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Thread: Interview with Alexander Lakernik on rule changes

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    Interview with Alexander Lakernik on rule changes

    original: https://www.sport-express.ru/figure-...n-pri-1552839/
    translation: Moriel

    Interviewer talks with ISU Vice President Alexander Lakernik

    Interviewer: One of the main events of the offseason is another tweak of the rules. Is it correct to understand that this was done in order to encourage skaters who take risks so that they would not be afraid to go for difficult jumps?

    Lakernik: That is rather wrong. Simply put, the last year's decision, that an underrotation of exactly one quarter of a turn would already get a call and lower the score had lead to too many underrotations. And the technical committee decided to soften the situation. It is unlikely that someone thought about encouraging jumping people.

    Interviewer: It just made the judging more liberal?

    Lakernik: Yes. Last year there was a tough decision, it was softened with another one.

    Interviewer: At the same time, there is an opposite opinion: that ISU helps people who underrotate. In particular, Evgenia Medvedeva. Mathematically speaking, isn't it?

    Lakernik: Nobody thought about Medvedeva or anyone else. We just saw that there the number of underrotations increased, and offered to reduce their weight. And all this does not play such an enormous role. A 20 or 30 percent reduction is not so fundamental.

    Interviewer: So you do not agree that the changes work, for example, against Tuktamysheva, but for Medvedeva?

    Lakernik: I do not agree. Yes, there are skaters for whom underrotating is not a threat, although sometimes Lisa got called for it on triple axel. Yes, for her it is less typical. But this is a general decision, we did not think about specific people.

    Interviewer: It is clear that there will always be two different directions - either hard judging, and then Lysacek or Brown will win, or liberal, but people will win with mistakes. Which one you prefer?

    Lakernik: I believe that complexity should be encouraged. But conditioned to quality. We do not need badly performed difficult jumps. It should not be like a few years ago, when the main thing was to rotate it, and then land even on two feet. Many did just that - they didn’t even tried to land it on one foot, they got their GOE-2 points, but they ended up with a plus.

    Interviewer: Is the current balance perfect?

    Lakernik: There is nothing perfect, but there will be attempts to improve the situation all the time.

    Interviewer: Daniel Grassl recently said in an interview that he would like to include quints in his programs, but will receive zero for them. Is it time to add them to the scoring table?

    Lakernik: It’s not a problem to include quints, we don’t mind. I just do not think that the world is ready for someone to do this. There are only attempts, with large underrotations. As soon as there are athletes who do it, and as soon as we are convinced that it is doable, we will add them. A year ago, we achieved that the table was built on percentages, so the table design became simpler. We only need to add a new base value. But for now, the story about the quints is talk, I have not seen a single video.

    Interviewer: At the last World Championships, we witnessed the work of the Ice Scope program, which measured the jump height and other characteristics. Did you like it, will you strive for more automatic judging?

    Lakernik: For now thats not the focus, ISU has shown interest in these developments. We listened to the representatives of the developers, but we asked certain questions. For example: height, length is important, but we do not have a length or height competition. We asked if developers can measure jump rotations. Then it will be interesting to us.

    Interviewer: They took note?

    Lakernik: Yes, previously they were not working on it, but now they will.

    Interviewer: It is possible that, lets say, after Beijing, the ISU will have a system where underrotation degrees will be calculated by a program, and the points will simply be automatically proportionally calculated?

    Lakernik: No one knows how long it will take to develop. Theoretically, a double jump is 720 degrees. But in practice it is less, everyone jumps from an arc and does not land on a straight line. An underrotation is built into the jump. Therefore, to put it bluntly - the program should say that one or another skater rotated a certain number of degrees. And experts will interpret this data. The question is what kind of underrotation is permissible. Right now, a quarter of a turn. Someone will say - that is a lot, someoneelse that it is not enough. We need to negotiate. If this whole system ever works out, it will be very interesting.

    Interviewer: Do you support video replays in figure skating, as it is done, for example, in football, tennis?

    Lakernik: But we have that. The judges have replays in normal speed, the technical team - in slow motion. And this is used during competitions, and often. Another question is that it is necessary to improve the resolution of the equipment. Perhaps put a second camera on the other side. But how much does it cost? As always, the question is in the ratio “price - quality”.

