Tuesday, August 31

Wandering Eyes in Courchevel: What Happens Now? Others Weigh In..

I had the chance today to follow up on the possible wandering eyes of Italian judge Walter Toigo during the Junior Grand Prix Courchevel. Toigo was on the panel for both the ladies and mens competitions, and video was captured by a fan during the mens free skate that appears as if Toigo waited to enter his marks until the judge next to him, Wendy Enzmann, entered her own.

Walter Toigo, center. Photo from Facebook.
First, some history on Walter Toigo. He's hardly new to the international judging scene. I found through a quick Google search that among his prior events include the 2004 Cup of Russia, 2005 JGP Croatia, 2006 JGP The Hague, 2007 NHK Trophy, 2008 Karl Schafer Memorial, 2009 World Team Trophy, 2009 Nebelhorn Trophy, even the 2010 European Championships! So why in the world would someone who has been judging senior internationals (majors included) since at least 2004 feel the need to check another judges' scores NOW?

I had the chance to talk to a journalist that was in Courchevel, as well as both a current ISU judge and former referee about the situation. They will remain anonymous due to respecting privacy. I first asked the journalist if anyone had noticed Toigo's eyes wandering towards other computer screens. "Yes, he was in front of me during the ladies free skating. He systematically copied during both the ladies and mens competitions. Several people saw." 

I then asked to what extent Toigo was seen copying scores. "Each element, for all of the skaters, I don't have any doubt. Same for the components after the skate. During the men, he copied off the American [Wendy Enzmann], and during the ladies, he copied off [the judges on] both the left and right." Those judges would be Haya Leenards of the Netherlands and Andrea Derby of Canada.

So, what does the journalist think this behavior stems from? "I think he cannot judge.. he's completely incompetent. His behavior was not at all discreet."

I then asked a current ISU judge to watch the videos, and asked if it was likely there would be a punishment, as well as guesses to what the punishment would be. The judge responded via e-mail:
I think that [this case] will be sent to the Disciplinary Commission as potentially violating the Code of Ethics, which we all have to sign. However, I think he will get away with a warning, at most. Honestly, I see it in the same league as the [toe] tapping incident of 1999.
If you missed the toe-tapping, it involved two judges caught on camera by Canadian television. Shen and Zhao skated their free skate, and one judge signaled to the other with two toe taps up against the boards-- probably suggesting that he was going to put them into 2nd place. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a clip on Youtube at this time, although I know there has been in the past.

What does the former referee have to say about why it happened?
To me, it's just one of those incompetent judges who's double checking (maybe even copying some marks) to cover up that in fact he doesn't know anything about GOE's. I haven't seen the program, but the music tells me that the skater was performing the new step sequence with a fixed value, where the judges can increase the value with their +GOE's (at 2:44). Since this is a new element for this season, I think he was just double checking to see if he was right in his mind or not. Sitting beside an American judge helps a lot because most of them really know what they are talking about! This is something every judge does at least once in his or her career. However, it appears here that he's doing this for every GOE and afterwards for every component and that means INCOMPETENCE, and incompetence is a way of cheating!
Neither the ISU or Toigo were available for comment about the situation. However, do we really expect a reply from either?


Anonymous said...

Disciplinary Commission? Code of Ethics?
So, they DO have those?!

They could also put cameras behind the judges at every competition. We might start having unexpected champions.

Anonymous said...

Way to follow up on this! Thanks, excellent blogging!

highaims said...

My thoughts.
ISU should realize that future debacle can be avoided by simply installing a blinding frame around each computer screen, making it impossible to look into each other's input.
Setting low partitions between judges is another low-cost option. They can even add a rule requiring judges to bring their own 'approved partition equipments' as a condition for each competition.

Putting cameras behind judges will work, but that's costly, and someone will have to 'judge the judges'...

Anonymous said...

The judges are being judged - constantly - and they are punished if it is this you are longin for. One step over the line and they face the concequences.
And it wouldn't surprise me that this fact makes some of them double-check marks with the neighbour(s).