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Figure skating is dying, and judges can't prop it up

Discussion in 'Great Skate Debate' started by Sugar, Mar 18, 2013.

  1. Rob

    Rob Beach Bum

    I go to maybe 20 baseball games a year, and watch more on TV, and I only look at box scores occasionally.
  2. Matryeshka

    Matryeshka Well-Known Member

    Do you watch other sports? Have you not seen the :argue: that goes on in gymnastics? In synchronized swimming? Hell, ask a swim fan about Katijima's dolphin kick and I promise you will enter a debate worthy of any old-school late 90s, early naughts skating and that's a timed, objective sport! Look at diving--the commentator for the Olys is fairly even-handed; its fans are NOT. One of the worst is boxing. Like skating, results from twenty, thirty years ago are still debated from both the competitors and the fans. Can you explain, based on what the commentators say, all the fine points of the gymnastics code of points? Do you have a clue on how diving is scored, and whether a bad pike position is better or worse than a lot of splash? Does anyone, anywhere have any idea what the hell is going on in synchronized anything?

    Every sport has its controversies. Every single one. From the way we're carrying on, you'd think we were cycling. I don't know why skating fans are so self-indulgent that we think our sport is the only one that has popularity that waxes and wanes. Every sport has its moment in the sun when it has the star du jour. At one point, I kinda watched skiing because of some Italian guy--I was in middle school and my mom thought he was "a hotcake". I think when he went on a date with Katerina Witt. Trust me when I say, skiing for my mom and me is something that should only happen during a zamboni break, but we watched because he was staaah. And then he moved on. People watched in the US when Kwan was a star, and then moved on. People in Japan watch because they have ubermega superstars right now. If Japan suddenly has a talent drought, it will drop in popularity there except for the people who are fans of the sport rather than the people.
  3. Prancer

    Prancer Cursed for all time Staff Member


    Alberto Tomba! (I think). I haven't thought about him in years. But there he is, popped right into my head like it was yesterday (probably because I wasn't in middle school, ahem).

    But thinking of him made me wonder if skiing is beset with controversies, so I Googled "controversy skiing." Mercy . You'd think it was figure skating. And there are skiers complaining about stuff! Clearly the ski fed must be wrong!
  4. kathy sullivan

    kathy sullivan Well-Known Member

    COP changed everything for me and like many after years of watching skating, and attending many competitions, I stopped watching full competitions altogether. I will spot check what happened in a specific competition and watch a few performances online. For me though COP has made programs sooooo boring and repetitive. Skaters can no longer be the instrument thru which the music plays - they all have to execute the same things. To me there are only two female skaters that have managed to surpass this dreadful non-musical "must do so many turns" approach and manage to make some of their programs works of art - YuNa and Mao. I never watched skating to count revolutions - I wanted the revolutions to have been inspired by the music. Didn't even mind a jump doubled - rather see that done well to the music and concept than the bobbly jumps and splats that have become the rule even for many of the top skaters. Miss seeing a highlighting spiral that Michelle and Sasha could take your breath away with, and creativity - well now it has to come after counting. Also miss seeing the top three from the short battle it out for the win. Most of the time it was clear to the average viewer who won - the one who was most enchanting, didn't fall, did all the most difficult jumps and wowed the audience. When there was lots of debate it was usually because more than one final skater did all of that. It is so counter intuitive for someone to win when another skater performs better in the long. Right or wrong - I am always irritated, dissappointed and want to turn off the TV, and swear never to watch again. It sucks the life out of the climax of the event, and in COP it happens alot. 6.0 wasnt a perfect system by a long shot and many results will be debated for a long time but I agree with the posters who say COP does not make emotional and intuitive sense to the average fan - at all. It is a left brain excersise being applied to an audience watching for right brain enjoyment. Die hard sport fans want to quantify, quantify, quantify - the average viewer of ice skating wants to enjoy and be inspired and entertained - and while there are a few COP programs and a few skaters who have achieve the later while placating the former - my evidence is that most of the most talented skaters in the world cannot. COP may make skating a "sport" but cannot make it something the average ice skating viewer will "get."
    I also miss Uncle Dick - he was such a character - he exuded with passion for the sport and his excitment was contageous - I rolled my eyes at a lot of what he said - but he was an entertainer and made the competitions exciting - general viewers loved him.
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2013
  5. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

    Clearly, some fans here prefer IJS, some prefer 6.0, some like different things about each of them.

