Now that the skating season is basically over I wanted to call out the USA Skating Federation for its constant politicking.
The first response haters will have to this article is “Adelina”, “Sochi”. They endlessly try use this rhetoric as a defensive mechanism. Adelina Sotnikova had the skate of her life at a home Olympics. Of course they conveniently forgot the same exact scenario with Sarah Hughes in 2002 and also how Evgeni Plushenko was screwed out of the gold medal in 2010 by the USA Skating Federation.
I have watched just about every notable figure skating event this season. All the Junior Grand Prix events. All the Senior Grand Prix events. Worlds, Europeans, Grand Prix Final, and now the World Team Event. And using this season as a sample, there was a clear pattern of an immense amount of overscoring and gift podium spots for the USA skating team.
First lets talk about the Junior Grand Prix events. If you examine the results it is pretty clear that Amber Glenn, Leigh Keiser, and Karen Chen were all held up to be given a bronze medal in their events.
In Karen Chen’s second JGP event she had a strong short program. Her long program though was somewhat of a disaster. Her TES score was 6 and a half points less than Maria Sotskova’s. Something significant about this event is because of how things fell, the gold medal winner out of these two would earn a spot in the Junior Grand Prix Final.
So there was a desperation to try to get Karen Chen the gold medal. Despite not having a very good long program skate she received the highest PCS score. The judges did the best they could to hold her up and give her the best possible chance to get gold. But Sotskova did well enough that there was no way to underscore her to the point of putting Chen above her for the win.
No US girl qualified for the Junior Grand Prix Final and Karen Chen had big struggles at Junior Worlds which made it impossible to hold her up for a medal.
Now lets go onto the Senior Grand Prix.
Skate America was pretty much built around trying to finally get Gracie Gold a gold medal and to try and justify the massive hype behind her.
In the short program her TES was well below Radionova’s (5.22 less) and Tuktamysheva’s (6.03 less) but was given a PCS score higher than Radionova and only slightly less than Tuktamysheva.
In fact Gracie Gold’s short program TES score was also less than her teammate Samantha Cesario’s and So Youn Park’s. In other words, 5th best.
In the long program Gracie Gold had a poor showing including screwing up a spin. She had a TES score of 55.13 which was well below that of Radionova’s but also below Tuktamysheva, Cesario, Park, Mirai Nagasu and even Brooklee Han of all people.
AND GRACIE GOLD WAS GIVEN THE HIGHEST PCS SCORE IN THE LONG PROGRAM. Basically despite a terrible showing the judges did everything they possibly could to make sure she was given the bronze medal.
Lets move on to Skate Canada. This event had Ashley Wagner and there was an obvious effort to get her as high on the podium especially after Gracie Gold’s struggles at the previous event.
In the short program Wagner had a TES that was below leader Anna Pogorilaya (3.98 points less), as well as, Alena Leonova, Satoko Miyahara, and Rika Honga. But Ashley Wagner was still given the highest PCS score.
The long program is where the more egregious overscoring occurred. Ashley Wagner had a TES of 57.22 (nearly 7 points below Pogorilaya) and also below Miyahara, Courtney Hicks, and Hongo.
But despite errors in her long program that produced a 5th best TES, ASHLEY WAGNER WAS GIVEN THE HIGHEST PCS.
We see this strategy a lot. Hold up the US skater as much as possible so that if the leader screws up when they skate the US skater can be positioned above them more easily.
Probably the most nervous I was this entire season is when Pogorilaya skated her long program knowing if she screwed up at all the judges would have done anything possible to hold her score down and give Wagner the gold medal.
The girl who ended up getting really screwed is Miyahara who should have been second and instead got bronze and this killed her chances of making the Grand Prix Final.
Now lets talk about the French Grand Prix event. Once again Ashley Wagner was held up. In the short program her TES was significantly lower than Elena Radinova and Yulia Liptnitskaya. And also even lower than Maria Artemieva, Mae Berenice Meite, and Hicks.
And despite being 5th in TES Ashley Wagner was given the highest PCS score once again.
In the long program Ashley Wagner had a TES score that was fifth best, a whopping 17 points below Radionova’s, but was STILL GIVEN THE HIGHEST PCS SCORE.
Again, the same pattern of giving US skaters a boost in hopes that the leaders that follow them implode so they have a chance of being put ahead.
Now lets go onto the Grand Prix Final. An event that after all the holding up to get into Gracie Gold withdraw from with an oversold injury knowing it would be hard to medal against four Russian girls with the consistency issues she had been struggling with.
In the short program Ashley Wagner had the worst TES score. But despite this her PCS score was still only like one point less than the leader.