    Interviewer: I'm asking more about the public replays. In hockey, the judge announces the decision to the entire venue, in tennis everyone sees where the ball landed. In figure skating, is it possible for viewers to see the same picture as the judges, so that the decision will be explained to them?

    Lakernik: I do not know. And I do not know whether it is necessary. If a lot of people start watching the same thing, chaos arises. Too many opinions. We must fight for the quality of the work of technical teams, for the same approach. But to begin discussing it out loud with the audience... The spectator can see the result - this jump was under-rotated. We have 11 jumps per program. How many repetitions will be there?

    Interviewer: A figure skater can have the right to challenge, for example - how do you like this idea?

    Lakernik: But he already got his scores. Ask to change the scores? Well, I'm sorry, we want to make judging faster, and publicity sounds beautiful, but it will delay the process. This will only lead to even more disputes.

    Interviewer: ou mentioned the struggle for the same approach of the technical teams. Now, there are problems with it?

    Lakernik: There are. Not so much that they directly affect the result, but there are different views. We strive to remove this.

    Interviewer: The decision about Grand Prix participants will be made very soon. According to my calculations, in the women's single skating, we should have 12 representatives. This is real?

    Lakernik: There is a whole system of criteria. World Championships, world rankings, season's best rankings. As for the World Championship - Zagitova will be the first to choose any two Grand Prix. Tursynbaeva will chose from the remaining four. And Medvedeva ...

    Interviewer: Go where she is told to, i guess.

    Lakernik: She will get the rest, yes. Although athletes can negotiate. But this trio surely will not end at same competition. Further, there are still winners of the junior world championship. And this way, the quotas are gradually filled.

    Interviewer: How is it determined that a person will get one or two competitions?

    Lakernik: There is a group of Grand Prix, consisting of representatives of six countries, and there is distribution. There are delegates from Russia, as well as from United States, Canada, France, Japan and China. On june 19-20, they will meet and decide. The question is so difficult that I forgot about the navigator and missed a turn (laughs)

    Interviewer: I thought you were taking taxi most of the time.

    Lakernik: I cannot always afford it.

    Interviewer: And yet: the three juniors from Tutberidze - Trusova, Shcherbakova, Kostornaya - can count on two stages of the Grand Prix?

    Lakernik: I think, two of the three world championship medalists, for sure. But Kostornaya was not at the World Championship. It will be discussed.

    Interviewer: Do you think that Russia will have the right to send 12 athletes?

    Lakernik: In theory, it is possible. But sometimes athletes refuse. Tsurskaya, for example, finish her career. Someone can take a break, someone may get injured during the season. Juniors must make a formal decision whether they will become seniors (if their age permits

    Interviewer: You are a bit pessimistic about Russia. Will we become a victim of the geographical expansion?

    Lakernik: No, don't say that, we have so many people skating right now. If we have the right, who would take these quotas from us? No one. Such things are not discussed by the Grand Prix group. These are experienced people, they have known each other for a long time and work together. I cannot say that there are no fights. But they are friendly fights.

    Interviewer: Other Olympic sports are actively introducing new disciplines. Even speed skating, which complies with the ISU, has introduced a mass start. Is it possible to have a mass-start in the figure skating, something new?

    Lakernik: There is no development of mass start style, of course. There is an idea of ​​changing the competition so that short and free programs are much more different from each other and have the same weight in order to give the same medals for them. Work is underway. But how successful this development will be is a question. If everything works out, there will indeed be new disciplines, medals at the Olympics. Don't think that we are not doing anything.

    Interviewer: Do you like synchronized skating, should it be added to the Olympic Games?

    Lakernik: Yes. But the question is complicated. IOC has established a total quota of athletes at the Winter Olympics - about 2,900 people. For synchronized skating, we need another 200 people or so. If we reduce the number of people in a team, won't it lose its essence? At one time there were 30 people in the teams, long time ago, but I still remember. Then 20, now 16, which is already only divisible by 4, and this is also important, it is a minus. With 12 the number of configurations will be even smaller. I am for synchronized skating at the Olympics, at the World Championships. ISU compromised with 12 people, but IOC disagreed. Maybe this is good, we didn't lose the essence of it.

    Interviewer: Is it possible to reduce teams or ice area? In synchronized swimming, they manage it with 9 athletes.

