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Thread: Nate Silver and Figure Skating

  1. #1
    Banned Reginald's Avatar
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    Nate Silver and Figure Skating

    Nate Silver of the New York Times has won national acclaim for his super accurate election predictions.

    Are any of you very accurate at your figure skating predictions?

    Does anybody think they're the best here?

    Is there a Nate Silver of figure skating?

  2. #2
    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
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    Whoever "Larry" is is very accurate

    and definitely wins:

    http://www.goldenskate.com/2007/09/i...nd-scott-moir/

    Check Larry's predictions (in 2007!) for the 2010 Olympics in ice dance:

    Larry (USA): OK, I’m going to go way out on a limb and predict the 2010 Olympic podium (in random order): Virtue and Moir, Davis and White, Domnina and Shabalin. Do you agree that these two teams are your biggest competition, or do you think that some of the old-timers will hang in there for three more years and challenge for medals?

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    Unfortunately there aren't enough people covering figure skating for there to be a Nate silver and many who Do cover don't really make predictions. Lot of people here are good but unlike elections there are many competitions with the same people in them so there are results to look at!

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    Custom Title FSGMT's Avatar
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    OMG that was REALLY an incredible prediction! Especially considering that in 2007 V/M and especially D/W weren't really THAT high level (Meryl and Charlie's highest placement at Worlds was 7th)!! I won the GP predictions game this fall so I could consider myself quite good at predicitions...

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    skating philosopher Mrs. P's Avatar
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    To be fair, Nate Silver did incorrectly predict the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots would face off in the Super Bowl. :P

    Would have been great to see my home team there -- but love the whole Harbowl!

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    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
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    Yes, you are no slouch at predictions yourself, FSGMT!

    Not only that, but Larry has all 3 in the right order!

    In 2007 you would have had Tanith & Ben and Delobel and Schoenfelder ahead of D&W and DomShabs, although it was known DenStavs and DubLau were retiring.

    Here's the Worlds 2007 top 10.

    1 Albena DENKOVA / Maxim STAVISKI BUL 201.61 2 1 1
    2 Marie-France DUBREUIL / Patrice LAUZON CAN 200.46 1 3 2
    3 Tanith BELBIN / Benjamin AGOSTO USA 195.43 5 2 4
    4 Isabelle DELOBEL / Olivier SCHOENFELDER FRA 195.19 4 5 3
    5 Oksana DOMNINA / Maxim SHABALIN RUS 193.44 3 4 5
    6 Tessa VIRTUE / Scott MOIR CAN 183.94 9 6 6
    7 Meryl DAVIS / Charlie WHITE USA 179.14 10 8 7
    8 Jana KHOKHLOVA / Sergei NOVITSKI RUS 178.29 6 7 8
    9 Federica FAIELLA / Massimo SCALI ITA 170.75 7 9 11
    10 Melissa GREGORY / Denis PETUKHOV USA 170.08 11 10 9

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    I am the Natalie Silver of figure skating, and here's my bold prediction this year:

    G: Kim
    S: Sotnikova
    B: Asada

    You read it here first!

  8. #8
    Off the ice Buttercup's Avatar
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    That's an impressive prediction for sure

    Things I've called correctly: in the spring or summer of 2009, when skaters were rushing to return to competition ahead of the Olympics, I kind of suggested that Shen and Zhao will be the only comeback skaters to win an OGM. Unfortunately I cannot remember what thread this was in; possibly the massive Plushenko thread from a few years back, which means that I will never find it.

    Also in 2009, when he was fresh off an 12th place finish at JW, I wrote that Yuzuru Hanyu was going to be a serious contender - but I missed the "when" about that, as he got better faster than I'd anticipated.

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    I think Tim Goebel should become the Nate Silver of figure skating! Not only does he know skating, he's also a statistical analyst with a degree in mathematics. Sounds like a perfect fit. :-)

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    IMO, for a variety of reasons, figure skating as a sport is not ideally suited for Nate Silver-like predictions (and neither is the Super Bowl, btw). I'll only give further comments if anyone is actually actively interested.

  11. #11
    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
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    I can guarantee you that there is a Mathman who will surely read any post about predictions here

  12. #12
    skating philosopher Mrs. P's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robeye View Post
    IMO, for a variety of reasons, figure skating as a sport is not ideally suited for Nate Silver-like predictions (and neither is the Super Bowl, btw). I'll only give further comments if anyone is actually actively interested.

