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Thread: And the ISU fires back

  1. #1
    Mr. Michelle Kwan Spirit's Avatar
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    And the ISU fires back

    http://espn.go.com/oly/news/2003/1213/1685664.html

    COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo - International Skating Union president Ottavio Cinquanta dismissed the notion his organization has been monopolistic in how it runs figure skating.

    In responding to a lawsuit filed the previous by the fledgling World Skating Federation, Cinquanta said Saturday he has never heard such a charge before.

    "For 70 years, the ISU has conducted world championships in figure skating," he said. "We were founded 112 years ago, and never have we been accused of a monopoly by anyone worldwide. No national Olympic committees, no federations, nobody.

    "I would like to point out we do one event a year here, but this season, two," he added of Skate America in October and the Grand Prix finals that ended Saturday. "We do so always with the cooperation of the USFSA. We don't understand how an international federation can do a monopoly doing one event a year."

    In its lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in New York, the WSF cites the ISU and Cinquanta with improperly maintaining "a monopoly over the sport of international figure skating."

    Cinquanta responded by noting there are many made-for-television skating events in the United States that have no ISU involvement.

    The WSF also complained about blacklisting or banishing of anyone in the sport who assists or supports the new organization, which is challenging the ISU's role as the international governing body for figure skating.

    "All federations, in particular the ISU, have rules voted by the congress," Cinquanta said. "Certain conditions apply regarding the ISU and people that act in the area of the ISU. When someone ... is going against the interest and behavior considered proper for a sport today, then there is a possibility of a decision [of disciplinary action] in line with and permitted by our constitution.

    "We are more than confident that in the facts we prove we are coordinating our mission and out activity competently."

    Cinquanta also expressed confidence the new points judging system used for the Grand Prix series this year will be adopted for all ISU events at next June's congress. For now, the traditional 6.0 format is used for national and regional events and for the world championships.

    But if two-thirds of the congress approves the new system, it will be implemented at all international events run by the ISU in the 2004-05 season. And it would be in place for the 2006 Olympics.

    "We are more than satisfied ... beyond the most optimistic expectations," he said of the system designed in the wake of the Salt Lake City Olympics judging scandal. "The results are consistent and in the areas of coaches and judges and skaters, there is remarkable support."

    The points system, Cinquanta added, will prevent "repetition of the certain negative situation we had in the Salt Lake City Olympic Games.

    "We promised to do something," he said, "and it has been done. We have done more than something, we worked out a new system, created it, developed it and tested it many times. When it was ready, we say, 'OK, we will use the system in competition.' And it works properly.

    "We will get this on the agenda. In June, the congress will be asked if the ISU should go on with the new system. I can't predict the vote, but of course we're very confident."

  2. #2
    Custom Title Joesitz's Avatar
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    You have to realize that Figure Skating is in peril of being thrown out of the olympics if another scandal such as the alledged or confirmed French and Russian Federations making deals. The upcopming Olympics is being monitored by the Olympic Committee as to the 'clean-up' of figure skating so as not to repeat the scandal at SLC.

    Speedy is in a nerve wracking position to prove Figure Skating is on the up and up. He does not want to be the man who could not bring reform to FS. (Besides the job pays well and is glamorous.)

    It was not only the whitsle blowers in SLC who started the defamation of the judging in Pairs, it was also the commentators on the networks and the fans in the arena who were vociferous and demanding that the judges reconsider the scores. (We can all agree that it was a sad moment for both Pair teams.)

    In order to save his [color=red]*[/color][color=red]*[/color][color=red]*[/color], Speedy agreed to the CoP system as well as the 'Interim System", both of which were devised so that the judges would remain anonymous. In his view there could no longer be a known collusion between judges. But, this is exactly what the commentators and fans do not want. They want to know which judge is giving +3s and -3s to which skaters.

    Unless Speedy clears this anonymous judging up, the followers of the WFS are going to make noise in Torino., and noise in Torino may spell doom for Figure Skating.

