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Thread: Educating the public

  1. #91
    Idita-Rock-n-Roll Tonichelle's Avatar
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    US Nationals Men's Final 2008 - when it was shown that Johnny and Evan had tied and Evan won... I think every single person gasped and then started booing - including me! and I don't consider myself a Johnny fan in the slightest! LOL - it was not meant as a slight to Evan, but it was totally Johnny's night and the judges played games...

  2. #92
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    Bringing discussion from the Men’s PCS at Worlds thread:
    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    INHO this is not so easy when it comes to the three artistic components. The public already understands that a quad is a big point getter. They can be told (they don't have to like it) that just rotating a quad is worth some points even if the skater falls. TV commentators could do a better job in pointing out some of the things that go into Skating Skills and Transitions (instead of just exclaiming, "In this crazy scoring system you get points for every tiny little thing you do!")

    When it comes to the musical interpretation and performance side of things, though, I think "educating the public' is a tougher task. Howe can you educate the public to believe that the skater is exuding energy that establishes an invisible bond with the audience?
    I think that’s one of the sillier component criteria, as written, and certainly one of the most subjective. It would be fine with me if they didn’t bother mentioning it at all.

    Should commentary be designed to get audiences to connect emotionally to skaters or to get them to understand the sport as it's practiced by those skaters and evaluated by the rules and officials?

    TV producers naturally prefer the emotional connection -- that’s what keeps casual audiences coming back and maybe will turn them into fans who want to know more. Although it may turn off some of the more sports-minded viewers who take such language as more proof that figure skating isn’t a real sport and isn’t worth their time.

    Suppose you have two different commentators introducing new audiences to the sport during the Olympics, and reinforcing, maybe adding to, what the experienced audiences have heard before.

    Let’s say they both do a pretty good job of summarizing how the Technical Elements Score works.

    Commentator A says
    The Program Components Score, equivalent to the second mark some of you remember from the old 6.0 judging system, is all about the performance. The quality of the skating between the elements. How well the skater performs the program. Does she make it look easy? Does she make it look beautiful -- make it “sing”? How well does she express the music? Does she engage the audience emotionally? The judges have their rulebook full of rules to nitpick with, but what it all boils down to is which skater goes out their and seizes the occasion and grabs our hearts.
    Succinct, engaging, encourages the audience to look for beauty and emotional connection and musicality. All important criteria, but only part of the story -- the part that’s easiest for nonskaters to understand. If that’s all audiences are told is important, small wonder they’ll be confused or resentful if the skater who does those things best (in their opinion) doesn’t win.

    Commentator B says
    The Program Components Scores cover the program as a whole, not just the elements but all the skating in between the elements and the way the whole thing is put together and delivered. The most important is Skating Skills -- the way the skater uses the controls her balance over the blade to move across the ice with speed and flow, on deep curves, in all different directions. These are the fundamental skills of figure skating, the sense of curving over the ice at great speed that make a great skater.

    The Transitions score covers the moves in between the elements and the way all the moves are linked together. Choreography is about the purpose behind the program, the way it’s laid out in time and space to create a sense of unity. Originality is also rewarded in this score. Interpretation is the way the skater relates to the music -- general style, rhythm, phrasing, nuances.

    The Performance/Execution score is about the overall quality of the performance. Here’s where the judges reward the skater for clear positions and movements, and projecting to the audience with confidence and personality. High quality throughout most of the technical elements might be rewarded here, and too many mistakes or a sense of sloppy technique throughout might be penalized.
    That might be too much to say all at once, and even so it doesn’t give much detail. Maybe it would be better to stick with just the first sentence in a commentary booth overview and then over the several broadcasts of a big multi-day event give little one-minute features for each of the components with examples and more detailed analysis.

    Treat the viewers as intelligent and invite them to understand the technique and the judging criteria. Encourage audiences to connect to skaters emotionally, but give enough points of connection for all the skaters -- including the biggest rivals to the home country skaters -- that the broadcasts don’t set up a narrative of us-vs.-them. And don’t encourage audiences to believe emotional connection is or should be the deciding factor in the results.

    There are a lot of factors. Completion of the technical elements (including the cumulative difficulty and quality, not just what happens on one jump) is important. Emotional connection and musical expression and beautiful body line all help.
    But if I had to choose a single factor that does and should have the most impact on the results, that would be Skating Skills, and I think it would behoove the broadcasters to help viewers appreciate them.

    (I’ll give a suggestion when I have a chance. Meanwhile, I’ll refer you to the first minute or so of this documentary. Imagine a similar approach focused on contemporary competition rather than history and gender.)

  3. #93
    On the Ice Mathman's Avatar
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    "Exuding energy that establishes an invisible bond with the audience."

