Saturday, December 1

Grand Prix Final History: 'Super Finals' Mess; Greatest Mens Performances Ever

On my soon-to-be thought out list of stupidest things the ISU has ever done, the format used at the Grand Prix Final competitions from 2000 to 2003 would rank quite high. For those of you newer to the sport or maybe just in need of a quick refresher, I'll give a brief explanation.

The competition had three segments to it: a short program/original dance (which is now the short dance), and then two free skates/free dances. In the 2000 and 2001 Finals, the total factored placements after the first two segments of the competition determined head-to-head match-ups for the 'Super Final' rounds.

In 2000, these Super Finals pitted first vs. second place after the first two rounds for the gold medal and then third vs. fourth place for the bronze medal. The rest of the skaters were out of the competition. In 2001, the pairs and dance disciplines added a sixth entry to qualify to the Final (it was previously five), and with that came a Super Final fifth vs. sixth place competition in addition to the first/second and third/fourth that had been used the prior season. The formula is very reminiscent of a situation Kristi Yamaguchi found herself in during a pro-am competition in the mid-90's, where she competed against herself for third place after a withdrawal and had the best artistic program by far. A normal 6.0 factored placement format would have given her the title in the competition.

In 2002 and 2003, the three-round format remained, but there were no head-to-head battles in the final round. Ottavio Cinquanta (yes, he was still in power back then) thought the idea of a second free skate/dance for these four years would encourage more viewership because skaters could potentially come up with brand new programs to debut at this competition. That didn't really happen for the most part. We saw previous free skates used over and over (I think Maria Butyrskaya used Otonal for four years and also Petrova/Tikhonov used The Four Seasons for four years, if I remember correctly).

The problem with the three rounds of competition was that in many instances, skaters or teams were having to perform two programs in one day-- one in the morning and then one later that night. No other competition (aside from the qualifying round at the World/European Championships) asked for two free skates. I don't think the skaters or their bodies liked the idea too much, and it was done away with starting with the 2003/2004 Grand Prix Final. This was also the first Final to use the IJS scoring method.

Now that my gripe is out of the way, I have to say that I am absolutely amazed at the amount of superior performances we saw from the men in the 6.0 days of the Grand Prix Final (particularly Yagudin and Plushenko). Here are some of the most memorable skates:


Elvis Stojko - 1997 Champions Series Final Free Skate
This includes the first ever quadruple-triple combination done in competition, and he did in front of a home-country audience.




Evgeny Plushenko, 2000 Grand Prix Final Super Final Free Skate
Blew this competition out of the water and looked to be a heavy favorite for the World Championship title before the meltdown in Nice. Four 6.0's and one judge even gave 6.0/6.0.




Evgeny Plushenko vs. Alexei Yagudin, 2001 Grand Prix Final Super Final Free Skate
Two quad toe-triple toe combinations from Plushenko, one with a double loop on the end for good measure. Look what Yagudin followed that up with. We were so spoiled with these two.






Alexei Yagudin vs. Evgeny Plushenko, 2002 Grand Prix Final Second Free Skates
This entire competition was so close between the two leading into the Salt Lake City Olympics. So much excitement and intensity! This is the only time Plushenko skated this particular program, by the way.






Evgeny Plushenko, 2003 Grand Prix Final Second Free Skate
Just when you thought you'd seen enough-- this may be Plushenko's greatest performance of all time.




Which was your favorite?

Friday, November 30

Injured Lipnitskaia Out of Grand Prix Final


Russian World Junior Champion Julia Lipnitskaia has withdrawn from the Grand Prix Final after suffering a concussion from a fall in practice. First substitute Christina Gao of the United States has replaced Lipnitskaia. Gao finished in second place at Skate America earlier this season.

Thursday, November 29

Current ISU Technical Minimum - Skater Qualification Additions

Here are the skaters that have reached the minimum technical scores for the World Championships and/or the Four Continents/European Championships in the last two weekends of competition. These additions will also be reflected on each individual discipline page, which is linked at the top of the blog.

