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What about the audience, Mr. Cinquanta?

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

  1. somcutza

    somcutza Member


    Picture this: skaters performing their programs – beautiful, intricate programs – in an empty arena. No one’s cheering, no one’s clapping. No one’s there. Seems like an impossible scenario? Trust me, it isn’t. The public doesn’t understand the scoring system; and, sooner or later, full of questions and frustrations, might leave the ice rinks for good. As many examples have shown, the scores seems to be going in a different direction than the choice of the audience – and this could very well be the end of figure skating as we know it. Simply put, the audience doesn’t connect anymore with the ubiquitous line: „Ladies and gentlemen, these are your medalists”. Frankly, in many cases, they’re not. The scoring system is faulty – and something needs to be done in order to address that.

    Where we stand now: along with hockey competition and opening/closing ceremonies, figure skating events are the most expensive when it comes to the Olympics. Tickets cost an arm and a leg – somewhere between 495 and 627 euro for men’s free program next year in Sochi (depends on who’s selling: Sochi Organizing Committee or a specific Authorized Ticket Reseller). But, really, will the public continue to spend huge amounts of money on the tickets, getting in return bitter and incomprehensible scoring experiences? The lesson to learn is that: ladies and gentlemen, figure skating officials, don’t take the audience for granted; you might be wrong.

    The scores don’t seem to represent what we’ve just seen on the ice
    Let’s begin with a sure thing: with the new scoring system (adopted by ISU in 2004, in response to the 2002 Olympic Winter Games figure skating scandal, involving the pairs’ event), figure skating became a very complicated sport. Even long-time watchers are having difficulties in understanding the scores received by a specific skater. In theory, the algorithm is known: we have the technical marks, on one hand, and the program components, on the other hand. Each technical element receives a number of points; and the components are, also, divided in categories: skating skills, transitions, performance/execution, choreography, interpretation. We know the rules; but when it comes to summing them up, the scores don’t seem to represent what we’ve just seen on the ice. In many cases, there’s a huge gap between the judges and the public when comes to the final result. And when this happens, there are many surprised and inquiring faces in the arena; and it might also be a lot of hissing. Is this the right direction in figure skating?

    Patrick Chan at the Worlds 2012: a controversial win
    Case study: World Figure Skating Championships in Nice, last year. In the men’s event, the audience felt that the Japanese skater Daisuke Takahashi was the winner of the evening. In the free skate, Mr. Takahashi pulled out a fantastic program, both technically and artistically; a program beautifully choreographed by Pasquale Camerlengo on „Blues for Klook”, suiting Daisuke like a glove. It poured with flowers on the Japanese; the audience was happy and enthusiastic, and so was Mr. Takahashi.
    Then the Canadian Patrick Chan took the ice – Mr. Chan, considered (for some years now) the wonder-boy of figure skating, given the rich content of his programs and his team’s ability to build for him programs which take 100% advantage of the new judging system. But, surprisingly, Mr. Chan was less convincing; he pulled out a very difficult program, but seemed to be in a rush, managing to fall in the middle of his exercise, while attempting a double Axel. At the end, he didn’t seem to be the winner. The audience – an international audience, to be clear – saw Patrick Chan as a silver candidate. But, given his scores, Mr. Chan was given the gold. And the arena started to hiss; and people continued to do that even during the medals’ ceremony, when the judges’ representative came to congratulate the medalists. Chan stated later he hadn’t heard the hissing, he hadn’t felt the disappointment of the public.

    It is as if figure skating became a closed affair, between the skaters and the judges
    Just a few days ago, in London (Canada), Patrick won his third World title after another not-so-convincing performance. Favorite of the home crowd, Patrick only needed to do his exercise in order to win the event; he was first and far ahead the other skaters after the short program. Instead, the Canadian fell on his Triple Axel and Triple Lutz, had a hand down on his Triple Salchow in combination and doubled another Lutz. „I was tired”, said Patrick to his coach, while waiting for the scores. And when these came – and Mr. Chan took the lead over the Spanish Javier Fernandez – it was another victory of the scoring system over the figure skating’ admirers and long-time watchers.

