Saturday, December 12, 2015

Grand Prix Final Short Dance

Have some Level 4 twizzles
(First set)
Apart from Anna finishing the first set of a twizzles a rotation ahead of Luca, in the slow mo (and even not in the slow mo) it's apparent Anna pre-rotates the first twizzle with her upper body.

Still higher than the Shibs.
Talk about sticking the saber in your gut and moving it around (sorry for the analogy, it was in a young adult novel I had to read - long story). There you go, Shibs. Apparently the "as long as they're not seen to stumble" theory was giving ice dance too much credit.

As usual the press acts as if it's poor form to question even an outcome like this. Let's look at the protocols to justify the protocols. What's on the ice may as well not take place.

****



Above is Virtue and Moir's show program, Good Kisser, which, although a show program, is embedded just for the complete control they have over their bodies, their absolute unison, how it's a lot of staccato, isolation movement but is still driven from their blades, and even a show program is a level above everybody currently competing, but they'll be told to stay retired, and this gif of the rotational move in the program


is what high GOE actually looks like, since in eligible ice dance high GOE looks like anything.

***

I'm putting together a new blog cover, which, while basic, has a lot of images to pull together.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Things that make me go hmm

I'm more skating-focused than sham-focused at the moment, after not being either-focused for some time, but, this post is a throwback to the days of sham analysis/explication. After more than a year of the same blog cover image, I've finally started pulling together some ideas about a new blog cover. In that pursuit, I went through some old social media stomping grounds to search out new images of the old sham cast of characters.

I will never, ever, understand the skaters who went through Skate Canada in the mid-00s.

Here's what I mean. One sham alumni is Cynthia Phaneuf. Cynthia, to me, appears to be a straightforward case of that was then, this is now:
Up top is when she was hot and heavy with with the ubiquitous
Jay Chappelle. At bottom she's with her baby daddy,
and now-husband, Max Talbot.

Cynthia's sort of how we'd expect it to play. "Okay, I'm retired, can't be bothered with any more bullshit. Here's my real boyfriend. And my real facial expressions when I'm actually interested in the guy."

Then we have Bryce Davison:


and his lovely fiancee, on Bryce's facebook, an instant after getting engaged. I'm not saying they're not in love and engaged. Who'd fake an engagement? I'm fully expecting Ashley Schmidt (nee Davison) to bridesmaid it up the aisle (or grass, or sand) at her brother's nuptials. I'm just saying maybe, like so many other Skate Canada alumni, they're SO in love they don't need to put on a show. Look at the hands there.

Maybe Bryce was warped from the years of pretending Jessica was closer to Scott than to him, and hasn't yet learned it's okay to actually touch his future wife in front of the camera. Nothing major Bryce. Just uncurl your fingers. It's okay to touch the middle of her back through her bra, golf shirt, and warm-up jacket. You just got engaged for God's sake.

Here he is on fiancee' Michelle's facebook doing the actual proposing (photo apparently by Dylan Moscovitch):

Proposal. Only one point of contact.
High level of difficulty.
I don't know where I'm going with this. Just saying these are the only public photos on either of their facebooks, and who doesn't propose to his beloved twenty-five feet from a golf course parking lot, in front of his best guy friend who takes the picture for posterity? People propose via jumbotron in front of thousands of strangers all the time. He's got the ring in his right hand, but his left hand isn't doing anything. What's he supposed to do, touch her? It's the proposal, not the wedding night!

Cassandra:

A basic image from her starlet days with Scott.

Crazy for him. Can't miss it.

Now, below, here's the guy she's currently with, per her instagram and facebook. She's part of yet another couple so hot, so perfect, none of their friends need to be in relationships of their own.


Then there's the time in the way back that she briefly put up a profile shot of herself with what appeared to the public to be a random (to us) dude, whom she hashtagged as #justlikefamily:

#likeabrother
Going by her eyes and her smile, guess which is the platonic dude? You'd be wrong, according to CH.

I'm not being coy. Bryce's deal looks weird. Posing at an empty table in an empty restaurant weird, including the meh body language. I have no idea whom he might be with instead, if anyone, but if you're gonna put your engagement picture on social media why not do it up right like Charlie and Tanith did when they were "papped" getting engaged totally without their knowledge at some resort, in the company of the entire cast of Dancing with the Stars. They kissed and everything.

They actually are together, but actually full of shit
at the same time. This is for the "paps". (If they're
invited, aren't they not "paps", but venue photographers?
Particularly if money changed hands.)
Bryce and Michelle seem underwhelmed. Yet one comment adjacent to the photo of the ring is "You look so happy!!!!!" I've never seen Michelle before, but what is she usually, a chronic case of bitchy resting face? That's "SO" happy? Maybe Bryce likes them morose.

Cassandra's apparent boyfriend is a hockey player, so, I'm assuming super famous in his own world, and of course, since Cassandra's time with Scott and Tessa, her own star has - coincidentally, no doubt - ascended. (Cassandra's restaurant photo with her current SO also features unfilled glasses and empty plates.)

The sham has always ended up quid pro quo. Jessica and her family got travel perks, Jessica and her partners got assignment perks, Jessica got other perks, such as being one of Hello Canada's most beautiful. Cassandra was with an amateur modeling agency, not getting anywhere despite her family's money, and once she's discharged her sham obligations with Scott, she's in a totally different category - Miss Universe Canada London (there's a Miss Universe pageant every year - only post-Scott did she get in the loop), and she's a local luminary, the face of London Operation Smile.

Cynthia's how you'd think it would go. Okay, back to real life. A GREAT real life it looks like, but her facial expressions look real to me.

The other two are a little weird. In the celebrity world, there's sometimes the case of the has been who shows up with an entourage, acting paranoid about fans and security, going all cloak and dagger, when the reality is nobody cares - the fuss is all ego, vanity and front.

If there's post-sham new sham going on anywhere, my guess is that accounts for it.

Monday, November 30, 2015

November 30

I've watched more skating this past weekend and the weekend before than the previous eight months combined, caught up with everything pairs and ice dance in the Grand Prix series, and enjoyed some of it, because of

Alex Shibutani's hair,
Skate Canada 2015

which takes its place alongside

Tessa Virtue's 2007-2008 
Skate Canada CD skirt
as a non-skating facet of a skating program that, to me, is worth at least an extra level of GOE in the element in which it occurs.

