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Thread: Michelle, the ISU, and this season

  1. #1
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    Default Michelle, the ISU, and this season

    Michelle is facing the toughest season since her 96-97 season IMO, and we have to remain as positive as we can for her sake. I did a lot of thinking and reflection last night after the Canadian Open about this season.

    Ever since her wins at Keri Lotion and The Masters, things haven't been working out so well for Michelle.

    Even though she won Skate America, it wasn't the debut she wanted and the star of the event was Sarah.

    Skate Canada was a disappointment for MK, especially after such a strong performance to Rush only to be followed up with mistakes in her LP again, knowing if she had skated clean she could have won Skate Canada because Irina was off too.

    Next stop for Michelle, the Canadian Open where again she placed second even though she was perfect & emotional and way outskated the others IMO. :\

    Hershey Kisses was next and for the third time in row Michelle places second, this time to Irina again. This one was close and could have gone to either way IMO. :|

    Nationals is next for Michelle and I'm sure alot is going through her head. The ISU wanted her to up the ante in her SP, she did (3/flip)....no reward. They wanted her to try something different, she did (Rush).....no reward. Michelle hasn't missed her Rush SP all season yet she hasn't received anything higher than a 5.8 for it?!? She's been getting lower marks from the judges this season and it must be really confusing to her and Frank. Mixed signals to say the least.

    Now Michelle is faced with an unusual decision, should she switch SP's mid-season? I'm sure this is a tough one for her and Frank but in the end, they'll make the right decision, and I'll support whatever SP they choose.

    Michelle said she had some "new things" in her programs and I'm sure we'll all be surprised and pleased. Michelle will be going to Nationals with heavy pressure to be amazing and clean, and she knows that better than anyone. For the past two Nationals, someone else stole the spotlight and Michelle wasn't at her best, even though she won. I think we're going to see a very agressive and focussed Michelle and performances equal to the magic of 98'. She will settle for no less.

    I'm also convinced the ISU judges want to see Michelle pull an "Irina" and go for broke at the GPF. I believe that the ISU marking her down is how they're testing her, by forcing her competitive spirit and fire to another level.

    I'm keeping a candle lit. The ISU has thrown the glove down at Michelle's feet, and it's up to her to pick it up and slap them in the face with it! As long as she remains true to herself and avoids self-doubt, she will have success.

  2. #2
    SJB Guest

    Default As for judging,...

    ...the ISU, etc., I don't know anything, so won't say anything, on those subjects.

    I will say that I don't think that Michelle has reason for self-doubt, and though she may not win all remaining competitions, she will be skating her best in them. If someone somewhere has decided that this is to be Irina's year, no matter, the quality and improvement in Michelle's skating is what's important, and I know that that's what she is focusing on.

    She's been improving and pushing herself both technically and artistically, and that is what she will want to continue to accomplish, whether it is rewarded with medals or not.

  3. #3

    Default Stealing the show

    It is much easier to "steal the show" or "be the star" when people don't expect as much from you or you haven't been seen as much. Doesn't necessarily mean you skate better!

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Stealing the show

    good points

  5. #5
    jkovner Guest

    Default The Skating Community

    "They" want another transformation; they want a new face! The same thing happens to any skater with longevity. It sucks for Michelle and it is illogical, but I think the only way for her to get out of this is to become a better/more consistent technician than anybody out there. She became the premier artist, now she has to become the premier technician again. JMHO

  6. #6

    Default All this hype about Sarah

    and has she managed to beat anyone in an eligible competition the last 2 seasons? I don't recall any. Someone enlighten me

    Anywaze, it remains to be seen, and even if she does win, it still won't convince me she is better than MK, Irina, Maria, Vanessa, Maria Volchkova, Fumie. She's got a few thousand miles worth of artistic maturing to catch up.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: The Skating Community

