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Components: PE, CH, IN

Discussion in 'The Trash Can' started by Jun Y, Aug 16, 2012.

  1. Jun Y

    Jun Y Well-Known Member

    The question is simple enough: Should jumps (difficulty, success, failure) in a program affect component scores?

    I have heard various explanations about why program component scores SEEM TO be associated with technical scores. Perhaps the most compelling is that skating skills can be closely linked to both the component scores and technical scores, therefore creating an illusion that judges give component scores to match technical scores. Indeed, the SS and TR components are inherently linked to jumps and this theory could work. However, there are also skaters with very mediocre skating skills who appear to be rewarded with high SS scores because they can jump, which is sort of a separate discussion.

    I am interested in how P/E, CH, and IN scores appear to be assessed, as their definitions and criteria do not appear to be inherently closely tied with skating skills or jumps. The definitions can be found in the ISU document here, which have not been revised or clarified as far as I know since the start of IJS 10 years ago.

    At the recent Liberty summer competition, I was struck by the beauty of Wesley Campbell's free skate (to Ave Maria). (You can see a fan video here.) His component scores are: PE=6.58, CH=6.58, IN=6.67.

    In comparison, the component scores for Max Aaron are: PE=6.50, CH=6.42, IN=6.25. (Video here)

    The difference between Aaron and Campbell in component scores is small. The difference in quality, if we are purely talking about performance, choroegraphy, and interpretation of music, is massive. (Yes, I am aware that such "massive difference" is my perception and subjective.)

    So, I wonder. Imagine for a moment, if Campbell and Aaron's jump contents had been essentially the same, would their PE, CH, IN scores be as close as they are now? If no, why not? If yes ... uh ... really? Another way of posing this question is, theoretically, if Campbell had a couple of triple Axels or perhaps a quad along with all the same choreography and performance, would he be getting 6's for components?

    This is not intended as criticism to specific skaters. I'm comparing these two skaters because I just saw them recently live in competition, and the contrast happened to be very sharp.

    Another extreme example is Jonathan Cassar. I can't speak for anyone else, but in my opinion he is the best among US men in terms of PE, CH, IN. His interpretation is not merely waving arms, or moving the skates/legs, or make a hand gesture to coincide with the music. With modern dance training, he can express rich and deep emotions and meaning, never cheap, never superficial, never literal, in a way that is pretty much unmatched. He interprets the music's theme, not just the rhythm or phrasing. His performance often conveys an intelligent humanism that is rarely seen in competitive figure skating. A best example is the free program to the soundtrack of Schindler's List.

    So I looked up his component scores. For this program, at 2010 US Nationals, his PE=6.82, CH=6.79, IN=6.96. At 2011 US Nationals, his PE=7.00, CH=6.96, IN=7.18. His jump repertoire has been fairly stable: all 5 triples, no triple Axel. His component scores are usually around 7 from US judges, which is generous compared with his 2010 Finlandia Trophy (he skated the same FS) component scores: PE=6.50, CH=6.50, IN=6.70. In the same competition, Gachinski (who won the FS) got 7 to 7.10 for these 3 components.

    One could argue that Cassar would never have gotten 6.50-7.18 in component scores if he wasn't so good, given his limited jump difficulty. But, if what would it matter if PE, CH, and IN are theoretically unrelated and unaffected by jumps? I wonder, if he had a reliably triple Axel, would his PE, CH, and IN scores remain around 7 at US Nationals where Abbott and Lysacek routinely get 8-9?

    Perhaps this is a nonissue. Perhaps my opinion that Cambpell's Ave Maria FS and Cassar's Schindler's List FS deserve 7.5 to 9 in PE, CH, and/or IN is mistaken or invalid. After all, aren't these things subjective? But, if so, how should these component scores be marked? Is the phenomenon I describe above consistent with the current judging criteria? I just don't see it.
  2. RFOS

    RFOS Well-Known Member

    Thanks for your great post. :) You have a lot of good insights and questions and seem to really seek to understand and learn, not to place blame on or belittle the officials you may disagree with. All of these are great qualities to have in a judge. :) Have you considered becoming one? I'm serious!

