Friday, March 22

Edge Calls and the Points Skaters Earn..

As I mentioned in one of my first posts following the 2013 World Championship, I think the whole 'e' call for Lutzes and flips done on the opposite edges should be done away with, and skaters shouldn't receive any points for jumps they are likely doing for a third or even fourth time within one program.

Let's look at the ladies at the World Championship and see how many points they earned from jumps called 'e' in the free skate:

Mao Asada completed two triple flips and a Lutz (e) --- essentially three triple flips. The flutz earned her 5.30 additional points-- the same value as a base-value triple flip!

Zijun Li did the same as Asada: two flips, and a Lutz (e). Her flutz earned 5.70 points.

Gracie Gold did the opposite. Two triple Lutzes and a triple flip on the outside edge. She did the flip in combination with two double toes in the second half, and ended up with an average of -1 GOE, for 7.99 points overall.

Ashley Wagner completed two triple flips and a Lutz (e) in the second half of the program. It garnered GOE's just under base-value, and she came away with 6.30 points for the jump. Her clean triple flip at the end of the program earned 6.53 points, as a comparison. So you're telling me that when she actually does the same jump the *correct* way, it only earns 0.23 points more?!

Kanako Murakami did two flips and a Lutz (e), which earned her 5.80 points.

And we'll stop there. This is just for the top seven skaters in the free skate-- at the World Championship. Five of them can't do one of the two jumps right, yet are still averaging over 5.50 points for the jump they do completely incorrect (and for the third time). Ridiculous!

If I was competing at the highest level and had a flutz, I would surely put two of them later in my program (one in combination, of course) and hopefully only get -1 or so on the GOE. That's around 5.9 points for each attempt or 11.8 extra points for a jump that has essentially been done four times now.

A clean triple flip with +1 GOE scores just above that at a 6.0 before the half-way point and a 6.53 after.

A clean triple toe with +1 GOE, though, scores just 4.8 before the bonus and 5.21 after. The skater would likely have to get +2 GOE across the board for the 3T in the second half for it to earn .01 points more than the -1 GOE flutz in the second half.

What if I loved doing the loop or Salchow? If I attempt that jump a third time, I'm going to get 0 points. But it's fine to do a flip or Lutz for a third and fourth time and still earn nearly all of the base value.

I think this is insane. So many aspects of the IJS are about the skater planning wisely: whether to do most of the jumps in the second half, how many difficult jumps to attempt in the second half, how to get the maximum score out of seven jumping passes, how to get the highest levels and GOE's on spins and footwork, etc.

Why don't we just disallow flutzes and lips all together? Base the jump solely on the take-off edge. The technical panel has replays. If a skater thinks they are going to get around it and still get credit for a third jump on the same edge, then the jump receives 0 points just as repeating a toe loop, Salchow, or loop more than once would garner. 

A lot of discussions over the last few years is to reward the skater who has a complete set of (clean) triples within a program with bonus points. Looking at the top 10 ladies at the World Championship, aside from the five I highlighted above, Kim doesn't attempt a loop and got called (e) for her flip in the short program; Kostner didn't have a successful loop in her free skate, Sotnikova gets Lutz (e) calls, and Osmond gets Lutz (e) calls. Only Elizaveta Tuktamysheva completed the five triples (not including Axel) successfully in her free skate, and she was only 8th in the portion. 

These are the top 10 free skates at the World Championships we are talking about, and we can only find one lady who would earn the bonus!

I say scratch the idea of a bonus and again-- just don't allow a flip or Lutz jump to be done on the same edge more than twice. 

I guarantee you that the skaters would either really work to correct the technique issues, or they would have to plan their programs based on what they actually can do. 

Thursday, March 21

Another Thought to Consider RE: PCS vs. TES

I absolutely love the discussions and sharing of opinions taking place in the comments sections of my last few posts. It seems that many people are still fixated on the Performance/Execution mark specifically, and how they believe that it should be changed to reflect the falls and general messiness of poor skates.

I understand why that argument continues to be presented-- don't get me wrong. But I also think that a lot of people are looking for that 'extra point or two' that, in this case, would have given Denis Ten the win over Patrick Chan at the World Championships.

I think what is happening here is the P/E mark, or any of the components for that matter, are the easiest to single out because they are presented separately on score sheets while the total element score is just one combined total. If you read the protocols, you can go in-depth and see just where the skaters were adding up their points technically, but with components, it's easy to compare across the columns between skater A and skater B.

All things considered, true-- Chan received an 8.61 in the free skate for his performance and execution.  Drop that down to a 7.96 and the two skaters would have tied overall, with Ten winning based on the higher free skate score.

I don't see many (if any) arguments except for myself that the 5.63 point difference technically between the two skaters seems a little 'off'. True, Chan did two great quads while Ten only did one, but Ten also had positive GOE's on every single jump element he completed, and only doubled the flip while Chan was making several other major errors, as we all clearly know.

My argument to those people bent out of shape about one or two of the PCS marks is that if the rules do start to reflect the falls and major errors, Chan might lose a point here or there off of his total score, but in the end it will be nothing major. If you are one of those people that thinks he should drop down into the 5.00's or 6.00's for any component, then that is a whole different discussion that I won't ever understand.

However, if we go back to the technical mark, Chan would lose points by having a greater reduction in elements with falls and/or major errors. Also, if the panels get separated and the GOE is reduced from -2 to +2, we may not see instances where he is still receiving +2 and +3's for his final double Axel in the program, which I thought was clearly a 0 (average in every way) element.

With all of these things considered, his technical score will be at a level that actually reflects the type of content he completed, and then we may not have to pull up one of the PCS scores to explain why the results didn't come out right.