    So call me crazy. I have no proof, but knowing that what we get to see is only a minute portion of the machinations of the business of International Figure Skating, and knowing that the SLC games bidding has caused exposure of the ISU system;

    my theory, after seeing the US judges cave in on both Michelle and Sarah, is that the USFA has sold its soul to the ISU as payment for having the ISU's "bidding for the Olympic Games" revealed. We have criminal indictments in the US, and the ISU (Speedy & Co.) has been exposed and embarrassed as the greedy bribe seekers and takers they really are. I think our skaters are paying the price for their chagrin this year, and they might pay next year too. After viewing so many competitions recently, it's the only logical answer I can fathom. This year's sacrifice permeates all disciplines of American skating. Maybe at US Nationals we will know what the USA judges really think about the skating of Michelle, Sarah, Sasha, etc. I don't know how much of their soul they have sold. It might have included Michelle's National Title, and I don't even want to think about her World Title .

    "This kind of scoring is not good for the sport of figure skating" and that may be the only thing I ever quote from Peter Carruthers.

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    Default Re: The Skating Community

    My God GRATEFULMKFAN, I hope that is not the case.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: The Skating Community

    KWANLUV, in 3 days I will be 53 years old. I'm not some angry kid. I'm a well-educated woman who doesn't usually fight City Hall or subscribe to conspiracy theories; however, I have never been so angry at the ISU as I am right now. Even when they tried to squeeze Michelle, when she wanted to skate at Skate America, and they wouldn't permit it unless she did Lalique also, in a way I understood their (fiscally based) position. I felt badly for Michelle, but there was not the fury within me as there is now.

    I wish it were not the case. It just seems so blatantly apparent to me, and I am not a woman who generally knocks the judges. I don't think it's in their hands this year. I think they are just "following orders." Twice this year Frank has criticized the judging. He knows that doing this is a good way to get your skater slapped next time out of the gate. Why would he do that unless he also knows that nothing is going to help Michelle this year (unless he's turned on Michelle, which I doubt wholeheartedly)? Think about it.

    OT - how's that smokin' thing going?

  10. #10
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    Default Re: The Skating Community

    It's going great!!!!!!!!! Thanks for asking

    GRATEFULMKFAN, But it was the IOC that was exposed for their corruption, the ISU had nothing to do with the bidding for Salt Lake City? The International Olympic Committee handles that and is a separate body from the International Skating Union.

    I'm just confused, am I missing something? :|

  11. #11

    Default ISU

    All I can say is AMEN GREATFULMKFAN!

  12. #12
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    Default Re: ISU- IOC

    Hey KwanLuv, don't try to blow my theory while it's helping me get through the day .

    There is a link between the IOC and the ISU. I learned that on the net, when the bidding was going on, and all the names were in print, and the relationships explained. Where to find that information now? I have no clue, but I'm going to search and see what I find. Not that it matters because it won't change the outcome of anything, and I will probably get more aggitated than I already am. (What, you couldn't tell?)

    Your question got me wondering if all Olympic competitions, be they skiing or skating, will be decided by powers above the level of judge? As I said before, "how much of our soul did we have to sell?" We, the public, won't know the answer until 2002. I have a feeling we won't be happy with the results. If I had tickets to the SLC games, I wouldn't go. That's how strongly I believe what I've said and how sad/mad I am about it .

    God bless America!
    (please)

    P.S.) Thanks for the Amen Jennis.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: ISU- IOC

    GRATEFULMKFAN, you have hit the proverbial nail on its proverbial head.

    And as a further proof of your hypothesis, look at the fiascos that happened with our gymnasts in Sydney. Thank goodness that in swimming and track there are no presentation scores.

  14. #14
    SJB Guest

    Default Let me just repeat...

    ...with emphasis, that no matter what alleged conspiracy or other factors may prevent Michelle from winning medals this season, the most important thing to her, and to us, is that she is continuing to improve her skating, and that she will have the satisfaction of knowing that she has lived up to her own standards in that area, no matter how she is scored or who may win what. This is the only satisfaction that can truly make her happy.

    "What is lovely because it is praised, or corrupted because it is blamed? Does an emerald become worse than it was, if it is not praised?" (Marcus Aurelius)

    Michelle is an emerald. She will never become less lovely or less worthy a skater, no matter who may conspire against her or how she may be judged or what competitions she may not win.

