Thread: new article of Sonia Bianchetti

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new article of Sonia Bianchetti

Another article appeared on her site. This one is in my opinion very interesting, because now she have some proposals to improve the judging system.

http://www.soniabianchetti.com/writings_ideas.html

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Thanks for posting this interesting article. I totally agree with the main points that Mrs. Bianchetti makes in the first half of the article:

"The most evident negative effect of the system is that it assigns the highest number of points to the most unattractive and sometimes most dangerous moves in skating."

"Now a new generation of skaters is coming up and the danger is that they will all look like acrobats rather than figure skaters."

"The spiral step sequence, which was one of the most beautiful elements in the Ladies. programs, has now become as ugly and unattractive as possible, with the girls turned into computers counting the number of seconds they hold the free leg in each position and on each edge."

However, when it comes to her specific solutions to these problems, they just seem like minor tweaking of the very sort that she is objecting to when the ISU does it. The idea of translating the GOEs into a percentage of base values is already done, sort of, except for very high level elements like quads. Her long suggestion #2 on assigning levels of difficulty for spins and spirals seems to me to be a lot like the system that she is criticizing, and is, in turn, vulnerable to the same criticism -- skaters will go chasing the points instead of developing the aesthetic side of the sport.

IMHO her best point is #3 and #4 together. I agree that at present there is too much emphasis on merely completing the the rotations of a jump, when other kinds of mistakes (like falling!) are passed over relatively lightly.

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So true. The sport (if that's what it is) is definitely on the acrobatic side. 'Let's raise the bar each year and we'll have that quint axel we've been waiting for.'

I agree the Spiral sequence has to be the uglisest slowest movement in figure skating once the normal change edge spiral is out of the way. Why does the sequence have to take place all at once. Why not have a limit on spirals (say 3) spread out in the entire program?

I nominate Sonia as the next ISU Prez.

Joe

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Originally Posted by Joesitz

So true. The sport (if that's what it is) is definitely on the acrobatic side. 'Let's raise the bar each year and we'll have that quint axel we've been waiting for.'

I agree the Spiral sequence has to be the uglisest slowest movement in figure skating once the normal change edge spiral is out of the way. ...

I nominate Sonia as the next ISU Prez.
When the SP spiral requirement was established in womens skating, for a few years it was a major dull point (almost like the change camel had been). It wasn't until the mid 90's that it began to become interesting, COP has ruined it for me and I'm back to dreading the obligatory gyn/contortionist moves.

For spins, I'm for judging spins on centering, positions and speed in that order. A poorly executed change of edge or position should get hammered so that skaters won't do it till they do it well or stick with what they can do well.

I also don't like the underrotation phobia at the expense of all else (is it just me or can that be called the Sarah Hughes rule?) I'm still grumbling about a badly two-footed quad that Plushenko got some +1 GOE's for.

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I actually agree with most of her suggestions on how to improve COP, but don't agree with some of her first statements.

To start with, she blames COP for producing a "last man standing" Olympics result, when I can recall A LOT of other years under the 6.0 system where it's been exactly the same. It's not the judging system in these circumstances, it's the pressure cooker of the Olympics and the consequent push of a lot of skaters to frankly, strive beyond their ability. Lots of falls? Some years it's just like that.

Ditto the number of serious injuries she talks about. I don't think that can be blamed on COP. That's been coming for a long while, and I put the blame on the junior and novice ranks allowing certain jumps such as the triple axel and quad to be done by very young women and men whose bodies can't handle the stress of it. I'm sure the contortionist rewards of COP haven't helped, but again, the contortionist fad has been with us since the ultra-flexible Sasha hit the scene and hundreds of little girls wanted to be just like her. It's up to coaches, and yes, parents to help put limits on young skaters when they're doing things that aren't in their best long-term health interests.

