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Thread: Technology to Measure Figure Skating: Imagine

  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlackPack View Post
    OK, but there was another thread that mentioned the Min Zhang with 3 quads would have won. So you're suggesting that only spins, speed, and rotations be measured? Not being smart here, I need to understand what you're really saying.

    Because if there's no PCS, there's no incentive for skaters to be creative.
    An artistry-devoid Min Zhang with 3 quads should EASILY win over even the most artistic skater who doesn't attempt a quad or triple axel, or fails on attempts at these. Surya had the most horrendous skating skills but if she outjumps/outperforms other skaters, she deserves to place higher. Figure skating needs to be treated as a sport. Artistry is not nearly as sport-orientated as technical elements. I agree that it takes control, conditioning and body awareness to create lines, etc. and all that to execute artistry, but expression and projection should be secondary to things like edge work, difficulty/intricacy/transitions, and of course jumps/spins/footwork. There's a reason why interpretive/artistics aren't their own event in the Olympics - heck, ice dancing was essentially that for a long time before elements started to define it as a sport instead of glorified theatre.

    Those saying Takahashi deserved 1st in PCS in Sochi in spite of not even coming close to a quad are absolutely ridiculous, and that's the type of thing that makes people not take the sport seriously. I would have been as outraged at Lysacek beating Plushenko in spite of no quad, if not for Plushenko showing a lack of technical intricacy/difficulty outside of the elements.

    I think that PCS should be marginalized than what it is now. It's totally subjective. You look at other sports that are judged and the technical/objective judges have much more worth than the "aesthetic"/subjective judges. Skaters who are devoid of artistry should theoretically still be able to win or place high thanks to their execution of difficult elements. Skaters who fail to land or omit difficult elements should not be able to win or place high thanks to their subjective artistry.

  2. #17
    Size 7 Knife Boots Sam-Skwantch's Avatar
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    I am 100% with Mrs. P and instead of using more technology I really would prefer that the judges simply explain their marks in little 3-4 sentence minimum explanation next to each mark. So if they want to cheat(abuse interpretation of rules)we can see how they can explain it and the system will slowly adapt to correct itself. I think transparency is the key. I'm not old but certainly a fuddy duddy in this regard.

    Judging the actual speed and spin-rate is fine for practice but this isn't a race or a dunk contest. The judges need to be concerned with the effectiveness of the speed of skating and spins in relation to the program at hand. Not the speed itself. Great idea for a thread but I just so happen to disagree. Sorry.

  3. #18
    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Personally, I am not eager to see the sport go increasingly high tech. The interplay among the skaters, judges, and audience is, to me, part of its allure. I would not want to see figure skating become some sort of kinesthetic laboratory experiment where every muscle contraction is recorded and catalogued by a computer.

    By the same token I would not be much interested in replacing human skaters with robots programmed to maximize CoP points. (Hmm -- actually, that would be pretty interesting.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by BlackPack View Post
    OK, but there was another thread that mentioned the Min Zhang with 3 quads would have won. So you're suggesting that only spins, speed, and rotations be measured? Not being smart here, I need to understand what you're really saying.

    Because if there's no PCS, there's no incentive for skaters to be creative.
    The problem here is that PCS does not truly measure artistry, if what Sochi tells us is true (again, assuming no corruption, which might be a big assumption, lol).

    Adelina's choreography was busy with transitions, but lacked musicality. She managed to ring up scores by checking boxes, but their was no real artistry there, IMHO (as a musician I have a little insight here). I felt no connection between her and the music for at least 2/3 of the program. It seemed better after that part, but ironically that is when a lot of the choreography stopped (meaning that she can't feel the music and utilize artistic movement in her choreography at the same time). Still, if you check off enough boxes and have a busy program, you can get inflated PCS marks. This what happens when you try to quantify something that cannot be adequately measured. If this is reflective of what the sport has become, then do away with PCS. At least it's an honest way of pointing out that this sport has just turned into jumping and spinning contests.

  5. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    Personally, I am not eager to see the sport go increasingly high tech. The interplay among the skaters, judges, and audience is, to me, part of its allure. I would not want to see figure skating become some sort of kinesthetic laboratory experiment where every muscle contraction is recorded and catalogued by a computer.

