Thursday, August 30, 2012


In the interest of blogistic research I peruse Jessica Dube's pinterest from time to time both to note continued sham placemarks (such as Monaco, and Mexico - although she doesn't seem to shout out the Dominican) and to check the inspirational words board for possible indicators about the upcoming competitive figure skating season, as any good creeping skating fan would do.

So far, based on themes running through the bumper sticker sayings of the day, it's possible to speculate that she is trying to let criticism about dumping Bryce roll off her shoulders while bravely going forward with the brave decisions she's made; also maybe looking back nostalgically while resolutely looking ahead; easy to see that she is determined to supplement her rigorous figure skating training regimen with as many targeted keep-fit tips as she can find, bolstered by delicious and easy recipe ideas; and yet at times one wonders if she and Sebastien are unexpectedly history, leaving her to scan the pinterest mantra-and-motto universe for reassurance that the future still holds great promise.

So, in terms of hints about the upcoming season, pinterest is not too helpful, although I always come away feeling very, as the saying goes, special snowflake-y after reading the copious number of affirmations and I'm-okay-and-if-you-don't-agree-you're-not-worth-it type virtual pep talks.* And in fairness, much of this is de rigueur for all pinterest users, not particular to Jessica.

But, I do feel as if other parts of her pinterest sheds further light onto why she and Bryce perhaps didn't progress as far as their potential led people, including Bryce, to hope they would. 

Back when the blog began, I posted this:

I'm scrolling through Jessica Dube's pinterest and there's this:

Style ideas: 
So many ideas.
Or hair (a/k/a "beauty"):
Which should she choose?
I feel less than clean making fun, but in a way I can't quite put my finger on it's like things just keep circling around and around and around a pretty narrow circumference without developing and there's something familiar about it all, skating-wise, without my being able to bullet point it yet. Not just stylistically, but with how her actual skating has developed and grown (or not) versus her claims about it.

I mean okay, long, bouncy, messy, beachy-textured dark-toned brown hair! Let's placehold that ninety times and also, incidentally, routinely repost the same photo several times because it's not recognized as the same old photo you've already posted?

I could pull up a "braids" section too that could turn your eyeballs to pinwheels, but pretty much the point is, how much do you need to twiddle over the idea of a hair style that looks exactly like your current hair worn exactly the same by 10 different demi celebrities and upload them all to remind yourself you like it? Don't you make yourself catatonic at some point?

How would it be if Scott were on pinterest and he had to upload stuff to a board called "Photo Ideas" before he was able to pose for facebook?

Scott's Facial Expression Ideas:
Decisions, decisions.
Without pinterest, would he forget to remember to do this?
Would never happen. He has douche-faces cold.
Or this?

I want Tessa on pinterest so I can lull myself to sleep with a board called "shoes":

The shoes are really pretty but as they're variations on the same shoe by the same label, I don't think she'd need to pin every shoe.

That last phrase is getting closer to the running theme in Jessica's figure skating that I keep seeing, but I'll keep working on it. Maybe it has something to do with believing you've got a fresh idea or are doing something new but when you circle back it turns out you're at the same place and are stagnating, and insufficiently motivated to recognize this. You see "change" and "the same" as equivalent, or you make them equivalent.

This (the mood and expression), I understand. Same spiral.
One to Umbrellas of Cherbourg the other to The Way We Were -
It could be argued that the spiral occurs at similar mood points
 in otherwise divergent programs.Who knows? Both are schmaltzy.
Annie Barabe said the programs with Sebastien would not be love stories.
We clearly see this difference between D&D and D&W. On the right is D&D's
3-hankie Way We Were, Jessica pre-swoon, preparing to heave a large sigh
 as she and Bryce set sail for memory lane. On the left, Sebastien and
Jessica begin their abstract long program to the minimalist, dissonant
composer Philip Glass's theme music from "Heroes", while Jessica swoons
and sighs with the delight of expanding her stylistic horizons.

