Pre-Worlds radio interview with Alexander Lakernik http://echo.msk.ru/sounds/870800.html (in Russian)
Some excerpts (not word for word):
he is a great skater, when he skates well, he gets big scores which he deserves. However, when he skates not so well, he still gets huge points. It's not good and they will have to look into it.
About Ashley (in answer to the question if the USFSA has ditched Czisny in favor of Wagner):
she became much stronger this year, when she switched to Nicks, in the past she was insecure and often double-footed her landings. As for inflated scores at 4CC: it’s not only the problem with 4CC, it’s been a trend for a while, unfortunately.
(in short, when they decided to send Ksenia, they wanted to play it safe, hoping that two seasoned skaters and a debutante will fare better than two headcases and a veteran): "Polina Shelepen has messed up the SP twice, and then came back on top in the free. She isn't very well known and at Worlds the judges won't hold her up on the PCS. Alena Leonova is likely to place high enough if she skates her maximum. As for other girls, there is Polina Korobeinikova, a lovely skater, she had a very good showing at the last European championships, but aside from that, she has very little international exposure. And she is also prone to making mistakes in the short program, probably because of the pressure and lack of competitive experience. As for Ksenia, there may be questions about her shape, but she is a well-known skater, with reputation, more reliable. Last year in Moscow, Leonova was 4th, and Makarova, let's say, 9th, she couldn't be any lower since we have three spots this year in Nice. Quite frankly, I don't expect wonders from her, but also don't think she will do much worse than last year."
About pairs: he's asked if he knows anything about Alyona Savchenko's injury:
he doesn't know what was the matter with her, but they were seen skating in shows, and at Euros they have withdrawn at the very last moment. Maybe they were not ready at Euros, maybe they were a little scared, but now they don't have any option but to compete, and they are very good competitors. But V/T are also very prepared, finally in good shape after fighting the injuries, but the ice is slippery, and besides, there are now Pang/Tongs, also very serious competitors. Chinese pairs are back in fight for medals, there is a very good new pair (he forgets their names, Sui/Han), and don't forget Chinese were top two at the last Junior Worlds, so there is a potential. Also don't forget Canadians, Duhamel/Radford, it's a new pair but they will be stronger going into the Olympics. But V/T are also very strong, they are certainly an Olympic project, and quite successful one.
About Gerboldt/Enbert (if they have a future together):
cannot answer second part of the question, but they continue to work, they made a huge progress the first year they skated together, and now the progress is not so fast, they have lots and lots of work to do.
Again about Sui/Han (that they have big tricks but no PCS):
yes, they perform very difficult elements, but they are not clean. Also the girl is tiny now, there might be a problem once she grows up. As for PCS, there are five of them, and they do have some, for example PE, they are fun to watch, but very little SS and TR. Last year they got huge points, this year their marks are more adequate. You can tell that they are China's next big thing, but he (Lakernik) doesn't think that they are the reference standard of pair skating.
Question about judging (incorrect): at the Worlds in Nice he (Lakernik) will be the only Russian representative, and at the World team event there also will be just one, and why it is so when Russians are so well represented in the judging that two of the committees are headed by him and Alla Shekhovtsova:
he explains the difference between referee (leads the panel assessing quality of execution) and technical controller (difficulty of elements), says that indeed Marina Sanaya will be the only Russian representative at team event, but Shekhovtsova is not the head of technical committee, it's headed by Galina Gordon-Poltorak from Poland.
About the proposal to let skaters use music with words:
he thinks that it shouldn't be allowed, because words tell the story, and people, esp. speaking different languages, will understand it differently, and it will make the perception of programs even more diverse than it is now. On the other hand, they are often accused of being old-fashioned and told that young skaters need the drive and that they get it from music with words, and so technical committee decided to let the congress decide on that. However, it can be done under the only condition - music with vocals to be allowed only after the Olympics (because next season's programs will be set before the congress, without vocals, and first programs to vocal music will appear in Olympic season, which is very bad timing).
