U.S. Women [#1]: The Contenders Unmask Themselves

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VGThuy

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Over the years I've either lurked or been a registered user here, I have seen a lot of discussion about the mothers of Surya Bonaly, Tonya Harding, Tara Lipinski, Brian Joubert, Gabriele Seyfert, Sasha Cohen, David Mitchell, Galit Chait, and Nicole Bobek and the fathers of Jill Trenary and Michael Weiss.

Carol Heiss' mother and both of Sonja Henie's parents were right up there too.
Right, but for skaters in the past ten years, it seems all the chat has been prompted by Asian-American parents specifically, which made me wonder if it’s more of a comment on the broader topic of how outsiders view Asian-American parenting, a much discussed topic among Asian-American circles when we feel our parents are being misunderstood or judged through a different cultural lens. Like parents of all backgrounds, there are Asian parents who are a abusive and take old country ideas too far but in other situations it doesn’t feel as oppressive as outsiders make it sound. Like I said, when it comes to recent competing skaters, a lot of it newer skating parent talk has centered on Asian-Am skaters and not much else. When I’ve asked for specifics of skate parent behavior of those Asian-Am skaters, I usually don’t get an answer or it’s very vague to where it doesn’t seem out of the ordinary from how I or my family members or friends in the community grew up, honestly.
 

Lemonade20

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Wow, let's give Alyssa a chance to prove herself in the Olympics. She's so young, there's no rush. If she wants to keep going (and I hope she does), I don't think her dad will hold her back. He's very involved but that doesn't mean he's a helicopter parent.
 

Foolhardy Ham Lint

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Regarding the topic of skating parents, one observation I found fascinating was when I attended a local national championship more than 20 years ago. During the week I was there, I got the impression that a lot of the athletes skated because it was something fun to do and an opportunity to hang out with others their age with the same interest. It was some of the parents who twisted things out of shape and made what was essentially a nice hobby into a big ball of crazy.

Fortunately, it was only a small handful of adults. For the most part, the parents were happy to support whatever their kids wanted.
 

skatingguy

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Wow, let's give Alyssa a chance to prove herself in the Olympics. She's so young, there's no rush. If she wants to keep going (and I hope she does), I don't think her dad will hold her back. He's very involved but that doesn't mean he's a helicopter parent.
But if we just waited to see what happens we wouldn't have anything to talk about.
 

Lemonade20

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Totay
But if we just waited to see what happens we wouldn't have anything to talk about.
well it's one thing to predict what's next for Alyssa, another to judge her dad. We don't know what goes on in his head. The only skating parent I'm open to judging hard is Gabby Daleman's mom. I really believe she's the driving force that makes life difficult for Gabby.
 

Jayar

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Not if she can’t afford the training expenses on her own it won’t be. Funding from USFS is barely a drop in the bucket for total expenses, and who knows if she will have endorsements that will amount to paying the astronomical bills to train at the elite level.
It's not just funding from US Figure Skating, which is nothing to sneeze at. As a US medalist, she will also get USOC funding which helps a lot. Then there is prize money from competitions, sponsorships, donations, and any endorsements. She will be well taken care of should she make the team and continue next season.
 

ЭPiKUilyam

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The 'skatemom from hell' with no peer has to be the mother of Xiangyi "Nini" An. Several articles have documented the horrific abuse Nini has had to endure. Here's something I found in a quick search which gives a minor preview as to her treatment: https://www.reddit.com/r/FigureSkat...vealing_interview_with_an_xiangyis_mother_in/

Also, here is Nini skating from two years ago. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LP5qlDDmLBc. She's VERY impressive for 11 or whatever she is here. She was supposed to debut as a junior last season, so hopefully we'll see her on the JGP (Is there a China jgp? I'd assume she'll be there if not injured).
 
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Lemonade20

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The 'skatemom from hell' with no peer has to be the mother of Xiangyi "Nini" An. Several articles have documented the horrific abuse Nini has had to endure. Here's something I found in a quick search which gives a minor preview as to her treatment: https://www.reddit.com/r/FigureSkat...vealing_interview_with_an_xiangyis_mother_in/

Also, here is Nini skating from two years ago. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LP5qlDDmLBc. She's VERY impressive for 11 or whatever she is here. She was supposed to debut as a junior last season, so hopefully we'll see her on the JGP (Is there a China jgp? I'd assume she'll be there if not injured).
Oh Lordy!
 

Frau Muller

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Oh wow. This parental oversight/enthusiasm has been happening for decades...millennia...in all endeavors in life, regardless of race or culture. Could we just stop this?

