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Thread: Hamilton Shares His Thoughts on Judging System

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    Hamilton Shares His Thoughts on Judging System

    http://www.ifsmagazine.com/forum/

    In a recent interview with IFS, "Skate God" Scott Hamilton shared his thoughts on the new judging system, how the viewing public is reacting to it and offers some insightful tips for young skaters when conducting interviews.
    IFS: Do you think that the new judging system has changed the way skaters and coaches approach the development of competitive programs? If so, what are your thoughts on that?

    Hamilton: “Absolutely. Now skaters have to conform to the expectations and limitations of the system. The new judging system was created to make skating more of a sport. Philosophically, Ithink it is great but, in practice, does anybody care? There is not one step in any program that does not matter but does that translate to a viewing audience that will support the industry? No it doesn’t. It is confusing and it excludes the viewing public because now the judging process is disguised.”

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    Last edited by Tonichelle; 07-01-2006 at 12:47 PM.

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    I agree with alot of what he says.

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    You are not really allowed to be different anymore.

    I disagree. Sasha, Irina, Weir, Brian, Denkova, Navka – ALL these people are different.

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    When I saw what Evgeni Plushenko did at the Olympic exhibition it blew me right out of my chair. Both hairs on my head were standing straight up because it was awesome.

    I agree!!

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    There is a lot of truth to most of what he said, IMO. My main complaint of the NJS is the same as his. The component scores have been laughable. Just because a skater scores well in one of those marks, does not mean he/she should get high scores across the board. Each category should be judged as a separate entity. Now I understand the argument that the judges don't have the time to look at each one individually, so hopefully that can be rectified. Aren't they going to experiment this year with a different set of judges looking at just the components? Or did I just dream that up in one of my fantasies?

    And I also agree that the programs looked so alike this season ... and not necessarily for the better. The skaters spent so much time trying to squeeze as many elements as they could into a program, that there seemed to be less connection to me as part of the audience. Maybe not in every single case, but more often than not.
    I don't hate the NJS and think it could work better if they changed some things. Hopefully they will.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zazanuka, from IFS Magazine

    [Hamilton]:You know it used to be apples, oranges, pineapples, plums – all those amazing colours, dimensions, textures and flavors. Now it is pretty much apples.”
    Because Joubert is exactly the same as Lambiel. Because Weir is exactly the same as either of them. Because Sandhu is just a cog in an assembly line. Because if you put the strip across their eyes and watched them skate, you couldn't tell the difference between Plushenko, Lambiel, or Buttle, the Olympic podium. Or Savoie, Smith, Ward, Othman, Pfeifer, Zelenka, Nurmenkari, Dobrin, Griazev, Klimkin, Oda, Takahashi, Sawyer, Young, Craig, Li, Smalun, Lindemann, Contesti, Preaubert, Berntsson, Chiper, Dinev, or van der Perren. And that's just the men.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zazanuka, from IFS Magazine
    [Hamilton] What Plushenko did athletically and artistically on the ice in his gala performance was what I was expecting from him in the Olympic competition. But he did not have to do any of that in the actual competition to win.
    And neither did Hamilton when he underwhelmingly defied expectations and won his Olympic medal. And I seem to remember that was under 6.0.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zazanuka, from IFS Magazine
    “Right now the judges are not really looking at the transitions, compared to choreography, compared to execution. They are looking at them all the same. If you have great choreography you have great transitions – not true. They are judging them all the same. “
    ITA. Preaching to the choir. Same as 6.0, and need improvement more than anyone else.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zazanuka, from IFS Magazine
    [Hamilton:]You can only be different in exhibition skating because the whole sport is based on Olympic eligibility, which essentially makes the exhibitions insignificant. No one takes them seriously anymore.”
    Is he smoking? The cost of the exhibition at TEB was as much as tickets to the rest of the competition combined. Exhibitions are the only performance in which all of the healthy top skaters appear in one batch. The only reason exhibitions aren't completely packed is because they are on Sunday afternoon, and many people have to leave early. This, in my opinion, is the reason to make people pay for it separately: when it was part of the competition ticket package, there were empty seats because of people who had to leave early to catch planes. At least now, the seats can be purchased by locals, if the visitors opt out, but there's not a lot of good marketing to the local community for the exhibitions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zazanuka, from IFS Magazine
    [Hamilton:] “Before, earning an Olympic medal was your kind of diploma. From there you stepped into a world where you had to learn how to touch an audience. The programs today do not have the same impact as what Torvill and Dean or Kristi did or what Kurt does as a professional.
    So why is he complaining about eligible programs now? Sounds like the same as in his time, except that skaters don't have to leave eligible competition and go pro for financial reasons .

