James and Ciprès announce end of career

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gsk8

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Official from Federation Francaise Sports de Glace (FFSG) 9/29/20

Plans for both (translated by Google)
The young woman (33), based in the United States, explores opportunities on and off the ice, such as developing a product related to sports and rehabilitation, and is involved in charitable work. The young man (29 years old) has plans to get into real estate and also wants to work on developing the discipline of couples.
 

rain

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Probably a good idea. Given the scandal surrounding him, I have no idea what reception they would have gotten not only from any audience, but from the judges. And it sounds like she wants to stay in the U.S., and I highly doubt he's headed back there any time soon. The idea of him as a coach, though, is pretty cringey at this point — I assume that's what is meant by him wanting to continue to develop the pairs discipline.
 

karne

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Huh. The cynical part of me wondered if they were going to attempt a comeback this season, when they wouldn't be travelling out of France for GP and it's probable that events will take place without crowds, ergo preventing anyone booing him.

Good riddance to bad rubbish. And as for James...well...I have my doubts about what she knew and when.

The idea that he will be allowed to coach in their pairs program - presumably around young girls the same age as his victim, and impressionable young boys who might absorb his abhorrent behaviour as "normal" - is just yet another sign the FFSG should have been nuked and that Pechelat has changed nothing.
 

mrrice

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How old is Vanessa? Is it possible that she can continue with a new partner or is she going to retire?
 

Harriet

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How old is Vanessa? Is it possible that she can continue with a new partner or is she going to retire?

She's 33. All of the news articles and the FFSG statement report that she is retiring.
 

surimi

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It's for the best. Good luck to Vanessa with her future endeavors, it's a pity her career ended on such a sad note due to her partner's actions. Morgan wanting to be involved in pairs skating in an absurd thought, though. People with a reputation stain like his shouldn't be allowed to work with children and teens.
 

Amei

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Has Morgan actually been proven guilty? The last thing I know was that investigations in the US resumed following the lockdown. Maybe I've missed that bit.

Court of law - no, which I'm not sure if it's even being criminally investigated or if this is only a SafeSport investigation. Court of public opinion - go take a look at the thread related to what happened.

I don't see how they could do anything except retire, if an indictment were to come down they would be unable to travel to countries with an extradition treaty with the US. Plus the French fed talks a good line about wanting to clean up and having an actively competing athlete at the top level (im assuming they get some level of financial support from the Fed) be under investigation for sexual misconduct is polar opposite of that message.
 

TontoK

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Probably a good idea. Given the scandal surrounding him, I have no idea what reception they would have gotten not only from any audience, but from the judges. And it sounds like she wants to stay in the U.S., and I highly doubt he's headed back there any time soon. The idea of him as a coach, though, is pretty cringey at this point — I assume that's what is meant by him wanting to continue to develop the pairs discipline.
The highlighted section is the only part of your post I might want to discuss a little further.

The judges' job is to fairly score the performance that is put on the ice at that competition. That's it. I don't think it is their job to decide who should/should not be allowed to compete or to unfairly mark any skater. The question of who competes is the responsibility of national federations. The responsiblity to fairly and impartially score each of the participants belongs to judges.

A widely known example of this was when Tonya Harding skated in the Olympic Games following "The Incident." I expected the judges to score her fairly in relation to all other participants and to ignore the controversy, and I believe they did that. But I wonder... she certainly had the talent to do very well had everything gone perfectly... what if she'd skated lights out? Would they have scored her appropriately? I hope they would have.
 

Ruthypegs

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The person I feel most sorry for is Vanessa. I don’t want to speak whether or not she knew, but I still feel like the whole situation turned out to be unfair for her.
Yes, it does seem very unfair on her - and she was heading for the possible pinnacle of her career, after a lifetime of working towards it.
 

Gourlie

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Despite the scandal surrounding them, they were my favourite couple since their first season till now. It was a joy to watch their improvement over the years. Vanessa and Morgan always had unique programmes with exciting chemistry between them. Thanks for all of this!