    By the same token I would not be much interested in replacing human skaters with robots programmed to maximize CoP points. (Hmm -- actually, that would be pretty interesting.)
    I thoroughly agree. Figure skating shouldn't be solely about technical proficiency where everything is measured. But the issues and controversies are surrounding primarily the artistic side of the sport (PCS marking), and thus artistry should be secondary to technical excellence. If you want artistry to be heavily important, there should be separate artistic competitions, or you could always go watch an exhibition.

  6. #21
    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CanadianSkaterGuy View Post
    An artistry-devoid Min Zhang with 3 quads should EASILY win over even the most artistic skater who doesn't attempt a quad or triple axel, or fails on attempts at these. Figure skating needs to be treated as a sport…
    I disagree completely. I think figure skating is shooting itself in the foot by constantly telling anyone who will listen, "It is too a sport, it is too a sport!"

    Sports are a dime a dozen. If you want a sport, there are a hundred to chose from, why figure skating? The answer to "why figure skating?" is not "because in figure skating you can earn 5.3 points for a triple flip." If you take out the Second Mark, what have you got left? Just another sport.

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    Oh there's certainly ways to measure the skaters more objectively.

    Yes, figure skating is subjective, and yes, unless we teach a computer to understand how beautiful something is, figure skating will still need human judges. However, many of the judging functions are objective and can be automated, reducing judging inconsistency as well as the manpower needed to judge competitions. For example:

    Edges: Sensors could detect which edge the skater is currently skating on. This could either be done by measuring the pressure on each edge, or by measuring the angle of the skate to the ice. The latter is probably better as it also allows for measuring how deep the edge is when the skater does footwork, etc. Either way, having an objective measurement for this would eliminate inconsistency in judging flutzes etc. Can you imagine if rather than arguing whether or not each jump was flutzed we could directly say "the skate was X degrees from vertical when it left the ice"? Also for footwork and such, rather than just saying "hey that looks pretty deep."
    Rotations: This one is easy in principle but difficult in practice. Basically measure the angle when the skate left the ice and the angle when the skate hit the ice again. The time when both occur should be easy to determine (essentially, when the skate doesn't detect pressure on the edges), but the amount of rotation is somewhat harder to determine accurately. It's debatable whether this would be more easily achieved by on-skate sensors or by cameras in the rink that are focusing on the skates.
    Speed: This is also an objective quantity that could be measured.
    Height: Incidentally, assuming the skater has more or less straight legs when taking off and landing a jump (and the same angle relative to the ice), the height of the jump could be calculated based on how long the skater was in the air (i.e. how long there is no pressure on the skate). The problem with this is that it's sort of an indirect measurement and so could be "cheated", such as by if the skater bends the knees before landing.
    Smoothness: How smoothly a skater exits a jump for example could be measured via accelerometers on the skates.
    Travel: How far a skater moves during spins can also be measured.

    I'm sure there's others but these are off the top of my head.

    The problems I can think of are the cost of implementing the measurement system, and possible ways to cheat the system. Regarding the cost, any changes to the skate (such as addition of sensors which adds weight) might throw off the skater's finely tuned skills. Something like reflective stickers on either side of the skating edge coupled with cameras mounted in the rink would minimize changes to the skate, but I doubt viewers would want to see reflective stickers on the skates. Cameras mounted in the rink without any additional changes to the skates would probably be doable, but the software would have to be fairly intelligent -- or simply have multiple cameras (if viewed from the right angle, it's fairly easy to measure the edge and rotations for example), which would make the system more expensive. Regarding cheating the system, it wouldn't be difficult for someone to surreptitiously tell the software to add 10 degrees to the rotation if a particular skater is on, for example, and if the amount is small enough then human reviewers may not notice the discrepancy, but it could also affect the amount of under-rotation calls and such. So how to ensure that the system isn't tampered with, or programmed to bias the results for different skaters, may be an issue.

    The overall point is to make the objective metrics (such as takeoff edge) done by computer, reducing the load on the judges and also reducing inconsistencies in judging. It may or may not also be useful to the skaters if they use the information to improve their skating, but I assume that's what a coach is for.

    As someone already mentioned, the real problem is that the people in charge are likely not going to spring for the technology, because it decreases the influence that they have. How many bureaucrats do you know would voluntarily relinquish some of their power?

  8. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    I disagree completely. I think figure skating is shooting itself in the foot by constantly telling anyone who will listen, "It is too a sport, it is too a sport!"