(Re-watch that cd, performed a few years before VM got close to their prime, and see the hair's-breadth's distance between their skate blades in hold and changing hold. In that screen cap above, Scott has stepped BACK from Tessa. That distance is now the conventional separation between teams skating "closely" in hold. There are teams competing whose feet and bodies are markedly closer together compared to the the rest - Hubbell Donohue, the Shibs - but nobody approaches VM. They're extraordinary, but even if you're not them, it's not impossible to skate your patterns and your steps and be in hold with your feet decently close together, so you look like ice dancers and not middle-schoolers being put through an introductory Canskate drill. The ISU doesn't give a shit, though. Skaters that work on that aspect anyway, and skate well, will probably be rewarded with higher TES, while the team that can fit a picnic table between them will get bloated pcs.).

*****


Shibutanis. I love this. It's not a program highlight. It's part of a
small series of directional changes. It's just a grace note.


I don't know why the ISU abruptly decided to green light scores for the Shibutanis that almost reflect how much better they skate than almost anybody else, after the ISU spent four straight years punishing them for something - I think it's the TES mark they got over DW that time - with the stench of futility.

I'd like to imagine the parental Shibutanis, from whom the public never ever hears a peep, parents whom I fantasize were at least partially responsible for telling Maia and Alex: "No way are either of you appearing in that W Network Tessa and Scott tire fire," finally took their bank account and slugged a few ISU people around the head with it, without letting any actual $$ fall into the pockets of any officials.

Because it's the Shibs, and I love their skating, I can be happy that their actual skating was recognized, instead of my remaining uncaring because giving good scores to good skating has become as meaningless as giving good scores to crap. It's arbitrary, and always will register that way, because of Sochi.

Skate Canada juiced the scores for Weaver & Poje at Skate Canada, although probably not as much as they'd have preferred. I like Weaver & Poje compared to Gilles & Poirier, Chock & Bates, and last year's "World Champions", but not in comparison to evenly matched ice dancers with fluid power and speed who move with their entire bodies, who have wonderful unison, and matchless musicality.

I'm still curious as to how Skate Canada was brought on board to sell out Virtue and Moir in the post-Vancouver quad, and were convinced to set DW up for Sochi even before that. I don't know if it's a good or bad sign for their Worlds prospects that, OTOH, nobody thinks throwing Weaver & Poje under a bus is worth anything in trade. Kaitlyn Weaver is notably stiff-backed and short-stepped in comparison to the Shibs, she and Andrew Poje were creaky with their new program. The Shibs outskated Weaver & Poje, using more of the rink than anyone else, with the longest, most powerful run of blade anywhere this season, so of course they received higher TES, but lower pcs than a clunky W&P. Figure skating loves to make sense.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

(Very) Small Mercies. The Shibutanis at Skate Canada

 The only upside to the Shibs coming in second at Skate Canada was at least it wasn't: "Did you hear something?" "Nope, I didn't hear anything."

They're in the runner-up mix now. Oh joy. Leaps and bounds for the ice dance team that I, for one, now consider the best in the world. If only ice dance could become a sport.

For me, Skate America was a huge what else is new, although a poster on Goldenskate had a belated observation, which will be cited later.

Before touching on the Shibs at Skate Canada, let's check in with life along the Milk and Honey Route, where Tessa plays model, hawks her jewelry line, and fiddles with filters and photoshop on instagram, while Scott's menage a trois continues strong:

I've followed this crap enough to be
pretty sure those are Kaitlyn's feet.
Nothing to brag about, not saying it is.
 What a life. It's almost a sister wives arrangement he's got going here. Scott Moir, who knew. Still, it's a bit odd to me that this is a guy whose primary influences in his career have been women (no matter what he pretends, it ain't Mike Babcock), and yet it's the women who appear to have more insecurity about the perception of Scott's traditional masculinity than I imagine any man could possibly have. Maybe some feminist consciousness raising is in order in Ilderton.

So, Skate America. These remarks from Goldenskate, I think, cover everything:

From "Moon" at Goldenskate. About Gilles & Poirier, but could easily be about Chock & Bates:
 I think that this is the point many people are trying to make. They are fun to watch but ice dance is a sport and is and should be marked predominantly on technique and quality of the blades knees and hips. This is the quality that makes good icedance versus pairs without lifts.
 I think sloppy feet and poor extension is a quality that any dancer is trying to show no matter what style they choose. This is not just a G/P problem. So many teams are trying to emulate SYTYCD programs and it has turned into messy show dancing. If you cant control your body movements and are constantly clutching and grabbing your partner for balance then scale back on the OTT moves and concentrate on partnering properly and blade work.

Oh come on now Moon, that horse left the barn after 2012. Why would anyone scale back when every deficit you're highlighting put an Olympic gold medal in Davis and White's possession vis a vis a team that not just did everything better than they did, but did it better than anybody in the world to that point. More accurate to say the "silver medalists" did everything, and the ones wearing gold didn't do anything that the rules, standards and critieria tell us are needed to get the highest protocols. Not to mention Virtue and Moir weren’t the only ones who beat Davis White on the actual ice.

****
Okay, Skate Canada. Duhamel Radford won pairs:



My problem with their skating is that Megan's run of blade is miniscule, and she is so stiff, so tight, so cautious, so pitched forward, she seems not to be breathing, let alone breathing through her movements, and, strikingly so compared to Radford's fluidity. The poverty of her range of motion makes Meryl Davis look like Misty Copeland (okay, not really. They both suck). This is another team scored on the stronger partner, contrary to what the rules proscribe. Duhamel used to be a demolition derby. I guess everybody's decided clenched is an enormous improvement. There's also this:

Lutz entry to the split triple twist, without the actual lutz part. Look at the protocols. Let's not get the outside edge, and just say she did.

*****

Skate Canada and the Shibs:

Their two magnificently skated programs came in second to a couple of polished (but not as polished as the Shibs themselves) journeyman efforts by the home team. Naturally and as ever, the team that crushed their competition in pcs, on paper, LOST the competition in pcs.

Quote from Sun Dae on Goldenskate:

Free dance practice was also very convincing for The Shibutani's. Hard to put my finger on it but they are skating with a lot of "moxie" and confidence. New music section works well with footwork which had emotion and expression throughout. Maia looks completely different this year. Not a little girl any more at all.

 I'll put my finger on it, Sun Dae. They're skating their programs, and at the highest level. Clean feet, speed, power, unison, fluidity, musicality, run of blade, tremendous ice coverage, seamless transitions, using the entire rink. Remember that? Weaver and Poje were pedestrian compared to the Shibs.
 