    Based on his current exhibition material, Plushenko could go pro and blow away today's Pro field, which is something that only Curry, Cranston, and Torvill and Dean could do in their time. A healthy Kwan would have dominated, unless Slutskaya joined her in the professional ranks. It's not like Browning or Gordeeva/Grinkov or Yuka Sato stepped into professional skating and morphed immediately into their best professional selves. While there are lots of boring girl programs among the eligibles (men and women), the pro ranks had one The Sweater to every 15 Celine Dion-like ballad. In my opinion, many current eligible skaters have improved their exhibitions to a level that would be highly competitive in a pro field, which was rarely the case a decade or two ago.

    And whom is Hamilton hiring now? Jennifer Robinson, Todd Eldredge, Ina/Zimmerman, Michael Weiss. Not exactly the most interesting or innovative skaters in the lot. I don't see Hamilton making an offer that they couldn't refuse to Rohene Ward, Savchenko/Szolkowy (especially now that Steur has taken the spotlight with his issues), Delobel/Schoenfelder, Drobriazko/Vanagas, Petrova/Tikhonov (who do great exhibition skates), Ryan Bradley, Kristoffer Berntsson, or any of the Mexican skaters, like Moyron and the Cantu sisters, who are superb showmen and have no less technical skills than Rory Burghart or Caryn Kadavy or Nicole Bobek in their pro days. Or to Neil Wilson, who had no 3A or 3L, but whose spins make Eldredge's look like Joubert's pre-CoP and would have been competitive with Lambiel's. Let alone Abt, Murvanidze, and Lobacheva/Averbukh, who are doing just fine on the Russian tours.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zazanuka, from IFS Magazine
    [Hamilton:] “I understand the ISU changed the system for the sport and I like many things about it. But I am hoping that this judging system will diminish the revenues on the amateur side of the sport enough so that skaters will turn professional and actually skate for an audience.
    That's the gist of the issue: he doesn't have and hasn't made a ready pool of professional skaters, in which pro competitions and shows grow the audience for each other. But on the other hand, how many people got bored with professional skating, not because the skaters were the same, but because they performed the same routines over and over again, in shows and countless "Wars"?


    Quote Originally Posted by Zazanuka, from IFS Magazine
    [Hamilton:]If you fall you lost a jumping pass. Now we have something that is dramatic.
    No, what you get are reliable 3/3's.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zazanuka
    “Yes. When I saw what Evgeni Plushenko did at the Olympic exhibition it blew me right out of my chair. Both hairs on my head were standing straight up because it was awesome. What Plushenko did athletically and artistically on the ice in his gala performance was what I was expecting from him in the Olympic competition. But he did not have to do any of that in the actual competition to win. He had no transitions in his free skate – none! But he got higher scores than Matt Savoie for transitions – and Matt Savoie is the transition king! So are you judging it or not? Component scores is a muscle that will build over time and once skaters are getting true feedback, hopefully the results will become more colourful.

    “Right now the judges are not really looking at the transitions, compared to choreography, compared to execution. They are looking at them all the same. If you have great choreography you have great transitions – not true. They are judging them all the same. “
    In other words, the components score is just as subjective today as it was under the old system. No improvement, but nothing became worse either. As to what Plushenko had to do to win - yes, he could have that non-program for his free because he was just so much stronger than the competition. Had Lambiel jumped as well as Plushenko, the latter would have had to put out the more complex choreography out there.

