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DiManno: Figure skating audiences alienated by esoteric judging system

Discussion in 'Great Skate Debate' started by Sugar, Apr 1, 2012.

  1. Sugar

    Sugar Well-Known Member

    DiManno: Figure skating audiences alienated by esoteric judging system
    To hear skating autocrats tell it, the Code of Points system is the best thing since spandex.The reality is much different. The reality is a rink full of spectators booing Patrick Chan upon successful defence of his title Saturday afternoon. The reality is a fan base that can’t comprehend how Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir defeated defending dance couple Meryl Davis and Charlie White. The reality is collective befuddlement when marks are flashed on the scoreboard. I’ve covered figure skating for three decades and even I need remedial instruction on the eve of every major competition. It’s advanced math, it’s as arcane as the theory of relativity. Increasingly I’ve come to believe it’s a deliberately excluding — almost occult — contrivance.
  2. aka_gerbil

    aka_gerbil Rooting for the Underdogs

    I see that the Rita Skeeter of figure skating coverage has weighed in again.
  3. michiruwater

    michiruwater Well-Known Member

    I am a fan, and I can absolutely comprehend how Virtue/Moir beat Davis/White.

    If you need remedial instruction on the eve of competition, a) you should start looking it up way before then, and b) you don't understand math period.

    It's not that hard. Seriously.
    Braulio and (deleted member) like this.
  4. berthesghost

    berthesghost Well-Known Member

    followed by a few rabid fans' snotty remarks on how skating is better than ever, as they sit in empty rinks watching comps that won't even be televised.
    Maximillian and (deleted member) like this.
  5. peibeck

    peibeck Simply looking

    :drama: There are plenty of reasons to find fault with both CoP and the 6.0 system. But I don't blame the complexities of the judging system for finding Chan or Virtue/Moir's free programs exceedingly dull this season, no matter how brilliantly talented those skaters are. :p
    genevieve and (deleted member) like this.
  6. shan

    shan Well-Known Member

  7. The Accordion

    The Accordion Well-Known Member

    The thing that gets me is all the people complaining that the audience doesn't get COP - and insinuating that it was somehow clearer for the audience under 6.0.

    Maybe 5.7 out of 6.0 was easier for the average audience member to comprehend than the numbers are now - but the reasoning for placements was certainly not clearer to the average audience.

    Don't get me wrong - I would never suggest that COP is perfect. I just disagree that it is more confusing to the audience now why certain skaters place where they do.

    I may not always agree with the judging now - but at least if you want to take the time - you can see how the marking breaks down.

    Check out judging under 6.0 and skaters could get anything from a 4.3 to a 5.3 from different judges and be placed all over the map when it came to ordinals. Not to mention people getting perfect marks for flawed programs and people with amazing artistry getting lower 2nd marks than people with very little but with a reputation or good jumps.

    How is that any more clear?

    And that is why there was booing under 6.0 too.
    mag, alilou, jenji124 and 5 others like this.
  8. professordeb

    professordeb Well-Known Member

    ^^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.
  9. whoa

    whoa Member

    You can't please everyone. I don't know how they even come up with generalizations like these - just because DiManno, after "three decades" of figure skating coverage, doesn't understand the system doesn't mean that general audiences don't either.

    If I were an elite skater, I'd want to know exactly and precisely where I lost my points, which the COP attempts to do. The 6.0 maybe used easier numbers, but for me, I don't think it's transformed the sport as much as the COP has so far. I'd love it if the system wasn't anonymous, but that's probably hoping for too much.

    The "math" isn't that hard. It's addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. I assume you learn those skills in elementary school. People are less simple-minded that the media apparently assumes they are! If the audience comes to watch figure skating, I don't know if they'd stop going in droves just because they "don't get" the scores. Perhaps the progression of the COP system, the economic downturn, and the fluctuation in "star" competitors across all fields are factors to consider if looking at audience numbers.

    Agree with The According above in saying that simpler numbers don't mean that the audiences understand the results any better. I'm sure the same questions of "I don't get how XYZ won. ABC was clearly better and sparklier" rise in either scenario.

    I'm biased - I don't like ambiguity and want to know where I stand, which I think the jargon-laden COP provides. Welfare of skaters should come before that of the audience. If people want to boo, they've certainly got the right to. I just don't think we need to dumb down or ease the system just for their convenience, which might not even be true.
    gkelly and (deleted member) like this.
  10. OldGuy

    OldGuy New Member

    Unfortunately, under the new system the audience boos the skater, whereas under 6.0 (and 10.0 before that) the errant judge was given the hard time. In my time I have seen some pretty raucous demonstrations over poor or unfair judging. In that respect I much prefer the older systems as I hate to see a skater embarrassed through no fault of their own.
  11. aliceanne

    aliceanne Well-Known Member

    Ha ha! That's the first time I've heard sour grapes from the winning country. What a welcome home for the Canadian team.
  12. yunasashafan

    yunasashafan Member

    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.

    What can be complicated is figuring out the levels and the GOEs and the base values for each element. That was not easier under 6.0, in fact one could argue that the process to attain a "grade" for each element is much more transparent under COP (what did 5.7 mean, really?)

    What makes COP harder than 6.0, IMO, is that it is an aggregate system where, to understand the whole, you need to have a grasp on the parts to see how they add up. The 'math' is not the culprit. You just need to know more about the scoring to understand the meaning of the number.

