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.|
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:
Even if you’re just 27, or can’t yet afford to stuff your forehead like an insecure 48 year-old ex-starlet loaded up with botox while o.d.ing on mid-face silicone volumizer, you can always pose like it. I worry about these skaters. Jenny Kirk is 30, and when I watched The Skating Lesson’s interview with Lubov Iliushechkina and Dylan Moscovitch (the first and only time I’ve watched The Skating Lesson anything), not only was Kirk’s face as immobile as a ceramic doll’s, it was shiny enough to see your reflection. Like a peeled boiled egg. Jessica is just posing like she’s done shit to herself, but obviously thinks having eyebrows halfway up her forehead, eyes popped in surprise, sucking in the sides of her face so it looks like she’s spent a year’s salary on restylane cheek injections, and finishing it off with perma-duck face, is a whole lot cuter than looking, you know, 27. One or two photos, fine, but every single profile shot for a long time uses this face.
This isn't about condemning using artificial means to enhance (one presumes) one's looks, but just the look that's set up as the ideal. It's rigid. It's constipated. It's sad.
Then there’s Kirsten Moore-Towers, who perhaps should be called MISS Kirsten Moore Towers. You know: Miss Dolly Parton, Miss Loretta Young, Miss Tammy Wynette. Suddenly it’s full face and country-western hair (i.e., beachified, volumized, curled, and artfully disheveled) even when chillin at home on a xmas weekend (well, she does have hundreds of facebook friends, but back in the olden times, Jessica Dube never felt it was worth gussying up just for that.).
Actually, when it comes to Kirsten, if she likes to rock the early 2000’s Jessica Simpson look 24-7, whatever floats her boat, but when it comes to her choreography, I’d like to see a whole lot less of this:
Kirsten’s friends on the skating forums have staked out the position that if she remains publicly positive and happy, her critics will get no satisfaction. Because as usual, the “skating community” thinks it’s personal. They go to the personalities, not the skating.
Here’s how I see it. KMT’s public statements can be publicly critiqued. The many lame reasons her friends have offered up to explain her decision to switch partners don’t add up to one good reason – it doesn’t work like that.* If she thinks she and Dylan had hit their ceiling, does she think he’s the reason they hit the ceiling? Because we can all see that she hasn’t changed anything in her skating, nor her skating fitness (she’s not skating nearly at the level she was last season), nor the program components.
In fairness, I can see why MTM2’s team decided to keep the same template – character-driven, extroverted, quirky. It’s what they may think people expect of Kirsten, they may think it appears confident, and they may have felt it would help dress up substandard skating until the team finds its groove. The problem as I see it is that, as it turns out, the extroverted, smiley, quirky, sassy stuff highlights the substandard skating. I don’t know, however, if her team could have foreseen this. When I watch, I’m wondering why she’s pointing and grinning instead of focusing on her partner, working their on-ice communication, and concentrating on the quality of the in-betweens instead of simply the elements and tricks, which are hit and miss enough.
Skating, IMO, is all around depressing. I looked at Duhamel and Radford’s Grand Prix free skate and have to go along with the Eurosport guys, who were accidentally on point in observing the actual skating in that program isn’t a patch on the Russians. I’m also curious – if you have two hands down on your sbs 3 lutz, is your massive TES still justified because the 3 lutz was in the program? If the quad throw is landed with not just the landing leg in a crouch, but the free leg bent, and delivered at a near stand-still (as Savchenco Salkowy’s program-ending throws were), is that advancing the tech side of the sport?
IOW, is skating moving in the direction of losing the skating part in not just ice dance, but other disciplines? Get the tricks, lose the skating, why the hell is the sport still called figure skating?**
*Not that she needs a reason, or that we’re entitled to one if she doesn’t care to offer one. But she did. And if her friends are going to have chips on their shoulder and attempt to control conversation, if they’re going to nail some manifesto to a post intended to shut down further comments, if Kirsten herself decided to offer up a reason, then it’s a two way street. As with any sport - and sport doesn’t exist without the public, because it’s a branch of the entertainment industry - the public can weigh in. It’s so freaking TYPICAL that those in skating can’t distinguish the sport itself from personality politics. I think winning and losing the personality politics is more important to them than winning or losing competitions.
**The blog and the comments section addressed ad nauseum the case of Davis White versus Virtue Moir, where Virtue and Moir had the better tricks AND the best skating, by many miles, but the sport pretended the opposite was the case. That being so, for the moment it's easier to swallow Duhamel Radford's mismatched stroking and element-centric programs winning over Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov's very basic program, even if the latter skates their program while Duhamel Radford's is hardly skated between the elements.