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Thread: The Problem With Figure Skating

  1. #1

    The Problem With Figure Skating

    This article was listed on the GSK8 main page and I thought it had some interesting points:

    What do people think? Also, I don't know if Starr is just being general with his writing or if there is something I misunderstand about the computer random selection process. Starr says that 14 judges are on a panel and then the computer does some "razzle dazzle" and selects nine scores. The way he writes it, he makes it sound as if the scores are selected after they've been entered. I thought the nine scores and ordinals were selected before the event began. Does anybody have a link to some official description of the system? I know this is over and we're in for a new system, but I'm just wondering whether Starr is off in his description or what the deal is?

    But that's a minor point. I'm far more interested in what people think of what Starr had to say in general.

  2. #2

    Re: The Problem With Figure Skating

    The point that Starr made that I am most bemused by is the statement that Americans prefer thuggery to backroom politics and cheating in a story. And I think it is true. Look at the affection many in this country had for stories of Jesse James, Billy the Kid, even Lt. Calley. So what I think is, why the heck hasn't USFSA pardoned Tonya Harding after 9 years? After all, Balkov, Korytek, and Danilenko were pardoned.

    Second interesting point, and again Starr is right mostly. When the WSF was formed, the British and Aussies were with us, just as with the war. But he should remember that it was the Japanese that really committed to the WSF program. Controversy tells you who your friends really are.

    As to the scores, Starr is wrong in the inference that the scores are picked at random after posting. But that is how it appears if you are in the audience. However, they announce at the beginning of the event that the Real Judges are chosen from among 14 would be judges at the beginning of the event. But since the scores are sorted, it looks random to the audience.


  3. #3

    Re: The Problem With Figure Skating

    I am certain that Doris is right about the judging draw being done before the event begins. Why, if that weren't the case then <strong>everything I have ever written about statistical error on this board would be utter hogwash!</strong>

    Here is the ofiicial ISU statement about the interim system. It does not, however, say in so many words when the computer draw is done. But yeah, Doris is right and Starr is talking about how it appears to the audience.,00.pdf

    BTW, here is the ISU's official response to those rascally backstabbers, the WSF.,00.pdf


  4. #4

    Missing a major point...

    The point that critics of Speedy keep missing is not that he is incompetent or inflexible or autocratic (he's all of these), it's that he's just as dirty as Didier and the Russian mobsters.
    Speedy was completely involved in the same type of deal making so he could get the Italian ice dancers their world title.
    I saw an article in the Cdn press a while back highlighting how he reacted with pure rage when Shae and Vic won the Grand Prix event before the Olympics, and he along with the Dance technical committee chair (and event referee) Gorshkov stormed into the judges post-event conference and lambasted the judges for putting the Cdns first. (the Italians had done surprisingly poorly)
    Speedy is in this thing very deep, and he has shut down all investigations into the Russian side of the SLC scandal because that trail would lead right back to him!!!

  5. #5

    Our Own Skating Christmas Carol

    Jingo Tales
    Jingo Tales
    Jingo Spin's at play

    Starr is telling how it is
    from the point of the USA, Heh

    Judges Cheat
    Knees get beat
    Speedy's on his way

    Russian Mobsters paid him off , A&P won anyway
    <img src= ALT=" >D">

  6. #6

    He he he

    I *THINK* I understand the judging system....all the scores are dropped into a boiling cauldron....there is some chanting, some dancing, and maybe a live chicken involved and POOF, the ordinals are decided! He he he :rolleyes:

    Thinking of figure skating in america....I think there are a few being that it's so dang expensive, once it goes beyond the once or twice weekly public lessons. That makes it quite out of the reach of many people....kind of like GOLF! (Another sport I love and can't afford to be involved in!) American sports that tend to be most popular are either cheaper, or also offered in schools while kids are growing up, and can compete in them routinely, for free (i.e. basketball, football). Another thing is the inane assumption that still exists that figure skating is "not a sport", or definately not a "manly" sport.....And I don't know how to change the minds of the idiots who feel that way (more ammunition to my theory that people are genetically stupid....some overcome it, some never try! )

  7. #7

    Re: The Problem With Figure Skating

    This article sounded a little on the Facetious side. The writer is trying to make figure skating sound like a joke. I don't think the problem is with figure skating at all, it's with people - like Starr - not understanding or appreciating what figure skating is about. It's a great sport and always will be - despite the efforts of those who are trying to ruin it. Competitive skating is not the core of figure skating - it's part of it. There are plenty of skaters who have spent their lives skating and teaching others (like me to skate) who never competed at the top in their lives. We simply love to skate. Thank goodness the skaters bring credibility to the sport and try to keep it honest. Figure skating does not need press like this!


