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The Portlandian, the Internet's premier source of Tonya News

February 23, 2006 Edition - OLYMPIC EDITION
(C) 2006 Portland Ice Skating Society
http://www.geocities.com/portice
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Welcome back, as we start off another year of Tonya news. We've 
news about a fundraising appearance Tonya did, some recent TV 
appearances (and an upcoming special), and a special feature on 
some critical flaws in the new judging system that makes its 
Olympic debut in Torino. Plus we revive the ever (un)popular 
"Jayson" awards for poor-quality Tonya reporting, and have info 
about a new book with a pro-Tonya mention that blows the lid off 
the sleazy world of figure skating judging.
 

TONYA RAISES MONEY FOR CHARITY

Tonya rounded off the year a visit to Morehead University in 
Morehead, Kentucky, on December 1st, where she partook in a fund-
raising event for The People's Clinic, a free clinic serving the 
Morehead area. Former world heavyweight boxing champ Jimmy Ellis 
and former boxer Tommy Morrison (who starred with Sylvester 
Stallone in "Rocky V") also appeared at the event. All three 
celebrities signed photographs and posed for pictures with fans 
from 6:30 p.m. until about 8 p.m.

Dale Greer, assistant professor of electronic media and organizer 
of the benefit event, said "All of these celebrities have come 
and volunteered their time. Tonya's been great. She's so 
cooperative and nice."

"I am here to help raise money for the clinic. It's an honor to 
be here", said Tonya.

"I've worked with a lot of celebrities in my time, but Tonya 
Harding was as nice and cooperative as any celebrity I've ever 
worked with," Greer said. "She worked tirelessly for three days 
promoting the clinic."

The celebrities then went to the nearby Button auditorium where 
they engaged in various events including trivia quizzes and 
pretend boxing matches with some students. Tonya finished off the 
show play-boxing MSU's Homecoming Queen Whitney Dyer and three 
other un-named female students. A silent auction of assorted 
sports memorabilia, including boxing gloves signed by Muhammad 
Ali and Joe Frazier, raised $1380.

Tonya's presence was widely reported, with front page articles in 
the New York Times and Washington Post and was the lead item that 
day on all four main TV networks. If you're puzzling over why you 
don't recall seeing any of the aforementioned news coverage, 
that's because we're joking - we made that last bit up and none 
of the above news reports of Tonya's visit actually happened. It 
goes without saying that because this is news of Tonya doing 
something GOOD (and therefore doesn't fit into the standard media 
program of depicting Tonya as a selfish, greedy loser who is only 
good for a cheap laugh now and again) that it was of course 
totally IGNORED by all the major media. In fact the only report 
of the visit at all we've come across was in the University's 
campus newspaper, the Trail Blazer, which is where the above 
information and quotes came from, and even that's now 
disappeared, though you can still catch it in Google's cache:

http://64.233.179.104/search?q=cache:PsQPfr5Bn3kJ:www.trailblazer
online.net/campus_life/index.html

There is one small fly in the ointment of this generally positive 
article, however, which contains the statement:

    Harding became well known during the 1994 Olympics when she 
    attacked skater Nancy Kerrigan during a practice session.

Unfortunately, it seems that even when Tonya is reported as doing 
something good, they still manage to spoil it by getting it 
wrong.


ANOTHER TONYA CHARITY APPEARANCE CANCELLED

Tonya has had plenty of run-ins with the law over the years, but 
one appearance by her - in an event that would have seen her in a 
rather different battle with law and order - has been cancelled.

The appearance would have seen Tonya participate in an event 
known as "Guns 'n' Hoses", which pits cops against firefighters 
in a charity fundraising boxing match in Jacksonville, Florida on 
March 11. Tonya would have been boxing against Cristina "Rosie" 
Rosario, a local police officer. However Tonya has pulled out, 
because at 170 pounds she is overweight for this event.


TONYA ON "ET" & "THE INSIDER"

The Torino Winter Olympics has resulted in alot of media 
attention for Tonya, with her making several appearances recently 
on "Entertainment Tonight" and its sister show "The Insider". In 
one ET episode Tonya was subjected to a full "extreme makeover". 
More details, and some video clips, can be found at the links 
below:

http://insider.tv.yahoo.com/celeb/3684/

http://et.tv.yahoo.com/about/13794/
http://et.tv.yahoo.com/celebrities/13802/
http://et.tv.yahoo.com/about/13810/
http://et.tv.yahoo.com/celebrities/13852/
http://et.tv.yahoo.com/about/13877/
http://et.tv.yahoo.com/celebrities/13878/
http://et.tv.yahoo.com/celebrities/13891/

It is also revealed that Tonya's weight gain in recent months has 
been caused by a prescription drug Prednisone that she was 
prescribed for pneumonia several months ago and that she is 
trying to slim down. "I've got another 15 to 20 pounds to go," 
she says.