Love this from the Shibs short program:


In terms of gifs, it was between this and the stunning rotational in the long. Compare either of this programs with - forget Weaver and Poje - anything the current World Champions have ever tried.

If I were scoring this, the Shibs would have run away with the competition, Brobrova and Soloviev about six points back in second, but neck and neck with Weaver and Poje for third.

I'm only slagging off on Weaver and Poje vis a vis the Shibs. Weaver and Poje are Virtue and Moir compared to Chock/Bates and Gilles Poirier, yet the Grand Prix final and Worlds set up to score ice dance in inverse relation to what any team delivers on the ice so that God forbid a Marina Zoueva team win a major title in a third Olympic cycle. That's all we're looking at here. Paul/Islam, unfortunately, are elbowing a bunch of other teams for consideration up in Montreal, and the fact that they're Canadian probably works against them there.

Maia and Alex Shibutani after the free at Skate Canada.
Considering how they've been fucked over, their
passion and their skill are extraordinary. Even NOT
considering that, they're extraordinary.
  
 






Sunday, October 11, 2015

I'm sure they've got a lot to say.

And now, "skating":


Weaver and Poje
Finlandia 2015 short dance

The skating got rough with the music change, but then they actually do skate their programs while remaining engaged with each other.

And here's Bratislava:



Oh  hey. Power and speed.
Let's ignore it.


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Senior B

I was just catching up with Nebelhorn and

The generation of ice dancers (the group who went for it in 2010) immediately previous to the cluster of meh currently competing, seemed to be having a good time when they competed, at least most of the time. There was adrenalin on the ice and in the audience. There was enthusiasm among the skaters skating their programs, warming up, or in practice. There was a rush when stakes were high, even more when everything clicked, that made it easy to understand why so many figure skaters are addicted to the sport.

Since - and with the majority help of the North American officials in both the USA and Canada -  it was agreed in the last Olympic cycle that neither skating nor dance should be important in competitive ice dance, all vitality is gone from what was once almost a sport. Sport goes when the measurable, defined athletic and technical skills that make it sport (in this instance, the skating and dancing parts of ice dance) are no longer relevant. But, in ice dance, sport wasn't replaced with anything. It's not like the having legit wrestling supplanted by the circus of the WWW. Nothing's come through the grapevine telling the skaters/coaches to develop performance value or build particular entertainment attributes in their programs. There's been no edict to pump ice dance full of romance, drama, personality, musicality - nothing. The sport part's been supplanted by a void. We've got futility on ice, and unsurprisingly, it's turned ice dance into a big swamp of meh. Many skaters execute like they're pumped full of benzodiazepines.* Forget excitement. The skaters are missing affect.

Even if you decide accept that it's all fixed, and set out to enjoy the skating in ice dance for its own sake, regardless of outcome, that option has gone to crap as well. The stasis in ice dance has made the pre-determined winners overly deliberate, executing programs built around a caution and self-protection that's masquerading as choreography. It’s created anxiety among those who deserve to improve their placement. It’s had an overall adverse impact on speed, glide, power, and ice coverage, and its accompanying momentum, and so everything is dull, on camera and in person. Teams appear to be watching themselves skate, to be outside themselves, and from my perspective, it's also suppressing any organic connection the skaters have with the music, their choreography, and each other. Skaters are skating as if they’re oppressed; they're skating with the wrong kind of tension.

 I think even for those at the top, the futility of ice dance has had a quelling effect. It’s about getting their hardware, their placement, that the organization is already planning to give them, and not fucking it up. For those lower down, it’s about hoping whatever they achieve in performance on the ice isn’t futile, but worrying it is.

I don’t think it’s a whole lot of fun for skating fans either. With one or two exceptions, none of whom made the world podium or appear likely to do so this season, the field is populated by the mediocre – mediocre skaters, mediocre dancers, mediocre partnerships. For these, the proscribed work around is to put something together that can be executed cleanly, meaning without a perceptible fall or obvious stumble, right out of the gate at the start of the season, skate at a pedestrian pace with unexceptional ice coverage, and signal the importance of a moment and the security of your skills with your face and arms. It’s about posing your skills, instead of actually having them, and we can all see there's an obvious aversion to actually skating out there. Too risky, too much exposure. The season starts like that and remains a flatline through Worlds. The ISU is rewarding stasis. Ice dance has all the joy of a Stalinist era military exercise.

This is just from watching ice dance at Nebelhorn. That was depressing. I like Paul and Islam’s free dance, and their skating, and they did stumble (as did Madison Chock), but even when a team like that skates their very considerable best, there’s a sense that they can’t permit themselves to show conviction that they are skating their best, or maybe it’s that they can’t muster up any conviction that it matters, or would matter if they did. Of course it's even more so when there are any glitches.


Chock and Bates are skating to maintain where they are, maintain all the way to the top of the World Podium, what with Papadakis and Cizeran, and possibly Weaver Poje, out right now. Their prospects for a gold medal at the Grand Prix Final and another at worlds are bright - with the absence of the other two teams, a certainty even. Look how excited they are, how much fun they're having, just as it should be at a low pressure Senior B without terribly much at stake.Just enjoying themselves.



It’s almost as as much fun as watching Davis White’s glacial, strained, gasp across the finish line effort in Sochi, which was an exercise in not falling down and nothing else, and it showed. Now the whole sport looks like that, even among the real skaters. I wonder if the Shibs were so demoralized last season it will affect them as well.

*Class of tranquilizers.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Looking back to look ahead

My favorite thing after spending part of this week looking at a few of the new programs unveiled in this (nearly) past summer’s competitions:



Predictable favorite, but I can't yet get excited about, say, ice dance until Papadakis Cizeron show us their new stuff. It's sure to be a revelation of general flowy-ness, blowy hair, wavy arms, honey-toned highlights and pretty tans. Can't really assess the potential in the 2015-2016 dance scene until those two show us where the bar is.

Many fans are excited about Ilushechkina/Moscovitch's Led Zeppelin short, but this Rachmaninoff long program has what I like best at the highest level of pairs skating (skating-wise, not placement-wise). The visceral thrill parts, a rolling wave of music and movement that sweeps the audience along until climaxing with the huge triple throw - in this program, it happens on a musically rumbling, low thundering downbeat.* (Blogger won't let me upload any version of the video clip illustration I made. The peak moment I'm talking about starts, in the above video, at 2:26 - 2:52 )

There is also this:



Kill me now.