    Lakernik: Perhaps, but with 16 participants it looks more spectacular. And IOC does not agree even with 12 people.

    Interviewer: At the previous ISU congress, the question of increasing the age limit was raised. Next year there is a new congress, and the balance of power in ladies did not change. Is there a threat of change?

    Lakernik: The congress will be held in summer of 2020 in Thailand. It is not known whether such proposals will be made. Usually they are made in the winter if they are not urgent.

    Interviewer: And if they are made?

    Lakernik: They will discuss it. The people who proposed it will justify the need for changes. There are pros and cons to changing the minimum age. On the one hand, beautiful female skating and the like. On the other hand, it will not be as difficult as that of small nimble girls. We after all offer a product to the audience. Would they like to watch skating with more grace, but less complexity? One would need to find out. At the last congress the proposal arose spontaneously, no one was eager to discuss it so suddenly.

    Interviewer: What is your opinion? Are you ready to protect the existing rules?

    Lakernik: I do not really want to express an opinion and influence others, but there are doubts about the need for raising the age. And also, you need to think about why this topic has never been raised before. Tara Lipinski became the Olympic champion at 15. Then the age was slightly increased. Maybe someone just wants to reduce competition? I believe that, before making decisions, we must carefully weigh all the pros and cons. Especially when it comes to such decisions.

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    Lakernik: ...We do not need badly performed difficult jumps. It should not be like a few years ago, when the main thing was to rotate it, and then land even on two feet. Many did just that - they didn’t even tried to land it on one foot, they got their GOE-2 points, but they ended up with a plus.
    This.

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    On the Ice Mathman's Avatar
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    Thank you, Moriel. Very interesting interview.

    Is the interviewer against Medvedeva for some reason, or he he just asking general quetions?

    I was also interested in this line about Grand Prix selections:

    As for the World Championship - Zagitova will be the first to choose any two Grand Prix. Tursynbaeva will chose from the remaining four. And Medvedeva ...will get the rest, yes. Although athletes can negotiate.
    This makes it seem like the athletes have the biggest voice. I was under the impression that the host federation gets to invite the skater that they want (and furthemore, that sometimes federations deliberately choose to invite the medalist that they think is least likely to beat the home country champion, or the one that they think will be the biggest local audience draw.)

    When Mr. Lakernik says that the skaters can negotiate, does he mean with each other, or with the host fereration? Can the host offer money under the table to a skater to attend their event? Can one federation "negotiate" with another so that the champion's federation will "send" her to a particular event, independent of the skatter's personal preference?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    Thank you, Moriel. Very interesting interview.

    Is the interviewer against Medvedeva for some reason, or he he just asking general quetions?

    I was also interested in this line about Grand Prix selections:



    This makes it seem like the athletes have the biggest voice. I was under the impression that the host federation gets to invite the skater that they want (and furthemore, that sometimes federations deliberately choose to invite the medalist that they think is least likely to beat the home country champion, or the one that they think will be the biggest local audience draw.)

    When Mr. Lakernik says that the skaters can negotiate, does he mean with each other, or with the host fereration? Can the host offer money under the table to a skater to attend their event? Can one feseration "negotiate" with another so that the champion's federation will "send" her to a particular event, independent of the skatter's personal preference?
    Medvedeva is trendy in russian media. Whatever she does, it makes news, and they call people to interview about her, and they ask about her.
    For example, take sports.ru (its not nice but easy to search): https://www.sports.ru/figure-skating/
    if i search for Medvedeva, i get 12 mentions of her in the news headers. If i search for lets say Zagitova, there are 4. 9 mentions of Tuktamysheva.
    (Tbh, a number of fans is annoyed because we don't really want to know what Lipnitskaya thinks about hate letter Medvedeva got, we would rather have an interview of Lipnitskaya about her life and work, and so on, and so forth).

    (Sorry if i sounded not nice here, just annoyed at this point).




    As for negotiations, he doesnt really makes clear who negotiates with whom. Just "well, people somehow negotiate it".

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    Bona Fide Member Fluture's Avatar
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    I was merely surprised on the comment that making underrotation calls less strict would favour Medvedeva especially. Isn‘t she like the most consistent skater for years now? I mean, this season was a bit of an exception but I can‘t remember her underrotating much, she fell more but UR? During Worlds, yes and a couple of jumps here and there. But not something major. Just a bit to single her out like that.

