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An interesting article on the new judging system for skating, and a look back at some skaters of yore:

http://www.arts.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2006/02/04/btskating04.xml&sSheet=/arts/2006/02/04/ixtop.html

A snippet:

<<The word "sport" is the giveaway. With its pancaked athletes in garish clothes grinding out desperate spins and neck-breaking jumps in neon-lit arenas, in front of politically-motivated judges with protégés of their own among the competitors, ice-skating can be as offputting to watch as it seems dubious. Even the ice-dancing can be underwhelming, straining to mimic ballet or musical theatre.

It's when someone comes along who transforms skating into a uniquely icy expression of being alive, who casts spells of personal imagination that blur the eyes of even the most biased judges, and snap the dulled cameramen into sharp-focused attention, that suddenly skating justifies itself as a TV sport.
>>
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Good article Selena. The British skaters mentioned were true skating geniuses, and I loved watching them.

Skating generates love/hate feelings with people. Many of us love figure skating(I am in that crowd). I understand it is a subjective sport, and while that aspect bothers me, I still marvel at what these people can do on ice. Others feel skating is not a sport, and needs to be booted out of the games. I am not going to argue that.

What I will say is that I wish there was a better way to judge the artistry of the skating. But it comes down to taste, and sad to say politics.

I was confused watching the scoring last night. I had no idea what a good score was, except that higher is better. I wish NBC or Dick Button could have given us a clear description of the scoring. Personally I miss the old marks.

Charlie
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I was confused watching the scoring last night. I had no idea what a good score was, except that higher is better. I wish NBC or Dick Button could have given us a clear description of the scoring

I'm not convinced that they know what is a good mark and what is not. Will probably take a while to see where the system settles in.

Personally I miss the old marks.

Ditto

David
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I don't miss the old system one damn bit. The crookedness that was always present in the old system is much harder to pull off now, and in the new system, as long as you score close enough in the short you can win in the long no matter how many places you are down. The system needs some further tweaking, but it is much fairer than that old piece of crap was.
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I don't miss the old system one damn bit. The crookedness that was always present in the old system is much harder to pull off now, and in the new system, as long as you score close enough in the short you can win in the long no matter how many places you are down. The system needs some further tweaking, but it is much fairer than that old piece of crap was.


I totally agree. I don't know much about skating as I only watch it every 4 years. But every 4 years it has been the same thing. The first person or couple to stake goes out there and just blows everyone else out of the water. Even a skating dummy like me can see how great it is. And they get a low score. And some stupid analyst then says, "The judges don't like to give out high scores early." It's a load of crap if a competitor has no chance at a high score no matter how good they do. So if the new system has done away with that, then it is a better system.
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I was confused watching the scoring last night. I had no idea what a good score was, except that higher is better. I wish NBC or Dick Button could have given us a clear description of the scoring.

The new system is pretty complicated. I'm starting to get it now and I have been watching every single ISU Grand Prix event for the past 2 years.

So, in a nutshell:
1. There is a technical specialist who determines *what* element the skaters do. Important in that said person can downgrade a jump if, say, it was more than 1/4 of a turn under rotated. That is this person's sole job - identifying elements.

2. Each element has a value. I should have some of these memorized by now, but I don't. Triple axel is 7.5. That is all I remember. Anyway, you do a triple axel, your base value is 7.5.

3. Unless you put it in after the half-way point of your long program. In which case you get value * 1.1.

4. The rest of the panel of judges can say "that was an amazing triple axel so +3." Or "you fell, -3." So, the base value can be increased or decreased by up to 3 points. For each element. This is still subjective. But the wiggle room seems smaller in the grand scheme of things.

5. Some things (footwork sequences, spins) are given difficulty ratings from 1 to 4. I do not know who determines the difficulty ratings. I think they also get the whole -3 to +3 thing.

So, #s 1 - 5 up there determine the "technical" score.

6. There is an artistic score which takes into account musicality, the transition steps (in between parts), choreography, interpretation and, ummm, some other stuff. This part I do not understand very well at all.

7. There are rules, and I have no idea exactly what they are, but they exist, to limit the number of elements overall and the number of times a skater can do a particular element. Thus you will not see routines with only triple flip jumps. Nor will you see a routine with 20 jumps and no other skating in between.

8. Judges' scores are not tied to them individually. This is meant to reduce pressure from, say, Russian mobsters. :) No way to prove a certain judge scored high or low. OTOH, no way to catch a judge who is showing favoritism. Also, it seems that two scores are randomly disgarded.

9. Judges can replay parts of the routines to help them decide on grades of execution (the +3 to -3 stuff).

10. Oh, and also, certain things carry mandatory deductions over and above what the judges do with grades of execution. Falls are -1. Going over the time limit -1. In ice dancing doing a lift for too long -1.

Some results of the system:
a) Skaters get a print out of their scores. It will show them "such and such spin was given a difficulty level of 2." So the skaters will try to change that spin to get more difficulty. They can also see exactly where they are losing points.

b) The system really rewards certain things. Like using the Biellman position. Or spins with 10 different position changes. Things which might work for some skaters but not all. It is acutely painful to watch some of the complicated spins some skaters try. In addition, the system seems to reward someone who can do a mediocre Biellman but provides a strong disincentive to do a really super amazing beyond perfect layback or scale/arabesque.

I hope that helps. Like I said, 2 years, at least 6 competitions per year, and I'm kind of getting the hang of it. It would be cool to see how, exactly, a score breaks down. As in, show us what the skaters would see in the print out.
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