# Thread: Janet Lynn on COP and the decline of figure skating

1. Let's remember the underlying reason for implementation of COP: Cheating judges.

Was figure skating an Olympic sport before COP? Yes.

Are there still cheating judges? Yes.

Are viewers still perplexed by the results of competitions? Yes.

Either COP needs an overhaul or we can simply say that COP has not set out to do what it intended to do. YMMV.

O-

2. I totally agree with skatingfan26, Margaret, and juliann!! I love that difficultly matters and that there are protocols that we, as fans, can actually look at and argue about. I have watched skating from the 6.0 era and I hate the spirals that went up and down so fast it made my head spin, camel spins held of 1.5 rotations, simple spins, and footwork mostly done on toe picks. I also think the main problem with COP is that the vast majority of judges grew up with 6.0 and are still thinking with a 6.0 brain. Once COP has been around for a while, and we get judges who skated under COP judging, I think we will see better use of the PCS scores as well as better use of GOEs.

3. Here's the difference between CoP and 6.0 in terms of understanding. It isn't that difficult to see, really, if you think:

In the 6.0 system, there was a maximum score which was the benchmark for "perfect". That score was 6.0. As a casual viewer, you then understood quite easily that the scores closest to 6.0 were the best scores. If a skater's scores were in the range of 5.4 to 5.6, a casual viewer could think "hmm....that is good but not the best" by the relation of those numbers to the number 6.0. There is no benchmark in CoP. So a skater gets 121.89 and the casual viewer says (as my husband does if he pays attention) "is that good or not?" And, yes, the announcers can start explaining that this jump = these points and a UR call means x amount of points lost....but sports fans don't really want to think that hard or look that hard. Most people watch sports to relax on the weekend. Mathematical computation is not relaxation for the majority of the population.

I have thought all along that the answer was not a complete overhaul. The answer should have been a new system of mandatory deductions for tech errors in the 6.0 or a similar system. Perhaps increasing the max for tech scores to 10.0 and adding mandatory point deductions and creating levels of difficulty for elements within that point basis. This system judges the parts and never the whole and the result is a loss of creativity, musicality and artistry as Lynn wrote.

4. Originally Posted by AragornElessar
Actually, I understand those first marks far more easily than the "new and improved COP" ones. And before you spout it again, I *have* tried to learn the COP system, but unless you've got a Masters in Complex Math, then Good Luck to you.

snip ...
Well I don't have a Bachelors in anything let alone a Masters in Complex Math but I do understand the basics of COP (I haven't learned all the bullets with the requirements). I know that certain jumps are worth more than others, that putting a hand down isn't as bad as falling down but both show up in a reduction in scoring, that you can get a 0 or just -1 on an element even if you got a -3 for messing up cause your base score was higher. Some of these things I got to understand because gymnastics (starting value) and diving (degree of difficulty) use similar criteria.

I found 6.0 as a method of evaluation to be very difficult to understand from a judging perspective. What exactly were they looking for, what made one skater/pair better than another? I remember years ago when talk was about Elvis Stojko and what he needed to do to increase his second mark. The answer I got/heard was "more" -- nothing solid or concrete, just more.

Then came SLC and the pairs. I admit, I was pulling for Jamie & David and in my eyes, I didn't see a whole lot to deduct from either couple. So to me, I didn't see why one couple got a certain set of marks while the other got lower, and no, I don't want to go down that path, I'm just using this as an example of how 6.0 left me confused quite often.

With COP, I get the math and when I read details on how the marks took place, well at least I understand them. Do I always agree with the PCS given out? Not always. Is this marking scheme the be all and end all -- I don't think so but it IS one that can be understood if one takes a bit of time to look at it. You aren't likely to see someone's standings flip flop like they did at times in the 6.0 system.

I get that Janet Lynn (and others) feel that it's not like it used to be and you know what, to some degree they are right. But even in their day, there were a few bright lights that made for interesting watching and then there was everyone else and we watched them because they were part of the competition.

Do I want to go back to 6.0? Not in my lifetime! Can it be made better? I believe so. The "stars" of skating are still here if we choose to look for them. They learn how to make the system work for them and shine brightly too. This is a sport and it needs rules for measuring the achievements of those who partipate.