The recent push led by ladies like Meissner and Asada to nail multiple triple axels and quads in their programs — starting when they were just juniors — is a terrible trend, but not one brought about by COP. Let's face it, under 6.0 these skills were going to be just as decisive a factor — perhaps even more of one — in who stands on the podium than they are under COP. Look at the men's ranks and you'll see this is true. What really disturbs me, and I'm not sure how to address it under any system, is the blatant inability of Mao (and likely skaters after her now that they've witnessed her success) to do all of the triple jumps adequately. It's a gaping hole in her skill and she doesn't appear to be taking any steps to address it, because, well, so far it hasn't mattered. Like the pairs teams that could hardly do a death spiral, yet weren't sufficiently dinged for their failure, this bugs me.

I must totally agree with Bianchetti on the subject of rewarding falls, and I have started threads on the problems of the ugly spiral and spins. I don't, however, think a two-footed jump should be as penalized as a fall. They are not equal errors, and are not at all equal in how they effect the program as a whole.

I was also very intrigued by her suggestion of reducing the program components categories into a simpler format....perhaps this will work better. And of course the big elephant in every judging panel is the need for ISU-paid, non-nationally-aligned skating judges who are not anonymous.

I don't think it is possible to ever completely rid figure skating of bias, as it is a subjectively judged sport, but I do think some of Bianchetti's suggestions would make it more pleasant for all of us to watch.

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In singles olympic skating, the most splatfull finals were (IIRC) in 1992, the first olympics without figures, ironically enough since they jettisoned to make the free skating more exciting for casual tv watchers.
But instead of lots of exciting free skating (again IIRC) many precomp medal favorites and all but one of the actual medalists fell (the exception being Paul Wylie).
It _might_ be that the very undistinguished finals at Torino are partly due to the newness of COP (only one worlds before Torino) and it might be that olympics finals just aren't the place to go for great skating, with rare welcome exceptions like the ladies finals in 94 and 98 and mens finals in 88.

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The last interesting Olympic competition in the Ladies Division was when Baiul edged out Kerrigan despite the two foot landings in most of her jumps. But it was a good competition, despite the majority of biased judges.

Love Kwan, not at all Lipinsky but aside from them, it was rather bleh in that Oly.

I think Sonia has something to say and whether you agree with her or not it is better to say these things then keep them hidden. Brava Sonia. Now tell me, who else speaks out?

Joe

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Originally Posted by Joe
Brava Sonia. Now tell me, who else speaks out?
I guess Bianchetti feels that she can speak out because she has already been kicked out of the ISU for questioning their policies.

People who are still in and don't want to get kicked out, too -- no, not so much.

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Luther made it out. I believe in questioning. If there is reasonable answers to the questions, then the hierarchy does not have to worry about it. I don't see anything wrong with questions and suggestions.

Joe

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My neck is out, feel free to chop - first thoughs and I am still open

At first this starts out sounding much like a blog, but proves it's integrity quite quickly. - It might sound like I am in disagreement, but rather I feel it is a opinionated article that uses facts to support a opinion rather then an opinion supported by facts. 6 of one and Half a dozen of another, yet the stance taken does not clarify how the "sporting community" now regards the sport rather states the changes and adjustments made and how the FS community regards this. The only truly important fact made is how artistic is now sacrificed. Other then that they are just lengthy examples of an obvious fact. A change will create a change.

The one thing I feel caused me to question was the comments about the judging and who won in Turino not having anything to do with "artistic." If it did not then it was only "pure coincidence" that the gold medal Ladies had the most artistic and components in her pro. Even thought there might have been a change with others in the old sys, Shizuka still would have walked away with the gold under the GoP. That is my O but I am hard pressed under any prior conversations here or elsewhere to find anyone questioning Shi-Chan's gold - only the placement of others. So that point started me questioning the true intent of this article.

My thoughts as I started reading how she stated it was the intent to solve problems but only made it worse, I was a disagreement, I don't think it made it worse but rather made the sport sacrificed artistic and forced ages of learning one way to "relearn." To say that it "didn't solve anything and caused more problems" was false IMO. I would assume she has her own opionion with regards to her position and felt this was changing the sport in a negative way. I agree with the negative direction for me and many, but was the intent to solve "all" problems, or to solve one that was constantly under fire, "fair judging."