    I will post more later but don't have time at the moment.
  3. spikydurian

    spikydurian Well-Known Member

    Thanks Jun. Interesting post and questions. I am eagerly waiting for 'experienced and learned' posters to have share their thoughts.:)
  4. Aussie Willy

    Aussie Willy Hates both vegemite and peanut butter

    Going by the two examples you posted from Liberty, I would probably have them in those ball park marks for those components you have specified. I think there were a couple of things that balanced each other out though.

    Campbell had the nicer leg line and clarity of positions, but the program was pretty much at one level and there was a lack of variation in the types of moves he performed. A lot of what he was to the music but it would have been nice to see more choreographic content. The higher mark for him was probably because his movement and execution was better quality. To sum up beautiful skating but lacked complexity.

    Aaron on the other hand was able to demonstrate a clear change in tempo in his music and carry it through (something that I look for in a skater demonstrating how they using the music). You got a definition of that so it wasn't at the one level. Also there were some more defined nunances and moments. And he probably had more choreographic content.

    At the end of the day, the marks were probably about right and Campbell deserved the higher component score. But you have to look individually at the performances rather doing a comparison.
  5. RFOS

    RFOS Well-Known Member

    There is certainly nothing in descriptions for PE, CH, and IN that specifically states that jumps should be taken into account in those marks.

    The quality of the jumps, though, definitely would come into play in at least the PE mark, and possibly others as well. The clarity of movement ("precise execution of any movement"), carriage, and alignment are going to be negatively affected by obvious, messy errors. On the other hand, they can be enhanced by doing jumps of superior quality. Although he fell once, most of Wesley's jumps in the program linked above were of very high quality and particularly superior in the qualities mentioned above on the landings.

    Wesley's program also has some subtle and interesting transitions on beautiful edges coming out of some of the jumps that contribute to the mood and interpretation, and for me would enhance all of his component marks. However, because of that feature of the program, his TR, CH, and IN marks might also be quite significantly affected by jump errors if he were unable to execute those choreographic movements (and PE perhaps more affected than usual). He does telegraph some jumps slightly, which is the main thing that IMO keeps his PCS (because it does have an effect on all PCS) from being quite as effective as, for example, Jeremy Abbott's at his best, but I wholeheartedly agree with you that overall it is a striking and beautiful program.

    IMO, the difficulty of the jumps in and of itself ideally shouldn't have much of an effect on PCS, but I can see why it often does. To take a completely different style of skater who also skated at Liberty, Keegan Messing is usually (for me) very exciting to watch and keeps me on the edge of my seat, and that definitely is affected by his huge and difficult jumps (as well as the overall abandon with which he usually skates and generally great footwork and blindingly fast spins). Difficult jumps can add excitement and can "pump up" both the skater and the crowd, especially when done well, and that excitement can build as more and more risky jumps are landed. Under projection on PE, there is a description that "the skater radiates energy resulting in an invisible connection with the audience." This intangible connection can definitely be enhanced by skating a clean program, and especially a technically difficult one.

    No matter how beautiful otherwise, programs with lots of errors aren't usually the ones that get standing ovations. The judges need to be paying attention to the "otherwise" and marking it accordingly, and has been demonstrated many times on this board, usually judges don't penalize errors on PCS as much as some fans think they should. Obviously, not every clean program that might get a standing ovation should be marked ahead of on PCS, but there is something to be said for it. The performances that combine both the masterful execution of technical elements wonderful choreography are the ones that I can watch over and over again and that are worthy of the very highest marks.

    On the other hand, difficult jumps can often be telegraphed and front-loaded and when unsuccessful can completely take the life out of the rest of the program as well. Sometimes skaters who do simpler jumps can do more difficult and intricate choreography and transitions going into and coming out of them and really create a wonderful, cohesive program. I saw a really superior example of this from a Novice skater at Liberty who didn't attempt a double axel or triples but had choreography and transitions to the music almost from start to finish because she didn't have to focus and worry so much about the jumps. A skater like Janet Lynn, whose jump content wouldn't be competitive today, still surely would be deserving of high PE and overall PCS marks, especially when at her best, because of the quality of everything she did.

