Who will win 2019 figure skating worlds? My gold medal crystal ball perfectly clear on just one event

Who will win 2019 figure skating worlds?  My gold medal crystal ball perfectly clear on just one event

There are two ways to do figure skating predictions.

One is based on the unlikely event that the top six or so skaters or couples in every discipline skate cleanly (wouldn’t that be wonderful to see.) Predictions then are relatively simple, since one can rely on measures of past clean programs and of pure ability.

The second method factors in recent performances, injuries, the way judges have perceived an athlete or team, how the athletes have done under pressure in big events and other intangibles.  These are much more valid but also trickier, given what might happen when you combine all that information with a slippery surface, knife-blade-wide skate edges and limit-pushing, extreme sports skills.

Read More

In (sort of) suspending a skating judge, international federation mocks fans with ethical relativism

In (sort of) suspending a skating judge, international federation mocks fans with ethical relativism

In mid-June, the International Skating Union gave a one-year suspension to Huang Feng of China for showing “obvious and systematic” national bias in his judging of the pairs event at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

The first weekend of July, the international federation allowed Huang not only to attend an important ISU seminar on the ramifications of recent scoring system changes but also to take – and pass – a test for promotion as a technical controller, an event official's position that can have an even bigger impact on the outcome of a competition than a judge.

Huh?

The ISU willingly provided me an answer to that befuddling question, but the logic in the answer smacks of relative ethics in an area where absolute ethics are demanded.  The bureaucratic hair-splitting involved simply is unacceptable.

And the ISU's "discipline" of the miscreant judge gives skating fans yet another reason to wonder if they can ever trust the results in this highly subjective sport.

Read More

With time on her side, Alina Zagitova, a young woman vibrant in red, catches' judges fancy

With time on her side, Alina Zagitova, a young woman vibrant in red, catches' judges fancy

As the Olympic figure skating season moves into the national championship phase, a few more observations about the Grand Prix season and Grand Prix Final:

1.  All you Alina Zagitova detractors (that includes you, CBC) aren’t going to like this: the new Grand Prix Final winner, age 15, looks better every time I see her.

Part of it owes to the costuming and free skate program pattern that emphasize her strengths, which are jumps.

The vibrant red in the tutu-qua-dress and long gloves Zagitova wears grabs the eye, says she is portraying a ballerina and limns her movement so beautifully it is easy to forget she does no jumps in the first half of the four-minute free skate to the Russian ballet classic, “Don Quixote.”  And while I hope the rules are changed to eliminate such 100 percent back loading, who can fault her coaches for taking advantage of the point bonus that comes with those jumps?

Read More

A tone deaf IOC won't hear what cities do: hosting the Olympics sounds like sour notes

A tone deaf IOC won't hear what cities do: hosting the Olympics sounds like sour notes

How’s that Olympic Agenda 2020 thing working out, Mr. Bach?

All that hot air about reform and cost-cutting in both bidding for and staging the Games that filled a Monaco conference center in 2020, inflating a balloon of self-congratulations that has been leaking ever since?

“Like most people, I am sick and tired of hearing the mantra of Olympic Agenda 2020,” Canada’s Richard Pound said in an email.

Pound is the senior member of the current 95 in an International Olympic Committee presided over by Mr. Thomas Bach since September 2013.

Agenda 2020 was rushed to a vote in December 2014 after cities in five countries either dropped out of bidding for the 2022 Winter Olympics or, in one case, dropped even the idea of a bid after public opposition.  That left just the capitals of two authoritarian nations in a race Beijing won over Almaty, Kazakhstan, despite serious environmental and logistical issues related to having skiing events in a low-snow area miles away from the host city.

And, then Mr. Bach, it was barely six months after your IOC membership rubber-stamped Agenda 2020 that cities in the 2024 Summer Games race began laughing at an emperor who still had no clothes.

Read More

2024 Olympics: Paris looks to build bridges while L.A. has to walk through walls

2024 Olympics: Paris looks to build bridges while L.A. has to walk through walls

Paris and Los Angeles treated the start of the international campaign to win the 2024 Summer Olympics very differently Friday.

The French held a press opportunity at a glitzy brasserie with a view of the Eiffel Tower as it glowed and glittered in the projected five colors of the Olympic rings, and the new Paris 2024 slogan, “Made For Sharing,” appeared in the projection.

That was “Made For Sharing” in English only, in both the projection and on the Paris 2024 Facebook page, which has caused some consternation among the French, notably the Trumpian “Make France First” politician Marine Le Pen.  More on that later.

At the same time, the two leaders of the Los Angeles bid, chairman Casey Wasserman and CEO Gene Sykes, were doing a conference call with reporters.

The Paris 2024 press conference, which came only a few hours after an apparent terrorist attack at the Louvre, included the country’s prime minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, who pointedly said France wants to “build bridges, not walls.”

The L.A. conference call, which came just hours after reports that Iran was imposing what amounts to a tit-for-tat ban by prohibiting U.S. freestyle wrestlers from entering Iran for a meet, included Wasserman doing his best to do a tap dance worthy of Fred Astaire around the point Cazeneuve was making.

That point, of course, is that president Trump’s immigration and travel ban and his criticisms of Mexico, China, NATO, Australia, the Trans Pacific Partnership and whomever or whatever else Trump’s puppet master, Steve Bannon, wants to attack next are building walls the Los Angeles bid may find difficult to break down or bridge.

Read More