5. Originally Posted by skatesindreams
Please. allow Janet the privilege of expressing herself as she sees fit; whether you agree with her. or not.
Please. I don't believe I said anything about Janet not having the privilege of expressing herself.

6. I also think that, in theory but maybe not in practice at least under the current rules, breaking down the elements and the global aspects of the program (components) into separate scores will not always favor busy-ness over simplicity or harder elements over better performed elements.

Of course the overall technical content will tend to rise over the generations, as skaters push themselves to keep up with and surpass the current leaders of their time and as coaches develop technical knowledge to help pretty-good skaters achieve skills that were once in reach of only the most talented.

Whether the emphasis is on drawing circles or rotating in the air or extreme flexibility or complex turns or quick steps or average ice speed, etc., will depend on who the current leaders are and what their strengths are and also on what the current rules are designed to reward.

I think it's important to look at the rules and realize that if you reward some things more than others, then skaters are not going to focus on those other things that aren't rewarded. If we think they're valuable and important, then there need to be built-in ways to reward them more, or reward them at all as the case may be.

7. Originally Posted by jl
I think that you can't say it be more holistic and keep it in the Olympics as a sport.

In some ways, I think when it was strictly (or majorly) judged by figures, you were comparing apples to apples in something very easily measured, which made much more sense as a sport. In terms of having programs and free skating, having a more holistic system may work for figure skating but it also makes it less sportive IMO. Sport has to be as defensible in its results as possible - which is why moves to include better review for goals in hockey, in soccer, and other sports is generally a key move.

The problem in figure skating is that so many things go on at the same time, that people can key into one area but lose track of the larger picture. It is much easier to check off the list of what one needs to do to perform well in other sports - run faster, throw harder, score without violating other rules, etc. COP, I think, is an attempt to try and take all the one areas and integrate them into a larger picture, but it is tough for people to understand because of how they were previously shown to appreciate skating.

Simply put - think of whether or not COP was the dominating system before 6.0, and then 6.0 would be introduced. I would think the same kinds of denouncements (under different reasons) would occur, probably because programs would get 'too simple', the judging would be 'far more arbitrary', etc. It's the whole 'grass is greener on the other side' argument, but in this case, COP makes more sense from a sportive point of view. Speaking anecdotally to a small number of people who think figure skating should not be in the Olympics as a sport, they've said that while they don't see it should be included period, COP makes more sense from their point of view because if someone wants to understand what happened, they can more easily track what happened. That didn't happen under 6.0.

Thinking about it, I think they're right. COP needs tweaking, it needs better actual implementation of its rules (and following by judges), but IMO it is in essence the superior judging system from a sportive point of view. Seeing some of the skates of the past, you can argue that they are 'elegant', 'attractive', etc., but those kinds of descriptors are even more arbitrary than what's currently listed under COP. For instance, facial expression is not an Asian aesthetic for artistic performance, but in figure skating there's always the outcry that people are so stone-faced or whatever. If you bring in those cultural overtones, aren't you basically saying that the activity is culture-specific, which I think erodes one of the general ideas of sport's attractiveness (universality)?

I don't deny that the current layout requirements for skaters may make programs too dense to digest and appreciate, nor do I deny that the current system could use significant overhaul. That being said, reverting to a more holistic scale, IMO, makes figure skating more of an art, less of a sport, and ultimately I would like to watch it but favor its inclusion less in the Olympics. YMMV, but as it is, I feel it's already on the fine line because of the external part-subjective judging component, along with gymnastics and diving, which I also enjoy watching.
Very well stated and I am one who would like it to remain an Olympic sport. It might be interesting to know whether today's skaters would prefer to be viewed as an athlete first and performer/artist second or the reverse.

8. Originally Posted by Conga
Please. I don't believe I said anything about Janet not having the privilege of expressing herself.
My comment wasn't specifically directed at you.
However, some posters seem to be misinterpreting what she is saying because they don't agree.

9. Originally Posted by professordeb

With COP, I get the math and when I read details on how the marks took place, well at least I understand them. Do I always agree with the PCS given out? Not always. Is this marking scheme the be all and end all -- I don't think so but it IS one that can be understood if one takes a bit of time to look at it. You aren't likely to see someone's standings flip flop like they did at times in the 6.0 system.
But...first of all, there are people like me who have issues with math due to bad bad teachers (At age 8, I was punished daily by a teacher for an entire semester for not understanding math concepts I had never been taught) or perhaps due to learning disabilities or just a general disdain for it. Whatever the reason for it, pages of numbers make our heads spin. And I know very well I am not the only person on the planet like that. I understand the general idea of CoP; I understand the basic deductions; I know a good score from a bad one. But I love skating and loved it before this. Someone who is just kind of interested and has issues with numbers is going to walk away.

