It's a shame that sometimes it can be difficult to go into other threads because of the negativity and bashing. I hate when an honest or interesting debate about anything in skating gets turned into an angry flame war over whether Skater/Team A is superior to Skater/Team B. It seems fans can't discuss sequins on costumes without it devolving into bashing this one or that one, sometimes over skaters who haven't competed in years or even decades.
One argument that always makes me scratch my head is the one that so-and-so should always win because they're more inherently talented or "their basics are better." If that were the case, the whole history of competitive skating results would be different. Some of the most talented skaters in the sport never won a major title because they couldn't control their competition nerves and ended up losing out to skaters who may not have been as naturally brilliant, but who could complete clean (or nearly clean) programs. Heck, even Surya Bonaly, whose basic skating was by any measure pretty lacking, won some world medals.
I would never deny that politics plays a role in skating. However, to say that Virtue-Moir are currently the victims of some kind of conspiracy is ludicrous. They have an Olympic and two world titles, among others, which I don't think they would have won if the judges/ tech specialists of the ISU were really out to get them. Likewise, I'm sure Meryl and Charlie's big wins are not solely the result of good politicking by either Marina or the USFSA. They still had to get out there competitively with strong, clean performances of difficult programs. Their skating has been evaluated time and time again by different judging and tech panels. When they have errors, they get dinged points, like everyone else. Look at their short dance at NHK--they had some small problems, they lost points. They had a much stronger freedance, and their scores reflected that.
As for using still photos to bolster claims of either superiority or inferiority--well, my current screensaver contains 176 photos (at last count) of Meryl and Charlie from various competitions, and they look brilliant in every one--good lines, good unison, nice deep edges, amazing positions in their lifts, perfectly synchronized twizzles and non-touching step sequences. A skating performance is a dynamic event. Judges are evaluating the whole performance, with whole technical elements. They're not judging a flip-book of still photographs. The fact is that it's possible to find awkward or outright horrible looking moments in just about every skating performance. I distinctly remember the Sports Illustrated coverage of Kristi Yamaguchi's 1992 Olympic win, where every photo they had of poor Kristi was taken from an awkward angle or caught her with a contorted expression on her face. Someone even wrote into the magazine and asked them, "This is really the best you could do?" That's why photographers take piles and piles of pictures, so that they can use the best ones for publication. A weird-looking picture of a skater IMO reflects the skill of the photographer/ photo editor as much as the skill of the actual skater. Unfortunately, the internet makes it easier for really dreadful looking photos to be disseminated far and wide. You could make a good case with a few well-chosen photos that the most talented and graceful skaters on earth are perfectly horrid and completely lacking in ability.
Anyway, I'm always happy to come into this thread, which is a generally fun, positive place to be. I would hate to see us get to the point of anger and bitterness that I've seen in other threads.