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stjeaskategym
06-16-2011, 07:02 AM
Athletes admit injury to U.S. Figure Skating all the time. This is figure skating; almost no one makes it through a season without an injury. As U.S. Figure Skating has invested more money in athletes and international assignments, more accountability has been required by some combination of Sports Med, Athlete Performance, and the International Committee (sub-committee, I think, but I don't know the name). If you've been certified by Athlete Performance as ready for an international assignment and then become injured, you need to be monitored and re-certified. If it's something like a sprained ankle requiring a triple flip to be replaced with a triple toe, someone local will mosey out and watch the program, or you'll be asked to do an exhibition at a local competition, or maybe even send a video if it's really not a big deal. If the injury is a bit more serious or the competition is more important, you'll have a specialist, a judge, and maybe someone from High Performance arrange a monitoring session. If it's a step up or more contentious, an athlete rep might be included. If it's Michelle Kwan and the Olympics, you get all 250,000 members of U.S. Figure Skating plus every journalist in the U.S. ;) There are procedures. They are to be followed.

With such distinct procedures and rules about revealing the full extent of injuries to USFS, it's odd that Rachael was immediately willing to announce her injury as soon as she was done with her LP at Worlds. If she was really trying to hide something, you would think she would carry it through until the end and go home saying nothing more than her leg was sore. Was she just not thinking clearly? Or perhaps she misinterpreted the following rule...


In the event that I become injured and/or ill to the extent that I require surgery and/or ongoing medical treatment, and/or is otherwise unable to train consistently, effectively, and according to the seasonal plan, and which may therefore jeopardize my ability to compete for Team USA, I agree to communicate the situation with U.S. Figure Skating’s Director of Sports Sciences & Medicine and/or Senior Director of Athlete High Performance.

Well, she didn't require surgery, and they probably couldn't do anything to treat her stress fracture before Worlds, so she probably did not need "ongoing medical treatment" (heck, I didn't even see Rachael in a boot or anything after Worlds, did anyone else? Did the fracture heal on it's own without medical treatment?)... And she claims that she was still doing her normal training on a regular basis and still doing all her jumps before traveling to Worlds... So technically, she may not have needed to communicate the situation, according to this rule. Of course, common sense says that Rachael should have told someone about this stress fracture, but if she wants to defend herself, she maybe could finagle her way through this rule like I just did. :rofl: Seriously, why would someone trying to hide an injury blurt it out at the end of the competition? It's weird.

Sylvia
06-16-2011, 07:08 AM
Seriously, why would someone trying to hide an injury blurt it out at the end of the competition? It's weird.
I think it's plausible to believe that Rachael was in pain, emotionally drained, and therefore not thinking clearly at that moment.

Reposting the post-Worlds email explanation from Tom Zakrajsek that was published in this May 2nd blog by Hersh: http://newsblogs.chicagotribune.com/sports_globetrotting/2011/05/coach-why-flatt-skated-at-worlds.html

Explaining that his email and phone access access had been limited in Moscow, Zakrajsek answered in an email Monday after returning to the United States.

Zakrajsek: ``Rachael has been treated by Dr. (Bill) Moreau at the OTC (Olympic Training Center) in Colorado Springs this whole season. She skated because she was able to do both clean SP and LP programs and all of her elements necessary in order to compete well and help the US women earn 3 spots. Rachael decided to compete after consulting with her parents, myself and her doctor.''

victoriaheidi
06-16-2011, 07:10 AM
Based on what's been posted, I have some thoughts/questions:

1. I'm guessing that Rachael's fine is probably the amount that USFS spent to send her to Worlds. Depending, of course, on what that amount is.
2. Fly on the Wall: I don't know where she is at this point...she's doing shows/traveling this summer and working in Delaware, so I don't know if sending it to CO Springs would get it there. Her parents sold their house in CO and are moving back to SoCal, and she has no ties to Stanford (yet). So I'd go to her website and attempt to contact her through that.
3. I really hate double standards in all directions. Rachael skated injured and screwed up. Mirai may not have been as amazing as everyone thinks she would have been, and Rachael would have been in hot water had she bailed and Mirai screwed up. Frank has no reason to still be talking about this and Tom was a jerk in the first place.
The one I'm really pissed at is Phil. I appreciate him wanting to pursue this-heck, I would, too!-but his snarky style feels more like he wants to rat out Flatt than anything. After reading his article, you'd think that she did something really, truly wrong. She made a mistake. She isn't even 19! Isn't she entitled to make some mistakes?
This is why I wish Tom's punishment had been announced first. Rachael is only as much as fault as anyone on her team who let her go. One of the coach's jobs is to look out for the health of his skaters. And Tom clearly didn't do that. Rachael's parents may not have legal jurisdiction over her, but I have a hard time believing that she's financially independent, so they do technically have some control.
And, as others have mentioned, USFS is turning the blame away from the real issue here: athlete monitoring. If they can't even keep tabs on a girl who trains blocks from headquarters, how are they expected to keep track of people like Christina Gao, who live and train thousands of miles away from them (not trying to pick on Gao; just trying to think of a skater with a good deal of distance)?
Instead of turning Flatt into some kind of Harding 2.0, Phil Hersh should have outed the internal trouble with USFS, and, in my opinion, Tom. I have a hard time trusting him after the whole Josh thing. Then there's this. Plus almost ALL of his top competitors left him one by one. And no one sees any red flags here? I guess USFS is trying to figure it out, but Phil's had a thing about Rachael all season. And Tom's name has never come up as a potential factor, even though he has all of these strikes.