    The same appears to be true of our acquaintances who watch the sport much more casually and sporadically.

    And undoubtedly some people don't like either system, but those people probably don't like competitive skating at all. (They may or may not like skating itself apart from any competitive context.)
  6. iloveemoticons

    iloveemoticons Well-Known Member

    If these are objective criteria, then the judges don't seem to apply them well bc the same skaters get different PCS depending on judge and competition. Ultimately IMO it's still subjective, because most of the skaters I saw seemed to build speed well in crossovers and maintain it well throughout. Continuing the example of Kostner, she was getting PCS of 60 only two years ago. I don't know how she suddenly got a 10 point improvement in PCS, I don't understand it. I really enjoy Carolina actually and always thought she was underrated so I'm glad she's finally getting recognition for her skating. It's just the fluctuation of PCS seems pretty random. Maybe they should install a radar gun on the rink or something...
  7. newskatefan

    newskatefan Member

    Well all I can add to this thread is what made me stop watching skating, which I haven’t watched in years

    Yes, it was the scoring system; I don’t understand it at all, bring back 6.0
    Yes it was the constant, I was robbed nonsense, which reached a crescendo with the S/P, B/S nonsense, may have been the last straw for me.
    Yes it was the constant yapping from the commentators and how all that was wrong with skating was the Europeans
    Yes it was the destruction of Ice Dancing, which I loved
    Yes it was the removal of the OSP, which I also loved
    I loved the drama
    I loved the music, which suck now
    Yes Ice Dancing has become pairs
    Yes I miss the BIG NAMES
    Yes I miss the rivalries
    Yes I miss the Russians (sue me)
    FS needs more people of colour
  8. michiruwater

    michiruwater Well-Known Member

    I started watching skating in 2006 thanks to Sasha Cohen. It took me, like, the short program to figure out how COP worked, and the long program to really understand it. I didn't find it even remotely complicated or difficult. It made sense to me. It still does.

    Of course I knew about 6.0. I'd seen 6.0 during the Olympics a couple times. And now as an adult, who has watched endless hours of skating videos from years past, I still have not the slightest fecking clue what any of the 6.0 scores met. The numbers meant nothing, they were totally arbitrary. Even watching it now with my knowledge of skating I have no idea why that judge gave this skater a 5.5 and the other one gave her a 5.8 for technical content. They might as well have pulled the numbers out of their asses, and I feel that often enough they did. If 6.0 was still around, I would not still be watching skating.

    Figure skating was popular on TV a couple to several decades ago when there was far less on TV. Figure skating was popular two decades to one decade ago because of the Kerrigan-Hardging scandal and because of Michelle Kwan (in the US). But it isn't a sport that a huge number of people follow religiously. It never was. People might know the names of past Olympic medalists, for the same reason that I know the names of other Olympic medalists - when they win, for a month or more, they're freaking everywhere. Especially when they're pretty, which most female figure skaters are.

    I don't think figure skating is ever going to regain that popularity. There are too many other options on the TV these days. Even if we get a STAH, it will never be as popular. It simply isn't as big or popular as baseball, football, basketball, and I don't think it ever will be again. Either the ISU and USFSA can realize this and adjust accordingly, or we can keep getting these stupid, bitchy articles.

    Getting rid of Cinquanta probably wouldn't hurt, though.
  9. AndyWarhol

    AndyWarhol Well-Known Member

    you were able to understand the levels after watching just the sp's? wow.
  10. Rae35

    Rae35 Active Member

  11. all_empty

    all_empty Well-Known Member

    I'm going to talk television because it's the field I work in.

    The 6.0 system was 100% better for viewers. NBC has made credible attempts to provide benchmarks for scores, explain deductions, etc. but COP will never have the same emotional effect of seeing a 6.0 flash up on the screen. I've been following skating for 20 years and I still can't tell you want a good free dance score is, for example.

    The lack of stars is the biggest problem. Even pre-whack, skating had it's stars. I remember the glamorous Jill Trenary and Nancy Kerrigan, the athletic Tonya Harding, the endless comparisons between Midori Ito to Kristi Yamaguchi, and of course, the "exotic" Surya Bonaly.

