Friday, October 15, 2010

More from the Mook: Judging Johnny

Ohio flashback:
This fan video of Johnny's Bad Romance
from last weekend's Skate for the Heart
is the only recording of this performance that I know of!
Very special thanks to Karen Spangler Burke for sharing it here.
Love the fans screaming and singing along!

And this is the closing number from Skate for the Heart.
Not enough Johnny (is there ever?),
but we'll take what we can get!
Thanks to YouTube user "meeblemeep" for this one.

Friday Flashback: Today we present more of the gentle and sensitive interview of Johnny in the Mook Book by gifted sports journalist Akiko Tamura. In part 2 of this three-part series, Johnny discusses Evan's gold medal as well as figure-skating judge Joe Inman, who sent out the infamous email prior to the Olympics regarding remarks made by Evgeni Plushenko about scoring (more background here, where I learned that Evan NOT being marked down for a wrong-edge takeoff--even though Johnny was--may have been the difference between silver and gold for Plushenko).

It's more tough going for Johnny fans--I didn't even know about the scoring at 2010 Nationals!--but the insights into the intrigue of figure-skating judging are fascinating (albeit appalling to a figure-skating outsider like me ... ).

With many thanks to our translator, the fabulous Akiko Nakata, here is Part 2 of the final series from the Mook.

From the "Special Interview with Johnny Weir," by Akiko Tamura, conducted in NYC, April 2010, pp. 25-27 of the Mook.

Johnny answered my questions during breaks between shooting the photos for this book in collaboration with M.A.C.

Olympics, USA and Judges

Speaking of rivals: The rivalry between you and Evan Lysacek has been the object of people's attention for many years. What do you think about his becoming the gold medalist?
As a matter of fact, I didn't know he performed so well at the Olympics. While Plushenko was skating, I was talking in the mix zone and certain that he would win. So when the scores were on the monitor and I knew Evan had won, I was shocked. I don't mean anything bad by that--I was simply astonished. I don’t know Evan very well as a person, so I cannot comment on whether or not he is suitable for a gold medal, but he is an excellent athlete who practices really eagerly. If you asked me whether or not I had expected him to be a gold medalist someday, my answer would be no. Nonetheless, he became an Olympic champion. I can only say that he was really good at following the rules of the game to win American judges and officials over to his side. After the Olympics, I knew that I had finished sixth due to the scores given by American and Canadian judges. While the Asian, Russian, and Eastern European judges scored me much better, the North American judges' points lowered my place. I am never diplomatic in order to be liked by judges. In that sense, Evan was very good at the political game.

Will you tell me what you feel about American judge Joe Inman and the email he sent?
The US had done many things to put themselves in an advantageous position before the Olympics, but it was not so obvious until then. His email announced to the world that the US was playing the political game as enthusiastically as any other country. Though I never supported his opinion or policy, at the Olympics I had to represent the same country as he does, and I could have been regarded as the same kind of person he is. I felt really uncomfortable with that. It is said that the US skaters profited from the fact that he officially criticized the abilities of Plushenko and Joubert, but that was not true regarding me. That's because the USFSA pushed Evan and Jeremy Abbott, but not me. I lost respect for Inman as a judge, and I consider the case shameful both for the American people and press.
Do you think that his email influenced the results?
I could say so, for at last Plushenko lost and an American skater won. I thought Plushenko's five components were extremely harshly scored. That was not the case with Joubert, who did not perform well. Inman sent the email to insiders, saying that Plushenko was not such a good skater. There may have been some judges who said to themselves, "I thought the same," and who might then have decided that they would score him differently than before. Inman surely planted a negative impression in the minds of some insiders.

Johnny acknowledges
the crowd at the end
of his free skate
at Nationals, January 2010.
At the 2010 Nationals, Inman scored you unimaginably harshly.
Yes, he scored my components at a three-point level. I was so surprised that I asked an association official about it, and I was told that it was Inman's score. A judge should not give a three-point mark to one of the best skaters of his own country right before the Olympics. For example, very high scores were given to some skaters at the Japan Nationals. That means they announced to the world that those Japanese skaters were so excellent that they received really high scores. These days, even if the foreign national competitions are not broadcast, you can watch them on YouTube or other sites, and those who saw their performances and their scores would be impressed and say, "Wow! Those Japanese skaters are awesome!" Such tactics are very important for figure skating. On the other hand, the US was sending a skater of three-point level to the Olympics. What kind of impression did that give people around the world who follow figure skating?

Did you officially protest him?
No, that wasn't my place. But I expressed my opinion clearly through the media. Also, Galina talked about my scores at Nationals in a long interview on Russian TV.

Why do you think he scored you so harshly?
I think he meant to show his power. He is from the East Coast and has been judging me for a long time. I assume he wanted to show off how important he was--so important that he could hurt my image at his will. Some judges abuse their official power. I'm not the only skater Inman scored extremely low. Some other skaters experienced the same.

Do you think there was something in your performance that deserved such scores?
No, I don’t think my performance was so bad as to be given such terrible points.

And after reading that, all I can say is: I think we are in desperate need of more products from the fine folks at Cold-EEZE. Like, oh, say, this one:

Yes! You can own a fine art print of Johnny
perfect for any/every room in the house!
Prints of artist Peter Jurik's "Showtime!"
are available for purchase from his website.
More info here!

Johnny is skating at the
ITNY 25th Anniversary Gala Benefit and Performance
honoring Olympic Champion Dorothy Hamill
on Monday, October 25!
Buy tickets here; more info here!

Please remember to register to receive
the JW Art Project's email newsletter!
They have great tidbits to offer,
and you get a special sneak peek at an exclusive photo
from the Artbook when you sign up!