    As one of my friends has put it (a huge figure skating fan), it is as if this particular judging system is anti-audience. It really doesn’t reflect people’s taste and choices. So, here’s the question: when did the public lose his powers when it came to figure skating? After all, those marks given for presentation – in the old 6.0 system – seemed to have very well reflected the general impression of the watchers. The answer can’t be but this one: the gap between judges and the public started (and continued to grow) with this new ISU judging system.
    Introduced in order to eliminate the potential subjectivity of the judges – they have been, during the years, under intense scrutiny, accused in some cases of making deals, in order to favor one or the other – this new scoring system managed to make the audience completely disappear. It is as if figure skating became a closed affair, between the skaters and the judges; nothing less, nothing more. Now it’s not about the final impression of the program, about the best performance of the night in terms of jumps, art, emotion; it’s about adding 3.21 points from there, another 5.59 from there, 4.73 from there, 7.38 from there... Minus 2 points – and here’s your champion, ladies and gentlemen. Is this the right thing to do? We got rid of the old system – because, they say, it was subjective and vulnerable to abuse – and we have a new one, devoid of emotion; devoid of the audience’ voice.
    And here’s another annoying detail. Whenever someone asks: “What is it about those scores? I don’t get them”, there’s always an answer like: “You should study the scoring system before asking your question; you clearly don’t understand it (it – the system)”. This is obviously true: bud when did a sport become mathematics? What about the joy of watching figure skating and sharing the emotion? Where did all these things go?

    The system creates the impression that certain skaters are unbeatable
    And here’s another problem of this judging system: it creates statues, deities, aliens. It creates the impression that certain skaters, certain couples are unbeatable. Over the season, their scores get higher and higher, becoming Himalaya’s of the figure skating. This is, of course, the case of the same Patrick Chan. But this also applies to the American ice-dance couple Meryl Davis and Charlie White: the gap between them and the Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir seemed impossible to close during this entire season, in spite of the Canadians’ efforts. Take, for example, the ice dance final at the Worlds in London: the audience – a Canadian audience this time – felt that Virtue and Moir did everything in order to keep their World title; according to the scores, they didn’t.
    On the other hand, according to the same system, both couples – the Americans and the Canadians – seem to be at a distance of ages from the other competitors. In the eyes of the audience and former skaters, the French Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat had a wonderful free program last season, on an Egyptian theme. But, in spite of their strong skate over the season, they remained well behind the couples from Canada and USA. As they remained behind the other Canadians, Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, considered by some to have presented in Nice, last year, the highlight of the free dance’ event – an emotional program on „Je suis malade”.

    This Deities-Rule applies also to the Russian Tatiana Volosozhar&Maxim Trankov, skating in the pairs’ event. Second in the World Championships last year, Tatiana and Maxim became better and better this season; and, during the Grand-Prix events, the distance between them and the others, when it came to scores, was tremendous. And the scores were huge in spite of the errors which have really torn their programs apart: at the Grand-Prix Final in Sochi, Maxim fell while preparing to throw Tatiana in the air, for their triple Salchow, and she almost fell too – they needed 17 seconds to get back in the program, as Jackie Wong (Figure Skating Examiner) pointed out. That long and ugly break affected their performance – but you wouldn’t see that in their scores: they’ve won the final over their teammates Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov.

    Why should we watch figure skating if (the impression is) the dices are already thrown?
    If you ask me, this is bad for the audience. But it’s definitely bad for the skaters; especially for the younger ones. Here’s an example from the Worlds in London (Canada): after an amazing performance coming from Denis Ten, in the men’s final, the boy from Kazakhstan burst with enthusiasm in front of his coach Frank Carroll, when seeing the scores: „Wow! I almost beat Patrick!” If you ask me, he should have been happy for (almost) taking the gold, not for (almost) beating the Canadian... But Patrick, as previously stated, is regarded as a God in figure skating, given the scores he receives. And every other skater wants to defeat Patrick, makes a purpose out of defeating Patrick. (The Spanish Javier Fernandez managed to claim the gold at Skate Canada, defeating Patrick Chan, mostly because his coach had him jump three quadruples in his free program – a strategy to win over Chan). You may say competition is good, that competition brings the best in a skater, but this is not OK; this is not at all OK. With this kind of attitude as regards him, all that Patrick has to do at the Olympics next year is to show up. The gold will come easily. He could fall twice and still win. But what does this mean for the state of mind of everyone else involved in figure skating? For everyone else watching figure skating? Why should we watch it – or, even better, why should we attend the Olympics, at the expense of our pockets – if the dices are already thrown?

