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.

Can't not be interested in Chock & Bates not winning their Grand Prixes, and coming in behind Cappellini and Lannotte, whom I never expected would be permitted to factor again. That's almost as startling as the Shibs being allowed to get scores they've earned. I've got no time for Chock & Bates, but that was no can't be denied performance from C&L at Cup of China, and still.

The shakiest of the top teams I saw skate - of the teams that actually skate -  such as the frenetic Sinitsina and Katsalapov, still did more skating in their Grand Prix competitions than Davis White were seen to execute in the entire six year run-up to Sochi. Sinitsina and Katsalapov's respective feet spent most of the program in different zip codes, but it was impressive how much skating they did, particularly how much skating SHE did, wobbly though at times it often was, or teetering on the edge. Even a team like this one, which failed to make the ISU minimum last season, are capable of skating in and out of their elements, and they did skate in and out of them. She wasn't slid onto her knees, he didn't support all of her weight while she posed an edge, she didn't glide in a basic snow plow to a halt with her hands imploring the ceiling of the arena.

Someone on Golden Skate observed that Sinitsina and Katsalapov's fd was DW-ish, and it was. There was scampering. There was arms' lengths stuff where she'd be 'pulled' past him a la the way DW executed their "direction changes," but as often as that basic move occurred with the two of them at arms' length as they initiated a transition, she'd actually skate it. He wasn't literally pulling her like a red wagon.

This here:

has her changing direction with her skating. He does a little scamper after her but it's one step, not three or four.


I've figured out what has always struck me as imperfect about Elena Ilinykh:

She's a massively wide stepper, Charlie White class, and hitches down and forward at the waist. They should play hockey together. She's a better actual skater than White is, but that goes without saying.



Can't gloat, because Iliushechina/Moscovitch are a mess, and because MTM V.2 did address their issues by changing training centers. Kirsten kills me though, because she's an Olympian in pairs, and how many tapes of Michael Marinaro did she look at before their tryout? If she had any savvy at all she'd have seen that height wasn't the problem with his partnership with Purdy. Aesthetically, Purdy Marinaro may not have been conventional, but when there were two lifts in a program, it was anybody's guess which lift would falter, and which would go up with ease. When you saw Marinaro/Purdy execute, you knew it's not height and weight. It's timing and technique. Marinaro is a strong guy, plenty strong enough to lift Kristen. What he's not is a great pairs guy.


I've also caught up with Jessica Dube and might do a small #TBwhateverdayitis post for that at some point.


If I follow her instagram correctly, she's hoping to be picked up by another cruise ship after this gig winds up in early 2016. As far as I'm able to tell, she's the highest ranking figure skater to join the cruise ship circuit, a circuit which is usually stocked with national/regional level competitors, not national champions and world medalists.

While she's waiting, fingers-crossed

Nothing says these are my dearest friends like a bare table in an empty restaurant.

Another one who isn't changing much, pr-wise:

Tessa "I'm as sane as anybody" Virtue. That's a face that could go right onto the W network.


  1. Why is the sham still going on?? Why does Tessa post pictures of herself without mentioning Scott when it is obvious he took the picture? Why does she have a house that looks like no one lives in it? Why has Scott disappeared -- it is because of his stay at home dad duties? What the hell is going on?

    1. I think it's the same old same old. Scott was never a big social media participant. Back in the facebook days, his facebook was a mirror site only, he started a fb page and never showed, he joined twitter with great fanfare and is never on. The women do the work.

      I'm laughing at the house that no one lives in.

      From what I can see, Scott hasn't disappeared - he's skating, he's showing up at all the non QVC stuff she does, but he doesn't do social media.

    2. Whether or not the photos of Tessa's house are really of Tessa's house, I think the intent is to make it appear that it's a house that a small child or children do not live in. They over do it to the point that it looks like no one lives there at all.

    3. It doesn't matter. I think it's past the stage of an open secret. It's simply not acknowledged in any media of record, that's all there is to it. When the time comes, and you KNOW Tessa and Scott will platform the reveal, and have a marketing angle for it, I just hope no outlet asks "How did you pull it off." Because the answer is "We didn't and we didn't have to try to pull it off." The only people who were fooled were those who wanted to be fooled.

    4. 12:52
      Huh? Photos of Tessa's house?

      I do believe Tessa and Scott are married and have at least one child, but it's creepy to think people are posting photos of Tessa's house.

      I want VM to tell the truth but that does not include details about their home. Ewww, stalkers.

    5. 7:53

      There have been several magazine shoots featuring Tessa in what she claims is her home. The magazine photos always present the house as being so pristine that one might think it's not lived in. Tessa is claiming in these magazines that it's her house, but it might, might not be.

    6. 7:53. Oh, those photos.

      Eh. Photos that are staged. IMO it is VM's house but like most things they post on social media about themselves, or that is written in magazines, it's all for the purpose of promoting the narrative du jour. None of the photos of the house Tessa says is hers can be used to deduce anything.

    7. I agree. It doesn't matter and you can't tell what they mean by it, and besides they jerk people around and troll. An empty house here (OMG, single and childless!) a hint that they're together there (more than a hint, outright trolling). It's just same old same old.

      I believe at the beginning, going by what they told people, VM shammed because "privacy".

      Then because lying about their status as married parents meant they couldn't be asked about their status as married parents. Not that anyone believed their lies, including most (IMO) fans, who've paid attention. But it took it off the table.

      There was the argument that the celebrity is in control of the media (this is true and has become even more true since VM started). The media curries favor, the public is the enemy, and this exists everywhere, far outside figure skating as well.

      BUT, I believe now and for the past few years, they want to have their cake and eat it too. Sure their actual status could be acknowledged, and it would be very easy to take it off the table as far as what they were expected to talk about, but then they wouldn't be able to indulge the trolling and what they think of as marketing. No W Network. No Tessa putting cozy photos of herself with Scott on social media (that's trolling) while pretending she's single and he's dating.

      I love how they purposefully set themselves up so they "can't" knock it off. Scott and Tessa hadn't left Sochi before reports got around he and Cassandra were done. The guy can't be done with Sochi and have a hometown girlfriend - everyone's getting to the stage where marriage enters the picture. So he engages in an agreement with Kaitlyn Lawes, who is aiming towards 2022, and because SHE's shamming, and has some stake in it, they can't reveal until at LEAST then, because Kaitlyn.

    8. Kaitlyn doesn't appear to be in the picture any longer though. I'm not sure where they're going with things now. Just waiting until the next girlfriend shows up?

