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Mafke
10-09-2012, 07:31 AM
I'm starting this because there was a lot of discussion about this on another thread and the suggestion was made that some of the side issues discussed would benefit by their own thread.

I'll start : The problem I have with these videos is that there is no.... rigor.

That is, there's a lot of mumbo jumbo using vague terms that have different meanings for different people and then clips of skaters that are supposed to be examples.

My problems:

The features the viewer is supposed to be looking for are very subjective. It all has a very Emperor's New Clothes feel about it. With the example of Harding vs Asada they don't mention (for instance) that Harding seems to spend a lot more time on one foot and her power seems directly generated from the blades (and the timing of her stroking seems better to my untrained eye). Asada spends more time on two feet and is using her whole body to generate speed.

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.

Aussie Willy
10-10-2012, 03:32 AM
I have the full set of the component DVDs, along with other videos and DVDs that were produced in the past, including the ones for elements, synchronised and Ice Dance.

Hate to say this but the audience is not the general public but rather judges, skaters and coaches to provide them with guidance on the components. And when you are watching them you really should be looking at each concept and example on it's own merit. Take the personality out of it. However you may go away with a whole new understanding about a particular skater which will either confirm or change your opinion about what you thought of them in the first place. You sometimes come away saying "Ah I see what they mean by that" and get that little light bulb moment.

From a judging point of view, I have found them very good. They do help with providing a set of tools and key words that you can use to evaluate skaters with and in understanding the concepts of the components. You need to use real life examples and there is no point just showing the good. You need to show examples of what is not considered good technique.

For example on the Presentation DVD they use Totmianin and Marinin to demonstrate the concept of Clarity. I really appreciated that example because it showed that nothing they did was blurred, everything was finished off and the pictures they created were clear. Next time I was judging it was something I was able to apply my set of judging tools, particularly when you really have one skater that highlights that quality in their own skating.

gkelly
10-10-2012, 05:01 AM
The first thing I'd say about these videos and about trying to discuss their value is that they need to be watched in context, all segments for a given component one right after the other in order. Unfortunately the presentation on youtube doesn't make it easy to watch them that way.

They also presuppose a prior base knowledge about skating skill. They're not designed to train the untrained eye, but rather to educate trained observers to refine their eyes to notice more detail in a more systematic manner than 6.0 judging required and to apply what they already know to this specific scoring system. In many cases they're more reminders than introductions.

So if you're watching them out of order, with little or no prior experience watching skaters at all levels from beginner to senior live and analyzing differences in power, flow, edge quality, etc., using those terms, these videos alone probably won't help you master those concepts, because they're qualities that are much more apparent live than on video.

Whatever method was chosen to select skaters to illustrate each point, there could be potential problems in terms of effect on the skaters' reputations. Since these videos were not intended for the general public, who are likely to be more focused on the personalities of recognizable skaters than on the concepts, then the effect on the public's opinion of these skaters was not a concern in their selection.

The effect on judges' opinions of skaters who are still competing, whom the judges studying the videos might be in a position to judge someday soon, would be more significant.

The intended audience would include

1) experienced international judges who have formed their own opinions about most of the general concepts and who may have already judged some of these specific skaters (and in some cases seen them develop from lower skill levels to their current competitive level) and formed their own opinions about their strengths and weaknesses

2) less experienced international judges, e.g., new international appointees from smaller skating countries, who may not have judged elite senior international competitions in the past but who are looking forward to doing so soon enough to encounter some of these current still-competing skaters featured

3) aspiring national and international judges who probably won't be judging elite senior internationals while the current stars featured are still competing, but who might encounter one or more star skaters who compete domestically in their own country

4) lower-level judges, especially from larger countries, who may never achieve international appointments, or not until long after the current crop of skaters has retired

Category 2 would be most susceptible to being influenced by the training materials in their opinions of skaters that they may soon be called on to judge against each other.



