Saturday, December 10, 2011

Rewarding Failure Diminishes Sport

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If you tuned into the men’s competition at the Grand Prix Final you must have felt like Alice in Wonderland, watching a totally different event from the one ranked by the judges. The worst part is that there was nothing peculiar about this competition. This pattern of madness repeats itself event after event. Little wonder the sport is losing its last shred of credibility.

Blatant favoritism is nothing new in figure skating, although it is reaching unprecedented heights when Patrick Chan takes to the ice. To belabor this well-known point is a tedious pursuit. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or ISU judge to realize the man couldn’t lose if he tried (which he usually does).

But even such shameless bias is only a small part of the story. The reason why such manipulation can happen in the first place — why a skater can smash into the boards or botch jump after jump yet keep winning — has to do with the system itself. From the onset, the International Judging System was designed to reward failure, much the same way grade school kids are rewarded with A’s for effort. If not revamped (or better yet, put through the shredder), the system will put figure skating — already on the endangered species list —into the grave for good.

Common sense dictates that when a skater steps out of jump, puts his hands down, lands on his rear end, or crashes into the boards, he failed. Under the 6.0 system, the attempt was marked as such. A jump that ended in a bad fall was considered a non-jump. Under IJS, however, such fiascos are considered successful jumping attempts that get nearly full credit. If sufficiently rotated, a jump counts as done even if the skater plays Zamboni. The only difference between the splat and the jump landed vertically is a slight deduction for grade of execution.

Take a fall on a quad toe loop, for instance. What the judges do is start with the base value of 10.3, just as if the jump had been completed. Then they deduct a trifle, say 2.7 points or so, and you still rack up some 7.6 points! That's nearly as much as a perfectly executed triple axel! For an outright fall!

Where else but in figure skating is failure rewarded with such generosity? Imagine telling your boss you couldn’t complete an important project, but could he please give you that promotion anyway because you tried real hard and the task was so difficult? I don’t know about your boss, but mine wouldn’t take too kindly to this notion.

Yet that’s exactly what's happening in skating. Try, miss, hit the jackpot. Not surprisingly, skaters at all levels who know they can’t land a jump will go for it anyway to get that all-important partial credit. The result is that the audience pays good money to watch splashfest after splashfest, while skaters suffer increasing injury rates trying to hang on to jumps that are not landable.

“A for effort” can arguably do some good for little kids whose self-esteem needs a boost. Olympic skaters should not be in dire need of such propping up. What other reason can there be for lavishing points on a skater for botching jumps? They’re difficult, supporters of the system will argue. Surely skaters must be rewarded in some way for rotating four times in the air, right? Wrong. Are gymnasts awarded gold medals if they don’t stick a landing, never mind if they land flat on the mat or step out of bounds? Not funny. Then why should skaters be held to different standards?

A jump is spectacular, beautiful to watch, and technically difficult if, in addition to rotating it, the skater can gracefully finish the rotation in the air and then land on that thin steel blade with speed and grace. All other means of completing the jump — whether by sitting on the ice or arresting the fall by whatever other desperate means — does nothing to promote either the beauty or the difficulty of the sport.

Botched jumps are an eyesore, period. If nothing else, they should result in an automatic deductions in the component score, aka presentation mark. For all the difficulty of a quad, there’s nothing artistic about crashing on landing. Giving nearly full credit for failure at the highest levels of competition is a slap in the face of those skaters who land their jumps well and diminishes the very notion of sport. The practice also leave audiences baffled and frustrated. No wonder fans are abandoning figure skating in droves and skaters are performing to empty arenas. Soon it will be just them and the judges in the house.

48 comments:

  1. Hi Monica,

    I agree completes, but the 6.0 system was imperfect as well. I posted this on my blog today:

    http://la-skatedad.blogspot.com/2011/12/scoring.html

    ... but realistically that is not the issue. The judging system itself should he bifurcated: elite skaters need to he judged differently than those at our local weekend competitions. Keep posting!

    Best regards, Jeff

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  2. The skating world has always been corrupt. Nothing new here...move along!

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  3. Thanks. Jeff. As for John R. above: I don't mind people disagreeing with me. I just wish they'd bother to read the whole column. Obviously John didn't get past the first paragraph.