The real robbery here is how a Canadian led technical panel screwed Yulia Lipnitskaya with an edge call which decimated her short program score. She really nailed her program and her score was going to be 70+. Instead because of this decision her score was brought down to 66.24.
Why out of nowhere was Yulia hit with this big edge penalty. Why at this event? The answer in my opinion is because it would help Ashley Wagner.
If Yulia would have got her proper score she would have had over a 10 point lead above Wagner going into the long program. Everyone knows Yulia was very mentally drained this season and had troubles putting together a clean long program. By giving this edge call it would give an opportunity for Wagner to pass Yulia if she had struggles.
Sadly this is what happened. Yulia had enough mental stress without getting screwed over in her short program score. It messed with her head.
In the long program Ashley Wagner had a TES over 5 points less than the leaders but was given a PCS higher than Radionova and only a point less than Tuktamysheva.
The USA skating federation knew that to get Wagner a medal she would have to finish above two Russians. Yulia was hit with the edge call to derail her and Pogorilaya was less of a worry because she had been skating poorly in recent events and doesn’t command as big of PCS scores.
Now lets talk about Worlds.
Elizaveta Tuktamysheve completely dominated the short program with an immense TES score including a cleanly landed triple axel. Yet despite this achievement and a season long of consistency and dominance including a gold at Grand Prix Final was given a so so PCS score of 33.53.
Gold and Wagner who both had horrible short programs with TES 15+ below Elizaveta and were given PCS scores of nearly 31.
Radionova who like Elizaveta was a consistent big winner all season only got a PCS of 31.48 despite a TES 10+ points higher than Gold or Wagner.
So basically in the short program the judges did what they could to keep Gold and Wagner at least in the mix for a podium spot despite a poor performance.
Gold had a good long program but was too far behind to be elevated to the podium. Wagner didn’t do quite as well but was still given a 64.46 PCS, over a point higher than Gold.
I want to go off on a bit of a tangent and talk about US Nationals. That was really more of a propaganda event than a skating event. A big goal of it was to try to portray Ashley Wagner as an elite skater in hopes of getting her on the GPF and Worlds podium and to try to get her even higher boosted PCS.
This season the USA skating federation started to hitch their wagon to Ashley Wagner because Gracie Gold had been so inconsistent and they knew she would have a hard time making any top podium.
So we get non stop propaganda about how artistic Ashley Wagner is and how she can compete with Russians because shes ‘more mature’ etc. For all her faults, everyone knows Gracie Gold has more talent than Wagner and thats who the fed really wanted to push. So to try to portray Ashley Wagner as an elite skater now is a joke.
This brings us to the World Team Trophy event. Its basically just an end of the season fun event which has no real significance but the USA skating federation has done everything they can to control the results.
Why are they doing this? Because they are trying to put lipstick of a pig on the season US skating has had and trying to propagandize that the US skating is on the level or even better than Russian skating.
All season long we have seen US skaters and coaches take shots at Team Russia etc. Do you see any Russian skater or coach talk negatively about US skaters? No, they aren’t even on their radar. Theres so much domestic competition that girls like Gold and Wagner have no sort of relevance to them.
In the short program at World Team Trophy Gracie Gold finally had a clean skate. Tuktamysheva had a fall on the triple axel, the only girl that even attempts this difficult element and beyond that her program was very solid.
Gold had a TES of 38.45 and Elizaveta had a TES of 38.96 but Elizaveta had a one point deduction for the fall on a tough element.
In the PCS score Elizaveta had a higher score by .16 of point.
Then in the long program Elizaveta had a pretty solid skate including landing a great triple axel. She was given a PCS score of 68.47 which was 2.48 points more than she was given at Worlds.
In Ashley Wagner’s long program she had a TES over 5 points less than Elizaveta and was still given a big PCS score of 66.46 which was 2 points higher than Worlds where she had a more solid skate.
And then last to skate was Gracie Gold who had a shaky skate including a fall and finished 5th in TES score over 7 points behind Elizaveta’s. But was still given a huge PCS score of 66.62 which was over 3 points more than she received at Worlds where she had a much better skate.
So what we basically learned is that Elizaveta, despite being dominant all season and winning gold at GPF, Europeans, and Worlds gets really no more PCS respect than Grace Gold who has had a season that was average at best.
All season long it was propagandized that Ashley Wagner was the master of artistry and the USA skating federation got behind her the hardest.
At Worlds Ashey Wagner was given a higher PCS score than Gold despite a lesser skate. But here at World Team Trophy it was Gracie Gold who got the higher PCS score despite a lesser skate than Wagner.
One of my main points of this article is to ask the question, what on Earth has Gracie Gold or Ashley Wagner ever accomplished to deserve the type of PCS respect they are continually given?
In Ashley Wagner’s several year long career she has NEVER been on the podium of Worlds. She has won 2 gold medals in her career at Grand Prix events.