Meagan and Erik, taking the skating out of pairs skating one quad throw at a time. They’re unabashedly crawling and cautious here, and no matter what the rest of the program looks like, it'll still be slow mo for these two tricks. They stalk that second quad for how long, killing how many seconds? He's doing more throwing her up (as it were) than across. Yet the likelihood is they repeat as World Champs.

Although they need bigger tricks to compete at the highest level, let me not overlook another Canadian pairs team:


Gilles and Poirier


Friday, July 31, 2015

Scott and Tessa are still "Tessa and Scott"

Tessa and Scott, presented by the W Network.
Partnership venture with the NY Times to follow?
This post takes a winding road to the subject of Tessa and Scott:
And to other reporters: Democracy is not a game. It is not a means of getting our names on the front page or setting the world abuzz about our latest scoop. It is about providing information so that an electorate can make decisions based on reality. It is about being fair and being accurate. This despicable Times story was neither.
Journalist Kurt Eichenwald, for Newsweek. He says “Democracy”, but for me, the point is journalism is not a means of self-promotion and self-positioning for the individual journalist, and all other considerations can fuck off. But as times have evolved, that’s all journalism has mostly become.

The block quote opening this blog post is a summing up from an old school, veteran investigative journalist writing about last week’s New York Times’ rushing into above-the-fold print a “criminal referral into Hillary Clinton’s handling of emails” story based upon a document that turned out to not concern Hillary Clinton and not be a criminal inquiry. The document dealt with a dispute between the U.S. State Department and the Office of the Inspector General over the classification of emails currently being reviewed for release in response to the Freedom of Information Act. The IG office is saying to State: “We disagree with your classification process/criteria” and the State Department is saying, “Fuck off, this is our turf.”

So, Pulitzers all around, and throw that uppity witch in jail. In a separate interview, Eichenwald mentioned that one of the Times reporters on the story has a reputation as a hype artist, and had bungled a non-political 2009 story, an event that seemingly did not stick in the NY Times institutional memory. The paper appears happy to employ and promote witless morons.

While a whole bunch of commentators are deriding the Times, and calling for accountability, the Times is shrugging it off. It even reasserted how proud it is of its “aggressive”, if factually inaccurate, faked up political reporting. Critics are just jellus.

I just put this here for anyone wondering why the sports and entertainment media is blithe about telling us whatever Scott and Tessa want said about them, or for anyone insisting that the media would blow Scott and Tessa's cover if they were lying. There’s no accountability at the presumptive highest level of journalism, and there certainly is none among the bottom feeders (sports, entertainment and all soft “news” programs) and talking heads.

The title of the document upon which the Times story purported to be based, a public document as easily obtained as a press release, was "Potential Issues Identified by the Office of the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community Concerning the Department of State’s Process for the Review of Former Secretary Clinton’s Emails under the Freedom of Information Act (ESP-15-05).” This was somehow interpreted by the Times and its source(s) as: “Office of the Inspector General Hereby Makes a Criminal Referral into the Actions of Hillary Clinton vis a vis her Emails while Secretary of State.”

This happened because neither the reporters, nor the individual widely believed to be their source:

Draco Malfoy*
had seen or read the easily obtained document that formed the basis of the Times’ blockbuster scoop.

That’s a lot here above in this post about stuff that’s not directly related to Tessa and Scott. It relates to media accountability at what some consider the highest level. As we can see, when tested, there isn’t any. Write what you want. Lie your face off. I think the cultural change over the past decade is the media no longer even pays lip service to what the consumer thinks. They’re sort of flaunting the fact that credibility is a non-issue, because "we" don’t factor into their process. I think a lot of those in media are having a sustained tantrum over the reality that, vis a vis social media, the public has a direct voice, and that fact has made “legit” media hostile to the public. One of the reasons the blog started in the first place was to reassert that the public has a voice through social media, and social media doesn’t have a hierarchy. Virtue and Moir were using social media as a one-way street. “We’re the celebrities, we tell you what’s true, you shut up and pretend to believe it, while we entertain ourselves mocking you for believing it.” IOW, “we’re somebody, y’all are nobody.” When the blog began, it was because I didn’t see any reason why skating fans shouldn’t join the members of the public that push back on assumptions like that one.

Today, journalism is just a job to leverage the “journalist” into celebrity. That’s the agenda behind the decisions made by many many people in media. It has nothing to do with delivering information, or even (setting the bar low) accurately promoting something. The only thing most journalists are interested in promoting is themselves. Don’t get in the way, public.

******

I did my monthly twitter review and found nothing of interest, except that Tessa and Scott continue to spend way more time together on non-skating appearances than that other famously compatible platonic pair, Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto managed post Vancouver. If there are more freeze-frame style canoodling instagram images of Kaitlyn and Scott, I can’t wait to see them.**

I looked at some of Tessa and Scott’s promotion rounds on youtube, including their downright painfully stale TEDxyouth appearance last spring. Awkward, recycled, zero points for effort, with a side of cattiness and pandering bitchery. Kudos to the young Toronto audience for its palpable collective uncertainty, and for the "This is really WTF, but I don’t want to be impolite” ambience with which it received Scott and Tessa’s nuggets of self-referential wisdom (arcane “wisdom” applicable only to Scott and Tessa if the content of Scott and Tessa's remarks were true, but as it’s lies and backstabbing, it's applicable to nobody). I don’t understand how Scott can recite the same lies for going on the second decade, zero variation, yet at one point lose his place and train of thought while he fumbles his index cards. His tells used to be endearing, now I think they’re calculated. “I hate lying so much, I get clumsy and conspicuously uncomfortable when I do it.”  Except it’s bullshit.



Tessa and Scott use the TEDxyouth talk (from the TEDxYouth website: “TEDxYouth events are fun, imaginative, and smart TEDx events designed for, and often organized by, young people. They bring ideas worth spreading to all ages.”) to recycle stale circa 2010 fake biography talking points, including Tessa’s fan fiction about the compartment syndrome rift, and much cattiness and side eye about Canton. Throughout, Tessa’s voice quavered and Scott fidgeted. Tessa continued her nervous habit of smiling while catty, which I think made the audience uncomfortable. Virtue and Moir did basically nothing to help the audience go from micro (Tessa and Scott's particular experience) to macro (takeaways the audience could apply to their own challenges). They were lazy.