  8. #8

    Re: The Problem With Figure Skating

    I just read the article and Mr. Starr does bring up some legitimate points. My husband has often asked me how the scoring in skating is reached. Sometimes, I don't quite know how to answer that. I did tell him that judging figure skating is alot like judging art. It comes down to whether the judge liked the program or not. He couldn't understand how Timmy Goebel could land three quads and still get the Olympic bronze medal. From a technical point I could understand. Maybe I need a little explanation on what the "presentation" mark constitutes. What are some of the requirements? Any help with this will be greatly appreciated. Thanks!!

  9. #9

    Re: The Problem With Figure Skating

    Here's the link to an article called "Judging in Figure Skating, according to Skate Canada," by Phillip Saunders, CBC News Online, February 2002.

    I think you said it very well re presentation that at least some of it is like judging a work of art. One interesting feature is that Lori Nichol helped to develop and deliver seminars for the International Skating Union member groups on how to mark presentation. Of course I think Lori Nichol has done a lot of great choreography, but like anyone else, she has her preferences and biases. Thus for a judged sport, I don't think any one person, no matter who they are, should be giving seminars to ISU members and judges about how to score presentation. A group of choreographers, coaches, former top competitive skaters, skating critics, etc. doing this, yes; but one person, no. It's like having Bela Karyoli (sp?) as the only one giving seminars to gymnastics judges on how to score. IMO, one person's interpretation of what are subjective elements should not be the authoritative influence on how judges score presentation.

    Here are some excerpts:
    What do judges look for?
    During competition judges take notes to record what elements a skater or pair completes, noting the quality of each jump, jump combination, jump sequence, spin, and footwork/field movement sequence. Even though two skaters may complete the same number and level of jumps, there may be a difference in quality.
    Things that help differentiate between jump skills are: speed and flow on entry and exit, air position (proper backspin position versus a wrapped free leg), correct technique on take-off, and the height and distance achieved. All are criteria that apply to jump combinations or a series of jumps.

    Judges also assess ice coverage and consistency in the height of each jump in the combinations or series. In spins and spin combinations judges look for proper and aesthetically pleasing positions, speed and number of revolutions, the amount of height obtained in flying spins and the ability to centre and control on entry and exit.

    Footwork, field movements and ice coverage, variety, difficulty and use of all levels help differentiate between competitors.

    There are eight components to the presentation mark.

    <strong>1._Harmonious composition / conformity with chosen music</strong>
    The overall look and feel of the program and how the skaters perform with the music they chose and with one another, in the case of pairs.
    <strong>2._Variation of speed</strong>
    Unlike the speed component in the technical requirements, variation of speed is also considered in the presentation marks and relates to the ease and variety of acceleration and deceleration that reflects the music.
    <strong>3._Use of ice surface</strong>
    This portion of the presentation mark concentrates on whether the skaters use the entire ice and the figures they use to that end. Highlights of a routine should be performed throughout the entire surface while use of pattern direction, level and placement if the highlights should be directed by the music.
    <strong>4._Easy movement / sureness in time to the music</strong>
    This portion of the mark concentrates on balance, strength, rhythm, timing and flow and the ease shown in the performance. The example used by Skate Canada of someone who generally exhibits this quality is Michelle Kwan.
    <strong>5._Carriage and Style</strong>
    This is used to reward skaters who perform with erect carriage and strong line with variation allowed only if aesthetically pleasing and if it is consistent with the music.
    This is the portion of the presentation mark that rewards skaters and choreographers who try to advance the sport. Skaters like Canadian Toller Cranston and Ukrainian Dimitry Dimitrenko are used as examples of those who have achieved this quality.
    <strong>7._Statement of the character of the music</strong>
    This seems the most subjective of the variables in the presentation mark. Judges are encouraged to read the minds of the skaters, choreographers and coaches at to whether the program is skated feeling. "As with all art, choreography and movement should be inspired from within."
    <strong>8._Unison (for Pairs)</strong>
    This is considered a key component of the presentation mark for pairs and teams. Skaters are encouraged to "skate as one." Skaters must remain in reach of each other and remain consistent with the music. Jamie Salé and David Pelletier are used as a good example of skaters who exhibit this quality.

    Lori Nichol, who choreographed the Jamie Salé and David Pelletier program, helped to develop and deliver seminars for the International Skating Union member groups on how to mark presentation. The presentation mark is often used to break a tie after technical marks have been awarded in a free program.

