# Thread: DiManno: Figure skating audiences alienated by esoteric judging system

1. Look at the protocols and you will see that even the judges must be in a state of confusion, especially in regard to GOE's. On a particular jump you too often find a range of goe's from - to 0 to +. How is that possible?

2. It bugs me to no end when people say they don't understand the cop because it's all complicated math. Really?? It's simple addition, not differential equations, for crying out loud.
No, it isn't simple addition. There is a lot of factoring going on, such that -3 GOE does not always equal -3, the base value of a jump can differ depending on where it is in the program, and some of the PCS marks are worth more than others. They never could have used this scoring system if it had to be done in people's heads, or even with pencil and paper.

There is also the problem that the hard numbers of COP sometimes produce rankings that do not correlate with how a more subjective system (like the traditional 6.0) scoring) would have ranked the skaters. It does not have any way for the judges to reflect when the performance is (literally) greater than the sum of its parts. Not surprisingly, that transcendent quality of great skates and great skaters is precisely what has been lost under the new judging system.

All those arguments aside, I think the system could be made to work more satisfactorily if they were willing to make some fairly major adjustments to the point values.

For starters, they have to revise the numbers so a failed jump earns zero points. Viewers don't care if it was fully rotated, if the skater lands it on his/her bum, it should not earn points. Under 6.0 judges weren't supposed to give any credit for a jump unless it was cleanly landed on one foot (except in the SP where there were specific deductions) and I think audiences really have a hard time accepting the points that skaters rack up while falling or stumbling out of jumps. It really would not be hard at all to do this. For example, they could use multipliers for -1 thru -3 GOE so that -3 equals the base value of the jump or simply zero out the failed element.

3. Originally Posted by bek
And to be frank the judges aren't even fair in the way they judge PCS. If they were fair than someone like Kozuka wouldn't be getting lower PCS than Contesti at worlds. It would be one thing If all the amazing skaters got rewarded with high PCS cushions even when they mess up. But it seems like its only the special favorites that get it. Thats what makes the system worse. The judges aren't even consistent.
It was worse under 6.0! Skating has never been fair - but it's improved considerably IMO, over the years that I've skated and then followed the sport.

Since figure skating is a blend of sport and art, I don't think a fully objective system is possible. I find it ironic that Chan is pilloried now, but skaters who benefited from reputation in the 6.0 days are often venerated by today's posters.

I love this sport, and don't think a perfect judging system can be found. If the Internet had been around in the days of 6.0, the sport might have been gone from the Olympics by now (due to fan complaints), and a great source of beauty and athletic challenge would have been lost.

Maybe we shouldn't get so invested in specific results, because IMO, precise placements are pretty meaningless among the very top skaters.

4. Originally Posted by flowerpower
It was worse under 6.0! Skating has never been fair - but it's improved considerably IMO, over the years that I've skated and then followed the sport.

Since figure skating is a blend of sport and art, I don't think a fully objective system is possible. I find it ironic that Chan is pilloried now, but skaters who benefited from reputation in the 6.0 days are often venerated by today's posters.

I love this sport, and don't think a perfect judging system can be found. If the Internet had been around in the days of 6.0, the sport might have been gone from the Olympics by now (due to fan complaints), and a great source of beauty and athletic challenge would have been lost.

Maybe we shouldn't get so invested in specific results, because IMO, precise placements are pretty meaningless among the very top skaters.
Considerably fairer? I'm not convinced at all that Chan would have won Worlds this year under 6.0...I don't know if each individual judge would want to go out there and put their name behind putting Chan over Dai. At the very least I bet Dai would have won the free.

Under this system judges can give named skaters HUGE buffers over the rest.

5. ^
Today it's rare for a World champion to repeat in consecutive years; it used to be common for one or two skaters to dominate the title for a four-year cycle (or longer). Look at Hamilton/Orser, then Orser/Boitano, or Browning/Petrenko. Yes, I definitely feel the system is fairer today. Many more skaters are vying for podium positions.

