Figure skating is dying, and judges can't prop it up

Discussion in 'Great Skate Debate' started by Sugar, Mar 18, 2013.

1. all_emptyWell-Known Member

1,498
498
83
I'm sorry, when did I say this behavior should be emulated?

When it comes to a being TV moment, it's an important thing. In our lives, it's miniscule.

If one second of a teen showing her true feelings means our country is going to hell in a hand basket, you might want to get out before the hellfire comes.

2. MathmanActive Member

825
204
43
To me, its what you do with those numbers. A 5.7 means nothing, but it is a temporary place holder for ordinals. An ordinal makes perfect sense. Judge #3 felt that this skater was second best, better than skater B but not as good as slater C.

One of my quarrels with the CoP is that it disrespects the operation of addition. Just because you have two numbers, that doesn't mean that any sense can be attached to their sum. The acidity of orange juice is 2.8 and the mass of Jupiter is 1.9. Add them together and you get 4.7.

But the IJS sees nothing strange about adding together an 8.25 in choreography with a 4.2 for doing a triple Salchow.

9,764
6,110
113
I don't see anything strange about it if the skater delivered really good choreography.

1,577
315
83
Are the columns all scrambled in a different order for each skater's report? LOL. Now that would be faith in your judges! Not!

Maofan7 and (deleted member) like this.
5. just tuned inWell-Known Member

1,053
475
83
Prancer, thank you for the interesting article about the advent of subjective, artistic "sports" in the Olympics.

Leaving subjective judging aside for the moment, I think all it would take to revive figure skating is an American champion-darling (like Peggy Flemming or Michelle Kwan).

6. MathmanActive Member

825
204
43
What seems strange about it to me is that there is no apparent justification to adding those two numbers together. What can the sum, 12.45, possible mean? 12.45 whats? Why not multiply them instead, or perform some other esoteric mathematical operation with them? What is it about these two unrelated measures that makes us want to add them together, of all things?

9,764
6,110
113
Well, what does a first place ordinal from the judge from Tonga really mean? That Vera Voidskaya was the best that night? That Tonga has always liked Voidskaya and she's skated well all season until tonight, and she "won" the practices, so he'll cut her some slack? That the judge from Tonga is in the pocket of the Konspiristani Fed? Who knows, other than the judge from Tonga (and possibly Greaseyerpalm Politikov, head of the Konspiristani Fed)?

8. PrancerCursed for all timeStaff Member

43,322
15,484
113
End of discussion with you.

So why bother with a 5.7? Why not just rank the skaters? Every time they entered ordinals, they changed the standings. Why the extra and overly complex step?

I don't see anything strange in that. If anything, it's familiar. Of course, I don't equate it to adding the acidity of orange juice and the mass of a planet, as the elements of a program are actually, you know, related to one another.

But 6.0 was not a score; it was a mark. All marks in the 6.0 system were placeholders. Judges gave programs with mistakes 6.0s even though they were not perfect because that was sometimes the only place to go in terms of ranking skaters. It didn't happen very often, but it did happen. And there would be OUTRAGE.

People can't have it both ways and tell me how much sense the ordinal system made and then tell me that a 6.0 is a perfect SCORE (I realize that it's not the same people saying this). That right there is one of the problems with 6.0. You can talk about ordinals all you like; casual fans still considered the marks scores, which they were not. A lot of hardcore fans never got that straight, either. Even the skating federations would go on about ordinals and then talk about the perfect score of 6.0.

9. danceroniceCorgi Wrangler

6,944
969
113
See, it's irrelevant to most viewers that it's an ordinal system (it's not even obvious that it is. Dance, which mistakenly calls it the skating system', uses pure ordinals, though you couldn't do that in skating as judges in dance are watching the final 6-8 all at the same time.) Casual fans like a "perfect" number. Someone gets a 6.0, that's GREAT! Like getting a 10 in gymnastics--what did that mean? I dunno, I know nothing about gymnastics. But I know it was good! No one knows what "68.73" means, and odds are they aren't going to remember it long enough to know what happens when the next skater gets a 67.2. And the LAST thing any casual fan wants is to get a screen full of umpteen different decimal-point scores. The problem with 6.0 was the two separate scores meant it took some math and memory to guess where a skater was going to wind up in ordinals. That was EASY, two-digit decimal math. Trying to juggle a bunch of different scores for elements that aren't even clearly defined is bad enough. Then you start getting in plus and minus GOEs for things viewers can't even identify...if people liked Byzantine scoring systems and oblique methods of scoring, cricket would be the most popular sport on Earth.