    I miss simplicity in figure skating
    When I was a child, scoring figure skating was easy. I had a parallel system, invented by me and used in order to get feedback from everyone in the family who was watching the programs. I had a point (●) for „bad” or „so, so”, a circle for „good” (o) and a circle crossed by a line for „very good” (ø). After a skater had finished his/her performance, I would ask mom and dad to state their vote; I was doing the same. My figure skating’ notebooks – and a have a lot of them; I’ve been watching figure skating since I was 7 – are full of these graphic signs. In most of the times, we would pick the right guy/girl/couple. In other words, there was a correspondence between our scores and the official ones. These were simple, good times. Could we, please, get back to that? I miss simplicity in figure skating.
    nuge and (deleted member) like this.
  2. cbd1235

    cbd1235 Well-Known Member

    I have no comment for this. But I'd like to say that worlds in London was SOLD OUT and the crowd was LOOOOOUUUUUUDDDDDD.

    There were a lot of happy campers in that building. Now tell me again the arena's are empty.....
  3. BlueRidge

    BlueRidge AYS's snark-sponge

    I have a comment for it. :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes:
  4. overedge

    overedge Janny uber

    I seem to recall there being unbeatable skaters under 6.0 as well (e.g. Torvill and Dean).
  5. Cachoo

    Cachoo Well-Known Member

    When was scoring ever simple? I've been led to believe that years ago the judges would determine who was going to win at the first stage (the figures.) Unless that person had a horrendous skate they won. I do think there are some loopholes that could be closed but I'm glad to see skaters judged on all of the elements instead of solely jumps. Maybe bigger deductions should be in place for falls or for having to stop for any reason. Maybe each category needs to be weighted differently. This year I was watching a resurrected "Gladiator" program during the men's competition. This was a winning program before CoP. Now it is mediocre. I'm happy about that because with the folks on the podium you see a lot more attention to detail in the programs. The system is far from perfect but please don't send us back before 2002.
  6. julieann

    julieann Well-Known Member

    Really, I was convinced....especially when you factor in the SHORT PROGRAM. :rolleyes:
  7. BittyBug

    BittyBug And the band played on

    Was it really sold out? Because this Reuters article seems to suggest otherwise.

  8. Sylvia

    Sylvia Prepping for club comp. season!

    At the bottom of the Reuters article:
    "(This version of the story corrects the first name of U.S. skater in paragraph 14 to Gracie sted Tracie.)" :cool:
    (I had posted this Reuters article, with the 3 name typos, in another thread: http://www.fsuniverse.net/forum/sho...t-prop-it-up&p=3878296&viewfull=1#post3878296 )

    I know many long-time fans who have lost interest in figure skating mainly because of this. Thanks for sharing your thoughts here.
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2013
  9. cbd1235

    cbd1235 Well-Known Member

    Ladies free, Mens free, Pairs free, Dance Free were sold out for sure. I was there for those and ladies short....the ladies short had the entire lower bowl sold, and I'd say 80% of the upper nosebleeds sold. I would presume it was similar for the other short programs but can't comment.

    The rink looked bare for ladies short partially due to the layout, this goes for every event too. There were a bunch of sections covered behind the judges and TV cameras (like A LOT), this made the whole judges side look empty, and plus behind that there were special sections for dignitaries only, these were not always filled but they weren't tickets available to the public. Finally, behind the kiss and cry (middle level), the seats were reserved for the choir and various other dignitaries etc. Again they were not available to the public. Those were mostly empty for the short programs.

    Some of my family wanted to grab last-minute tickets for the FS's on top of that, but they were sold out and no one could get tickets except from scalpers.

    ETA: Read the article, very bizarre :S, Everyone around me were talking about how shocked they were that the arena was sold out for so many events. The rink was jam packed for the FS's.
  10. ElizabethAnne

    ElizabethAnne Active Member

    Quote from somcutza's first post: " This is obviously true: bud when did a sport become mathematics? "

    Just a comment:
    Every competitive sport that I know of uses a mathematical result, based on the rules of the game, to determine the winner. They measure how fast, how high, how many points, who was first to achieve the result that is the defined "win" for the game in question. Even before the new judging system, competitive figure skating used a mathematical system but the rules were not clearly defined. I for one am glad this changed. Competitive figure skating, particularly Ice Dance was often ridiculed due to the lack of a defined scoring system. I just wish the viewers/audiences remembered that the winner is determined by adding the points from two performances. There's that old math again. Maybe they need to give more status to the winner of each segment, as well as overall winner.

    I have seen many performances that moved me more than that of the winner but I can usually figure out why these performances didn't "win" according to the rules. That's ok. They don't have to win the competition in order to win your heart.
  11. Marco

    Marco Well-Known Member

    If skating wants to be taken more seriously as a sport, it needs to be more rules and mathematically driven (objective) than artistically driven (subjective). That's how the integrity of the sport is maintained.