Way back, figures were a huge bastion of manipulation. No cameras, and after the next flood there was no evidence of the performance - no wonder Toller dumped the skates he used for figures in the river, lol! New skaters were out of luck until they worked their way up the ladder (or more likely, the champs retired).

Under 6.0, remember the wonky spins that were A-OK (no problem), the cross cuts that constituted artistry (OK so long as the jumps were good), and the artistic marks that went way up as soon as the skater started nailing the jumps.....

6. Originally Posted by flowerpower
... the artistic marks that went way up as soon as the skater started nailing the jumps.....
More harder jumps = higher PCS
Reputation = higher PCS

So this is different from the second mark in 6.0 how? At least the presentation mark in 6.0 wasn't advertised to be a literal, quantitative mark, just a relative mark that contributed to the ordinal.

7. Originally Posted by bek
Considerably fairer? I'm not convinced at all that Chan would have won Worlds this year under 6.0...I don't know if each individual judge would want to go out there and put their name behind putting Chan over Dai. At the very least I bet Dai would have won the free.

Under this system judges can give named skaters HUGE buffers over the rest.

Could not have been said it better.

8. Originally Posted by bek
Considerably fairer? I'm not convinced at all that Chan would have won Worlds this year under 6.0...I don't know if each individual judge would want to go out there and put their name behind putting Chan over Dai. At the very least I bet Dai would have won the free.

Under this system judges can give named skaters HUGE buffers over the rest.
Well, back in the days of 6.0, 5 judges put FP/M over A/P in 2001.

"At the very least" I bet A/P would've won the FD in this system, because under this system technical marking is actually quantifiable, as is balanced skating by the two partners.

So I think considerably "fairer" is a subjective item. Just because you say something should happen doesn't mean it should.

9. Figured I'd quote from a very well written ice-dance.com article (http://ice-dance.com/component/conte...he free dance:
Is it right for a world title to come down to a single step sequence? Maybe it is, and maybe it is not, but having it spelled out in the protocol sheets is probably better than the days when we did not have any explanations at all. And when two teams are skating at such a high level, and on any given day one can be just "thatmuch" better than the other, sometimes a decision can only be made between the smallest details. How many times have we seen a singles event come down to a skipped double toe loop at the end of a three-jump combination? And at least we have something to discuss in our article, instead of reducing our sport to a cop-out call of prejudgment.
I'd love to see a similar write up for the men's free for those "in the know". One thing I do have to say about the COP is that it has added heck of a lot more structure and transparency in the judging. Is it perfect? Non! But it is a lot better than the time of 6.0 in increasing the credibility of skating as a sport. The athleticism these days, especially footwork and even spins, are much more difficult than before. I appreciate the desire for more freedom of expression but it has to be balanced with some sort of structure allowing more consistent judgment.

What I see is worth discussing is how to improve the current judging system:
* How to enforce more discipline in judging the PCS or GOE?
* How to engage the viewer - Releasing the replay video snippets that judges have access to perhaps? Some sort of outreach on how judges really determine a level 3 from level 4 step sequence?
* So You Want to be a Figure Skating Judge app/game - If NASA can try subverting young minds with Angry Birds in Space into having an interest in astronomy while unconsciously learning about projectile motion, ISU can do something similar.
* Tapping into people who are expert in data visualization. (Personal non-skating interests seriously overlapping here.) Off the top of my head, I'm thinking stacked bar charts with colour codes for different aspects comprising the final score. At the very end, the viewer will have a stacked bar chart with each bar for each competitor, for a particular segment only and then expanded for all segments of the competition.

Also, for those missing the heart rending programs in the past, I'd rather have a separate discipline just for interpretation of music. I've forgotten which competition from ages past but I think there was one competition which capped jumps at doubles? How judges compared apples to orange in styles though...

10. I still don't get why on TV the screen is so uncluttered with points. You have a points based system. Someone lands a jump put what its base value is on the screen. Things have values now. It's not 6.0 where they score would truly be unknown until the judges gave a score. Would the people in charge really have to know what is going on in the sport and what something is worth? The technology in Tennis broadcasts is amazing! They get the ball right where it lands and when something is barely touching the line! None of that can be brought to figure skating. It's just a total mystery until the score is given? False!

