Search This Blog

Monday, February 11, 2013

From rink to rink, blame Canada!

Picture me on my chaiselongue, wearing my favourite dressing gown, notepad in hand, a crème de menthe within reach, scribbling away at his post, and lackadaisically (as is customary these days) glancing over at the skating broadcast now and then. Thus was I happily, if somewhat idly, putting something on paper, when suddenly, in a strange twist of fate or rather an act of utter synchronicity, Kevin Reynolds took the 4CC Championship in quite remarkable fashion. Vouchsafe me a word with you by clicking on "Read more".

Ah, the fun we are having these days with all those well balanced, jam-packed and often completely immemorable performances. How did we arrive at this present. A present where a strange kind of skating fatigue has befallen us and grown stronger with every season, where skating events should feel more exiting due to being more unpredictable than ever but actually don't, and where even long-term fans and idealistic believers into the IJS slowly lose faith.

Today, we are commemorating the 11th anniversary of  the Salt Lake City Olmypics pairs scandal, also known under the name of Skategate. There can hardly be a better date to take a look at the past decade and marvel at what Canadian skating has done for the sport or, to put it more aptly, has done to the sport. At such a special occasion, we do not shy away from putting the blame onto the party responsible.

To all who have not yet stiffened their resolve, I suggest strengthening yourself with a pound of poutine and a pint of maple syrup. It's gonna be a long ride.

Home advantage:

When it comes to creating and exploiting home turf advantage, no one quite beats the Canadian skating powers. They are the Chefs de Cuisine, putting even such illustrious culinary experts like Russia or the USA in the role of mere kitchen-hands. Just look at every Grand Prix and big Championhip ever hosted in Canada and you will, incontrovertibly, come to the same conclusion. One of the most annoying examples in the more recent time would be the pairs event at the 2001 Worlds. Hometown favourites can mess up their SBS-jumps in the SP and still wind up in the top 3. 

Top 3: It's always nice to control your own destiny.

They can also single their SBS-double axels in the freeskate and win the whole thing. But hey, as long as the homecrowd loves it... Unbiased skating fans are anxiously awaiting the next home cooking rearing its disturbing head. Surely, they will not be disappointed. 

2002 Salt Lake Pairs Scandal: Sprang forth from the above and led to the following:

The International Judging System (also know as COP):

I will actually provide a full and more coherent rant on this wonderful judging contraption soon. As for now, suffice it to say that I don't believe it is any good at all, well almost. I can be tweaked, sure, but it can't be tweaked in such a way that it will ever meet the demands of the sport. Is it necessarily worse in every respect than 6.0? No, not at all, it's mainly the components that defy reason beyond belief. What is, however, even more infuriating about it is that it pretends to be the solution to the problem of judging figure skating, while nothing could actually be further from the truth. Ok, let's stop here, we all know we don't like the system, but who brought it upon us? Consider the following questions:

Which pair was instrumental in the judging scandal that brought about the introduction of the IJS? Who had a vital part in creating the system? Who educates the judges on the system? Which choreographers are widely perceived as creating the best or rather best scoring COP-programmes? Who was lauded as the quintessential COP-skater and benefited the most from it?

If you have answered the above questions correctly, you will have come to the correct conclusion: Canadians!


While they belong to the above, they surely deserve their own paragraph. They are the holy Grail of figure skating and the only really quantifyable programme component. The quest for the ultimate transition has led to the following misconceptions:

-The more transitions the better the programme.
-No transitions into and out of a jump: likely a bad element, at most average. Let's give it a 0 GOE.
-Transitions adequately supplant programme coherence and are the panacea of figure skating, maybe everything.

We think they are overrated and yet another Canadian tomfoolery.

The Monopoly and Franchise on Cookie-Cutter-Choreographie:

We know Canadians were integral in creating the basic principles of good IJS-choreography.  It follows that the programmes they create are the best under that system. Furthermore, Judges are educated by Canadian choreographers on how to use the IJS, so the judges learn first hand which type of programme and choreography is considered the ideal under this system. Programmes from Canadian choreographers that adhere to the ideal taught by Canadians receive good scores under this system. It follows: everyone wants such a programme. Be it from the cornucopia of Canadian choreography or done by a free-loading copycat.

Far am I from saying that the majority of performances under the old system was always super-exiting, creative and inspiring. That is actually not true by a long shot. It’s rather that, today, there are a lot more constraints and factors that make programme construction and elements more uniform.


Nothing quite beats Canadian skating beating its own drum. They have an abundance of officials, opinion leaders and tv-cheerleaders at their disposal and the hype increases exponentially with the success of the athletes. But it can also severely backfire as has been shown various times. Nevertheless, the fans eat it up and the officials indulge in satisfying that hunger. I suggest a more clandestine approach for the future.

Chanflation: Enough said!