All this said, I wish Rachael nothing but the best, whether she chooses to compete or become a full-time student, or both. She's bright, she's motivated, and she seems like a really positive person, all of which are great qualities for any career. Obviously, she's picked some tough ones, but I have no doubt that she can handle it.


With such distinct procedures and rules about revealing the full extent of injuries to USFS, it's odd that Rachael was immediately willing to announce her injury as soon as she was done with her LP at Worlds. If she was really trying to hide something, you would think she would carry it through until the end and go home saying nothing more than her leg was sore. Was she just not thinking clearly?

I'm going to preface this by saying that I'm tired, I have finals this week and this sounds vaguely conspiracy theorist-ish, but if I wait until morning, this comment will be buried. Ok? Here goes.

I have another "or." Rachael has busted her hump all season with varying degrees of success and injury. Is it possible that she has not chosen to compete but has been expected to because it "builds character"? Maybe she and Tom ended on bad terms and she wanted to try to get people to notice that he expects his students to work through almost everything.

I wonder if a lot of parents and students didn't turn on him post-nats. I would have. I bet Agnes and her mom, the Gilles family and the Flatts looked at the situation and decided that they weren't in good hands with Tom. And then he probably encouraged Rachael to keep competing (or, at least, encouraged her naturally competitive spirit) and she was angry. Maybe she planned to WD after the SP and he wouldn't allow it? I mean, not that he can "not allow it," per se, but you get what I mean (I hope).

5Ali3
06-16-2011, 07:11 AM
I get what you're saying, but to play devil's advocate, I think it's safe to say that there isn't one elite skater (or athlete in any individual sport, for that matter) who gives two s**ts about earning an extra spot for another skater. I'm sure that if it happens, the skater(s) may consider it a nice bonus to be credited with but, privilege or not, I doubt that any of the skaters are THAT thoughtful.


Czisny's confident new outlook showed when the normally reserved skater told reporters on a teleconference last week that her big goal was to help the U.S. team earn three world ladies spots for next season. For that to happen, Czisny and U.S. silver medalist Rachael Flatt's placements here cannot total more than 13.

In two prior trips to worlds, in 2007 and 2011, Czisny placed 15th and 11th, respectively.

"I think the U.S. has enough good skaters, it's nice to have three spots," she said. "We definitely have three people to send.

icenetwork article (http://web.icenetwork.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20110427&content_id=18303420&vkey=ice_news)

In my experience, there are far more skaters concerned with their fellow athletes than not, with the exception of the Olympic Team perhaps. It's a small community; it's really hard to be selfish with your extended family. Sure, everyone wants the largest piece of chicken at the family reunion, but they'll split the smallest piece if it means everyone gets to eat. Besides, athletes are aware that "the spot you earn may be your own." There are only handful of athletes in the last 20 years who have been able to count on earning a spot to Worlds, and many of those athletes have been incredibly generous with the greater community, sharing their funding, experiences, freebies, show invites that they can't accept themselves... (And then there are those who are not generous; they tend not to be well-liked, but they also tend not to notice, because they tend to like themselves a great deal.) Does everyone care? No. Is there at least one single skater who has stated publicly that he/she cares? Yes, which disproves your point.

When you're on the ice, if you're thinking about the spots, you'll fall a billion times, but most athletes with whom I've interacted care deeply about the spots and are motivated to keep/increase our international slots - and they're aware that they might need that slot in 12 months.

sandra_persch
06-16-2011, 08:01 AM
Sorry if I missed it somewhere written before, but will USFSA take any action against her coach? He always strikes me as a person who asks his students to tough it out and skate (see Sandy Rucker in Ice Diaries back in 2006).

RD
06-16-2011, 08:25 AM
Sorry if I missed it somewhere written before, but will USFSA take any action against her coach? He always strikes me as a person who asks his students to tough it out and skate (see Sandy Rucker in Ice Diaries back in 2006).