Special holiday offer!
In exchange for a donation to Toys for Tots,
Trish Aaron-Misiura will send you one handmade,
Johnny-inspired Christmas ornament! More info here!

Coming up: Part 3 of the final series
of translated interviews from the Mook Book
courtesy of the fabulous Akiko Nakata!

copyright 2010 / Binky and the Misfit Mimes / Lynn V. Ingogly / all rights reserved


WheresMyKoppy said...

Thank you again to Akiko Nakata for her translation, and Akiko Nakamura for doing this interview in the first place. And thank you to MM for writing this Blog and provding all this stuff for us fans!

I'm sorry, but I don't buy all that conspiracy BS! I know there is politics in FS, God knows JOhnny has been the victim of it often enough; but frankly since the Olympics Russian officials have gone out of their way to find an excuse for Plushenko not winning the gold. No one seems capable of admitting that he might actually have NOT DESERVED to win the gold. I think some of these people have watched too many episodes of 'The X-Files' or something. But then again, if anyone knows about conspiracy, BS and bribery in sports Russia as the hub of the former Soviet Union certainly would.

And btw, Joe Inman you're a prick!

WheresMyKoppy said...

Sorry, I mean Akiko Nakata (who translated) and Akiko Tamura (who conducted the interview)!

Anonymous said...

Plushenko's long program was sloppy as hell, and his jumps weren't his usual strong ones. I think the fact that the Russian federation didn't support Plushy's complaints proves that they don't think he deserved gold - neither did a LOT of people!

theresa said...

In a perfect world, no matter what Inman said should not have swayed any of the judges. And if it did, those types of judges will be influenced by many other outside factors as well.

Thanks so much for the translation Akiko and Binky!!


Anonymous said...

Bink, thanks to you and Akiko Nakata for working on these translations for the rest of us. They're a part of the Mook I thought I'd never have the chance to appreciate, and they've all been wonderful to read. xo

Debora Walsh said...

I love me some Judge-EEZE! "For when things just don't add up!" Oh, Binky...I wish I had some of those in the medicine cabinet so I coulda been been prepared for the Olympics!

Thank you for posting & thanks to Akiko for translating...

And I agree with WheresMyKoppy...
Joe Inman is a prick!

Svetlana said...

Many thanks Akiko Nakamura for a interview, Akiko Nakata for the translation, and author of this blog :-)
... but above all - thanks a lot to Johnny for his the umpteenth time, bravery - and that at any cost - say honestly what he think! I love you Johnny!! :-)))

Why you not believe Johnny about Plushenko's scores? You are more expert than he?

Russian Skating Federation wanted the bronze for Domnina/Shabalin - and therefore did not fight for Plushenko ... not to mention the corruption that prevails among Russian bureaucrats :-(

Anonymous said...

What Johnny has said in this interview is all very true. The people who are saying "oh, I don't believe any of that conspiracy" have simply not experienced the figure skating system here in USA enough to really SEE for themselves how it all is. I am happy that Johnny is speaking out so frankly about this sad reality. He has been skating in USA for so many years, I really trust and respect his opinions because I know they are based on his experience as a skater, as opposed to just repeating what the US news media is telling us - where a lot of other people's opinions on this subject actually come from. A lot of people really believe that Plushennko somehow skated badly or sloppily at the Vancouver Olympics, simply because that is what the USA media told them they need to believe. If you read any of the foreign media you will see that almost all figure skating experts outside the USA/Canada are almost unanimous in their opinion that Plushenko's skating was far superior to that of Lysacek at the Vancouver Olympics. Why read media? Just go to the Golden Skate Awards that were held last weekend in Torino, Italy, where both Plushenko and Lysacek skated side by side, and just see how sports commentators and regular people talk about Plushenko and about Lysacek. Everyone is saying that Plushenko is the true Gold medal champion of Vancouver 2010. The Italian crowd was barely even bothered to clap, when Lysacek went on the ice at Golden Skate. I was just in Europe recently and it's amazing to see with your own eyes how over there people from different countries, different cultures, different languages know the actual truth about how Plushenko was the better skater and the real winner at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics and Lysacek just stole his medal because of politics and because of unfair judging. Only here in USA and Canada people's mind is brainwashed by the local TV and newspapers creating the illusion that Lysacek is the better skater, when anyone who has enough knowledge himself to judge figure skating will see very clearly that he is not.

Anonymous said...

@paddita Even as Plushenko's jumps were not strong, you may say, his total jump GOEs surpass Lysacek by 0.3 point. Lysacek in his program made more mistakes than Plushenko. Lysacek got two combo deductions 3A-2T(-0.56), 3F-2T-2T(-0.40), while Plushenko got one jump deduction on his 3A(-0.36). New York Times reported that Lyscek didn't get Flip Edge Deduction, which deserve 2-3 points, which means he should've gotten more deduction. Judges didn't intentionally reflect Lysacek's mistakes in PCS Part, as a result, Lysacek got too high score in PCS despite easiness.

WheresMyKoppy said...

I have been watching figure skating for longer than Johnny Weir has been alive, so I don't need anyone to tell me anything. I see it for myself, and I have for a number of years. I know a lot about what goes on behind the scenes. There is always some backdoor deal going on or rumored to be going on. For example, in 2002 it involved countries other than the United States.

Figure skating in the USA doesn't get enough press coverage to brainwash anyone, and I really don't see why the European press should be considered any less biased or any more reliable than the U.S. or Canadian press.

I stand by my opinion Plushenko did not skate well enough to win. Notice I did not say he skated badly, because he didn't. I'm not even a fan of Evan Lysacek, but that doesn't mean I believe he somehow didn't deserve to win. There was nothing easy about his program.