Jennifer Kirk's blog: "... skating taught me far more than winning and losing"

Discussion in 'Great Skate Debate' started by Sylvia, Apr 26, 2012.

  1. kirkbiggestfan

    kirkbiggestfan Well-Known Member

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    Yes, males were weighted too. No discrimination in that department. :lol:
  2. mgobluegirl

    mgobluegirl Well-Known Member

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    I didn't mean that parents shouldn't be on the lookout for abuse or unhealthy relationships, I was just saying that I wouldn't want parents to view this experience as the norm. It would be so easy to read this as a new parent in the sport and decide it's a good reason not to pursue skating further. Of course, parents should always be looking out for the best interest of their child (and I'm appalled that the weigh-ins occurred in front of the parents and the parents were ok with this).
  3. ioana

    ioana Well-Known Member

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    Oh, books like Little Girls in Pretty Boxes didn't stop girls from taking up gymnastics. I doubt something a lot more balanced, like Jenny's blog, would do that for skating.
  4. Aussie Willy

    Aussie Willy Well-Known Member

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    Anyone can tell a new parent to the sport anything and they will believe it. I get so many questions from parents who have been feed crap from other parents and coaches. People love to prey on their inexperience and lack of knowledge.
  5. UGG

    UGG Well-Known Member

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    She used Michelle as an example in her blog instead of Sasha so her blog would get more hits DUH.

    :p

    totally kidding. ;)
  6. essence_of_soy

    essence_of_soy Well-Known Member

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    It doesn't stop with competitive skating, either.

    Didn't touring shows like Ice Capades and Disney on Ice back in the 1980s have weigh - ins for their athletes? I believe reading somewhere that Rosalynn Sumners and Tai Babilonia were fined with pink slips for being over the weight set for them.
  7. Aussie Willy

    Aussie Willy Well-Known Member

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    Disney still does have weigh ins. One of the reasons that quite a few of the skaters in those shows smoke.
  8. demetriosj

    demetriosj Well-Known Member

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    Evy was such a jerk! That was definitely an abusive relationship. Shame on him. Horrible that an adult would treat a child like that (and be getting paid for it).
  9. muffinbiscuit

    muffinbiscuit Member

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    Jenny left the Scotvalds to go to another coach known for abusive relationships, Richard Callaghan. How ironic.
  10. berthesghost

    berthesghost Well-Known Member

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    Most coaches in most sports are like this, and it's only with the increased participation of girls in sports that the abuse word is throw around. When sports were sexist and all boys, they were just told to take it. Evy himself has tried to justify his behavior by excusing his upbringing with a hockey coach dad.

    Evy always threw his skaters under the bus to the press, but he had a added reason for abusing Jenny in the press: her exit virtually herald the end of his career. Like robin years later, the scotvolds needed a new champion to prove that Paul/nancy and Sarah weren't flukes. And when they left, both coaches were quick to trash them so everyone would know "it's them, not me! Please, please send your kids to me!"
  11. Wyliefan

    Wyliefan Well-Known Member

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    I'm not an athletic type at all -- actually, I'm a confirmed couch potato -- but just looking on, it seems to me that sports are such a mix of healthy and unhealthy practices. In my more cynical moments, I wonder if there are any coaches who know how to separate the two.
  12. TheGirlCanSkate

    TheGirlCanSkate New Member

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    Disney doesn't typically do weigh ins anymore - they do a whole 3d computer body mapping and adjust the costumes accordingly. For every character in the parks they do it every 3 months. I would guess because the DOI costumes are so much more fitted it would be done more often?
  13. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

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    I think that there is a very fine line between motivating properly/preparing someone to face tough competition, and abuse', particularly at the elite/championship level.
  14. UGG

    UGG Well-Known Member

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    That latest blog was twisted. It must be so therapeutic for Jenny to get all of this out. I am glad she got out of skating. Her coach screwed with her mind. No championship is worth the emotional suffering she experienced. How very very sad.
  15. viennese

    viennese Well-Known Member

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    Me, too - she's an insightful writer, about sports, athlete psychology, coach-student relationships. And she's doing well at viewing her career with some distance and maturity.