Speaking for myself, I simply cannot wait to watch Alysa’s FS at Nebelhorn in a day...at my 9:21AM eastern tomorrow, as the last group takes to the ice! 🍿 🍿 🍿

It’s the biggest thrill of my week besides having just attended the reopening of New York City Ballet! LIVE IN-PERSON ballet and world-class skating (live-streamed) in the same week!!! Bring it all on! Cue the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto! Go, Alysa Liu!
 
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RoseRed

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I don't know enough about Alysa's family to have any judgement on her father. Also, since the stereotype about Asian parents is a thing, I'm sure that does influence the perspective of some people. Biases can affect us even subconsciously, so it's good to be aware of them.

But I will say, overly-involved parents get talked about in lots of sports. Hockey is a very white sport at the NHL level, and there's regularly talk about certain players father's being too involved in their careers, interfering in contract negotiations, etc. And even at the lower competitive levels, parents who take things too far (being very hard on the kids, screaming at refs, etc.) are a well known thing.

I've also heard discussion about overly-involved parents of top tennis players (all the examples that come to mind are white European/North Americans).

So I don't think speculating about intense parents of athletes is something that just happens to Asian parents. Though it does seem to more often be about them specifically in figure skating.

Edit: the one thing I will say about Alysa is that she seems genuinely happy with what she does, like she's enjoying it, like she's grounded and can manage the pressure that's on her. So I don't worry too much about her.
 

mackiecat

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Kevin Reynolds' dad too.
Yes I sat beside him once at a lunch counter. Never met him before. He just went on and on about how he couldn’t understand why Patrick Chen was beating his son, what the judges snd Skate can saw in Chan and how much better Kevin was than Chan

Here is a thought. Does having a “skating parent” initially help the skater? An involved skater who does their research, seeks out opportunities for their child, proactively looks for the right resources for the child? Your list of super involved parents is also a list of successful skaters.

Is the issue that once these parents have done their job and found the right team for their kids, that it is difficult to hand over the reins to that team?
 

Doggygirl

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Yes I sat beside him once at a lunch counter. Never met him before. He just went on and on about how he couldn’t understand why Patrick Chen was beating his son, what the judges snd Skate can saw in Chan and how much better Kevin was than Chan

Here is a thought. Does having a “skating parent” initially help the skater? An involved skater who does their research, seeks out opportunities for their child, proactively looks for the right resources for the child? Your list of super involved parents is also a list of successful skaters.

Is the issue that once these parents have done their job and found the right team for their kids, that it is difficult to hand over the reins to that team?

I was raised by a sports "tiger mom" (and paid a steep price). From my own experience and observations of other parent/athlete relationships, I would say it's way more subtle than that. It's not so much about overtly "handing over the reigns" as it is the internal driving force behind all of it. Is the parent(s) truly supporting their child? Or is the parent living out their own dream through the child? The parent can enjoy being a sporting parent and be proud of their child without crossing that line. Or not. I think it's often a very fine line.

Once the fine line is crossed, then decisions start getting made that are in the interest of the parent being successful in their own goals v. what is best for the child. Looks can be deceiving. I think sometimes a tiger parent seems easy to spot when their behavior is over the top. Sometimes it's way more subtle and as a fan who doesn't know everyone personally, it would be hard to tell. To the outside world, my mother was definitely not ID'd as a tiger mom. Yet she was.

My gut radar is pretty finely tuned for this stuff, and I will just say that nothing has set off my radar when it comes to Alysa and her Dad. But I don't know them personally so I don't presume to be sure. My radar was on red flag overload when it came to Tara Lipinski & mom (as an opposite example). But I still wouldn't presume to know anything for sure since I don't know them personally.

Parents can easily convince themselves that what they are doing is in their child's best interest when they are really serving themselves. And this happens in every sport and I don't think family ethnic (cultural) background has much, if anything, to do with it. Mental health and maturity level of the parent(s), along with healthy parenting skills are more significant factors, IMO.

On the flip side of this coin, I also think children who have experienced tiger parenting respond in different ways. Some are able to move and grow past it more easily than others. (same as with any type of trauma - there are a wide range of responses to it)

Just my 2 cents...

I loved Alysa's performance yesterday in the NHT SP and can't wait to see her free skate!
 
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Willin

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@overedge I wouldn't call it overinvolved crazy parenting or being "intensely involved" in her career for her to be influenced by the drive of her Dad. But even then I don't think that's why she skates: she has lots of friends at the rink that she plays with, chats with, and learns with. Maybe when she was younger he kept her on track, but when I've seen her he's not there. Instead she's either 100% focused on her lesson or interspersing playing with friends and training. ETA: Did find an article where he said he kept a notebook and made her do everything 5 times in practice when she was younger. That's not a red flag - that's a common coaching tactic just about all the coaches in my area use. The kids keep the journal when they're older but the parents do it when they're young.