    GKelly: I think that’s one of the sillier component criteria, as written, and certainly one of the most subjective. It would be fine with me if they didn’t bother mentioning it at all.
    Actually, I kind of like that one, silly or not. "Performing art" is all about the interaction between the performer and the audience. Leave out the audience and what do you have? Someone doing calisthenics in his closet.

    If I remember correctly, in earlier versions of the CoP the preamble about "exuding energy" wasn't there. The addition of these words (if memory serves) is kind of interesting. The judges can reasonably take a stab at deciding whether the performer "exudes energy," independent of the actual reaction of the audience. So a skater could presumably pick up this bullet even if this particular audience isn't buying.

    On the other hand, the rule seems to be saying that the only thing that counts is stirring the audience by high-enegry virtuosity. And not so much moving them to tears by lyrical beauty, soulful angst, and things like that. (What is figure skating without soulful angst? )

    Quote Originally Posted by GKelly
    Commentator B says...
    Please fire all the current commentators and hire Commentator B.

    Treat the viewers as intelligent and invite them to understand the technique and the judging criteria.
    That is a very desirable goal.

    But part of treating the viewers as intelligent is allowing them to say, yes I understand why this skater was awarded the gold medal even though he fell three times -- I just think it is wrong and shows a flaw in the scoring system.

    And in any case we don't want to spoil the fun of the fan who wants to say, "Boo, my guy rocked the house, how can they give the prize to the other guy?"

  4. #94
    Tripping on the Podium
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    Quote Originally Posted by dorispulaski View Post
    The other booing tradition is that wherever he goes in figure skating, when Ottavio Cinquanta is introduced, he is often booed.
    And Yuri Balkov - we take great pains to booing this man whenever he is judging an event. ANY judge who has been caught cheating and suspended for it, should NEVER be allowed back at a judging table for any international event, much less the sport's most prestigious competitions. In any other sport, cheaters are banned for life.

  5. #95
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    I'm imagining this as a segment produced by a US network for inclusion as part of a broadcast of Olympics or other major events. Hence my mention of US test levels and content and American skaters as examples. Bold indicates voiceover; italic text describes the visuals. The video clips would be 2-5 seconds in length and where necessary the voice over would pause until one skill is finished being shown before moving onto the next line.

    Skating Skills. The basics of the sport -- what makes figure skating figure skating.
    Graphic listing the "definition" part of the component description
    Definition: Over all skating quality: edge control and flow over the ice surface demonstrated by a command of the skating vocabulary (edges, steps, turns, etc), the clarity of technique, and the use of effortless power to accelerate and vary speed.
    It's all about control of the blade gliding across the ice.
    establishing shot of outdoor pond, close up on skater tracing visible edges on natural ice
    Skaters train for years, day after day,
    establishing shot of training rink
    to perfect all the different ways to glide over the ice
    elite skater doing simple held edge or crossovers,
    forward and backward
    elite skater doing warmup stroking pattern with turns,
    on the two edges of the blade
    close up of skate blade held upside down to camera, with drawn-in arrows pointing to edges on each side of blade.

    Basic stroking
    beginner forward stroking
    solo dancer practicing swing rolls
    first a beginner working on slow forward crossovers, then an intermediate or advanced skater showing two strokes forward, two backward, same or different skaters, with good speed
    Changes of edge
    Fiesta Tango edge change, solo or couple; back power pulls from prejuvenile US Moves in the Field; Michelle Kwan's change-edge spiral
    7-year-old doing inside mohawk, perhaps in hockey skates; 10-year-old doing open outside mohawk, ice dancer(s) doing closed outside mohawk
    dance team doing Rhumba choctaws and/or synchro team doing series of choctaws in hold
    Three turns
    beginner practicing small forward three turn; prejuvenile/adult silver level skater practicing backward three turn; for at least one of these the tracing should be visible on the ice and a graphic should draw in a superimposed 3 on top of the tracing to show where the name comes from
    Double threes
    intermediate/adult gold skater practicing, and/or elite skater using in program, e.g., Lysacek into triple flip
    middle-aged coach demonstrates with control; intermediate skater demonstrates more stiffly, coach corrects body alignment; draw in graphic showing } on top of tracing if possible
    novice solo skater practicing in isolation -- draw in pattern over tracing if possible
    dance team skating Rocker Foxtrot, focusing on woman's rocker -- draw in pattern over tracing if possible
    novice/junior skaters practicing forward and/or backward loops in isolation
    and Twizzles
    dance team executing relatively simple twizzle sequence in unison
    And combinations of steps and turns
    one or more elite step sequences or pieces thereof

    These are the building blocks of the sport, the skills that make everything else possible.
    closeup on lutz takeoff labeled "left back outside edge"; long-held jump landing labeled "right back outside edge; Michelle's? spiral labeled "forward inside-forward outside edge change"; entry into salchow or flip labeled " mohawk"; closeup on man's footwork during pairs lift labeled "mohawks"; entry into salchow or flip labeled and entry into spin labeled "three turn"; crossover entry into spin and step forward labeled "choctaw"; turns from forward to backward stroking labeled "three turn" "mohawk" "choctaw"; piece of complex step sequence adding many arrows to label the advanced turns as they're executed

    There could be other segments for other components. Anyone want to give one a try?