And the capper is that the anonymous judging and the plus/minus GOEs and PCS scores don't solve the problem they were allegedly created to address. They make it look WORSE. The average viewer has trouble telling how many times a jump was rotated, never mind differentiating between kinds of jumps, but they do know a butt-plant when they see one, they can see a two-footed landing, a hand down, when a skater falls out of a spin, trips on footwork. With the new system, they are seeing unknown judges place programs with what look like glaring faults (falls) over clean-LOOKING programs. They really don't want to hear "Well, yes, Skater A may have sat down on two jumps, but Skater B's skate was slightly turned out too much on all their landings, and on that one jump they were on the wrong edge of the blade when they took off, and Skater A's pretzel spin had more pretzel-y shapes than Skater B's pretzel spin despite it looking slower, and the choreography that looks exactly the same to you for A was better for B, so even though Skater B stayed upright and completed everything as far as the naked eye could tell, they're still second." Average viewer: "So...it's still fixed, and now there's a bunch of numbers and I don't know which judges were fixing it." The one thing a viewer used to be able to count on understand (fall = bad) is gone, and throwing a ton of numbers (note these are not statistics, they're just numbers, which change with no rhyme or reason and in the case of PCS are assigned to highly subjective and ill-defined attributes that are just as oblique as what the "artistic" mark meant.)

And when you resolved the 6.0 scores to the ordinal placement--that made sense. It was a RANKING: at this competition, A is first, B is second, C is third, etc, ranked against each other on this particular day. A skated better than B at this event. Now instead of having an ordinal system with a "perfect score" that might not be an absolute, there's a scoring system that assumes all elements DO have an absolute value, but it's never clear what that value is, how it's achieved, or why skaters with what LOOK like bigger mistakes earn more points and have a higher value than ones who appear to be clean are marked down. It's supposed to make it more obvious why the marks are given, but it encourages point-chasing on the athletes' end and confuses the viewers, alienating them. With the bonus point that most of the programs, with a very few exceptions, now look an awful lot alike and you can SEE the skaters ticking off elements. It's great to have programs that are more than "crosscut, crosscut, crosscut, jump", but it's been replaced by "crosscut, bracket, grab the blade, forward spiral for two seconds switch to back switch again, stick leg in air, jump, grab the foot, bunch of footwork that has crap-all to do with the music, jump, spin and change positions as fast as I can...." Over and over again. It's like there are required elements for both SP and LP.

No, we're not going back to 6.0, but there has to be a much better way to score things than this.

5,130
2,573
113
Thank you.

11. kwanfan1818I <3 Kozuka

25,564
10,709
113
I don't see why this is any more strange than adding 5.7 to X.X and coming up with a total to derive an ordinal.

1,577
315
83
Leave Tonga out of this. Their skaters tend to be overweight, so they have different standards

5,130
2,573
113

14. modern_muslimahThinking of witty user title and coming up blank

4,136
694
113
True. Perhaps this seems like more of an issue now because of a certain skater who skating under the current system.

I'm not saying we should go back to factored placements. I am saying that there are definitely things that need to be worked on in the current judging system. The current judging system may not have caused the decline in viewership and shows in the US. However, there are some things (like cookie cutter programs and programs that work great at presenting parts but not a coherent whole) that probably won't help to bring American fans back either. There are other issues too that have nothing to do with any judging system (like lack of a US ladies star). I guess I'm just saying it's a complex issue (it would be nice to have stats about fans so the ISU, skaters and fans knew what to do to make skating more appealing). I don't think 6.0 will make the sport popular in the US again. However, I don't think we should overlook some weaknesses in the system either. Reading this discussion, it just feels as if there two camps (6.0 and CoP) and neither wants to admits that maybe the other side has some legitimate points.

15. BlueRidgeAYS's snark-sponge

47,554
12,915
113
I don't know of anyone who doesn't think COP has flaws. I don't know whether it has been a factor in decline of interest in skating, but I certainly think that the system needs to be changed in any number of ways to improve skating for the skaters and the existing fans, both in terms of content and in terms of people feeling the results fully reflect what happened on the ice.

I don't even know why 6.0 is being discussed since it is dead and buried and never coming back. Certainly some folks who favored the system over the IJS like to argue about why it was better and IJS was a big mistake, just like some folks like to re-argue the results of past competitions. That's what discussion boards are for but it doesn't have much to do with the future of the sport, except insofar as people may look at what was lost when we changed to IJS and perhaps try to re-design aspects of the system to try to regain those aspects.

16. gkellyWell-Known Member

12,419
5,047
113
I wonder how much the same people would complain if the skater(s) who most often won with messy performances were more to their taste artistically or in off-ice personality.

I think there are three things that could be done within a code-of-points environment to decrease the cookie-cutter-ness.

1) Jigger the scale of values for non-jump elements such that it is always more valuable to earn higher GOE than to earn a higher level, and encourage judges to award positive GOEs, especially to simple elements with no flaws. (For spins, for example, another positive bullet point could be "consistent speed [or centering] throughout")

2) Add even more level features and even more kinds of elements, and allow some flexibility in the number of each kind of element, so that skaters will have more individual choice about what skills to showcase to earn points based on their own strengths.

A lot of the cookie-cutterness comes in elements where there are 4 possible features to earn level 4, so anyone who can tries to do all of them. If there were 8 possible features, then even if all skaters aim for level 4 (which suggestion 1 above would cut down on), they wouldn't all be choosing the same features.
Also for some features that are on the books but are rarely seen, it may be because they're much harder to do at all or much harder to do in ways that tech panels are willing to call. So if the rules could be changed to make those features worth more, or if the minimum threshold for getting credit for that feature were relaxed, then we'd see more skaters trying those features instead of the already-popular ones.