There is my biggest figure skating fan enjoyment with them, in my country, first big medal after many 4th places, still huge emotions in me when I watch it after the years. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mh_5iYpvXJQ
 

BlissfulSynergy

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I really hope that Vanessa does carry on and does return to representing Great Britain. Because as it is, we have no other options on the horizon.

I feel really sorry for Vanessa. She has had her career ruined by her skating partner's off ice actions. Which is not fair.

OK, I know she is in her 30's now, and would probably be thinking about retiring anyway. But, she had a great shot at "doing an Aljona", and finally getting that elusive Gold Medal in the upcoming Olympics. (And if she did, she would have been older than Aljona by about 4 months).

Firstly, Vanessa is 33. After she would sit out a year, she would be 34. While there have been a few skaters who skated competitively (at elite level) when over 30, I don’t think she has a need to start from zero with someone else at this age. Secondly, you are talking about sitting out a year, but the French federation doesn’t have to release her after a year. They can hold her for as long as they want to. Massot paid a lot of money to be released, and considering his past result, it is likely that the French federation would want even more money from Vanessa James because her results were significantly higher than Massot’s results. In any case, she would not be released in time for this Olympics, and at the next one she would be 38. She already has medals from Europens and worlds, so I don’t think she has a need to come back just for a chance of getting a few more.


I agree it's unlikely and wishful thinking that Vanessa would consider returning to Great Britain after her career-defining success in France. Vanessa & Morgan had contemplated retiring after 2018 Olympics, so it was a bonus when they came back with two more great programs in 2018-2019, especially their signature, career defining fp choreographed by Charlie White. That program expanded upon the legacy of their breakthrough Sound of Silence fp (2016-2017) with input by John Kerr, which won J/C their first medal at Europeans and elevated their stature. Finally, Vanessa's dogged and determined fight to pursue her dreams of competitive success in pairs skating was realized. I admire her courage, grace, and resilience.

There is so much I am feeling and that I want to say about what has happened, but it's too complex on a number of levels. Suffice to say that this sad and depressing state of affairs is doubly sad and unfortunate because of the harmful actions attributed to Morgan that resulted in self-inflicted damage to J/C's career. We currently live in such a heightened and deeply charged cultural environment that colors so many viewpoints and perceptions. The bottom line is that the alleged behavior that took place at the Florida rink is inexcusable and reprehensible. It should lead to cautionary and concerted efforts toward more awareness, communication and implementation of guidelines for reform across the sport, especially in regard to the protection of minors. All of the abuse allegations and incidents we have been hearing about within the sport and in the larger culture should lead to everyone taking personal responsibility for their behavioral interactions. I have so many thoughts but I don't want to try to discuss everything that has been so concerning because nothing of a serious nature can be solved on social media forums. I am sad for everyone who have been directly and indirectly affected by the initial December 2017 incident, and that includes innocent skaters training at the rink who were adversely impacted.

Ultimately, the retirement of Vanessa & Morgan is not surprising, but now it is official. I am melancholy about it, but at the same time, I'm thankful I had the pleasure of witnessing so many great performances by them, particularly at the height of their career in their final three seasons. Their absence has already been felt this past season. Their charismatic connection, unique style aesthetics and innovative choreography brought new fans to the sport. I still see adoring praise in the comments sections of their YouTube videos by viewers who are clearly not familiar with figure skating, but who fell in love with the skating of Vanessa & Morgan.

It sucks that we will never get to see the program that Shae Lynn Bourne was choreographing for J/C. It is a loss for them and their career, and it is a loss for the pairs discipline. Their influential contributions invigorated pairs and inspired numerous skaters and choreographers. Of course, the discipline will go on and there are many teams with enormous talent to carry the discipline forward. I think it is a measure of J/C's unique influence that some of their moves and style aesthetic continue to be emulated and expanded upon to help further grow the pairs discipline.