  15. #15
    xoxo74 Guest

    Default

    I agreed with you Kwanluv at work

  16. #16
    bwheeler Guest

    Default The ISU, possible corruption, and a parallel case.

    GRATEFULMKFAN, I am 57 years old and also do not generally believe in conspiracy theory. However, I find a lot of substance in what you have to say. I have more trust in U.S. judges than you do and I think Nationals showed they will still give Michelle good marks when she skates well. Nevertheless, the judging this year has been strange or odd in a number of cases as has been much discussed on this board and any perception of unfair or biased judging detracts from the sport and could ultimately reduce or destroy it by driving viewers away.

    Already a number of posters have indicated bewilderment or distrust with the judging this season and have stated they would watch less or, as you stated, not even go to SLC if given the tickets. Now if forum members, strong skating fans, feel like that--what does it say about the general public? Faced with confusing judging, conflicting standards, compounded by misleading TV commentary by former skaters who gloss over technical errors committed by young, developing skaters who have been overhyped by the media, the public may simply declare the whole sport a fraud and turn away.

    As has been suggested, it might help to have judges comment on the scores given in a competition; in fact, I would prefer former judges as commentators to former skaters. In any event, more professionalism and more education of the general public in this most complex sport would be welcome.

    Now it may be true that marks are only placeholders and that the placements in the Grand Prix this year have been properly given for the most part and that MK's loss in the Canadian Open was only in an insignificant pro-am and due to judges' reeducation as an "interpretive" program to mean positive scores for posing, props, and laying on the ice. Still... One notices that MK often gets marks a few tenths lower than she got a few years ago although she seems to be a much improved skater. One finds Irina Slutskaya consistently given presentation scores of 5.9. You think, yes, she may have improved significantly, but that much?

    It is also true, as SJB stated, that to MK and her fans the most important thing is that she do well and live up to her standards. I doubt, though, that the losing team in the Super Bowl would say "Although we lost by one point we're happy with the outcome of this game because we lived up to our standards even though all the slo-mo replays show that the officials were completely wrong in calling back the last three touchdowns we made."

    What skating fans want is a level playing field for all the skaters. Will we get such a level playing field in the upcoming Grand Prix finals, Worlds, and the onrushing Winter Games?

    What does history teach us? It tells us that there is evidence of alleged deals in the 1980 Olympics at the expense of Frank Carroll's former star female skater. It shows evidence of bloc voting by former Iron Curtain countries in the 1994 games to place Oksana Baiul over a more technically accomplished performance by Nancy Kerrigan. It shows judges caught on TV signaling to each other. Said judges being given a slap on the wrist and a warning not to be such naughty boys. It shows a Canadian judge critical of the ISU being penalized.

    Kwanluv wonders about comparison between the IOC and the ISU. The only fact known is that the IOC got caught in their corruption. One may be certain that the bribes and influence peddling were going on long before SLC to an extent that will never be fully revealed. Examination of such organizations shows that they often share common characteristics. They are often run by a "strong man" or small ruling group at the top. Such people brook no interference with the way they do things and generally manage to do quite well for themselves.

    I don't really know much about skating history. Something I do know about is chess. The governing body in international chess is FIDE (the initials stand for the French equivalent of International Chess Federation). For years FIDE was under the dominance of the Russian Chess Federation. The best players in the world were Russian and every four years one Russian would play another Russian for the world chess championship. It went on like this for decades.

    In 1958 the American champion Bobby Fischer (who was 15 at the time) played in an international competition held by FIDE to determine a challenger to the Russian world champion. After the event Fischer accused the Russians of "cheating" and unfairly costing him a chance to become the challenger. Not much credence was given to Fischer at the time because of his age and well-known ego. Later, after the fall of the Soviet Union, facts emerged that indeed the Russian Chess Federation had ordered their players in certain cases to prearrange draws with each other(collusion). Such collusion would benefit the Russian leading the tournament at the expense of non-Russian players including Fischer. It would be almost impossible to prove such collusion because it is quite common in chess for players to play 20 or 30 moves and agree to a draw for many reasons such as not feeling like putting up a struggle on that particular day. There is also evidence that the Russians used the same tactics at a 1948 tournament held after the death of Alekhine, the former world champion, to insure that the leading Russian player, M. Botvinnik, would become the new world champion.