Secondly, for a sport to be profitable, and like it or not that is an issue for skating, it needs viewers. No sport can rely on only the serious fans to sustain it. To be profitable and sustain a viable fan base of both serious fans who post on web forums and casual fans who will tune in to broadcasts and buy a ticket for an event, a sport has to be accessible. Viewers have to be able to watch it and understand for themselves what is happening. My husband is the most non-sports oriented person I have ever met (people find this quite odd considering I am quite the opposite). He asked me one time at a baseball game what the "yellow poles" were for. He does not understand a single nuance or strategy of baseball or football but watches anyway when I do. He enjoys watching. Because he does understand two main things about each sport: when a player crosses home plate a run has scored and when a player is in the endzone with the football, he has scored a touchdown. He doesn't know a curve ball from a fast ball or what a blitz or a lateral is, but he doesn't need to. Because baseball and football are accessible to casual viewers and hardcore fans.

Skating under CoP has become inaccessible. You said it yourself....CoP is understandable if you take the time to study the numbers. I don't know why it is so hard to understand that most fans don't want to study numbers. They just want to enjoy the competition. A less complex system would have served the sport better.

10. Originally Posted by PDilemma
In the 6.0 system, there was a maximum score which was the benchmark for "perfect". That score was 6.0. As a casual viewer, you then understood quite easily that the scores closest to 6.0 were the best scores. If a skater's scores were in the range of 5.4 to 5.6, a casual viewer could think "hmm....that is good but not the best" by the relation of those numbers to the number 6.0. There is no benchmark in CoP.
I really like the idea of a maximum score in COP/IJS. I think that would help a lot.

Personally, I'm turned off by the current judging system. I don't enjoy programs nearly as much as I used to, and that makes me sad.

11. Originally Posted by Margaret
But it is a sport, some kind of quantification of the results comes with the territory. Otherwise it would just come down to personal taste.

I just don't think that artistry was killed with COP and there's no beauty left in figure skating. People are always more fond of their era and more emotionally involved with the skaters they admired when they started watching the sport. But every sport progresses and evolves, this is inevitable.
Well, I guess my "era" encompasses 70 years then. Figure skating results have always been and will always be subjective, but that does not mean they cannot be defended. It is a judged sport, just like diving, gymnastics, and many others. I can live with the fact that I won't agree with every outcome if it means I will enjoy more performances. Having a somewhat subjective judging system doesn't make it "less" of a sport, it just makes it different from other sports. I embrace those differences and dread the day when we have separate spinning, jumping, and footwork mini-competitions like gymnastics...

12. Originally Posted by PDilemma
Entire post.
Perfectly said and is one of the best postings I've seen on what COP has done to skating in comparision of how casual fans view it now compared to other sports out there ever.

To add to that, the true problem was corrupt judging and that has not been fixed. It's been given window dressing and now no one knows which judge has given what marks, unlike in the 6.0 era. The true problem of Figure Skating was NOT fixed and instead, things are now worse as the casual fans aren't interested anymore for the reasons that PDilemma stated.

If something drastic doesn't happen soon, the sport will be in even bigger trouble than it's in already.

13. For those of you arguing that's it is sport, not performance art, in that case there is no need for music, costumes (except for freedom of movement), or things in PCS like interpretation or choreography. In fact, why have PCS at all? Put things like speed & ease of movement in TES & forget all that arty stuff.

I don't feel that I have an era per se. I started watching skating in 1960 & I have loved skaters from all eras. There was beauty in all the eras. But for me, the COP era is my least favorite, only because beauty is rarely found nowadays. Skaters like Dai can still do beauty & tech but I fear that will become a thing of the past.

14. Can't say I totally understood 6.0, but it made a helluva lot more sense than CoP. But then math was never my strong suit.