Tonya has also been doing skating coverage for "The Insider" 
during the Olympics and may be on tonight.


MORE ON TONYA'S GSN APPEARANCE.

Last issue we reported on a new series about great achievers that 
will feature Tonya in one episode. Originally scheduled for 
February 28, GSN (formerly known as the Game Show Network) will 
now screen the Tonya episode of its "Anything To Win" series on 
March 12. More details can be found at the show's official page 
at:

http://www.gsn.com/specific_page_elements.php?link_id=S81

The episode is an hour long and a source close to Tonya says that 
she participated in the show and that she has been promised a 
fair hearing. We have also supplied some material, including some 
previously unseen photos of Tonya in the months following the 
"Whacking", so hopefully this one will turn out to be better than 
the usual run-of-the-mill rehash of the events of '94. According 
to Tonya, it features her "talking about my life. Where it 
started out with my skating, going through the Olympics, how I 
overcame all of the obstacles I had to go through and the 
transformation of a figure skater into a professional boxer. 
Those types of things."

Rumor from inside the Tonya camp is that if the show gets good 
ratings it could lead to Tonya having a very bright future with 
that network, so be sure to tune in if you can receive this 
channel.


TONYA TO APPEAR ON "GOOD MORNING AMERICA"

Tonya will also be appearing on "Good Morning America" on Friday,
March 10th, from New York. 


THE "JAYSON" AWARDS: WELCOME TO THE TONYADROME

"Portlandian" subscribers might remember that two years ago we 
instituted the "Jayson" award for shoddily researched Tonya-
related reporting (named of course, in dishonor of Jayson Blair, 
the disgraced New York Times writer who was exposed to be making 
up alot of his material). With the Winter Olympics currently on, 
there has been a flurry of news reports making references to 
Tonya and the events of 1994, many of them wrong to a greater or 
lesser degree, so we thought it might be time to resurrect the 
"Jayson's" for the most egregious example of poor journalism.

At first we considered giving it to the Trail Blazer guys above, 
but given that their article was generally positive about Tonya 
we couldn't really do that. Fortunately there was another much 
more glaringly obvious candidate. We think that this year's award 
has to go to, surprisingly enough, the Canadian Broadcasting 
Corporation, for this little gem, which can be found at:

http://www.cbc.ca/olympics/sports/figureskating/history.shtml

   In an attempt to prevent her teammate from competing at the 
   U.S. national championship, Harding conspired with her husband 
   Jeff Gillooly to attack and injure Kerrigan. Following 
   practice one day, Gillooly whacked Kerrigan on the knee with a 
   metal baton. Harding won the nationals and qualified for the 
   Olympics, but Kerrigan was given the second spot on the 
   American team, despite her injury. Ultimately, Kerrigan won 
   silver in Lillehammer behind the Ukraine's Oksana Bajul.

Given that Gillooly was in Portland when the attack occurred, it 
must have been an awfully long baton! It then goes on to say:

   After a well-publicized investigation that kept supermarket 
   tabloids busy for months, Harding pleaded guilty to conspiracy 
   and was banned for life by the United States Figure Skating 
   Association.

Tonyaphiles have become used to seeing such errors in junky 
tabloids, but it's very disappointing to see them being made by 
major news outlets such as the CBC, which used to be regarded as 
one of the world's most prestigious broadcasters.

Several years ago there was a horror movie made by Canadian 
director David Cronenberg about junk TV, entitled "Videodrome". 
The film centered around a guy by the name of Max Renn (played by 
James Woods), who runs a trashy Toronto cable station that 
specializes in sleazy shock-horror programming. We have to wonder 
if maybe Max has now taken over the sports department at the CBC 
if this is now typical of the quality of their research.


WHISTLEBLOWER'S BOOK INCLUDES PRO-TONYA SLANT

More info has emerged about Jon Jackson's new book about his time 
in the USFSA. It's called "On Edge : Backroom Dealing, Cocktail 
Scheming, Triple Axels, and How Top Skaters Get Screwed" (which 
surely has to take the cake for one of the most long-winded 
titles of any skating book), is published by Thunder's Mouth 
Press (which has to take the cake for weirdest named publishing 
house) and is now available for order.

We've read the book and it's hard hitting stuff: Jackson by and 
large names names and doesn't pull punches. He's dug up so much 
dirt you'll need a bulldozer to shift it all. In fact, it makes 
Brennan's "Inside Edge" sound like it was written by the Speedy 
fan club. Most interestingly, he believes that Tonya got a bum 
deal.