    Personally, I feel the CoP will be an improvement over 6.0 when the review of 'attempts', falls, downgradings, etc., are discussed and made clearer. It takes time but there is plenty of data now available from the GP events. But possible anonymous judging is my pet peeve, and action should be taken so that it is not hidden from the public.

    Joe

    [Check out Newsletter title FIS seeks to perfect new scoring system.]
    Last edited by Joesitz; 12-15-2003 at 12:47 PM.

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    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Joe, I don't think that the Winter Olympics will ever throw out figure skating no matter what. For the same reason that the Chicago Bulls didn't fire Michael Jordan. Ladies figure skating attracts the most television viewers and brings in the most revenue. In fact, I wouldn't be surprized if it is the only sport that earns enough money to pay its own way at the Winter Olympics, with something left over to subsidize other sports.

    About secret judging, I hope I'm not being paranoid, but as this drama unfolds it looks more and more like Speedy planned it this way all the time. He gave us an absolutely stupid interim system to get everybody all het up about secret judging, then he continued this in the CoP. Now all the federations are hollaring about secret judging. I think that when the CoP comes up for a vote of the ISU membership (it has to get a 2/3 majority to become official policy for the 2006 Olympics), Speedy will "give in" on the secrecy issue, and then his critics will think they won and pass the CoP without further scrutiny, which is what Speedy really wants.

    I don't know. Maybe I am giving Cinquanta too much credit for deviousness. (But it's what I would do in his position. :evil: )

    Mathman
    Last edited by Mathman; 12-15-2003 at 02:10 PM.

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    Mathman, you hit the bullseye! I would not be at all surprised if that's exactly what is going on. There are two other things with CoP that I would worry about. Can someone (or federation) get to the "caller" of a given event and put heat on them for any reason? I see that as a possible target. Also, since the numbers are reviewed at the end of the year, can federations get ahold of that information and still do the same kind of maneuvering they appeared to have been doing in the past? The only thing that seems to have changed on this point is the timing. I can see where people would be made examples of and thus we would be back where we started from.

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    I can't see the IOC dumping figure skating. If it weren't for figure skating and gymnastics, most of the people I know wouldn't bother watching the Olympics. When the pairs scandal was happening, everyone was talking about it and getting UPSET. It was right up there with the elections as a source for debate. In this country, the USA, that kind of interest means money.

    I can see the IOC making demands and nosing into Speedy's territory. In fact, I'm sure that's already started and Speedy is desperate to make it stop. I don't see him as being savvy at all. Think of all the PR mistakes he has made. From admitting to not knowing much about skating- to issuing threats- to backing anonymous judging etc, the man has made himself look slimey. I see him as being caught in the middle and praying people will lose interest.
    Last edited by SusanBeth; 12-16-2003 at 04:51 PM.

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    Originally posted by SusanBeth
    When the pairs scandal was happening, everyone was talking about it and getting UPSET.
    Well, i wouldn't say "everyone" . I was upset, but not for the same reason as you I would assume.

    I personally don't see the ISU as not being recognized by the IOC anymore. The ISU IS figure skating at the moment and I don't see much making a dent in that.

    TV

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    Custom Title Joesitz's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Mathman

    About secret judging, I hope I'm not being paranoid, but as this drama unfolds it looks more and more like Speedy planned it this way all the time. He gave us an absolutely stupid interim system to get everybody all het up about secret judging, then he continued this in the CoP. Now all the federations are hollaring about secret judging. I think that when the CoP comes up for a vote of the ISU membership (it has to get a 2/3 majority to become official policy for the 2006 Olympics), Speedy will "give in" on the secrecy issue, and then his critics will think they won and pass the CoP without further scrutiny, which is what Speedy really wants.

    I don't know. Maybe I am giving Cinquanta too much credit for deviousness. (But it's what I would do in his position. :evil: )

    Mathman
    Mathman - The way Cinquanta pushed through the testing of the CoP at the GPs, shows his power over the Federations. Secret judging is his way of dealing with scandal, and I doubt anyone is going to change that while he's around. At the end of the season, I am sure they will talk about CoE et al but not about secret judging.

