Discussion in 'The Trash Can' started by Vagabond, Jan 14, 2014.
Ah, the Zamboni wipes the rink clean, and we start again!
I think the choice of Wagner was the right decision, but USFS is doing a poor job (IMO) explaining the decision to the public. Given the already tainted perception of skating, it is not enough to simply point to Wagner's "body of work" - they need to lay out the process they went through, what events they considered, the weight given to each, etc. Otherwise you're just gonna have this mess, conspiracy theories and the lot...and it's not fair to even Wagner either - her fed needs to stand behind her 100% and say, "It's on us" instead of putting her in such an uncomfortable position with the press, etc.
Did it leave any puddles like it did in Boston? For shame.
It's safe to say that Ashley can keep calling herself the "almost girl."
I agree with VIETgrlTerifa.
Figure Skating’s Rough Justice
"You know, if skaters just do their absolute best and work hard consistently and not just the few months leading up to Nationals, may be they don't have to worry about the rules. "
But that's not the case. Do you honestly believe if the podium had been Gold, Wagner, Nagasu, Edmunds that Polina would be going to the Olympics and Mirai would be staying home? Same result for Mirai, completely different outcome. Unless they have explicit rules on the weighting, one person's ability to get named to an Olympic/World team should not depend on her competitors having a good competition.
Not worry about the rules? The rules say that a skater who works hard consistently, and can back that up with results, has consideration that may override nationals.
Of course it is a different outcome, because Polina's result is different. In that case, Mirai would be going.
I think if it were Mirai-Polina-Gracie-Ashley, Polina would stay home.
In my eyes, Polina and Mirai are about equal in the other criteria (Mirai has a good GP, a bad GP, and a poor result last year at nationals. Polina has a decent JGPF. Basically- nothing really distinguishes either of them), so nationals is the factor between them.
And quite honestly, I think you could replace Mirai or Polina with any other top 10 skater. Because ONLY Ashley or Gracie had anything significant mounting up with the other selection criteria. Other skaters had one thing here or there.
And I have to say, Ashley's comments about big lights, or whatever she said is absolutely inane coming from a seasoned competitor. It makes her come across as really ridiculous.
Was thinking about this last night. Tennis has a similar problem in that there are limited competitions, and top competitors are always in demand, whereas Jane Doe would not always get invited to tournaments. But, they've developed a ranking system -- points are awarded to each player based on their results and the level of depth at a competition -- that is getting to the second round of a major competition is worth more than the second round of a Masters series event, which is more than the second round of another tournament. As you accumulate points, you are more likely to get invited to the more prestigious tournaments. Points accumulate for 1 year (there are some provisions for injuries). The Olympic team is selected based on who has the most points by a certain deadline.
So, haven't had time to work through the gyrations, but, why couldn't something similar be implemented for figure skating? You want your premier event (Nationals) to have the most weight and that is where the top skaters have the best chance to accumulate points and "control their destiny", but then give points for placement at worlds, GP Final that are worth more than the same placement at a Grand Prix event, which is worth more than a Senior B, etc. Juniors could accumulate points on their scale as well, but maybe have a a junior event only worth 75% of the points of a senior event. Yes, there would still be an element of skater A beating skater B but skater B gets selected to a team, but at least then skater A would know that heading into Nationals and no one has to defend skater B's selection to the team (least of all skater B which is completely unfair to the skater). There would still be arguments about the system, but it's about the system, not the individuals and back room politics.
My dad (who has watched figure skating maybe twice in the last 12 years) texted me yesterday:
"So how does Wagner beat the girl that skated a perfect routine? Ice skating is going to lose its popularity just like boxing. Judging sucks."
As a sample of the population that hardly knows anything about skating (he still thinks Michelle Kwan is competing), this is the general thought going through most non-fans minds when they see the headlines about the selection. For outsiders it looks like the girl who fell twice was picked over the girl who had one of the strongest performances of the night.
The USFSA really needs to work on changing this public perception b/c right now everyone is looking at Ashley as "that girl who fell but still got named to the team." Yes there's truth in it but it is more complicated than that.