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    Bona Fide Member Fluture's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by moriel View Post
    (Tbh, a number of fans is annoyed because we don't really want to know what Lipnitskaya thinks about hate letter Medvedeva got, we would rather have an interview of Lipnitskaya about her life and work, and so on, and so forth).

    (Sorry if i sounded not nice here, just annoyed at this point
    Well, there must be a reason why Medvedeva is a trendy topic in Russia. Journalists won‘t just go ask Lipnitskaya and who knows else about her if they thought nobody would read it. Obviously, people are interested in hearing about her, for whatever reasons they may have. People certainly had a lot of opinions on her this season and they were not afraid to spread them. If they‘re surprised now at the attention she gets, well, I‘d say they should look at the attention - even if it was negative - they gave her themselves.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fluture View Post
    Well, there must be a reason why Medvedeva is a trendy topic in Russia. Journalists won‘t just go ask Lipnitskaya and who knows else about her if they thought nobody would read it. Obviously, people are interested in hearing about her, for whatever reasons they may have. People certainly had a lot of opinions on her this season and they were not afraid to spread them. If they‘re surprised now at the attention she gets, well, I‘d say they should look at the attention - even if it was negative - they gave her themselves.
    Reading the comments on all those news, I am somewhat suspecting that most people do not really read, they just open, write "again???" and leave

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    Thank you for the translation, Moriel.

    And I will leave others to discuss Zhenya and the remainder of the mentions (it is peculiar, but everyone everywhere wants to generate clicks, *but* I sure hope the reference to Lysacek, and of course, Jason, was respectful. (Although if they are held up as an example of quality over quantity, then )

    Otherwise, them's fighting words

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    He says that GP selection for Kostornaya will be discussed but no way she won't get two GPs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by el henry View Post
    I sure hope the reference to Lysacek, and of course, Jason, was respectful. (Although if they are held up as an example of quality over quantity, then )
    It seemed to me that the interviewer's question was fairly neutral. If URs are more strictly judged and falls are punished more heavily, etc., then skaters who push the technical boundaries will be at a relative disadvantage. (Presumably because they fall more often, have more severe under-rotation issues, etc.)

    But if the ISU lightens up on penalizing mistakes, that will benefit skaters who go all out in technical difficulty and the devil take the hindmost. Which direction does Lakernik prefer?

    To me, it seemed that Lakernik's measured answer is more leaning toward the quadsters, even though this year's rule changes go somewhat the other way. Reading between the lines, it seemed to me that, throughout, Lakernik is resisting the interviewer's attempts to put words in his mouth or to pressure him into one answer rather than another.

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    Bona Fide Member andromache's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    This makes it seem like the athletes have the biggest voice. I was under the impression that the host federation gets to invite the skater that they want (and furthemore, that sometimes federations deliberately choose to invite the medalist that they think is least likely to beat the home country champion, or the one that they think will be the biggest local audience draw.)

    When Mr. Lakernik says that the skaters can negotiate, does he mean with each other, or with the host fereration? Can the host offer money under the table to a skater to attend their event? Can one federation "negotiate" with another so that the champion's federation will "send" her to a particular event, independent of the skatter's personal preference?
    I kind of read this as federations negotiating with each other on behalf of their athletes. And federations that host GPs have the most negotiating power. Maybe USFS wants to make sure that Bradie Tennell doesn't have to compete at NHK or Rostelecom because those fields are likely to be more difficult. So they will negotiate with France or China to invite her instead.

    But I also think it's likely there will be a lot of negotiating within federations as to which skaters go where - in that case, a skater's team will negotiate for them. It will be extremely interesting to see how Eteri's team strategizes this next season, assuming that Elisabet, Alina, Trusova, Shcherbakova, and Kostornaia all get two GPs. They will want to give all of the girls the optimal chance of making the GPF, but it will be tough with other Russian seniors, Rika, and Kaori. One or two girls will have to be "sacrificed" to go to NHK, which will be the toughest competition for a Russian lady. And they will have to compete against each other before the GPF, and do you want Alina versus Trusova before the GPF, for example? Probably not.