Skate Celje
No Qualifiers

Warsaw Cup
Ladies
Svetlana Issakova (EST) reached the 4CC/E LP min (36.47) and is now eligible for Europeans
Annabelle Prolss (GER) reached the 4CC/E LP min (38.11) but is not old enough to compete
Men
*Maciej Cieplucha (POL) reached the WC SP min (35.27) and is now eligible for Worlds
Kamil Bialis (POL) reached the 4CC/E LP min (48.73) but still does not have the SP min
Panagiotis Polizoakis (GER) reached the 4CC/E LP min (51.03) but still does not have the SP min
Pairs
*Tarasova/Morozov (RUS) reached the WC LP min (56.44) and are now eligible for Worlds
Prolss/Blommaert (GER) reached the WC LP min (45.24) but still do not have the SP min. They are not old enough to compete
Cherniavskaya/Laudelino (RUS) reached the 4CC/E SP (21.60) and LP (41.64) min and are now eligible for Europeans
Lech/Tyc (POL) reached the 4CC/E SP (21.50) and LP (38.51) min and are now eligible for Europeans
Manacorda/Macii (ITA) reached the 4CC/E LP min (36.84) but are not old enough to compete

Trophee Eric Bompard
No Qualifiers. The only skater in the competition without the World Championship minimums was Jinlin Guan (CHN), who still needs the LP score. He missed by 3.86 points here, and is currently only eligible for Four Continents

Merano Cup
Ladies
Sarah Hecken (GER) reached the WC SP min (30.02) but still does not have the LP min. She remains eligible for Europeans
Sara Casella (ITA) reached the 4CC/E SP (25.06) and LP (39.02) min but is not old enough to compete
Jennifer Schmidt (GER) reached the 4CC/E SP min (23.20) but still does not have the LP min
Alessia Benetti (ITA) reached the 4CC/E SP min (20.13) but still does not have the LP min
Men
Nicolas Dubois (SUI) reached the 4CC/E SP (25.86) and LP (47.19) min and is now eligible for Europeans
Manol Atanassov (BUL) reached the 4CC/E SP min (25.37) and is now eligible for Europeans
*Paolo Bacchini (ITA) reached the WC LP min (71.63) and is now eligible for Worlds

Pavel Roman Memorial
Dance
Testa/Csolley (SVK) reached the WC FD min (42.10) but still do not have the SD min. They remain eligible for Europeans
Dolgikh/Prachanov (RUS) reached the WC SD min (32.70) but still do not have the FD min. They are eligible for Europeans
Shpiliavaya/Smirnov (RUS) reached the WC SD min (30.30) but still do not have the FD min. They are eligible for Europeans
Cejkova/Sinicyn (CZE) reached the WC SD min (29.20) but still do not have the FD min. They are eligible for Europeans
Harold/Lamasse (FRA) reached the 4CC/E SD min (19.40) but still do not have the FD min
Loze/Antunes (FRA) reached the 4CC/E SD min (18.60) but still do not have the FD min
Zakhlyupna/Flemin (FRA) reached the 4CC/E FD min (34.38) and are now eligible for Europeans
Zajac/Zawadzki (POL) reached the 4CC/E FD min (28.60) and are now eligible for Europeans

Grand Prix Slovakia SNP
Dance
Voronkova/Trushkov (RUS) reached the WC SD min (30.38) but still do not have the FD min. They remain eligible for Europeans
Verezemskaya/Vederov (RUS) reached the 4CC/E SD (24.50) and FD (29.55) min and are now eligible for Europeans

NHK Trophy
Pairs
Davis/Ladwig (USA) reached the WC LP min (50.62) but still do not have the SP min. They are eligible for Four Continents

Golden Bear
Ladies
Ivett Toth (HUN) reached the WC SP min (28.11) but is not old enough to compete
Tatiana Shilina (RUS) reached the 4CC/E SP min (22.35) but does not have the LP min
Daniela Stoeva (BUL) reached the 4CC/E SP min (21.59) but does not have the LP min
Amina Gohm (AUT) reached the 4CC/E SP min (20.10) but does not have the LP min

NRW Trophy
Men
Vladislav Smirnov (RUS) reached the WC SP min (37.25) / no LP
Moris Kvitelashvili (RUS) reached the WC SP min (35.87) / no LP
Alexander Bjelde (GER) reached the 4CC/E SP min (26.34) / no LP
Carlo Vittorio Palermo (ITA) reached the 4CC/E SP min (26.95) / no LP
Anton Kempf (GER) reached the 4CC/E SP min (25.36) / no LP
Ladies
Pairs

Guess Who's Back.. Maybe? Emanuel Sandhu


There's a face you haven't seen in six seasons! Canada's Emanuel Sandhu is on the start list for the 2012/2013 Skate Canada Challenge, the qualifying event to the 2013 National Championship. Now at 32, Sandhu last competed at the 2007 World Championships and was known throughout his career as having moments of brilliance, but rarely being able to keep it together through all portions of a competition.