3) Use different rules in the technical program and free program so that one program rewards difficulty as defined by levels and the other ignores the levels and rewards quality only. It could be argued either way which program should be which:
*Technical program requires simple basic elements to be compared apples to apples, no reward for variations and variations that compromise the basicness of the element are not allowed. Free program gives skaters the freedom to showcase whatever variations and adornments they can achieve and rewards the difficult ones with higher levels/base marks.
OR
*Technical program rewards technical difficulty, encouraging as many different skills within each element as possible. Free program rewards quality -- skaters are free to use whatever variations they're good at, but in this program they're only rewarded for the quality.

The ISU has taken a small step in that last direction with the introduction of the choreo sequence. Would we like to see that approach go further in the free program and keep the short program as the place to showcase the multiple variations?

By making emphases of the two programs that different, it would also push individual skaters to develop different kinds of skills for each.

I'm in the camp that believes it would be futile to try to go back. But I do think there is room for some significant steps forward in the current context to try to achieve goals (e.g., variety between skaters) that are currently lacking.

17. BlueRidgeAYS's snark-sponge

47,554
12,915
113
One thing they could do to get on the road to improving things would be to hire gkelly as a consultant.

18. RexWell-Known Member

25,894
5,344
113
CoP has its flaws and so did 6.0. And people have a right to talk about them unless the mods say otherwise.

19. BlueRidgeAYS's snark-sponge

47,554
12,915
113
Did someone say they didn't?

I thought that was the bulk of this thread...

20. RexWell-Known Member

25,894
5,344
113
You did when you said this, jamesc:

21. giselle23Well-Known Member

959
694
93
As Christine Brennan points out in her article, popular reality shows like Dancing with the Stars use a similar numerical ranking (greatly simplified, of course)--a system that figure skating invented! Everyone knew that 6.0 was a perfect score. No one had to bring a calculator to figure out how much a skater needed to go ahead. No one is holding up placards that say 150 during Yu Na's long program. It was part of the fun of being a fan--sort of like the baseball fans who bring "K" placards for pitchers known for striking out a lot of batters.

22. BlueRidgeAYS's snark-sponge

47,554
12,915
113
Really now Rex. I said I didn't know why people were discussing it. If that's too strong for you, maybe some chamomile tea is in order?

Seriously, read my following sentences in which I said said discussing it is what a discussion board is for.

21,813
9,172
113

1) Cookie cutter programs - some skaters had the same jump layout year after year and the only thing that changed was the music. A particular move got popular and it seemed like every skater did it. A particular piece of music was in the media and that year every discipline had at least 1 skater using it (way more at the lower levels).

2) Boring programs because the skaters weren't artists and the same 10 pieces of music were used over and over (okay it's more than 10 but it seemed like only 10) and the skaters didn't really do much with their programs and choreography but get the job done and put their elements out on the ice

3) The occasional artistic masterpiece that we all remember even 20-30 years later.

4) Messy programs with falls winning over clean programs and people screaming (but he fell twice!)

5) Safe but clean programs winning over programs with hard content with falls and mistake and people screaming (but he tried a quad and didn't win!)

6) People having brilliant free skates but can't win because of what happened in the short (which the viewing audience may or may not have seen or remembered)

7) People have not so brilliant free skates but still win because of what happened in the short (which the viewing audience may or may not have seen or remembered)

8) Viewership started to decline

That's right. Absolutely NONE of these things that people are blaming on CoP are CoP problems. Every single one of them happened under 6.0.

Eislauffan, cygnus, gkelly and 3 others like this.
24. RexWell-Known Member

25,894
5,344
113
Whatever BlueRidge. I said people had a right to discuss it in response to you saying you didn't know why...

BlueRidge and (deleted member) like this.
25. BlueRidgeAYS's snark-sponge

47,554
12,915
113

sorry if I'm offending you

Rex and (deleted member) like this.
26. RexWell-Known Member

25,894
5,344
113
never mind.

1,577
315
83
That shows how useless Christine Brennan's voice has become. I don't think the idea is ever going to fly that DWTS should be an international Olympic sport with multiple countries' celebrities facing off . She might as well write endless articles about how soccer is dying because Americans don't get how boring it is.

Last edited: Mar 20, 2013
28. giselle23Well-Known Member

959
694
93
The point is not that DWTS is or should be an international sport (and I know you were joking). It's that it copied figure skating's numerical ranking system to draw in fans--a system that figure skating invented and then threw away! I'm not a huge Brennan fan, but her article, linked at the first post, makes some very good observations.

29. RexWell-Known Member

25,894
5,344
113
I think Christine was at her best when figure skating was at its height of popularity. Now, not so much.

30. TDsk8New Member

2,233
490
0
And even said from a skater, "I can only milk this story so much".