According to Tessa, when they trained in Waterloo, they were enveloped in support and warmth, an environment which helped them sustain some normalcy, such as going to an actual school in a real building. But when exiled in the United States among a bunch of Russians and Americans, things sure changed. They were forced to take classes on line. Michigan didn’t allow them to physically attend school in an actual building. This had nothing to do with the schedule of a couple of elite, high performance athletes training for Olympic competition, and everything to do with Michigan’s hostile environment towards soft-hearted Canadians. The coaches were inapproachable, cold bitches, Scott and Tessa were separately forced to room with high strung competitor skaters out to get them. They had to sleep with one eye open. There were no responsible adults in sight. 

I know some of us were under the impression, based on what, I’m certainly not sure, that Kate Virtue moved first to Waterloo, and then to Michigan, to room with her vulnerable daughter, and were further under the impression that Kate Virtue publicized this after Vancouver so that none of us could speculate that Scott Moir ever had the slightest opportunity to take Tessa’s virginity.

Apart from “Try to adapt, as we did, if, during your training for the ice dance Olympics, your partner develops compartment syndrome”, and “Be glad you’re Canadian, because the US is full of nasty, backstabbing Americans and cold, inapproachable Russians who might pretend to support your goals but will undermine them at every step.” – there wasn’t much of the typical TED talk: “Here is my specific experience, and now let me pull back, open the aperture, develop context, cite other people’s experience, reference research, and draw connections in a way that you could apply to your own life/goals”. Tessa and Scott’s TED talk reaffirms that they have a very shaky concept of “others". At their most low-maintenance, well-groomed and polite, they still think it’s about their story. Them. Even in a TED talk, it’s not about finding ways (you know, giving some real thought to the experience of other people) for their story to reach out and help people with their own challenges. 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

While doing twitter catch-up, I began hoping wondering if Scott and Tessa could be taking a shot at re-setting the narrative. Maybe they were toying with the idea of launching a menage a trois along the lines of Anais Nin/Henry Miller/June Miller. Tessa and Kaitlyn sort of fit the parts. Maybe the Kaitlyn Lawes/Scott Moir origin story would take a turn:

From wikipedia:
At the end of 1931, [Anais] Nin, finds herself dissatisfied with being a timid, faithful wife to her banker husband, Nin and her husband contemplate the possibility of opening their relationship. However when Anais meets June Miller, she is magnetically drawn to her and perceives June to be the most beautiful and charismatic woman she has ever met. Nin pursues an extremely intense, ambiguous, sexually charged friendship with her. When June leaves, Nin becomes involved with Henry, and begins an uninhibited sexual and emotional affair with him, which prompts an intellectual and sensual awakening. A friendship is formed between the two that was maintained throughout both artist's lives.
Henry, June and Anais


It’s right under our nose.

Come on guys, do something. Apropos of something much more serious, The Daily Show's Jon Stewart recently talked about "the nuanced language of lack of effort." Scott and Tessa's social media presence isn't all that nuanced, but the lack of effort part is nailed. I don't know if it's @jonescurl ladies specifically, or curling in general, but the curling angle has dull optics.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

T'was not the Season(s)

This gif-fest reacts to a small segment of the Virtue Moir fandom who criticized VM's choice to skate a debacle like Seasons at the Olympics instead of something mesmerizingly awesome such as Papadakis Cizeron's 2014-2015 free dance.

There are about 12 VM gifs and a few more PC gifs than that, so I'll get started now and finish up later.

When I made the gifs for these two programs, obviously I muted the music, and then we had two programs in the lyrical-romantic vein, so it was hard to decide where to be mesmerized, until you looked at skating content. Among other things.

Notes: Tessa Virtue straightens her legs rather more than Gabrielle Papadakis, who never straightens hers ever, while possessing hips nearly tighter than Meryl Davis's. I don't think either Virtue and Moir's skating, nor their choreography in Seasons suffers much in comparison to Papadakis/Cizeron's performance, despite Seasons's deficiency of drooping-flower-in-the-meadow body language or dramatic head rolls. And despite Tessa's failure to use fluttery fabric on her skirt. And despite Tessa and Scott neglecting to acquire matching light tans. Tessa does her own, interdependent skating while in and out of connection with Scott, rather than relying upon him to steer and turn her around the ice, but OTOH there's a clearly insufficient number of fluttery pirouettes performed in place as Scott gesticulates emotively while gliding, and yes, possibly Virtue and Moir could have raised their arms and eyes to the arena ceiling more frequently.

Yet, while I could see these choreographic omissions being perceived as less romantic, I don't get why some think it lesser skating. Or even less "impactful" skating, the most important category, usurping all others.

I think the main reason some may have preferred Papadakis/Cizeron to Virtue/Moir is they think the music is prettier. The clothes are prettier, the hair is styled more romantically, and the emoting gives more feels.

But the skating - it's not better. Or even in the same universe. I think lifts were mentioned, so I can't wait to get to those.

Here are the gifs (there will be some commentary):








Maybe Virtue and Moir's skating is too big?
The enormous run of blade/ice coverage thwarts
intimacy?


Though Papadakis Cizeron work to convey otherwise, a strong 
skating program is performed more with the blades than by
swinging the arms. Kudos for their arms remaining attached
to their shoulders after this performance; that took some doing.
One of VM's tired, easy lifts.




I'm not convinced all of ^  is what the figure skating
glossary means by "knee action".


My gifing slowed down a bunch at this point,
because the whole program looks like this.^
I kept thinking I was stuck at the same place, and
had to double check.
These guys could be the 2015 World Champions.


I wonder if Virtue and Moir would have lost half their fans if some of these fans had only found Meryl Davis to be a prettier looking woman. Or if Meryl Davis had a longer leg to torso ratio.

To be continued, but until then, jumping ahead to this:

So VM fans can gnash their teeth over how Tessa and
Scott's lackluster 2014 Olympic program didn't have this move
featuring a Weaver & Poje circa 2009 hydroblade
with an easier entrance, and Gabrielle using a full Meryl Davis
back-hooked arm around Guillame's neck coming out.