The whole situation makes my head hurt. I still think 4CC would have been a better way to solve everything. I don't care that it's right before the Olympics. I've long since thought that the USFSA is too hasty in naming their world/Olympic teams. They send skaters based on the scoring in the inflated nationals bubble without taking into account how the US skaters stack up against the rest of the world and the way they are scored on an international stage. If Ashley were going to be named to the team regardless (which we all knew she was) then what it came down to was a choice b/w Mirai or Polina. Why not send the two of them to 4CC and let them have a skate off. Top finisher goes to Sochi...especially seeing as how Polina's skating has never been judged in a senior level competition. And I don't want to hear the excuse about "oh, that's too close to the Olympics..." These women are athletes who train year round and only compete a big event 3-5 times a year (if they're lucky)...one more competition isn't going to "burn them out" or kill them.
4CC would have been a good way to determine who gets to go...
I disagreed with Canada when they did this to their ladies (it was like they were doing everything possible to get Cynthia to go to Worlds.) But a skate-off at 4CCs would be infinitely better and more honest than this shady backroom deal.
The fact is, Ashley couldn't perform at nationals because she knew nationals is ALWAYS where the spots are on the line, and she can't deal with pressure. She said herself, "They called my name and my legs felt like lead." Then USFS changes their mind and says "Well the spots weren't really on the line here."
If you sent Ashley to 4CCs with spots on the line, she would implode again, and swear it's just "one bad performance."
Mirai handled the pressure of Olympic weight in two different cycles and beat everyone fairly.
I think a ranking system would be great. The problem I see though is with how skaters get initially invited to international events. Putting the JGP aside for a moment (because that is a hot mess, and not just in the US) the SGP is a mess as well. Federations are clearly playing fast and loose with the rules as far as invites and replacement skaters go. To make it fair, the ISU would need to step in and make sure skaters got invites placed on their SB score (or some other criteria) without interference from federations. An alternates list would need to be established with travel documents in place for last minute replacements. Perhaps a random draw could be done first for seeded skaters and then for the remaining ones. It would take it completely out of the federations' hands, except maybe for a single host pick in each category. I'm just not sure federations would be willing to give up their right to manipulate the entries or control which skaters from their country were put forward for invites.
I know timing is an issue, but I think it would have been helpful to send Polina to 4CC so she could gain some senior international experience prior to the Olympics and Worlds.
It's too bad 4CCs isn't part of the criteria. Maybe the selection document should say "If the skaters who best meet the criteria are not the top 3 of the podium then a skate off will occur..."
Because I agree- if Ashley imploded twice, she shouldn't go.
Mirai is NOT a consistent skater, but somehow she has held it together when the BIG event is on the line. How come she can't hold it together for smaller ones? There is no reason someone of her talent shouldn't have more GP medals, more national medals, and World appearances.
I think Ashley is right that Nats is harder than the Olympics in terms of pressure (not in terms of competition necessarily)- but with this craziness going on, the pressure on her is going to be insane. No one expected her to medal before, and she is going to be expected to now.
That's right --- but the truth is that USFSA is now relying on reputation. Ashley was the skater who fell (and fell, and otherwise screwed up big time) and she was the skater who was placed on the team anyway because of her reputation. I think it is going to be a pretty hard sell to convince the general public that the USFSA's ability to pick favorites in a back room is better than relying on what happened at Nationals. It seems to be pretty hard to convince skating fans of that.
Seems like the US has its own version of the Pluschenko/Kovtun affair, and though I'd argue that Pluschenko's "body of work" is pretty appreciably stronger than Ashley's, I still think Kovtun deserves the spot based on what happened at Nationals. (And that doesn't even consider Pluschenko's competitive mindset vs. Wagner's. One's a tiger, one's a mouse.)
Does Russia have published criteria?