    Re: Mr. Scotvold's public weigh-ins. Ugh. This is an old school coaching technique - yet it's not uncommon, even today.

    Yes, it is necessary for trainers and coaches to track a young athlete's growth and weight - but more important to look at muscle mass and good nutrition and not get young athletes (or anyone) focused on the number on the scale.

    Way too easy to equate, in a worried athlete's mind, quick fixes (fasting, crash dieting) with quick weight loss of a pound or two to ease anxiety -- or get praise from others.
  16. jlai

    jlai Title-less

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    That is the kind of thing I worried about when this blog entry came out -- people take up Jenny's side of the story against the coach.

    I always remind myself I ama human and I also have moments in life that would rather not be judged by strangers. :(
  17. aftershocks

    aftershocks Well-Known Member

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    ^^ Ah, but Jenny beautifully expressed all sides of the story, jlai, not just her own. And some posters who commented on her blog on her site felt she bent over backwards too far feeling she was wrong in not calling Evy, in spite of his betrayal and the emotional abuse she suffered. Calling him would probably have ironically been a healing thing for her to do at the time (but in most human relationships, what a hard thing it is to be able to immediately forgive someone and externally consider, instead of internally considering our own pride and painful hurt). Jenny was young and deeply attached to her coach and her skating, so she should not be hard on herself about not being able to call Evy, nor for having made in that stressful moment of his betrayal the personal declaration that she would never speak to him again.

    Going through the experience, surviving it and being able to share it now is the important thing, IMO. It is also amazing and wonderful that Jenny was indeed able to make and stick to her decision to move on. Wow, I do remember having heard back then that Jenny was leaving the Scotvolds and moving to Michigan to "follow a boyfriend." A great example of how little we know about what really goes on behind the scenes. Jenny's blog about this roller coaster coaching relationship reminds me of Lucinda Ruh's Frozen Teardrop confessions. Just as Lucinda forgave her mother, Jenny, after a long journey through heartache, self-discovery and triumph, has obviously forgiven her former coach.

    Jenny has a wonderful gift for writing, and she was a lovely skater to watch too! Thank you, Jenny ...

    This program is very memorable and still makes me smile:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAPqn71b5FY&feature=related
  18. UGG

    UGG Well-Known Member

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    On the other side of the fence, Jenny was judged by many when her coach went behind her back and told a tabloid that she left to follow a boyfriend.

    The blog, IMO, is so detailed that I cannot believe anything other than these are Jenny's true feelings. Unless she has some wild imagination, I could not see her making any of this up. It is not like other blogs that I have read which were very straight forward with no element of emotion.

    I know there are two sides to every story but I really think jenny is being honest.
  19. jlai

    jlai Title-less

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    I didnt say Jenny isnt honest. I merely think many readers have a tendency to side with narrators and get judgemental on others from the perspective of thenarrator-- I dont think it is fair, the same way I
    Would rather not have someone pass judgement on me based on one person, even though she is honest about her dealings with me

    Anyway I dont think I should pass judgment on Jenny based on what tabloids said either. I wish the two had this converaation face to face instead of through the print
  20. demetriosj

    demetriosj Well-Known Member

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    So if you're not saying she's lying, than you're saying she is telling the truth, so what's the problem? She's supposed to cover up this abuse? It's probably good for other young skaters to see that this is not normal or acceptable behavior for an adult.
  21. berthesghost

    berthesghost Well-Known Member

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    ^this seems like an esoteric conversation for this site. We're all pretty much skating fan ubers who know more about the sport than just something we read in passing. I assume most of us didn't really read anything too new in Jenny's blog, which was pretty much confirming everything that's ever been written about Evy in the past. And since Evy's "side of the story" is usually something like "Geez, these kids today are too soft. When I was their age, a good day was when I didn't get smacked", it's also kinda funny.
  22. demetriosj

    demetriosj Well-Known Member

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  23. jl22aries

    jl22aries Active Member

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    I do not think jlai's point was to debate truth vs. lies. More, I think they were trying to touch on perception and bias more than to qualify what is true and what is a lie. Those terms are far too complex to be reduced to simple binary oppositions anyway. Peel that onion, friend.