    9. There's a definite lag in the Kaitlyn shamming. First it was Kaitlyn/Scott, but Tessa permitted herself to be photographed in the same group. Then it wasn't a group, it was a lot of Tessa/Scott/Kaitlyn, implied or overt. Then last I saw, Kaitlyn/Tessa were blowing sunshine up each other's respective rear ends, best friending it up. Then nothing since.

  2. Great post. It's a real shame that Hubbell/Donohue have been given FD choreography where they are far apart much of the time, because they are so capable of close skating.

    Just bringing this link to Jacquelyn Thayer's Patreon page up from the last post so it doesn't get buried. The obscene amounts of attention and money that the likes of outlets like The Skating Lesson have been given recently really pisses me off and I for one am so thankful for the oasis that is Two for the Ice.

    1. Thanks for the link to Thayer's page. I will TRY to stay more engaged - at least the Grand Prix series has actually energized me enough to be interested, largely due to some predetermined narratives being disrupted. Before, as the very slowed down posting schedule made obvious, for me, the entire sport appeared to be an exercise in futility. I also felt that Sochi had destroyed any chance the sport had in regaining even the pretense of integrity - not even Sochi itself, but the Stalinesque campaign to give DW Olympic gold in which every single person in the sport participated. The effects are still felt and always will be felt, even by those who are doing well. I was trying to work out if it mattered who skated well after that. I'm still not sure, but have been a Shib fan for so long I can't help feeling excited for them despite everything.

      I've noticed The Skating Lesson has really taken over, in just a year it's the social media voice of figure skating. I figured, well, that's what figure skating has become. It's Tara and Johnny chattering about hair and TSL's exposure has sort of piggybacked onto the Tara/Johnny dynamic, it seems to me, because it's the same sensibility. It's almost as if real writing about the actual skating is irrelevant, and also inconvenient, because real writing about the actual skating logically leads to questions the sport doesn't want addressed.

    2. Thayer's page says: "JACQUELYN THAYER IS CREATING JOURNALISM Treating figure skating as sport and a sport as dance through analysis, intelligent reporting and an eye to story"

      To me, Thayer's page is of course useful (to those controlling the sport) as an outlet for exposure and publicity, but the analysis, intelligent reporting and close observation part isn't something the sport wants to encourage.

      I was recently on Goldenskate and the entire dance discussion was, as usual, about packaging, emotion, "expression". No sense of the difference between quickness and speed. No understanding that wonderful technique enables great freedom of movement.

      There's a little bit of a tonal change in some of the commentary I've listened to while watching GPS programs. On one occasion, it was the Eurosport guys hoping the judges would give the Shibs their due. There wasn't really much pretense that the actual skating influenced what they'd been through with the judges. On another it was Tracy Wilson observing that the slow free dance music boring live crowds to death was due to the "program that won last year." It's how it was expressed - the package won.

      I am seeing a lot of skating that evokes DW, and all it does is bring home that DW did not skate. I've seen lifts where the timing and position resembles something done by DW, but the skating is actual skating. I've seen the man dragging the woman on the ice and then flipping her to her feet, I've seen the whole facing each other at arms' length position where the program's idea of a directional is a basic intro-skating class switching places. And no matter how sloppy or basic some of this stuff is, the skaters SKATE it instead of non-skate it. While being dragged, the woman is on an edge or at least on one most of the time, certainly not on her boot, and is swung up into an upright ON an edge. The guy is on an edge, not snow-plowing. It's enough to make you scream. Sochi was only a year ago and DW did not skate as much as skaters who didn't make the Grand Prix Final this season. And I wonder too, that so much of the skating I"m seeing - actual skating - that has DW type stuff in it - except it's skated - is proliferating this season but wasn't so prevalent in 2013-2014, and why it didn't. It just makes me wonder what else was quashed to get them to the top of the podium.

      One of my ambitions is to do split screen videos, but with freeware. Put the DW at Sochi split screen with VM. Put the teams going to the GPF (give or take a Chock Bates) next to DW. DW did not skate.

    3. OC, it would be great to see a split screen with DW vs VM and DW vs other teams. I hope you can make that happen.

    4. Me too. My hatred of what happened remains, and I can't watch even teams I respect (and more have emerged this season) without fulminating, as a fan, over the complete scam that was DW's outcome in Sochi.

      So far it doesn't seem as if the usual freeware is up to doing a split screen, although I haven't checked if avidemux can do it yet. It's just a matter of finding the program with the capability, because I'm not up for a complex hack. I have a couple of friends who have Pro Tools, so that's something to check out.

      Reading skating forums today, another Goldenskater said W&P beat the Shibs because the Shibs don't have the "sweep" and lean into the ice of W&P. Dear God. The Shibs have more sweep, consistently smooth depth of edge, and power than any ice dance team competing this season, and noticably more than W&P. Kaitlyn, still, often skates just up and down, particularly in transitions and direction changes. Just watch the Shibs stroking, how much real estate is covered per stroke (watch the boards, or, in an overhead, look at the logo on the ice and how the Shibs cover it in how few strokes). W&P's stroking is a lot shorter. When I looked again, I think W&P skate closer together, but it's not consistent, but they're overwhelmed by what is, to me, the essence of quality skating - speed, power, deep, soft, smooth stroking executed by the Shibs. W&P can't touch it.

      I also thought W&P's twizzles were underwhelming in the SC free.

    5. This might just be me, but what I've noticed about Weaver and Poje this season is that it seems like the differences in ability are more perceptible again. They have never been the most evenly matched team, but I thought the past couple of seasons that they had done a good job meeting each other halfway.

    6. It's not just you. She's very stiff, in the back, and in the knees. He's more secure, moves more freely, has more natural action in his knees, and his natural stroke is longer (that goes past him being a guy with supposedly more natural power). It's clear she's worked on her skating skills. When she and Andrew are stroking, she is much deeper into the ice than she used to be, and their lines match better, although I haven't studied if her edge lean is "applied" or is really coming through her entire body. Her back is still stiff. She's still up and down. It comes and goes, though. Stroking, she's improved. A directional change or transition, she stiffens up. It kills me that anyone can compare the Shibs and W&P and not see a huge difference in the basic stroking and the essential skating skills and technique, not to mention the speed. The Shibs have wonderful speed and have now put distance between themselves and all of the other teams. Some fans watch and still it doesn't register - watch the boards. Watch the real estate they cover in a single stroke. All of the other teams cut the corners of the rink, and a lot happens inside a smaller ellipse than the rink's actual footprint, except for the Shibs, who really use the ice.

      (If you want to see skating on an ice cube even though an entire rink is available, watch the 2015 "World Champions".)

      I was a fan of W&P's Sound of Music program - thought it was flat when it was debuted, but by Worlds I thought it was terrific and created the impression of a balanced team.