Article said action against Tom Z is possible, and may be pending.

Like I said earlier, I hope it happens and I hope it is harsher than Flatt's punishment.

I feel he was ultimately responsible, but that said, the skater (Flatt in this case) does deserve some blame as well. So I feel the reprimand/fine is right in this case.

And lastly- why do so many think USFS is trying to kick Flatt out with this action? Doesn't make sense to me. If she broke a rule (it appears she did), you take the appropriate action and move on. The article says that her eligibility won't be affected, so obviously the door is still open for her to compete next season if she wishes...it's not like they suspended her or banned her or anything.

Japanfan
06-16-2011, 10:49 AM
There's something off about this situation to me. First of all, do all athletes report their injuries to their federation all the time? Second, how could the injury have been kept secret? Lastly, if Rachel was aiming to keep it hush hush, she wouldn't have mentioned it in a press conference.

It appears that they got her on a technicality but I this this is mostly about sour grapes - Frank's sour grapes that Mirai didn't get to compete and general sour grapes about the US not getting that third space.

Rachel could have placed lower than eight even without an injury. But for now, she is a convenient scapegoat.

morqet
06-16-2011, 11:03 AM
I though Rachel was examined by a USFS doctor before Worlds? So surely they would have had an idea about what was going on. Plus, I thought she had talked about the stress fracture openly earlier in the season. This sounds more like appeasing Frank and annoyance that the US still doesn't have 3 ladies spots than a genuine desire to enforce the rules and make sure that skaters don't unnecessarily risk their health by skating on injuries.

Jaana
06-16-2011, 11:17 AM
Wow this is a strong stand to take and pity the girl - but glad to see the point being made. Hopefully all other skaters/coaches/teams sit up and take note.

I donīt pity the girl, she has skated while injured in GPFs well, hasnīt she (rather than let the alternative compete)? I hope that Tom Z gets punished, too.

NMURA
06-16-2011, 11:32 AM
And lastly- why do so many think USFS is trying to kick Flatt out with this action? Doesn't make sense to me. If she broke a rule (it appears she did), you take the appropriate action and move on. The article says that her eligibility won't be affected, so obviously the door is still open for her to compete next season if she wishes...it's not like they suspended her or banned her or anything.

Because FS is a subjective and political sport in its nature. This action gives an impression that Flatt has already fallen out of the USFS's favor. That is extremely costly for someone lacking strong past records and future expectations. Many people are believing her academic career takes the priority over skating. I think the USFS has no expectation on Flatt as a Sochi hopeful. It's tantamount to a recommendation of retirement.

paskatefan
06-16-2011, 11:42 AM
Wow, the way some people are reacting, you'd think she was the second coming of Tonya Harding!




I really hate double standards in all directions. Rachael skated injured and screwed up. Mirai may not have been as amazing as everyone thinks she would have been, and Rachael would have been in hot water had she bailed and Mirai screwed up. Frank has no reason to still be talking about this and Tom was a jerk in the first place.

The one I'm really pissed at is Phil. I appreciate him wanting to pursue this-heck, I would, too!-but his snarky style feels more like he wants to rat out Flatt than anything. After reading his article, you'd think that she did something really, truly wrong. She made a mistake. She isn't even 19! Isn't she entitled to make some mistakes?
This is why I wish Tom's punishment had been announced first. Rachael is only as much as fault as anyone on her team who let her go. One of the coach's jobs is to look out for the health of his skaters. And Tom clearly didn't do that. Rachael's parents may not have legal jurisdiction over her, but I have a hard time believing that she's financially independent, so they do technically have some control.
Instead of turning Flatt into some kind of Harding 2.0, Phil Hersh should have outed the internal trouble with USFS, and, in my opinion, Tom. I have a hard time trusting him after the whole Josh thing. Then there's this. Plus almost ALL of his top competitors left him one by one. And no one sees any red flags here? I guess USFS is trying to figure it out, but Phil's had a thing about Rachael all season. And Tom's name has never come up as a potential factor, even though he has all of these strikes.

All this said, I wish Rachael nothing but the best, whether she chooses to compete or become a full-time student, or both. She's bright, she's motivated, and she seems like a really positive person, all of which are great qualities for any career. Obviously, she's picked some tough ones, but I have no doubt that she can handle it.


I have another "or." Rachael has busted her hump all season with varying degrees of success and injury. Is it possible that she has not chosen to compete but has been expected to because it "builds character"? Maybe she and Tom ended on bad terms and she wanted to try to get people to notice that he expects his students to work through almost everything.