    If a top skater today were to do a program of all single jumps it would be considered a "bad" performance by most, even if it was presented just as well (or maybe even better) than if triples (and perhaps quads) had been included, because we know what they are capable of. Carolina Kostner's marks when she popped many jumps in her FS at Worlds one year were a subject of a lot of controversy. Everyone knew it was nowhere near what she was capable of technically and some thought that her PE marks should be very low as a result, while others thought her overall quality was still very high and that she didn't give up on presenting the program despite the low technical content and felt that her relatively high (but slightly lower than usual) marks were deserved. Perhaps the jump difficulty should not be a barrier to getting high PE marks, but we should reserve the very highest marks for those who can combine all the great PCS qualities with difficult and wonderfully executed content to create that extra degree of excitement that makes you want to give a standing ovation well before the program is finished. :) I think it's important not to get too caught up in the technical content or let it be the driving force behind any of the PCS marks, or blind you to weaknesses in the program, but it can boost the excitement and therefore improve PCS in some cases. (In an ideal world where judges could perfectly separate out PCS categories as laid out in the rules, the CH mark probably shouldn't be higher if the exact same choreography was executed, but when the overall impression is improved all of the PCS usually tend to move up together).

    Perhaps it's not just triples and quads that can create that excitement though. Maybe a skater could create just as much excitement in a performance today with only single jumps if they did them so amazingly with enhancements like delays and air positions that we almost never see anymore. :) (Cue "good old days" rants from old-timers ;)).
    gkelly and (deleted member) like this.
  6. RFOS

    RFOS Well-Known Member

    After watching Aaron's free skate (which I had missed at Liberty), I agree with Aussie Willy that he did have more variety in terms of tempo and style, and that his choreography and interpretation were quite solid overall. She is also correct that technically we are not supposed to be "comparing" the performances when marking under IJS. When 2 skaters skate in such drastically different styles, it would be difficult to compare. For me, Wesley performed the slow and lyrical style extremely well. For me he created a mood and made me really "feel" something, which. I found its subtlety and the simplicity of its concept, and the delivery thereof, beautiful. These "mood" programs where the skater creates an ambience and sticks with it 100% from start to finish can be very effective when executed with the level of emotion, maturity, and the beauty of movement that Wesley has. Arguably it could be seen as a lack of variety, but sometimes it can be original and even a little daring to try to carry one mood for an entire free skate.

    Max has a more sharp and exciting style, and music that has more obvious highs and lows, which requires particularly good timing and seems somehow more "objective" in its interpretation. Such programs can also be extremely effective and I try to rate each style on its own merits. I should try, and it would be a good discussion topic, to find some of the very best examples of performances of different styles, so I can have a 9.0-10.0 benchmark to keep in mind when trying to mark other programs in those styles to see how close they are to that standard. Sort of like how in dog shows they're judging each dog against the "breed standard." ;)
  7. Jun Y

    Jun Y Well-Known Member

    Thanks to Aussie Willy and especially RFOS for sharing their thoughts.

    The saying goes that under IJS we are not supposed to compare skaters. However, the question on my mind is whether the same criteria are applied consistently across different skaters with programs of different styles. So my comparing Campbell and Aaron was intended to illustrate this point of view.

    Yes, Aaron's skating at Liberty had impressive speed and power (which is in the realm of SS), which creates a sense of excitement along with the difficult jumps at the beginning of the program. I disagree that he exhibited a variety of tempo, however. The music has a variety of tempo. Aaron's skating in the program had two: fast and slightly slower. I have long had some reflections about the emotional impact (or, in other word, manipulation) of music on the spectators' subjective reaction to a program, but that's another long and arduous discussion for another day.

    In the criteria for P/E, I would argue that Aaron in this performance was weak in Carriage, Clarity of Movement ("refined lines of the body and limbs, precise execution of movement"), and Projection. One could debate the Physical, Emotional, Intellectual Involvement ("physically committed, sincere in emotion") because everyone's "trigger" for emotional and especially intellectual involvement is different.