    So cheating can and does occur as we already know from many experiences in life. The question is to what extent may ISU judges be influenced to exert pressure against American skaters including MK. I don't really take the side of Kwanluv that the ISU judges are challenging or "testing" MK in an effort to get her to up the ante. Marking down her scores for that reason would be, of course, completely unethical. Rather, I think her scores are held down out of a general feeling that it's time for a European to win again and that such an outcome would please Speedy and his cohorts more.

    I have never trusted Speedy since I read that he showed complete indifference to the performance of Michelle at 98 Worlds. I don't really know that he regards figure skating as anything other than a cash cow to bring money into the ISU coffers. Speedy is Italian, not Russian, but we don't really know all the influences floating around beneath the surface. What we do know is that his expressed wishes have generally shown disregard for skaters and the pressures placed upon them.

    It should be noted that any desire to make Irina a world or Olympic champion at the expense of Michelle does not need to be explicitly written down or ordered. When Stalin would attend the theater and was displeased with a play or musical work, he need only frown or show displeasure. The author of the piece in question would immediately be sent to Siberia or, if lucky, only be lambasted for "reactionism" and be given a "reeducation" course. No orders were necessary.

    Likewise, I think it is only necessary for the judges to feel, consciously or unconsciously, that it would be a good thing for Slutskaya to win if it could be arranged. I think this would have occurred at 2000 Worlds except MK skated the long perfectly and the other skaters had errors and they had to give it to her. It is not necessary for all the judges to feel that way and it only takes a few tenths of a point one way or another. Only a few cheated draws were sufficient to deny Fischer his chance at the title in 1958. Such an outcome could not bring blame to Irina, skaters are not responsible for judges' faults; but if the competition is close then I agree with GRATEFULMKFAN that we may not be happy with the results.

  17. #17
    SJB Guest

    Default Re: The ISU, possible corruption, and a parallel case.

    bwheeler, I agree that, while actual conspiracies are often difficult to keep secret, and so are perhaps not so common, judges' conscious or unconscious feelings may influence a lot, and that is likely to be much more common.

    But, there's nothing Michelle can do about that. People's feelings, even unconscious ones, influence their behavior, so if some judges happen to feel, whether they're aware of it or not, that Michelle & Maria have already been world champions, let's share the wealth, it's Irina's turn, that will probably play a part in their marks, consciously or not.

    There's nothing Michelle can do if some judges feel like this, or if there is indeed some kind of conspiracy, so if I were her, I would not even waste time thinking about it. I'd just focus on skating the very, very best that I could, and on winning competitions by better skating, as happened last year at Worlds.

    I'd also focus on the goals that are most important to me, which for Michelle seems to be the Olympics. And if, for example, she decides that she has to scale back at the GPF and Worlds in order to take care of her back for next season, and so she lessens her chances of winning these comps this year, I would guess that she would just think, "So be it. I need to make this sacrifice to accomplish my greater goal."

    One way or another, if I were her I'd put the ISU completely out of my mind.