Most figure skaters have characteristic facial expressions during certain programs. Speaking literally, we all only have the one face. Therefore, when Scott Moir skates Umbrella of Cherbourg, Mahler, and Valse Triste, his aspect of romantic yearning is going to look similar in all three during the parts where he's supposed to be yearning romantically. Likewise, when Scott skates a non-party Latin-esque cd, od, sd or lp, hair slicked, eyes bearing down on Tessa, in all of them he's pretty much going to look as if he's not about to let lunch - nor dessert - get away.

So, too, with Jessica:

Left is D&W's sultry, athletic, playful blues short. Center is D&D's 
intense, dramatic, angsty, angry short. Right is D&W's 
abstract, non-dramatic, minimalist long.
One can certainly see why there are fans who insist Jessica dumping Bryce and partnering with Sebastien has reinvigorated her figure skating. She's practically born-again.

One also understands the fans who insist Jessica and Scott had to have been real. For one, they're a perfect fit. Jessica is never boring**, and Scott is, if nothing else, the poster child for patience. Second, even if things became a little dicey over time, in a male-centric sport like figure skating, there would be no other opportunities for a heterosexual 20something male World and Olympie Scott to have sex other than with an accident-prone teammate based at a training center 575 miles away.
*no better way to convince everyone how little your critics matter than to pin virtual posters about how little they matter. Such a poster conveys your conviction that you've got a lot of critics, but if you put up a poster about how much you don't care, everyone will realize you're above it all. It doesn't in any way communicate a put-upon, pissed off and overly self-involved personality.
**"Age cannot wither, nor custom stale, her infinite variety". It's like Shakespeare knew she'd come along.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Heads up Barb!

It's Champs Camp!

The must-have twitter to follow:

Alex Shibutani

Eyes peeled for fun tweets from @adaripp and others too, but once you're keyed into Alex Shibutani you have the gateway to Champs Camp on twitter.

Get into the spirit and start practicing your second-rate imitations for Skate Canada's high performance camp straight from "Skate Canada"s* twitter account and blurry camera phone like last time. Because that's just as good.

You're welcome.

* ;)

Friday, August 17, 2012

What up with Jessica?

Jess Dube facebook photo from Mexico
This post is inspired by the gazillion polls on figureskating universe about everything under the sun. But before wading into that, it's amazing how much Jessica's social media presence celebrates the various travel opportunities she has had, free, on someone else's dime, due to no accomplishment of her own. Due, in fact, to her participation in a public hoax engineered and enabled by a publicly supported organization. So yay!

I, too, am susceptible to thinking - boy, she really enjoys those perks. But I have to remember that whatever she shares on her facebook must first not only be screened by Team Virtue Moir, but is just as likely posted per Team Virtue Moir's instructions.

Back to topic. Jessica and Sebastien were listed for, yet did not participate in, two summer figure skating competitions. Jessica's pinterest account is rife with the sort of self-help, self-pep talk pins that only a long-suffering, frequently put-upon, much sinned-against woman like Jessica Dube needs in order to keep going in this unjust world. The sort of woman who is always right, but compelled to suck it up and let other people believe is at fault. The sort of gal who is misunderstood by not only haters, but people she mistakenly thought she could trust. The womanly woman with soul who acts like she's fine, but perhaps is not, but for whom pride prevents from revealing how other people's choices have hurt.  The femme who has been sinned against and disappointed in others time and again and is weary of being judged. In short, a martyr. I swear, I have to pick myself up off the ground every time I realize Jess Dube sees herself in this light. Who knew?
Don't judge her. Him - okay.
What is happening with Jessica and Sebastien? Did they decamp from Annie Barabe' late in the summer day and seek out serious pairs coaching assistance, but late in the game? Unwilling to admit it was a mistake to stick with Annie this long, they're down lowing things til a low key mention at the launch of 2012-2013?

Did Sebastien quit on her?

Did Jessica quit on him? To do what? I have difficulty envisioning a woman with that apparent self-image and fantasy life resigning herself to singles skating, Concordia U, and diminished opportunities for international travel (difficult to afford once frequent flier miles are consumed and not replenished, and when quid pro quo associates of considerable means aren't underwriting the tab).