15. Originally Posted by PDilemma

In the 6.0 system, there was a maximum score which was the benchmark for "perfect". That score was 6.0. As a casual viewer, you then understood quite easily that the scores closest to 6.0 were the best scores. If a skater's scores were in the range of 5.4 to 5.6, a casual viewer could think "hmm....that is good but not the best" by the relation of those numbers to the number 6.0. There is no benchmark in CoP. So a skater gets 121.89 and the casual viewer says (as my husband does if he pays attention) "is that good or not?"
Actually I like the fact that there's no benchmark. To me it symbolizes that there is no "perfect" performance and sky is the limit. If someone comes up with a program with seven different quads, s/he is scored accordingly.

I think the idea that there are records and personal bests could be appealing to casual viewers. People can relate to "skater N scored more in competition X than in competition Y last week and scored her personal best". Also, score levels give you the idea of the level of the competition. When ladies event is won with 120 points, you can assume that it was not the top of the world. There are new possibilities to make these numbers interesting to people.

And if you don't care for numbers at all than even without a certain benchmark there are still the rankings. You can see that 121,89 points lands you on, say, 2nd place without getting into detail more than that. Maybe I'm just into math but I don't think math should be demonized as much.

16. In theory, CoP is a better system in that it breaks down programs point by point, in technical content (how well it was done) and presentation. But that can only be appreciated in hindsight if you take the trouble to access and download pdf scores after the event.

For me, the 6.0 system was more exciting and in the moment thanks to Torvill and Dean.

How much more interesting would Bolero be with 107.21 points flashed on the scoreboard versus a row of perfect 6.0s.

I guess under the current system, there are no absolutes (and if judges do happen to award a 10, it becomes lost as part of the total PCS).

17. I'm really tired of these Amerika-centric laments about the death of FS, and I am American. It seems like the sport is still as strong as it ever was in Canada and Russia, it's super popular in Japan, and China and Korea seem to be gaining a lot of momentum, although we'll see how it lasts. America is not the entire world.

18. Originally Posted by essence_of_soy
In theory, CoP is a better system in that it breaks down programs point by point, in technical content (how well it was done) and presentation. But that can only be appreciated in hindsight if you take the trouble to access and download pdf scores after the event.

For me, the 6.0 system was more exciting and in the moment thanks to Torvill and Dean.

How much more interesting would Bolero be with 107.21 points flashed on the scoreboard versus a row of perfect 6.0s.

I guess under the current system, there are no absolutes (and if judges do happen to award a 10, it becomes lost as part of the total PCS).
Which is why they should show the individual PCS scores. Figure Skating does have benchmarks in those scores out of 10. One day someone will get a 10 in PCS from every judge and the audience need to see that rather than look at a total number and completely miss out on the excitement. They used to show the individual PCS scores on TV in the k&c. I have no idea why they stopped doing that but it was a big mistake IMO.

19. ^^^
Who knows whether the 10's would count anyway, were they given?

20. Originally Posted by Margaret
Actually I like the fact that there's no benchmark. To me it symbolizes that there is no "perfect" performance and sky is the limit. If someone comes up with a program with seven different quads, s/he is scored accordingly.

I think the idea that there are records and personal bests could be appealing to casual viewers. People can relate to "skater N scored more in competition X than in competition Y last week and scored her personal best". Also, score levels give you the idea of the level of the competition. When ladies event is won with 120 points, you can assume that it was not the top of the world. There are new possibilities to make these numbers interesting to people.

And if you don't care for numbers at all than even without a certain benchmark there are still the rankings. You can see that 121,89 points lands you on, say, 2nd place without getting into detail more than that. Maybe I'm just into math but I don't think math should be demonized as much.
This business of "perfection" is all in your head. 6.0 is a PLACEHOLDER. It does not represent the best performance possible, merely the best performance that day. As such, you cannot compare a mark of 6.0 in one competition to the same mark in another.

For those that argue that casual sports fans don't consider figure skating a sport because of its artistic side, or because it is judged subjectively, take a look at gymnastics. They wear team uniforms, and even the floor routines have no emphasis on artistry whatsoever. The judging system has absolute point values just like CoP. How many football fans are tuning into gymnastics?

Instead of trying to be like other sports, we need to embrace the qualities that make figure skating different. It's those aspects that attracted fans in the first place and will continue to do so.

Also, I've never seen a definition of sport that says, "all results must be absolute and completely objective."

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