  18. #18
    kyla Guest

    Default Re: A few comments

    Although, there have been cases of "agreements" between judges during the Olympics and Worlds, it is a rare event and as far as I know it has never happened when Michelle competed. Last year's Worlds was an example. Many wanted to reward Irina for her transformation and hard work, but in the end the majority of the judges placed both of them exactly where they should have been placed. I don't believe the ISU is out to find a replacement for Michelle either. They aren't stupid, they know why figure skating brings in revenue now. Yes, they are probably happy to see Irina viewed as a true challenger to Michelle for the sake of t.v.ratings, revenue and the sport itself, but I don't believe it means they would go to ridiculous lengths to hand her the gold medal.
    The Canadian Open isn't a good example because of the format, which emphasized "professional style" artistry. I really don't think Michelle/Frank knew what the judges were looking for in the long
    program and they probably should have skipped this one. The technical quality of the skating was not a major factor for the long program (per the rules), which was why Michelle lost despite Chouinard's fall. These competitions seem a little pointless. Even Joe Inman had to place Chouinard first because of the criteria for the long program. I'm sure it didn't make him happy, as he loves Michelle's skating. The Skate Canada program was not Michelle's best and the program itself was not what it is now (lovely). If you look at tapes of both SOTBS's (Skate Canada and Nationals), you will see a major difference.
    I believe the reason Frank has defended her so vocally is because he doesn't want people to undervalue her by taking her extraordinary ability for granted, particularly in a pre-Olympic year. There have been rumblings in the media from all sides, as we all know. But that is just the media trying to create news where there is none. As everyone has noted, her skating speaks for itself and it will stand on its own, as the most significant body of work in figure skating, probably for our lifetimes. So let's not get paranoid, until we really have reason to. Hopefully, the judges will do the right thing by both Michelle and Irina.

  19. #19
    shell4mk Guest

    Default Kyla

    Kyla, I just had to compliment you for your logical, well-thought out post.

  20. #20
    kyla Guest

    Default Re: shell4mk

    Thank you for the compliment!

  21. #21
    bwheeler Guest

    Default Thank you for your comments...

    I appreciate your thoughtful replies, SJB and kyla. SJB, I agree with just about everything you said in your post, but you are looking at the problem entirely from the viewpoint of MK. Naturally, she is not responsible for judging problems, nor can she do anything about them. All she, or any skater, can do is to work and practice as hard as possible and perform his or her program to the best of their abilities. Still, MK and her team must decide what is necessary to create a winning program and to do this they must take into account what the judges seem to be rewarding, so I don't think she can put the ISU entirely out of her mind.

    But although it is not the skater's responsibility to investigate alleged judging issues, the responsibility must fall on someone. My thesis is still very simple: if the judging is viewed as unfair or biased or unexplainable by a large segment of the general public, then viewing will go down, ratings will continue to fall, and we will see less and less figure skating on television. The sport should police itself. It's up to coaches, administrative people, and other people in positions of authority to come up with the answers. Frank Carroll has spoken up on behalf of his skater. The USFSA should also defend its views vigorously in ISU meetings. The ISU, however, seems to duck its responsibilities; recently at Europeans it attempted to conceal the nationalities of the judges. It has stated it is not responsible for the viewing problems at the Delta Center; yet it refuses to allow the SLC Coordinating Committee to shift the venue to an arena with better sight lines.

    Fans, who are just members of the general public who follow the sport more closely, also have the right to voice their opinion and protest when they think something is being done unfairly. There was a movement on this forum earlier to send a petition to the ISU voicing worries about the judging. This petition was finally removed due to , among other things, fear that it might damage MK's chances with the judges and do more harm than good. I don't agree that that was necessarily the correct choice; if you really believe in your position you should stand up for it.

    Kyla, you are correct that at last year's Worlds the placements were ultimately correctly done. Still, it was a near thing and you could see the disappointment on Michelle's face when, after skating perhaps her greatest skate, she watched it being given technical scores as low as 5.6. Irina, in spite of her mistakes, was given two first place ordinals by the judges.

    I'm not as certain as you are that the European judges think Michelle is as necessary to skating as we do. As for going to ridiculous lengths to hand Irina the gold metal, I thought they did just that at NKH Trophy. In fact, the placing of Slutskaya over Butyrskaya at NKH is to my mind even stronger evidence for the judges bias in favor of Irina than any placing of IS over MK.

    The Grand Prix final was unclear. Neither Irina nor Michelle skated very well. Still, the judges placed Irina first in every phase of the competition. I think MK could very easily have been given first in the short program. You are correct, kyla, that the media just tries to create news; but it is not the media that is giving MK 5.6 technical scores and it is not the media that I fear.

    You are right that Michelle Kwan has the most significant body of work in figure skating, at least for the last ten years. My hope is just that she does not get penalized by this, but gets a level playing field to be judged upon.

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