      I have not watched everybody (for instance, I still have to catch up more on Paul Islam). Of what I've seen so far, I'm still extremely interested in all the skating that's breaking out everywhere after a couple of years where it appeared, give or take a Shibs or P/I, that actual skating was discouraged.

    7. Hubbell/Donahue is also a team to watch. IMO, like the Shibs, they have all the elements of great skating and icedancing. Naturally, they are not used to receiving much love from the judges.

    8. I was reading an interesting comment about mechanics on Goldenskate, which is that a skater without great edges will use their upper body to swing themselves into a rotation, instead of their knees/blades. This was constantly obvious with everything around Meryl Davis, but the Goldenskate comment said Kaitlyn does it, and I can see it. It's usually in a transition or change of direction where a skating skills deficit shows, and Kaitlyn is no different.

  3. I like H/D, but they are nowhere near the level the Shibs are at this year. They are a well-rounded, very capable team, but IMO have trouble sustaining smoothness and power throughout a program. They get sluggish and a bit messy.

    Regarding both H/D and P/I, I'm baffled as to why MFD has given them FDs lacking in intricacy (eg. H/D are practically on the other side of the rink from each other at times) and musicality (eg. P/I's choreography is flat as can be when it comes to interacting with the nuances of the music), two difficulties that both of these teams have proved they can handle well. But I think they're both still among the best when it comes to pure skating. Just not where the Shibs are.

    1. I was not a fan of Dubreil/Lauzon when they skated and am not a fan of their choreography. As skaters they lacked real power and depth of edge, and when they competed, their programs put me to sleep. The programs they seem to be developing for their skaters are one note - I agree with how you, 4:07 describe them. Really, what can be said about their signature team, Papadakis & Cizeron besides the packaging? Without the look of the team, that program would have been everyone's nap break. The skating is small. The choreography is repetitive and doesn't develop. The "expression" is theatrical - the acting - not organically from the skating (still talking about Papadakis/Cizeron).

      I don't blame Paul Islam for going to them; IMO Paul Islam had done as much as they could where they were, and it made sense to try and get some sort of political advantage by relocating - or it made sense to try and eliminate a perceived disadvantage. This is not skating-related, and I cringe from bringing it up, but the figure skating world is shallow, doesn't really adhere to the rules, to say the least, doesn't handle figure skating as a sport, and pigeonholes skaters very quickly (look at Mirai Nagasu - I think she gets an automatic UR even when she's fully rotated) - bottom line, why is Alexandra Paul in a tutu? Especially after last season. Conceptually, that says half-assed to me. (You get that I don't agree it should matter, and that I don't know if they tried something different if it would matter either.) There's choreographic/thematic ideas that could take advantage of Paul's balletic body and movement without being so redundant. Just something that makes people LOOK with fresh eyes.

      I'm curious about something - I haven't read much from ice dancers saying they've heard really specific things from the judges. Such as "Next year, we prefer if you do this style of program." Or mid-season feedback that appears intended to keep a team off balance and disrupt muscle memory "We've decided that move is probably illegal."

      What teams are experiencing that sort of thing since Virtue and Moir retired? I wasn't much aware of other teams besides Virtue and Moir constantly being put through those hoops even when they were competing.

    2. P.S., and it's not as if skating far apart from each other and barely paying lip service to observing musical nuances is a strategy - i.e., sacrificing detail for the development of more speed and power, and then you put the nuances back in. That's what I thought was going on with Paul Islam's Sinatra program, but it turned out I was wrong. Dubreil Lauzon just aren't very good.

    3. Well, I had noticed that the Shibs reworked their FD a lot last season. The glorious 3.5 mirror twizzle sequence was taken out after Ondrej Nepela, and they majorly reworked the step sequences mid-season, even changing the direction of them. It made me suspect the "feedback" thing was going on.

      But lo and behold, the 3.5 twizzles have returned, and they're just adding unnecessary difficulty every which way. I'm kind of fascinated how they are upping the ante, and as of now *fingers crossed* are getting rewarded for it.

      I guess with regards to this season, W/P and C/B both ditching their nontraditional SDs right before the Grand Prix was rather odd. You wouldn't think C/B would be in that position, but then I'm sure none of us expected that they'd start losing to C/L either.

      With regards to P/I, I definitely understand your point about fresh eyes even if it shouldn't matter. But I think the FD would have been the obvious place to try that, when the waltz requirement already limits the concepts somewhat. It also sounds like a pure ballet program is what P/I themselves really wanted to do ( ) which is understandable considering her training and that they had never done a classical ballet program, despite having a balletic quality to most of their programs.

      (Also re: your comments on Thayer above - I think the fact that she set up a Patreon page is likely indicative of how little the establishment is interested in furthering opportunities for her. Here's hoping she continues to provide such excellent work.)

      But with regards to what D/L are putting out there this season, especially these two FDs ... yeah, very unfortunately, I think the bottom line is simply that D/L aren't good. A lot of their programs you can put it down to - well, they're limited by the team they're working with (although Marina or Krylova-Camerlengo sure do a better job of bringing out what they can in a team). But to see two such talented teams being wasted... such a shame.

      Not sure if you've had the chance to read/watch the numerous recent Marie-France interviews out there, but she's very forthright about how she knows next to nothing about the technical side and how it's ruins her artistic fun to have to deal with it.

    4. I haven't read any Marie-France interviews, but I'll check them out. What you report from her is ridiculous, and the ascendancy of school is ridiculous. Don't think either team - H/D or P/I - are with her because of her coaching chops; they're just two talented teams that can't seem to get anywhere even as un-skaters with empty programs are rewarded, and I guess the choice is to retire or try something new.

      It's funny that Marie France thinks the technical side ruins her artistic fun when her artistic side doesn't appear to be much of a strength either.

      Point taken about Alexandra Paul and Mitch Islam's short program theme. My thinking is the short program is the first that the judges see. The team has been accused of being "Virtue Moir lite" almost from the start, and Tessa Virtue is famously balletic. These are all shallow associations that shouldn't have anything to do with the judging of a program, but my fear is that the theme alone causes judges (and the audience to an extent) to mentally check out as soon as Paul Islam take the ice in the short. It's an excuse not to see anything after that.

    5. I have no idea what is behind the apparent potential demotion/struggle of Chock/Bates (not to mention Gilles Poirier) but their scores are still pretty high - they just didn't win, which shocked me.

      Weaver & Poje have not infrequently put something out there early, only to get extremely disappointing scores. They've gotten strong scores here but the skating in the new free genuinely can't compete.