    I'm really grateful for Jenny's blog and her candid reflections upon her career. I really hope she can come to some peace with what, perhaps, still feels like an unfulfilled venture. Joyful memories of her experience seem to be rather few in numbers. Maybe we are witness to her growth, reconciliation, and therapy. There seems to have been a lot of trauma, and little joy. She seems to be still healing. I look forward to posts in the future that focus on the positive recollections, I hope at least she can find that elusive peace. Really appreciative of her brave admissions. That latest post could not have been easy to write.
    Last edited: May 4, 2012
  24. demetriosj

    demetriosj Well-Known Member

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  25. jl22aries

    jl22aries Active Member

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    Ohh, Deme, "truth" is not concrete. But, don't worry about it.
  26. aftershocks

    aftershocks Well-Known Member

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    "Peel the onion," as in go beneath the surface. Few things, especially not relationships are either true or false, black or white.

    For sure, there are probably a lot of healthy coach/ student relationships, Wyliefan, just as there are/ have been some unhealthy ones. Developing Healthy Coach/ Skater Relationships could be a helpful seminar topic at one of USFS' Champs Camps.

    IMO, Jenny writes about what happened in a very beautiful, honest, reflective and straightforward way. As berthesghost observes: What Jenny relates, while personally revealing, is hardly that surprising to many in the skating world. What she describes about Evy in particular, IMO, is certainly not meant to betray him. Neither does Jenny relate what happened between her and Evy in a malicious or derogatory way. And, in any case, as Jenny points out, Evy’s often “gruff” behavior as a coach was well known since before she trained with him:

    I recall that Evy had very harsh words to say about Nancy Kerrigan when she had poor performances at 1993 Worlds, where she was considered the favored heir-apparent. But I am not intentionally attempting to judge him harshly simply because I remember that. He was apparently being brutally honest about how Nancy had skated, but of course it’s debatable whether he should have excoriated Nancy that way in the media. As far as sitting in judgment of Evy, we kinda all in many ways judge ourselves and each other every day. What I admire about Jenny’s writing is that she goes beyond judgment to self-discovery, to understanding and to forgiveness for Evy and for herself.

    As in all of her blogs, Jenny provides a lot of food for thought which obviously sparks a lot of reflection among many people, including skaters and coaches at all levels (as can be seen from the public comments posted on her blog). As Jenny so aptly characterizes, her latest blog is about love and the break-up of a close relationship. She has kind words to say about Evy as well as truthful words, fond memories and painful memories:

  27. jlai

    jlai Title-less

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    To classify most relationships as healthy/unhealthy is also too simplistic. It's apparent from the blog entry that she has mixed emotions about her old coach, and deep down she still cares about him. Yes, they hurt each other--it happens in close relationships (not just coaches and students). And if it were me, and if feelings still existed between me and that person, the last thing I would want is for some outsider to rush to denounce that person I'd just spoken about, even if I had just written something about this person's flaws. Of course, my first choice is to have a face to face chat with that person. Shame this opportunity didn't present itself in this cae.
    Last edited: May 4, 2012
  28. aftershocks

    aftershocks Well-Known Member

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    Yep, nothing is simplistic that involves relationships between people. Kudos to Jenny for sharing this complicated relationship/ experience she went through. We don't all make the same choices in life, unsurprisingly. It's clear to me that Jenny didn't write this in order for any "innocent bystanders" to rush to judgment. Food for thought for everyone ... and self-reflection is a good thing.
  29. berthesghost

    berthesghost Well-Known Member

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    :confused: they both have phones and email and common friends, so this "opportunity" presents itself daily for over a decade now, and it's obviously not an opportunity either is interested in taking. Talk about shames, the real shame here IMHO is that a grown adult man in the authority position lashed out at a child in the public press with petty lies. But that's how Evy chose to deal with it. Face to face heart to hearts is obviously not Evy's first choice, but he's not me, so whatever. He deals with things his way, and Jenny deals with things hers.
  30. Yazmeen

    Yazmeen Well-Known Member

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    Evy has never been subtle. I can remember him publicly saying that at every competition, he'd look at Tonya Harding's butt and thighs. If her weight was up, he knew Nancy wouldn't have to worry about her. If she was slimmed down, "they were in trouble." OK, I can understand him checking out the competition, but good grief, he had to say this out loud to the press??? One of the rare times I ever felt sorry for Tonya.