    Sports are a dime a dozen. If you want a sport, there are a hundred to chose from, why figure skating? The answer to "why figure skating?" is not "because in figure skating you can earn 5.3 points for a triple flip." If you take out the Second Mark, what have you got left? Just another sport.
    I don't think anyone denies that figure skating is a sport. But for it to be taken seriously as not some pre-determined judges-in-cahoots home-ice-advantage medal fest, skaters have to be rewarded more for their technical ability than artistic brilliance. Artistic marks - even under 6.0 - have constantly been used to hold up skaters who made errors or lacked difficult content. I agree there's a line where a skater with 5 triples and strong artistry should beat a skater with 6 triples and weak artistry, but the emphasis on artistry needs to be sorely diminished.

    What's the point of more technical skaters even competing if artistic skaters will continually be given high marks no matter how poorly they perform? Especially skaters from non-popular skating countries. How frustrating must it be to know that you'll never be able to improve to the level of a Chan or Takahashi or Kostner and they have a 2-fall advantage on you. A 7-triple performance by Kwan in her World's debut placed 4th in that segment. A clean performance by Osmond and Murakami was placed behind a fall by Kostner last year at Worlds. Lipnitskaia gets a PCS personal best to make up for her 3-triple performance. This has to stop.

  9. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anna K. View Post
    Do you think there's a realistic chance of an alternative commercial and radical, measured ONLY by TECHNOLOGY, event to happen outside of the realm of ISU?
    Depends if this sport is going to be pure sport, or it is still going to be half artistry (I hope for the latter).

    If it is pure sport, then yes. Speed, Height, Distance, Trajectory, power, centering, coverage etc in performance should be measured and accounted for with raw data to support human judgement. They should be used as reference points since your speed, power at various part of your program MUST and SHOULD reflect upon the music and choreography intentions. A skater is likely to skate slow during slow sections, fast and sharp under more exciting sections etc.

    However as long as the sport has artistry involved, human judgement are absolutely necessary, but it will need to be a transparent process. Ideally the judges need to have an established carefully guarded and respected reputation that is trusted by the general public and skaters, and they need to be able to explained via qualitative terms with proper expert opinon not just via numbers.

    Due to the complexity and variability factors in this sport, the COP already implies everything can be broken down, measurable and quantifiable but in reality is

    1) Human being are not machines and don't talk in binaries. Behavior sciences indicate they are prone to emotions, cognitive psychology, peer pressures, latency effect with what they believe, vs what they see, national, social and cultural biases and prejudices can affect decision making. Especially when no raw data (e.g speed, height, distance etc.) are available to them.

    2) Despite the best of intentions, human error are likely to occur under pressured environment. The fact IJS doesn't allow a chance of correction to iron out any mistakes due to skating order, or mid term inflation is mind boggling.

    3) The amount of time is not feasible to make accurate assessment in all aspect of TES and PCS covering all 5 major areas with clarity. Especially without the benefit of replays that is only available via Tech panel.

    4) I don't think all 5 categories of PCS should be equal. Are all triples worth the same? IMO, skating skills should worth most out of the 5 in a figure skating competition.
    There should be greater justification and recognition for difficulty as part of the PCS marking, for example joy and happiness and excitement are always easier to express than wistful, meditative, reflective type of emotions.

    Things like originality and creativity and risk taking should worth more. Something different from last year, and to skate clean, and reach transcendence should worth more as well. (e.g Dai's Japanese Nationals 2013, performed the heck out of a mediocre program, but it is still a great sport achievement)

    5) The value of scale need to be reconsidered. GOEs +-3 is that sufficient? PCS scale of 10 is useless when the entire final 2 flights is likely to get between 7-9.5, the difference is not nearly enough consider the effort and skills necessary to earn some of these PCS, or the fact many judges abuses the PCS as place holders.

    If a scale of 10 is to be adapted, I much have the one with the worst PCS category in the competition get a 0, and the best at the competition get a 10 for example.

    6) Are all judges qualify to appraise in things like musicality and choreograph intentions? How do they get tested, and how much can they remain objective manage to overcome personal prejudices and biases of a European Warhorse vs a African Drum beats?

    7) Under conditions of anonymity and lack of accountability, people can succumb to cheating eventually, or at certain major events where they have personal interests. It is the natural order of things.

    Under anonymity, lack of transparency and accountability, especially without tech data in support, it fully justify them having these prejudices since they can never be found out, and as long as they have one person on the same panel support their believe, they can fully justify it.