      Chock/Bates were/are Davis White to the nth point - get out there with a b.s. program delivered with lots of face-attitude, a program that they can execute without a stumble from the beginning. I'm using "stumble" literally, and as opposed to error. Errors apparently aren't visible to the media or the audience; stumbles are. Maybe the so-called top skaters were boring the crap out of everyone.

      I wish Papadakis and Cizeron hadn't been injured. I'd have been interested to see a new program showcase how much of their results last season were down to a package people liked and not the skating.

      C/L and the Shibs are two extremely musical teams, and that's what attracts the general public to skating more than anything else. Musicality combined with good (or great, in the case of the Shibs) skating is what sends that visceral thrill running through the audience. Maybe that's behind what appears to be a real chance for C/L and the Shibs. Maybe those running the show were bored themselves by what they'd wrought.

      Not surprised the Shibs got jerked around this season. But when I look at their free program, it's an absolute stunner. The post-rotational lift sequence of steps through two reiterations of the chorus would drag, feel as if it were begging the question, if it weren't for their tremendous power and speed leading the music as much as the music supports them. You know the kind of thing I mean; there's often a prolonged victory lap in a performance, not always a skating performance, that goes on a bit too long. Repeating the chorus AGAIN. In skating, the times I've seen this, mostly the music is doing the work (see just about everything Davis White ever skated). This doesn't happen with the Shibs. That post-rotational victory lap section (as I think of it) depends upon their power, speed, and TREMENDOUS ice-coverage/enormous run of blade and absolutely wonderful transitional/linking/directional moves that are perfectly timed to anticipate the music and organically extend momentum to the very end. It's risky - the music is great, the choreography is great, but neither carries them - it all depends on the literal power of their skating. The fact that they can pull that off is absolutely stunning.

      They also have what appears to be some of the most natural speed out there in their spins, with smooth transitions and none of the jerkiness that happens even with top skaters when the spin changes direction or hold. There are too many instances of "unnecessary" difficulty, as you put it, to even cite, it's thrown away, meaning the program doesn't stop and point. I'm impressed by so many small things.

      Alex Shibutani gets a lot of credit, and deserves it all, but in these programs I watch Maia. I watch her back, her arms, her face, her head, and her timing with her brother. Her skating is miraculous this season.

    6. Strong points all around regarding the Shibs in terms of their skating skills. This year everything seems to be coming together in terms of consistency and they have taken full advantage of other teams either being injured or not upping their game. I also wouldn't be surprised after that senior B competition this year where they were beaten by the Gilles/Poirier - that the Shibs parents played hardball with the USFSA.
      I think Weaver/Poje have peaked. Although I enjoy Hubbell/Donohue - Donohue is the stronger skater and I have to agree with other posters that their programs are not as difficult as when they were at DSC. Also as a side-note, the obviously trolling on social media from them is a turn off - no wonder Sara Hurtado decided to call it quits alltogether (good for her). Nationals in ice dance for both the US and Canada will be telling to say the least. And then you have the drama with the Russian teams. Oiee. I think C/L are doing a decent job and are enjoying themselves. And I can't say that I am missing Papadakis/Cizeron. From the available video from Art On Ice last year - when I saw that Joannie Rochette with Daisuke had more interaction as partners than PC - well enough said. I am hoping that Orford/Hill and Paul/Islam have strong skates at Nationals - so where we can see how Skate Canada ranks them.

    7. Right now, it looks as if SC has washed its hands of O/H for no apparent reason. Challenge has been very interesting. They had a twizzle mistake in the SD, which hurt them, but they also missed a PCS boost as any help. They finished well back in the FD with a clean skate, and off the podium entirely. If SC had wanted to make a statement, like they did with Paradis/Ouellette at last year's Challenge, they could've. Instead they gifted Gadbois's very weak Soucisse/Tanguay, though support for the genuinely talented Collins/Firus (Mariposa) and Poulin/Servant (Scarboro) was a surprising wrinkle.

    8. Here's a sampling of Marie-France interviews/articles about Gadbois:

      "It's funny that Marie France thinks the technical side ruins her artistic fun when her artistic side doesn't appear to be much of a strength either."

      Indeed. I get the sense, however, that she fancies herself as quite the artiste.

      Also re: W/P and C/B, if I'm not mistaken, they both said they were given feedback that the rhythms weren't clear enough.

      4:03, it's very odd after the high scores O/H were getting earlier in the season (although I didn't feel they should have had such a lead on other teams anyways). I'm not sure what to think of Gadbois politicks now... it has done nothing for P/I (or furthered the gains P/O and FB/S saw last season), and it appears that H/D will still have to settle for third at Nats. But S/T's score would have been huge without their twizzle error. Weird.

    9. And yeah, 10:46, it's disheartening to see H/D engaged in what appears to me to be another sham designed to gaslight fans.

    10. Agreed on the H/D sham, it's disappointing. And for what? I don't understand why teams do this. Fake relationships are one thing but if you feel that's necessary, leave off the fan baiting. You can still convey respect and on-ice chemistry without resorting to all-out trolling.

    11. What is up with H/D shamming? I was aware they presented themselves as a couple early in the partnership; I haven't followed what they've been doing since.

    12. THANK YOU, 6:13. I did some googling for Marie France interviews today but the first hits were videos, and I like to read what's said first. Then I got sidetracked by a video compilation of 2006 Olympic ice dance splats. Now I can catch up. I always thought Dubreuil/Lauzon were of that erzatz artistic stripe - soulful gazes, lots of deliberate (a/k/a consciously significant) movement and gesture, highlighting with solemnity facets of their program that were unremarkable. The usual bag of tricks. Not great speed either.

      On another front, I've never liked show skating much, and except for their exhibition version of their Latin Free, could take or leave Virtue Moir's exhibition skates, even though we can still see their skating is much better than anybody else's. However, I've just now seen the main video of "Good Kisser" and my rage meter turned purple again, particularly at their close bladework, the stunning rotational, and the fact that as much as I adore the Shibs, who, to me, are miles better than anyone else out there, VM, even as show skaters, are still on another planet. The fact that this got discounted for Davis White crap is something with which I don't think I can ever come to terms. It's a travesty. It's more than a lesser team being placed above a better team, it's a crap team being placed above the best team of all time. Not "the best" by reputation or what's going to be in the history books - the best by miles NOW, skating right next to the full of shit team.

