View Full Version : ISU training videos - whaddya think?

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10-11-2012, 11:29 PM
Has anyone ever watched the Spectator's Guide to Figure Skating (http://skatetape.com/spectatorsguidetofigureskating-dvd.aspx) that's for sale on the ISU website? It looks like it would be a useful introduction to fans who want to make the transition from casual to knowledgeable fan.

The rest of the videos on the site seem mostly aimed either at coaches/federations or at casual fans.

I wish the ISU would develop more videos for fans who can now recognize the elements but want to go on to understand the fine points.

E.g., make a video for fans that's just about appreciating the technical side of skating skills between the elements. And one or more videos about the (other) program components, about the technical panel procedures and what they're looking at, maybe one about GOEs unless it's included in one of the above. A separate video about pair skills, and at least one about ice dance (and synchro).

Also make the judge-training videos available for sale, to open up and demystify the knowledge base.

I don't know what the technical restrictions would be on selling online pay-per-view at a reasonable price, which may be cheaper than mailing out DVDs.

The number of potential buyers around the world for each of these videos may number only in the low thousands, and charging too high a price would discourage viewers who would otherwise be interested. So I don't know how much money the ISU would be willing to invest in producing and marketing videos to fans who want to learn more about the sport as sport, to build an educated audience. But I wish they would have the motivation and pricing points to do so.

Include mentions of the materials available, maybe actual ads, in their broadcast contracts with TV networks.

Maybe make small educational video segments for networks to actually include in their broadcasts, and to be played on Jumbotrons during resurfaces at live events.

Jun Y
10-12-2012, 08:36 AM
How could the components be defined in such a way as to create more consistency across judging panels while still preserving the qualitative and in some cases subjective aspects of what they're designed to measure? Any suggestions?

My first suggestion would be to hire someone who thinks and writes clearly, instead of relying so heavily on verbal, face-to-face group trainings to convey the meaning of all the rulebook terms. However, we have seen instances where ISU favors ambiguous language in its rules to allow for flexibility in their application of the rules (cough, GP selection rules, cough). So who knows. Perhaps ambiguity can be useful sometimes to some people.

And then you get the problem of turning those analog perceptions, which may vary somewhat from one observer to another, into digital scores. How can that process be made more consistent? Can judges be taught to calibrate their mental 0-10 scales to be more consistent with each other? Would that happen through wording of the rules, or more from experience judging and comparing notes with each other?

Why not all of the above? I was only pointing out that the precision and clarity of the rules can be improved. I doubt there will be skating judges who would come out on a public forum and admit that they have been confused by the rulebook one time or another, but that doesn't mean they don't exist. How many? Hehe, it's certainly not for me to judge.

It gets even harder when you get to Performance/Execution and Interpretation, because some of those criteria are very much rooted in the observer's emotional response to the performance.

But would we want to eliminate these subjective aspects from the reward system entirely, in the interests of more consistent quantification?

My opinion is no, I personally do not want to eliminate the subject aspects of figure skating, but that is also not for me to judge. There are plenty of people within the sport who thinks that figure skating should be more like a sport and less like performance art, more objective and athletic and less subjective or "moving one's heart." Certainly, by quantifying the technical elements in IJS, the intention is largely related to making the sport more objective, even though even the technical aspects are not as objective as the numbers suggest. For example, how can one know for sure that, objectively, a quad toe loop is "equivalent" to, say, two triple lutzes? So I do not absolutely trust in the infallibility of numbers.

However, this issue is not only for judges, with all due respect to them. Skaters may enjoy expressing themselves or performing for the audience regardless of whether they are rewarded by the rules. Audience or "average fans" may love the sport and/or certain skaters for subjective and intangible reasons regardless of the rules. How much do such concerns matter to the sport, even if they may or may not matter to judges? Should skaters be rewarded or penalized for performance aspects? Should figure skating be judged as objectively as possible and let the audience sort out the performance and "artistic" aspects? Or should the performance aspects be factored into the judging? If yes, how much does that count in the context of the athletic/objective aspects? That is the eternal philosophical question of figure skating and there is (so far) no definite agreement.

Beyond the philosophical question, let's assume for a moment that the performance aspects (including expression of music and dance quality, etc.) should and do count in the judging. How should skaters with different styles and intentions be judged fairly and consistently by judges (who are, in some sense, also spectators) who also differ in personal taste and cultural background? One man's passion is another man's frivolity and superficiality. One man's subtlety is another man's obscurity. One man's cultural authenticity is another man's indecipherable symbols. Should the rules attempt to reduce (not eliminate as it is impossible) inter-judge variability by sacrificing some subjectivity? Should the rules minimize subjectivity? Will skaters stop trying to express their personal style and feelings if subjective/performance aspects are no longer rewarded? I don't know the answer to these questions, except that I do not think vague terminology helps.

Also, when it comes to evaluating the performance and music/dance appreciation, just how sophisticated and reliable are skating judges' opinions? Is the experience of having sat through thousands of programs sufficient to hone every judge's ability to appreciate and evaluate the performance aspects? I remember hearing Joe Inman talking about the interpretation and choreography components and encouraging young skaters in the seminar to listen to more music, watch more theater/dance performances, learn to understand performance arts outside of skating, etc. I respect his good intention and agree with him in principle, but still, it was a bit amusing to see the faces of kids 10 and above hearing this and many not getting it. Are all or most skating judges better at appreciating music, dance, and performance quality than, say, fans who are not so knowledgeable about skating techniques but have great appreciation for music, dance, theater? Neither all judges nor all spectators are monolithic blocks who think and understand the same way on the same level.

10-12-2012, 09:12 AM
There is a fundamental problem with the PCS guidelines being very loose and not precise at all, meaning anything goes.

I don't mean the kind of precision that the what 1-10 means big table provided. That was totally pointless as it was impossible to use.

ISU should come up with some kind of methodology of judging. A checklist, a way to quickly calculate features, etc. Something like this definitely could be done. Just requires some thinking and effort put into it.

10-12-2012, 03:04 PM
Are all or most skating judges better at appreciating music, dance, and performance quality than, say, fans who are not so knowledgeable about skating techniques but have great appreciation for music, dance, theater?

Don't know about most, but certainly not all.

The population of skating fans is probably more knowledgeable about music, dance, theatre than the general population at large, and possibly than the population of skating judges. :)

The trick is to educate the judges (and coaches/choreographers and skaters) more about performing arts, and also to educate the arts-oriented fans more about the technical and athletic demands of skating that make some aesthetic effects easier to achieve on the ice and others much harder than in stage performances.

ISU should come up with some kind of methodology of judging. A checklist, a way to quickly calculate features, etc. Something like this definitely could be done. Just requires some thinking and effort put into it.

Well, ~10 years ago they did that for technical content, and have continued tweaking it every year.

Could program components be systematized into a checklist in a similar way? Any suggestions what such a checklist might look like?

10-22-2012, 01:44 AM
The technology is so primitive! Why don't they use computer enhancements (and super-imposed graphics) to show or highlight things like:
- length of stroking versus height of skater
- one foot vs two foot skating
- balance checks
- movement or lack of same in upper body
- degree of lean (against a vertical axis)
- balance on the blade
- etc

The wording: "Skaters with good flow and glide". Surely 'Skating with good flow and glide" would be better, it seems a trivial point but it's training judges to judge the skater and not the performance. And by using active skaters it's all but saying "See this is who you're supposed to give good marks to".

That'll do for a start.

All of these are excellent suggestions, particularly using computer enhancements to better illustrate the points. I'm watching the videos via youtube, and overall, I am finding them helpful, especially the interpretation and presentation clips.