Sandhu was also listed for the Skate Canada Challenge last season, but withdrew prior to the event. I don't remember there being a press release stating he would actually skate, so this year looks more promising.

His biggest achievement was winning the 2003/2004 Grand Prix Final (the first using the IJS scoring system) over then-World Champion Evgeny Plushenko. Sandhu was only the second alternate to the event, but withdrawals by two other competitors allowed him to compete.

Emanuel also has been as high as fifth at the World Championships; he did so in 2006 after finishing in second place following the short program. At the 2005 Worlds, he finished third in the free skate but poor qualifying round and short program skates only allowed him to finish seventh overall. In 2004, he won the World Championship qualifying round (the final 6.0 Worlds), but skated to 13th place in the short program.

Here is his winning free skate from the 2003/2004 Grand Prix Final.




Wednesday, November 28

Just a Reminder of Who is In Charge..



..in case you somehow forgot.

Here's the famous Ottavio Cinquanta mockery incident from the 2011 World Championships.

The Junior Grand Prix Final: Who You Should Be Watching

Since the 2008/2009 season, the Junior Grand Prix Final has run concurrently with the senior Final, hosting the top six junior-level skaters/teams in each discipline from the regular-season events. This season, the Junior Grand Prix Final will be held in Sochi, Russia, December 6-9.

Here is a look at some of the top competitors that have qualified to the Final.


MEN



Joshua Farris, United States
2012 World Junior Silver Medalist
2011/2012 Junior Grand Prix Final Bronze Medalist

Farris comes in as the favorite in the mens competition. Check out his performance above from the JGP Lake Placid, where he landed a beautiful quad toe and triple Axel-triple toe combination.




Maxim Kovtun, Russia
4th - 2011/2012 Junior Grand Prix Final

Kovtun lacks the polish and quality to his basic skating compared to Farris, but actually posted a higher event overall score (219.19) at the JGP Croatia this fall. His free skate performance is above, and includes a quad toe-double toe, triple Axel-triple toe, and a second triple Axel.




Jason Brown, United States
2012 World Junior Bronze Medalist
2011/2012 Junior Grand Prix Final Champion

Brown is the most refined and artistic skater of the group, but he has yet to land a clean triple Axel in competition and does not attempt a quad. He will most likely need to rely on mistakes from others, but as shown in this competition last year, a win is not impossible.

Also joining them are Boyang Jin (CHN) who beat Brown at the JGP Courchevel, and Japanese skaters Ryuju Hino and Keiji Tanaka.

Han Yan of China, 2012 World Junior Champion, is the second substitute to the Final.



LADIES (or.. LADY)



Elena Radionova, Russia
2012 JGP Courchevel Champion
2012 JGP Austria Champion

At all of her 13 years, Radionova posted the best two-competition total score of any junior lady by over 45 points. She is young and her overall quality can build tremendously, but this is her title to lose.

A trio of Americans, Angela Wang, Hannah Miller, and Leah Keiser will be in a tight podium battle with Japan's Satoko Miyahara and Russian Anna Pogorilaya.


PAIRS

The pairs should be an exciting battle, much like in the senior Grand Prix Final. Of the six qualifying teams, less than 16 points separates the highest and lowest two-event total scores.

The qualifiers are Canadians Purdy/Marinaro and Jones/Beharry, Russians Fedorova/Miroshkin, Vigalova/Zakroev, and Davankova/Deputat, and China's Yu/Jin.






Purdy/Marinaro were the only team to win both of their events, and above is their free skate from the JGP Croatia, where they moved up from 4th to win the gold medal. Right behind them were the Chinese team of Yu/Jin, whose free skate is also shown above.


DANCE

It's a Russian-dominated field with Stepanova/Bukin, Zenkova/Sinitsin, Kosigina/Moroshkin, and Yanovskaya/Mogzov all earning the right to compete on home ice. Joining them are two-time series winners Aldridge/Eaton of the USA and Papadakis/Cizeron of France.