    To revive popularity, I view the key shouldn't be drama (off ice), but artistry (on ice). Rules need to allow creativity and variety. Most skaters have the same spins now. While it's good for direct comparison, it isn't interesting. Steps are too complicated and taking too long.

    For those who cry foul all the time, I wonder if you have taken the time and effort to understand the scoring but still disagree, or are still stuck in the 6.0 mindset where the cleaner performances score better by default without consideration to quality and other non jump elements and skills, or just because your favorite didn't win.

    And too many people are criticising without suggesting a better alternative or solution. Too convenient.

    As for returning to 6.0, I fail to see why we should return to a system that makes it so much easier to cheat when the crux of the problem all along is poor / corrupt judging.
    spikydurian and (deleted member) like this.
  12. Holley Calmes

    Holley Calmes Well-Known Member

    I don't know the answers to all this, but is figure skating suppose to be an effort to conform to certain athletic technical rules, or is it supposed to be focused on what pleases audiences? I am keenly aware of the difference in the simplicity of, say, track and field events with the more complex rules of figure skating. I also know that if figure skating doesn't please audiences, isn't good at marketing itself, it will cease to exist. Is this because it's a lot harder to attract participants who need a huge amount of money to take lessons, buy equipment, pay for conditioning programs? Running track is a lot simpler and more accessible.

    I keep thinking of the line from "Strictly Ballroom," which stated "Those crowd pleasing steps!"

    Should skaters try to please audiences or judges? Pretty schizaphrenic. It's a mess. But, I believe a more appealing, beautiful and glamorous mess than playing soccer. To me, it might depend on whom we are trying to please: judges for validation or audiences for building a future existence? Considering the judging seems to be iffy, are audiences more important? I have no clue. Just guessing.
    spikydurian and (deleted member) like this.
  13. spikydurian

    spikydurian Well-Known Member

    Does rolling eyes improve eyesight?:D
  14. somcutza

    somcutza Member

    I hope I'll have the time to answer everyone of you. Thanks for reading, by the way.
    I'm not saying they're empty now, I'm fearing they'll be empty at a certain point, given this growing feeling of frustration, coming from not-understanding the judging system. Anyway, I envy you for being there. I had only European Championship in Zagreb on my list this year. And, in fact, in Zagreb there was an obvious lack of interest and a loooot of empty seats.

  15. somcutza

    somcutza Member

    I agree they were. And I'm not really saying that we should go back to 6.0. I'm just saying there should be an improvement in the system. I remember reading an interview with Zueva, in which she stated there will be changes after the Olympics.
  16. IceIceBaby

    IceIceBaby Active Member

    Yes it was very empty. I wonder why do they organize the competitions in such countries where there is no interest anyways. And the competitions should be marketed better and use famous skaters faces and names just like they market the shows, which are often full.
  17. Skittl1321

    Skittl1321 Well-Known Member

    It is a SPORT. If you want joy and emotion, you need to go to a show.

    I get wrapped up in the excitement of the sport of figure skating- my heart races to see if my favorite will be able to hold it together to complete a winning program, or will she fall on her butt randomly during a step sequence? My husband is the same way with college basketball.

    But to see a beautiful program that evokes emotion of going to a ballet? That isn't a sport. Which is why, athletic as it is, ballet is not a sport. And the ballet competitions often have criticism that their competitors are robotic only focused on the perfect step and missing the emotion. Because that is what happens when you quantify art and judge it. It becomes 'higher, faster, stronger" and not about pure emotion.
  18. somcutza

    somcutza Member

    You have a point. But now it's complex mathematics. Or maybe the impression of simplicity comes from the fact that I was a child growing with 6.0 system and I got used to it. The key-idea remains: now it's too complicated; and not understanding it leads to giving up on figure skating. (I'm not sure if having specialists explaining it would really work...) I used to love dance performances when I was a child: the dance was obviously free; and that freedom allowed them to do a lot of things on the ice. Now it's everything about twizzles, spins, steps... you have no room for freedom. And if you're wrong on your twizzles for half of second, you're sentenced to go down. I don't like that.