In Gracie Golds career she has NEVER been on the podium of Worlds. She has NEVER been on the podium of Grand Prix Final and has only even qualified for it once.
In Gracie Gold’s entire senior career she only has one international gold medal win. Which was this year at NHK Trophy that she only won because of really weak competition helped by Mao Asada retiring and Sotnikova withdrawing.
Yet both of these girls are scored as elite skaters that you would think would have had numerous big podium appearances.
Lets look at just this season. Gold had a gift bronze at Skate America and the win I just mentioned at NHK Trophy. She did not compete at GPF and did not podium at Worlds.
Ashley Wagner got a silver at Skate Canada, limped to a bronze at the French GP, and got a bronze at Grand Prix Final only because two Russian girls completely bombed and the dubious edge call I explained earlier.
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva was the clear top female skater this season. She won gold in almost every event she was in this season including the Grand Prix Final, European Championship, and a dominating performance at Worlds. Basically every major event. The only skater that came close to being on her level all season was her compatriot Elena Radionova. Every other girl was a big step down.
But Gracie Gold and Ashley Wagner are treated as equals to them by the judges all because they have a US flag next to their name.
The same thing applies to Jason Brown. He is treated as an elite skater because he has a US flag next to his name. While all the other top men have multiple quad jumps, Jason has none. When he tried to do one in a competition it was horrible and quickly pulled any plans of trying it again this season.
So he is relying on the strategy of keeping a simpler easier to execute program and then counting on solid PCS scores that come with being the anointed top US male. Skaters that do harder elements will more often have popped jumps because its harder to be consistent. If Jason was doing harder elements it would be much harder to skate clean.
And hes only even in that role because the other US men are liabilities. Jeremey Abbott is over the hill and inconsistent. Max Aaron, Adam Rippen, Joshua Farris, etc have never been able to take a step to the next level at international competitions.
Lets look at Jason Brown’s resume. He was 9th at the Olympics individual. In the Olympic team competition he was a distant 4th. Jason Brown has never won gold at an international competition other than Senior B event Nebelhorn. He has never qualified for Grand Prix Final and has never made the podium at worlds.
Yet with this very nondescript resume he finds himself scored as an elite skater. Why, because he has a US flag next to his name.
Lets look at how Jason Brown was scored at the World Team Event. In the short event he was given a career high, even higher than his previous best which was at the Olympics where all the scores are inflated.
In the long program Jason was given a score 9.34 points higher than his career high. Are you kidding me? To see this type of increase on a personal best for an established skater is really abnormal. Especially at an event that does not really inflate the skaters scores.
Jason Brown got a PCS score of 89.14. Hanyu got a 93.36. Now we are to believe that Jason Brown who has never podiumed a major event and has no quad jump is worth only a few PCS points less than a clean Hanyu who is the clear top male skater and has won major competitions.
This is a higher PCS than Hanyu, Javier Fernandez, and Denis Ten were given at Worlds. It quite frankly is a joke.
I really think Jason Brown should be scored more like Nam Nguyen. A young skater lacking top technicality that has never won a major event and is trying to prove themself. Instead its like Jason Brown is scored as if hes the American Plushenko.
Jason Brown was boosted up so much at World Team Trophy in part because they judges did not want him to finish behind Han Yan as this would gain Team USA an additional point over Russia in this team event.
Han Yan then proceeded to have a shaky skate including a fall which left Brown glaringly inflated above him. But Han was still magically given a higher score than Sergei Voronov by slightly more than a point.
So you can see what happened here. By holding Han up it magically cost Team Russia a much needed point.
And now all these delusional anti Russian bloggers and people in US skating want to gloat about a win in a pointless event that contained some bizarre scoring.
Also this World Team event has a setup that really does not exhibit a countries depth well at all. The teams only have 2 women, 2 men, 1 pairs team, 1 dance team.
Even with these small teams many of the countries depth is being completely exposed. Canada has no decent women. Japan has no decent pairs or dance teams. France is below average everywhere except their top dance team. And so on.
Imagine if the teams were expanded to three slots in each discipline. No country would be able to come close to Russia. And the deeper you look at depth the bigger the gap becomes.
Anyway, I just wanted to do some venting on the USA Skating Federation’s politicking.
The constant overscoring.
The continual gift podium spots.
The using of political muscle to judge average skaters like elite skaters.
The use of Canadian tech panels to give big edge penalties to Russian skaters.
The bashing of Russian skaters by US skaters and coaches.
And what the US Skating Federation did with this World Team Event was just plain petty.
In the meaningful events like Worlds and Grand Prix Final the USA skaters did not produce and the problems with US skating are not going away or their deficiencies when compared to the Russian skaters. Especially in the girls.