    “Look at Philippe Candeloro who won two Olympic medals on personality alone. He became a huge favorite in the U.S., Japan and Europe. Why? Because he was different. Could he skate? That was debatable. Could he go from one end of the rink to the other on one foot? I am not convinced. I loved watching him skate. He made an impression on people because he was different. You are not really allowed to be different anymore. You can only be different in exhibition skating because the whole sport is based on Olympic eligibility, which essentially makes the exhibitions insignificant. No one takes them seriously anymore.”
    What exactly is the point? That it was right for Candeloro to have gotten his medals over Barna in '92? In '94 he got his bronze because Victor, Brian B. and Kurt all melted down. A skater can still be different, but he should have better skills to win medals in this sport.

    Hamilton: “Before, earning an Olympic medal was your kind of diploma. From there you stepped into a world where you had to learn how to touch an audience. The programs today do not have the same impact as what Torvill and Dean or Kristi did or what Kurt does as a professional. Look at what Gordeeva and Grinkov did as professionals. What I tried to do as a professional. There is not that same depth of artistry and unique impact because skaters are all being forced into the same little box.”
    Hmmm... CoP only affects eligible skating, so what does professional programs have to do with this? Also, I'd argue that Denkova & Stavijski's FD, Sasha Cohen's SP, Plushenko's exhibition are all as good artistically as anything done a decade ago.

    Hamilton: “I understand the ISU changed the system for the sport and I like many things about it. But I am hoping that this judging system will diminish the revenues on the amateur side of the sport enough so that skaters will turn professional and actually skate for an audience. Skaters have never been so athletically accomplished yet they have never been looked upon with greater indifference by the general public.”
    As it is, people are turning pro after their major medals. Without those credentials (a "diploma" as Hamilton calls it) they can't get good pro deals. I've read an interview with Valova where she said that from a sports perspective she did not regret that she and Vasiliev did not go pro after '84 since they did a lot of great skating in the next 4 years, but that when they did go in '88 they weren't nearly as marketable because they were no longer the reigning Olympic champions. So I think Scott is being rather naive here.

    Hamilton:“The sport is doing just fine – it is really becoming a sport – however, does anybody really care? I watched the Olympics and said wow! If you fall on that quad you don’t get 5 points – it is not the same as landing a triple flip. If you fall you lost a jumping pass. Now we have something that is dramatic. We are not going to reward someone for falling anymore. You can’t. I think that sends a message that you are going to see some pretty solid routines and once the judges understand the component scores and judge them properly we will see a difference. “
    OK, I do agree with him there. I do, however, hope that it's the CoP growing pains. Those things are, after all, not too difficult to iron out (I don't want to go into more detail on this since it has already been discussed to death on GS).

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    Quote Originally Posted by hockeyfan228
    And whom is Hamilton hiring now? Jennifer Robinson, Todd Eldredge, Ina/Zimmerman, Michael Weiss. Not exactly the most interesting or innovative skaters in the lot. I don't see Hamilton making an offer that they couldn't refuse to Rohene Ward, Savchenko/Szolkowy (especially now that Steur has taken the spotlight with his issues), Delobel/Schoenfelder, Drobriazko/Vanagas, Petrova/Tikhonov (who do great exhibition skates), Ryan Bradley, Kristoffer Berntsson, or any of the Mexican skaters, like Moyron and the Cantu sisters, who are superb showmen and have no less technical skills than Rory Burghart or Caryn Kadavy or Nicole Bobek in their pro days. Or to Neil Wilson, who had no 3A or 3L, but whose spins make Eldredge's look like Joubert's pre-CoP and would have been competitive with Lambiel's. Let alone Abt, Murvanidze, and Lobacheva/Averbukh, who are doing just fine on the Russian tours.
    Great point! Rohene would have made an excelent addition to the tour. The audiences would love him - but of course his name wouldn't exactly sell tickets!

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    ita nymkfan51. It's those PCS components. The judges do not have the time limit to peruse that fascit of the scoring system for proper correct judging. I agree with the proviso that there should be two sets of judges one for the technical and one for the PCS scores.

    Mind you, those PCS components - all of them - are subjective in kind. It's not a question of honest judging, it is a question of cultural differences and in some case fan prejudices.

    for example, choreography by Wilson has gotten raves from some and others have just thought him overrated. Similarly with Morozov.

    Transitions, Musicality, Interpretation, etc., all have their drawbacks with cultural ties in life. This passion one speaks of is basically what one learns as a child in whatever environment he/she grew up in. Some people cry at funerals, others are stoic. I believe they both feel emotional but show it differently.

