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Why are judges allowed to watch practices?

Discussion in 'The Trash Can' started by semogal, Feb 19, 2011.

  1. semogal

    semogal Well-Known Member

    This has been bugging me for awhile now. Why are judges allowed to watch the practices? Wouldn't it be better if they watched the performances during the competition without preconceived notions about the routines? Patrick Chan alluded to the fact the judges knew from practices what he was really capable of at SC. And today, Tessa Virtue said they got really good feedback from the judges in practice sessions.

    Does this bug anyone else or are there valid reasons for the judges being at practices?
  2. sk8gr8h8

    sk8gr8h8 Lurrrrve Laura Lepistö

    I'm not sure if it's valid or not, but I've been told that the judges would watch practice sessions to familiarize the order of elements in skaters' routines and I've seen them writing down elements and some numbers probably GOEs.. after all the judges need to practice dont they?lol
  3. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

    Under 6.0, judges needed to familiarize themselves with the order of elements. Under IJS, that's more important for the technical panel -- and the technical panel might be taking notes about what features the skater is attempting.

    Whether judges even get a chance to watch practices would depend on the schedule -- if they're busy judging other events on another ice surface, they wouldn't see the practice sessions. At international events, especially small ones like Grand Prixs, that wouldn't be an issue.

    Even for judges in IJS, it could useful to have an advance idea of what to expect if a skater is going to be attempting something unusual that would be easy to miss if you didn't know to look for it.

    That might be a jump that no one else is attempting (e.g., a man doing a quad loop or a lady doing a triple axel). It would be all to easy to see a triple loop or double axel if that's what you were expecting because that's what everyone else does.

    Or it might be an unexpected connection between elements -- e.g., the camel spin into triple salchow at about 2:10 here:

    The skater goes to all the trouble of doing something difficult, and that would be wasted if a judge looks down at the wrong moment to write a note or input a mark for the spin.

    Another reason it can be useful for judges to watch practices would be fairness.
    Chances are the judges have seen some of the skaters before and know what they're capable of. E.g., at an international competition the judges are probably already familiar with the skaters from their own country and with most successful skaters who are often shown on TV, and also with any skaters they may have judged before at past competitions.

    It's impossible for them not to have some expectations about the skaters they already know.

    So for the skaters they don't already know, it's fairer if they get a chance to get to see some of what they're capable of in advance as well, so that there is less of discrepancy between the known and the unknown.

    That's also where "buzz" comes in, if a newcomer does so well in practice at the competition venue that everyone starts noticing them.

    Nevertheless, it's important for judges to judge what they see during the competition and not pre-judge based on the practices.
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2011
    alilou and (deleted member) like this.
  4. Jarrett

    Jarrett Firebird for worlds!

    I don't see the problem. The think the judges feedback given is valuable for the skaters too. Should the judges be banned from youtube too? Is there a difference?
  5. Rock2

    Rock2 Well-Known Member

    All of the above and as well some skaters have unusual technique on certain elements. Then you have some skaters that do doubles that look like triples and vice versa. I know that's more for the tech panel but the officials do need to become accustomed to the skaters and their styles as well as content.

    Jean Senft did a fluff piece on exactly this for CBC during the 1991 Worlds. (and the fact that I remember this is beyond frightening).

    PS. That link to Klimkin. That quad was like 8 feet in the air, it felt like. I don't think anyone's quad is nearly that high (not even Li's)....except maybe Brezina's 4S from what I have seen. Mercy!
    gkelly and (deleted member) like this.
  6. skateboy

    skateboy Well-Known Member

    I have always been opposed to it and always will be.
  7. Allen

    Allen Glad to be back!

    I specifically saw the tech panel for the ladies event in Greensboro watching practices and writing down the order of elements. I think that is not only okay, but necessary to be honest.
  8. professordeb

    professordeb Well-Known Member

    I think it's wonderful if the judges get to see the programs skated during practice. I've been at practices and sometimes you don't really see much of anything by some skaters - at least jump wise as they just mark it for placement and then continue on to something else. At the very least, though, I'm agreeing with those who say it helps the judges to know what they might expect to happen at certain parts of the music - especially if they are busy "marking" an element and then miss something else - like maybe the connecting steps or an entrance to something else. Kudos to them for putting in the time to get themselves acquainted with the programs of the skaters.
  9. sk8gr8h8

    sk8gr8h8 Lurrrrve Laura Lepistö

    This is OT but the judges have the planned elements sheet before each competition don't they? I know and I've seen them watching practices and trying to familiarize themselves with new tricks and newcomers etc but I wasn't just not sure about the order of elements thing. Is it because the sheet isn't handed out to them too late or there are many errors in the sheet (I've noticed several of them but not sure if those are just honest mistakes and the judges just want to make sure).
  10. screech

    screech Well-Known Member

    A lot of it might be for the skaters benefit. I know the judges can't talk to the skaters about the event until it's done, but if/when they do give feedback after the event is over, they can also make reference to things they know they're capable of. I know when I was a skater I would talk to at least one judge after the event was over and a few times they made reference to my practice sessions.