      Tessa appears to have individual management in addition to her enterprises with Scott, and recently TSL noted that her bio talks about going for the Olympics 2018. I've read an interview where Scott, too, doesn't rule it out. On the one hand, I can see them pumping out the rest of their family in the first half of this Olympic cycle (which would explain what would appear to be two back-to-back pregnancies). OTOH, I can't imagine they believe that on pure skating alone, they won't be denied if they recommence competition. They seemed to WANT to believe that, in some respects, in 2014. Wanted to believe the ISU would do the usual for most of the season - i.e., we'll fuck you over every step of the way, but if you survive it, we'll give it to you when it counts. That didn't happen. They can't possibly come back unless they understand they'll be scored fairly, which, in their case, simply means winning everything if they complete their programs. Being treated as if they sort of have to fight for placement vis a vis Papadakis Cizeron and Chock Bates isn't something for which I have the stomach.

    13. "What is up with H/D shamming? I was aware they presented themselves as a couple early in the partnership; I haven't followed what they've been doing since."

      It's a re-boot Spanish-language re-telling of "Menage a Trois Sur La Glace" for a new skating quad, starring Zach Donohue as Bryce Davison, Madison Hubbell as Jess Dube, and Adria Diaz as Scott Moir.

      The short version is that HD have faked and ret-conned a break up (made-up stories and deleted social media posts), and Madison is shamming with Adria Diaz now. HD continue to act like they always have with each other, and there's also lots of fan-baiting and stinging, just like with VM. This results in a lot of confused fans on social media because, like with VM, they sense that something is off and odd about it all, but they won't admit to themselves that skaters can and do lie. Fandom opts, instead, to make up the same kind of non-sensical excuses they make up for VM. Also fun are the anonymous tumblr replies that read like they're written by the same people who offered up "insider knowledge" in the VM threads on fanforum circa 2010 and 2011.

      The moms, aunts, and cousins are all in like Kate, Alma, Carol, Sherri, and Cara. Family friends are also willing to jump in to play the roles of some of our favorite Moirville citizens. Lynn Rutherford is even willing to help out, just like those who report on skating in North America who have helped VM out. When fans, rightfully, questioned the story that HD are trying to push that they only dated for 18 months, she showed up on FSU to say something to the effect of "it's sometimes hard to determine precisely when you've stopped dating someone." Patterns predictable as VM's are starting to emerge as well.

      The start of this sham followed HD changing PR agents from Tara Modlin to David Baden, who's also agent to DL and Spanish HD. He's also Weaver and Poje's agent, and although they aren't shamming like HD and VM are, they are also hiding that they're together off-ice. I know there has been speculation in the past that if VM had been with Baden and IMG, there would've been no sham, or at least it would have been more tasteful and without bait-and-sting. However, IMG on the whole is notorious for fake relationships for PR purposes. HD switched agents in August 2014, and up until that time, they'd been on record and perfectly normal acting, just exactly like how we've seen PI handle their off-ice relationship. By winter, the first sham bits were being planted and it all blew up right before and around the world championships in March. Right after worlds, HD switched coaches to DL. Although they claim the decision to change coaches was made later on, to those of us following the team, a change to DL was being telegraphed from the time of TEB 2014.

    14. Although this is the short version, I ran out of characters in the last comment.

      Another interesting aspect of this are the ties between VM and HD. Zach is now openly admiring them as the best ever. VM periodically work at Gadbois, for whatever purpose. They recently posted video working on hip hop with Sam Chouinard, who also works with HD. Also, remember, Zach trained in Canton during the 2010-2011 season. He was there when Tessa was pregnant with VM's first child, giving birth, and then racing back to attempt to compete. He certainly knows first hand how this works.

      Much like VM, HD also contradict themselves on the record these days and offer up transcendently absurd yet brilliant gems like this one from Zach in a recent article: "I have no time or money for a girlfriend and I don't see that changing anytime soon. She is pretty much my whole world. My life revolves around skating and she's my partner. And like she said, we are family. So there is really nothing more important in the world than Madi."

      That one is right up there with some of VM's greatest coded hits. There are some other clues out there to go with this, but I think that "we are family" means the same thing in HD-speak as "we're not dating" does in VM-speak if you get my drift.

    15. Awesome recap of a very weird year. Another notable aspect -- although they left one or two clunky hints about Adria on social media, the first suggestion that H/D had "broken up" came from TSL, with Dave and Jenny saying they'd like to set Zach up with Alissa Czisny; they also claimed to be in contact with Zach. This statement, just one week after a casual pre-Worlds USFSA streamed fan Q&A with H/D in which one called the other "love" and Madi said she'd like to skate to vocals of Zach singing, resulted in mass confusion. Out came the usual swarm of certain message board posters (and one Detroit area skating photographer, who in the past denied Zach's well-known teen romance with Piper and pushed the W/P platonic story) and Tumblr anons saying they knew H/D were broken up and she was dating Adria, DUH.

      It's just a little funny to see that even all these years after his Aunt Joyce rampaging to push the Tessa/Pelletier story as gospel, Dave is still setting himself up to sell all sorts of fun relationship stories, whether he's a patsy or an enabler.

    16. The Detroit area photographer was involved in one of the earliest clunky sham drops. It was carried out in the same style that we saw VM sham drops in the past, particularly on fanforum. It was very reminiscent of how Moirville layed out the bread crumb trail to Cassandra in 2012.

      USFS posted this video on youtube the day before Valentine's Day and it was shared by a fan on FSU. I don't think the fan is part of this.

      The photographer posted afterwards that Madi would be getting what she wanted but Zach not so much. In prior years, Zach had given Madison red roses around Valentine's Day or her birthday later in the month. Fans are now expected the flowers. The next afternoon on Valentine's Day, Madison posted this photo on Instagram. The photo was not initially tagged, but later in the afternoon, Adria's account was tagged in the photo.

    17. A new sham-filled article about H/D and written by Lynn Rutherford was posted on the teamusa website today.

      I enjoy the use of a VM classic. Zach will be in Madison's life forever. ;)

      ""but the bottom line is that we are two people who really care about each other, and each other’s families,” Hubbell said. “I think he will be in my life forever. We’ve never seen this as just a business partnership.”"

      I'm not sure what Zach is trying to do here with the it's nice to go home separately bit. HD did not live together in Detroit, so what exactly is he contrasting? Is this like how Tessa and Scott Vacation Separately?

      "“Madi and I have always had a deep level of respect for each other,” Donohue said. “There were hard times dating, there were difficulties not dating, but everything has been pretty much an upward movement. It’s almost a little bit nice now to be able to focus on work when we’re on the ice, and then go home separately.”"

      This is probably worth noting. HD have NEVER gotten the level of attention they're getting now until Gadbois and the sham. They were largely ignored by the press and only discussed by a very small number of fans. Now, it's been a ton of Icenetwork articles, the cover story of Skating magazine, Team USA attention, etc. As a note on the nature of skating fandom, there has also been an increase in attention on the boards, tumblr, and other social media sites. It's a reflection that most skating fans aren't fans of the actual skating, but of soap opera and fanfiction.

