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Thread: Technology to Measure Figure Skating: Imagine

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    Technology to Measure Figure Skating: Imagine

    Figure skating as a sport started in 18th and 19th centuries when it was technically impossible to measure the speed or get other characteristics of an object that moves freely instead of making a certain distance. It has all changed today. So, can FS finally benefit from the technology progress?

    Please, think about it as an alternative imaginary event and say how you would like it. Would you find it interesting to watch? What would you change/invent if you had an opportunity to develop it?

    I’ve been thinking about it for a while and that’s how far I am by now:

    Like several members of this forum have also noted, sensors in skates would be a good technical solution. They would bring all information that we otherwise get from the marks on the ice – this is all about footwork, under/over-rotations, edges, and similar – to the computer. This would be incredibly interesting material for analysis if nothing else. The computer could also detect if moves have been done in sync with the music.
    It is less clear if the upper body movement should be also measured. I’d say yes: there are some strictly physical aspects of body movement – like, jump heights – that makes sense to measure by technical means. Also, it matters if the body moves with music too, not skates alone.

    Then, there’s the most interesting part: what to do with all technical data when they’re gathered? Should the computer count the points brought in by every element like it’s done under CoP? Or, should it simply rank skaters after comparing their data?
    Above everything: would the work that technology does be sufficient to measure figure skating? I’d say yes, it would. We talk about human factor; then, why don’t we trust this factor instead of using it as an excuse? Skaters are not stupid. The competition is their star moment. They should know: if they won’t look attractive or entertaining during those few minutes when all eyes are on them then there will be no contracts, no shows, and no future career. Despite that there would be no human judges to impress by costumes and choreography the public would be still around and that's what really counts

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    Mishin developed a device that measures rotations https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u98VG9A3wwY

    No matter how refined the system, the judges will find a way to de/increase the scores as they see fit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BlackPack View Post

    No matter how refined the system, the judges will find a way to de/increase the scores as they see fit.
    I'll count it as one point in favor of technology that does ranking

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    Quote Originally Posted by BlackPack View Post
    Mishin developed a device that measures rotations https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u98VG9A3wwY

    No matter how refined the system, the judges will find a way to de/increase the scores as they see fit.
    Wow, that's another mini-Plushenko if I ever saw one. The hair, the spin positions, the posture. Neat device too. I'm sure it has practical uses in terms of determining rotations on spins.

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    Speed would be an interesting thing, although it's hard to say how that can be measured to benefit a skater. The best skates have bursts of speed and a slower section or spins.

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    As risk of sounding like a total luddite, I think there actually should be LESS technology at the judging booth, not more. I feel that replays and other judging tools have given judges (well, the technical panel) way too much power.

    I love technology and feel it has a role in skating (namely in improving skaters during practice), but think judging should be done more in real time.
    Last edited by Mrs. P; 03-13-2014 at 10:49 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CanadianSkaterGuy View Post
    Speed would be an interesting thing, although it's hard to say how that can be measured to benefit a skater. The best skates have bursts of speed and a slower section or spins.
    There are many ways it could benefit or just be interesting to know: maximum speed achieved, highest medium speed in total, the speed of certain elements/sequences - like footwork sections. However, it's still an open question where it should count or not; or, should it be the main or a secodary criterion.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CanadianSkaterGuy View Post
    Wow, that's another mini-Plushenko if I ever saw one. The hair, the spin positions, the posture. Neat device too. I'm sure it has practical uses in terms of determining rotations on spins.
    Mishin definitely has a type

    They can measure spins, rotations, and even speed, but PCS will always be elusive and subjective. They only way to do it would be to eliminate PCS and artistry and that will turn figure skating into speed-skating. The artistry and talent is what draws us to the sport after all. There's no way to eliminate subjectivity and thus opportunistic judging.

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    I have put these ideas forward around 2010/2011 once I learned more about the COP and exploit ways to crack the system (it can be done via technical panel, and minimum 2 judges. Read Patrick Iben interview). I have even put forward 2 panels of judges one for TES one for PCS, but many discounted it was impractical due to cost. In the end I find it is wholly impractical since imo it is precisely these insistence on human judging (which allows scope of human error which can be used to justify any manipulation) that keeps the current governing body in power. They will never let that power go, since it will invalidate their very reason of existence. My observation of these past years is the ISU seems to be run by a culture of cronyism, to serve the interests of the powerful few by trading medals like some sort of musical chairs and ruled with an iron fist by Speedy, with little real consideration to the individual skaters and the overall sporting interests other than their own.

