So glad Jenny is blogging again!
So glad Jenny is blogging again!
Yikes. If I hadn't known this was an article about Jenny's coach, I would have told her to dump her abusive, controlling boyfriend. Where on earth were this girl's parents?But with this level of intimacy comes a responsibility ... After the initial honeymoon stage with Evy, I quickly learned he could be quite mean and downright vile at times. He would weigh his students every week in the lobby, in front of our parents, our peers and other coaches. For so many of his students these were the most dreaded moments of their adolescence and ones I’m sure still haunt them to this day. When a student’s weight was read out loud to the group Evy never mitigated or censored his comments. He knew just the thing to say to make a skater crumble in shame and embarrassment.
By that point in our relationship he had molded me so well that I would have done anything for the man.
Edit: Oh god, the whole weighing thing was done in front of all the parents and coaches. It just shows just because you can breed, it doesn't mean you are capable of raising your offspring.
The weighing in was not uncommon from the 70s to the 90s. It happened at almost every rink with more than one high level skater. I had a friend who used to purge *only* on weigh in day. Her coach didn't allow her on the ice if she was overweight from her expected ideal. It was a very public humiliation when she'd be sent home for the day. Parents either weren't aware of it or thought it was an ok way to manage the skater.
I don't agree with the humiliation/embarrassment/shaming method of coaching. But the fact that figure skating is (still) at least 50 years behind the times when it comes to sports physiology and nutrition, is just plain pathetic. Using weight alone as an indicator of athletic ability? How quaint. Surely even in the 1970s, they had methods of measuring lean muscle mass and body fat percentages and VO2 maxes.
On the other hand, teenage girls tend to like developing eating disorders. Is it a hobby, who knows? At least public weigh ins and shaming is a good excuse to develop one.
I didn't say I agreed with it, I only said it wasn't uncommon.
ah, cool then
Just read through the comments. Finally glad to get other perspectives/feedback as many of the comments are from former competitors or people involved in skating who seem to more or less agree with what she is saying.
It seems it might be a coach generational thing as well. Most of the coaches that *we* were aware of that did it were high level coaches around the same age - well established and well known. Some of the up and coming coaches who were working a student (or a few) through the ranks didn't do such things. They might have made a comment in private about a skater's shape to them during lessons or the like, but they didn't publicly humiliate their skaters.
In the off topic section of this board, there is an thread about how anorexia is not just for girls. Seems like a lot of wrestlers are also developing eating disorders in the drive to attains success in sports that are very much impacted by the athletes weight. I do believe that most coaches are not deliberately trying to encourage their athletes to purge.
Overall I think parents have the job of making sure that their child balances their desire to succeed with their overall long term health. It's not about saying 'you have to stop competing', but rather about teaching them that it's ok to not be #1. All aspects of parenting can be a potential landmine - sometimes it's amazing how 'normal' parents can have messed up kids and vice versa. it really is about knowing your child - some kids need a push while others need a parent to teach them to reign themselves in..... and sometimes there are personalities that just can't be controlled.
I was in the elevator at work one day and some woman I don't know started talking about her daughter and how she was in competitive sports. Apparently the daughter isn't great at it and the mother said that she keeps telling her every time, you just have to be more aggressive! Be aggressive! Be aggressive! Obviously, I don't know exactly how it is at her house but it raised some bells for me. I thought, ugh, that poor girl. She probably isn't naturally athletic and does the best she can.
I remember growing up studying ballet and feeling the way Jenni did all the time, although I never had anorexia or anything (I knew I would never be a professional bdancer and even though it was a bummer at least I kept my head screwed on) but at least my mom never cared whether I was no. 1. She just encouraged me to have fun and reminded me that I was getting a lot of out of it even if I wasn't perfet. I do remember one thing with my Dad: I came home one day after my very first audition and I was so pleased that I was cast as an understudy. That was really good for me. I didn't expect to get anything and it was a good first step. And my dad said oh, you should tell Mrs. so and so to give you the lead. It was just my dad being clueless but it stuck with me because of course, I was so happy at the prospect of getting to go to rehearsals for this beautiful ballet and everything and he deflated me. So I can sort of begin to relate to Jenni even though it's not really on the same scale. I had a similar personality growing up, wanting to please my parents, teachers, ballet instructors, etc.
My mom was like yours, wonderful about whatever I managed to do, and she never made me feel bad. (And believe me, she had plenty of chances in terms of sports! I combined klutziness and cowardice in the worst possible proportions. She had been on her college fencing team.) But my oldest aunt (sort of the head of the family) once said to me that there was no point in my wanting to be an artist unless I could be the best there was. I know she loved me, and I loved her, but thank God she was childless. No clue at all! I don't think that adult family members always realize the way kids are treated by coaches, ballet teachers, and so on. That show Dance Moms really gives me hives. And it's worst with girls, I think, because so many of us seem to be wired to finish the job on ourselves that these people start.
Expert A might think Jenny was great at X, X is a very important skill, so Jenny should have been rewarded for her great X with higher scores.
Expert B might agree that yes, Jenny was great at X, but she was pretty weak at Y, and in Expert B's opinion Y is much more important than X, so low scores were appropriate.
Kirk continued to compete and mature into her early 20s, so the basic skating wasn't always as much of a weakness for her as it was at the beginning of her career, and she also developed her performance skills significantly -- the Chicago SP was a masterpiece.