      This line from the article made me angry for other reasons. "But Hubbell and Donohue’s journey is typical of the theatrical, complicated world of ice dance, where acting skills, costuming and musicality are almost as important as skating skills."

    18. Holy shit. Thanks for all that. The bit I saw of H/D's Grand Prix I assumed their status was the same as always because, as you say, they certainly acted the same together. Even the absolutely most amicable skaters show a difference once they've split up. An old example from the 1980s is apparently the pairs team of Brasseur & Eisler dated and broke up, and continued competing. I believe it, because that's exactly how they behave with each other when you look at old video. Like family. That's how amicable exes usually end up behaving together - REALLY like brother and sister. A familial intimacy and comfort, unselfconscious around each other, each other's biggest booster, lots of inside jokes, but it's all fraternal.

      That last line would make me angry too.

      One of the most distasteful aspects of the sham is the increased conscription. If you've got an entire ecosystem enabling you - and it's multiplied exponentially since the VM sham began, it appears you've created a web that can't be unraveled, that is self-complicating, and becomes its own reason for perpetuating itself, and also you feel less like a shit because look at all these great people who are behind you and support you. WE'RE not wrong, there are too many of us!

    19. They're going with 18 months? That's very specific.

      This puts the start date at Aug 2011.

      Just remembered this, September 2013, looks like "love you" to me. In addition to the PDA.

    20. If the start date is August 2011, then the end date to their 18 months is February 2013. February 2013 when Madison was so taken with her Valentine's Day roses from Zach she had to take them on a trip to Chicago.

      May 2013, Madison loves Zach. Platonically, I presume.

      July 2013, they visited Keiffer on the lake when he was teaching paddleboard yoga. Zach was finishing his evening right with a beer in one hand and his (platonic?)baby in the other.

      Also from summer 2013, we have platonic snuggling at the zoo.

      November 2013, Madison went to New York to see a specialist about her hip. She was missing her Zach and couldn't wait to get back to skating and dinner dates.

      We end the year with Madison giving Zach a very nice gift for her ex-boyfriend platonic skating partner.

      More follows in 2014. Some of 2014 has been deleted already, but here are a few highlights.

      January 2014, Madison wishes a Happy birthday to the best (platonic?) man she could ask for.

      February 2014, Madison accompanies Zach on a trip to North Carolina to meet members of his extended family when they should have been competing in Sochi instead of DW or CB.

      March 2014, Zach brings his (platonic) girl home from her hip surgery in Colorado.

      April 2014, platonic trip to SOI.

      July 2014, I guess she meant her platonic Jay Gatsby.

      August 3, 2014. Platonic snuggling on the couch at her parents' house in Toledo.

      September 2014, Madison has to stay in Colorado Springs for rehab at the OTC. Zach's roommate twice suggests that they get a room.

      Zach posted a photo after this one showing him with a very sad face because he was going to miss Madison. She commented "I love you" on it. It has been deleted since the start of the sham.

      October 2014, Zach is the luckiest (platonic?)man and partner in the world.

      November 2014, platonic resting at Skate Canada.

    21. That Zach/Madison stuff is very Jessica and Bryce (Scott and Tessa didn't put much on line except for trolling and a flurry of stuff around the time of their marriage and then around the time of her 21st birthday). Jessica somehow managed to "date" Scott while it was Bryce who was prominently at a family-only birthday celebration for her mom in Vancouver (not Scott), and so forth.

    22. It is all very Jessica and Bryce in nature. It continues the same way into 2015.

      They both posted several photos in the same vein when they were in NHK. These two especially made the rounds on tumblr.

      With the second photo, the confused fans were trying to figure out what was going on. Some guessed trolling, although still are missing the boat because they haven't or won't yet let themselves go there with what the actual trolling is, but one person went on to suggest that maybe she and Zach had gotten back together after she'd told the magazine [Skating] that she was dating Adria.

      Helpfully, later that same day, there was a tumblr anon with knowledge who came to set the fan straight.

      "Adri and Madi are still very much together. Zach is supportive. All of them know selling a little romance and fantasy is just part of promoting your skating. If you've noticed a silver rectangular pendant around her neck all the time. It's Adria's. Also Adri's skating with Olivia Smart in Montreal."

      When the fan blogged the anon's message, she added this to it:

      "It’s one thing to sell a little romance and do what they’re doing. Not just on social media, but after they skate, it’s all a bit too much, too affectionate in public for me. I’m not saying or trying to imply that they’re doing anything to betray that relationship it’s just…odd…

      Honestly, I also think that the judges don’t like messy, romantic relationships in dance. I think it would hurt them more than help them but they are getting scored better this year. They also are skating better and have better suited programs though.

      I’m glad to hear Adria is skating with a new partner though! I’d been wondering how things were going for him

      Thanks for the message (:"

      The first paragraph is what makes me shake my head, although it's certainly nothing we haven't seen countless times when it comes to VM. This fan knows what they're seeing is odd and doesn't make sense. They just can't seem to make the leap to accept that the skaters can and do lie.

      Also, I spent some time last night trying to locate an old icenetwork article in which I remember it explicitly being stated that HD were an off-ice couple. I had thought it in an article from Fall 2012. I was wrong though. It was in an article posted July 29, 2013, a week before what would have been HD's second anniversary, and written by none other than Lynn Rutherford.

      "A couple on and off the ice, Hubbell and Donohue have reflected on last season, when they missed making the U.S. world team. That came a year after they placed 10th at the 2012 World Figure Skating Championships."

      Of additional note, before this sham started, HD barely did more than acknowledge that they were an off-ice couple. There were no long discussions about the nature of their relationship or personal details. Now that they're shamming, they just can't shut up.

    23. The incessant reiteration of a romantic narrative almost always signals something created in a marketing conference.

  4. 4:07. I agree, the choreography from the Dubreuil/Lauzon center is nowhere near as good as what PI and HD were getting in Detroit. I'm not sure I'm seeing much technical improvement either. IMO both these teams have immense potential and are a thousand times better right now than Chock/Bates, Gilles/Poirier or any of the Russian teams. They may not yet be as good as the Shibs but they should be getting scores much closer to the Shibs' scores. Heck, even the Shibs should be getting much better scores than what they are generally receiving.

    1. The Shibs, I've read, ended up with the combined highest scores of everyone who competed in the GPS, and I loved the 106 (with a -1 deduction) BUT it's difficult to really celebrate you look at the scoring trends overall. It's difficult to believe great skating is being recognized when at the same time UN-skating is being recognized, and when we look at who became world champion last season.

