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Has Politics Been Eradicated From Figure Skating?

Discussion in 'The Trash Can' started by Maofan7, Oct 13, 2011.

Has Politics Beeb Completely Eradicated From Figure Skating?

  1. Yes

    6 vote(s)
  2. No

    171 vote(s)
  3. Don't Know

    11 vote(s)
  1. Maofan7

    Maofan7 Member

    Controversial result in the Womens gymnastics all-around today with many believing that Komova was the real winner. Whatever the rights and wrongs of that, Gymnastics needs to avoid any scoring controversy at next years Olympics. As Figure Skating discovered in 2002, when that happens at an Olympics, then questions are raised over whether the sport should even be in the Olympics. Gymnastics needs to avoid that as if it were ever removed from the Olympics, it would kill the sport.

    So this begs the question, is Politics rearing it's ugly head again in the marking of sporting competitions? If so, to what extent does it remain a factor in terms of the marking of figure skating competitions following the changes made in the wake of what happened at the 2002 Olympics?

    Please Note: What I am referring to specifically is the marking of competitions and politics in terms of conscious, deliberate, and wilful decisions to mark competitions in a manner other than on a purely meritocratic basis for political reasons/reasons of bias (i.e. similar to what was alleged to have happened at the 2002 Olympics). There will always be a subconscious element of bias/politics involved in marking (which can never be eradicated), but that is not what is being referred to here and nor am I referring to other forms of politics in figure skating. What I am referring to, as stated, is conscious, deliberate, and wilful decisions to mark a competition on a non-meritocratic basis for political reasons/reasons of bias.
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2011
  2. professordeb

    professordeb Well-Known Member

    Totally eradicated - no, I don't think so.
    Reduced some - perhaps, probably.
  3. Aussie Willy

    Aussie Willy Hates both vegemite and peanut butter

    Sorry but have you been living on another planet? :lol: It gets discussed here all the time, from what decisions the ISU make to judging issues.

    There will always be politics in skating (or any sport), from the skating clubs through to the top level. It is actually a natural part of the decision making process and how things get done at any level. Whether they are good or bad politics is another thing, but politics is and will always be part of the sport.
  4. julieann

    julieann Well-Known Member

    Darn, I must have missed something...:shuffle:
  5. Maofan7

    Maofan7 Member

    Politics should have no 'natural' place in any sport. In any judging situation, marks should be fairly and objectively awarded. The ISU assert that that is the case in figure skating following the changes. If it isn't, then obviously Figure Skating continues to have a problem.
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2011
  6. julieann

    julieann Well-Known Member

    Until a machine does it, nothing can be completely fair or objective as long as a human is judging; not on the ice, on a field or in a court room. No matter how hard we try.

    I do think the COP has a long way to go but it's a much better was of scoring than it was.

    I do think sometimes fans cry foul when their faves don't win when it truly was fair, so that word 'politics' will never die.
  7. Sylvia

    Sylvia Prepping for club comp. season!

    As long as judges are human, there will always be a certain amount of bias in the judging of figure skating. Bias (or politics) wouldn't magically disappear if judges stopped representing countries either, IMO.

    ETA: I hope judges, despite their flaws, are never replaced by machines!
  8. Maofan7

    Maofan7 Member

    I agree. COP has gone a long way to improving matters, although it remains imperfect. More I think can and should be done
  9. crzesk8dad

    crzesk8dad Well-Known Member

    Bravo, Sylvia, bravo!! :40beers:
  10. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

    To be fair, Aussie Willy didn't say that politics have a natural place in the judging process. There are other kinds of decisions that get made in the process of running the sport where politics might have a more natural place. I don't know what examples she had in mind.

    One that comes to my mind is decisions about what city to award an event to if several potential hosts have submitted equally feasible bids, just for an example.
  11. essence_of_soy

    essence_of_soy Well-Known Member

    If looking at Gracie Gold's GOE from the SP in Estonia are any indication, politics, video playback or not, judging is not an exact science.

    For example, her combination ranged in GOE from - 2 to 2, and her solo jump from - 1 to 3. As Aussie Willy would probably point out, at least there are nine judges on the panel to even discrepancies out.

    On a separate point entirely, what astonishes me under IJS, is that PCS being out of 10 versus 6.0 under the previous system, is that even the lowest ranked skaters in international competition were getting the equivalent of 3.0 out of 6.0 (which amounted to 50 out of a hundred). When the lowest ranked skaters under IJS are getting 3.00 out of 10 (amounting to 30 out of 100), are they really that much worse skills and performance wise than skaters from the previous system?
  12. Aussie Willy

    Aussie Willy Hates both vegemite and peanut butter

    Actually what Gkelly said is correct. There are a number of decisions that get made at the administrative levels of the sport that are political. And in fact very few of them actually have anything to do with judging but can affect the way judging takes place or have an impact on judges. Being involved myself, I see it all the time and I can tell you it is very difficult to be impartial and try to keep out of it.

    If you are looking at the judging system, the way the system has been developed is a result of negotiation and manipulation. Every year after the season, the rules are reviewed, changes are made and new ideas incorporated.