Four of the six couples placed in second through fifth places at the 2012 World Junior Championships, with Stepanova/Bukin being the highest finishers with their silver medals. They are the favorites in Sochi, while World junior bronze medalists Aldridge/Eaton and fourth-place finishers Papadakis/Cizeron will likely battle for second place.




Here is the free dance of Stepanova/Bukin en route to their win at JGP Istanbul.

Even Following Plushenko Withdrawal, No Shortage of Talent at NRW Trophy



Who would've thought that the 'Senior B' competition NRW Trophy would end up attracting so many big names of skating? It takes place December 5th-9th, the same weekend as the 2012/2013 Grand Prix Final. Tickets were sold out within 6.5 hours of going on sale!

The event started receiving great attention when Evgeny Plushenko, Yu-Na Kim, and Savchenko/Szolkowy were all registered to compete. In 2012/2013, Plushenko has only competed in the Japan Open, a team competition early in the season, while Kim hasn't competed since the 2011 World Championships. Plushenko recently withdrew stating that Russian Nationals and the European Championships will be his only competitions this year, but there remains tremendous depth in each of the disciplines.

Men
Front-runners for the title include Michal Brezina of the Czech Republic, and Russians Artur Gachinski and Konstantin Menshov. Also in the fight for medals are France's Chafik Besseghier, Alexander Majorov of Sweden, and Peter Liebers of Germany.

Ladies
The gold medal favorite, even with a two-season absence, has to be Korean Yu-Na Kim, the reigning Olympic champion. It will be interesting to see how her scores stack up against the six ladies who qualified for the Grand Prix Final. Other medal favorites are Swedish sisters Viktoria and Joshi Helgesson, Spain's Sonia Lafuente, Italy's Valentina Marchei, and Mae-Berenice Meite of France.

Pairs
World Champions Savchenko/Szolkowy look to compete here after illness took her out of the Trophee Eric Bompard, subsequently making the team miss the Grand Prix Final on Olympic ice. Berton/Hotarek of Italy and the France's James/Cipres also compete here; both teams had solid showings on the Grand Prix.

The dance portion of the event was already completed November 2-4. You can find full results here.

So what do you expect from Yu-Na in this first competition back? Will her scores compete with or even best the scores of the six ladies in the Grand Prix Final?

Tuesday, November 27

2012/2013 Grand Prix Final Preview and Predictions

The 2012/2013 Grand Prix Final takes place December 6-9 in Sochi, Russia. This is the first time the Iceberg Skating Palace will be used, as it will be a test event for the 2014 Winter Olympics. The top six men, ladies, pairs, and dancers from the regular Grand Prix season will be competing in the prestigious event.


Men
Impressively, four Japanese men have qualified: current World bronze medalist Yuzuru Hanyu, former World silver medalist Takahiko Kozuka, Tatsuki Machida, and former World Champion Daisuke Takahashi. Joining them are top regular-season top qualifier and two-time reigning World Champion Patrick Chan of Canada and Spain's Javier Fernandez, who won bronze in this event a year ago.

Hanyu has run away with the short program this season, setting a new world record at both of his events. Patrick Chan has yet to deliver a perfect performance, but he came close at Rostelecom Cup and earned the highest free skate point total of any of the men here. I believe the gold medal will come down to these two men. Chan will have to deliver in the short program if Hanyu is on again, or he may find himself in a sizable deficit going into the free skate. Kozuka, Takahashi, and Fernandez look to be in a three-way battle for the bronze, or higher, if the two leaders make mistakes.

My Prediction
1. Patrick Chan
2. Yuzuru Hanyu
3. Takahiko Kozuka
4. Daisuke Takahashi
5. Javier Fernandez
6. Tatsuki Machida

I think Chan has been building with each competition and will pull off the win, with Hanyu not far behind. I don't love Yuzuru's free skate and really wish he had a program as high-quality as his short. Takahashi doesn't look as into his programs this season as he was for the last several years, and I feel that his quadruple attempts seem to always short enough to warrant under-rotation calls, which may be enough to hold him off the podium here. Fernandez is a total wildcard. He had a moment of brilliance at Skate Canada but then really let the pressure get to him at NHK Trophy.


