I really enjoyed this podcast. I never had a chance to read Rudy's autobiography, so it was refreshing to finally hear his in-depth thoughts on his career, his relationship with Kristi (then and now), and of course his indelible 96 Nationals win.
Having said that, I did feel a little uneasy when Jenny and Rudy started making fun of Suzanne Bonaly. Don't get me wrong, I definitely appreciate the candor in these interviews; it's a real treat to hear skaters honestly and openly address the politics in skating without the PR spin, but sometimes I feel the "tone" veers precariously close to mean-spiritedness.
It's one thing to be candid about Coach X's ethics, or Commentator Y's bias, or their general impression of Skater Z's personality, but making fun of a skater's mom for her supposed eccentricities, kinda rubbed me the wrong way. It just felt very high school gossipy to me.
I'm sure Rudy and Jenny were just sharing a harmless inside joke moment, which is understandable, but in another sense it makes me wonder, what kind of future this podcast series will have if this tone becomes more prevalent.
No doubt it's a very fine line to walk between candor and gossip, but given what I've heard thus far, I can't imagine high profile figures in the sport, like a Dick Button, would ever do an interview on this podcast given what's been said/insinuated about him...which is sad because, despite the issues people have with him, I'm sure he has some amazing stories to share as well.
But maybe this is just an inevitability? I suppose one can't critique the higher establishment without alienating them. I don't know. Not sure what the answer is.
I didn't listen to this one yet, but in the Dan Hollander podcast, Jenny and partner also brought Suzanne Bonaly up as part of the list of skaters/personalities you have to describe in a word. They seem a bit obsessed with her, and I'm thinking, dude, Surya is almost 40 by now, stop worrying about how she was parented.
Originally Posted by DBZ
^^ True Cherub, it was a long time ago. How time flies, but in figure skating it often seems to strangely stand still.
Good food for thought, DBZ. It can indeed be a fine line between candor and unthinking gossip re behind-the-scenes anecdotes and remembrances. I think Jenny and Dave have a good intent with their podcast, and their naming well known personalities in the sport to elicit guests' immediate reactions seems to be their way of ending the interview on a lighthearted note.
In regard to Dick Button, I think he has never intended his commentary to be mean, but obviously some skaters have felt hurt by his comments. The fact that skaters felt his commentary and criticisms carried such sway seems to reflect less on Dick and more on the insularity, the elitist tradition, and the back-stabbing political nature of the sport, especially behind-the-scenes. Dick has obviously been indispensable in promoting the sport of figure skating. When I first began watching figure skating, I learned so much from listening to Dick's commentary. Of course, there is a lot to be learned and we need to hear from many voices. Still, Dick's voice is important and iconic. Dick has always shown a great deal of enthusiasm for figure skating. He once said that it has always been his intention in his commentary to point out areas where he feels skaters can improve. I'm sure it was hard for many skaters to not take his critiques too personally and granted some things tripped off Dick's tongue in his excitement that he could have phrased better or more diplomatically. But he tends to tell it like he sees it.
Dan Hollander mentioned during his interview how he once went up to Dick to ask a question about a skater from an earlier era. Dan admitted that his real intent was mainly to show interest in Dick's vast knowledge and experience. Dan seems to have realized while he was still an eligible skater, the importance of not grousing about Dick's critiques but of showing respect to one of the sport's greatest veterans who is also a walking encyclopedia of figure skating history. More skaters today should be interested in finding out about the history of the sport and seeking out veterans to ask questions and to learn. I hope Dick has been penning his memoirs. I believe he wrote a book shortly after his retirement from skating, but that was a long time ago.
In regard to Suzanne Bonaly, I recall during the time Surya was skating that her mother was often the butt of dismissive on-air gossip and jokes by some of the commentators. Suzanne Bonaly was clearly an eccentric skating Mom, and many have often questioned her role in Surya's emotional fit-of-pique on the podium at 1994 Worlds. Perhaps since even Surya herself was often blatantly criticized and insulted by commentators, and sometimes seemingly dismissed by judges too, it might be interesting if Surya would agree to be a guest on one of the skating podcasts to share her experiences and talk about her mother’s influence. Or, maybe Surya prefers to keep that part of her life to herself. Surya does seem happy to be living in the United States and she has had a successful career touring as a professional skater.
In any case, I think we get the picture re skaters' views of Suzanne Bonaly, and perhaps Dave and Jenny might move on to a different ending exercise. Perhaps they could devise a skating version of the question and answer exercise made famous by James Lipton of Inside the Actor's Studio.
I thoroughly enjoyed Rudy's interview. It was sad to hear about how Rudy's Dad was affected by the break-up of his partnership with Kristi. It was fun and so memorable to hear Rudy speak about his victory at Nationals in 1996, and very heartwarming to learn about Kristi's reaction and how much it meant to Rudy.
Kudos to Rudy on being inducted into the USFS Hall of Fame this week!