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Yazmeen
02-03-2011, 02:47 PM
..especially when they have such glaring technical problems... When Caroline was only 4th in her first Sr Nationals with clean programs, it was already very obvious that technical changes needed to be made. It's taken several years for her to address some of these things, but better late than never... This is a great challenge for her, and while it will naturally get very frustrating at times, hopefully she finds the process of trying to improve her skating satisfying. Were people really calling her the next Kwan? :rolleyes: At least now people seem to be more accepting that there isn't going to be another Kwan.

OMG, the hype surrounding Caroline in the media and on the message boards (including this one at times) bordered on nauseating at times. Caroline Zhang was sure to be the next big thing, she will definitely win Nationals/Worlds/Olympics, she'll be the Olympic champion in 2010. In 2007 she was massively predicted to the US National Champion at the Junior level but Mirai beat her for the gold. That was the first time I saw both of them skate and was frankly much more taken by Mirai. At the exhibition, they both performed, which I thought was odd since usually just the Junior gold medalist does, but in the media interview of both, almost all the attention was on Caroline. Caroline went on to win the gold at Junior Worlds in 2007 which was her last gold medal in major competition. When the moved up to Senior, again, the attention was much, much more on Caroline, yet Mirai won the gold and the pressure seemed to get Caroline and she took the pewter.

When she was younger, despite her elegance and her "pearl spin," she just seemed annoying to me, overly packaged. Every time the camera was on her she'd tilt her head and break into the same smile, and for a while, added the two finger peace sign to her signature look. Then the growth spurt and downward spiral started. Ironically, I like her much more now despite her troubles; she finally seems like a human to me, not a perky little windup doll. I really hope she gives it another year, gets in better shape and keeps working. I'd hate to see her go out like this when it looks like her jumps and other things are starting to improve.

VIETgrlTerifa
02-03-2011, 03:34 PM
But there is another Kwan! Rachael Flatt. She's as elegant as Michelle was and even skating to the same music. :D

Girl, please. Let's not get into which skater Rachael really reminds us of. ;)

Frau Muller
02-03-2011, 03:52 PM
.....When she was younger, despite her elegance and her "pearl spin," she just seemed annoying to me, overly packaged. Every time the camera was on her she'd tilt her head and break into the same smile, and for a while, added the two finger peace sign to her signature look. .....

Spot on. I couldn't have said it better myself.

Polymer Bob
02-03-2011, 04:32 PM
Now I understand. People didn't like Caroline because she asked USFSA and news media to hype her. :confused:

Yazmeen
02-03-2011, 05:29 PM
Now I understand. People didn't like Caroline because she asked USFSA and news media to hype her. :confused:

Don't put words in our mouths (or our posts). Caroline didn't ask, it's how it tuned out. She was pretty and elegant on the ice and very expressive, she had some interesting new moves like the pearl, and at the Junior level she got rewarded even though her toejump technique was problematic. She got pushed to higher levels before her technique was fixed and then it came back to bite her in Senior skating. Caroline enjoyed the attention when she was younger (and I don't blame her a bit) and then it almost seemed like BAM!!! suddenly she was being dinged for her technique left and right by the judges. You could see over the past year or so how she'd come off the ice after a relatively clean skate and then look confused or unhappy when her scores were lower than she expected. Add in a growth spurt that added to technique woes, and you could understand how skating was making her miserable.

My point is not that Caroline is a bad skater or did not handle herself well, not at all. She was frankly underserved by her coach, handlers, and USFS by being packaged into the "next Kwan" and "be a perky ice princess" boxes before she was really soup yet, and then forced to deal with criticism and other issues that cropped up with what appears to be little support beyond "practice until you get better" until she made the move to Gambill and began working on the technique issues. She may be struggling, but it's nice to see the human being under the package that she used to be. I think she could "pull an Alissa" and really break things down and work on them and her confidence and could come roaring back. The question is, does she still have the heart and will to do this? I hope so, I want to see more of her.

ros01
02-03-2011, 05:33 PM
The good news for her, if she does want to keep working, is that she still has such attention in the skating world. Witness this thread. There are lots of nationals competitors who would be lucky to get a two-page thread!

krenseby
02-03-2011, 06:08 PM
She was frankly underserved by her coach, handlers, and USFS by being packaged into the "next Kwan" and "be a perky ice princess" boxes before she was really soup yet

You know, this makes me think in general of how the USFSA and choreographers package American skaters into ice princesses. I mean, even with Rachael Flatt, they've been trying to make her into a cutesy perky thing too, and that may not actually be a good fit for her in terms of style.