    The health of any sport can usually been seen in the diversity of partakers (many nationalities) and economy of scale (audience, market) which include rewards in prize money. This is simply not the case in this sport, despite the attractive multidisciplinary quality this beautiful sport offers which can be a marketer's dream, it is very likely to have kept deliberately small enough to exert more complete control vs a large size economy that can get out of control.

    Actually speaking of technology, I am surprised no one mentioned how easy it is to cheat through technology.

    For example IF I really want to cheat, I will create a program that can be bolt onto the existing COP software of calculation at certain events that I want to have great control over the outcome. I will have minimum 2, ideal 4 judges on my side to mark normally but during the 3-4 minutes kiss and cry time, I can simply enter a desirable score, then this bolt on software can work out all the figures within an acceptable parameter out of my 2-4 judges relative to other fair judges to create an approximate desirable result (narrow set of shared corridors) from the original score entered. As long as my judges don't come forward and say THAT IS NOT WHAT I MARKED and there are no recordings/evidence of what they actually entered. I can easily get away with all sort of things.

    This further support why judges should not be anonymous, there need to be transparency and accountability in the judging. If it is anonymous, then their markings should be marked ideally pen on paper to have an official record that can not be doctored. Or if via a button, at least the audiences should able see in live time what score they entered at the bottom of the screen (even if they don't show the face of the judges). There should be recordings on any changes that affect the score AS it happens.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BlackPack View Post
    They can measure spins, rotations, and even speed, but PCS will always be elusive and subjective. They only way to do it would be to eliminate PCS and artistry and that will turn figure skating into speed-skating. The artistry and talent is what draws us to the sport after all. There's no way to eliminate subjectivity and thus opportunistic judging.
    I can't disagree more.
    Only complete elimination of PCS and subjective/politized judges can give talent and artistry a chance!
    Quoting myself: if we talk about human factor then why don’t we trust this factor instead of using it as an excuse to tolerate corruption? Skaters are not stupid. The competition is their star moment. They should know: if they won’t look attractive or entertaining during those few minutes when all eyes are on them then there will be no contracts, no shows, and no future career. Despite that there would be no judges to impress by costumes and choreography, the public would be still around and that's what really counts. By now, skaters wear hilarious costumes and choose boring music because "judges like it" and don't care what the general public is living with. I don't think this situation drives this sport. It's holding it back.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Anna K. View Post
    I can't disagree more.
    Only complete elimination of PCS and subjective/politized judges can give talent and artistry a chance!
    Quoting myself: if we talk about human factor then why don’t we trust this factor instead of using it as an excuse to tolerate corruption? Skaters are not stupid. The competition is their star moment. They should know: if they won’t look attractive or entertaining during those few minutes when all eyes are on them then there will be no contracts, no shows, and no future career. Despite that there would be no judges to impress by costumes and choreography, the public would be still around and that's what really counts By now, skaters wear hilarious costumes and choose boring music because "judges like it" and don't care what the general public is living with. I don't think this situation drives this sport. It's holding it back.
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mrs. P View Post
    As risk of sounding like a total luddite, I think there actually should be LESS technology at the judging booth, not more. I feel that replays and other judging tools have given judges (well, the technical panel) way too much power.

    I love technology and feel it has a role in skating (namely in improving skaters during practice), but think judging should be done more in real time.
    I think it does lend some level of accountability. If they DIDN'T have the technology to do replays, they would be inclined to just subjectively neglect URs/flutzes for the favourites or nail visiting skaters. They know now that TV stations are showing replays of the skaters' landings, and they know now that everyone knows they have access to looking at these landings/takeoffs and assessing them. So the pressure is on them to make calls that correlate with what the viewers are seeing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BlackPack View Post
    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.
    Absolutely not only that: at least also footwork and synchronism with music. Did you actually read the post I started this thread with?

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    Quote Originally Posted by os168 View Post
    In the end I find it is wholly impractical since imo it is precisely these insistence on human judging (which allows scope of human error which can be used to justify any manipulation) that keeps the current governing body in power. They will never let that power go, since it will invalidate their very reason of existence. My observation of these past year is the ISU is clearly run by cronyism, to serve the interests of the few by trading medals like some sort of musical chairs and ruled with an iron fist by Speedy, with little real consideration to the individual skaters and the overall sporting interests other than their own.

    The health of any sport can usually been seen in the diversity of partakers (many nationalities) and economy of scale (audience, market) which include rewards in prize money. This is simply not the case in this sport, despite the attractive multidisciplinary quality this beautiful sport offers which can be a marketer's dream, it is very likely to have kept deliberately small enough to exert more complete control vs a large size economy that can get out of control.
    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?

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    And that:

    Quote Originally Posted by BlackPack View Post
    Because if there's no PCS, there's no incentive for skaters to be creative.
    Is being popular with the public no incentive?

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