We had National Championships this week in Melbourne and an ISU judging seminar was held during the competition. The seminar looked at the latest rules, program components and pairs skating. As per usual the program components were focussed on and looking at mainly skating skills and transitions. There is a set of ISU DVDs that are designed to assist judges with providing examples of the components and illustrating the various points that each component should cover. It really did help when it came the actual judging. The most interesting thing is they used Surya Bonaly and Tonya Harding as examples of poor quality skating skills - toe pushing, lack of depth of edge and lack of flow. I always like Harding's power, but this make me realise that her basic skating skills were quite limited. Speed is not everything and that was probaby the one thing Harding had in her favour. Then there was a comparison to Mao Asada and you really did notice the difference. Asada was light, had beautiful flow and it looked effortless. Harding whilst powerful looked like hard work, which goes against the concept of effortlessness when it comes to skating skills. The interesting thing to look at with transitions was how parts of the body used, whether it be arms, doing movements with the leg, using the head or the whole body. And examples were showing with the commentator saying "arm arm body head arm arm, etc". But it really helped to count the transitions and also evaluate difficulty or simplicity of them. Chan and Buttle were obvious examples they showed. So if you want to practise identifying transitions that is a good way of doing it. Another interesting example for transitions was a comparison of Shen and Zhao from 2001 to 2004 and how they really developed their use of transitions. It also showed how they had developed their artistry. And a special mention goes to our pjskating for being "the voice in the head" of a judge. Just shows how quickly she thinks and what a great commentator she is. If you want to know any more about what went on please ask. After working so many hours at the event over the last week my head is a bit done in.