Ladies
American Ashley Wagner and Japan's Mao Asada both won two events in the series and lead the way, while Kiira Korpi of Finland, at age 24, makes her first appearance at the Final. Akiko Suzuki of Japan and two Russian ladies, World Junior Champion Julia Lipnitskaia and Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, round out the field.

Wagner has looked the strongest of all the ladies this season, delivering two great free skates en route to her wins. Asada had a controversial win at NHK Trophy, but the judges seem to really be enjoying her new, non-risky technical approach to the programs and have rewarded her with the highest components of any lady thus forth. Suzuki had the skate of her life at NHK and looks to still be improving at age 27.

My Prediction
1. Ashley Wagner
2. Akiko Suzuki
3. Mao Asada
4. Elizaveta Tuktamysheva
5. Christina Gao
6. Kiira Korpi

This one is actually tough, as I believe it could be really close after the short program if all of the ladies deliver. Wagner has looked so solid that I believe she will continue the trend and win here, while second through fourth was somewhat of a toss-up. Lipnitskaia has the technical tricks (especially the spins), but I think she's really been overscored on the second marks this season, and I'll be interested to see if they remain as high in a field with five other well-rounded skaters. Lipnitskaia has withdrawn due to injury as of 11/30 and has been replaced by American Christina Gao.


Pairs
Three Russian pairs, World silver medalists Volosozhar/Trankov, Bazarova/Larionov, and Kavaguti/Smirnov qualified in the top four spots. Former World Champions Pang/Tong of China, and two Canadian teams, Duhamel/Radford and Moore-Towers/Moscovitch, have also qualified. World Champions Savchenko/Szolkowy of Germany had to withdraw from their second event after she came down with an illness at her first event and subsequently did not qualify.

Based on how everyone has skated so far this year, this also could end up completely unpredictable. Volosozhar/Trankov had a disastrous free skate (by their standards) at Rostelecom Cup, and none of the six teams have really had moments of brilliance in the regular-season.

My Prediction
1. Volosozhar/Trankov
2. Duhamel/Radford
3. Bazarova/Larionov
4. Pang/Tong
5. Kavaguti/Smirnov
6. Moore-Towers/Moscovitch

I think Volosozhar/Trankov will get it together at home and earn the title, but then second through fifth  is the biggest question mark of the entire event, in my opinion. All of the teams scored relatively close to each other in the regular season. Duhamel/Radford have made great improvements as a pair and have set the technical bar exceptionally high. They come in as the third-highest scoring team in this field, behind the aforementioned and Bazarova/Larionov, who have shown good results but troubles technically throughout their events. They were able to win NHK in a much-watered down field. Pang/Tong looked more solid in their second event of the season, but I am not convinced that they are in top form yet to be on the podium here. Kavaguti/Smirnov have had troubled with their individual jump elements in the free skates so far this season, but they still have an opportunity to set themselves up for the podium with a strong short program. It should be an exciting event.


Dance
Americans Davis/White and Canadians Virtue/Moir, who were silver and gold medalists at the 2010 Olympics, easily won both of their events leading to the final. World bronze medalists Pechalat/Bourzat also won both of their events, while Russians Bobrova/Soloviev and Ilynikh/Katsalapov, and Italians Cappellini/LaNotte all won silver twice in their regular-season events.

My Prediction
1. Davis/White
2. Virtue/Moir
3. Pechalat/Bourzat
4. Bobrova/Soloviev
5. Cappellini/LaNotte
6. Ilynikh/Katsalapov

I believe that Davis/White have the strongest programs this season, particularly their short dance to Giselle, and will be able to win the title here. I respect Virtue/Moir's take on Carmen, but I feel that the choreography is a little too off-kilter and abstract to really garner top scores. Pechalat/Bourzat look good for bronze, while I think Bobrova/Soloviev will be the best of the next group after making tremendous improvements in the off-season.


What do you think? Share your opinions and predictions in the comments section! I am guessing there will be many differing opinions (particularly in mens and pairs), so let me hear them :)

Monday, November 26

Ranking the US Men by Highest Competition Scores this Season



This was a discussion that I got into on Twitter, and out of curiosity I started looking up and comparing the top scores of the US men internationally so far this year.

