Another flurry of skating headlines has descended upon us this past week. What to pay attention to… where’s the best place to learn more about them…? Here’s my two cents on (most of) those matters:
The Flatt Fine—***3 Blades out of a possible 4 (in terms of significance)***
I made note of it when blogging about the Ladies Final at Worlds, as did several over fans, bloggers… and writers such as Phil Hersh, who wrote the above article. But back in April Hersh wrote a piece that went so far as get several outraged-sounding quotes from Frank Carroll on the irresponsibility of Rachael Flatt and/or her coach Tom Zakrajsek in not reporting her tibia stress fracture to U.S. Figure Skating. (Carroll as much as held Flatt responsible for the U.S. not having 3 spots in 2012 Worlds, insisting that his student, 1st alternate Mirai Nagasu, would have fared much better.) And now USFS has chimed in as well with an official reprimand and undisclosed fine for Flatt, who won 2010 Nationals and finished 7th at the Vancouver Olympics.
Even if it’s a “let’s make Rachael an example” kind of punishment rather than anything very monumental, it still kicks up a lot of interesting questions:
+ Will this affect Flatt’s reputation as an athlete for the long-term?
+ Will it affect Zakrajsek’s reputation as a coach?
+ Will it prompt more skaters/coaches to make the decision to pull an injured athlete out of critical events… or will it keep even more of them from speaking up when they’re hurt, offering a banal “It just wasn’t my day” as excuse for a poor performance?
+ Should we growl at Phil Hersh for bringing Carroll into this debate (noting, as some already have, that Hersh does not seem to care for Flatt’s skating in general)? Or should we praise him for doing what journalists do—probing deeper into the story at hand?
OK, that’s more than enough to mull over. I haven’t even reached the rest of the list yet!
Rippon Changes Coaches…(andcountries) ***2 1/2 Blades***
“And countries” is a little misleading; he remains as American-representing as apple pie, baseball, and overblown political scandals. But Adam Rippon has been training in Canada for the past couple of years—even staying up there when he parted ways with coach Brian Orser several weeks back. No more, though… he’s crossing back into Michigan, to train with Jason Dungjen. Who is married to Yuka Sato. Who coaches Jeremy Abbott. Ah-ha! Sounds like Abbott and Rippon, who came in 4th and 5th respectively at U.S. Nationals, will be gunning all the more for some sort of 1-2 finish next year in an effort to reclaim the Worlds spots they failed to earn in 2011. Will Richard Dornbush and Ross Miner be able to withstand the heat in this particular kitchen? Mmm, I smell a rumble…
By the way, I recommend the link above because it not only expands on Rippon’s decision but showcases a fun collection of photos of him (several from Rippon’s personal collection). There are video links as well.
Wagner Changes Coaches…(and Coasts) ***2 Blades***
The reason I’m only giving this “2 blades” is because it rapidly became one of the worst-kept secrets in the past month of skating switcheroos. Ashley Wagner herself was announcing her move to California (from Delaware) two weekends ago, and by the middle of last week, word on the street was that she’d left Priscilla Hill for John Nicks. The “official” IceNetwork link is above; I found it particularly interesting because Wagner indicated she and Hill were now perhaps too close as friends to maintain a coaching partnership. So if you’re looking for the standard “I need a change” statement from Wagner, look elsewhere. Given that her new coach is a British, 82-year old man on the opposite side of the country whom all students refer to as “Mr. Nicks”… maybe that need for change was just a little obvious.
Weir Won’t Compete Next Season ***1 ½ Blades***
I’m not sure who out there might’ve been nursing a hope that Johnny G.Weir would return to competition next fall, but that blade-and-a-half up there is for you. :-) Not to say that he’s not serious about trying to stage a Sochi comeback a la other COAB competitors (COAB= Currently On A Break), but in season 2 of a 4-year cycle? Fahgeddaboutit.
Plushenko Reinstated; May Compete Next Season ***1 Blade***
On the other hand we have Plushy—again—who is reportedly a possibility for Cup of Russia and and Russian Nationals in the 2011-12 season. THAT’s the one-blade worth of significance here… to anyone considering his “reinstatement” news, I ask them to consider the article that ran about a year ago (which I discussed here) which alluded to his suspension only lasting a year anyway.
If you check out the IceNetwork article in the above link, be sure to scroll down and read the comments from a half-dozen less-than-thrilled readers.