About making judging more transparent:
there are options, but they are costly, and besides, if they show scoring in real time, viewers can get confused, because sometimes technical panel changes their opinion after watching the repeats and slow-motion repeats. Another example: scores differ in different skating disciplines, 200 points is very good for ladies, not so good, average, for men and so-so for pairs. There was a proposal to even out the scores, introduce coefficients for different disciplines, but it was considered too complicated. But it's true that now viewers have poor understanding of scoring.
About the upcoming congress:
he thinks that the most discussed question will be when to hold next elections, they are scheduled to after Olympics but it was offered to postpone them until 2016. He thinks it will be most discussed because it's not technical but political question, and while not everyone may understand technique, everyone has an opinion on politics.
Question: why under the new judging system a fallen quad can be scored higher than a clean triple Lutz?
He doesn't know what would be fair, he is not sure that even a clean Lutz should be scored higher than quad, if it was rotated and landed. The risk should pay off, otherwise everyone will be doing easy clean elements. But skaters shouldn't go for elements they aren't capable of doing in hope that an attempt of a more difficult element will get them more points. The goal of invention of the NJS was not to change figure skating but to introduce mathematical estimates of what is good in it. All these years we were doing that. It still happens sometimes that a clean Lutz brings fewer points than underrotated and fallen quad, but we try to rectify that.
Question: But it was what split Russian audience during Vancouver Olympics when Evgeni Plushenko got low scores for his jumps and lost points on non-jumping elements.
Answer: It's hard to say something about that, it was two years ago after all. One can argue that his SP score was a little bit low, but the judgment in the free was fair, I think. Unfortunately, his program was front-loaded, and besides, if you remember, he was crisp clean and sharp in the SP, but he struggled with elements in the free.
Q: as a president of technical committee can you do something to make scoring more transparent?
A: Not a president, a chairman. If the question is to open all the scores to viewers, it's not difficult, but it's a load of numbers and it's too easy to get lost in them. Another option is to open the names of judges. But it makes them an easy target of pressure and criticism. For some reason, many people associate the NJS with anonymity of judging, but they are not synonymous.
Q: marks shouldn't depend on skater's reputation (tongue in cheek remark – why was Makarova chosen – based on her reputation)
A: reputation played certain role, yes, but not reputation with people who were deciding on the team, but because her reputation might actually play in her favor. And technical mark doesn't depend on reputation, it's objective, and neither do GOE, maybe minimally. But PCS are another thing, there is a lot of work to do, to explain, to teach, but it's not easy, it's psychological thing. Like with Chan, let's take him as the more glaring example, judges had this idea that he is the best thing in figure skating, and they give him PCS accordingly. We have to deal with it.
Q: what do the judges round tables look like, what is being discussed?
A: first, before the event, we discuss the problems that might occur – technical, with elements, remind the rules a little, point out something that was brought to our attention during the season, at previous events. We don’t discuss the athletes and don’t call the names. After the event we discuss the judgment. We don’t discuss who gave which mark, because it’s anonymous, unless someone wishes to share that, but no one asks. But we discuss what the scores should be.
Q: is there any punishment for wrong scoring?
A: I’ll get to that. There is a mathematical corridor, and if a judge deviates too much from the average, then their marks are discussed. They don’t know the name, they discuss the judge #5. If the judge is wrong, they get an assessment, which lasts until the end of the current season and two more years. Fourth assessment will get the judge expelled from ISU for three years. It’s a good system in the sense that it applies to everyone. The downside is that if your mark isn’t really an outlier, you won’t be punished. If you are smart and cunning and evil, or just don’t know the rules but stay within the corridor, no one will even know who you are. The judge’s name comes up when the assessment is being announced. We’re looking for the ways to deal with that.
Q: what will be the most difficult to you at the upcoming World championships?
A: I will have to do my job, to make sure that our panel, Japanese technical specialist, German assistant and me…
Q: and what about Mao Asada, how come she…
A: don’t ask me how. That’s a good question, but not to me. There is not only Asada by the way, there is also Suzuki who can place very high as well – …to make sure we do a good job. As a vice-president of Russian Figure Skating Federation I want our athletes to show their best, of course.