No. They're Not All American.

Surya Bonaly does not, to the best of my knowledge, carry a US passport.

Neither does Ilia Kulik, despite the fact that he chooses to train with a Soviet coach who has taken up residence over here.

Neither does Shirene Human (any guesses what passport she carries?).

Guys, guys, guys, when are we going to wake up and realize that the entire world does not bow to Wendy's?


Even English?

Most of these skaters are trained in countries that emphasize far different standards than the US does. We train our own skaters to look a certain way on our own ice.

So does everyone else. The Danish like a certain look. So do the Chinese. So, believe it or not, do the Koreans (they are not uneducated about skating, just picky in their own quiet way).

Didn't even know you had Danish competing, did you?

At a certain point there have to be international standards so that we can all come together and compete. Otherwise it just isn't any fun. The Pacific Rim "baddest on the block" title does not mean nearly as much as a World Championship (properly judged).

But let us realize once and for all that different skaters skate in different ways, that do not make them bad, but make them German (don't tell me you can't spot a German skater the second they take off on a stroke), Russian, or even Azerbaijani.

(And yes, there really is a difference.)

I am screaming about technical training on this site partially so that we will have a common language of form and balance which different countries can develop in different ways while still adhering to an international set of standards that can only help everyone.

Not to give Americans superiority. Not to bail out the Hungarians. Not even, believe it or not, to hand the Soviets a couple more medals. (And if you by this time still have a problem with my persistent habit of referring to skaters as Soviet based on long memory of skating standards, the awareness that sometimes the more things change the more they stay the same, and reverence to a great skating tradition that is still producing great skaters no matter what label they skate under, you're the one who's got the damn problem, not me.)

But to honor skaters who make an effort. So what if the kid who threatens to quad-jump everyone out of the block and still maintain grace and great skating style happens to be...Chinese?

So what if the skater who to my eyes has made the most phenomenal and consistent improvement and has excelled anybody's beliefs of what he could possibly achieve...what, maybe four months after I posted the initial evaluation, somebody started beating on him about edges, or something, happens to be....American?

What if I have the nerve to open my mouth about skating tactics and training, not to mention pure awesome talent, and dare to put a child's name in the same sentence with the two words 2006 and podium if that child just so happens to be....Hungarian?

Skaters do not grow on some great international safety tree. You'd hate them if they did.

You wouldn't know how to coach them. No tradition, no culture, no McDonald's or ramen bars or eggroll stands or what the hell ever, no knowledge of how the body ability to develop raw talent.

No skating.

No competition.

No nothing.

There is a very good reason why many of the great Soviet (there I go again) coaches feel comfortable training mostly Soviet or Eastern European kids. They know the turf they grow up on. They know the kids, if only because they know the background.

I have heard more than one say that they just don't know how to coach American kids because they don't understand how they grew up.

How do you coach kids if you don't know how they were taught to walk? If you cannot get inside their heads and understand what they are thinking when they execute, for example, a spiral?

Have some fun. Get a competitor on (very deliberately phrased words there) a North American team, an Asian team, and a European team (figure out who's Asian and who's European yourself -- will probably do you a whole hell of a lot of good) and ask them to do a spiral for you on the ice and walk you through exactly what they are thinking. Word for word. As best you can translate it.

Get it onto paper. Do some comparisons.

And be sitting down when you do.

None of them think the same way. But each team can produce gorgeous spirals. Differently.

I phrase the skating standards in The Great Skating Chase the way I do for a reason.

So that everyone may measure results. Not how the kid was trained. How the kid looks on the ice.

In ways that leave out national preferences but adhere to an international skating standard, a reference that others can find useful.

And looks like they are already, considering the number of "copycat moves" I'm seeing out there. At least you're doing them right....

From five different countries, scattered all over the world, I saw Peggy Fleming (American as French fries) laybacks.

Not a one of these countries was within 100 miles of another.

All competitors were doing the laybacks correctly. Some stunningly correctly.

Each with a particular flair and snap that did justice to their home coaching, their culture, and themselves.

Beautiful to watch.

First time we've had a real Worlds in decades.