  10. #25
    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CanadianSkaterGuy View Post
    I don't think anyone denies that figure skating is a sport.
    Many people deny that figure skating is a sport. And don't even mention ice dancing if you don't want to hear snickers.

    My response to this is *shrug*. I don't care what you call it. Figure skating is a discipline that combines athletic tricks, amazing body control, and performance art. Call it what you want.

    What's the point of more technical skaters even competing if artistic skaters will continually be given high marks no matter how poorly they perform? Especially skaters from non-popular skating countries.
    Artistic skaters do not continually get high marks no matter how poorly they perform. They get high marks when they perform well.

    Everything in balance. The first mark…and the second.

    Trixie Schuba, with superb technique, clobbered the artistic Janet Lynn. Some other years a skater with a different skill set came out on top. To me, this is cool.
    Last edited by Mathman; 03-13-2014 at 12:09 PM.

  11. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anna K. View Post
    And that:



    Is being popular with the public no incentive?
    It can be but no one is going to be popular (in a sport that is) without a distinguished accomplishment.

    How to be popular with the public is another subjective territory that figure skating cannot afford to sink into. Skaters might as well just skate to the best of their ability and come up with programs that reflect their talents. Film and music studios spend millions/billions trying to figure out what will appeal and rock the public, and they still can't figure it out.

  12. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by CanadianSkaterGuy View Post
    I think that PCS should be marginalized than what it is now. It's totally subjective. You look at other sports that are judged and the technical/objective judges have much more worth than the "aesthetic"/subjective judges. Skaters who are devoid of artistry should theoretically still be able to win or place high thanks to their execution of difficult elements. Skaters who fail to land or omit difficult elements should not be able to win or place high thanks to their subjective artistry.
    I am torn on this issue. Lowering the impact of PCS can be done in several easy ways; getting rid of the multiplier (x1.6/x2.0 for women/men); merging current 5 sub-sections into 2 or 3; simplifying the scores and reducing the range of score. (e.g. 1~5 in incremental of 1) The benefits are obvious. Judges will have less room to manipulate, the sport will advance quicker than before since skaters will spend more time on improving technical skills. Plus the skaters may need to worry less about their self images as long as they have technical skills. An added bonus is that forums like GSF could become a less heated place with more civilized manners among the members.

    On the other hand, there will be losses. The biggest one, I see, is the individuality of the skaters. As of now we recognize skaters of now and the past for whatever the quality they gifted us with their performances. Some may have medaled or some may have not. Nevertheless we have some fond memories of our favorite skaters. Loss of individuality will essentially render skating lifeless. Skating can become like gymnastics or even swimming, where everyone wear same thing for the most efficiency to achieve technical elements. There may not be any memorable program but simply medalists and winners in each competition. Skaters with high TES but low PCS (e.g. Zijun Li) are currently undervalued, but if we remove individuality from the skating they might be overvalued and have fewer motivations to become a more wholesome skater. (Skaters' competitive lifespan will obviously shorten)

    It is a tight balancing work and I wish there were lots of money in this sport so that we could afford an (more) impartial judging system. I am optimistic and think the advance of technology can help us in this regard, but in reality (or in alternate reality) the best thing that can happen is skating becoming popular and raising more money to afford whatever measure to insure fairness.

  13. #28
    Skating is art, if you let it be. Blades of Passion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CanadianSkaterGuy View Post
    Those saying Takahashi deserved 1st in PCS in Sochi in spite of not even coming close to a quad are absolutely ridiculous.


    TES and PCS are separate. What's ridiculous is to suggest that a skater's ability in 4 minutes and 20 seconds of the program is automatically inferior because they didn't fully rotate one jump element that took up 10 seconds at most from setup to full completion.

  14. #29
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    Instead of technology, for the PCS, can we just get the judging panel from America's / Britain's Next Top Model to just give critique to the performers? I would LOVE to see Andre Leon Talley, Mr. Jay, Ms. Jay, Elle and Tyra go bonkers on the contestants. It would add feistiness to the proceedings. :P

  15. #30
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    Funny enough, back them I brought up Simon Cowell and Lady gaga as one of the PCS judges, it will bring great audience to this sport. People love to hate him, and bad decisions will certainly means he get hated rather than the skaters. Plus imagine how your program will look if you know lady gaga is on the panel. :P

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