Didn't realize he was part of the pro-Democracy movement that lead to Tienanmen square, got himself on a Chinese government most wanted list, and came here as a refugee as a result - so he probably can't attend the Olympics if she qualifies.

I would add the sponsors/freebies I know she has: Toyota, boots/blades, club funding (varies by year, but usually $5000+), competition travel costs covered, and USFS funding (Envelope A in synchro is $20000 last I heard 5+ years ago, not sure for singles). Sponsors/freebies I'm not sure about but likely: Sharks Ice is using her in their ads, so they may be giving her compensation for that; I thought I heard the strength/conditioning place she goes to helps her out. So while skating is very expensive, I'm sure she's getting more help than most.
 
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overedge

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If a skater has spent most of their life at the rink, they're going to play with and have friends at the rink because that's who they know. They may not have any social circle, and that's not healthy in the long run. And it's also not healthy for a parent to be making a kid do repetitions of a skill, especially if they're not trained in what to look for to help the kid improve.

I'm going to step out of this conversation, but I encourage everyone to read and think about what @Doggygirl has said. The overinvolved parent is not always the visibly pushy one.
 

ЭPiKUilyam

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Remind me again, the US ladies has two spots for Olympics? Or are they reaching for a third?
Two at the moment, but it will be three in about 12 hours after Alysa Liu secures the third spot. Providing no unforeseen problems like trying a 3axel and wiping out so badly she has to withdraw. So if something crazy happens, we only have two. And Alysa owns one of the spots regardless.
 
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Willin

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I think the US will have three spots. The greater drama will be who gets those spots. We have Alysa being the only one seeming like a sure thing. Bradie's had injuries, Mariah's been on a downward trend (not to mention the program struggles), Karen is UR-plagued and not always consistent, Amber could have a good chance if she gets the 3A consistent, and up-and-comers like Lindsay Thorngren and Audrey Shin could play spoiler. It's a huge toss up for the spots this year. Maybe not Russia levels of competitive - but it still will be a less clear result than in some seasons.

The most interesting part will be the USFS politics. Recently USFS seems to be making a 3-person team of an old (but top 4 at nationals) favorite for the team competition, a face of the future (will they count Alysa towards this?), and the winner of nationals as is required. It will be interesting to see how the results at Nationals will reflect the teams given that results on the GP might be very different.
 

Coco

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Of all the US competitors on the JGP this season, is Lindsay the only one age eligible for 2022 senior ISU championships?

I'm assuming someone can answer this from memory. I'm not asking for research!
 

Stephanie

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Of all the US competitors on the JGP this season, is Lindsay the only one age eligible for 2022 senior ISU championships?

I'm assuming someone can answer this from memory. I'm not asking for research!
Ava Ziegler, Kate Wang, and Maryn Pierce are old enough but I'm not sure which, if any, of them are competing senior nationally this year. IMO Thorngren is the only one with a realistic chance.
 

Alexa

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@overedge I wouldn't call it overinvolved crazy parenting or being "intensely involved" in her career for her to be influenced by the drive of her Dad. But even then I don't think that's why she skates: she has lots of friends at the rink that she plays with, chats with, and learns with. Maybe when she was younger he kept her on track, but when I've seen her he's not there. Instead she's either 100% focused on her lesson or interspersing playing with friends and training. ETA: Did find an article where he said he kept a notebook and made her do everything 5 times in practice when she was younger. That's not a red flag - that's a common coaching tactic just about all the coaches in my area use. The kids keep the journal when they're older but the parents do it when they're young.

Didn't realize he was part of the pro-Democracy movement that lead to Tienanmen square, got himself on a Chinese government most wanted list, and came here as a refugee as a result - so he probably can't attend the Olympics if she qualifies.

I would add the sponsors/freebies I know she has: Toyota, boots/blades, club funding (varies by year, but usually $5000+), competition travel costs covered, and USFS funding (Envelope A in synchro is $20000 last I heard 5+ years ago, not sure for singles). Sponsors/freebies I'm not sure about but likely: Sharks Ice is using her in their ads, so they may be giving her compensation for that; I thought I heard the strength/conditioning place she goes to helps her out. So while skating is very expensive, I'm sure she's getting more help than most.
Alysa has been invited to the summer Sun Valley show since 2019. She was one of the three US skaters invited to virtually perform for Carnival On Ice last year. The Japanese TV sent crew to film Nathan, Mariah and Alysa at Raf’s rink. With her IMG agent, it is reasonable to expect SOI and other IMG ice shows in Japan, including JO and CaOI if she keeps her momentum.

The girl has a fancy Toyota Highlander before she has a driver’s license , 😂, https://www.toyota.com/team-toyota/athlete/alysa-liu/


The stereotyping of Asian Tiger parents needs to change a bit IMHO. Even Ting Cui said in her recent interview that her dad is much hands off when it comes to her skating.
 
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