    I'd love to see some changes. I'm not saying we should go back. There's, actually, a lot of nostalgia in my story; figure skating events were seen in the family and really enjoyed in the family. I'm certain of that: falls should more severely penalized; and a clean program should be a lot more appreciated. The final general impression should matter.
  19. somcutza

    somcutza Member

    The Short Program of Patrick was amazing. I agree with that.
    On the other hand, Patrick is not the enemy here; is just an example to state my case. As a matter of fact, I really appreciate him and, seeing him in practice in Torino, in 2010, and Nice, in 2012, I know he's unbelievably hard-working. He's good not only because he has smart programs, which take advantage of the scoring system, but because he's working very much. I used to watch him for minutes in practice (sometimes, he was the only one who showed up at the first practices), telling to myself: this boy is good. So, yes, I'm convinced by him when he's flawless. And I'm not convinced when he's not.
  20. Eyre

    Eyre New Member

    What's your suggestion?!:rolleyes: Bring it here!
  21. somcutza

    somcutza Member

    Thank you for reading. It's really not about blaming this or that, it's about loosing that beautiful feeling when it comes to figure skating; and about trying to find ways to improve an obviously faulty system.
  22. somcutza

    somcutza Member

    I did too; but the number of those memorable - left aside - grew over the last years. And I'm not sure I like that. After all, in some years, only the statistics will remain; and I'd love to have the feeling the statistics are accurate.
  23. somcutza

    somcutza Member

    I'd love to have the perfect solution for that. Improving the system - that's for sure. I'm quoting from Jackie Wong from the Examiner now:
    "Cleanness is not rewarded enough and mistakes aren't penalized enough. There just isn't enough of a range of penalties to properly separate the egregiousness of mistakes".
    The rest of the article, here: http://www.examiner.com/article/opining-on-worlds-the-plight-and-misuse-of-program-components?CID=examiner_alerts_article
  24. somcutza

    somcutza Member

    Agree. Mathematics, but up to a point. When the majority doesn't understand, we have a problem. After all, you can't make the audience take a class in advance, in order to be prepared to watch an event.

    Once again, agree. Especially when it comes to ice dance.
  25. somcutza

    somcutza Member

    I love your comment; and I share your dilemmas. But, with the new judging system it's more about skaters and judges. I mean, they are performances loved by the audience (the same "Blues for Klook" of Mr. Takahashi last year in Nice), but not that much appreciated by the panel of judges. And my fear is that this kind of performances will eventually disappear under the pression coming from the scoring system. I don't know. I really don't know.
  26. somcutza

    somcutza Member

    I used to get joy of emotion out of figure skating; and I miss that feeling.
    I still get joy and emotion watching FS; but that feeling turns quickly into frustration. That I don't like.
  27. Eyre

    Eyre New Member

    You know what? Because you have rooted for the wrong skater!:rofl:
  28. VIETgrlTerifa

    VIETgrlTerifa Well-Known Member

    I don't see how COP really solved the cheating issue. If anything, I think it's much easier to manipulate because one can rationalize one's score much easier under COP and gives the judges more means to do so. Also, jump calls and levels are up to the callers' discretion that that can be really iffy. They really control who wins the gold medal and who comes in 7th and is inconsistent depending on who the skater is.

    I think it's funny that people acknowledge the cheating and politicking was a huge problem under 6.0 but act like all-of-a-sudden those things disappear with COP just because more arithmetic is involved.
  29. Ziggy

    Ziggy Well-Known Member

    The OP is a mixture of naivete and rose-tinted nostalgia.

    No, you're simply not noticing a lot of things which do matter.

    Because that's the kind of sport that it is. It takes years and years of hard work to acquire various figure skating skills. You can't expect skaters to suddenly forget everything that they have learned between one competition and another. It's not realistic.

    You're reconstructing the past. There were many many more issues with 6.0 in compared to now.

    And figure skating never was and never will be a simple sport.

    This sentence doesn't make any sense. If you can rationalise your score, then that score is perfectly valid.

    Everything can be really iffy. What do you mean by 'is inconsistent depending on who the skater is?' Some skaters cheat and some don't. Blame the skaters and not the callers.
  30. VIETgrlTerifa

    VIETgrlTerifa Well-Known Member

    Rationalizing means one is attempting to explain or justify something based on logical or rational reasons but is not always true. People rationalize illogical or inappropriate behavior all the time in an attempt to justify it.

    Yes, everything can be iffy, so let's not pretend COP does away with reputation scoring, political maneuvering, or is at the basic level, any more objective than 6.0 was. As for some skaters cheat and some don't, that's a gross oversimplification and you know it. I've seen you decrying bad calling in the past, and there have been cases of higher-ranked skaters or at least skaters in favor getting the benefit-of-doubt over other skaters for similar quality jumps or levels. Then there's PCS where people on this forum continue to argue is not scored correctly with the most obvious example being the transition score.