    Joe

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    Originally posted by Joesitz

    In order to save his [color=red]*[/color][color=red]*[/color][color=red]*[/color], Speedy agreed to the CoP system as well as the 'Interim System"
    No. Cinquanta was the one pushing for a CoP system prior to SLC. He used the scandal as an excuse to shove it through.

    both of which were devised so that the judges would remain anonymous.
    No again. CoP itself does not at all need to have anonymous or random judging.

    In his view there could no longer be a known collusion between judges.
    Oh, I don't think that's necessarily his personal view. It's just the bullhockey he's dishing out. Someone who's as political as he is wants to make it look like there's no more trouble in the henhouse. Yet he didn't really want to remove the foxes from the henhouse (Danilenko, the toe-tappers, the Chinese judge, Balkov, ad nauseum ...)

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    We all know that this is going to continue to get uglier and uglier until everything plays out...no matter how long it takes or whether it is win, lose or draw. :sheesh:

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    This may seem a naive question, but how do other judged sports manage to function fairly without this level of alleged corruption? I watch gymnastics sporadically, and diving only at Olympics. But I don't see that - at least in recent years - that there are judging scandals in those sports. So why is figure skating running into these issues? What are gymnastics and diving doing (or not doing) that figure skating is not?

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    Subjective / Objective...

    Skate Sandee, you bring up an interesting point about other sports that involve subjective judging. The callenge with any of these sports is that the preferences of the judge matters to some degree. i.e. MK has a very smooth, elegant and musical style while Irina has (had?) more of a "power" style. All other things being equal, a judge with a preference for one style over the other will score accordingly.

    Your example of gymnastics I think is very relevant (I love watching diving too, but know less about that). Gymnastics used to be scored much like figure skating (10.0 system v. 6.0 system) and I think that judging of international competitions was really called into question in many of the same ways as figure skating. I think the gymnastics judging these days is much more credible with all elements having a start value which leads to a routine having a start value, and there are specific deduction and bonus point criteria. There is still an element of subjectivity, but far less so than the old days. I think that's been an exciting change for the sport of gymnastics, speaking strictly as a fan but never a gymnast.

    My hope is the the COP, while I think it needs improvement, will eventually take lots of the subjectivity (and corruption) out of the mix, and put a little more objectivity in the mix. The performance on the day of the competition is what should matter, and I hope things are moving in that direction.

    I can't recall which televised event I was watching weekend before last, but some former amateur (now professional) skaters were being interviewed. I wish I could recall which skater was asked this question. The Q was something like "will you encourage your son to pursue figure skating." The answer was "no, I will encourage my son to pursue a sport that has a finish line." I thought that exemplified the subjective judging challenges that go with any sport where this is no defined finish line, and there really can't be due to the sport's very nature.

    I sincerely hope that the ISU will take whatever actions are appropriate to move away from suspicious judging to just acceptable subjective judging.

    Just my 2 cents...

    Doggygirl

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    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    About Mr. Cinquanta and the ISU, I can't figure out whether the dog is wagging the tail or the other way around. Is Cinquanta bullying the National Federations, or is he their puppet?

    With regard to the CoP versus ordinal systems, to me the crucial question is, whom do the judges represent? In the past, when you looked at the scores of the judging panel you saw

    RUS CAN GER JPN etc.
    5.7, 5.8, 5.7, 5.6, etc.

    It could not be more clear whom the judges (not even listed by name) are working for. They are nominated by and are representing the Russian skating Federation, the Canadian skating federation, etc. You can test this by asking people on the street, "Who is Marie-Reine La Gougne?" Then ask, "What does 'French judge' mean in Olympic sports?"