Taking each skater's best performance from this season, this is how they stand:

1 Richard Dornbush, 239.99 Finlandia Trophy
2 Ross Miner, 235.37 NHK Trophy
3 Max Aaron, 231.27 US Figure Skating Classic
4 Jeremy Abbott, 227.63 Trophee Eric Bompard
5 Keegan Messing, 224.44 Coupe de Nice
6 Joshua Farris, 218.69 JGP USA*
7 Armin Mahbanoozadeh, 218.06 US Figure Skating Classic
8 Adam Rippon, 210.47 NHK Trophy
9 Stephen Carriere, 209.11 Nebelhorn Trophy
10 Douglas Razzano, 204.62 Ice Challenge
11 Johnny Weir, 201.42 Finlandia Trophy
12 Jason Brown, 198.16 JGP Turkey*
13 Harrison Choate, 185.39 JGP Croatia*

*- Score achieved in a junior event. Farris and Brown compete again prior to Nationals at the Junior Grand Prix Final.

William Brewster- No Score (171.13 Sectionals)
Wesley Campbell- No Score (189.68 Sectionals)
Jonathan Cassar- No Score (183.00 Sectionals)
Grant Hochstein- No Score (186.48 Sectionals)
Alexander Johnson- No Score (223.18 Sectionals)
Evan Lysacek- No Score (has not competed)
Brandon Mroz- No Score (200.32 Sectionals)
Sean Rabbitt- No Score (170.59 Sectionals)
Philip Warren- No Score (180.31 Sectionals)

Looking at these scores, any early predictions for Nationals? The USA has two spots to Worlds this year, and those two skaters need to finish with combined placements of no higher than 13 in order to earn three berths to the 2014 Olympics.

New Proposed GOE System - Jumps

After the Florent Amodio post, I got to messing with numbers and figuring out a new GOE system that would seem to correctly reflect the performances that we see, mainly with the scoring of unsuccessful quadruple jumps and other falls in the program.


The basic premise is this:

Gone would be the option of (+3 to -3). I think that's too many options. I'd reduce it to (+2 to -2), which gives a judge 5 different options for an element.

In the United States, think of it like a school grading system:
+2 (A) would be excellent.
+1 (B) would be good.
0 (C) would be the base value, or average.
-1 (D) would be poor.
-2 (F) would be very poor.

Falls are no longer given a reduced GOE from what the element would originally receive. What I mean by that is a skater with a complex entrance into a jump might get a -2 or even -1 as the GOE even with a fall. No more. A fall is a fall, and receives the score in the right-hand column of my chart. There would be no more additional 1.00 deductions for falls on top of that, at least for the jumps.

The chart follows a simple pattern:

The 0 column uses the current ISU-established base values for jumps.

The +1 column increases the base score by 15%.

The +2 column increases the base score by 30%.

The -1 column decreases the base score by 15%.

The -2 column decreases the base score by 30%, and would also be the automatic result of a jump/jump combination in the short program with less than required revolutions.

The FALL column gives 1/3 credit to the base value of the attempted jump (which is more generous than my quick plan in the Amodio article, for what it's worth!)

I would still have to figure in the under-rotation and downgrade calls.

As you see, a total failure (fall) on a quad jump results in less points than any base-value triple jump, but more points than a base-value double Axel. I could live with that.

Plushenko Plans Only Russian Nationals, Europeans

According to an interview with R-Sport, coach Alexei Mishin says Evgeny Plushenko plans to take the same route this season as he did last year, competing at Russian Nationals and the European Championships (if he qualifies), and then sitting out the World Championships. He had originally planned to compete at the NRW Trophy in a few weeks, but has decided against it.

The Russians earned three spots to Europeans after Plushenko and Artur Gachinski went 1-2 last season. However, there is only one spot for Worlds after Gachinski and Sergei Voronov both had poor showings at the 2012 championship.

Now, I realize a few things. I know Plushenko is trying to save his body as much as he can before the Olympics, where he will be 31 years old. At the same time, he needs to compete internationally sometime this year in order to have ranking points for the Olympic season to potentially get Grand Prix assignments (as well as reaching the technical minimums early, if they hold the same next year). I think it's a big question-mark as to whether any other Russian men can finish in the top 10 at the 2013 World Championships. If they don't, only one Russian man will compete in the Olympics in their home country.