    I think it took Jenny a long time to sort out her feelings about this situation. And I also think she may have backed off from ever speaking to him again on the risk of him blowing her off or being his usual, obnoxious self and further traumatizing herself. That said, she presented the story fairly, she didn't paint Evy as a demon, just stated what had happened. Personally, I thought she went pretty easy on him. And I agree with whoever said he probably lashed out because they were losing a potential champion when she left. The Scotvolds haven't exactly been swimming in medalists since Jenny departed.

    On a side note, picking up on Jenny's first theme, here's an interesting article about Nancy and her perfection and failure demons, written just before she was assaulted; makes me wonder what would have played out if the "whack" never occurred:

    http://www.nytimes.com/1994/01/02/s...-top-after-hitting.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm
  31. jlai

    jlai Title-less

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    I didnt mean physical opportunities. I have had people just like Evy in close relationships, andit is pretty clear I will never get a chance to have a heart to heart chat with them, and not because we dont have email or anything. If I were in her shoes I would want to speak out in an alternative way, the same way Jenny posted her blog. To me that is the "substitute" for talking to that person and explaining myself.

    Relationships like this are so hard. You know that person had done so much for you but there were critical moments when that person did sth to you that hurt. You can dwell on the negative and go on and on, but you can also dwell on the positive part. Eitherway that
    experience becomes part of you and that is who you have become
  32. feraina

    feraina Active Member

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    Jenny K wrote a very elegant and insightful piece. But while she believed Evy told deliberate lies to the press, could it be that he really thought, based on something someone else said, that Jenny ran off to be a boy, especially if she never explained anything to him in person, and her dad was unlike to bring up the issue even if it were true? And Jenny said herself that she never talked to her dad about more personal things at that point in her life.

    While Evy sounds brutally honest, harsh, to the point of being unkind, from all the other stories it doesn't seem like he would deliberately make up some slanderous lie to ruin someone else's career/life?

    This is not to say that Evy might not have done better by not mentioning the "boy" to the press; he should've probably kept it quiet even if he really believed it. But I think Jenny would feel better to think that it wasn't a lie, it was just what he was led to believe due to the obvious breakdown in their communications and his trying to comprehend why she was leaving their coaching camp based on what other people were saying (including untrue rumors).
  33. Karina1974

    Karina1974 Well-Known Member

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    I've been reading through the posts here, trying to figure out which one to respond to, because I am in a similar situation as the one Jenny wrote about (not as an athlete/coach scenario though). Her post about her first "breakup" really struck a strong chord in me. I have been estranged since December from someone who, while he has been a help to me in the past 7 years in a "spiritual sensei" sort of way, he also has done and said things that have come across as hurtful/disrepectful. I finally said I'd had enough 6 months ago, and I walked away, not before saying some choice things that were my (clouded) impressions of the relationship at that time.

    I, too, have thought lately about approaching this person, but his possible reaction has held me back, because I had said some things that I shouldn't have said. That's the thing when you go about attempting to reconcile with someone - the possibility that they will repell your efforts, and you really have to be prepared for that.
  34. aftershocks

    aftershocks Well-Known Member

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    That's interesting Karina1974. I know someone who is currently going through a difficult breakup after 14 years together -- so complicated and difficult not only for the two people involved but also for their extended families.