    Also if you want definate case in point why politics hasn't gone from skating, just look at why they created the Short Dance. Instead of just getting rid of the compulsory altogether (which is what some on the ISU wanted), they came up with a mish mash of a dance with an aim of trying to keep everyone happy. Last year it worked okay, this year from what most here are saying, they are commenting that it isn't working. I wouldn't be surprised to see the compulsory part of the SD removed in the future and the justification of that will be because it doesn't work. But they won't bring back the CDs.

    As others have said, until you take the human factor out of it, you are always going to have politics.
  13. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

    I've heard judges quote a rule of thumb from the 6.0 era that 3.5 represented approximately double axel skill level. I also think of it as the passing average for the US novice test. And this approximate skill level also seems to correspond roughly with the skill level that tends to receive component scores in the mid-3s under IJS.

    So I wouldn't think of it so much as that skaters at that skill level are now only getting 30+% instead of 50+% of the total points available, but rather that the two scales are calibrated somewhat differently and the area where they correspond most closely is in the 3s. As an analogy, think of 3.5 (or a similar number) as the crossing point of the 6.0 and the IJS scales in a similar way that -40 is the crossing point of the Fahrenheit and Celsius temperature scales.

    I think that the top of the scale has been stretched out to reflect differences between good, very good, and outstanding that got lost when the presentation mark was more or less tied to technical merit including skating skill.

    The bottom of the scale has been adjusted as well and probably floats a bit depending on the context as well as the individual judge. For one thing, as I understand it, the IJS accounting programs can handle scores of 0.X just fine, for very low level skaters with minimal skills. The 6.0 programs had trouble with scores less than 1, so even the lowest level skaters would need to get scores of 1.X, leaving a much narrower range of available scores between beginners and intermediate-level skaters. Hence the scale had to float a lot more under 6.0.

    We don't usually see scores below mid-2s in international competition, even those are very weak for an international level. Domestically, at levels below novice, the differences in scoring those levels under IJS vs. 6.0 are relevant, but not so much if we're talking about juniors and seniors.
  14. l'etoile

    l'etoile New Member

    I say a machine for judging levels of all elements and seeing if the jumps are fully-rotated!! lol
  15. overedge

    overedge Janny uber

    Politics will never be eradicated from figure skating until the ISU gets serious about meaningful penalties for judges who judge based on something other than what they see on the ice - not just having penalties on the books, but having the intestinal fortitude to actually apply them.

    The ISU can play around with different judging systems from now until forever, but as long as there are judges with ulterior motives who are using those systems, politics will never be eliminated. Sadly.

    (BTW I know that the vast majority of judges are very hardworking and do their best to judge correctly. I'm talking about the few bad apples who unfortunately make the whole process look bad by association.)
    alilou and (deleted member) like this.
  16. julieann

    julieann Well-Known Member

    The interview manleywoman did with David Kirby mentions a bar code that goes on the skate to measure height, rotation, speed etc. I don't know if it is something that exists and the ISU doesn't use it (I'm guessing it's not free) or if it's just not usable yet, but it would be great if it worked.
  17. RumbleFish

    RumbleFish New Member

    Any attempt to improve the judging system by introduction of the IJS has gone down the drain the moment they decided to hand out free points to cheated jumps.
    Judging at Moscow worlds were embarassing to say the least.
  18. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

    I'm sure that will come eventually for the rotations etc. and maybe for deciding whether or not a certain move met the criteria for a specific level feature.

    Care to invent the technology?

    Yeah, something like that.

    Deciding what features to give credit for, what even to look for, is a human process, not one that can be delegated to machines.

    Furthermore, it's inherently a very political process. Groups of people can argue about what should be rewarded and what shouldn't, but ultimately the decisionmakers need to say enhancement X gets extra points and enhancement Y does not.

    Same with setting the values in the original scale of values and then the various adjustments that have been made over the past 8 years. E.g., giving more value to quads is a result of people who think quads should get more value lobbying for that to be the case and then the small group of decisionmakers agreeing by vote or consensus to amend the scale of values.

    Even if the judges and tech panels operate completely impartially and consistently and apolitically, they're applying rules that were arrived at through a political process. The process by which rules are arrived at won't change significantly even if machines take over responsibility for applying some of those rules.

    "Political" doesn't necessary dishonest in this case. It just means that groups with competing interests present their cases and try to change each others' minds or work out compromises.

    Huh? Cheated jumps receive less value under IJS than they did under 6.0, so this makes no sense. The introduction of the IJS suddenly clamped down hard on cheated jumps and in effect took away points they used to receive; it certainly didn't hand out free points for them.

    As of last year, moderately cheated jumps (90-180 degrees) now lose less value than they used to, or than severely cheated jumps. So if you're a stickler for full rotation you can say that the attempt to improve the IJS went down the drain in 2010 by handing out more points to moderately cheated jumps -- bringing the treatment of these jumps more back in line with what it used to be under 6.0. Is that what you're talking about?