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

These graphics would be more useful for a "skating appreciation" course for fans who don't have access to years of watching tests and competitions at all levels. Potential international and even lower-level judges would already know a lot of these basics, so the IJS component training is more a way of shaping that knowledge than imparting it in the first place. And when they're called on to judge these qualities in competition, they'll need to rely on their own naked eyes in real time.


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.

A valid point. It would be more significant if these videos were the primary source of training for judges who will actually have to judge these specific skaters. Since that's not the case, I do consider it trivial.


Personally, I found the Transitions and Choreography segments the most useful to me in breaking down ways to evaluate the various criteria for those components.

RFOS
10-10-2012, 02:15 PM
I don't have time to look at them now but I do recall them using superimposed graphics in the versions I watched to show use of personal & public space, ice coverage, and use of music during a footwork sequence.

aftershocks
10-11-2012, 03:05 AM
...
For example on the Presentation DVD they use Totmianin and Marinin to demonstrate the concept of Clarity. I really appreciated that example because it showed that nothing they did was blurred, everything was finished off and the pictures they created were clear...


Ah well, IMO, yes T/M had beautiful line, extension and clarity but precious little connection with each other or the audience. Aside from their earlier West Side Story and Cotton Club performances, they lacked character and excitement. But okay, I guess ISU judges may feel those qualities are a bonus if skaters have them. Hells Bells, no matter if they don't, cause "clarity" and "flow" mean so much more.

Coco
10-11-2012, 03:40 AM
As far as the issue of singling out skaters goes, perhaps it would be 'nicest' if they used a skater's prime vs their pre-prime/developmental phase to show the right way and the wrong way, respectively.

And they should avoid using current skaters, as they are basically telling a judge - "mark them off for this" or "reward them for that."

RFOS
10-11-2012, 03:46 AM
As far as the issue of singling out skaters goes, perhaps it would be 'nicest' if they used a skater's prime vs their pre-prime/developmental phase to show the right way and the wrong way, respectively.

And they should avoid using current skaters, as they are basically telling a judge - "mark them off for this" or "reward them for that."

I was also thinking another way they could do it if they could find a good example would be to show one program from a skater where there is a major difference in a certain component aspect between different sections of the program. For example, a skater who started out performing and executing very well, but began to make mistakes and give up on the performance halfway through, or a skater who started out with good flow but lost stamina and got more choppy and labored at the end.

Proustable
10-11-2012, 03:49 AM
As far as the issue of singling out skaters goes, perhaps it would be 'nicest' if they used a skater's prime vs their pre-prime/developmental phase to show the right way and the wrong way, respectively.

And they should avoid using current skaters, as they are basically telling a judge - "mark them off for this" or "reward them for that."

I think this would be best, though I wonder how much video footage is available for skaters not currently competing at two different stages as clearly as the ISU would like it.

Aussie Willy
10-11-2012, 05:12 AM
Ah well, IMO, yes T/M had beautiful line, extension and clarity but precious little connection with each other or the audience. Aside from their earlier West Side Story and Cotton Club performances, they lacked character and excitement. But okay, I guess ISU judges may feel those qualities are a bonus if skaters have them. Hells Bells, no matter if they don't, cause "clarity" and "flow" mean so much more.
But they were only using them as an example of clarity, not the other aspects of Performance. And for that aspect of Performance they are an excellent example. They were not being used as what to look for Performance generally.

People sometimes need to get their headspace out of looking at a whole and rather focussing on a single aspect of a component. It is like listening to a piece of music and concentrating on listening to just one instrument.

It is also looking at even though you might not like a skater generally, you might find something that you can really appreciate about them.

gkelly
10-11-2012, 01:15 PM
As far as the issue of singling out skaters goes, perhaps it would be 'nicest' if they used a skater's prime vs their pre-prime/developmental phase to show the right way and the wrong way, respectively.

Yeah, that would be cool, if they could track down contrasting videos of skaters who made noticeable improvement in a specific criterion.