Sunday, May 31, 2015

Football, FIFA, Figureskating

I don't know, I feel that for the past six years, in many ways, figure skating, on and off the ice, is the real deflate gate.*
Sports are more than metaphor. Most boys adore sports because of the athletic aesthetic, trust in the final score and that both were attained by fair play. It’s what distinguishes the NFL from the WWE.
We assume one has old-school behemoths who play within the lines, and the rules, and the other has juiced-up behemoths who win by breaking the rules like a chair over a bulging back. Once the laws are more malleable, then the line between fact and fiction becomes obscured. We no longer know the difference between pro football and pro wrestling.
Jason Keidel, CBS Los Angeles
Keidel should get with the present century and substitute "people" for "boys" (WTF?), but it's nice Keidel has his ideals, and believes it’s still possible to preserve/defend select sports from the culture of fraud, instead of joining the chorus telling us none of it makes any difference. All the sports journalists are using the WWW as the point of no return. Baseball, football, soccer, dear God, get your house in order or you’ll end up like the WWW. A circus act. Not a sport.

OTOH, maybe if sports journalists thought "boys" watched figure skating, they'd give a shit that it's corrupt, and the line between fact and fiction has disappeared. I believe a significant component of figure skating's problem is its demographic. It has a demographic everybody thinks they can shit on. If it were perceived to have "boys" in its demo, figure skating might tread more carefully.

Figure skating is much more fraudulent than wrestling. If, in the WWW, cheating happens so Behemoth A defeats Behemoth B, at least Behemoth A actually did defeat Behomith B. The referee doesn't use a wet towel to slap awake the guy laid out unconscious on the mat after a knockout, haul him to his feet and declare him the victor.

In American football’s deflategate, depressurizing footballs allowed Tom Brady better purchase on the ball, so it would sail when thrown, not drop like a brick. If football were like figure skating, Tom Brady could literally throw a brick, or nothing but interceptions, and be awarded touchdowns anyway.

Figure skaters such as Ashley Wagner have tried to sell the blurred lines between sport and melodrama as part of figure skating’s appeal. And certainly Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir are here to remind us figure skating is a joke.**

After Vancouver 2010, which was marketed as the Integrity Figure Skating Olympics, figure skating 180’d towards the “It’s all about melodrama, personalities, entertainment and marketing!” route Wagner has embraced. That’s fine, except then you're no longer a legitimate Olympic sport. You're a Kardashian. Scott is, Tessa is, Davis and White are, and, come to how it handles itself off-ice, more people, like Kaitlyn Lawes and @jonescurl join in. Role modeling their hearts out on social media while lying through their teeth and hoaxing their supporters.

I wish figure skating could be exposed the way international soccer is exposed, the way the deal making and hard core corruption in FIFA is exposed. All it would take is a mainstream journalist actually reading the Code of Points, and spending a little bit of time on youtube familiarizing themselves with some basic edgework and steps. Throw up some screen caps and video shorts while asking a couple of questions about how the two were connected on the protocols. That’s it. Nobody, not even those who have written about figure skating for decades, have bothered to do that. Fans have done it, but unless that's acknowledged, it's like a tree falling in a forest. Back to the demographic - I believe if football fans, or fans of perceived "masculine" sports were pointing out this this type of evidence on line, sports journalists would pay attention.

The FIFA international criminal investigation and arrests are being driven by international financial crime laws, not sports regulation violations that are investigated internally, and penalized internally with fines, suspensions, and banning.

I look at what happened with figure skating in 2014 at the Grand Prix final and Sochi, and in its fundamentals, it looks a whole lot closer to FIFA than deflategate. But we’re talking pocket change, probably, compared to the sums at stake with FIFA wheeling and dealing. The principle, though, is similar. Dore, Retstatt and Lavoit didn’t cooperate to bring about Davis and White’s Olympic victory without getting something tangible out of the deal for themselves.

Even those who write about figure skating with enthusiasm are simultaneously a bit embarrassed to do so, and wouldn’t be caught dead taking it seriously. If they did take it seriously, they’d actually bother to know what they’re talking about, and be willing to engage with others who know what they’re talking about. Instead, fans and everyone else who takes it seriously as a sport are shut down.

Figure skating remains an Olympic sport, and shouldn’t be as it conducts itself now. I feel like there are figure skating fans waving their arms, trying to signal some attention from various regulatory or investigative entities, and the helicopters just refuse to see them, disappearing into the horizon.

If you don’t know what’s happening on the field of play, there is no way to recognize the empirical evidence that demonstrates corruption has taken place. It’s right in front of everybody’s face, but if everybody pretends not to know what’s there, it’s hopeless. Worse, when corruption in figure skating does get attention, most of it has been ginned up bullshit used as misdirection from real corruption.

How cute - Scott reassures Tessa that her pre-competition
rituals weren't that crazy. He's evolved so much since
"Tessa and Scott", where her every personality quirk
grated on his nerves to the point where he appeared to
be manfully clenching his jaw so as not to sock
her in the face. One more leap forward and maybe these
crazy kids will finally get together.
On another front, I think I’ve temporarily mislaid many of my “Drunk Scott” jpgs. I started looking for them after half-watching Mad Men’s season finale (for me, an exercise in “you have that to work with and you did that with it?"), and at several junctures I was reminded of social media Scott:

The left is Season 4, where the sick on Draper's shirt is
precisely where we usually find Scott's beer drool, and
the right from the series finale is from Mad Men
Screencaps with Things Drawn on Them
http://madmenwiththingsdrawnonthem.tumblr.com/page/2
Donald Draper is a middle-aged man in the grip of a long-running, destructive and painful existential crisis featuring a pitifully tenuous grip on his sense of self, while when we've see Scott in this condition, we assume he's just being masculine. I hope Kaitlyn has been a sobering influence.

Scott role modeling proper usage of the possessive and
plural on mother's day. 


*For its fans. Psychologically.

**Which is sad, because both are much more articulate and far more informed than Scott Hamilton and Sandra Bezic, but that's not why NBC hired them. NBC has decided figure skating is a camp event. Fine, but, which, again, not an Olympic-eligible sport.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

I no longer have the flu, but like almost everybody I know, I've persisted with a kind of half-assed, coldish, allergyesque, malaise-y kind of feeling, despite experiencing some really really really really nice weather, and an overall general delightedness that spring has sprung. I wonder what's causing it:


When I know it’s (way past) time to crawl into the web
and find out what Scott and Tessa are up to.
Every time I trek back into the figure-skating regions of the internet, I wonder if maybe something like this went down while I was away:


While occupied elsewhere I could easily miss it, given how much real news is happening these days (Bruce Jenner!). But it always turns out not to worry, it's still Groundhog Day in Scott and Tessa Territory. Both on track to pass their thirtieth birthdays still lying their asses off with the avid participation (actual help isn’t really required) of the many eager beavers in Canada's media demi-cartel. I bet Virtue Moir didn’t anticipate, back in 2008, that it would become the norm for the mainstream North American media to peddle bullshit it knows flatout is bullshit, and doesn't care. We're not talking see no evil, hear no evil. Not failure to verify. Straight up. Tessa and Scott's mid-00s hoaxing antics matured in time to intersect seamlessly with the current Zeitgeist, which is essentially all bullshit, all the time.