This did bring on "other" issues, but fixing the issue of "fixing the sport" i.e. via Judging? I think it has helped that one issue but ALSO at the same time hurt the artistic aspect of the sport. The CoP is not "pure evil" just the same as the GoP was not "angelically perfect." I truly believe the CoP has lessened the ability for Judges to pad or favor. That ONE THING, I do believe.

The examples of Dr. Rossano only make me think of how opinion is the one factor that people do not trust in the old sys. i.e his Joanne's scores are ridiculous IMO, way over inflated, but I agree with his Fumie 100% and would not have put Ira as low as the CoP did either. What do I know? that doesn't matter as much as the point. The opinions and bias a judge had the ability to present are LESS likely under CoP and MORE likely under GoP. The problem was fixed in regard to that so something was fixed IMO.

The comment of "I cannot remember such a huge variety of opinion, at least among the first 5 places, with the old 6.0 system." I immediately thought of the CD in 96 that I just got done watching and what the GER gave was a 5.1 and USA gave a 5.9. Noting that the scale of 1-6 compared to the 1-10 is going to create a bigger "seeming" difference. I know this is different in placement and score, but the outcome of said placement of said score is the determining factor. There have been huge differences in the past and this sys may make it more likely to have them yet that would not mean it is unfair.

Basically if it was not for the "scam," the issue would not have presented the out come of the "way the change was made." It did make sacrifice to my most admired aspect of FS, the artistic, but many are feeling more comfortable about the way the sport has change making it seem like more of a valid sport in their opinion.

There is "harm" and there is a "foul" and adjustments are in obvious need, but some of what has happened IMO are good changes for the Judges, but unfortunately the skaters have had to sacrifice. And that is still a matter of opinion.

Haven't there always been the different strengths in skates, some more technical then artistic. And the Artistic had the "upper-hand" to the technical prior, so the shift is now in technical favor. Who should have the advantage?

IMO the artistic, but that again is ONLY my opinion and seemly many others, but does that make it right? It is OBVIOUSLY Rossano's got an opinion. to say he doesn't is as much blind faith that was there when trusting the GoP which showed us all that it got hijacked.

To say anonymous judging has impact to me is just as unimportant to the out come as the reason it needed to be made in the first place. Who is going to say I will give you \$ if you score her the highest with out being able to prove that the judge acutely did it. This will make no difference at all IMO, and that is why they did it in the first place, to stop the ability of bribing. I know someone is thinking that this only allows it more, but think about it - It might allow it (same as before really) but not at ALL promote it or promote outside sources to get involved in pay-offs, there is no way to prove your "investment was honored." That is a stupid investment. Yes they can without knowing they did or not. That is why we vote anonymously in elections, so we are not intimidated or swayed to vote for fear of someone knowing what we voted.

I know I am coming across as all "Pro CoP" when I don't mean it that way so much as it is not as problematic to me as this article makes it out to be. I think it is clear this person has issues with the changes and as well she should. But to fully discount it and agrree with such outrageous scoring of Jump quality (pft D. R) only shows me that their agenda itself is likely as flawed as the accusations they are CORRECTLY AND INCORRECTLY making about the CoP.

JMO

ETA, I saw some things I like but the validity of the article brought to many questions to take her all that serious. Focusing on one or two things at a time would likely get her opinion excepted on a broader bias.

Yes I know I am guilty of the same thing from time to time.

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Hey Sean, you are killing my eyes with that tiny size 1 print. Long posts are cool. We've got plenty of bandwidth, LOL.

I have a couple of quick reactions to what you wrote.

1. "...uses facts to support a opinion rather then an opinion supported by facts."

This observation is right on the money, IMHO.

George Rossano (PhD) is an impressively talented mathematician, aerospace engineer and skating enthusiast. He has been dead set against the CoP from the beginning, and has written numerous articles using statistical analysis to back up his views. (His most recent article on the failures of the CoP at the Turin Olympics, which is quoted by Mrs. Bianchetti in this piece, is perhaps his weakest in this series, in my judgment.)