In a separate interview, coach Mishin gives an interesting quote regarding the scoring of Mao Asada at the NHK Trophy:
“The score for components often doesn’t reflect the true skill, but the time the athlete has spent in the figure skating world.”
Very interesting, all things in the past considered :)

The Big Technical Problem with IJS, as Demonstrated by Amodio's TEB Short Program



This short program by Florent Amodio at Trophee Eric Bompard was able to earn him 25.87 points technically.

That score was reached with the following:
- A fall on a quadruple Salchow
- A fall on a triple Axel
- A doubled triple Lutz and subsequently no second jump for a combination
- A sit spin that did not get down low enough so the entire sit/change/sit combination received 0 points

What does that mean? More than half of his elements (four of seven) in the short program were essentially complete failures.

I don't have a problem with the way the judges scored the elements based on what the rules state. In my own scoring, I had him at 25.16, so less than a point difference.


My problem comes with the actual rules themselves. Let's take, for example, a popular program choice for men that don't do quadruple jumps: a triple Lutz-triple toe combination, and a triple flip.

3Lz+3T = 10.10 base points
3F = 5.30 base points
---
Total for two elements at base value = 15.40 points


Now take Amodio's wipe-outs on both the quadruple Salchow and triple Axel

4S = 7.50 points earned
3A = 6.35 points earned (with x1.1 bonus for being in second half of program)
---
Total for two elements = 13.85 points


I know there are going to be some people that argue the reason that we see scores so similar for these elements is to encourage quadruple jumps and still reward skaters that are able to rotate them, regardless of outcome (2010 Olympics, anyone?). I don't really agree with that, though.

In diving, for example, if a diver is very poor with their attempt, he still holds a high degree of difficulty but receives scores maybe in the 2's or 3's. So if a dive had a 3.0 degree of difficulty and the diver received final scores of 2.5, 2.0, 2.5, 3.0, 3.0 (after throwing out highest and lowest scores in a seven-judge panel), the diver would earn 23.40 points for the dive (the total sum of scores times the degree of difficulty is then multiplied by 0.6).

Now, take that same 3.0 degree of difficulty dive and say that the diver did very well with it, earning scores of 9.0, 8.5, 8.5, 8.0, 9.0. The diver has now earned 77.40 points for the successful dive. See the difference? Divers have opportunities in later rounds to build back points. Skaters have opportunities in later elements plus program components to earn points. Other sports are also much more severe with failed attempts at elements.

I've always been in strong favor of really penalizing unsuccessful elements in skating. It makes no sense to me that Amodio loses ALL of his points on a sit spin combination because his butt needed to be a few inches lower, but still earns 71% of the points on his failed quad Salchow.

Along those lines, it doesn't make sense to me that someone who triples a planned quad attempt (which is within the rules) still earns quite a substantial amount of less points than a completely failed quad. The triple Salchow is worth 4.20 points. Again, completely failed quad Salchow is 7.50 points.

What this tells me is that skaters who are nowhere close on landing certain jumps cleanly but know they can throw their bodies in the air for 3.5 or 4 revolutions should just do so, because they can still earn big points (obviously Florent Amodio is capable of the quad Salchow and triple Axel, as he did both in the free skate).

MY PROPOSAL

I would remove the automatic one-point deduction for falls on elements. Falls on basic skating or in-betweens can keep that deduction. But I would make it so that all falls receive the exact same amount of total points per the element attempted, at least with triples and quadruples.

Take the quad Salchow. If it is fully-rotated with a fall I would give the same value of an under-rotated (<) jump of the same kind, but at the next level down (here, a triple Salchow). This means a quad Salchow with a fall would now be worth 2.9 points, which is about 28% of the base value.

Re-scoring Amodio's technical elements with that kind of system in play, and you get the following:

4S (fall) = 2.9
FCSp3 = 3.44
StSq2 = 3.53
2Lz+COMBO = 1.41
3A (fall) = 2.3
CSSp = 0.0
CCoSp3 = 3.64
---
Total Element Score = 17.22

He doesn't lose the additional two points on his overall score from the falls on the jumps, so his total segment score would now be 53.48 (compared to the 60.13 he actually scored). I think that sounds much more reasonable considering the performance that was put out.

Going for the big jumps should definitely have rewards, but only when they are done successfully! Take the risk and succeed, it will pay off.