    But Skating Skills is the most important. If a network shows the Performance/Execution and Interpretation videos but not the Skating Skills one, or if a viewer just happens to tune in only for those, that will give a skewed impression of what the sport is about.

    The ISU might want to produce something similar -- a fan-friendly version of the component videos they use for judge training -- which they could play in the arena at ISU events and make available to broadcasters (with the option to replace the narration with their own translation). For the sake of fairness, all the elite skaters shown should be retired from competition and should represent a wide range of countries.

  6. #96
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    There are a couple of ways to approach this.
    What are characteristics that make a high-quality spin, in general terms irrespective of scoring system, irrespective of whether it's performed in a competitive context at all?

    What are characteristics that earn points under the current judging system?

    Since most of these particular spins were performed before the existence of the current judging system, it makes more sense to take the former approach, at least at first and while discussing those spins.

    Natalie Krieg. Look at her blade on the ice. Just look at it! (The hand and arm movements may contribute to the Performance, Interpretation and Choreography, but that's a trifle.)
    Lucinda Ruh. OK, this is obviously the best spin in the history of skating and any fan who can't see that is just uneducable.
    That isn't going to help a new fan see things she doesn't already know how to see. Let's get more specific. I'll write as if for a fan who doesn't know much yet except what looks nice or interesting or difficult to her but wants to learn more.

    What's good about each of these spins? What makes a good spin in general, and a good layback more specifically?

    The most important characteristic of a good spin is the centering -- rotating on a single spot on the ice without "traveling" around. If the skater can find the sweet spot of the blade and stay balanced over it with minimal friction, the spin will draw a series of small loops or circles on the ice, each one on top of the previous ones, just a few inches in diameter. For most spins that point is the part of the blade beneath the ball of the foot to the front of the arch, so the toepicks never touch the ice and the sound of the blade against the ice is very quiet.

    (For some spins, the weight will be balanced over a different point of the blade. E.g., for a scratch spin, the weight is between the ball and the first toepick, which scratches the circles on the ice. But the important part is that the weight stays balanced over the same part until and unless the skater subtly changes the balance on purpose and with control. Less control of the balance will results in a wobbly and/or traveling spin.)

    Being able to spin with great rotational speed is generally a positive factor, unless it's achieved at the expense of the centering.

    (Sometimes skaters keep spins slow or purposefully slow down and speed up with control. That kind of control would also be rewarded. But all else being equal, faster rotation is generally better.)

    Being able to sustain the spin for a prolonged time is harder than getting in and getting out quickly.

    Both Nathalie Krieg and Lucinda Ruh were masters at all of the above.

    Good speed combined with longer duration results in a high total number of rotations. For example, the senior ladies' short program requires a layback spin with a minimum of 8 revolutions in position; these have more than twice that many.

    Angela Nikodinov. Here a fan can profit from being told something about ballet positions, etc.
    Beautiful clear positions are valued. Both the arch through the whole back and the position of the free leg are considered in the layback spin. Traditionally, a turned-out free leg bent at the knee (ballet attitude position) has been preferred.

    Angela Nikodinov was known for her especially beautiful arched back and classic attitude.

    Other choices of free leg position, both easier and more difficult, are possible. There is no required free leg position. The rules for the short program required element also allow for a "sideways-leaning spin" as an alternative to the backward arch in the upper body.

    All the above characteristics address the quality of the spin.

    Then there are different ways of adding difficulty to the spin. In most cases, the additional difficulty will be in the form of one or more difficult position variations or changes from one position to another while maintaining control of the rotation. Arm movements that challenge the balance, as in the Nathalie Krieg example here, could be considered added difficulty, but not enough to count as a feature in the IJS system. Also holding the same position still for more than a few seconds or revolutions without wobbling or drooping is worth rewarding, and that is now a feature if the position is held for 8 revolutions.

    In 6.0 judging, there were no specific points given for the element or for particular characteristics. A difficult and/or well-done layback would add to the overall technical merit and/or presentation value of the program; a simple one done poorly would detract from the overall value. And any combination of characteristics in between, at the discretion of each judge.