    Thanks for the ISU links. Interesting that the language is not clear on when the scores that count are chosen. As for their attitude toward the WSF, pretty much the response one would expect considering the whole existence of the WSF is based on the proposition that the ISU sucks.

    Not wanting to miss a chance to beat a dead horse (one of my favorite passtimes), there is one point about the interim system, random selection process that I don't think we have quite beaten to a pulp:lol: With the now-past interim random selection process, all 14 judges know their scores could be selected. Statistically, it's absolutely true that it makes no difference whether the judges are selected six months or six second prior to the competition as long as they never know if their scores are going to count or not. But in terms of human nature, I think the random selction process has an effect on the range and accuracy of the scores in terms of how well they reflect the merits of the skater's performance. Since all 14 judges know their scores might count, this can create a situation, IMO, where judges may inflate the scores for skaters they want to promote, regardless of the performance, and deflate the scores for skaters they want to hold back. The reason I say this is that all season we've been seeing extreme ranges in the scores for many skaters in all discplines. A range of 5.2 to 5.9 for either technical or presentation, whether the program was clean or not, especially in the LP, was not unusual from all 14 judges. This was not something we saw very often under the previous nine-judge, nonanonymous system. Of course there were always differences and often a single judge whose scores were way out of line with the others, but for the most part, there was usually only a three or four tenths range in the scores for a given program. But with the random selection system, it seems that the range of scores was much greater than under the old system. I haven't analyzed the scores under both systems and compared them, but with the exception of a few of the top skaters who skated great clean programs, the range for the scores seemed more extreme this season than in past years. This is where I think human bias comes into play and that the combination of anonymity and random selection made for an especially bad combination. For example, if Judge A wanted Flossie to win over Bessie
    (using DorisPulaski's great skating names ), Judge A, even though he didn't know whether his scores had been preselected, might inflate Flossie's scores, giving her 5.8/5.9 when her performance really deserved 5.6/5.7, and giving Bessie scores of 5.3/5.4 when she really deserved 5.7/5.8. If you get a bloc of three or four judges who want Flossie to win over Bessie, you could get three or four scores similarly out of whack, which could, if they had been preselected, significantly affect a skater's placement.

    I know, it's all numbers under the bridge now since the ISU is now going to play with a new system. In another thread, however, Doris pointed out that with the code of points, Judge A who wanted Flossie to win over Bessie could do the same thing, adding a couple of tenths to Flossie's points for each jump/element and deducting a couple of tenths from Bessie's, whether or not the scores accurately reflect what Flossie and Bessie did. Anyway, some of this is why I stand by my true score theory and that using better applied statistical methods can help compensate for the inherent bias in human nature and its effect on judging.

  10. #10

    Re: The Problem With Figure Skating

    Thanks, rgirl181. It sounds like I need a scouting report just like in baseball. A scouting report would tell what are the strengths and weaknesses for each skater.

  11. #11

    Re: The Problem With Figure Skating

    Rgirl, I thought I saw a twitch out of that dead horse's left rear leg! I don't see why human nature would say that a judge, one of 14 who knows that his/her scores might count, would be more or less likely to cheat than a judge who is one of 9 who knows that his/her vote will count. Now if you let them vote in secret, that's another story.

    I, too, thought that Doris' point about the points-per-element system carries the day. Cheaters cheat. I wonder if the WSF has any plan in mind for dealing with this issue, should they be successful in replacing the ISU.


  12. #12

    Re: The Problem With Figure Skating

    Sk8m8, although it's a little too early for Christmas 2003, I like your song...please think of more so that by Christmastime there will be plenty for us...thanks. :D

  13. #13

    Re: The Problem With Figure Skating

    personally I think it's a conflict of interest to have any choreographer/coach giving any seminars to the governing body of a sport.

  14. #14

    Re: The Problem With Figure Skating

    I forgot to explicitly mention that it is a conflict if the coach/choreographer is actively teaching or creating programs for skaters now or in the immediate future....

  15. #15

    Re: The Problem With Figure Skating

    I wondered about that, too. (First, though, I have to say that Lori Nichol is my absolute favorite person in the whole world of figure skating. She is a super-nice and scrupulously principled lady in every way. Plus, I think that the body of work that she created for Michelle Kwan stands alone in the annals of choreography.)

    That having been said, though, I have always wondered if, for instance, she showed the judges in her seminars footage of Michelle doing a spiral, and said, "See, that's how to do it. That's a 6.0." :lol:


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