The International Skating Union has suspended two commentators and launched an investigation after they were caught on air calling one figure skating coach a “bitch,” admitted they didn’t watch women’s figure skating, repeatedly misgendered one competitor, and just generally made asses of themselves.
Following the Pairs Short Program at the World Figure Skating Championships yesterday, British commentators Simon Reed and Nicky Slater, calling the ISU’s international feed of the event, were heard trashing Olympic gold medalist and current figure skating coach Meagan Duhamel when they thought their mics were off.
The two were evidently responding to a tweet Duhamel posted in which she took issue with their commentary and general lack of expertise.
Reed called Duhamel “that bitch from Canada” while his partner in the booth, Slater, snickered along stupidly.
This morning, the ISU released a statement about the remarks and Duhamel tweeted that Reed and the ISU President had apologized to her. The ISU statement, which notably did not name Reed and Slater, said:
Following the Pairs Short Program at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2022, an open mic picked up a disrespectful comment made by the two commentators working on the international signal. The ISU is shocked by the language used by the two commentators which does not reflect its views whatsoever. The ISU strongly condemns any statements of a discriminatory or prejudicial nature. There is no place for harassing and abusive language or remarks and behavior in sport and our society. The ISU took instant action with its service provider to suspend both commentators with immediate effect and neither will cover any future Figure Skating events for the ISU. An internal investigation will follow shortly. The ISU offered its sincere apologies to Ms. Duhamel for the inappropriate and unacceptable behavior of the two commentators.
The statement did not directly address the commentators’ other behavior during the broadcast, though their general ignorance and inappropriate comments did not go unnoticed. Figure skater Kirsten Moore-Towers called the men’s remarks about the body of one female competitor, who was later identified as American pairs skater Ashley Cain-Gribble, “ridiculous.” Cain-Gribble has been open about the scrutiny she’s faced as a figure skater who at 5-foot-6 is taller than the norm.
“I had a lot of people tell me I shouldn’t be in this sport because of the way I’m shaped, but this is my body, this is the way I am,” Cain-Gribble said earlier this year. “It was one of the things that almost forced me into retirement. There is a body stereotype still, and we are trying to definitely fight that.”
Other viewers noted that Reed and Slater repeatedly misgendered Cain-Gribble’s partner, Timothy LeDuc, who uses they/them pronouns. LeDuc, who earlier this year became the first openly nonbinary person to compete at an Olympic Winter Games has said that as a person who “exists and really thrives outside of the binary, it can be very complicated sometimes navigating a gendered sport.”
And according to the Toronto Star, one of the commentators also called a 16-year-old figure skater a “sight for sore eyes.”
Reed and Slater might be two ignorant old wankers, but a bigger question is why in the world the ISU hired them in the first place to commentate on a sport they don’t know and athletes they don’t respect.