    Sure judging has always been corrupt. But under this system it's easier than ever before to cheat because of the anonymity and secrecy. But this column is not even about corruption. (Lots of previous blog entries deal with that). This one is about a failed system that rewards failure.

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  4. Thank you very much for this article! I completely agree with your point of view. Eh, unfortunately PCS now is a subject of manipulations too. Hope one day this "new system" will become really NEW.

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  5. Hi Monica, my question is: I agree with you about the fact a not perfectly executed jump should be more penalised in TES, but doing so also in PCS wouldn't be too much?

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  6. Paolo, I think not, it won't be too much)
    How performance with a fall can be evaluated as perfect or very good? It's not logical. If there were falls - the image of a performance already was broken. Maybe not totally but anyway.

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  7. Paolo: It is a good question, and I'm having a hard time trying to quantify how much a poorly executed jump should be penalized on the second mark. Much of it, in my opinion, depends on how badly it disrupted the program. A slight two-footing, for instance, takes nothing away from the performance. A bad fall or desperate attempt to save a jump does. Also, some skaters bounce back almost instantly from a misstep while others lose their focus or are dazed by the error and fall behind with the music or take a long time to recover. So it's very much a judgment call. But there's no way a program with multiple mistakes could have ever been rewarded with a perfect mark in the old system. A 6.0 or even 5.9 for presentation used to be reserved for near-perfection. Finally and maybe most importantly in this crazy Code of Points system, there's not one presentation mark, but many component marks. One of them is Performance / Execution. I would personally argue that should not be a component score but a technical one. Nevertheless, it is what it is. So how can someone like Patrick Chan miss two out of three jumps in the short program, slam into the boards, and get 9's for execution?! I rest my case.

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  8. Thank you very much for your article. I think that Performance/Execution component of PCS has to have some mandatory deduction in case of falls. Maybe not necessarily skating skills or choreography but P/E should definitely be affected.

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  9. One of the problems is also that there is no need for judges any more - technical panel can decide everything .
    In SP if skater performs a spin not according to proscribed pattern hi gets 0 value, if hi jumps a double jump instead of a triple or quad. he receives the value for the element (GOE) and -3 from judges ???
    instead of getting 0 value. The role of the referee is now - timekeeper ...
    There is no knowledge transferee like on old judges meeting's with explanations.

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  10. I agree that the judging system is not good, but it's the one the judges have and making snide remarks about Patrick Chan or any other skater is not good either. Maybe some genius should invent something akin to one of those machines on the highway that tells you how fast your car is going. If you fall, it registers with a bad mark. If you complete a jump, it registers its pleasure. Then it tallies up the score untouched by human hands.
    Perhaps the only answer is to fire all the judges, technical specialists, etc. we have now, gather all those who have written articles accusing the judges, the system, the powers-that-be and all others involved and let them sit down and figure out a better system and then put it in place. Otherwise, I see no solution other than to do away with figure skating itself.
    The other thing to do away with then is the articles that appear to blame the skater. Patrick Chan didn't ask for his marks and neither did any other skater. This reminds me of all the times that Michelle Kwan was said to not deserve a 5.9 or a 6.0 (a system some would favor returning to). According to some, she never deserved any good mark she ever got which seems to say that she was merely a mediocre skater and received gifts from the judges. We now have the same cry with Patrick Chan. I think it would be fair to say that we should stop blaming the victim and either do away with the sport or get rid of all who judge. There certainly should be a way.
    I suppose that Patrick Chan could publicly say that he didn't deserve his marks, that he slammed into the boards and failed in some jumps and so someone who is less guilty should win. Maybe that would get someone's attention more than articles or endless discussions. He didn't give himself the marks. If you want to hold someone up for either ridicule or blame, name the judges who gave the marks. They were introduced. I heard their names. Why single out the skater? If you are upset with the judges and the system, jump (no pun intended!) on that. I'm sick of hearing that this one was "propped up" or this one was "robbed". Go to the darned source and ask the judges and the technical experts why they did what they did. I could not agree more that the so-called system is broken, but I just don't like the idea of making the skater the one who is at fault for the scores that judges give.
    Perhaps the answer is to do away with amateur skating and its competitions that lend themselves to favoritism and unfair marks and make skating a pro sport. If you're good enough to skate for an audience, you get paid. If you fall, you get fired. That would do away with systems, judges and, if you are a Patrick Chan, you will learn to stand up and not fall on your jumps or run into the boards. And if you are no good, you follow another line of work. Please forgive the length of this rant, but at the age of 80, I've loved skating all my life, don't like what's happened to it and feel for the skaters who try to do their best, but receive the most criticism. Thank you for letting me let off steam.