      I've read some speculation that Paul & Islam are being held back to protect Weaver & Poje, but that really doesn't explain the big push for Gilles & Poirier prior to this season, nor why international judges would protect the hierarchy in Canada (although I guess I know they would; agreements of that kind are commonplace).

    2. No, I am not seeing improvement either. People say it because everyone fell over themselves about P/C and bestowed upon D/L a reputation they did nothing to earn.

      H/D have seen a jump in their scores and I'm honestly not sure if I'd put them higher, with what they're currently showing. They are headed to the GPF after all. I think if anything their flaws that they needed to work on are more visible now that they've moved. (That's not a comment on their actual potential, and yes, they're light years better than C/B and G/P.)

      I think of the two, P/I are the better team, but they continue to be scored in the lower tier. P/I deserve so much more than they get, and that will probably never change. It's hard to know exactly whose dog they killed, but I do think whatever the problem is, it has a lot more to do with G/P than W/P.

      Also, with regards to the DSC, have you had a chance to watch Hawayek/Baker's FD, OC? It is just delightful. Their skating skills are fantastic but still need to mature a little, but IMO they're definitely putting out the second most difficult content of the US teams. Gorgeous.
      (So naturally they lost their Senior B this weekend to Guignard/Fabbri by 20 points.)

    3. I hadn't but after reading your comment, I watched Hawayek/Baker's Skate America programs. I particularly appreciated their close blade work. I was putting their scores down to the usual - maybe they don't have the look skating wants - he's petite, but, worse, does nothing to macho it up out there - he's a considerate partner with a mature demeanor. But then saw Guignard Fabbri, and they're unconventional sizewise as well. So I'll call it as down to coaching. Krylova/Carmelengo are out of favor, as the clear desperation behind Krylova's tacky, no class remarks about Tessa Virtue seemed to reveal (Krylova knew damn well there was nothing the matter with Tessa's weight, and she knew Virtue Moir blew Davis White out of the rink in 2014). OTOH, Shpilband/Fusar Poli coach Guignard/Fabbri.

      I don't know whose dog Paul/Islam killed either, and my thoughts were always that they were forced to take a backseat to Gilles Poirier as well. But Gilles Poirier have hit a roadblock without it helping Paul Islam.

      I wonder about the money aspect of things. We know both the USFSA and SC love the stuff. We know how energetically Jacquie White promoted Davis White and networked with USFSA officials. I used to wonder why the Shib parents were sitting on their hands (if they were, but they certainly don't promote themselves). Paul and Islam seem to internalize everything. No whining. They proceed as if they're in a legitimate sport. They're trying to find out what they need to do to get better scores. The move to D/L's training camp of course signaled "We need to be in the training camp that's in favor politically". I've often thought they'd be a great fit at Canton, but Zoueva has a top team (I love that the Shibs are, of this writing, a top team!) and it seems to me that Sinitsina Katsapalov take a lot of attention. Her major gains with them, as wild and uneven as they remain, has been to get them to stay connected. I still don't think Katsapalov gives a shit about any partner on the ice with him (he just doesn't seem to have that "checking in, take an adjustment" instinct), but they're working together, or have trained to do so. She's not left to fend for herself. They're mentally stronger. It gets a little everything-and-the-kitchen sink out there because of the pace, the nonstop movement, the raggedness, and the way the blades and the bodies are sometimes a beat behind each other, but they skate with conviction and do some nice things. It doesn't look desperate.

      P/I, unfairly, can be dismissed as skating almost like exquisite miniatures. I think this may have to do as much with their personas on the ice as the character of their skating. Virtue Moir were exquisite but also had tremendous individual intensity and unrelenting attack. (In fact, one of the few drawbacks with Tessa early on was if a problem came up, she went on auto-attack mode - instead of getting back inside her body.) I've often thought Canton could keep what was valuable in P/I but also get Alex to skate the program with complete conviction and her entire body, the small stuff as well.

      This is all just my speculation/fantasy. Last season between the treatment of the Shibs, and Sinitsina Katsapalov not getting the ISU minimums, while coming off like a disastrous collaboration between SK and Canton, Canton didn't seem as if it would, politically, improve upon DSC. Canton appeared as out of favor as it gets. This season, not so much.

    4. Oh yes, no doubt the coaching is a huge factor. But in addition, I do think the performance aspect is being used as an excuse for the push behind Guignard/Fabbri. A lot of the commentary (including Tracy's at SC which was ridiculous) are about how fierce they are, how well they put on a show for the audiences. Their weaknesses are numerous and visible enough that there needs to be some explanation why they're beating such legit teams (let's not forget they also beat P/I at SC by more than 10 points.)

      And no kidding, I've been cherishing the same fantasy and I need to stop because it's unlikely to happen :( Between the Shibs, S/K and C/L, Canton seems to have some political power again, and OMG what Marina could bring out of P/I, both in terms of attitude and growth. I have to think Marina would love the chance to push a team with such pure talent, where the connection is so natural and needs to be challenged to do even greater things. But she also is committed to the teams she already has, so who knows. And P/I would need the gumption to make another big move and soon, so... *sigh*

    5. I think P/I would have the gumption if it made sense to move - and I guess we're on the same page as to what Marina could do for them, so I'm as wistful about it as you are. They're tailor made for what she does. She'd know exactly what to say to them, how to work with them, and how to find the programs that felt organic to them but also developed their skating to where it needs to be. That's what she does.

      It's absolutely amazing two of her teams won GPS events this season, the same two I'd have sworn we could all write off, politically, after last season.

      As an aside, when we talk about face skating, I love Anna Cappellini's face skating. Her face is always animated, breathless, always appears as if she's about to do something fun, whether she's entering a lift or changing rhythm. That approach, as propaganda, is a whole lot more convincing than drama face, sex face, or game face. If there's something slightly wobbly going on, her face says it's a breeze and is supposed to be that way. It's part of her character. That stuff goes down much better, and feels far more natural than the disconnect from the neck down I see going on with Chock Bates.

      Chock/Bates creep me out. There is absolutely nothing organic, nothing natural about this team. They're manufactured to the nth degree. Thankfully, Madison is a somewhat better skater, and has somewhat more conventional body lines, than Meryl Davis, so I don't get the same impression of extreme artifice as with Davis White, but it's pretty damn close. Madison has whittled herself down - not to lollipop head proportions a la Meryl (that's down to her body type - she can achieve the look the team apparently wants without going to an extreme - but it still feels and reads a shade past a natural, healthy, optimum weight and silhouette for her). The look the two of them are working, particularly her weight, as I said, doesn't appear to connect to their skating. She could have achieved the very deliberate, basic, measured sort of skating at her previous weight, no problem. It's all about the look, which screams artiface. Her joints aren't the widest parts of her limbs, unlike Meryl, so that's something, but this team still presents themselves as beyond studied, as if it has done it's best to wipe out their natural personalities and their natural energies. Madison used to enjoy performing. Now she's a glacial, impassive sex goddess, or that's the package.

