surprise me one bit.

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    3. Nathalie's not just better than Meryl, she's better than Charlie (they did contemporary).

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