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    1. Ummm....Patrick Chan is just the most blatant example of something that we all know is a problem in figure skating. Don't shoot the messenger! She is saying what we all know to be true.

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  12. This is in response to anonymous poster above, who said, quote:

    "If you want to hold someone up for either ridicule or blame, name the judges who gave the marks. They were introduced. I heard their names. Why single out the skater?"

    (1) Under this system it's impossible to hold any one judge responsible for anything he or she does. The group may be introduced to the audience, but no one knows which judge gave which mark — it's all anonymous. In fact, we don't even know which marks count! Some of the scores are thrown out by the computer at random. So how can I hold a judge responsible? Believe me, if I could, I would!

    (2) Why blame the skater? ** I didn't. ** I never said it's his fault — only that of the system. But if the system consistently and arrogantly favors some skaters over others with impunity, how ELSE can I make that point without pointing to the offense being committed? That's what journalists do.

    (3) Although Patrick Chan has no obligation whatsoever to express his feelings about the marks he received, it might help him. Over the years I can think of many instances where skaters said "I can't believe I got those marks. The judges were very generous." I suspect he would get more sympathy at fans angry with the results if he didn't act as if he's entitled to whatever marks he gets.

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  13. It is so unfortunate that any skater - Chan or Kwan or otherwise - inevitably faces the wrath that should be aimed at the judges and now under IJS, the judges and tech panel. As the poster above mentioned, they didn't give themselves the marks.

    It is just as unfortunate that the judges' scores are anonymous and that when asked why this is the case, Octavio Cinquanta replied that since magazines and newspapers often publish articles without a byline, it shouldn't matter if there isn't a judge's name attached to a particular score. That's a paraphrase of a response he gave to the Skate Bug audience during an interview at 2009 Skate Canada.

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  14. Once again there is an accusation next to Patrick Chan's name for what is perceived as "entitlement". I don't know what Patrick Chan feels or thinks.
    Perhaps it might help a skater to express what he feels about his marks. Trankov certainly had no hesitancy expressing his displeasure at the marks for the Sp and his grim expression during the picture-taking after the medal ceremony spoke volumes. So perhaps if Patrick Chan made a clean breast of his "entitlement" transgressions it might make for a more sympathetic fan base.
    Journalists, I'm sure, do what journalists do, but often it seems that they ascribe motives and actions to others that might not be truly there. When I read a blog written by someone who is supposed to know the subject and, therefore, is someone to whom I should give my attention, I would believe that the person knows Patrick Chan or any other skater and these are true statements. I don't know Patrick Chan, nor am I a fan of his, but I have watched him enough to know that his LP at the Gran Prix Final was not good. I also know that he was 10 points ahead and it would be difficult for Takahashi or any other skater to overcome that number. Takahashi brought his usual fine program (although I have seen him not so fine the same as Patrick Chan), but his scores when he was not completely on his game were not unreasonable and, perhaps, higher than he should have had. I don't know.) I have only read this one particular thing you've written, so I can't speak to whether or not you commented on his scores. I don't know if he has a sense of "entitlement" or if he has a sympathetic fan base. I don't know if the judges gave him a pass and "held him up" or not. I surely don't know his innermost thoughts and feelings.

    Perhaps Chan and Takahashi and any other skater who has felt that the "judges were very generous" will one day admit that they were given gifts that they probably didn't deserve. (Now I will put my "spin" on this kind of comment by saying that I always thought they were expressing false modesty or saying something for the media, sort of like the usual "I just went out there and enjoyed myself" -- a Michelle Kwan favorite.) If they ever come forward and admit that they didn't really deserve the marks they were given, I hope I am there to witness it.