    Jennifer's characterization of the split with her coach as her "first break-up" does strike a strong chord I think for everyone regardless of the type of relationship break-up we each personally recall. What Jenny experienced is very thought-provoking, heartbreaking and something we likely all can relate to/ empathize with in different ways. But the key thing about Jenny's situation and what she emphasizes is:



    In Jenny's situation, the coach as the adult held a great deal more power and responsibility. I think, feraina, that you make some interesting points, but ultimately whatever Evy's motivation and intention was for what he said to the press, it was unwise and detrimental for him to do that. Jennifer does not go into great detail about her decisions to move to another coach, but obviously her decision was extremely difficult and then made worse by Evy's words to the press. Despite his being hurt by Jenny's departure, as the adult, it would have behooved Evy not to say what he did to the press, whether he knew it to be true, untrue, or gossip. And, I think Jenny makes it clear that Evy's statement to the press was purposefully and knowledgeably untrue.

    The most important point I think Jennifer makes is that coach-skater relationships are extraordinarily complicated, which makes it even more important for coaches to exert their power wisely. IMO, a good example of how to conduct oneself is that of Frank Carroll, e.g., when Michelle Kwan broke up with him. It was extremely hard for both of them, but Michelle spoke to Frank in person, and Frank (although he was obviously hurt and bewildered) responded in a professional manner. He told the press what Michelle told him was the reason for the breakup and then he had great things to say about Michelle and wished her well. Michelle too made sure she told Frank in person and not by phone. It was obviously a difficult decision for Michelle, one that surely impacted how she fared in her fp skate at the 2002 Olympics.

    I recall reading that Michelle and Frank were so close during their skater-coach relationship, that they began completing each others' sentences circa 1998 - 2001. The good thing is that Frank despite their closeness, knew it was ultimately as he always mentioned, "a business relationship." He was unlikely to have made Michelle feel that he depended upon her success. Yet, who knows how even under the best of skater-coach circumstances the ways in which such bonds have an impact on skaters. I wonder if Michelle ever felt that "something was lost" when she broke up with Frank. Certainly, the break-up did not affect her competitive desire, but it may have had some logistical and psychological effects. In any case, despite the awkwardness, the sadness and the hurt of parting, I think Michelle and Frank were able to maintain a deep respect and admiration for each other, and were both also able to move forward in positive ways.

    That sounds kinda scary, especially in a romantic break-up. It seems to signal that the weaker partner in the relationship (Jenny as the young athlete, or in the case of a romantic breakup whichever partner was overly trying to please) lost a part of their self because of psychological damage. But it makes me ponder whether even in a more balanced, healthy relationship (be it romantic or otherwise), if the bonds were deep, is something also still lost (of course the relationship itself is, but what else)? Hopefully, if the relationship was not abusive, the "something lost" is not as dire, but perhaps just part of the changes and transitions that we must all go through in our lives.
  35. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

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    Even in the healthiest relationships, you lose something when they end.
  36. berthesghost

    berthesghost Well-Known Member

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    Jenny said in her manleywoman podcast that she left Evy because she wanted to branch out and try other choreographers/music/styles and that Evy refuses to let his skaters work with anyone but Mary, so in order to leave Mary she had to leave Evy.
  37. aftershocks

    aftershocks Well-Known Member

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    ^^ Oh, thanks. I haven't listened to that particular podcast yet.

    I wonder if it's too bad that Evy didn't understand how important it is for skaters to branch out choreographically, and thus if he had Jenny might have stayed with the Scotvolds and prospered competitively? Or, whether it was better anyway that she left when she did (because of all the psychological/ emotional issues), despite the fact she felt that she somehow lost her competitive fire/ desire when she parted with Evy?
  38. Jasmar

    Jasmar Active Member

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    Huh?? Joke, right? Sorry, my sarcasm tuner is on the blink today.
  39. Sylvia

    Sylvia Whee, summer club comps!

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    New blog post titled "An Unrealized Dream": http://www.jenniferkirk.com/2012/05/29/the-unrealized-dream/
    Excerpt from her last paragraph:
    Last edited: May 29, 2012
  40. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

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    I'm sure that Jennifer's courage and honesty in sharing her struggle with these issues will help many others.

    Thank you!