Friday, February 8

A Good Dose of Reality: Analyzing Recent Articles (Gold & Weir)

You know what really bothers me about 'professional' journalism? The amount of nonsense and boring or expected articles we get day after day. How many times can a figure skater say "Well, I just want to do my best and the result doesn't really matter.." before we all start to go crazy? How many times can 'Phil Hersh & Co., LLC' either completely write a skater off and throw a hissy fit after one performance  all while completely ignoring the faults of other media darlings?

I can't be the only one tired of the apparent standard for writing, can I?

With all of that in mind, I found two recent articles to be absolutely mind-boggling.

First, this Bleacher Report story about how Gracie Gold will be the media darling of the 2014 Olympic Games. As if NBC didn't give us enough of this girl over the course of the National Championships, we now have writers anointing Gold as a sure bet for the Olympics, with quotes such as "although she finished runner-up to Wagner [at US Nationals], it will be Gold getting the last laugh at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi."

Come on. Gracie Gold has some of the most amazing jumps in the world-- there is absolutely no debating that. However, she has yet to prove any kind of track record internationally on the senior level, and still has programs better suited for a junior-level skater. Yes, she had a good (good-- not great) skate at her second Grand Prix event this year, winning the silver medal. But do we remember what happened a few weeks before that at Skate Canada? Oh, that's right. She finished in 7th place. The faults she had in the short program at Nationals are even essentially set aside in this article to just rave about how amazing she is.

One of the best free programs of all-time at Nationals for Gracie? Jumps-wise, maybe it would fit into the top 10. But the program as a whole? If you prefer a skater to be all business for approximately three minutes without any attempt at listening to or skating to the music, sure. But in reality, it was just a showcase of amazing jumps from a skater that has plenty else to work on before she can become the total package.

If this particular writer did any research, they would note that nothing is ever a given in figure skating, and the results of the ladies event at Nationals the last few years is more than an obvious indicator of that.

I like Gracie Gold, but at this point, I wouldn't be completely surprised if she's a non-factor next year because of all of the expectations and anointing that has already happened.

Moving on...

I am now going to refer you to my December 2012 post regarding Johnny Weir and his withdrawal from the US National Championship.

We have Johnny saying, in essence, that he realized his level of skating was nowhere near it needed to be to compete with the current mens field. He decided to skip Nationals in order to apparently work hard enough on all of the things lacking in his skating so that he can show up at the beginning of the 2014 season looking like an Olympic gold medal contender. We shall see about that...

I can go on and on (for about the fifth time) about how Johnny didn't really address a single one of the issues that held him back in 2010 when he showed up to the Rostelecom Cup earlier this year (and finished in last place in the short program before withdrawing), but you're probably tired of that, and that makes me tired, too.

But now, we have this latest article from the USA Today where Johnny gives us a completely different story, including this gem of a snippet:
Weir was impressed with Max Aaron, who won the gold. "But otherwise I was somewhat disappointed," he said. "After Max Aaron's jumping ability, I very easily could have done very well in the competition and that was difficult to sit at home and watch."
Ha. Literally all I can do is laugh. Recall the story just above-- Weir has a last-place short program finish in a Grand Prix event to show for this year so far (as well as a 4th place finish in an earlier international). He THEN decides he isn't up to par with the other skaters and withdraws from Nationals. NOW, he's saying that he could have done 'very well' in the competition. Maybe he could have.

Very easily?

Reality check. I don't even think Johnny would have made the top 6 at US Nationals. I said he'd be fighting for the top ten in the blog post I linked to above, and I still think that was a fair assessment of the quality of the programs he was going to show-- if he actually showed up.

Another quote in this article bothers me:
 "I've always had a loud mouth and for that I've gotten a lot of attention. I did falter in some big competitions in my career, but being counted out and not being seen as a threat is something I'm used to. For me, no matter what TV show I'm on, no matter what red carpet I'm walking down or fashion show I'm sitting front row at, my eyes are always on Sochi."
If he's so A-list and has as many great opportunities as he alludes to in this quote (no matter what TV show, red carpet, fashion show front row... ) and his eyes are 'always on Sochi', why hasn't he put as much effort into the skating as he has trying to stay prominent with all of the other endeavors?

Maybe I am having a moody day. Until next time... :)


Anonymous said...

Calling Bleacher Report "professional journalism" is a stretch. As for the other, isn't it just Johnny being Johnny?

I do think that most of the quality skating reporting these days is not being done by any sort of mainstream journalist. I do miss Jo-Ann Barnas at the Free Press, she was good.

Anonymous said...

I'd like your moody self to post more often, much appreciated :D

Tony said...

The professional journalism is more referring to a certain Chicago Tribune writer who *always* has something terrible to complain about. :)

Anonymous said...

Gracie Gold is the anointed queen like Nancy Kerrigan was. It has nothing to do with her skating, even though she has some nice jumps. But if she didn't look like the USFSA's traditional "ice princess", no one would have even noticed her existence. That's what they want their champions to look like. Never mind the choreography or anything else. All the commentary makes me run away from the TV. It's this kind of favoritism based on looks that led to the Nancy/Tonya mess. No one is condoning Tonya's actions. I'm just saying that when a certain look is deemed "championship look" (not that anyone will admit it), it causes friction and resentment above and beyond normal rivalries.

As for Weir ... of course you're right. But Johnny's being Johnny. What else do you expect? The bottom line with him is that he should have medaled at the last Olympics. Politics shoved him out of the way. Now he's doing and saying whatever he pleases and tells the world he doesn't care what we think. I can't blame him a bit.

Tony said...

I do agree with points in your first paragraph, but re: Weir-- I don't agree at all. I think his placement was extremely fair in Vancouver, and the most annoying thing about it is that he showed back up to compete this year without working on anything that held him back in 2010.

Naked Ice said...

The media has already buried Gracie. She has yet to turn in two solid performances this season. Both Christina and Mirai have had better results and posted higher scores than her internationally. The USFSA has anointed Gold as their flagship for Sochi but they are going to sink her before she even leaves the harbor...I'm not impressed with her. Nice jumps of course but she's woefully generic IMO.

As for Johnny, he's known for blowing hot air. I don't anyone believed that statement he made so I'd just chalk it up to him running his mouth and trying to stay relevant in a field of men that has all but passed him by...