I don't want to put words in Dr. Rossano's mouth, but I think his real objection to the New Judging System is more fundamental than nit-picking about how many points to take off for an underrotated quad. Figure skating is a judged sport. From the point of view of statistical modelling, the proper way to approach it is by ordinal judging (what is called "non-parametric methods"), not by summing and averaging points. The whole idea of the Cop is a\$\$-backward, mathematiclly.

But this is not easy to explain, so if we want to convince someone that the Cop has flaws we have to parade out some statistics.

Sonia Bianchetti had a distinguished 30 year career as a highly respected International skating official, during which she worked behind the scenes from within the hieracrchy to oppose corruption and also, more publically, to make the sport more appealing to the general audience. But in 2003 she ran afoul of the ISU hierarchy over the World Skating Federation, and Cinquanta's team banned her for life.

So, yes, she definitely has "opinions" about how the ISU conducts its affairs and about the direction of the sport under Cinquanta's leadership.

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2. I emphatically disagree with your take on secret judging. I don't buy the analogy with the "secret ballot" in an election of the people. A better analogy would be ...well...secret judging.

Figure skating judges are not "the people." They are powerful officials representing the established authority. The last thing any society would ever want is judging in secret. "Hey, whatever happened to Sean? He went on trial the other day and I haven't seen him since."

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Sonia Bianchetti for President!!!!

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Originally Posted by Mathman
2. I emphatically disagree with your take on secret judging. I don't buy the analogy with the "secret ballot" in an election of the people. A better analogy would be ...well...secret judging.

Figure skating judges are not "the people." They are powerful officials representing the established authority. The last thing any society would ever want is judging in secret. "Hey, whatever happened to Sean? He went on trial the other day and I haven't seen him since."
I really do see this point - you really make me laugh with acknowledgment and a good degree of agreeance, great sense of humor - yet I feel the intent was to eliminate "intensive" of outside agendas.

I also think it lessens they "over all power" to a degree of they are now more of a part of the sys rather then the defining factor. It is too bad there were the ones who took advantage or misused the power, yet inevitable.

I like the idea of knowing the "face" of who I disagree or agree with. It bugs me there is anonymous judging, but I feel this may make it more possible (easy to get away with via accountability) to "inflate scores" YET at the same time it does not "encourage" the desire to do so. That is why I agree with anonymous judging yet I don't like it. I hope that makes sense.

So I hope I am making it clear that I don't "like" it as much, but I do respect the decision to do so.

"So Vinni, did you pay off that judge so they will vote for our girl?"
"Yah boss I did."
" So Vinni, can you prove they are going to do what you asked?"
"No Boss I can't."

BTW, I made the text small because I felt a little "Rantty" and felt like if I made it small people could just ignore it.

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I get the point about lessening the power that the federations (bad guys) hold over the judges (want-to-be good guys). IMO this is accomplished more effectively by the feature of the New Judging System that takes a lot of the power out of the hands of the judges and puts it into the hands of the Tech Specialist and his team.

I do not have any reason to suppose that the Tech Specialists are any more (or less) competant or any more (or less) honest than the judges are, but at least they are not under the thumb of any particular National Federation.

Instead, they report directly to Cinquanta. Hmm.

If we trust that the leadership of the ISU is neutral and unbiased, unlike the individual National Federations that obviously want their own skaters to win, I guess this is a step in the right direction. (I wonder what Sonia Bianchetti's opinion is about this?)

I am not so sure that your vignette about Vinnie tells the true story, though. Sometimes the judge is Vinnie.

Plus, it is pretty easy to figure out what the judges did despite the attempt at secrecy.

BTW, there is one really good argument in favor of secret judging. That is the review process that takes place after each competition and at the end of the season. If a judge's marks do not keep pace with his companions' (perhaps he hears a different drummer), he/she is called on the carpet and faces various sanctions and penalties.

The first part of this procedure (unless the judge appeals) is all anonymous. The referees sitiing in judgment of the judges do not know which of their friends they are about to throw the book at. So that's all to the better.

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