Remember most of the clips are demonstrating specific points rather than overall skill.


And they should avoid using current skaters, as they are basically telling a judge - "mark them off for this" or "reward them for that."

Of course, most of the judges who are at a point in their careers when they would be most influenced by the skater selection in the videos would only have the opportunity to judge those particular skaters at a senior B or national event. Most judges who are already at the point of judging ISU championships and GPs probably already have a lot of experience and their own strong opinions about those skaters.

Suppose they don't redo these videos soon and continue using them for training in 2015 and beyond, when even most of the younger skaters used would have retired from competition. Looked at from that perspective, we can ignore the potential problem about influencing opinions of current competitors and focus on the points being made.

So what do people think about the actual points? Should we choose one component to watch through in order and discuss together?


I was also thinking another way they could do it if they could find a good example would be to show one program from a skater where there is a major difference in a certain component aspect between different sections of the program. For example, a skater who started out performing and executing very well, but began to make mistakes and give up on the performance halfway through, or a skater who started out with good flow but lost stamina and got more choppy and labored at the end.

They did something similar with the side-by-side videos of the same skater having a good day performing "on" the music and being off the music in a less successful performance.

More of that?

BTW, I was wondering recently, for skaters who struggle with stamina, what kind of music would be the wisest choice for the end of a long program when the skater doesn't have enough energy to be either powerful or quick but still wants to keep up with performing the program?

Jun Y
10-11-2012, 01:46 PM
BTW, I was wondering recently, for skaters who struggle with stamina, what kind of music would be the wisest choice for the end of a long program when the skater doesn't have enough energy to be either powerful or quick but still wants to keep up with performing the program?

Perhaps the said skaters should work harder on their stamina rather than using choreography to disguise their weakness? :D

Jun Y
10-11-2012, 02:15 PM
First of all, I want to acknowledge that the current component system is better than 6.0 system, at least for a non-judge person like me.

Second, I agree with the poster's particular opinion below:


That is, there's a lot of mumbo jumbo using vague terms that have different meanings for different people and then clips of skaters that are supposed to be examples.

The terms used in the IJS program component rules are problematic. I say this from the point of view of a person who is NOT a judge, but a science writer. The writing quality on these rules is cringe worthy and great variation in interpretation. Reality confirms this great variation. You only need to look at any competition's protocol, across the judges' scores for each component for the same program by the same skater. I think the imprecision of the component rules as written is partially to blame for the jarring inter-judge variation.

Clear, precise, informative, transparent training for figure skating judges should not be intended for judges only. At least, skaters, coaches, and choreographers can benefit as well.

gkelly
10-11-2012, 02:54 PM
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?


Maybe someday technology will be used not just to train viewers to see some of the qualities Mafke listed in the first post, but to measure them officially -- and also absolute speed and depth of edge.

Eventually, those aspects of skating skills could be scored by machine rather than by human eyesight.

And someone could be assigned to count the number of turns and strokes in each direction throughout the program, not just in step sequences.

But still, I don't see how qualities like "soft knees" can be measured, although they can certainly be appreciated by human eyes. So as long as that's a quality the sport wants to reward -- and I'm sure it always will be -- it will always have to rely on human perception to some degree.

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?

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?

Vagabond
10-11-2012, 03:25 PM
Yeah, that would be cool, if they could track down contrasting videos of skaters who made noticeable improvement in a specific criterion.

One of the segments compares Shen & Zhou's Free Skates at Worlds in 2001 and 2004 to demonstrate how that pair increased the variety of their transitions.

Aussie Willy
10-11-2012, 10:57 PM
I think whether you consider the way the components are worded is a problem is in the eye of the beholder. I don't have a problem with them and understand the concepts of what they are trying to convey. But that is me. But then the DVDs are designed so that even if judges are not sure they can get a better understanding. But at the end of the day the system is for judges to apply, not necessarily to give the average Joe Blow what they want. It is a judging system.