    I am clearly thirsting for the GPF assignments. Zhenya is probably going to get screwed, unless RusFed makes Elisabet/Eteri pick poorer assignments (such as NHK) so that Zhenya can have assignments that work better for her (such as Skate Canada). RusFed pays Eteri's salary, and RusFed will obviously want to give a popular Russian skater an advantage over a non-Russian skater such as Elisabet.

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    Interviewer: So you do not agree that the changes work, for example, against Tuktamysheva, but for Medvedeva?

    Lakernik: I do not agree. Yes, there are skaters for whom underrotating is not a threat, although sometimes Lisa got called for it on triple axel. Yes, for her it is less typical. But this is a general decision, we did not think about specific people.
    Probably the interviewer was thinking about the epic battle between Tuktamysheva and Medvedeva for the third spot on the Russian national team that we all remember. The rule change on under-rotation is meant to create a level playing field for all skaters.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    It seemed to me that the interviewer's question was fairly neutral. If URs are more strictly judged and falls are punished more heavily, etc., then skaters who push the technical boundaries will be at a relative disadvantage. (Presumably because they fall more often, have more severe under-rotation issues, etc.)

    But if the ISU lightens up on penalizing mistakes, that will benefit skaters who go all out in technical difficulty and the devil take the hindmost. Which direction does Lakernik prefer?

    To me, it seemed that Lakernik's measured answer is more leaning toward the quadsters, even though this year's rules changes go somewhat the other way. Reading between the lines, it seemed to me that, throughout, Lakernik is resisting the interviewer's attempts to put words in his mouth or to pressure him into one answer rather than another.
    I wonder why they chose to lighten the penalty rather than loosen the rule, especially given that at Worlds and WTT, many under rotations simply were not called.

    As long as some judges continue to ignore the rules, in some ways it almost doesn’t matter what the rules are.

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    Quote Originally Posted by andromache
    I kind of read this as federations negotiating with each other on behalf of their athletes.
    It often seems to me that the more the federations play these assignment games, the more likely they are to end up outsmarting themselves. Last year Skate America probably thought it was safe to invite Sofia Samodurova (who?), then she ended up knocking Bradie Tunnell off the podium.

    I don't think that Evgenia Medvedeva is in any danger of getting screwed. She is guaranteed two events. If she ends up sipping Grande Chartreuse in Grenoble, well, there are worse fates no matter who is or isn't skating there.

    Do you want Alina versus Trusova before the GPF, for example?
    Yes, yes! Six times!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    Yes, yes! Six times!
    Exactly! Why not! I'm waiting for it...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    It often seems to me that the more the federations play these assignment games, the more likely they are to end up outsmarting themselves. Last year Skate America probably thought it was safe to invite Sofia Samodurova (who?), then she ended up knocking Bradie Tunnell off the podium.
    Bradie knocked herself off podium imo.

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    Quote Originally Posted by moriel View Post
    Tara Lipinski became the Olympic champion at 15. Then the age was slightly increased. Maybe someone just wants to reduce competition? I believe that, before making decisions, we must carefully weigh all the pros and cons. Especially when it comes to such decisions.
    Hm.. it looks like Lakernik will get more positive with age increase if Alysa Liu starts winning

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fluture View Post
    I was merely surprised on the comment that making underrotation calls less strict would favour Medvedeva especially. Isn‘t she like the most consistent skater for years now? I mean, this season was a bit of an exception but I can‘t remember her underrotating much, she fell more but UR? During Worlds, yes and a couple of jumps here and there. But not something major. Just a bit to single her out like that.
    She underrotated very much last season, but not all of these URs were noted especially on Russian Cup Final and Worlds. Interviewer is well versed in figure skating, in Russia it is great rarity.

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    Quote Originally Posted by zounger View Post
    Hm.. it looks like Lakernik will get more positive with age increase if Alysa Liu starts winning
    Considering that the proposition to increase the age limit did not come from Americans, I don’t think Alysia Liu will have diddly squat to do with it

    I am an American and I am in favor of age increases whether it affects Alysia Liu, Russian Ladies or the man in the moon. I find some of the whining about these rules “oh you’re just picking on us [whoever “us” is] cause you don’t like competition” to be a complete non sequitor. It just distracts from the merits or non merits of the argument.

    It would be a shame if Lakernik were using the same non sequitor as an argument.

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    Quote Originally Posted by el henry View Post
    The man in the moon.
    4.5 billion years old and still doing full revolutions.

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