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If you read my previous diary, you are aware that the United States Figure Skating Association (USFSA) got itself into gallons of hot water over its recent decision to leave the Ladies' bronze medalist (with two good skates) off the Olympic team in favor of the fourth-place skater, who had a lackluster short program and a dismal freeskate that included two falls and a really glaring stumble.

Even at the time, there were strong suspicions that this decision was not strictly according to Hoyle, because of all the endorsements and publicity that had been built around Ashley Wagner prior to Nationals.

The figure-skating commentary team (Tom Hammond, Terry Gannon, Scott Hamilton, Sandra Bezic, and Andrea Joyce) did nothing to make the decision any more understandable - not before the competition, not during it, and not afterward. Scott and Sandra actually seemed to be expecting Nagasu to blow it and disappointed when she didn't. There was some waffling about "Nationals aren't the only thing the selection committee looks at", but nobody explained - or, perhaps, could explain - just exactly what that meant.

In practice it meant, "Screw the results, Ashley Wagner is going to Sochi if we have to carry her there ourselves!"

“The national championships aren’t the Olympic Trials,’’ Hamilton said on TODAY on Monday. “The selection process for the Olympic Games goes on for a couple of years before the Olympic Games, so the nationals are a part of that process, but it’s not the process. So when you look at Ashley Wagner and what she’s done over the last two years, winning nationals twice, placing high enough in the World Championships to allow three participants to go, she’s already earned her spot on the Olympic Team.”
"Already earned"? Then why didn't the USFSA announce before the competition that Wagner had a lock on one of those three prized Olympic slots, and everyone else was skating for one of the other two? Were they afraid some of the other ladies would say "Screw this, I'm outahere" and just not show up? Were they afraid of being an international laughingstock because of blatant unfairness?

They are anyway.

It gets worse. The selection committee not only denied Nagasu an Olympic berth, they also left her off the World team, fobbing her off with an assignment to Four Continents, which in an Olympic year (even more than usually) is populated with newbies and has-beens - and it's pretty clear which category they put Nagasu in, since she's been Senior-level since 2008.

And as the news sunk in, loud yells of favoritism and corruption began to include whispers of racism. It started with a few irate blog comments, was raised (and sometimes dismissed, but sometimes not) as a possible reason on opinion blogs, and finally was analyzed seriously in the Wall Street Journal, of all places.

If the USFSA wants to play politics at such a public level, it needs to learn the meaning of a couple of terms. Like "optics": it matters less what a situation is, than what it looks like - and if it "looks bad", people will assume that it is bad. Like "Unfortunate Implications" (the TV Tropes page even includes a link to advice on how to avoid them - mainly for fiction writers, but others should take note as well).

Right now the USFSA couldn't politic its way out of a den of Brownie Scouts. (I think this point needs more emphasis.)

And the bottom line is mocking commentary like this: "Controversy At National Championships Proves Once Again That Figure Skating Is Not A Sport". It's an old song, but it's getting louder - and harder to ignore.

(Update below the compulsory figure!)

Fri Jan 17, 2014 at  4:17 PM PT: The USFSA has felt compelled to issue an official denial that racism had anything to do with their decision: http://blogs.wsj.com/...

But that's like telling people not to think of an elephant. (As I said, they can't politic their way out of a den of Brownie Scouts. Or maybe kindergarten. The optics still suck, and the Unfortunate Implications are still just as Unfortunate.)


Originally posted to TheOtherMaven on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 04:47 PM PST.

Poll

Should figure skating be taken seriously as a competitve sport?

27%46 votes
54%92 votes
17%30 votes

| 168 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Wagner won two national Championships (6+ / 0-)

    and then came in 4th and then 5th in the world championships.

    Sounds to me like pretty strong credentials to me.

    •  Could also be she peaked two years ago (0+ / 0-)

      and is now on the downalator. It happens. Sometimes the skater sees it starting to happen and goes on to success in something else. Sometimes they deny it until they are washed out of the sport - especially if they had a lot of early success.

      Occasionally the downalator can be reversed...but this is rare, and takes real dedication and tons of luck.

      If it's
      Not your body,
      Then it's
      Not your choice
      And it's
      None of your damn business!

      by TheOtherMaven on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 07:01:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Irrelevant (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TheOtherMaven

      All that matters — supposedly — is your performance on a given night. Should a skater be awarded an Olympic medal because they've had a good year?

      Ed FitzGerald for governor Of Ohio. Women's lives depend on it. http://www.edfitzgeraldforohio.com/

      by anastasia p on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 10:47:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  it happens (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Nailbanger

        Many arbitrary sports award medals for lifetime achievement rather than performance on any given night.

        Championship boxing is a superb example. Judges in a title fight with a reigning champion always work to a standard of,

        "The challenger not only has to be better, the challenger has to devastate the champion."

        Personally, I have no regard for any sport with judges determining the winner by their scores.

        I am a Progressive. I believe in one simple phrase: "... with liberty, and justice for all."

        by Nebraska68847Dem on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 06:01:26 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  That was exactly Scott Hamiltons rationale (0+ / 0-)

        When in 94 Elvis stujko was robbed of the gold. No big deal

        "Searches with nonspecific warrants were ‘the single immediate cause of the American Revolution.’” Justice Wm. Brennan, referring to the 4th Amendment

        by Nailbanger on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 08:54:15 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  1994 was a weird year (0+ / 0-)

          Not only was it the Year of the Whack, it was also the Invasion of the Returning Pros.

          But the only successful returnees were Gordeeva-Grinkov in Pairs and, to a lesser extent, Torvill & Dean in Ice Dance.

          And in the Men's we had three clashing styles: Superjockery (Elvis Stojko, all jumps and no footwork), Superfoppery (Alexei Urmanov, good jumps, weak spins, and some decidedly off-the-wall connecting moves), and Swashbucklery (Philippe Candeloro, who seemed to be trying to out-butch Stojko but did it with panache).

          If sit-spins had been valued half as highly as jumps, Stojko and Candeloro would probably both have placed ahead of Urmanov, who seemed unable to get lower than a demi-plie. But, well, live by the jumps, lose by the jumps.

          If it's
          Not your body,
          Then it's
          Not your choice
          And it's
          None of your damn business!

          by TheOtherMaven on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 09:24:40 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Racism? (9+ / 0-)

    Oh for the love of god.  The US Olympic teams have included ever nationality under the sun.  And skating?  Kristi Yamaguchi?  Ever heard of her?

    Other than scholastic/professional sports, most competitions factor in an entire season's worth of competition when picking the year's champion.  It rarely comes down to one-and-done.

    As far the as Olympics, in my opinion it should never come down to one-and-done.  Anybody can have an off day/hour/minute.  Picking the athletes to represent the country should definitely be based on an athletes entire body of work.

    As far as your poll, these skaters are athletes, period.  Anything that requires 100's of hours of physical practice, years of learning skills, and is based on physical prowess is a sport.  While you may not think it belongs in the Olympics, it is still a sport.

    Your flag decal won't get you into heaven anymore. John Prine -8.00,-5.79

    by Miss Blue on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 06:34:52 PM PST

    •  Ain't something I said. (0+ / 0-)

      Take it up with Jeff Yang at the Wall Street Journal.

      But, frankly, the optics do suck. Maybe Clairol should be added to the "banned substances" list? :-D

      If it's
      Not your body,
      Then it's
      Not your choice
      And it's
      None of your damn business!

      by TheOtherMaven on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 07:03:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  But, but, but... (0+ / 0-)

      The Olympic performance IS "one and done".

      If the performer falls during the "triple dutch oven", they don't get to attempt it again.

      I am a Progressive. I believe in one simple phrase: "... with liberty, and justice for all."

      by Nebraska68847Dem on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 06:04:22 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  At one time in my life... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Miss Blue, VClib, Pluto, Hey338Too, geekydee

    ...I could do a double flip, a double toe loop, and a double Salchow.  Can you?

    When you can, come back with your ridiculous polls about how figure skating shouldn't be taking seriously.

    •  The old "if you can't do, don't talk" baloney :-P (0+ / 0-)

      If it's
      Not your body,
      Then it's
      Not your choice
      And it's
      None of your damn business!

      by TheOtherMaven on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 07:05:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I can't even stand up in skates... (7+ / 0-)

        and I can still recognize that they are athletes.  

        Your flag decal won't get you into heaven anymore. John Prine -8.00,-5.79

        by Miss Blue on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 07:25:00 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not arguing the skaters aren't athletes (0+ / 0-)

          Dancers are athletes. Cirque du Soleil are athletes.  They just don't - usually - enter structured competitions to prove who's "better" than whom.

          It's the structure around the skaters that is questionable, and quite clearly should be questioned. Are the competitions fair? Is the judging fair (well, has it ever been)? Are competition assignments made on a fair, equitable, and above all clearly understandable basis? Do the skaters have any recourse at all to remedy unfairness?

          Can you quantify, clearly and understandably, why fourth-place Skater B, who fell several times, should be chosen over third-place Skater A, who not only did not fall but connected with the audience and brought (at least some of) them to their feet in applause? What's the math? Let us see the math!

          If it's
          Not your body,
          Then it's
          Not your choice
          And it's
          None of your damn business!

          by TheOtherMaven on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 07:47:12 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Anything that is "subjective" when it comes to (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Keith930

            judging, and skating (along with gymnastics) is SO subjective that it should not be included as a "sport". It cannot be timed, it cannot be measured, it is solely at the discretion of the judges. Thus, it should not be an Olympic level "sport".

            Yes, it is athletic (I've tried a few spins, jumps, etc) and shows a great deal of training and stamina. But until it can be objectively measured/judged, it has no place in a structured situation.

            The same goes for EVERY subjectively judged sport, whether it is slopestyle, 1/2 pipe, skating, gymnastics, etc. Every other sport can be measured or timed. The subjective sports cannot be.

            I reject your reality and substitute my own - Adam Savage

            by woolibaar on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 05:22:19 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  I've never accepted "sports" whose success is (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TheOtherMaven

      measured on judgment.  If your achievement can be measured by objective means, I'm happy to accept what you do as a sport.  If your success depends on a subjective opinion, I'm less accepting of the results and your "sport" in general.

      Figure skating is certainly a physical accomplishment that requires amazing dedication and ability; but is it a sport?  Not in my opinion.  Yet it's amazing to me that the most popular "sports" of both the summer (gymnastics)( an winter (figure skating) Olympics are based on those subjective criteria.

      You can't spell CRAZY without R-AZ.

      by rb608 on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 08:34:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Valid point. I'm starting to agree with it. n/t (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rb608

        If it's
        Not your body,
        Then it's
        Not your choice
        And it's
        None of your damn business!

        by TheOtherMaven on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 08:56:13 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Ski jumping...freestyle skiing.. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rb608

        Not sports because they have a judged element?

        •  Ski jumping should be (0+ / 0-)

          how far you can jump and stay on your skis.  I have no use for style points.

          As for the rest, it's not that I don't think they are valid as competitions; I just don't see them as "sports".  Whether it's freestyle skiing or ballroom dancing, you're being judged on how much you subjectively please the judges, not necessarily how objectively well you do what you do.  I know that it's theoretically the same thing; but I'm more comfortable with stop watches and tape measures as determinants of who is best.

          You can't spell CRAZY without R-AZ.

          by rb608 on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 08:23:12 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Style points are to make the sport safer (7+ / 0-)

            When I used to jump competitively, the style points were about being stable and controlled in the air.  Control in the air is a pretty good idea, an obvious point that even a testosterone charged teenage boy could understand.  And besides, at the schoolboy level, the longest jumper almost always won.  There were two reasons for that: 1) being stable and leaning into the air (i.e. style) picks the jumper up even on 40 meter jumps while flopping around brings you down sooner, and 2) the good athletes were also the most controlled.  The other side of that is control allows the jumper to watch the landing come up.  The transition is marked with pine boughs, so when the boughs start to flash by under his skis and he is still in the air, the controlled jumper notices and by pulling back can drop out before the hill flattens out.  There is such a thing as outjumping the hill.  When the hill gets flat, the jumper does too.  So, the judging in ski jumping should not detract from its claim to be a sport.  

      •  Their popularity shouldn't amaze you-- (0+ / 0-)

        events with freestyle (varied and unpredictably sequenced) solo performances have more interest potential than, say, a series of pole vaults.

        I believe it's because they satisfy the human yearning for story--a quest, a struggle, and an ending--whether happy or not.

  •  amen (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Miss Blue, rb608

    Michell Kwan.  Debboe Thomas.  Kristi...Rudy Galinda...could gobon and on.  It is not racist.   It is political.  And Ashley had 2 advantages bwaisea her prior world experience and national titles:  she was pimped bog time o NBC who needs names with Vonn out.  And she has a coach to lobby..Mirai skates w/o one.  

    Besidea unlike track or swim, it is the National Championship. Not the Olympic trials. It is one factor...a big one but not the only one.

    Can argue it either way but I really won't bother with someone like who throws the R word around where it has no place.  Because it has too many real places to dilute it.

    •  Check out the Internet (0+ / 0-)

      There's cranks saying it, other people pondering it, and the really sucky optics that the black-haired Asian-looking girl, who skated well,  gets dumped from the team for a THIRD All-American Golden Girl, who crashed and burned when it counted most.

      Like I said, maybe Clairol should be a banned substance and skaters should have to compete in their natural hair color. (Ashley Wagner is a natural brunette, and if she hadn't overdosed on Clairol, she wouldn't be under so much suspicion.)

      If it's
      Not your body,
      Then it's
      Not your choice
      And it's
      None of your damn business!

      by TheOtherMaven on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 07:10:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Seen it happen in other sports (0+ / 0-)

      Anna Kournikova a great example. There was a golfer whose name escapes me back in the late 70s/early 80s who was blonde and pretty and hyped and never won a tournament. There is an underlying issue in all of women's sports that relates to maintaining traditional femininity while doing something still not usually regarded as feminine. And that is certainly true even in a "feminine" sport like skating where so much rides on costume and hair and presentation. Don't even bring up what I saw back in the day hosting the AOL tennis boards when the Williams sisters were at the top of their game.   All women's sports are hungry for slender blue-eyed blondes.

      Ed FitzGerald for governor Of Ohio. Women's lives depend on it. http://www.edfitzgeraldforohio.com/

      by anastasia p on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 10:51:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm not going to be watching the Olympics, in (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TheOtherMaven

    any case.
    I haven't really been that interested since that "agony of defeat guy..."

    You can't make this stuff up.

    by David54 on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 07:39:46 PM PST

  •  Oh yeah. It's a sport. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Susan G in MN, Hey338Too, jayden, bwren

    The other day, I posted:

    This 19 year old won a spot at Sochi on Sunday.

    Announcers pointed out that Jason Brown wasn't much of a jumper, like some of this competition, but the skater's slow, methodical movements proved to be only his warmup.

    Before he had even finished, the entire audience was on its feet going wild.

    I really do understand the sport. I am also kinda carried away by it:

    Men's figure skating, OTOH… signifies the emergence of the gods.
    IMO, of course.
  •  From the links posted in the first paragraph: (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Susan G in MN, Hey338Too, jayden
    Wagner:

    World standing = 3
    (As of 10 January 2014)[1]

    Nagasu

    World standing = 23
    (As of 10 January 2014)[1]

    Looks pretty technical to me.
    •  But there's a caveat: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pluto
      These standings do not necessarily reflect a skater/couple's capabilities. Due to limits on entries to events (no more than three from each country), and varying numbers of high-level skaters in each country, skaters from some countries may find it more difficult to qualify to compete at major events. Thus, a skater with a lower SB [Season's best score] but from a country with few high-level skaters may qualify to a major event while a skater with a much higher SB but from a country with more than three high-level skaters may not be sent. As a result, it is possible for a skater who regularly scores higher to end up with a much lower world standing.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/...

      Kim Yuna was ranked 25th in the world as of Jan 10, 2014, due to injuries that prevented her from competing in fall 2013. But if she isn't on the podium in Sochi, it will be a HUMONGOUS upset.

      Polina Edmunds was ranked 89th, because she had NO senior points accumulated yet. (This WILL change!) So by raw numbers who should stay home, again?

      If it's
      Not your body,
      Then it's
      Not your choice
      And it's
      None of your damn business!

      by TheOtherMaven on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 08:18:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I see your point. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jayden

        Competitive sports are very political.

        On the other hand -- and this is just me -- I like skaters with bones. Nagasu always seemed boneless to me. It's a matter of taste over time, I guess.

        •  I came into this competition "cold" (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Pluto

          after something like six or seven years of absolutely no interest (following on fourteen years of intense interest and several of progressively declining interest).

          This means I had about as much knowledge of who was who and expected to do what as the average casual once-every-four-years fan. So I had no preconceptions of who "should" win, and was pleasantly surprised by the top three (also by one lower-ranked skater who had had an awful short, I gather, but rallied to pull off a delightful long program).

          But then it was "(Monkey) Business As Usual", and all the reasons I had lost interest in the first place came crowding back.

          I enjoy skating, it's the politics I can't stand.

          If it's
          Not your body,
          Then it's
          Not your choice
          And it's
          None of your damn business!

          by TheOtherMaven on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 08:53:23 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Oh, and here's the ISU link to the full list: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pluto

      http://www.isuresults.com/...

      See if you agree with their rankings, and remember: they're cherry-picking, and they DON'T count anybody's Nationals results.

      If it's
      Not your body,
      Then it's
      Not your choice
      And it's
      None of your damn business!

      by TheOtherMaven on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 08:19:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  No, it's not "pretty technical" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TheOtherMaven

      because if you're going to go by world ranking, GO by world rankings. CHANGE the system. Don't hold a competition which has always served to pick the Olympic contestants and then try to find a justification after the fact. Don't pretend that the U.S. championships have anything to do with choosing the Olympic team.

      Ed FitzGerald for governor Of Ohio. Women's lives depend on it. http://www.edfitzgeraldforohio.com/

      by anastasia p on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 10:54:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Claims of racism are completely unfounded. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pluto

    It's borderline offensive.

    Anyone paying attention this season knew that Ashley Wagner was all but guaranteed a spot on the Olympic team. The media, especially NBC, have been promoting her "comeback story" for months. Hell, on The Voice finale they introduced Wagner and Jeremy Abbott who were sitting in the audience as "2014 Olympians" long before the US Nationals.

    Considering Wagner's unfortunate but not surprising fourth place finish at Nationals it wouldn't have mattered who was standing on the podium in third. She could have been black, brown, yellow, red or a friggin' alien from Mars but that young woman wasn't going to be going to the Olympics because one spot was being reserved for Wagner. Her race had nothing to do with her getting passed over for the Olympic team.

    What makes it suck is that both Wagner and Nagasu have had rocky careers since the Vancouver Olympics. But like it or not, Wagner has higher international cred right now than Mirai Nagasu.  

    If Ashley Wagner has any class she'll announce that she will not be competing at Worlds and give her spot to Nagasu.

    •  It started with fans of Asian descent (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pluto

      (quite possibly cranks, but loud ones nonetheless).

      The noise level got so bad that this fellow decided he needed to analyze the situation in his Wall Street Journal blog. Basically, what he said was that the USFSA had quite unnecessarily created one helluvan "image problem" for themselves. (I could have done without his last paragraph, which was a cheap shot.)

      I hear tell that Ms. Wagner is reverting to a previous long program that plays better to her strengths. Personally I'd like to see her ditch the Clairol also, and get a short pixie cut - just to be different.

      If it's
      Not your body,
      Then it's
      Not your choice
      And it's
      None of your damn business!

      by TheOtherMaven on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 09:39:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I hate pixie cuts (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pluto

        and I suspect the judges do too. You just don't see them much and they're unflattering to 90% of women. Even the ones who can carry them off look better without them. But looking a certain traditional way is a judging factor, whether it's supposed to be or not. It really sank poor Tonya harding who just could not understand that she'd have gotten further by dumping the trashy look at least on ice (she could have gone back to it in her private life).

        Ed FitzGerald for governor Of Ohio. Women's lives depend on it. http://www.edfitzgeraldforohio.com/

        by anastasia p on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 11:01:25 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Harding did try, but she had a magpie's taste (0+ / 0-)

          as in, "Glittery is good, more glittery is better". By the way, the revisionists have been at work on her story to make her the poor underprivileged victim who never had a prominent sponsor - which isn't true. At one point she was sponsored by Texaco, with TV ads that played up her energy and dynamism. (I think this was about the time she landed that triple Axel and won US Nationals.)

          Funny how the longer a figure skating discussion goes on, the closer the likelihood of a Tonya-Nancy comment approaches one....

          If it's
          Not your body,
          Then it's
          Not your choice
          And it's
          None of your damn business!

          by TheOtherMaven on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 07:20:33 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Having her chief competitor knee-capped didn't (0+ / 0-)

          Tanya much either.

    •  What you are saying is (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pluto

      she was "all but guaranteed" based on hype and advertising. Why was she being hyped? Because she fills a role that is ALWAYS prominent in women's sports and speaking from my experience in tennis, hell yes, race has a lot to do with it. Women's tennis always promoted Anna Kournikova over the Williams sisters.

      My issue is that for any of these after-the-fact justifications to be valid, they should have been on the table before the U.S. Championships, making it clear that they were no longer that chief criteria for a spot in the team. This is as bad a mess as a few that have infested gymnastics over the years.

      I'm not saying that there was overt racism, but you are just as wrong to say "race had nothing to do with it." Of course it did.

      Ed FitzGerald for governor Of Ohio. Women's lives depend on it. http://www.edfitzgeraldforohio.com/

      by anastasia p on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 10:59:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Michelle Kwan (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pluto, OrganicChemist

        Kristi Yamaguchi
        Naomi Nari Nam
        Christina Gao
        Angela Wang
        Caroline Zhang
        Vanessa Lam
        Kyoko Ina
        Caroline Zhang

        Americans with Asian ancestry have been well represented and very respected in women's figure skating for decades.

        Ashley Wagner made it well known that her goal was to be on the Olympic team. She landed promotions and endorsements which furthered her exposure. She intentionally marketed herself as a presumptive Olympic contender and based on her results in international competition she was well on her way to being one. If anything factored into the committees decision to select Wagner over Nagasu it was NBC's Olympic promotion and marketing aka $$$$$$ that sealed the deal. Race had absolutely nothing to do with the decision despite what people claim and despite the optics it may have created in some minds.

        But go ahead and plant your flag on Mt. Racism if it makes you feel good.

        •  Just because other skaters (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          svboston

          of Asian descent have been prominent or successful in the past does not mean there is not racism. In fact, the domination of an area by participants who are NOT all-American golden girls can intensify the search for someone who is.

          Ed FitzGerald for governor Of Ohio. Women's lives depend on it. http://www.edfitzgeraldforohio.com/

          by anastasia p on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 05:01:28 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Maybe they're working on a sequel to (0+ / 0-)

    Blades of Glory that will come out just in the nick of time to head off all this ugliness before it gets really bad.  

    And I'm talking about Nancy Kerrigan-Tony Harding bad (not a minor kerfuffle like described in this diary).

  •  What's really interesting is, (0+ / 0-)

    none of the three "Golden Girls" are natural blondes. They're all Clairol Girls.

    Polina Edmunds perhaps comes closest, with lightish brown hair that doesn't require much lightening.

    The other two are, in the rare photographs that show them in their natural state, clearly brunettes.

    Somewhere along the line, the default assumption has been made that "successful figure skater" = "blonde".

    Peggy Fleming would have laughed that idea to scorn, as would Dorothy Hamill. And as for Debi Thomas!!!

    If it's
    Not your body,
    Then it's
    Not your choice
    And it's
    None of your damn business!

    by TheOtherMaven on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 08:05:02 AM PST

  •  We did a lot of pieces at NatLamp in the '70s (0+ / 0-)

    Ridiculing skating at every turn for these kind of reasons - its pretty sad that almost 40 years later it's still an international joke, not a sport. I think PJ O'Rourke described it best, "Bad ballet performed at moderately high speeds"

    "Do you suppose actually SEEING the candidate eat the rat could cost us the election?" - Republican campaign manager

    by Fordmandalay on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 04:57:57 PM PST

  •  USFSA screwed the pooch on this one (0+ / 0-)

    and they deserve to have it bite them on their collective ass. As in, none of the USA ladies at the Olympics get within sight of any of the medals (this is likely, since the rest of the world now has stronger female skaters), and Nagasu wins Four Continents by skating lights-out with an even better performance than at Nationals (she's capable of it, and the rest of the field is weak).

    Maybe if it backfires on them THAT badly, they'll rethink their strategy - at least to the extent of having explicit weightings for competitions prior to Nationals that are "also taken into account". If you can say that "yeah, Zia Mays placed third at Nationals, but that's only worth 30 points and she only had 20 points going in, while Avena Sativa placed fourth for 10 points but earned 60 points earlier" it would make a bit more sense.

    Maybe.

    If it's
    Not your body,
    Then it's
    Not your choice
    And it's
    None of your damn business!

    by TheOtherMaven on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 05:27:19 PM PST

  •  I agree with others that race was probably not (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mapamp, CentralMass, jayden

    a main factor, if at all. The main factor was MONEY.

    Who are Nagasu's sponsors (if any)? And has she been hyped to the media?

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 05:43:21 PM PST

    •  Nagasu has no sponsors, and no hype, (3+ / 0-)

      but commercials featuring Ashley Wagner played during the NBC broadcast, and I gather on the Jumbotron in the arena as well.

      More than a few people have said that with Lindsey Vonn (downhill skiing) out injured, NBC was really desperate to have one of their golden geese at the Olympics laying them some golden eggs.

      If anything, that's a worse reason than overt or subconscious racism - because it means that sports are now totally corrupt, and spots on the Olympic and World team are openly for sale.

      If it's
      Not your body,
      Then it's
      Not your choice
      And it's
      None of your damn business!

      by TheOtherMaven on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 05:59:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  But on the other hand, there's the case of (0+ / 0-)

    Jordyn Weiber.

    She was The Anointed of the women's gymnastics team, and Gaby Douglas was only supposed to be the uneven bar specialist.

    And we all know how that turned out, do we.

    And the backlash that happened.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 05:46:42 PM PST

  •  I didn't like Mirai's performance. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jayden

    I come from very old school skating, when they still did figures...  Back then with the old style scoring, there was still the artistic score that was completely subjective instead of just totaling up component score points.  The current system to me seems to lead to just trying to pack a program with elements, and leaves out the artistic side.  Many of the programs seem like clones of each other because they all are trying to maximize technical difficulty.  

    That said, I think that Mirai clearly had conditioning problems and had to take long breaks to catch her breath during the program.  Those breaks were not very well disguised by the choreography and the program to me came off as very choppy and not artistic.  Yes, she did land jumps, but I don't feel she had a great performance.  

    Based on the stated criteria though, it seems to me like it is Polina that should have been left off of the team due to not having any other senior level results.  

    •  If Polina Edmunds were 45 days younger, (0+ / 0-)

      she WOULDN'T be going. That's how close to the "age-eligible limit" she is.

      Doesn't matter where you place at Nationals, if you aren't 15 years old by the previous July 1. Nagasu herself can attest to that - she was underage when she won US Nationals in 2008, as were Rachael Flatt (second place) and Caroline Zhang (fourth place). So instead they were sent to the World Junior Championships and swept the medals (in the order Flatt, Zhang, Nagasu).

      So instead the age-eligible ladies had a dismal showing at 2008 Worlds (7th, 10th and 16th) and lost the third slot that the US had gotten so used to having. And the skater who placed 16th was Ashley Wagner.

      If it's
      Not your body,
      Then it's
      Not your choice
      And it's
      None of your damn business!

      by TheOtherMaven on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 07:16:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  That is a very fair assessment of her performance. (0+ / 0-)

      And Nagasu is just as inconsistent as Wagner if not more so. Nagasu's climb back from her skating difficulties post-Vancouver have been well-known.

      Wagner was overconfident at the US Nationals and it made her lose focus. She won't have that problem now at the Olympics. The US women are long-shots to win but ask Sarah Hughes how those odds sometimes play out! Gracie Gold just may be the golden girl at Sochi.

      Some figure skaters have become very adept at combining the drive for scoring technical points with artistry. The men have had great success at achieving that goal, more so than the ladies imo. Canada's Patrick Chan and Japan's Daisuke Takahashi are well-known for their incredible technical abilities as well as their amazing artistry on ice and have record-breaking scores to back it. The women are catching up though as evidenced by Russian Julia Lipnitskaya's long program; she skates to music from Schindler's List. It is a mature, thoughtful, and powerful combination of technical ability and pitch-perfect artistry. It's even more amazing considering she's only 15.

      But there is definitely no shortage of figure skaters who still just skate around and flail their arms in failed attempts at choreography that telegraphs their jumps from halfway across the ice all while ticking off the required elements as they try to rack up points. That will never change under any scoring system because some skaters just aren't artistic.

      •  Last paragraph sounds like Max Aaron (0+ / 0-)

        who has all the jumps up to and including the quad, but hasn't yet learned to put the in-between elements together very well.

        Max isn't going to the Olympics. But he is going to Worlds - the US has only two men's slots and wants to get back to three, and they think Max and his quads will help.

        That's really what's the worst about the Mirai Nagasu situation - the USFSA is giving her no chance. It's a vote of Absolutely No Confidence - no Olympics, and no Worlds either. They're clearly stating that they think Nagasu's third place at Nationals was a wild fluke, it will never happen again, she will never win anything for them again, and she should just go away now.

        If it's
        Not your body,
        Then it's
        Not your choice
        And it's
        None of your damn business!

        by TheOtherMaven on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 06:52:12 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Women's Ice Skating MUST have drama. (0+ / 0-)

    That's as much of the show as the athletic artistry.

    And these folks sure know how to manufacture it. I'm sure the sport taught Bravo and the Kardashians.

    cheerleaders need not apply.

    by kravitz on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 06:49:45 PM PST

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