We'll have a full review in the next issue.


COMPULSORY FIGURES: "THE SKATRIX REBOOTED"

With the Winter Olympics now underway in Turin (or Torino if 
you prefer), the new computerized judging system that the ISU 
has introduced for figure skating known as the "Code of Points" 
faces its first major challenge.

Many people have criticized the system both for its secrecy and 
its randomness. Now two researchers with mathematical 
backgrounds have discovered flaws in the system that would make 
the 2000 Florida election results with their hanging chads look 
like a model of efficiency and reliability - and must cause 
serious doubt as to whether the winners of the competitions in 
Turin have anything to do with who actually skated best on the 
night.

The first deals with a problem in the computer software used by 
the system. George S. Rossano runs the Ice Skating International 
site, which contains several in-depth articles about the new 
scoring system, and he's discovered a critical flaw in the 
software that tabulates the scores:

http://www.iceskatingintnl.com/archive/features/round_off_error.htm

Essentially the bug relates to the point in the calculations at 
which the scores are rounded from three decimal places to one 
decimal place. Mathematicians will know that whenever you're 
doing calculations any such rounding should take place as late in 
the process as possible in order to preserve accuracy. But the 
ISU's software now rounds some elements early, thereby 
introducing an error that can total up to half a point in some 
cases, sometimes working in the skater's favor and other times 
against depending on the place in the skater's program that 
various elements are performed.


TUMBLIN' DICE

Nor is this the only problem - a second, more fundamental flaw 
has been discovered in the one of the key features of the new 
system, namely, the random dumping of the scores of several of 
the judges from the computation of the results. Supposedly 
designed to make judge tampering more difficult it may have a 
surprising side effect.

Using the full set of protocols released by the ISU, Yale 
University statistician John W. Emerson has recently calculated 
that the random selection of judges by the computer can in some 
cases significantly alter the results depending on which judge's 
marks are selected for inclusion.

Emerson, who featured in an article in the Wall Street Journal 
and was interviewed on ABC World News, used data from the 
European Women's Figure Skating Competition to show that only 50 
of the 220 possible combinations of selected judges would have 
resulted in the same ranking of the skaters following the Short 
Program as the panel of judges that actually were selected for 
inclusion. You can read a summary of his findings in this 
article:

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2006-02/yu-ysp021306.php

and his report in full on the Yale web site:

http://www.stat.yale.edu/~jay/EC2006/

http://www.stat.yale.edu/~jay/OWG/


Of course, all this says nothing about the integrity of the 
judges, something that's still highly questionable. The 
"Skatefair" blog at:

http://www.figure-skating-judging-scandal.com/

also has an item from a former ISU judge who confirms that not 
only do Emerson's results occur in practice, but also claims that 
tossing the high and low marks does not necessarily remove 
national bias and that cheating may still be effective even when 
the cheater is one of the judges whose marks are tossed.


DIRTY DANCING?

And what about the sudden replacement of the Ukrainian dance 
judge with another, Anastassia Makarova, who was only appointed 
as an ISU judge last fall? Could it have something to do with the 
fact her mother, Ludmila Mikhailovskaya, is on the ISU's Ice 
Dance technical committee? Ukraine, of course, was the country 
that gave us bent judge Yuri Balkov. Was the fix in in dance this 
time? Was there a plan to give the Italians a gold medal in front 
of the home crowd that fell apart when Fusar-Poli and Margaglio 
crashed & burned in the Original Dance? Who can tell, now that 
the scores are secret? The Skatefair site has plenty of theories.


Rossano and Emerson's findings show that the new judging system 
is significantly flawed both by randomness and calculation 
errors. It also does nothing to reduce potential corruption and 
indeed enhances it by introducing anonymity of the judges. It's 
about as useful as a crystal ball or chicken entrails for getting 
accurate results. And it totally ignores the real problem, which 
is cheating judges, or the real solution, which is life bans for 
anyone caught rigging a contest. Skating fans should ponder this 
as they watch the Ladies Long Program tonight. 

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VISIT THESE GREAT TONYA WEB SITES:

PortIce - http://www.geocities.com/portice
David House - http://www.tonyaharding.org
Charlie Main - http://www.charliesweb.com/tonya/tonya.html
Puppetboy - http://www.tonyaharding.us/tonya/
Valerie Smith - http://www.olywa.net/radu/valerie/LilHam.html
Swan Lake - http://members.tripod.com/~TonyaHarding/index.html
Blades of Gold - http://members.tripod.com/tmhfan/index.html
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