Did the "break-up" of Scott and Jessica and the downgrading of her status to "former girlfriend" impact support for her training somehow, leading to the pulling of the plug on her pairs career with Sebastien? I have difficulty thinking this is it. She's Annie's "star" pupil, grade on a curve though we must. She is the current Canadians silver medalist.

Still, I find it awfully weird that Scott and Jessica's "break up" happens and suddenly Jessica and Sebastien are skipping summer comps. It's not as if they flatlined at last season's summer comps. They pretty much stunk, given the resume of each, but still beat the limited competition. I can't imagine them not being competitive at the 2013 Canadians. Sure, MTM have thrown down this summer, and IMO are unlikely to crash and burn at another Canadians. That still leaves the bronze medal podium spot up for grabs, even though Skate Canada's highest profile directors have traditionally and publicly not given a flying fuck about their figure skaters below silver, unless they believe the skaters in question are only waiting their turn. If you're not a star, go home, that's Debbi's attitude.

What is it? What has happened to them?

My personal guess is, they haven't gone to outside coaching, but figure they have Paige and Rudi's number at least, and why interrupt a fun summer to compete when they'll be ready to kick Paige and Rudi off the podium by Canadians?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Lining some stuff up

For me this blog is, among other related things, a chronicle of the lies and inconsistencies we get from Virtue Moir's camp. The discussion in the comment section in the post below this one, as well as Scott and Tessa's recent interview with P.J. Kwong, and my thinking about how Bill Thompson showed up on FSU to deny SC attempted to influence the judging in a pro-Gilles/Poirier direction at Canadians, made me remember I want to bookmark the period from 4CC's-2011 to Worlds 2011, particularly in light of some things Scott and Tessa have said subsequent to Worlds 2012. That's all this post is - organizing those thoughts. So:

1. In the run-up to the 4CCs, as the blog has said numerous times, we heard about Tessa and Scotts's two, count em - TWO - did they mention TWO? new programs. 4CC's 2011 demonstrates Skate Canada's very elementary grasp of effective lying. For SC, the best way to lie is - whatever the truth is, claim the opposite. So when I see that Bill Thompson has bestirred himself to go to FSU to rebut - what? 3 posters? having a bit of snark about Gilles/Poirier politicking, one can only conclude that Thompson's lecture that he would never attempt to influence judges is, in fact, Thompson's confession that SC attempted to influence the judges.

2. Scott's mom & friends whined like a Canadian women's soccer team on fb when Scott and Tessa got silver in Worlds 2011. And Scott and Tessa and Skate Canada would have us believe that the only reason Scott and Tessa didn't skate TWO, count em, TWO, programs at 4CCs 2011 two months prior was Tessa's quad flared up. And the only reason Tessa and Scott didn't compete at Canadians the preceding January was their coaches said no. But they were ready!


But Scott, post-2012,  has also called Worlds 2011 a roll of the dice. Seriously? Two months after being competition ready at the 4CCs, a delayed Worlds was a roll of the dice?

Why was Tessa gassed at the end of her Worlds fd (about 2 months after 4CCs) if she was so ready at the 4CCs? She wasn't yet in peak condition by April? Wow, imagine what shape the lp was actually in past that point where she bailed. It was looking a little shaky before that, in fact.

Scott said he and Tessa wanted Worlds 2012 because unlike roll-of-the-dice 2011, for Worlds 2012 they'd put in the training and wanted the reward.

Really. So you weren't ready to skate Canadians 2011 (held in January) as you've both said over and over? Despite attending Western Challenge and Skate Canada? Canadians, you take a pass on even attending? How come? But make no mistake, you were ready to and wanted to skate, except your coaches said no. Otherwise you'd have been out there competing, no quad flares, no out-of-breath?