    In CH, Aaron's program is, in my opinion, debatable in Purpose, debatable in Utilization of Space, good in Coverage, debatable in Phrasing and Form, and poor in Originality. This program has a number of strategically placed arm or hand movements timed to music cues, in places not technically demanding or risky (not immediately before or after jumps). Aaron executed these movements correctly at these time points, but his movements lacked whole-body commitment. His movements are generally limited to arms and hands, which is less difficult than committing both arms in full length, the free leg, and the torso to the movements cued to music. And there is a lack of emotional and thematic meaning projected to me as a spectator, but obviously that's very subjective.

    In terms of IN, Aaron's performance was OK in Effortless in Time to Music, but this effortlessness is related to the lack of difficulty in the movements as argued above. I think he was mediocre to poor in Expression of the Music's Style, Character, and Rhythm, because one could not guess the choreography had anything to do with the particular Broadway style of dance unless you know the music was composed for West Side Story. One could argue the choreography does not have to match the style of music (hey that doesn't sound quite right), but it is unclear to me whether the choreography in this program resembles dance of any style. The performance is also inadequate in Use of Finesse to Reflect the Nuances of Music, IMO.

    All in all, 6+ may be more or less reasonable for Aaron's performance. Whether Campbell's performance deserved 6.5+ is another issue. Again, I am thinking about consistent application of the same rules to each skater.

    Back to the question of whether component scores, especially PE, CH, and IN, should be linked to or separated from jumps or technical elements altogether remains unclear. The IJS rules as they are written do not contain any wording to explicitly allow or prohibit the consideration of jumps in the component scores. Actually, the wording of the components is fairly vague to leave room for various interpretations.

    RFOS mentioned telegraphing for jumps that take up space in a program, which I count not only the two-dimensional space on ice, but also the fourth dimension of time in a program with limited length. This space would otherwise be used for performance, expression, and interpretation of music. Indeed I think this is a very important issue that also affect transitions. The more difficult jumps such as having two quads and a triple Axel (e.g., Aaron's and Ross Miner's program layout) in a free program requires that the first 30 seconds to 1 minute would by necessity lack transitions or expressive choreography. If this significant loss of space is accounted for in the PE, CH, IN scores, difficult jump content would theoretically be inversely proportional to the PE, CH, IN scores, other things being equal. In other words, in the same skater, skating to an easier (jumpwise) program leaves more space and energy to express effectively than skating to a more difficult program and therefore get higher PE, CH, IN scores. I don't know whether that is how it works in reality.

    If we agree that the evaluation of PE, CH, and IN should be separate from technical concerns (not only for the reason that technical content is already evaluated in the TES score), I would suggest that such a goal can be achieved by having a separate panel to judge these components only, much like rhythmic gymnastics, in which there is a technical panel, an execution panel, and an artistic panel. That's the theory anyway.

    In the end, of course, the criteria defined for PE, CH, and IN are always largely subjective. Reasonable people will disagree whether a program seems to have a purpose, originality, or emotional and intellectual involvement. Different people are moved/roused/annoyed/irritated by different things, including (not the least) certain types of music. Judging such subjective components has to be derived from consensus, and the process of consensus itself inherently favors "regression to the mean," or things with an average degree of novelty and accessibility.
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2012
  8. Ziggy

    Ziggy Well-Known Member

    No because they aren't included in the criteria for said component marks.

    You can close the thread now. :p
  9. Jun Y

    Jun Y Well-Known Member

    I'll just change the word "should" to "do" then. :p
  10. flipforsynchro

    flipforsynchro New Member

    They do because in Alissa's splatfest her PCS marks went way way down.
  11. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

    I guess there are at least two separate questions:

    1) What would/should I consider when judging these components, if called upon to do so?

    2) What were the official judges on the panel doing?

    Of course we can't really get into anyone else's thought processes unless we ask them and they remember and are able and willing to articulate their reasoning to us. And they're not going to do it for specific skaters on a public forum like this.