    PS Lest you think I'm trying to be unreasonable, I truly enjoyed your blog. Yours is certainly a voice to listen to and think about. Thank you for trying to make some sense out of a rather hopeless system. And I thank Sonia for sending this to me.

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  15. I am happy to see this debate on judging and skating. Its a shame the leaders at ISU do not look beyond their status as elite leaders and have a similar debate. We all know that our ISU president knows little about figure skating and probably cares less other than the fact that it pays his salary and allows him and his wife to fly first class and stay in presidential suites where-ever they go. I never though skating would get so low. Its a shame the kids (and their parents) to give so much of their time and money to a sport get so little back from leaders (and the politics that are embedded in this sport) for their efforts. Its killing skating, coaches, and ice rinks world-wide. Even the Olympic Winter Games has lost much of its skating audience since SLC and how our illustrious ISU leader handled that fiasco.

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  16. I agree with so much of what Ms Friedlander has written and your comments, Mr. Wilson. My daughter has given me a trip to San Jose, CA to attend Nationals next month. It will be interesting to see our American skaters, but I would love to see many of those who took part in the recent Gran Prix competition so that I could truly see their skating and judge their programs for myself. I did see Patrick Chan in Los Angeles and was impressed with much of his skating. However, I almost dread going to San Jose because I fear seeing so many empty seats that I feel will be there. And, as you and Ms Friedlander have stated, it isn't lost on those who have followed this sport for years that the system is not only broken, it is beyond repair and must be changed or the sport is lost to us.

    If I seem blunt or pointed in my remarks, I mean no offense. I am an 80-year-old who came to love skating when she first saw Sonja Henie in the 1930's and I don't want to see the sport I love go away. You are right that we should debate and discuss these issues. I only wish, like you, that those in authority would do the same and realize that they are killing the sport.

    I hope that when I enter the arena in San Jose, every seat is filled with enthusiastic fans. Now there's a dream for you!

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  17. I agree there is blatant judging favoritism for Patrick Chan, but am not so sure the judging system is ENTIRELY to blame.

    My guess is that there are years now of judges who have made deals to vote for any given skater if the other judge will vote for THEIR skater somewhere down the line. I get the feeling that years of votes bargained for Plushenko, Joubert, Carolina Costner, Evan Lysacek (etc, etc) have lead us to the state we are in today: Canada now calling in many years of 'chips' for Patrick Chan.

    I admit I like 6.0 better because it was easier for me to understand, but there was blatant corruption in 6.0 too.

    I agree that one bad thing is the anonymity - while I wonder if there is anyone seriously MOTIVATED to investigate cheating judges, if these people had to put a name to their votes at least they might think twice.

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  18. I just want to explain to you the reasoning behind “partial credit” on jumps in the IJS so that you don't have misplaced frustrations with the system. Without partial credit, a fall on a 3A has 0.00 value and results in a -1.00 deduction, the skater would have made more points by doing a waltz jump (0.40?) or just doing a three turn and marking the jump, resulting in 0.00 but no deduction. When a skater feels a take-off where they're not sure if they will land the jump in your system, their best bet is to abort the jump completely and land on two feet or just do a single/double. Popping would become a strategy. You don't want that.

    Yuzuru's quad toe in his long netted him 11.44 points. It was clean and had positive GOEs. Daisuke's quad toe in his short, which he was planning on landing and lands all the time, ended up getting him only 4.77 AND -1.00 because he fell, it was under-rotated (meaning 70% of the base value) and got negative GOEs. That's a difference of 7.67, which is like a 3A with minuses. I assure you NONE of these men are just trying to rotate the jumps and fall to get points, they know better.

    “and you still rack up some 7.6 points! That's nearly as much as a perfectly executed triple axel! For an outright fall!” A perfectly executed 3A (base value 8.50 with all +3s) is worth 11.50 for the record. Quite a bit more than a fall on a quad toe. I'm sorry you've been watching splashfest competitions that you've paid money to see, I assure you none of the skaters want you to see them fall on the ice during their programs. The whole point of training is to increase their odds of not falling.