The Quad!*: 

We all now it’s a Canadian thing, just read the abridged version of The Short History of The Quad!, written by your most favourite Canadian colour commentator:

“Invented by Kurt Browning, perfected by Elvis Stojko, and Kevin Reynolds is taking it to an entirely different level.”  
  Look at Mr. Browning as he puts his invention to the test.

Now, think of  The Quad! during most of the last decade? You can’t? Of course, you can’t, because after the retirement of Elvis Stojko, not much happened in that regard. It was only the advent of certain very progressive Canadian skaters that brought it back and introduced it to modern skating.

Remember all those tedious The Quad! arguments?  The Quad! is worth too much! The Quad! is not worth enough. Bad Quads! need to be penalised more heavily! Skaters shouldn’t need The Quad!. It’s about the total package, not The Quad!. The Quad! should not be punished that much. We need to encourage The Quad!. The Quad! is a trademark of the sport. The Quad! is an absolute necessity! Sigh…

The skating world was caught up in those discussions,  but no one just went out onto the ice and did those Quads!.
 A typical programme during those Quad!less years by an obscure French skater.

We had all but forgotten what they even looked like, until some years ago, Patrick Chan decided to take up the challenge. He was a skater who didn’t really need The Quad!. But, because he could and because it’s a Canadian thing, he added not one but TWO Quads! to his free skate. And the rest of the field had to follow suit. Thus was The Quad! reintroduced to modern figure skating and, as of today, remains a mandatory component in any skater’s quest for success.

Thank you Mr. Chan, also in lieu of the other Canadian Quad Gods in skating history. (If there are non-Canadian Quad Gods, I can barely remember them and, surely, they can’t be that important.) It is you who inspired skaters like our most recent 4CC, European, and U.S. Champion to approach and master this element. The Quad!. It's simply a thrill.

* Editorial rules state that this element has to be referred to as The Quad! at all times, with the direct article and the use of capital initials, followed by a mandatory exclamation mark. In case the plural is used the article may be omitted but the exclamation mark stays.

Isn't there any hope left?

So, after reviewing Canadian skating seemingly innocently throwing monkey wrench after monkey wrench into what was supposed to be our enjoyment of the most beautiful septentrional sport that ever existed, we can approach the heart of the matter. 

The truth behind all of this is: Canadian skating has had ramifications that far transcend an Olympic event or the World Championships. Prepare yourself:

The Global Economic Crises:

It has recently been discovered that the repeat winning of Olympic Silver Medals* by Canadian Skaters in the 80s and 90s lead to considerable shifts in the availability of silver outside of Canada. Apparently, to such a degree that the shortage may have had global ramifications.
Global supply of silver outside Canada

As the graph shows, only the medal-less Olympics in 1992 managed to take some pressure off the silver market. Economists are debating whether or not those shortages are at the root of the ongoing global economic crises that have since occurred. According to a recent statement from an anonymous whistleblower, the Salt Lake pairs scandal was only instigated to upgrade Canadian Silver to Gold, thus preventing a further silver shift to Canada, which would, as leading chaos-theorists seem to agree upon, have plunged the world into complete disaster and total apocalypse. 

In the light of these findings we stand corrected. Apparently, all that the Canadian skating powers wanted to do was to ensure that their skaters didn't finish in 2nd place, anymore. Not for the aggrandizement of Canadian Skating but for the benefit and well being of all.

Pursueing a cause as noble as any, it seems we have misjudged the Canadian influence on skating  for quite a while, and blamed it for all kinds of things that appeared to be detrimental to the sport but ultimately served a much greater purpose. While most of us were caught up in the trivial realties of programmes and competition results, they were the only party who realised that there might be more important things out there than figure skating, as strange and unfamiliar a notion as that may seem. 

As a conclusion to this post, let me ask you to keep this in mind and to remember it the next time your favourite skater receives low marks for something truly original born from artistic integrity, while a generic programme albeit by a consistent skater takes the components crown, and a thrilling 4 Quads! freeskate wins the Olympics, resulting in the IJS being tweaked once more, but once again to no avail.

It may all be for the greater good.

* For the sake of the post let us pretend that Olympic gold medals are not actually made of silver as well. Besides, we mustn't underestimate perception and psychology  when it comes to the market. 
** Please comment below if you have to unburden youself from something that got your inner phlogiston burning with rage, feel also free to comment if you take this post seriously and would like to complain about my insolent self.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. Thank you, kind Sir, for pointing out that great song. It suits the occasion perfectly. It actually suits any occasion perfectly. :)

  2. The Canadian hackers can't stop us: Here is the original "removed by a blog admin" comment by the esteemed Morozombie:

    "You should listen to the following song while reading this post:"

    1. Clearly Blogspot/Blogger/whatever must be Canadian too ;)

    2. If it replaces future references to crossovers with "crosscuts", we will know for sure.

  3. Sorry for that. My dog ate the computer, really, it wasnt my fault that the comment got removed..