All of the various innovative movement styles by choreographers and great teams of recent years, combined with the exciting incorporation of ice-dance inspired elements have made pairs skating even more entertaining and compelling to watch. But the fact is that it takes a long time for teams to fully develop and to create their own signature style. It is rare to see any team achieve a high level of synchronicity and magic. Many factors go into developing daring programs with impact and resonance. So we will have to wait and see what happens. There is still a lot of depth and some budding rivalries among up-and-coming teams. But it remains to be seen whether more exciting breakthroughs on the level that James/Cipres achieved in their final seasons, and that Savchenko/Massot willed in their Olympics free skate will happen on a consistent basis. Figure skating is hard, and pairs skating is the toughest discipline.
 

drivingmissdaisy

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And as for James...well...I have my doubts about what she knew and when.

What is she supposed to do in this situation? Even if she heard anything, I'm sure her partner forcefully denied any wrongdoing. There's no reason for her to side with a stranger who made an allegation over Morgan. In retrospect, we know how damning the allegations are, and backed by clear evidence of wrongdoing, but Vanessa wouldn't know all of that long before we did.
 

Amei

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The highlighted section is the only part of your post I might want to discuss a little further.

The judges' job is to fairly score the performance that is put on the ice at that competition. That's it. I don't think it is their job to decide who should/should not be allowed to compete or to unfairly mark any skater. The question of who competes is the responsibility of national federations. The responsiblity to fairly and impartially score each of the participants belongs to judges.

A widely known example of this was when Tonya Harding skated in the Olympic Games following "The Incident." I expected the judges to score her fairly in relation to all other participants and to ignore the controversy, and I believe they did that. But I wonder... she certainly had the talent to do very well had everything gone perfectly... what if she'd skated lights out? Would they have scored her appropriately? I hope they would have.

Unfortunately we are all well aware that reputation judging is an ugly cornerstone of this sport, it's honestly a part of the sport that most people hate at 1 point or another (except most people overlook it when their favorite is a recipient). I cannot recall another instance outside of the Harding situation where an active athlete had some type of potential criminal (and ugly) behavior come to light where we could look at their scores and whatnot and see did judges keep to what was put on the ice or was that skater judged particularly more harsh than they have previously
 

Harriet

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What is she supposed to do in this situation? Even if she heard anything, I'm sure her partner forcefully denied any wrongdoing. There's no reason for her to side with a stranger who made an allegation over Morgan. In retrospect, we know how damning the allegations are, and backed by clear evidence of wrongdoing, but Vanessa wouldn't know all of that long before we did.
Cipres literally apologised for his actions - for a certain very low value of apology - to the parents of at least one of the girls he harassed, in writing, which pretty much constitutes a confession - and his victims were two girls who trained at his rink and whom he unofficially coached. It’s quite likely that Vanessa knew them, and more plausible that she would have found out about it at the same time as the whole business blew up at the rink (late 2017, apparently) than that she was in the dark until Christine Brennan broke the story in the press last year.

We have no information as to how she reacted privately, though given that she’s never been afraid to go toe to toe with Cipres in a stand-up yelling fight - even in the kiss and cry from time to time - for all we know she may have torn verbal strips off him every day since she found out. But he is also the person she trusted to see her safely through crazily dangerous lifts and throw quads, and she may have prioritised maintaining that safe relationship instead. Or something between the two. We also don’t know to what degree she might have faced pressure to keep silent, or threats of retribution if she spoke out, from the then FFSG President. What we do know is that a) she has never spoken publicly either in support of Cipres and the three coaches who covered up his actions and bullied his victims, or in rejection of them, but has maintained apparently positive relationships with them based on social media interactions, b) Brennan has been careful in her reporting not to state or imply that Vanessa took part in the initial harassment, the cover-up or the harassment campaign against the victims, implying that the paper would face legal liability if it did so, and c) she skated with Cipres in Art on Ice after the story broke, though under a contract that was probably negotiated and signed before it did.

She’s not an American citizen or a coach, so her legal responsibility/duty of care as a mandatory reporter at the rink and her moral responsibility may be two separate things, but unfortunately it seems clear that while she bears no responsibility for anyone’s actions but her own, she has made the choice to be - at minimum - a passive bystander in public and to behave as if none of this is even happening, and speaking for myself, I have to count that as a moral failing on her part, because this is one of those things where if you choose not to be part of the solution, you’re helping to perpetuate the problem.
 

rain

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The highlighted section is the only part of your post I might want to discuss a little further.