    I think Gracie Gold has the potential to be that star. The image I remember from Nationals is not her flawless free skate, it's her face when she realized Ashley Wagner beat her. That McKayla Maroney "I'm not impressed" look = priceless. It was a moment audiences could connect with. It was a TV moment. It was a moment that will be picked up by bloggers and end up on USA Today or Yahoo! for the world to see.

    I'm a little shocked NBC didn't broadcast the world championships of their marquee Winter Olympics sport. But in the long run, I don't think it will hurt them.

    In the world of TV, it's strike while the iron is hot. Stars are made overnight (see my Maroney example). It's much harder to "make" a TV star nowadays (Even Kim Kardashian had to rely upon a sex tape to ignite her career). It's tail-end fame, not pre-fame. Look at Yuna Kim.

    This may sound sexist, but skating needs a glamor girl, a Danica Patrick or Lindsey Vonn. Someone who can use her looks as that springboard.
  12. Rae35

    Rae35 Active Member

    all_empty - with any luck ISU people are reading this thread and your comments.
  13. michiruwater

    michiruwater Well-Known Member

    I said it took me the SP to figure out how COP worked. That does not imply, in any way, that I understood, then or now, every single little intricacy. I still can't tell a salchow from a loop. But I can figure out most of it, yes, and it makes sense to me. Reading the protocol sheets sheds light on any of the intricacies I still don't get. None of it seems that difficult to comprehend, and it makes a hell of a lot more sense than arbitrary numbers.
    Maofan7 and (deleted member) like this.
  14. AndyWarhol

    AndyWarhol Well-Known Member

    i agree!
  15. MissIzzy

    MissIzzy Active Member

    THIS. This completely. (Seriously, people keep saying how easy to understand 6.0 was, and I'm all :huh:)
    I actually have been getting impressed in recent days by certain bloggers who have been analyzing *what* precisely might be wrong with CoP in its current setup(because there are genuine problems at the moment and even starting to look at possible solutions. But of course most of the mainstream media can't be bothered writing about how to seriously fix the sport. That doesn't sell as well, probably.
  16. Mathman

    Mathman Active Member

    I think the idea of the IJS was to weight it about 70-30 between technical (element scores plus SS and TR) and performance (CH, INT, and P&E).
  17. Prancer

    Prancer Cursed for all time Staff Member

    Some online discussions of 6.0 by casual fans on non-skating sites:






    These are just discussions about judging under 6.0. If anyone would like to read posts from casual fans insisting that they do not watch skating because of the way that it was judged under 6.0 or will never watch skating again because of the way it was judged under 6.0, I found plenty of them. I also restricted myself to only a couple of threads about the SLC scandal--I found loads of those, but I refrained from using them because most of them are arguing about S&P being robbed. I did like that last link, though, with the posters arguing over whether or not S&P lost because of their blah costumes, which had to affect their artistic score. I also didn't include links to discussions of whether or not figure skating is a sport, or should be removed from the Olympics altogether. I found a pretty interesting discussion about drum corps judging and figure skating judging, but I decided not to post it but I figure most people here wouldn't understand the drum corps judging posts, as most here aren't fans of drum corps.
  18. kwanfan1818

    kwanfan1818 I <3 Kozuka

    Eurosport! I used to work with our teams in Dublin a few times a year, and one night circa 2000 I was channel-surfing, and there it was on British Eurosport: figure skating, with every last competitor that was on the feed. I thought I had died and gone to heaven, and I made sure I was in Dublin during Euros at least for years. From comments here, it sounds like skating has been curtailed and pre-empted by other sports, but in the heyday, it was :cheer2:.

    CoP programs have been ugly and 6.0 programs have been ugly. Good programs beautifully skated were few and far between under 6.0 in the competitions I saw on Eurosport and live. I've seen more beautiful programs under CoP than under 6.0, especially 6.0-era programs in the triples era, and even when I go back and watch Janet Lynn or Peggy Fleming, my ears bleed listening to the mess of scores they skated to that sounded like they hit "shuffle" on an iPod filled with classical music's greatest hits.