I wonder if a lot of parents and students didn't turn on him post-nats. I would have. I bet Agnes and her mom, the Gilles family and the Flatts looked at the situation and decided that they weren't in good hands with Tom. And then he probably encouraged Rachael to keep competing (or, at least, encouraged her naturally competitive spirit) and she was angry. Maybe she planned to WD after the SP and he wouldn't allow it? I mean, not that he can "not allow it," per se, but you get what I mean (I hope).


icenetwork article (http://web.icenetwork.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20110427&content_id=18303420&vkey=ice_news)

In my experience, there are far more skaters concerned with their fellow athletes than not, with the exception of the Olympic Team perhaps. It's a small community; it's really hard to be selfish with your extended family. Sure, everyone wants the largest piece of chicken at the family reunion, but they'll split the smallest piece if it means everyone gets to eat. Besides, athletes are aware that "the spot you earn may be your own." There are only handful of athletes in the last 20 years who have been able to count on earning a spot to Worlds, and many of those athletes have been incredibly generous with the greater community, sharing their funding, experiences, freebies, show invites that they can't accept themselves... (And then there are those who are not generous; they tend not to be well-liked, but they also tend not to notice, because they tend to like themselves a great deal.) Does everyone care? No. Is there at least one single skater who has stated publicly that he/she cares? Yes, which disproves your point.

When you're on the ice, if you're thinking about the spots, you'll fall a billion times, but most athletes with whom I've interacted care deeply about the spots and are motivated to keep/increase our international slots - and they're aware that they might need that slot in 12 months.

:respec:

sandra_persch
06-16-2011, 12:56 PM
I feel he was ultimately responsible, but that said, the skater (Flatt in this case) does deserve some blame as well. So I feel the reprimand/fine is right in this case.

And lastly- why do so many think USFS is trying to kick Flatt out with this action? Doesn't make sense to me. If she broke a rule (it appears she did), you take the appropriate action and move on. The article says that her eligibility won't be affected, so obviously the door is still open for her to compete next season if she wishes...it's not like they suspended her or banned her or anything.

couldn't agree more. The coach is responsible and should be punised too. no question about it. its almost like he doesn't care about the skaters well-being.

I think USFSA is trying to point out that the ruler are their for a reason and since Rachel is over 18 she should be old enough and responsible enough to speak up. while I understand that she has been working very hard to prepare for Worlds she could have seriously damaged her health too.

I can't see USFSA taking any other actions though. it sounds more like warning, don't do anything like this again and sends out a message to all the other skaters.

haribobo
06-16-2011, 01:13 PM
It isn't like she forgot to sign one page, or had a typo. This is a huge honking mistake on her (and Tom's) part. With or without reading the agreement, every athlete knows that they are expected to show up healthy and in top form. It's a no-brainer. I'm sure she was in touch with USFSA officials about her travel arrangements, schedule, etc, and she never once mentioned to anyone that she was injured. I don't think Kwan had to go back and read her agreement before she pulled out of Torino. The minute she realized she couldn't compete well, she bailed. It wasn't because of the agreement she signed; it was common sense. She even had the courtesy to warn the USFSA and the alternate beforehand. That's called class.

:respec: :respec: :respec:

mikemba
06-16-2011, 01:23 PM
No, I didn't misunderstand

Well, you quoted me (in reference to how Rachael as an individual earned her spot on the US team at this year's Nationals), began your response by saying "no," then followed this by trying to correct me on a matter that I did not even discuss in my post (what the 2 US skaters at last year's worlds did to earn the US 2 spots for this year).

I have no hard feelings of course, but the way you responded to me does indicate that you misunderstood me: I was talking about how you buy apples and you tried to tell me "no," that's not the way you buy oranges.

mikemba
06-16-2011, 01:35 PM
I do think we are misunderstanding each other at some level, though, ... Well, the athletes skate at the pleasure of the association: those spots belong to the association, not individual athletes, and the association has the legal right to select whomever it wishes.

I don't misunderstand this, and I don't even disagree with it. But the US has established a precedent of allowing US skaters to earn their places on the Worlds team by US NAtionals, even if they are not the most likely to medal/contribute to earn the US 3 spots. Nicole Bobek and Michael Weiss are just 2 of the many previous World medalists who were left off the World team because of their performance at Nationals, thus the US allowed skaters who were less likely than Bobek and Weiss to medal to go to Worlds in their place. It's the US' precedent -- not my opinion -- that has set the stage for allowing Rachel to compete even if she might have been less likely to do well than Mirai. (Not to mention that there is no way to know if Mirai would have done any better than 12th herself).

And to put this into persepctive, even an injured Rachel finsihed top 12 in the World, thus she contributed to earning the US 2 spots for next year.

In sum, althought the US can, of course, send who they want to Worlds, they have a clearly established precedent of sending skaters who are conceivably less likely to medal than others, based on their placement at US Nationals. Changing this practice to Rachael's detriment would have been singling her out unfairly.