    But it seems like a good idea for those of us who are interested in the process to discuss what we would look for, to refine our own thought processes and get new ideas from each other.
  12. lauravvv

    lauravvv Well-Known Member

    Thanks, Jun Y. This is a really interesting thread, although it doesn't clarify much. I think it's quite impossible :D. And, no, you shouldn't close this thread :D.
  13. Belinda

    Belinda Member

    Jun Y, thank you for bringing up Jonathan Cassar. I haven't come across this skater before. I agree he is very beautiful though perhaps limited in jumps. I share your puzzlelment about CH and IN, but, to be honest, I'm past caring. I just enjoy watching what & who I like. I note from Wikipedia that his 2012/13 FP is Pagliacci. I am really looking forward to seeing it. Thank you once again.
  14. RFOS

    RFOS Well-Known Member

    I'd certainly be interested in hearing your thoughts on that topic. :)

    I think it is easy to be overly influenced by the excitement that can be created by difficult and well-executed jumps, especially when parts of a program are presented in an exciting way, leading to an excessive weighting of those parts of the program. For example, if a skater starts off with some world-class jumps, even without much nuanced expression or variety of transitions in between, continues to skate a technically strong program, and then at the end of the program goes all out with excitement, musicality, and projection in an exceptional footwork sequence, the spectators' mood at the end of the program is likely to be one of excitement and it's easy to be fooled into forgetting or glossing over the parts of the program where the skater really wasn't projecting or interpreting the music that well. I think judges are susceptible to this also. Program components are often explained as being related to the "percentage of time" a skater fulfills the criteria and if this were truly applied we would see MUCH lower marks in a case like this hypothetical skater.

    It's not explicitly stated anywhere that all criteria within a component need to be weighted equally or that all sections of the program need to be weighted equally by the judge when coming up with a mark, but none should be ignored entirely or minimized or maximized so much as to lead to obvious bias. Both the good and bad qualities of every skater need to be considered as objectively as possible. The footwork sequences often demonstrate more of a variety and difficulty of skating skills, as well as more interpretation, and I don't necessarily think a superb 20 second footwork sequence needs to be weighted exactly the same as 20 seconds of simple skating into the first 3 jumps, because it often does have a greater contribution to the overall impression. However, weighting the exciting, musical section 90% and the equally long simple section of skating through the music 10% definitely does not seem appropriate and would not give enough credit to a skater who can truly interpret the music throughout the WHOLE program.
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2012
  15. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

    The "percentage of time" approach is useful as one guideline, but I don't think it can be the whole determinant.

    E.g., suppose Skater A has great choreography -- thematic, varied and original in patterning on the ice, detailed phrasing to the music -- for 85% of the program but drops that choreography to telegraph a few difficult jumps and to recover from one failed one. And Skater B has a very generic program with simple obvious jump setups and patterning, and vague general relation to the music throughout, but there's never any break in the execution, so you could say that Skater B executed the choreography 100% of the time.

    But it wasn't very good choreography, so why should it earn higher scores than Skater A's much better program that had a couple of breaks?
  16. RFOS

    RFOS Well-Known Member

    It would definitely need to be weighted by how well the criteria are met. If skater A had 8.5 choreography for that 85% of the time and 0 choreography for the other 15% then that would be 7.25, weighting all sections equally. (And 0 choreography is pretty hard to imagine, unless a skater is just standing around on the ice due to injury, not covering any ice or doing anything to the music, even just by chance :shuffle:, because they're required to step on the ice to advance). Even just executing the required elements spaced throughout the program and covering most of the ice surface at some point would need to be worth a little bit.

    Skater B might have 4.0 choreography 100% of the time and get a 4.0.
  17. Jun Y

    Jun Y Well-Known Member

    I have never thought of this aspect before. It's very helpful! The "proportion of time" guideline is instructive but should not be taken literally, that is true. Anyway, given today's demanding jump content for top senior men competitors, it is almost inevitable that they have to carve out ~1 minute in a free skate or ~30 seconds in the short to setting up and executing a couple of quads and triple Axels. Also because of the physical demand on these jumps, the choreography and difficult/varied transitions in the rest of the program may suffer as well. (Aside: There is only one Patrick Chan. It is unrealistic to expect the top 5 skaters to have that kind of skating skills to support all the quads, triple Axels, and transitions.) On the other hand, skaters who don't have quads and do not attempt them can afford to put more content between jumps and spins and have more energy to do them well, yet they are not necessarily rewarded for them. The promotion of jump difficulty in recent years may be pushing aside the gains in transitions, choreography, and music interpretation in the past some years.