    It infuriates me that skaters get great scores for mediocre programs and physical interpretation, because, in a similar phenomenon to gymnastics, with the broken wrists, cutesy-poo movements, and deafness to the music playing, it codifies a bunch of mannerisms and flaws that don't need to be there. When skaters tried to get more points on the technical side, they upped their technical arsenals, because there's a big gap between the maximum TES in the GOE table and what they were getting. When mediocrity is rewarded with 7's-9's in PCS, there isn't the big points gap prize as incentive to improve. If skaters in the last groups who did little between elements got the 4's and 5's in content and expression PCS elements and SS when they're fast, but show little one-footed or multi-directional skating, then there would be a big pile of points they've left on the table. Some skaters would see those points as an opportunity, and once that happened, there could be a breakthrough in program qualify like there has been in quads.

    Everyone's mileage may vary.

    I know that when two divers do mirrored twisting dives with similar timing, form, and style, my heart goes :swoon:

    Oh, you mean with the judging? For the life of me, I don't know how diving judges see anything during the two-second duration looking up to almost 40 feet above them from a side angle so that they can't tell if the divers' knees are so far apart in tuck that they're in their ears. Diving is something I'd much rather watch on TV with two or three slo-mo retakes.
  19. Mathman

    Mathman Active Member

    It is the second group that I have been talking about. If a person is interested enough in figure skating to post on skating boards, I would call that person something like an "elite fan," rather than (what used to be) the bread-and-butter of skating as a commercial entertainment.

    I don't know of any serious studies of the preferences of this non-elite group. Probably if you asked them which scoring system they liked better, the new or the old, they wouldn't have thought enough about it to have much of an opinion (if they even noticed that there was a new system at all). I do think that many would say, "Oh, I don't know, I just am not so much into skating as I used to be." For what it's worth, we see many newspaper articles like this one by Brennan. We do not see any that say, boy-oh-boy, audiences are really pleased with this new point system.

    Again, if the CoP has virtues that make skating a better sport, never mind whether audiences like it or not, then so be it. I just think that we are fooling ourselves if we believe that anyone beyond the skating in-crowd is gung-ho about the IJS.

    As for the public perception that figure skating judges are crooked and skating contests are rigged, the CoP does not speak to that question one way or the other.
  20. demetriosj

    demetriosj Well-Known Member

    Really? I thought it made her look like a spoiled, ungrateful brat actually.
  21. Cachoo

    Cachoo Well-Known Member

    I know the "professional" contests were fairly cheesy but there was one aspect that I liked: The skaters had a technical program and an artistic program. I've always wondered how this would work if the isu adopted a strategy that totally separated the technical from the artistic. I don't even know if this is doable.
  22. BreakfastClub

    BreakfastClub Active Member

    You figured out how CoP worked from watching Sasha's SP once but still can't tell a salchow from a loop and after watching the sport for 7 years? :shuffle:
  23. MrSatterwhite

    MrSatterwhite Barely-Known Member

    Please, don't call my beloved McKayla a spoiled, ungrateful brat. ;)
  24. PDilemma

    PDilemma Well-Known Member

    kwanfan1818--Tell me this, how has gymnastics managed to create a system that rewards difficulty and still fully penalizes things that fans have always seen as routine spoilers? It was very apparent to me during the Olympics that even though degree of difficulty matters very much, a gymnast is still not going to fall off the beam or miss the bar on a transition and medal. Do you think there is anything in that scoring system that could benefit skating in a similar way?
  25. all_empty

    all_empty Well-Known Member

    Yeah, but you remember her ... and that's the most important thing.
  26. sailornyanko

    sailornyanko New Member

    The ISU should be begging ESPN to bring back figure ice skating for Latin America. There's a lot of rinks in Latin America, the economies of Brazil and Mexico are booming at alarmingly fast rates in comparison to the rest of the western world, the middle class in both countires is growing and yet the average layman can no longer see ice skating on tv. :(

    There's a lot of rich mexicans that can afford this sport if they got introduced to it from mass media. Heck, the daughter of the current president of Mexico at one time in her life took figure ice skating lessons!!!!

    I haven't seen any skating events since 2009 when ESPN cut the cord. That stadium in Canada could have been packed with rich mexican and brazilian tourists if the ISU had given a strong tourism campaign to mexican airlines like Aeroméxico with nice special 1 week packages. I can assure you people would have gone to the event even if they weren't diehard skating fans. Mexico has the kind of middle class with money to spare needed for this sport.