    In IJS scoring there are specific features which are specified as adding to the difficulty of the spin. If a skater executes at least two such features, she earns a higher level for the spin and with it a higher base score. Everyone gets at least level 1 if they meet the basic definition of the element. Two features = level 2; three features = level 3; four features = level 4.
    [insert list of layback features here]

    Good quality would be rewarded with positive grades of execution; quality weaknesses (poor positions, traveling, slowing down, etc.) would be penalized with negative grades.

    [insert lists of positive GOE bullet points and negative GOE reductions here]

    Caroline Zhang. This is the only CoP spin in the bunch. I assume it is a level four, the other three being level ones by modern scoring. Caroline looks like a million dollars. But the reason the spin is a big point-getter is because of a a lot of changes of edges and positions. This is hard for the casual fan to see or to understand, plus, all those point-getting features do not make the spin any better, just more difficult. We have a big education job on our hands here, unless we just retreat to, oh look how pretty!
    Zhang is able to achieve four "features" to earn level 4 (higher base mark) and also to maintain several important areas of good quality to earn high GOEs; she gets extra points for both difficulty and quality.

    We could compare to other IJS skaters who also earn level 4 with lower quality and lower GOEs to point out that Zhang is not earning points for difficulty only.
    We could also compare to other skaters (under either system, or examples from outside the context of competition) who do not include as many difficult features but who do achieve as good or better quality and would earn just as high GOEs if judged under IJS.

    The points for difficulty are pretty much objective under IJS: the features are defined, and if a skater clearly meets the definition of the feature, she earns the higher level. (Under 6.0, the judges could each individually decide whether a variation, e.g., Krieg's arm movements, added difficulty and if so whether it was enough to make a difference in the score for the whole program.)

    The points for quality are more subjective. E.g., each judge might draw a mental line between "satisfactory" and "good" in a different mental place. But the better the skater centers the spin, the faster she spins, the longer she sustains it, the clearer and more attractive her positions, the more judges she'll convince to award her +1, +2, or +3 for her spin. The skater with who gets all +3s for a level 4 spin maximizes her point value for this element. Only a handful of skaters have ever done this in the history of the IJS, Caroline Zhang being one of them. I have no doubt that Nathalie Krieg and Lucinda Ruh could have designed their spins to do the same if the rules had existed when they were competing.

    ETA: For the summarized quick and easy version, take out the details and exceptions and just put all the boldfaced words into one short paragraph.

    What makes a good spin? Centering in one spot, speed of rotation, sustained rotation, strong positions. For a layback spin, strong back arch and free leg position, traditionally a well turned-out attitude.

    What makes a difficult spin? Variations that challenge flexibility and balance and changes between different positions and different parts of the blade, intentional changes of rotational speed, holding a single strong position still for many revolutions.

    Sometimes added difficulty is a tradeoff with loss of quality. The very best spinners who can execute top difficulty and top quality at the same time earn the highest scores.
    Last edited by gkelly; 04-17-2012 at 10:15 AM.

  7. #97
    On the Ice Mathman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gkelly
    Zhang is able to achieve four "features" to earn level 4 (higher base mark) and also to maintain several important areas of good quality to earn high GOEs; she gets extra points for both difficulty and quality.

    We could compare to other IJS skaters who also earn level 4 with lower quality and lower GOEs to point out that Zhang is not earning points for difficulty only.

    We could also compare to other skaters (under either system, or examples from outside the context of competition) who do not include as many difficult features but who do achieve as good or better quality and would earn just as high GOEs if judged under IJS.
    That would be an excellent idea for a TV spot at a televised competition. (A what? )

    It would be a chance for the ISU to toot the CoP horn. They could show pretty good spins from past eras (not Krieg or Ruh ), and then compare them with Zhang and others form the CoP. They could point out that in both cases the skater has good centering, speed and positions, but Caroline can do this, that, and then this again without losing those qualities. That's why she gets so many points.

  8. #98
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    "As long as I keep on working on new things and improving, then I'm fine," he said, adding he had a "new quad" in mind. He is considering changing the "pattern going into the quad with a smoother entrance."

    “As for my program, it’s not all about the technical,” Chan said. “It has to be an integration of the jumps with the transitions, those two elements are not seperate, they are one element and we have to learn to weave the two together.
    It seems to me that Patrick is going into a different route in technical approach. He is combining artistics and technics two-in-one. I'm sure the skating experts - the judges would appreciate that and wow on his effort. But will the general public do too? Will the public care that much for the smoother, more complicated, and shorter entries for the big jumps?

    Patrick's skating is already more refined than the second best in the world on his foot. He is planning to work on such refinement more. I'm not sure that the audiences and the general public who are seeking mainly on entertainment - the arms, the hands, the body, the head, the face, ...of course, and the legs - all those decorative efforts, would appreciate such detailed skating related effort. I sense the further departure over general public from the skating experts on Patrick's skating.
    Last edited by Bluebonnet; 04-25-2012 at 09:38 AM.

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