    In a big international competition like the Olympics, with national prestige on the line, each country gets its team together. The team consists of skaters, coaches, officials, public relations people. equipment managers, doctors, judges, etc., all with one team goal -- to bring back as many medals as possible. Countries that don't look at it that way, the more fool they.

    So I don't think there is any possibility of coming up with a system of judging that is not dominated by national Chauvinism and political wheeling and dealing unless the selection and evaluation of the judges is taken out of the hands of the national federations.

    But that's what Speedy wants, too -- independent control of the judging process by the ISU. In other words, more power for him, less for the member federations. The Devil and the deep blue sea.

    Mathman

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    Custom Title Joesitz's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Skate Sandee
    This may seem a naive question, but how do other judged sports manage to function fairly without this level of alleged corruption? I watch gymnastics sporadically, and diving only at Olympics. But I don't see that - at least in recent years - that there are judging scandals in those sports. So why is figure skating running into these issues? What are gymnastics and diving doing (or not doing) that figure skating is not?
    Hi sandee - According to a gymnast coach friend of mine, she said that there is subjectivity and national bias in Gymnastics but they demand and get, an explanation, that night from the suspect. If the explanation proves the party is guilty, penalty could be suspension or if colluision, dismissal from judging all together.

    Joe
    Last edited by Joesitz; 12-18-2003 at 06:27 PM.

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    I read an interview in Blade magazine with Josee Chuinard and she said that the WSF is an IMG thing and that when they announced it at worlds, skaters who were not with IMG had no input in it and had not idea that this federation was even going to be founded.

    I don't think that the WSF is a viable alternative to the ISU. All of the skaters who endorse the WSF are managed by IMG and I find it very suspicious that Ron Pfenning says they have all this money from an anonymous donor (probably IMG) and won't reveal the souce of their fund.

    Also truth be told, professional skating really existed to line the pockets of skaters who had already pocketed an Olympic medal. There was only one event where little known skaters such as Charlene Wong and Rory Burghart would compete (World Professional Championships) and often the scoring was rigged where Katarina Witt and Roz Summers could win with only 1 triple jump. Quite frankly, I think they brought it on themselves because fans are tired of seeing the programs and skaters over and over again. They needed to open their club to other skaters to maintain interest and they didn't.

    I have the same criticism about the ISU. It's stupid to have events with so few skaters. I don't get why they don't make the Grand Prix events open (like tennis) and base qualifications for the world championships on Grand Prix rankings. I don't think that the United States, which is so deep in ladies talent should only send three ladies to worlds: they should send as many girls who can place in the top 25-30 in Grand Prix rankings (however the ISU decides to limit it). There are countries who send skaters to worlds who would not be able to get out of sectionals in the United States. I think that's wrong and as a result the talent pool isn' t very deep.

    Also the new scoring system is pretty good. They need to work out some of the kinks but in not giving out placements, they made the competitions unpredictable. This is why they need to open up the competitions to more people because without the reliance on placements, they don't need to see the programs in advance to rank everyone. They can just judge the program on its merits and the places will fall where they may.

    I think it's a good idea to keep the judge's identity secret, however there definitely needs to be some way that the judges can be scrutinized by the competitors. I believe that a competitor should be able to question a score and get a fast reply on why the score is what it is.

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    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Also truth be told, professional skating really existed to line the pockets of skaters who had already pocketed an Olympic medal.
    Hi, Soogar. Thanks for your opinions, and welcome to the forum!

    I don't blame the skaters themselves for this -- why shouldn't people like Scott Hamilton and Brian Boitano try to make as much money as they can? I blame instead the television networks and promoters. For some reason, they think that we want to see the same people over and over, and that they will not be able to attract an audience or sponsorship without them.

    Maybe they are right. But I'm with you in wanting to see the Grand Prix series expanded and opened up. I don't know whether figure skating will be able to go the same route as tennis, but at least I would like to see the GP achieve a status like the "regular season," with national championships, continental championships and worlds as "the playoffs."

    I'm curious. Why do you think its a good idea to keep the judges' identities secret?

    Mathman

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