    “Not surprisingly, skaters at all levels who know they can't land a jump will go for it anyway to get that all-important partial credit,” How did you even come up with this? Research? Skaters know they will get more points landing a jump they know they can do. It's a little disturbing that someone who is misinformed is writing such an opinionated blog about how flawed figure skating is. Please read my post and consider making necessary adjustments to your blog before people start believing what they read and tune out of skating for good.

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  19. everyone brings up michelle kwan and the 6.0 system and its corruption. but the reality is that michelle kwan did not win everything all the time. when she was off or failed she lost.The prove is there. if not she will have 3 gold medals from the oplympics. but tara beat her even when she skated clean, but without passion. maria burtskaya, irina slutkaya, sarah cohen. we can count the amount of women that beat her when she was not on. in this case it seem that chan can fall 3 times and still win no matter what the other skaters do.
    another example of the crazyness. everyone loves jeremy programs; in everyone eyes they are the best programs in the men field this season. yet he commits the same amount of mistake as chan, yet ends up in 5 place. why was he punish more severely? these are question that casual fans who might be interested in the sports will want to understand. the purpose is to make a sport more appealing to everyone and maximize sponsorship, especially in these economic times. you don't minimize your viewers, is a losing proposition. and trust me this will not cut it at the oplympics. figure skating will be a gone sport if this happens. you perform the skill properly, then you get rewarded. you don't then it should be a automatic 4/10 to 5/10 deduction, is that simple

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  20. I think the thing that is hardest for me to understand is the degree of difficulty. I think that since I know so little about figure skating, it is hard for me to figure out why one skater performs an element and the next skater performs the same element and they look just alike to me. However, to the judges' and technical specialist's trained eye, there is a difference. Not only is there a difference, but one so great, yet undetected by my eyes, that it makes the difference between gold and silver or silver and bronze, etc.
    I also have a question: if anonymity is key to the judges ability to render decisions, are they not introduced by name before the start of the competition? I honestly thought they were, but I could be wrong. If they ARE introduced, then why all the "secret" business? As I have said, I don't know all the many rules and would like to have this explained to me. Thanks.

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  21. This is why I quit watching this "sport" years ago.

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  22. Thank you for this blog. You said it better than I could've. And to anonymous above, who wrote about Michelle:

    You are correct. Under 6.0, a fall was penalized. Michelle fell in 2002 and went down to 3rd place. She did easier jumps than Tara in 1998 and came in 2nd. She won a lot because she was pretty consistent. I remember a few times when a faller was held up in the short (Plushenko in 2002, a Russian pairs team around the same era) but nothing like the mess of the system that awards Patrick Chan. I won't watch anything with him in it anymore. It's ridiculous.

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  23. "Not surprisingly, skaters at all levels who know they can’t land a jump will go for it anyway to get that all-important partial credit."

    And you know that how?

    Falling leaves a bad impression on the judges. It's dangerous. It hurts the skater both physically and mentally, disrupting his concentration.

    Nobody would do that to themselves on purpose and I assure you that if you actually researched the subject and asked the skaters when they decide to include a jump in their competitive programs, you'd probably find out that it's when they land it at least 7-8 times out of 10 in practice.

    The current system doesn't reward failure. It deserves TAKING RISKS.

    Big difference.

    When skaters didn't perform quadruple jumps, people complained about the sport "moving backwards".

    Now that skaters take more risks, people complain about "falls being rewarded".

    How about addressing the real problem of the judging being very low quality (judges failing to notice a lot of things and marking according to the rules; let's not even get into the way PCS are judged...)?

    P.S. Figure skating is a very complex sport. There is much more to it than jumps. The problem is that most people are either unable or unwilling to recognise its other, non-jump aspects. So when a skater like Chan wins/medals despite having fallen, they get angry because they don't understand that there are a lot of aspects of his skating that are clearly superior.

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  24. Hi Monica,

    Thanks for your insightful article!

    May I first say that the passionate responses have me believe that figure skating might be dying for casual fans but plenty still care about the sport and want it to thrive. Perhaps I am just trying to convince myself, but i believe figure skating can survive this down period.