      I look at Evan's beard, and think "really"? They seem as happy on the ice as Davis White seemed (meaning, not very). It's all means to an end.

    6. From one of Marie-France's interviews, these two pieces struck most:

      "During Dubreuil and Lauzon’s competitive era there were no schools for elite ice dancers in Canada. “We had to move to France to train at a high level, and, especially for me, I was shocked and angry to have to leave Montréal, to leave Québec, to leave Canada to go train somewhere else,” Lauzon recalled."

      I suspect that explains the push to reward D/L's center, as well as the push to advance Carol Lane's center purely on the back of Paul Poirier. If that's something Canada wants, we all know Canada makes deals with other Feds. That was proven in the last Olympic cycle. It could throw a few other Canadian teams under the bus to get some love for ice dancers from Canadian training centers, and must be even easier when the skaters aren't even Canadian, like Papadakis Cizeron.

      The other is noting that their training center grew pretty rapidly. They say it was slow, but in the number of years, to have a World Champion; that's fast.

      I think having its best dance teams train outside Canada bugged Skate Canada for years and it did some horse trading to change that.

      Back to H/D - it would be interesting if Dave Lease is willfully helping the North American teams sham. That would help explain his expanded access.

    7. OMG, if that doesn't nail it about Chock/Bates. Totally agree. I honestly find them more uncomfortable to watch than D/W, and I think it's entirely because they don't have Marina's sly packaging, combined with their vibe just being plain *weird*. D/W were an ugly mess, heaven knows, but the dynamic they presented was much more standard.

      And yes, C/L are absolutely charming, despite their technical weaknesses.

    8. Re: Canadian training centres, indeed Skate Canada was clearly telegraphing that message last season (outlined here:, most notably through comments by Mike Slipchuk and Tracy Wilson.

      (Unfortunately though, I was clearly wrong about the international political outcome for P/I, and I'm still puzzled as to why being a Canadian Gadbois team wouldn't somewhat balance out the G/P and quiet-performance-style issues.

      Anyways, hope to have a CoP analysis piece or two out before long, which was more my intention with the blog in the first place. And my video hiatus will definitely end at some point, offline life just became a distraction. Very nice to see you back, OC!)


    9. Very nice to see both of you back, OC and canadablue. :)

    10. Thank you both (canadablue and 7:18pm). Canadablue, I can't wait for the CoP analysis.

      I've been aware of being in "maintenance" mode with the blog - I had been thinking that, until I knew where I was going, I should at least post once month. If I wasn't going to continue, I wanted that to be a proactive decision, instead of a case of abandonment, but I just didn't know, so maintenance it was.

      My experience with the blog from the very first post was that there would very soon come a point where I had nothing to post. That moment didn't come for four and a half years, and during that time, I realized it was because the sham wanted the attention (not just from the blog, but wanted the attention, period, and the sham cast out chum to get that attention, which of course gave the blog material), so I didn't have to think about it. And there was the skating too.

      The past year was different - because of how the scoring sorted out, even maintenance posting was all a conscious effort on my part, and even with a conscious effort, I could barely muster the incentive. The Shibs changed all that, and the GPS in general changed it. I'm still very curious what happened. Yes, the Shibs were the best running away, and the audiences loved them. However, I can't believe that's why they had a successful GPS. "Can't be denied" was Virtue and Moir's game plan. They blew DW out of the water at the 2015 GPF and Olympics and it didn't matter. If the ISU wasn't changing things up for whatever reason, it wouldn't matter how audiences cheered or how the Shibs skated.

      As to the sham, there was the fact that the sham,as it has developed since Sochi, is sort of saying EVERYBODY in public life is on board with us. This isn't just covert, dysfunctional Skate Canada and our families anymore. We've mainstreamed this, and everybody is giving thumbs up. We've got nothing to be ashamed of, look at our army, way beyond Ilderton.

      It's the entire entertainment/promotional matrix of our country, and more athletes, entertainers, and sponsors are joining up every day. An entire network got on board (the W network) and has syndicated our bullshit. We're the norm. We're mainstream.

      Of course that means morally and ethically as well. Aren't morals and ethics a numbers game? Look at our numbers! All nice, cool people!

      Two wrongs don't make a right, and a thousand wrongs also don't make a right, but the sham appeared to believe in the latter. The post-Sochi sham was just like a commercial that everybody knew was a commercial. Yeah yeah, love your jewelry Tessa. Lindt chocolate, yum. Scott, your gf is awesome. IOW, blah blah blah. They didn't care, why should anyone else. It wasn't interesting, it was clearly white noise, and clearly was going to go on forever, simply because it already had. It had perverted into a noble sort of thing. Scott and Tessa had partnered up with a whole bunch of other people in the sham. So of course, they had to continue to sham in order to PROTECT all these great people. See how noble?

      That's a dog chasing its tail, so that was losing its force as a blog rationale as well.

      I find the H/D story kind of stomach-turning. I don't know what to make of that. For me, it appears that figure skating knows it went to the dark side in 2014. It's one thing to be - well, we're a fantastic sport, with real skill, and amazing talent, but we've kind of got this weird, warped, dysfunctional side and we try to incorporate it but also not let it run things, but its' weird. In 2014 there was a full on kicking the sport, talent and scoring part over the cliff and a full on, proactive, corrupt, FULLY CONSCIOUS embrace of the dark side, and that's when things fucked up. You should never ever do that. You can be influenced by it and deny it. You can see no evil and hear no evil. But you should never EVER legislate it.


      Barcelona, ​​December 13, 2015 - The Spanish Ice Sports Federation (FEDH) yesterday made ​​official through social networks that the new partner will be the British Adria Diaz Olivia Smart, SPANISH information that ICE had advance last day 1 and on which the EFE agency has already submitted a teletype .

      Low enough secrecy because Smart had not yet contacted the British federation to announce this change (hence the caution of the information published by our media), the pair already was training in Canada for some time. This week Adria left Barcelona bound for Montreal, his hometown, to spend a family Christmas and see in direct competition with his girlfriend, the skater also Madison Hubbell American dance in the final of the Grand Prix.

      After the holidays the Smart / partner Diaz will return to training ahead of preparing competitions next season then, because Olivia represented Britain to the World Cup, you need the transfer of the federation and wait time which stipulates the International Skating Federation (ISU) in these cases.