    PS I am not trying to defend COP. I am just sick of all this "it's all complicated math" outcry
  13. martyross

    martyross Well-Known Member

    figure skating is an extremely complex sport. it's not only jumping, or spinning, or doing a circular step sequence, and it's not only acting, making tv spectators cry, etc... obvious, no? hence you can't expect that judging it is simple, just give 5.6 or 6.0 and you're fine. this should be obvious too.
    the present system is discussed and analyzed 1000 times on boards and valid points are made, and yet this article simplify things in a stupid, childish way. i would say, the present system may be not perfect. but in itself, it's only a method, an abstract structure made of multiple rules. it is the people who use it that are eventually to blame. if you sense that there are biased/corrupted judges, question their decisions, or maybe even the rules themselves, but do it with some knowledge of the sport, at least.
    she doesn't understand the system? so why is she writing about it in a newspaper? it's like starting an article saying, "I don't understand politics, but i'm gonna writing about it. What i want to say is: no one understands politics". wow.
    also, she's generalizing much just to prove her non-understanding right. "The crowd booed". does this mean that every single person in that arena booed? of course, Chan's victory was questionable. but maybe there were people in the arena who were fine with it. "the fan base" didn't get Tessa and Scott's winning? what fan base? the entire community of skating fans around the world?
    so what's the point of this brilliant article? let's change a scoring system because Rosie Di Manno doesn't understand it or is not good at maths enough?
    alilou and (deleted member) like this.
  14. bbkenn

    bbkenn Well-Known Member

    The problem with your statement is that it is entirely subjective. There are LOTS of figure skating fans, me included, that disagree with you.
  15. bbkenn

    bbkenn Well-Known Member

    Most Canadians knowledgeable with figure skating know she has a reputation for being an idiot and don't pay attention to what she says anyway. Maybe she's looking to relocate to another country where bashing skaters in print is common?
  16. flowerpower

    flowerpower Well-Known Member

    The judging system does not reward the "audience-friendly program" or the "skate of the night" and journalists who claim to know the sport should know better than to think so. COP was an attempt to introduce more objectivity into judging, and while it's far from perfect, it is nonetheless more fair than 6.0, IMO.

    I feel badly for skaters who work very hard to construct and execute their programs according to the rules in place, then get slammed because another skater executes their program particularly well and captures the audience's support, but does not fulfill the technical criteria to score as many marks.

    What kind of judging system are we to create? One that allows the audience to vote, based upon their emotional reaction? That is not viable. If there is to be any fairness for the skaters, marks must be based on specific criteria.
  17. aliceanne

    aliceanne Well-Known Member

    No thanks, we already have Phil Hersh.
  18. kathy sullivan

    kathy sullivan Well-Known Member

    I really dislike COP. I can finally add the numbers - but I never do. And they are really meaningless to me. The scoring system as it stands is non-senseical at times to my brain. For eg. To my fan based brain I find it much more skillful to turn a planned triple-triple into a perfectly executed triple-double if the jump is "off",than to fly ahead with the plan and fall. And I really detest how all the programs look the same - I can always know when a spin will begin and stop-and pretty much where jumps will be and for me COP blows musicality out the window -can't do slow spins to the music and must complete fixed number of rotations. I swear you could match up almost any of the skaters music to another skater's program and it wouldn't look odd. But I have said this many times before, whether one likes 6.0 or COP better, is connected to which is more pleasing to the viewer-the parts adding up, or the whole exceeding the sum of it's parts. For the average audience who cannot tell a double axel from a triple lutz I think they judge on the basis of the whole, and the affective experience they have when a skater skates. So I think their is some justification for what the author is saying. Probably is different for die hard skaters and those who can tolerate math without becoming ill at the thought of doing math in the face of watching the beauty of skating.
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2012
    PDilemma and (deleted member) like this.
  19. bek

    bek Guest

    But why should executing your program not matter. Why should the sport encourage people to jam pack their program to the point where they can't execute well. And to have stuff just to have stuff, whether or not it works with the music, works with the program?

    I'd argue that maybe transitions are over rewarded too. That transitions it seems are rewarded with GOE, choregraphy mark. and (as they should be skating skills). Maybe instead Pcs should be simplified with Skating Skills being 1/3 of Pcs. (where transitions are looked at), Choregraphy/transitions another 1/3. And Performance/Execution a 1/3. Performance/Execution should have mandatory mark downs for visible mistakes.

    How much easier would things be... Maybe choregraphy/transitions could even be worth less than Performance/Execution because technically choregraphy/transitions could be taken into account in Skating Skills. And while I like choregraphy, I don't know if its necessarily fair for skating skills to be decided just on choregraphy. Not every skater in the world can afford Lori Nichol. This being said good choregraphy especially hard choregraphy should be rewarded.

    The point is the sport needs to find a balance between rewarding good skating skills/content, and also holding skaters responsible for delivering in the competition.

    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.
  20. babayaga

    babayaga Well-Known Member

    The part of COP that I hate the most is PCS. I have absolutely no idea what those numbers mean. I actually like TES and understand where they come from. But PCS is a complete mystery to me. What on earth is the difference between 7.25 and 7.75? I know there are guidelines and bullet points, but are the judges actually using them? I may be able to see that one skater is better than the other in skating skills for example, but by how much? 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.
  21. Iceman

    Iceman Well-Known Member

    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?
  22. Susan M

    Susan M Well-Known Member

    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.
  23. flowerpower

    flowerpower Well-Known Member

    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.
  24. bek

    bek Guest

    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.
  25. flowerpower

    flowerpower Well-Known Member

    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.....
  26. BreakfastClub

    BreakfastClub Active Member

    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.
  27. BreakfastClub

    BreakfastClub Active Member


    Could not have been said it better.
  28. jl

    jl Well-Known Member

    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.
  29. DustPuppyOI

    DustPuppyOI Well-Known Member

    Figured I'd quote from a very well written ice-dance.com article (http://ice-dance.com/component/cont...ance-recap-by-the-numbers) on the free dance:
    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... :shuffle:
  30. caseyedwards

    caseyedwards Well-Known Member

    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!