    I agree. I think overall, it's a positive thing. Obviously if the skaters aren't having good practices, there is concern that the judges' perceptions of the skaters are lower when they perform at the actual event, but I've heard of skaters having bad practices only to light it up during the competition and get scored well.

    The judges have a lot on their hands/eyes when they are scoring according to the COP. I get the feeling that being able to watch practices and prior performances of skaters on YouTube, etc. improves the judges' ability to score them, and overall more fairly. Familiarity can help them to focus their attention to certain aspects of a skater or program.
  12. Mafke

    Mafke Well-Known Member

    I think the judges watching practices dates back to the old 6.0 of overall program quality. The more familiar they were with a program the better they could assign the base value.

    Realistically, I would expect that if a skater has bad practices but hits the elements in competition the bad practice won't hurt them. But if they have great practices but don't deliver in the competition the good practices might help their score. If the skater has bad practices and fails to deliver in competition then they're out of luck.
  13. bek

    bek Guest

    The judges watching practices can also help the unknown skaters. I remember watching a video about Yu-na, when she made her debut at the Junior Grand Prix, not that many were expecting her to do well since well Korean skaters weren't that well known. But the international judges watched her practices and were like :eek:
    gkelly and (deleted member) like this.
  14. kosjenka

    kosjenka Pogorilaya’s fairy godmother

    From what I know, judges must attend official practices at competitions.

    I can see both good and bad sides of this. But I know some skaters who like the judges to watch and appreciate the feedback.
  15. duane

    duane Well-Known Member

    I'm with you. I don't think the practices should have any bearing on the judging of the actual competition, and they do.
  16. ks777

    ks777 Well-Known Member

    Judges should not be allowed to watch any practices, imo.
  17. marbri

    marbri Hey, Kool-Aid!

    The Technical panel must attend practices. Those "judges" people are seeing taking notes and such are likely technical specialists/controllers.

    I'm pretty sure judges aren't required to attend practices.
  18. leafygreens

    leafygreens Well-Known Member

    I agree that judges should not be watching practices. What Patrick Chan alluded to was wrong. I remember when I was younger, my coach was actually a judge in a small local competition I did. I commented to another skater, "I'm glad my coach is up there, because he knows what I can really do if I mess up." And she looked at me with this robot look on her face and went, "But, that's not fair? ;)" If it's not fair for local competitions, then it sure isn't fair for important senior level ones. Judges should not be forming any type of opinions before competitions.
  19. bek

    bek Guest

    There's a HUGE difference between a coach judging his/her skater, and a judge being familiar with a skater.

    Do you really think the judges don't already have an opinion on lets say Patrick Chan, or Daisuke Takahashi. They might not though have as much of an opinion on the skater from a small country who just made it on to the world scene. Or lets say a Dornbush who was in Juniors.

    Having the judges watch the practices gives the unknown skater an opportunity to show the judges what they can do.

    The problem obviously becomes when a skater skates really poorly but scores well do to practice which is wrong. But given this is a reputation sport/and the whole corridor issue as well if the judges aren't able to see the unknown skater, an unknown skater might not get the scores/he she deserves if the judges weren't watching the practices.

    Its not the Patrick Chans, Daisuke Takashashis, S/S's, Mao Asadas who will be hurt if the judges do away with practices, it will be the unknown skaters.

    And if anything too if the judges see that the well known skater is skating crappily in practice, they might be a whole lot less likely to give the benefit of the doubt. Then they will if they are just basing things on the skaters rep, when said skater was skating well.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 19, 2011
  20. leafygreens

    leafygreens Well-Known Member

    This is precisely why it is wrong. It is obvious that judges have to fight against that "human factor" of preferring known skaters to unknown skaters; this is one of the downfalls of our sport. Just because this struggle is within them, does that mean they should give into it? No. The proper way to judge is to try as hard as you can to put reputation aside, and judge knowns vs. unknowns equally - meaning, on the day of the competition alone. If you can't do this, and you need outside influences like practices and reputations to make your decision, then you shouldn't be a judge.
    geod2 and (deleted member) like this.
  21. bek

    bek Guest

    But its easier to judge the unknown skater fairly if you saw the skater skating in the same practice as the known skater, and saw said skater more than held their own.

    If you see some lesser known skater in practice and their landing difficult triples , and their skating skills are up there with the skaters you expected to be on top. That's going to affect your marks in the competition. But if you go in there not knowing who said skater is, and not seeing that the skater can hold their own with the top skater, than your marks might be lower for said skater.

    Practices allows the judges to literally see skaters side by side and compare them. And they get to see all the skaters not just the well known ones.

