Or should I say "rumours?" Skate Canada is trying to let everyone know that it never embarked upon a campaign to make skating more macho or to appeal to a different demographic. Last week's statement by Skate Canada CEO William Thompson states:
As a bit of history, there is no and never has been any ‘tough’ campaign. At the beginning of the season, we did feel that we wanted to message where possible the difficulty of the sport. This was in no way to diminish the artistry, rather simply to remind viewers of the levels of fitness, mental training and commitment required to be an elite figure skater. This messaging was NOT even intended for the men’s event. In fact, our feeling was that often the athleticism of the women was being overlooked. In an interview, Debbi Wilkes, Skate Canada Director, Marketing and Communications, used the word ‘tough’, intending it in a common meaning - difficult. What Debbi meant was that to be successful at the elite level, an athlete has to be physically and mentally strong. The interviewer then made the connection between tough and macho and made the assumption it was aimed at the men’s event which was not true and not the case. There is no interest at Skate Canada in making the sport more macho, rather simply an interest in people understanding the difficulty of the sport and not marginalizing our skaters as athletes. It is one of the few sports that puts intense physical demands on the athlete and then demands it be done with beauty, grace and ease.
The statement also makes sure to point out that recent comments by Elvis Stojko are not representative of Skate Canada (see some of his comments in the Wall Street Journal article linked below).
I am a bit confused about the above statement stating that this move was not aimed at the men's event, when the Wall Street Journal says Vaughn Chipeur is talking about the difficulties of the sport on behalf of Skate Canada. Was that wrong?
I can understand that Skate Canada wants to clarify that it obviously does not want to alienate anyone (the WSJ article asserted that gay and lesbian advocates thought the move was to make the sport "seem more straight.") So, I am going to go ahead and assume Skate Canada is just trying to emphasize the difficulty of the sport and its athletes, who don't get much support in the mainstream media as it is.
However, maybe they could lay off the costumes. Sometimes a little sparkle is fun for everyone (especially bloggers).