If we assumed Pluschenko/Kovtun were American, I'd say there is no justification for sending Plushenko because he did not compete in ANY of the competitions that make up the non-nationals selection criteria. He would get consideration for his 1st place finish at nationals last year, but Kovtun has 1st at nationals this year, 2 GP silvers, 1st at last years JGPF, and a decent European showing last year (assume that is 4CCs in the criteria)
My two sisters in law called me on Sunday. The first one really doesn't follow skating and called to express shock at the results and the team. But being that this is a smart, educated and thoughtful person, she listened to my explanations and accepted the situation as fair.
My other SIL called right after. She knows a lot about skating, has been going to competitions with me and knows where things stand. She said, of course it turned out this way. Mirai hasn't shown any results lately that could compare to Ashley. She also said Mirai's free skate was bad, other than her not falling, poorly choreographed and not up to standard.
Both of them noted that Mirai seems out of shape in terms of stamina and commented on her frequent rests during the program--guess that one was obvious not only to the informed fan but to the casual one as well.
How would she know? She hasn't been to an Olympics. I really hope she stops doing interviews until after she competes in Sochi. Every time she is quoted she sounds more and more ridiculous. Where are the PR people?
Well my boss's wife's sister called me and...
I really don't think Ashley is expected to medal. She is the definition of the underdog. Also, I think rather than putting pressure on her, the decision to send her to Sochi will inspire her. I think the real pressure now is on Gracie, the newly minted Champ who skated two nearly flawless programs. She is the one whom I would consider a threat for the podium if she goes clean and emotes well. She is the one who said she wants a medal in both events and the one with the highest expectations of the whole team.
They might just been quoting some people named Scott and Sandra who seemed pretty lukewarm towards Mirai to me. In all honesty, I was surprised Scott wasn't bawling his eyes out after Mirai's performance or squealing at the top of his lungs.
Expected by people who don't follow the sport, as in because she got all this drama and attention, surely it is because she is going to medal. Not expected as in "likely to happen".
Most people who don't follow the sport regularly still think the US ladies are top in the world. (And Michelle Kwan is still skating...)
I know! Civilians are hilarious.
We'll see how the international judges see this and how USFSA politicks for Ashley in Sochi.
I think there is tremendous pressure on Ashley Wagner, but it isn't really to earn a medal. It's pressure to do much, much better than at Nationals. It's also pressure to act with grace, never to put a foot wrong, to say respectful things about other skaters, especially Mirai Nagasu, and to keep her emotions in check if she makes even one small mistake.
Has Ashley said anything about Mirai since the naming of the team? I was surprised that she didn't acknowledge Mirai in her press conference statement, but it's possible that USFS asked her not to do so.
If you follow trends in her seasons for the past few years, you will see strong start, followed by a dip at Nationals, excepting 2012 and a recovery at 4CC and Worlds. If she is to follow her own trend, she will do fine.
And has this been a problem? Ashley is naturally gracious and respectful. She also seems rather warm and empathetic, compared to say, other US skaters...
I'm not surprised she didn't mention Mirai. No matter what she said it could easily be twisted. But she definitely mentioned how grateful she was that the decision was made in her favor. She didn't seem entitled to me at all. In fact, her statement was closest to Z/B's in the "I can't believe it" realm. (Though Zhang didn't even speak...I don't think she could.)
ITA! It is unfair to all concerned for the USFS to make these decisions and let the skaters take the heat for them.
My partner's uncle's cousin's dog called me after Nats and said, "Woof, woof, woof, wooooof." Very angry. I was initially disappointed by the display of ignorance, but I knew I was speaking to a border collie, so I decided to correct him. The smart creature replied, "Ah, now I see. Yes, USFS is correct. Thank you, cupcake." We talked a bit about the weather, and then I hung up the phone and ate a kitty treat.
I agree, though the added pressure might get to her. It happens sometimes.
I think, however, having two really good skates and finishing in the Top Six or so (or finishing ahead of Edmunds, for that matter) could be quite a challenge for her. And if she skates like she did at Nationals and shows as much disappointment with her performances as she did there, even those who have been sympathetic to her so far may feel differently.