11. I think CoP is a very good scoring system for technical scores. PCS on the other hand is not good at all, as the judges seem to use it for holding up skaters with a reputation. As long as everyone does not get the deserved PCS regarding what happens on the ice in the event in question, figure skating cannot be seen as a serious sport.

Personally I think that Chan deserved his win in Nice. TV commentators in some countries need to be educated that they understand CoP better. I´m happy to say that we have one very good commentator, the other one just blabbers, LOL.

Originally Posted by caseyedwards
I still don't get why on TV the screen is so uncluttered with points. You have a points based system. Someone lands a jump put what its base value is on the screen.
Or it would be enough for the commentator to mention the base value of that jump..., because skaters sometimes change their programme a bit.

12. Originally Posted by professordeb
^^This! What's mind boggling to me is if Rosie really has been around skating as long as she has and not bothered to figure out how COP is calculated -- that's just laziness on her part.

I agree with both the points made by The Accordion and what you, professordeb, and others have pointed out: that Rosie DiManno doesn't seem to have made much of an effort to even try to understand COP. Yes, it has its faults, but how can someone completely dismiss a system that they do not understand? I have seen this from other FS journalists lately, and it really bothers me. Do your homework, then criticize.

13. I agree with what she says

14. Originally Posted by bek
Considerably fairer? I'm not convinced at all that Chan would have won Worlds this year under 6.0...I don't know if each individual judge would want to go out there and put their name behind putting Chan over Dai. At the very least I bet Dai would have won the free.

Under this system judges can give named skaters HUGE buffers over the rest.
Under 6.0 Takahashi would have been about 7th in the short, and even with a win in the free skate he wouldn't have got first overall.

15. Prefer COP (though not perfect) to 6s. COP marking suits figure skating as a sport. The breakdown in points make it easier go know in detail how a skater has performed under the different elements. If the casual audience enjoy figure skating as a sport, they will take the effort and time to understand COP though it will take more effort (especially for casual audience) as figure skating is many different elements judging in a short time. Harder to be corrupted as the numbers are there to check.

16. I'm not a fan of CoP, but isn't this the same lady who wanted to take Tanith's Canadian citizenship away when she got her US citizenship before the Games?? She be crazy.

17. Originally Posted by aliceanne
No thanks, we already have Phil Hersh.
hahaha

18. Originally Posted by babayaga
The part of COP that I hate the most is PCS. ... I feel like PCS is something that pretends to be objective but it really isn't and it's frustrating. And very often it's PCS that determine the result of competitions, not TES.
PCS replaced the "artistic" component from 6.0.

same ole stuff, different name.

& this is where judges can hold up whoever they darn well please!

19. Audience booed judges when they didn't agree with placements in 6.0 too. It is nothing new.

In the threads, people often guess what score will come up, and I'd say they are usually in the right range. The numbers aren't that mysterious. To me 6.0 is way more mysterious- because it is just ordinals, and there is nothing I can look at after the competition to defend the scores. I LOVE protocols.

If you care about a sport- learn the rules. I have no freaking idea what football rules are, and the way family members argue over calls I often wonder how transparent they are anyway. (You often hear about a ref being the 12th man on a team...)

20. Originally Posted by Dave of the North
Under 6.0 Takahashi would have been about 7th in the short, and even with a win in the free skate he wouldn't have got first overall.
People forget that applying factored placements under 6.0 from 1981-2004 created scenarios where skaters could not win overall even if they were more superior in a particular segment versus the rest of the field (moreso than the math would dictate under factored placements)..

I still don't get why on TV the screen is so uncluttered with points. You have a points based system. Someone lands a jump put what its base value is on the screen. Things have values now. It's not 6.0 where they score would truly be unknown until the judges gave a score.
I agree with you, but then again, you don't see the individual point values for other multi-element judged events such as gymnastics, half-pipe snowboard etc. displaying all their individual element marks on the screen

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