Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Premature Leap

In a most inexplicable move, 2010 US National Pairs Champions Caydee Denney & Jeremy Barrett announced yesterday that they had left coaches Jim Peterson, Lyndon Johnston, and Alison Smith for Silvia Fontana and John Zimmerman.

What on earth?

This coaching move is utterly inexplicable to me, as it is to most people in the skating world. Jeremy claims that “this change is necessary to take our skating to the next level,” but I have no idea what could have possibly gone through this pair's minds when they decided that this change would involve going to a couple with no real coaching experience. As everybody knows, Caydee & Jeremy's rise has been explosive and meteoric, and there were no struggles or plateauing that could have spurred this move. (Not placing higher at the Olympics and Worlds does not count as struggling--it is just what happens when you are a new, inexperienced, American pairs team. Suck it up.)

It seems like such an insult to leave the coaches that brought them to (relative) fame and success when it is not at all clear that such a move was necessary. Sure, Mao Asada left Michiko Yamada after that season during which she upset Irina Slutskaya at the Grand Prix Final, but everyone knew that Mao needed to go to someone with a little more polish and a little more artistry, with a singular focus on her and not on the huge mass of young hopefuls. Keauna McLaughlin & Rockne Brubaker left Dalilah Sappenfield after it became evident that while they were on top of the US field, they simply weren't climbing the World ladder. What is it that Caydee & Jeremy suddenly need? Everyone else thought it was simply time.

Some anonymous commenter on Aunt Joyce's Ice Cream Stand wrote that they hoped that the pair was still on good terms with their former coaches, but I don't think so.
“It is difficult to lose a team at this early stage in their career,” Peterson said. “However, Alison, Lyndon and I are proud of guiding Caydee and Jeremy to their goals of representing the United States as Olympians and achieving a national title in a short period of time. Both are talented athletes and competitors, and we wish them all the best in the future.”
In a most diplomatic way, Peterson not only indicates that this change is "difficult," but manages to sneak in that they led Caydee & Jeremy to a National title and an Olympic berth in "a short period of time." Very classy, but a little bitter.

We'll see what happens, but something sort of tells me that the rest of the skating world will be the last ones laughing.

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