    This leads to the comments, which are all about the scoring system. You also stated, "This one is about a failed system that rewards failure." I don't want to speak for you but I think your article is really about the survival of figure skating [in the US] and a scoring system that rewards failure is partially to blame.

    If we are concerned about the survival of figure skating, and I think we all are, then lets assess all aspects of figure skating and start having the tough questions being asked and difficult conversations held at all levels of figure skating (recreational -> elite; small clubs -> USFSA or even ISU; how it is promoted; scoring system; how we treat athletes; the (masculine) culture of sport; ETC. Let's start having these dicussions!!!

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  25. P.S. Ziggy's comments really seem to hit a chord with me. I have never seen Chan live but those who have tell me his overall skating ability is far superior to his fellow competitors. I saw Yuna Kim several weeks ago perform. She was part of a show with other elite skaters. I can now see why she is the best in the world. Without any jumps, her skating was far superior making her fellow performers look slow, even sluggish. We believe tv to be an accurate representation of what we might see in person, and why not!?! The mediated power of tv, however, is limited by its very power to mediate the real. Not only is figure skating complex, Ziggy points too, but mediated devices we use to watch figure skating are by its very definition a source removed from the actual event. I think we should keep this in mind when we watch figure skating, or for that matter anything that is mediated.

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  26. i am not disagreeing in that there is more to figure skating than jumps. but i believe the problems lies in that the judging sucks and is bias, we all may agree that chan have the superior skating skills, but in order to receive credits for them he must execute it properly to get rewarded. and i will use gymnastics because i believe that both sports are a combination of artistic and technical skills. in gymnastics, two gymnast can start with different levels of difficulty one with a 15 and the other with 17 (simplifying). once the gymnast does their skills, the judges begin to deduct any mistakes that were obvious during the execution. so if the gymnast with the highest level falls or performs the skills poorly the deductions are automatic from 2/10 to 4/10 of their score. so you may start with a 17 and end up with a 13.3 or so. if the gymnast with the lowest level perform their skill properly, they win. that is fair competition and judging. you cannot perform a skill fall and still earn the points, and even worse get a 3+ value is ridiculous and absurd. it means that no matter what your competitors do, you win. there is no purpose of holding a competition or showing it on tv. the decision is already made regardless of what is performed. there lies the problem, are the judges willing to do the job. why is possible in gymnastics and not in figure skating

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  27. Part of being human is the acceptance of the fact that we live in an imperfect world because it is run by imperfect humans. People are suggesting that skaters who "didn't deserve" their good marks ought to come clean and admit this fact. How many other athletes in different sports have also had "mistakes" turn out in their favour (eg. a referee's missed call in soccer resulting in an undeserving winning goal...will the winning team EVER admit that they should not have won???). Outside of sports, how many teachers have awarded "undeserving" marks that subsequently allowed a person to gain entry into a competitive university/college program at the expense of another, arguably more deserving candidate? How many people have used someone else's ideas and claimed them as their own and obtained huge success as a result (eg. Blackberry)...it is very rare indeed that humans will ever admit that they did not deserve the rewards that they received! So I do not think it is fair for people to expect Patrick Chan or any other skater to stand up and say they don't deserve to win. Is he lucky? Yes, but he is lucky for the fact that he has been given an incredible gift of talent as a skater, one that is unmatched by most other current skaters in the world. No, he is not perfect. No, the system is not perfect. But it never will be for as long as humans are involved in the sport!

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  28. For the awesome 80-year-old commenting... "I hope that when I enter the arena in San Jose, every seat is filled with enthusiastic fans. Now there's a dream for you! "

    You are too cool. I admire your responses to this, and your obvious love for the sport. If you want someone to chat with Nationals week in San Jose, I'll be there all week for every event (busy during the Novice pairs, however). :) I'm in section 27, front row (to the right of the judges). --A spunky 26 year old woman with a pixie-type cut, who loves the sport as well... Take care!

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  29. Humans must be involved in the judging of the sport. They alone can appreciate what it means to see and judge the quality of other humans performances as a whole.

    There is a good reason there is a panel of judges and not just one adjudicator it is because the pleasure derived from the quality of the performance to the music can vary depending on the individual judges emotions and responses and influences.