I don't think this all fits together.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Let's see how well they did

They had the answers
William Thompson, former Skate Canada CEO and Debbi Wilkes sure did run their mouths back in the day. I wonder what their successors will be able to imply about them. The above links to the article excerpted below, italics and bold emphasis are mine:
March 17, 2007 VANCOUVER - Not much more than a decade ago, Skate Canada was the undisputed heavyweight champion of Canadian amateur sports.

Figure skating's national governing body was The King, the wealthiest of all the federations in our constellation, the best-run ship, with the most popular sport, garnering killer TV ratings, and producing champions - world champions - with a respectable regularity.

[snip - recital of the boom days when figure skating packed Canada's sports palaces and Canada boasted more stars than in the heavens. Segue to miserable state of things recently.]

"We should be the world leader," said Debbi Wilkes, the former Olympic pairs silver medalist and longtime TV analyst who was one of the first hires by the federation's new CEO, lawyer (and former skater) William Thompson of Kitchener, Ont. Michael Slipchuk, 1992 Canadian men's champion, Thompson's other major hiring as high performance director, completes the theme of ex-skaters running the ship.


Like "The New NHL," which the National Hockey League adopted as a working title after the 2004-05 lockout, Skate Canada's [the new Skate Canada]* slogan is based more on hope than evidence, at the moment. It is no sure thing that results are going to improve immediately - or at all - but Canadian skating has a lot brighter-looking face on it. Pam Coburn, whom Thompson replaced as CEO, is destined to wear the federation's recent failings as her legacy, though some were surely beyond her control.

"In Canada, we had two issues," said Barton. "One was the perception of the sport. The other was ... if the wrong person is in the wrong job, either because they don't have the expertise or the knowledge or vision, then even though they're trying hard, it's not going to work. That, combined with what happened in 2002, was like a double avalanche. One avalanche is bad enough.

[snip Barton's claim that denying Sale & Pelletier the gold almost single-handedly turned North American figure skating fans against the sport. ]

And even as the sport was alienating its traditional fans world-wide, Skate Canada was exacerbating the problem domestically, blundering through an era of horrible decision-making, flawed programs and an alarming drop-off in skating results.

"Well, in fairness to Skate Canada, some of our problems were external,"** says Thompson. "I don't think you can overstate the impact of Salt Lake City and the scandal.***

[snip contributing factors - overexposure, lack of athlete development]

Wilkes intends to push the athletes out into the public.

Skate Canada has some kids with great potential, like Joannie Rochette and Vancouver's Mira Leung in women's singles, Christopher Mabee and 16-year-old Patrick Chan in men's, the pair of Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison, the young dance couple, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. But some aren't ready yet, and it will take international results to get their names out in public.

"I think we had a lot of success for a long time, we always seemed to have a champion there," said Slipchuk, who spent most of his skating career in the shadow of the incandescent Browning. "We had Brian, we had Kurt, we had Rob and Tracy, Kurt, Elvis, Jamie and David, Herb (Eisler's nickname) and Isabelle - we always seemed to have someone up there, and maybe you get a little complacent.

"The champion up top maybe takes your focus off the fact that you're struggling below. We talked about women's skating being a problem for a long time because we only had the one woman qualifying for the worlds and she was in the 10th-to-15th area. What we forgot was that in the other disciplines, aside from that world champion, our other skaters were also in that same area. And once those (champion) athletes moved on, it showed how much work we needed to do on our depth, and that we needed to give people more opportunity to get on that world stage."


"The decisions that were made these last four years were devastating to the business of skating. And our business is judged profitable not on millions in the bank,**** but on world championships," Barton said.

So the sport has some retrenching to do, in Canada. In the boardroom, on the ice, and in the stands.

[Barton carries on some more about Salt Lake and how they lost traditional skating fans who were angry, angry, angry over what happened with Jamie and David]


"But it's funny what's happened in the United States****, because they were the most angry, they were the most against the new system, and yet they are the ones who have embraced it the quickest and responded the most. And they've had incredible success." The 2007 U.S. nationals in Spokane, Wash., drew an eye-popping 154,893 fans. For Vancouver in 2008, Skate Canada is thinking small, but hoping big.