    The real reason why Las Vegas is coming back in the favor of tourists is because more mexican airlines offer the route at very good prices. I could spend a 4 dayvacation at the Belaggio with airline fees and everything taken care of for less than 1000 USD, those tours are very popular with mexicans. You give Volaris or Aeroméxico a deal they cannot reject and they will market it and fill that stadium with rich latin americans. Ignoring two of the future top 5 economies in the world with a large population of young people with money to spare and yearning to do something fun is beyond stupidity.

    Bring skating back to ESPN, give juicy deals to governments to show previous year skating competitions on national tv with good commentary in spanish and portuguese, bring some good coaches to improve the knowledge of local coaches, update local test taking systems which are severely outdated and watch those fans flocking to the rinks with their wallets filled with money before you know it. The mexican peso has gained over 4% over the US dollars and the yen in just 4 weeks, inflation is at an all-time low and Mexico's bonds rating is going to be updated. The time to boost interest in this sport in Latin America's nearly 1 billion people is NOW.
  27. kwanfan1818

    kwanfan1818 I <3 Kozuka

    I don't think gymnastics has. Watching this summer, I saw many form breaks from gymnasts that were getting fantastic execution scores. I'm not arguing that the wrong gymnasts won, but I wish the scores had reflected the flaws across the board -- ex: if you're going to do a triple twisting whatever, it's fine to get big difficulty, but the gymnast should be nailed for having her legs apart and scissored for most of the rotation, which, theoretically is built into the system -- meaning lower scores with more room for someone with a great element and superior form.

    I think similar things should be deducted from jumps, for example, the leg wraps, the sloppy legs, and the mule kicks.
  28. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

    To a certain point you can't separate them entirely.

    It would be possible to have a well-choreographed program with an entertaining performer who has weak technical skills (see, for example, the various celebrity skating shows around the world, although most of those pair the nonskater celebrities with recent elite competitors.

    So if you had a competition where the only thing that matters is artistry or entertainment value with no points for technical content or technical quality, then it could be scored by people who know nothing about skating and could have very different results from the same performances scored by former skaters or trained judges.

    Once you bring in judges who are actually the performances based on their skating knowledge, then technical considerations will affect the scores even if the rules said only to award PCS or "artistic marks."

    That would never fly as an Olympic sport, which is why I'm sure the ISU would not be interested.

    The ISU did try something along those lines with the short program + interpretive (artistic) program, with limited jumps allowed, in the late 90s and early 2000s. These were invitational pro-am events for retired/pro stars and current top competitors. So skaters earned invitations by having won medals at standard competitive events either recently or in the past, and being known to be actively training as a professional performing skater in the case of the retired competitors.
    The recent medal winner's open was along the same lines.

    This is the kind of thing that could appeal more to fans than the more technically oriented sport. But could it be an independent circuit of its own? Or would it just be two-part competitions, one part in which technical content and execution determines the winners and one in which use of the technical skills for artistic purposes is given priority?

    Different skaters would be likely to excel at and be interested in the two different types of programs. Does it really make sense to have a two-part competition in which the best athletes and technicians win the first phase and the best performers win the second phase?

    Would combined results of separate technical and artistic competitions be used for all senior-level qualifying competitions that are used to pick who gets to move on to the televised championships?
    Maofan7 and (deleted member) like this.
  29. michiruwater

    michiruwater Well-Known Member

    I watched all the SPs. I stuck around because of Sasha.

    And yes, I can, because I am apparently better at math than being able to see via my small TV or laptop the various things I need to see to tell all the jumps apart. And I think you'd be surprised at how many people on this site similarly cannot tell all the jumps apart.

    I appreciate the insult though. Thanks.
  30. VIETgrlTerifa

    VIETgrlTerifa Well-Known Member

    I think fans forgave the arbitrary scores for tech. and presentation because fans knew that what really mattered were the rankings. Even in that hilarious interview with Vanessa Riley where she gave Fadreev a huge costume deduction for having see-through white pants, she said the deduction ultimately didn't matter because she still ranked him first. Of course, the interviewer kept going on about her much lower score compared to the other judges despite the fact that she ultimately ranked him first.

    At least with the comparative ranking system, with all its major problems, I think it ultimately gives many viewers what they want in that it's judging the performance and program as a whole rather than just adding (and multiplying by factors) itemized elements and coming up with a sum total which some argue is missing the point of the sport. I tend to find the numerical values arbitrary in themselves, but I can't think of a better system if we want to codify the sport to the point where it's like checking items off at the cashier.