    Difficult jumps (harder triples and quads) receive some points -- quite a lot for fully rotated quads -- even if they end in falls. (Double and single and downgraded triple jumps with falls receive net negative points including the fall deduction).

    Under 6.0, jumps with falls were basically worthless in long program, so it would make some sense to say that "they" decided to hand out free points to jumps with falls. If they're rotated. Not if they're cheated.
  19. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

    I'm with Sylvia!
    I don't think it's possible to completely eradicate "politics"; because, unless you eradicate human judgement from the process, you will always have differences of opinion,
  20. briancoogaert

    briancoogaert Well-Known Member

    No. It's absolutely impossible to eradicate such things, as long as there are people involved into judging :p !
    Vash01 and (deleted member) like this.
  21. PeterG

    PeterG Well-Known Member


    Good one!
    alilou and (deleted member) like this.
  22. kwanatic

    kwanatic Well-Known Member

    Talk about an obvious answer! :duh:

    I'd love to know who voted "Yes" :slinkaway
  23. Belinda

    Belinda Member

    There are two issues here. One is home country bias, the other artistic subjectivity. They may cross over, eg where a judge has a personal preference for the artistic style of his/her country/culture/tradition. Regarding home country bias there are academic studies (eg http://www.dartmouth.edu/~ericz/transparency.pdf) based on economic theories. Regarding artistic subjectivity this is a fundamental issue common to all sports which use scoring systems and where artistry is part of excellence. Figure skating has more in common with ballet and opera singing than with speed skating. For ballet dancers and opera singers competitions are only a prelude to a career, not the goal. And no one would talk seriously in terms of eg Pavarotti being No. 1 this year with his Tosca performance beating Domingo who didn't so well in his Otello!
    alilou and (deleted member) like this.
  24. Vash01

    Vash01 Fan of Yuzuru, Medvedeva, T&M, Shibs, P&C

    There are politics in life- at work, at organizations that have nothing to do with FS, in other sports (ex: NBA, NFL, colleges). It is impossible to completely eradicate politics in life, so how can anyone expect to see it eradicated from figure skating? It may appear more blatant because it is a subjective sport, and because it is international it gets more attention. IMO it is only a microcosm of the society and the time we live in.

    So the answer is NO- absolutely not.
  25. lowtherlore

    lowtherlore New Member

    Question to Maofan, Kwanatic and Vash01: Is Asada or Ando a victim or a beneficiary of politics?

    The better question would be:
    Is political judging good for the sport? Or, is the beneficiary of the political judging better off? Or would she/he be remembered in the long run?
  26. ballettmaus

    ballettmaus Well-Known Member

    I think the fact that judges are advised to not make the PCS differ too much from the TES scores and not have too much of a difference in between the 5 components is answer enough, isn't it? Though it's got nothing to do with bias it puts certain skaters at an advantage and others at a disadvantage per order of the governing body of figure skating. :blah:
  27. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

    This is debatable, depending on the context of the statement.

    And the context of the skating being referred to.

    Where are judges advised not to make the PCS differ to much from the TES scores and not to have too much of a difference between the 5 components?

    If anything, I think it's the opposite. All the advice I have seen is in the direction of encouraging judges to judge the PCS independently of each other and independently of the TES.

    There is a tendency for judges to keep the 5 components fairly close, and the judge trainers go out of their way to advise judges to judge them each independently.

    The way that the "corridor" is evaluated for PCS marks also encourages judges to spread the marks, not to artificially keep them together.

    The factors for the PCS were set in such a way that a well-balanced skater at a given level in a given discipline would most likely have similar total TES and total PCS, i.e., that the TES and PCS wouldn't differ too much. That's built into the system. But nowhere that I know of are judges advised to make an effort to keep the totals close. It wouldn't even be feasible for judges to make that effort -- too much math, and second guessing the tech panel's calls, involved to figure out what the TES might be so they could adjust their PCS accordingly.
  28. winterchik

    winterchik Active Member

    can we differentiate politics and cheats...
    I don't have a problem with politics but do have with cheats
  29. peibeck

    peibeck Simply looking

    I always get the feeling the judges mark most of the components fairly close is because they are afraid of falling out of the "corridor" and then getting dinged for a review of their skills at the end of the season. :(

    It bothers me most when you may have a perfectly decent skater, but perhaps not a medal contendor, who basically has a very good program with lots of transitions and good choreography not marked accordingly. Why not reward them for doing things the system is asking for?

    (Of course, needless to say, it bothers me when certain skaters get some ridulous marks for transitions or choreography when all they basically do for the whole program is crossovers except for their foot work sequences.) :lol:
  30. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

    If that is the case then they haven't paid attention to how the corridor for PCS is evaluated. It's different than the corridor for GOEs and it does not penalize spreading one's marks.

    Yes, I think most judges could afford to spread their marks further for individual skaters. But I don't think the reasons they fail to do so are because they are officially advised not to.

    Check out the protocols for Japan Open: http://www.skatingjapan.jp/

    Judge #9 is using the components the way we want to see, right?