Who persuaded Ted Barton to shut up after this and where can I send flowers?

How do you walk away from an Olympics with Olympic and World champions, boast two champions in two disciplines by 2012, and be broke ass because nobody wants to sponsor you? The USFSA doesn't have this problem but isn't running their mouths about it. Yet I can google and get enough pontificating from hot air maven Debbi Wilkes to put out a monthly Word from Wilkes newsletter. How did Skate Canada manage, thanks to Detroit and thanks to Colorado, to get (I can't really say "produce") two champions and still go broke? Sponsors that stuck around all through the years Thompson, Barton and Wilkes are bitch slapping ran for the exits after one half-cycle of doing business with Thompson and Wilkes. BMO's sponsorship arm continues to shell out the money so it's not belt-tightening.

Get somebody in there with actual relevant background (corporate lawyering and figure skating isn't relevant background, figure skating and shoving your face on camera at every opportunity isn't relevant background either). Of course the problem there is that takes money, and Skate Canada hasn't any money, so maybe they're doomed to spin in a circle of economic futility.


*Maybe the slogan should have been "The new Skate Canada, we suck differently than old Skate Canada."

**In Thompson's era, problems are internal.

***I think you can overstate Salt Lake City and the "scandal."



Where's the buzz?

Big Skate Canada doings this weekend. Skate Canada's CEO, William Thompson, departs, and Skate Canada president, Bernard Lavoie, releases a statement confirming there will be no replacement at this time.

On the ice, Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch, after winning Skate Detroit, blew the doors off the rink at Indy Challenge, earning a standing ovation from the USFSA officials present and a major headline and interview on

MTM, the pairs skaters that the "Ontario skating community" reputedly dismisses as a couple of no-hopers, the pairs skaters SC treated as an afterthought last season when they were assiduously propping up Jessica Dube. This is exciting news, the back-to-back successes at these summer competitions. The MTM 3 twist has become an effortless-looking stunner. The choreography and look are sophisticated, the content intricate and difficult.

Let's see how Skatebuzz covers this exciting news weekend:


Skatebuzz's stale headline continues to remind us that Thomas Sabo has crawled on board as an actual sponsor, stepping in to lighten Kozy Shack's load. Thomas Sabo is a lifestyle brand, and has not bought in as a title sponsor, but it was so exciting for Skate Canada that SOMEONE was willing, they spiffed up Piper, Paul and Debbi and had an event to celebrate. When you actually do your job, it's hard not to brag.

Where's Barb? The lady on the spot to let icenetwork know the guest list at retired skaters' "summer weddings" last summer but AWOL on Skatebuzz when it comes to unimportant figure skaters like Moore-Towers Moscovitch or the interesting news announcement that William Thompson, SC CEO, has left the building. What's she doing this weekend instead?

Paul and Piper actually look non-clownish in the Sabo photo.

I have been wondering about why the hype for them in some quarters is so aggressive. Somebody on one of the message boards smacked down a critic who saw their recent programs and instead declared they were divine, sublime, and had the audience delighted. According to this expert, even the judges were overheard saying how "refreshing".  Where's "refreshing" in CoP?

They also noted that Vanessa was there, and with copious exclamation points, declared her presence and demeanor dismisses all "talk" that Paul dumping her was difficult. That "talk" comes from Vanessa herself, in her announcement about skating singles. Paul dumping her was shocking to her, and a blow. She still can't see herself skating with anyone but Paul - hence, singles. I'm glad to see that when her personal news release was briefly off line, it was back up again without whitewash.

The Paul and Piper hype machine, which looks like a huge Crest White Strip smile coming at me while wielding a sledgehammer with mega-hostility towards anyone who'd dare disagree, calls attention to itself. It's true they train in Canada. Canada's top two ice dance teams, VM and WP - train in the US. Their World champion trains in the US. As someone in the comment section mentioned - Skate Canada, your tax dollars at work - doing what? Well, if Scarborough can get itself into the first rank and SC can use what muscle it's got to encourage "appreciation" of Paul and Piper's refreshing qualities on the international scene, and if Paul can successfully spin his and Piper's lack of unison, gimmicky choreography and her sub-Poirier skating skills as a "different style", SC can commence to bragging that it has at least one world class training center in Canada, which, at present, it lacks (unless one counts Orser, but his biggest stars aren't Canadian).