Dragonlady
02-03-2011, 07:23 PM
Zhang's family hired a PR firm and a management company before she set foot on international ice as a junior, so yes, she did ask for the hype and the attention before she won anything. IMO the money should have been spent on fixing her basic skating and her jumps prior to her moving to the senior ranks.

krenseby
02-03-2011, 07:30 PM
Zhang's family hired a PR firm and a management company before she set foot on international ice as a junior

Now that is creepy, shouldn't athletes let the results speak for themselves? I mean of course some athletes may want to promote themselves, but they should first wait for success on the senior level and let the promotion wait until then.

Yazmeen
02-03-2011, 07:41 PM
Zhang's family hired a PR firm and a management company before she set foot on international ice as a junior, so yes she did ask for the hype and the attention before she won anything. IMO the monet should have been spent on fixinh her basuc skating and her jumps prior to her moving to the senior ranks.

Um, I would say her parents asked for this, not her, it's not fair to pin this on Caroline. She was a little young then - she just likely went along with what Mommy decided to do. This was a precedent that started with Tara Lipinski who had an agent well before she was winning major competitions. Of course, she more than lived up to the hype.

And this is a continuing problem with skater families. Per friends who know an agent who has commented that it can be a thankless job - the parents are all "I want this, and I want that" for the skater, and then the skater doesn't live up to the what the endorsers expect.

Sylvia
02-03-2011, 07:56 PM
Zhang's family hired a PR firm and a management company before she set foot on international ice as a junior
Just wondering - can you provide a link to confirm this? The earliest article reference to Shep Goldberg (also Kwan's long-time agent) being Zhang's agent that I can find online dates to the fall of 2007, her senior international debut season.

PUNKPRINCESS
02-04-2011, 12:59 AM
Yazmeen, I completely agree with everything you say.

1) I don't think we should hold out for "another Michelle" for a long, long time, if ever.
2) Caroline was a phenomenal junior. In some ways, I found the hype both understandable and excessive, but the coddled princess thing was annoying.
3) In the end, I think we can safely say her development was mismanaged and it's only come back to bite her in the ass (skating-wise, self esteem-wise). It's a shame for skating fans, and for her, because it's not her fault. Someone should have reined in on her technical issues right at the beginning. Even if she fixes her technique, she may never quite regain the same confidence and charm that she used to have, however. Here's hoping, though. :)

Ziggy
02-04-2011, 01:04 AM
Ironically, I like her much more now despite her troubles; she finally seems like a human to me, not a perky little windup doll. I really hope she gives it another year, gets in better shape and keeps working. I'd hate to see her go out like this when it looks like her jumps and other things are starting to improve.

Word! I am finding Zhang much interesting now, the way she is dealing with this situation. It's all much more human than a little porcelain doll image of the past.

It's a sad story because things could have turned out differently for Zhang if she didn't have the stereotypical psycho skating mommy.

UGG
02-04-2011, 02:17 AM
Now I understand. People didn't like Caroline because she asked USFSA and news media to hype her. :confused:

I am pretty sure no one said that. What I personally said is that I hate when young skaters are hyped before they go through puberty. Its very sad to watch them go from the next big thing to almost a has been in 3 years because they can no longer do what they did as very small people.

judgejudy27
02-04-2011, 03:41 AM
Has anyone dropped as far down as Zhang has the last 2 years after having previously being firmly in the top 3 or so in the U.S and coming 4th at the Grand Prix final and a stacked Four Continents with all the big guns, and made it back? I sure cant think of anyone so to say she has a huge uphill battle would be an understatement. I still like certain aspects of her skating so I hope she can pull off a miracle and make it onto a World team someday. Realistically though she might never get into the top 6 at Senior Nationals again.