Figure Skating: From the Boards

Trouble in paradise: Shpilband out in Canton June 4, 2012

“Drama” and “Ice Dance.”

Are there two more synonymous words?

None that I know. Yet, typically the drama plays out on the ice in superfluous arm movements, over-the-top music selections, and gaudy costume embelishments.

Occasionally the drama comes in the form of hotly contested competition results, based on the long-standing history of biased judging. In the wake of the skewed numbers, the drama sometimes spills over into press conferences, interviews, and direct quotes, stirring the pot even more visciously … particularly in the social media age.

Drama is just a part of the game. But when the theatrics shock even those on the inside? That’s when we’ve hit an all-time drama high.

Where does this rank on the list of “Most Shocking Coaching Splits” in skating history?

Need an example? How about Igor Shpilband The Great being fired from his own rink because, according to the Detroit Free Press, the top three teams in the world gave their club an ultimatum — he goes, or we go? How’s that for insider drama?

Certainly we can’t think this is the story in its entirety. For a coaching team as flawless as Shpilband/Zoueva to split in such blind-siding fashion, there has to be something more going on.

For both of the world’s top two teams to, at different times, say the coaching situation worked because both Igor and Marina gave each team 100% and never played one against the other, then refuse to even come back to the rink until their once-fearless leader was sent on his way, tells more than the words themselves express.

Now, I’m not about to speculate on what happened or when. But Shpilband was admittedly working with a handful of other skaters, perhaps doing more on his own than within the tight-knit group that has rocketed to the top of the food chain. Surely there’s more to it than three elite teams feeling slighted.

According to the 24-hour news cycle (a.k.a. “Twitter”), Charlie White’s mother made mention that the skaters are stuck in the middle of a coaches’ feud, rather than being the instigators of the split themselves.

Not sure that makes any of this better. How unfortunate that the world’s best ice dance coaches and the world’s best ice dancers could lose something that has been pure magic over conflicting ideas, regardless of whose decision it ultimately was!

The decision, nevertheless, shakes up the rock-solid Canton Dynasty, if in no other way than that, for the first time since Davis/White and Virtue/Moir began training together, there is uncertainty.

The unknown is enough to unerve the strongest minds. And depending on how the chips fall, the commradere and chemistry of the club will likely be disrupted.

How will it impact the training atmosphere? What will be “missing” that was there with both coaches? Can the streak continue sans-Igor? Do the skaters all stick with Marina in Canton? Which younger skaters or other teams venture off to Igor’s new rink (wherever that might be) and how much does the speculation weigh on the shoulders of the current and former world champs?

… see? Who said the off season would be boring?!

What do you think happens in Detroit as we speed towards the season’s start?

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3 Responses to “Trouble in paradise: Shpilband out in Canton”

  1. Sk8princess Says:

    This matter doesn’t involve Detroit Skate Club at all. The club is the Arctic FSC in Canton, Michigan and not Detroit, Michigan.

  2. Kate Says:

    I am astounded by this news. I like Shpilband w/ all the teams as shown in public anyway.
    Not interested in reading speculation and I won’t issue any either. I will say this. I have been a faniac of Marina Zoueva ever since she was Gordeeva and Grinkov’s primary choreorgrapher when she graduated from her Moscow training and they were soon to be Senior skaters. She created magic with and for them. I think she can handle this challenge if necessary. I am sorry about this situation no matter the cause becuz I fear it will be disruptive no matter the cause. :((.


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