The judges' job is to fairly score the performance that is put on the ice at that competition. That's it. I don't think it is their job to decide who should/should not be allowed to compete or to unfairly mark any skater. The question of who competes is the responsibility of national federations. The responsiblity to fairly and impartially score each of the participants belongs to judges.

A widely known example of this was when Tonya Harding skated in the Olympic Games following "The Incident." I expected the judges to score her fairly in relation to all other participants and to ignore the controversy, and I believe they did that. But I wonder... she certainly had the talent to do very well had everything gone perfectly... what if she'd skated lights out? Would they have scored her appropriately? I hope they would have.
This is, or course, how it works in an ideal world. But judges are human beings and have biases — sometimes they are entirely conscious of them and follow them anyway, other times they choose to be more analytical. Then there are the unconscious biases. That's a whole other kettle of fish.

But I do think judges have been known to send skaters messages of various kinds through the scoring. There's a lot of wiggle room, for example when deciding whether an element is a 0 or a plus 3, and competitions and careers have hinged on less.

How often have we seen a world champion or world medallist "bonus" at subsequent competitions? Or miraculously rising skating skills marks? Or sudden calls or deductions for weaknesses that a skate has exhibited for years, but now they're out of favour and now the judges seem to see them for the first time?

Harding is a very interesting case, because the eyes of the world were on that one. Perhaps that kept things more in line? Plus, as you said, her skating itself didn't force the issue.

Oh well, it's all speculation anyway. I see that Vanessa James is in the cast for the new season of Battle of the Blades. Already moving on.
 

BlissfulSynergy

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Despite the scandal surrounding them, they were my favourite couple since their first season till now. It was a joy to watch their improvement over the years. Vanessa and Morgan always had unique programmes with exciting chemistry between them. Thanks for all of this!

There is my biggest figure skating fan enjoyment with them, in my country, first big medal after many 4th places, still huge emotions in me when I watch it after the years. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mh_5iYpvXJQ

Thanks for linking that milestone, breakthrough program. Their sp to Earned It at that Euros event was a revelation as well. Both were perfectly clean and brilliantly performed. Vanessa always said they knew they had to skate perfectly. They were full of talent from the moment they paired together, but it was a long road for them to polish all of their elements, find the right music and skate consistently clean. They got a lot of help from a number of coaches along the way. But better scoring took them longer to achieve than it should have. Still, the fact that they knew they had to be extra better than everyone else is possibly what led to them eventually finding synchoncity and magic together with Zimmerman's coaching crew in Florida. Everything came together with choreo by John Kerr, Jeremy Barrett, Silvia Fontana, and overall guidance by JZimmerman. And still, the judges were intent upon 'managing' their scores.

It's a complete disgrace to this day that J/C's gorgeously conceived and executed performance to Say Something at the 2017 French GP did not win them the gold medal against the mistakes and ill-conceived fp of Tarasova/Morozov at the same competition:


Together for seven years before finding the best coaching team at the right moment, and all the right elements to achieve that high level of success and palpable excitement.

Here's their hard-fought win at 2018 GPF in their final season. No gifts were ever given to them by the judges:

Their consistency on jumps was one of their strongest assets, along with their transitions, ice dance elements, unique style, charismatic connection, and the better flow and unison they achieved through the guidance they received in Florida from their choreographers and the coaching crew.

Here's their unforgettable Earned It sp, in their win at WTT in 2017:
 

Allikat

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I learned that Vanessa and Morgan are slated to perform with Art on Ice in four Swiss cities next February. Will this retirement announcement preclude that, or is their retirement only from ISU competition? If they still may be participating in occasional shows, has anyone seen or heard what/where those might be? I'm sure we all knew their 'retirement' had to be coming, under the circumstances, but I really hate to see them give up all performing, unless neither is actually interested in continuing. This is a pair I truly loved; I'll always miss them in competitions.
 
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