Monday, March 2, 2009

2009 Junior Worlds: A Bush League of Their Own

When I read over the weekend at that the U.S. had won the most medals this past week at Junior Worlds—with six—my gut reaction was Well yeah, I certainly hope so, given that so many of them are SENIORS.

I expected Ashley Wagner to medal (she did, with a bronze). As many times as she’s been there, I expected Caroline Zhang to win (almost; she won the FS and managed to earn a silver overall). And how silly a predicament would it have been for Adam Rippon if he had not successfully defended his “Junior” title from last year?

There are strategies in place, to be sure; strategies involving points, and placements, and Senior GP assignments, and all the things that are supposed to boost a given team’s relevance. But does the Junior Worlds really have to be anything other than a showcase of true up-and-comers (as opposed to been-there-already-but-just-slumming-for-the-moment-because-this-is-where-the-powers-that-be-put-me)?

Every sport has its bush league; some “leagues” are more refined than others. In baseball, for example, you usually have to work your way through a pretty intense network in order to get that call-up. My younger brother spent 10 long years as a minor-league pitcher, and only six treasured weeks (near the end of his run) at the top of the heap, playing for Pittsburgh. Making it “to the show” is a day-to-day thing, though, relying heavily on injuries, recoveries, team performance AND personal performance, among other things. A player might just as easily start the week back in triple-A ball as they would continue in the majors.

Should skating be the same way? I don’t think so. If only because it’s a completely different beast: individual vs. team, international vs. national, Olympics-driven vs. World Series-driven…

But what’s really bugging me right about now is this: everyone comments on how regulated everything’s become in skating: code of points, age limitations for seniors, twizzle counts for ice dancers, etc. Why does the junior level, the veritable triple-A of the skating world, have to be such a gray area right about now? When true juniors are standing on a scary enough precipice as it is, knowing it’s do-or-die time as far as their chances go to become a part of skating’s elite? How are they supposed to know how they’ll fare if they’re denied the chance to compete?

I’ll step off the soapbox now, so I can squeeze in a quick mention of Celebrity Apprentice Starring Scott Hamilton and Some Other People. It started. Scotty wasn’t the first fired (that honor went to Andrew Dice Clay, thank God). Scotty is definitely the shortest one in the boardroom. Scotty looked great in a little chef hat shilling “disgusting” (as they were called) cupcakes from a trailer. The show came in 3rd behind a Jesse Stone TV movie and the 2-hour Brothers and Sisters “event”… I think this has become typical for The Apprentice, no matter how Donald Trump tries to brag otherwise.

For the
Clip of the Day I’ve got a 2006 Junior Worlds performance by a then-junior by the name of Yu-Na Kim. Ah, the good old days…


Dave Streit said...

Twizzle count? (nicely done blog, btw)

Kelli Lawrence said...

Hey Dave! What the heck are you doing here? :-)