Tuesday, November 16, 2010

30 Days of Skating - Day 9: Code of Points - Give your opinion

I'm warning you now, this is probably going to be very wordy. With that said, let the rant begin!

I think there is a lot of good and bad to the Code of Points system. I love that it helps skaters see which technical elements in their skating need work, and I think that it has made footwork and spins so much more important than they were under the 6.0 system. I also think that the Grade of Execution marks are a really good idea generally; I mean, certainly someone who does a really high, easy triple axel deserves to earn more points on that element than someone who just barely lands it . On the flip side, GOE's have clearly been used to prop skaters up before (I.e. Skate Canada 2010, Mr. Chan.), giving positive GOE when the jumps were scratchy or simply sufficient. And of course, there are other instances where GOE marks are used to keep some skaters lower in the standings.

I also feel that underrotation, downgrade, and wrong edge penalties are a nice idea in theory, and I appreciate it encourages better technique,  but there have been several times where I have been absolutely certain a jump was rotated or on the proper edge (rewatching the element several times to be sure, so that I wasn't just blowing smoke), and a skater has been penalized for it being 'incorrect'. That is bogus to me, and possibly a way of helping judge's favorites stay ahead. And again, on the opposite end, sometimes a skater is obviously on the wrong edge or has clearly underrotated, yet doesn't receive so much as a slap on the wrist.

Having the Program Components Score highlight five different areas of focus is another great idea... in theory. In practice however, there is rarely much variation between the different sections, regardless of whether a skater actually performed or not. If a skater has a program full of transitions, of course the Transitions score  should reward it, but if that same skater performed the program without connecting to the music and audience at all, their Interpretation score should be lower, and vice versa. Unfortunately, this is usually not the case; the marks all tend to be very similar, regardless of if there were no transitions or if it was an absolutely lifeless skate.

This system hasn't solved most of the problems with the 6.0 system; it's just made the problems more complex. I think the real issue here is that it is the same people running the sport that made that hot mess that was the 2002 Olympic Pairs scandal. Didier Gailhaguet is the French Federation President again for crying out loud, despite his involvement and being suspended for a period of time. The fact that he can come back after all of that and being in a high position, in addition to the anonymous judging, seems to leave judges without much fear of punishment for cheating. And certainly, now that the system has been in effect for a few years, the judges have learned how to cheat, if they so desire, but now they can do it more effectively using GOE and the PCS.  The system may be new, but the way it is used is exactly the way the 6.0 was used before it. 

I think that the best way to make the judging more fair is to remove the veil of anonymity and make the judges take responsibility for the marks they give out, and putting into effect more severe consequences for cheating (including a lifetime ban for multiple repeat offenses). Unless this happens, I don't think that much is going to change in the way this sport is judged. 

You've heard mine, but what is your opinion?

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