Tessa used to want to be different, Tessa and Scott used to say they wanted to do their own thing, but in this regard they’re just lemmings.

Scott, never change:


“Now that that pressure is gone, we can both
focus on our LOVE … for skating and how much
we
love to skate ... TOGETHER”
 
Actually, he could change a little. I wonder if he still gets a kick out of himself still using the same material from 2009.



I of course read this:

Dating

More fun clippings for mommy and daddy's scrapbook. Kirk Penton has the byline.

The rest of Team Jones discusses how they’re dealing with the heightened public attention the curling team has done nothing but energetically cultivate since they stepped off the podium. It's how you do. Bust a hernia jockeying for the spotlight, then smile gamely and interview: "Oh my gracious - attention! Let us demonstrate what good sports we are about it!" 

I don’t think you even have to be really having any kind of authentic celebrity experience, because we all know that if your publicist tells a "journalist" you're getting attention, the media will say you are without having the first clue if you are or aren’t. What is the media going to do – verify? They’re too busy using celebrities to create celebrity for themselves.

************

I was really interested to read in Vanity Fair that NBC's news division was run by a woman who came up the Peggy Olson way (began as a secretary), accumulating an extensive management background but with a complete gap where news experience would belong. She has plentiful soap opera background, and for that matter, why does one actually need a news background, when the way you manage a news division is to commission a bunch of focus groups to find out what they think of the on-air personalities. Then you do what you want, because focus group research only exists to back-up something you’ve already decided upon. The article describes how communication among the different honchos up and down NBC's hierarchy was less than clear cut and aboveboard, and how Brian Williams did what he wanted and reported how he wanted because he was a network celebrity. His supervisors at NBC - once they remembered that's what they were - didn't really care that he'd lied. Turns out Williams' career-stalling blunder was crafting his weirdo apology himself, and delivering it on air without alerting anyone in advance. No no. You're supposed to hole up in your apartment with NBC's crack marketing wizards, shades drawn, for three days until you produce something that makes the lies slide by like butter. Williams went rogue when it mattered most.* Sheesh. Don't ad lib your own explanation for why you lied your face off, fool! Let the pros write it, that's why we pay them.



Sunday, March 29, 2015

Ugh

Apologies for whatever happened with the photo upload last night. My browser at times shows issues when there are none, so I assumed that was it when the images didn't show for me.

Iliushechina/Moscovitch death spiral
I take it back - I don't think IM's placement really merits sarcasm, considering the death spiral was just gone. They frustrate me. To my surprise, Iliushechkina well and truly has her jumps, both of them, but it's like whack-a-mole. They nail one problem and then there's a weird outcrop somewhere else. I think I'm afraid it's a focus issue.

Still:


I thought Savchenko Szalkowy stalked their quad. Duhamel Radford frustrate me too. The calibre of Meagan's skating was well below that of Eric's at Worlds; but as their coach pretty much said, once you start getting pcs, you keep getting pcs. Every discipline in figure skating is turning into a nightmare.

And there's this:



There ya go, Angelika Krylova. You garbaged Virtue and Moir for nothing.

The fifth place Shibs weren't asked to skate in the gala, but I'm sort of curious if next season they start getting better scores while Weaver & Poje are thrown under the bus. I won't cry if that happens, and I sort of wonder if it might. They won't be able to touch Chock & Bates of course.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Some weeks back, U.S. network news anchor Brian Williams, father of spectacularly charismatic superstar Allison Williams, was put on “suspension” for making up stuff about his adventures in the field. Social media made a whole lot more fun of the vainglorious nature of his fabrications than they did of the fact that he was a news anchor making shit up.

Brian Williams is the latest “news” person to show us that news people are in the business of making brands/celebrities of themselves, nothing else. After his mis-remembrances flared into controversy, other media notables waded into the fray, some to make the points that “He’s a nice guy” and “everybody lies, so what’s the big deal.” We're supposed to suck it up, come on, remember that.

Back in the 1930s, William Randolph Hearst was quoted as observing: “The public is even more fond of entertainment than it is of information.”

Well, duh. I don't know if that's actually true, but it's certainly an evergreen rationale.

I snoozed through the 4CCs.  Not even this:


perked me up. How much fun can it be when even KMT know she's fucked up? Look at her face. She can't even be bothered to be apprehensive.

I enjoyed this:

But I still feel uncomfortable when a good team is awarded appropriately, just as I feel uncomfortable when a sucky, or placeholder, or pedestrian team gets decent scores. It's just difficult. When a decent team gets decent scores,one wonders how Virtue Moir ended up wearing silver medals at the Sochi Olympics, if actual skating merits strong scores. Just as it's difficult when a polished, but bad skating, team, receives top marks in a competition. It's pretty much no win.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Skate Talk

I’ve had the flu, which has caused a delay in following up the previous post. Even now I'm sort of dragging myself across the keyboard, but if I don't force myself to get going, I'll end up malingering straight through the Canadian Championships.

Once my eyes stopped glazing over every time I looked at the computer screen, I tried to start in on the next post, which became this post, a post I’d intended to be about Meryl Davis, or more precisely, to be about how people inside the sport talk about Meryl Davis when they, like Angelika Krylova, are interviewed. I'm stuck now thinking about how people talk about and analyze skating, skaters, competitions, and wondering how fans are supposed to look at and analyze skating and competitions in what is, IMO, a newly flagrantly oppressive system (even for figure skating, it's still newly oppressive in ways it hasn't been before), that has demonstrated itself in fine form so far this season. I think a Rubicon has been crossed.

The only one who is sort of talking about it is Richard Gauthier, Duhamel and Radford's coach, and I don't even know if he knows he's talking about it. I'll elaborate later.

I’d been stuck on that Angelika Krylova interview, the one where she claimed Virtue Moir, specifically, Tessa, got fat and lazy after Worlds 2012, while Meryl Davis, a woman with no discernible ice dance or figure skating ability, Angelika Krylova reminded us, willed herself to the top. This is Krylova’s framework for Meryl, not mine.