    Too much control has now been handed to the single "technical specialist " who is effectively now a single adjudicator. This person is surely irrelevant if the judges have been properly trained and examined ! I think that all judges are capable of judging without the "help" of a technical specialist. Get rid of them and their expense.

    As well as this I feel that the human element of judging also needs to be better quantified in the awarding of marks for skating skills and used properly by the judges to award the quality and perfection we all strive for. The skating should be judged according to the skating skills currently used but also include a mark for technical acheivement. So therefore each judge could give 5 separate marks out of 10 for each performance using the criteria agreed and then if the lowest and highest judges scores could be eliminated to avoid bias we might get some true results.

    Judges need to be identified with the marks they award and obviously accountable for them too.

    We must preserve the human involvement in what is an artistic performance sport. That is it's reason for existance, and its popularity!

    No skaters or non skating audience want to see a jumping and falling over contest of performing monkeys judged by a computer. Especially when there are so many beutiful skaters of awesome quality and performance ability around.

    Skating officials are in danger of losing their way in trying to please those who are ignorant of the the real beauty and entertainment of what this sport offers.

    Great sport deserves great officials to guide it. We have some ! So lets allow them to and have a system that enables them, to do their job.

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  30. To all those posting here, I offer my thanks. I have learned so much by reading your posts and I offer my thanks to dear Sonia for sending me this original column. We don't always agree but, in many ways, that's what figure skating has always been about. We choose the skaters we love, but we support all of them. Win or lose, they are superior athletes and to be admired for their dedication and talent. To the young woman who will be at Nationals: when I speak to my daughter, I will find out where we are seated. I believe she said we are a few rows behind the judges. Maybe I can keep an eye on them and intimidate them into being fair and correct in their scores! :)

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  31. For Anonymous who said we could chat at Nationals, we are in Section 101, Row 12, seats 21 and 22. Hope to see you there!

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  32. Its so great all of you have taken time to bring this discussion into the open. I would wish that officials of the leading ISU members would take the time to read and comment as well. The ISU needs to be totally overhauled of course, but this is unlikely to happen until skating completely disappears. But I am sure skating isn't the only sport that suffers from these problems. From what I hear its embedded into most sports, maybe the problem is just human nature. Give someone a title or responsibility and there is always the chance they will let it go to their head and misuse their power. Keep up the discussion. As long as we post our thoughts, someone has to be reading it.

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  33. Wow, as someone who has covered figure skating for 25 years, I find it surprising that you failed to take into consideration that the new system (including planned program sheets) allows for the fact that in many instances a skater's program can sit way above other skaters in total points before anyone even takes to the ice. You are forgetting that Patrick Chan's skating skills put him head and shoulders above others in his category. He has deeper edges and better ice coverage than any other senior men skating right now and the new system recognizes that. His mistakes at the recent Grand Prix final did not qualify as serious flaws and therefore resulted in the 1.0 deduction in his long program. But his total points were higher even before he skated. Our very young skaters have just been through a workshop of beginning to understand this program as it gets rolled out to our Pre Preliminary and Preliminary skaters this season. No system will ever be viewed as perfect by everyone involved in the sport, but at least this one allows for the skaters to see where ALL their points come from, and it helps from a competitors point of view to know mid program that all is not lost just because of one missed jump.
    What needs to happen is the viewing public need to get beyond the simplicty of the 6.0 system and begin to see that figure skating is not just about the biggest jumps, but rather the entire athlete.

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  34. I am sure it is posted somewhere which judge belongs to which number. At lower level competitions in Canada (like Sections for example), it is posted with the list of skaters before the skating order is posted. Easy to find, if you want to look. We always know who is judge # 1 or #3 or what have you. But no, when the report cards come out with the GOE and the final results, there are just numbers. but they haven't changed, you just have to do a little bit of homework. It's not anonymous and I am sure if you spoke to a high level judge, they would tell you this.

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  39. men’s competition at the Grand Prix-i love to watch it.

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  45. All you ever do is bash and bash the system, but I haven't heard you suggest a better system for them to use.

    At lower level competitions the judges are not anonymous but at ISU competitions, all the marks are scrambled and there are no numbers...

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