    Practices gives the lesser known skaters an opportunity to impress the judges. Also maybe the skater who wasn't skating well earlier in the season, but is skating well know can also impress the judges too.

    In contrast if the judges see that the well known skater is skating crappily in practice and also skates crappily in competition, they may be less willing to give the famous skater the benefit of the doubt.

    Practices IMO actually level the playing field just a little bit.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 19, 2011
  22. leafygreens

    leafygreens Well-Known Member

    Isn't the competition supposed to be where you impress the judges?

    There should be no "benefit of the doubt" in scoring! Why should you get credit for something not done in the competition? This is the reason a lot of people hate our sport.
  23. bek

    bek Guest

    But the benefit of the doubt exists. You can't get rid of it. And also as well there's huge pressure on the judges for their marks to stay in range with the other skaters marks...So the judges might be "more conservative" on a great skate from a skater they've never seen before. But if the judges all see lets say this great unknown skater and that skater is skating incredibly well in practice, and they all agree that said skater is amazing. Then if said skater brings that skate in competition, the judges will be more likely to reward said skater with the score the skater actually deserves.

    Reputation happens in judge sports. Practices though at least give the judges exposure to every skater not just the famous ones.

    And I'll say not just the famous ones but also helps the skaters from lesser federations as I was trying to say earlier the US junior champ normally comes with more prestige in the eyes of judges as lets say the Junior champ from S. Korea or Georgia, or Kazakhstan. Given the judges the opportunity to see these skaters, evens the playing field.
  24. geod2

    geod2 New Member


    That is exactly correct and perfectly stated, LG!

    Most of the justifications I've read for judges attending practices are actually great arguments for why they shouldn't.
    The reputational bias problem is already bad enough as it is.
    It's what the skater actually does on the ice during competition, and without any external comparisons to "what they're capable of" ...blah, blah.
    And don't the judges have the ability to replay parts of a program that they may have "missed" or are unsure of?

    Maybe there is one that I haven't thought of, but I don't know of any other sport that condones this behavior.
  25. duane

    duane Well-Known Member

  26. stjeaskategym

    stjeaskategym Well-Known Member

    I'm more disturbed that judges sometimes seem to have a "bond" with the skaters of their home country... I always think it's slightly weird when there are pictures of judges and skaters together on Icenetwork. And when I look at the protocols of certain skaters, sometimes it's very obvious who the "home judge" is. I can't help but wonder if these judges would be less biased if there wasn't such a friendly relationship between judges & athletes.

    Maybe I am concerned over nothing, but it seems strange to me. I think judges should be selected by the ISU, not the individual countries, and there should be minimal contact between skaters and judges at competitions.
  27. leafygreens

    leafygreens Well-Known Member

    This doesn't make it ok, or mean that people should turn a blind eye.
  28. bek

    bek Guest

    I never said it makes it okay, but rather the fact that it does happen. Judges are human and they might not even realize that they are doing it. The point is to find ways to level the playing field, and I really think watching practices does that. At least it allows the judges to get familiar with skaters other than the most popular ones.

    Can you explain to me Leafy how allowing the judges to see the lesser known skaters practice, doesn't level the playing field?
  29. leafygreens

    leafygreens Well-Known Member

    It doesn't make sense why the judges have to be familiar with anyone, if they are only judging what's done in competition. Favoritism has been going on in our sport for ages, which I admit, but why make it worse. Has the field really been leveled by viewing practices? Because the top skaters are continually up there. It's not like viewing practices helps someone in 33rd place in the world all of a sudden become 3rd. A better and more accurate way to level the playing field is to have a random skating order in the competition. Then the great skaters stand out from the not-great skaters. This already happens in the SP. Anything other than this, I don't think is fair.
  30. bek

    bek Guest

    We don't have a real random skater order, top skaters are seperated from lower ranked skaters. And well I have to say this there's normally a reason a top skater IS a top skater. Yu-na Kim is a way better skater than her compatriot Kwak. And she's normally fairly consistent.

    But once again the issue is that it is very hard for skaters from lesser known countries, with little political influence to get noticed. It can take said skater longer to get the respect they deserve from the international judges.

    I gave you a perfect example of why practices help. And that was a documentary I saw on Yu-na (with English subtitles) and her old coach said that when Yu-na went to her first JGP event ever, the international judges watched her practices and were in complete and utter shock. They were heck how the heck did this come from Korea, and they were essentially told that maybe the Korean National anthem should be handy.

    Now there's no doubt that Yu-na would have eventually risen to the top, but the judges getting to see her practices, and getting to compare her to the other Junior skaters accelerated things. And it was perfectly fair because 1. Every skater had access to official practices and the same opportunity 2. Yu-na delivered the goods at the competition.

    Skaters like Yu-na, Chen Lu, Midori had to be way better than everyone else to get even noticed.