    I would tend to agree. I'd like to hear your thoughts!

  13. #13
    Like subtlety in ice dancing Serious Business's Avatar
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    Some misconceptions about what Nate Silver does: His predictions are likelihoods, not certainties. He will tell people that having run a simulation of an election or a sporting event 1,000 times, 832 times the results were thus, and the other times the results were otherwise. In other words, he provides the odds.

    Can this be applied to figure skating? Heck yes! Figure skating competitions generate a ton of data. There has to be a vigorous, holistic way to process that data to arrive at logical likelihoods of results. Now, here's the important part: it won't help you that much in predicting the total results of one competition. It might be able to tell you so and so is an odds-on favorite to win, but for a skater/team to have such a lopsided advantage, it would likely be obvious even without any number crunching. Where it would help is over the long term: if someone had such a prediction system in place and used it to bet on skating competitions against other people who don't have such a system, that person would make money in the long run. And perhaps more importantly, it would help skating federations strategize properly in deciding who to send to what competition to maximize results and placements. And again, that's something that would be yield positive results in the long run, if maximizing placements is the main goal of skater selection.

    Some innovations/methodologies Nate Silver popularized with his election predictions that could be applied to skating:

    Silver would weigh different polling firms' polls differently, according to their past track record. He'd also correct for any partisan lean in their past results. Prior to Silver, poll aggregators just averaged all the polls hodge podge, which wasn't particularly helpful. How can this be applied to skating? Some competitions are less reliable than others in predicting future results. We already know this, when it comes to the national competitions of a few country. But it might be useful to know just how biased they are, and how to extract useful info from them still. Some technical callers are harsher than others. So instead of simply saying something like this team had its dance pattern called a certain level X number of times out of Y, we can correct for the harshness of some tech callers and make a more informed prediction for how it'll be called in a future competition.

    Nate Silver reminds people about the reversion to the mean constantly. When a candidate gets a spike in the polls after some news event, Silver is like, "calm down, everybody!" The polls will more likely than not go back to normal. In skating, skaters do have fluke competitions where they do unusually well. It's best not to point to that as an ongoing thing unless they actually keep it up for a few competitions. This also applies to things like season's best, or those dramatic list of the high scores in a season. A skater's highest score may not be a particularly useful data point for predicting how they'll do going forward.

    Other things that would be interesting to look at, so we can actually quantify their effect:

    Reputation PCS boost — We all know this happens. But by how much? How and what kind of exposure does a skater need to trigger it? How long does it last? Is it the same for all disciplines/nationalities?

    Score inflation as a season progresses. For some reason, we see scores get higher and higher as the season goes on, more than can be explained by how much skaters have improved their programs. In some extreme cases, we even see poorer performances of a program at Worlds get a season's best. It'd be useful to quantify this effect. Does it apply to all skaters? Or just the well known ones? Can there be such a thing as scoring momentum for skaters independent of their progress? Can the size of the inflation be predicted based on the previous scores from the season if it is different from skater to skater?

    Is any of this likely to happen in a public way, like it did with Nate Silver and his election predictions? Probably not. There just isn't that much public interest in skating. However, individual federations may do some of it on their own, without ever releasing the info to the public. Some of them may already do this in some form, to make better training and team selection choices.

  14. #14
    Custom Title CassAgain's Avatar
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    I'm seriously disappointed that Nate Silver isn't a closet figure skating Svengali.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Serious Business View Post
    Score inflation as a season progresses. For some reason, we see scores get higher and higher as the season goes on, more than can be explained by how much skaters have improved their programs. In some extreme cases, we even see poorer performances of a program at Worlds get a season's best. It'd be useful to quantify this effect. Does it apply to all skaters? Or just the well known ones? Can there be such a thing as scoring momentum for skaters independent of their progress?
    If reputation scoring exists, and evidence is that it does at least on an unconscious level, I suspect that we would see the biggest effect in this direction from skaters who are having a breakout season. At first they would earn middle-of-the-road scores while they're still unknown, but as more judges become familiar with their work and as buzz begins to spread, and also as they earn the right to skate later in the skate order at seeded events, their scores would increase.

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