Friday, August 3, 2012

William we hardly knew ye

OTTAWA, ON: As Canadian figure skaters prepare for the upcoming season, there will be a new leadership structure taking the organization into the 2012-2013 season and beyond. CEO William Thompson has announced his retirement as he moves on from the organization. Thompson took on the role as interim CEO in January of 2006, and then the full-time role in the fall of that year. He was at the helm as Canada won two Olympic medals at the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver.
Skate Canada President, BenoĆ®t Lavoie, appreciated the time that Thompson gave to the organization, “William stepped into this role and immediately brought positive change to Skate Canada. He recognized the need to bring in new talent to key roles in our organization and he helped us implement a completely new Board structure. We wish William all the best as he moves on to new challenges.” “I’ve enjoyed the challenge of leading Skate Canada for the past six years, and I’m proud of what the organization has achieved in that time,” said Thompson. “I'm especially proud of the accomplishments of the athletes I’ve had the privilege to work with.”
The Board plans no immediate search for a CEO said Lavoie. “We have a very experienced, capable senior management team. We know that they will continue their fine work as a leadership group, while the Skate Canada Board focuses on its role of governance of the association."
IMO the way this news release is framed is misleading. There is no leadership change or new structure. There's a vacate of a presumed leadership position, and a decision to leave it vacant.

There's the statement that the "capable senior management team" "will continue their fine work" - not assume new responsibilities. So who will be "leading"? If the hierarchy has been restructured, SC isn't sharing. If there's nobody to take his place and no rush to find someone, and no restructuring, what purpose has Thompson served the past 6 years?

Speaking of no purpose, there's Debbi and Barb. As egregious as both are, the buck stops with Thompson - he hired them. Let's face it, an unpaid high school intern could do what Barb does, and better. There are retired SC skaters more telegenic, intelligent, and less obnoxious than Debbi, but do they know where the bodies are buried? Do they have enough goods to guarantee a personal internet showcase on Skatebuzz?

The timing is interesting, for sure. Just prior to Worlds in London. Goes without saying everyone at the management level of SC (mostly) have shown themselves to be self-serving, and vacating the CEO position means somebody feels Thompson is a liability - either Thompson feels the position is a liability and he better duck out while the ducking is good, or Lavoie and the Board feels he's a liability.

What defines "Senior Management Team"? SC has a bunch of infamous Directors. Are THEY "senior management"? To whom do they report now that Thompson is gone? Does this mean no light show in London? Did his awful public remarks about London - home of the Olympic champions, one of the rare Canadian cities that turns out big for figure skating, a town that knows how to organize and run a figure skating event - become the nail in Thompson's coffin? I suspect it did. Thompson condescended to and insulted London over an extraneous component of its Worlds production that had absolutely nothing to do with the actual skating event, and presented himslf as a know-it-all in an area where he's a proven know-nothing. The degree of ass showing, and clueless, pompous bite-the-hand Thompson demonstrated on that occasion was difficult to ignore.

Why would Thompson skedaddle less than a year prior to a Canadian World Championship that he has assiduously, if ineptly, promoted? Do potential sponsors mention Thompson when they decline to pursue discussions about becoming SC's title sponsor? Generally organizations that depend upon sponsors and upon community support spend a lot of time ass kissing versus alienating. Thompson had that ratio backwards.

Off he goes to the private sector. A key figure unanswerable (ahead of schedule) for some of the decisions Skate Canada has made with its star athletes. Who's next?

*It's Friday, Friday ...

Ever cutting edge, Skate Canada releases this on the traditional news dump day, Friday. In olden dayes, there was such a thing as a news cycle, and a late Friday news item would get buried through the weekend. By Monday, there would be a different item leading the news. Today there's no such thing as a news cycle.