    A separate order of PCS judges for the Cop would alleviate some but not all of these cultural differences.

    Joe

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    As for Plushenko since he was pointed out. His Oly LP was dismal but I still would have placed him first but not with such high scores. The guy for me is a weak uninteresting spinner. It was another drab Tosca. No interpretation. Choreography was standard. I was not impessed with the performance but as a sport he did what he had to do to win. He has high up/down jumps and perfectly executed.

    This jumping skill sells the whole program for most judges. Goes for the 3x3s of the ladies, too.

    Joe

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joesitz
    As for Plushenko since he was pointed out. His Oly LP was dismal but I still would have placed him first but not with such high scores. The guy for me is a weak uninteresting spinner. It was another drab Tosca. No interpretation. Choreography was standard. I was not impessed with the performance but as a sport he did what he had to do to win. He has high up/down jumps and perfectly executed.Joe
    I agree Joe. The point is that if the judges were marking the components correctly, Plushenko wouldn't have been that far ahead of everyone all season and at the Olympics. I agree he deserved the gold, but how do we know he would have landed all his jumps as well as he did if the point difference between him and the others wasn't so great? I think most people would agree that the more stress there is on a skater, the more likely it is that they will make a mistake. He may have done just as well anyway, but we will never know.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ptichka
    Great point! Rohene would have made an excelent addition to the tour. The audiences would love him - but of course his name wouldn't exactly sell tickets!
    So he had to wait for an invitation from Plushenko to skate in Russia...

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    “Look at Philippe Candeloro who won two Olympic medals on personality alone. He became a huge favorite in the U.S., Japan and Europe. Why? Because he was different. Could he skate? That was debatable. Could he go from one end of the rink to the other on one foot? I am not convinced...
    OK, sorry, but that was funny.

    Ptitchka, I don't think Scott was making any particular point except that in the good old days there were some real characters around, whereas now everyone is just blah (in Scott's opinion).

    “I understand the ISU changed the system for the sport and I like many things about it. But I am hoping that this judging system will diminish the revenues on the amateur side of the sport enough so that skaters will turn professional and actually skate for an audience."
    I agree with Hockeyfan that this is the main thrust of Hamilton's editorializing. I think he has a point. Scott himself wanted to "make figure skating more like a sport" when he was competing, and to prove it he wore a speedskater's suit instead of a sequined bolero jacket.

    The CoP does weigh in on the side of "more like a sport," at the cost of "less like the Ice Capades." What killed professional skating more than anything else was the change in the eligibility rules that allowed skaters to continue competing as athletes while still making a living in the business. A skater like Michelle Kwan, for instance -- she could skate as long as she wants, and make as much money as she wants, while still satisfying whatever creative and performance interests she might have by going on tour and skating in shows and exhibitions. She doesn't need to go anywhere to "go pro."

    I think Scott will get half his wish. Revenue for the sport as a whole will continue to decline. Just one of those things. As far as the public is concerned, interest in anything ebbs and flows, for no discernible reason. Why was NASCAR so hot a couple of seasons ago, and now it's not?

    The part about, "then skaters will be forced to turn to professional shows to make money, which will spark a rebirth of interest in pro skating" -- maybe not.
    Last edited by Mathman; 07-01-2006 at 05:17 PM.

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    and... World Peace! Tonichelle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ptichka
    Great point! Rohene would have made an excelent addition to the tour. The audiences would love him - but of course his name wouldn't exactly sell tickets!

    the problem is - SOI isn't sanctioned by the US... while skaters outside the US can join the tour and still keep their eligibility, US skaters can't without special permission... and that doesn't work all the time...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tonichelle
    the problem is - SOI isn't sanctioned by the US... while skaters outside the US can join the tour and still keep their eligibility, US skaters can't without special permission... and that doesn't work all the time...
    Notice that Hockeyfan said "offer they can't refuse"; I took that to mean an offer so good that it would be worth the skater's while to say "bye bye" to eligible sport and just turn pro. And I chose Rohene as an example because, much as I love his skating, I don't believe he has any future in competitive sport (though I'd love to be proven wrong on that one).

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