As always happens, Tessa immediately became the topic of debate and discussion on skating forums, while, despite Krylova’s praise, nobody really wanted to touch Meryl except when her supporters affirmed once more how they admired the ability of a woman with no talent whatsoever to persevere until she had an Olympic gold medal at home. It’s much easier to talk about fat versus muscle development, weight distribution, Scott’s knees and Virtue and Moir’s arrogance, and, of course and eternally MUSIC SELECTION AND STYLE (which is all that matters in a program) then to really get into the specifics about how a woman like Meryl, with, we must be reminded, no talent or skill, got a gold medal at the Olympics. People say they admire that she did it, and kind of leave it at that.

It's difficult to think of any other figure skater where THE key narrative element to their success arc begins by reminding us  - emphasizing -  their utter lack of talent and apparent lack of anything else to bring to the table (and there’s a world of fan insecurity in that “or anything else” because those inside the sport always imply Meryl started with nothing but sheer will). Meryl’s lack of ability appears essential to the storyline. The subtext ends up reading: “What she did was amazing for a woman who can’t skate or dance and hasn't much charisma either!”*

Well, yeah. And that’s where we are, really. That’s the story. If Meryl had been presented as an extremely talented woman, a brilliant figure skater and wonderful dancer who was number two in the world until the even more brilliant and talented number one (Tessa) got fat and lazy,
 and Meryl was able to take over, it doesn’t seem as if anybody in the sport had confidence it would sell, not to the public, not even to her own fans or the credulous media. So the narrative seems to be – “Let me remind you again – this girl had NOTHING going for her, but she kept at it anyway, and then they won! Meantime the spoiled girl who had EVERYTHING got complacent and sat around stuffing her face! Who deserves to win, huh?"

Meryl always does need a little help even with her own story. There has to be a negative Tessa story to help grease the wheels AND Meryl needs to be graded on a curve. It's always compensation when it comes to her.

And that seems to work okay, logical implications be damned. Meryl Davis – she sucked, but didn’t let that stop her!

(I don't know if it's Tessa extraordinary talent or Meryl's lack of it that makes pushing Tessa down a requirement, that if we're not told Carmen proved how lazy and fat Tessa was, we'd never believe even the ferociously willpowered Meryl Davis could ever surpass her. The narrative arc of Meryl's zealous drive to the top doesn't work unless we're simultaneously told Tessa Virtue pigged out and became a sloth. Just amazing. Selling Meryl as a legit champion - this is what it takes.)

These are the storylines we’ve got in this sport, now, Meryl’s story is at the top, and furthermore, and no matter what wonderful skating may randomly display itself, stories are all we've got. The skating part is gone. Meryl's story will always and forever demonstrate overcompensation (a woman who can't do anything has to be flipped and presented as someone who can do everything), and I think we're in for a lot of that all around. It's deadening.

I believe, and believed last year, that with what happened to Virtue and Moir at the Grand Prix Final and in Sochi, there's no going back. It's impossible for the sport to ever return to an athletic/skating skills narrative even when/if at times that narrative might be attractive to the ISU. I do see some period-of-adjustment awkwardness this season as some seasoned skating observers reverse engineer/adjust to the new order, like: "Oh wait, Papadakis and Cizeron are GOOD? How was I supposed to know – all I had to go by was the skating. Why didn't you tell me before I submitted my competition preview!"

Before, the sport was corrupt but I don’t think the corruption was “officially” institutionalized. With Virtue and Moir, that happened. It was an unprecedented step across the line and there’s no going back without official acknowledgement it was done, and that will never ever happen. We'll continue to get dumb fuck agenda’d analysis like Krylova’s*, and I believe what happened to Virtue and Moir has had, and will continue to have, an incredibly oppressive effect on those who participate in skating and those who are fans of figure skating. Bottom line, I think what happened to Virtue and Moir had the effect of making skaters and those few knowledgeable fans who exist KNOW they’re powerless. The one power skaters did have was the belief that if they listened to feedback and looked at the protocol sheet and adjusted their skating in response, they could alter their results. If they now know this is a charade, that the exercise is futile before it’s even undertaken, where does that leave the skaters, where does that leave the public?


_______________________
*As I said before, my suspicion is this was a desperation, kiss ass ploy, because she's fearful Weaver & Poje are slated to be Cappellini'd and Lanotte'd next season.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

First of two posts. The second post isn’t fully worked out, but I think is going to focus on last month's Angelika Krylova interview, with a particular emphasis on Meryl Davis’ superior talents in the realm of figure skating and ice dance, which Krylova had no problem whatsoever enumerating. I may also remark on Meryl Davis’s implied hot romance with Fedor Andreev, and how this doesn’t do her fans’ near-unquenchable need for validation any favors.

The just-concluded holiday season has been, for the blogger, about two weeks’ worth of holiday celebrations/busyness, and one week procrastination. I didn’t really want to know or think about if Virtue and Moir, a couple of mid/late twentysomethings, apparently retired ice-dancers, continued to feel the need to make a display of self-importance via shamming on social media during Christmas and New Year’s, so I avoided finding out. I also didn’t want to pollute the holidays with second-hand embarrassment, even though anybody following Virtue and Moir should be real comfortable with second-hand embarrassment by now.

Every day she's shoveling all right.
I don’t know what’s going to be sadder – when the latest crop of Virtue Moir fans, in, say, 2029, wonder if these two fortysomethings regret never having gotten it together, sharing fan fic about Tessa and Scott’s wistful conversations about what might have been, or Virtue and Moir still pretending to themselves, enabled by the sycophants who appear to surround every figure skater, that shamming is necessary.

Caveat, for what follows: this isn’t focused on skating women in social media to the exclusion of men. It’s just that in some respects, what I’m talking about next is kind of what a gossip columnist once said about the cast of Friends: as the show went on, the actresses on it got skinner and tanner, their hair got longer and straighter, and the dudes just got fatter and more slovenly. The particulars of Tessa’s social media image manipulations got me thinking along these lines.

When I look around at guys who were competing ten years ago, some of whom are now coaching, a number of them have gotten pretty comfortable wearing relaxed-fit pants and jackets. I look at women who were competing more recently, or are still competing, but have been at it a long time, and some of them, no matter how free-spirited they pretend to be, have become even more image-conscious.

So, speaking of second-hand embarrassment, Jessica Dube is now posing like this: