Sunday, December 12

Hey, How About We Lay off Rachael Flatt a Bit?

This post basically serves as a reply to the article I just read by Philip Hersh, who discusses how brilliant Alissa Czisny was en route to winning the Grand Prix Final this weekend and how miserable Rachael Flatt was in her last-place finish of the six qualified ladies.

First of all, note the bold term above. Only six ladies make it out of the Grand Prix regular season events, and Rachael Flatt earned silver medals at both the NHK Trophy and Skate America en route to qualifying her spot in Beijing. Her overall total score from the two events was 323.90 points. Whatever you think about comparing scores across events aside, that total was good enough for fourth-best of all the ladies that skated in two events. She finished higher than eventual Grand Prix Final silver medalist Carolina Kostner at Skate America, and she finished on top of bronze medalist Kanako Murakami at the NHK Trophy.

You want more stats? Mirai Nagasu finished with 314.02 points, Ashley Wagner 310.75 points, and Agnes Zawadzki with 308.13 points. It wasn't earth-shaking when Nagasu dropped from first in the short at Cup of China to fourth overall, and it wasn't a big deal when Wagner earned just 90 points in her free skate at NHK Trophy, her first event. Those three, along with Czisny and Flatt, figure to be among the front-runners for the two World Championship spots up for grabs at the National Championships next month.

Rachael will not be the next Michelle Kwan or Sasha Cohen in terms of popularity in the United States, but this event was one of the worst (if not the absolute worst) of her life and already it's the end of the world in Philip Hersh's eyes. Flatt did her part at the 2009 World Championships in hopes of earning the US three spots to the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, but then-National Champion Czisny finished outside the top 10 at the event. She may not have had the best Grand Prix season the following fall, but she did best Yu-Na Kim in the long program at Skate America. It seems like everything I read about her lately just focuses on all of the negatives, but we seem to forget how Rachael was the model of consistency for some time while plenty of other American ladies were either crashing and burning all over the ice or under-rotating every other jump (and some still continue to have this problem).

By the way, Philip Hersh: "dead last" is such a dramatic way of describing the situation. There's six-- yes, just six of the supposed best ladies in the world competing in the event. It's not like she finished 25th in the short program at the World Championships. Give me a break. Yes, I'm aware that the scores she posted may very well have her 25th or lower in the event that it was Worlds, but it wasn't.

In all honesty, I'm not that wowed by Rachael Flatt. But if you read my comments about most of the other ladies this season, there's not much a difference. The discipline itself is just not that interesting anymore, and Flatt is not a severe unique case by any means. However, comments such as these
Unless Flatt's fortunes improve dramatically the rest of the 2010-11 season, she would be wise to consider ending a competitive career that will be judged as an impressive success, with the U.S. title, the world junior title, an Olympic appearance and two world team appearances.
Flatt has so many other good things to do with her time - and the intelligence to do any of them.
The temptation is to tell her there still is time to enroll at Stanford for the winter quarter.
honestly make me want to root for her even more when she shows up to Greensboro. One bad event should hardly make one suggest that she should give up. If anything, preaching about Czisny just paragraphs above those statements, while reminding readers that she went from 3rd to 9th to 1st to 10th at Nationals in the last four years, should show that everyone has a bad day.


Anonymous said...

Rachel will be fine once she is healed. It's clearly just because of the injury that she skated badly. It's good that she will have some time to rest now.

Tony said...

I didn't even bring up the injury in the post but I'm sure that it played a part, too. She's produced way too many decent results in the last few seasons to be treated so poorly after one bad event, but I can't say that Philip Hersh is ever a bundle of positive thoughts.

jumping clapping man said...

i completely agree. the rachael bashing over the past 3 or so years is exhausting, lame, tired and annoying...and this is the pinnacle.

just because she's not baby ballerina or perky wunderkind she gets blasted.

i wish the absolute best for her...hope her body type/growth doesn't start to betray her skills, and hope she rises again!!!

sk8rmom said...

Oops, accidentally sent my first comment in as a question, not a comment.

Thank you for reminding people that Rachel is human with feelings and a human heart.

I challenge Mr. Hersh or anyone else to do what Rachel does on the ice. It's easy to sit back and call names.

I have a skater, and I cringe to think that he might be criticized like this on a whim when he has a bad day. In general skaters are hard enough on themselves, they don't need the added burden of public disfavor.

The column was such a personal attack. :( boo for him.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, he should know it isn't easy to make to GPF and Rachel did it fair and square. It just she didn't well this time. This is just like Mao at NHK trophy and she is still continuing to rework with her jumps and never give up. If Rachel doesn't think she can't deal with her injury, who is care and I bet she wants to compete at least this season. She can study later.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. I met Rachael at Skate America this year and not only was she incredibly sweet and wonderful in person, her LP was one of the few programs that really brought the crowd to its feet there (and probably the only one among the women, other than Kanako). I think she gets a disproportionate amount of criticism, but personally I've always got a bit of a soft spot for her. Everyone has bad days! If every skater gave up after a bad competition, well... there wouldn't be any skaters.

Anonymous said...

It seems that it is generally thus in sports - someone has a bad day or a bad competition (or two - or Heaven forfend they've been injured or something and it takes them a while to get back into their stride) - and they're immediately written off as "has beens" who had better retire, doing themselves and "the sport" (whatever sport it may happen to be) a favour...

It both angers and depresses me... And it's generally such young people too! I can only hope they have nerves of steel - or they don't read the press...

I didn't see the grand prix, and I've only seen Rachel Flatt skate a few times, so I have really no opinion on her abilities either way - but I'm glad you spoke up on her behalf! Well done!


Anonymous said...


stefan said...

I see the American press covering figure skating is still as ignorant and biased as before...
Rachel is a model of consistency and her FP at Skate America was brilliant!
Czisny is all the contrary, with her you never know what you'll get.
I cannot believe he's suggesting Rachel to quit, this is just mean, offensive and so out of line. What a lack of respect! He should be fired. But I think it's a clear case of "filling in" to have a decent-sized article.