Maybe both sides of the system need tweaking. But if you are one of those people who think the entire problem lies within the scoring of one single component, I advise you to really think about the points I presented above.

As always, share your opinions with me!

Brushing Up on the Criteria Behind the Program Components

http://www.isu.org/vsite/vfile/page/fileurl/0,11040,4844-152086-169302-64121-0-file,00.pdf

Check out the resource linked above, which is an explanation of each program component from the ISU. I just keep seeing so many comments about how this or what technical mistake should contribute to the significant dropping of one of the areas of PCS, but I really believe these assumptions come from people creating their own definitions of what the criteria mean.

For example, the skating skill mark does not have some formula that states that you take the total amount of time a skater remains on his/her feet in the program, divided by the total length of the program, and then you assign that percentage as the skating skill for that skater. Sound funny? Read some of the comments across the internet!

Wednesday, March 20

The New IJS Set of Points to End All Others

.. well, wouldn't that be nice if we all came to an agreement about how a program should be scored? :-)


I have played around with the concepts in the above point system for a while now (I actually believe I first starting posting similar proposals following Patrick Chan's win at the 2010 Skate Canada). But again and again, I find myself coming back to this idea.

People say that the skaters will no longer try the difficult elements if such harsh penalties are incurred, but I'm going to show you an example of why there isn't nearly as much of a difference as some people think.

Since I am always picking on Patrick Chan in this system, let's actually pick on the World Silver Medalist, Denis Ten. In the 2010 Skate America competition, he fell five times in his free skate. Yep. Five times. He was able to score 111.61 points for the segment, including 54.69 points technically. Out of all eight jumping passes, only two had above a 0 GOE.

Let's use my system above on his program (which is unfortunately not on YouTube but I certainly can understand why).

3A (fall) 2.13
3A+SEQ (fall) 1.70 [here, since the second Axel would have needed to be in combination or sequence, it receives 80% of the base value]
3Lz+3T (fall) 4.03 [3.00 for the -2 on the Lutz because of the fall in the entire jumping pass, and the set value for the toe loop added together]
FSSp2 2.59
CiSt3 3.80
3F* (fall) 1.46
3Lo* 6.01
3Lz* 5.80
3S* 4.92
2A* (fall) 0.91
FCCoSp3 3.00
CCoSp2 3.00
ChSt1 2.21

His total element score under my system drops to 41.56, compared to the 54.69 he had originally. But it doesn't quite stop there. Remember the additional -1.00 point for each fall? Ten essentially had earned a 49.69 after the -5.00.

Now, 8.13 points is still a big difference-- I give you that. But this was in one of the most severe cases of error-filled programs. It was just used to show that all of the arguments about skaters losing so many points aren't really quite valid if the system was changed to reflect the TES mistakes.

By the way, he'd have 103.48 points total for the segment.

Fair? Not fair? What do you think?

Tuesday, March 19

Even More Analyzing Chan and the IJS

I'm on a writing spree lately, and I like playing with numbers.

Imagine that each of the eight jumping slots in Chan's free skate were marred by errors with the severity of a -2 GOE (think a big step out or fall out on everything). Here is what his score looks like if you consider all of the jumps to be fully rotated and keeping the exact same GOE as he received on all of the non-jump elements in his Worlds free skate.

4T+3T 12.40
4T 8.30
3Lz 4.60
StSq4 5.60
CCSp3 3.73
3A* 7.35
3Lo* 4.21
3F+1Lo+3S* 9.60
FSSp3 3.24
3Lz+2T* 6.74
ChSq1 3.40
2A* 2.63
CCoSp4 4.29

Total Value of Eight Jumping Slots = 55.83 Points
(Total Value of Non-Jump Elements = 20.26 Points)

New Technical Total with Straight -2 GOE for Jump Elements = 76.09
(Program Components Total = 89.28)

Segment Total = 165.37

Chan received an actual segment score of 169.41 at Worlds, which included falls on two jumps (one that was called under-rotated), a double of third jump, and a major fall-out of a fourth. The difference between making a severe error (non-fall) on *every* jumping pass and the combination of mistakes he made is just 4.04 points.

Now, people have been writing to me and sharing their opinions on social media about how increasing the penalty for mistakes on the bigger jumps would result in the skaters not even trying the jumps (in other words, we'd go back to non-quad attempts circa pre-Vancouver).

Let's say a skater has every intention of completing a quadruple toe loop, but he actually doubles the jump. Go back up to the element listing for Chan's free skate and we will say that he doubled his second quad but then received a 0 GOE on every other element. Look at his score now:

4T+3T 14.40
2T 1.30
3Lz 6.00
StSq4 5.60
CCSp3 3.73
3A* 9.35
3Lo* 5.61
3F+1Lo+3S* 11.00
FSSp3 3.24
3Lz+2T* 8.14
ChSq1 3.40
2A* 3.63
CCoSp4 4.29

Total Value of Eight Jumping Slots = 59.43 Points
(Non-Jump Elements Total remains at 20.26 Points)

New Technical Total with Straight 0 GOE for Jump Elements and Doubled Quad = 79.69
(Program Components Total = 89.28)

Segment Total = 168.97

The above demonstrates to me why I don't really buy the whole argument that going for a tough jump, such as a quadruple toe loop, and missing it results in the skaters being penalized oh-so harshly. Actually, I think completing wiping out on the jump because you are dedicated to getting those four rotations in actually gives you a real benefit of the doubt compared to doubling the jump.

-2 GOE on every single jump in a very sloppy program results in just a 3.60 point difference from the skater who completes every jump at a base (average) quality aside from a doubled toe loop- which is still a clean jump.

A double toe loop is worth 1.30 points. Once again, under my proposal that a fall on any jump results in 25% of the base value, a fall on the quad would be 2.58 points. Almost double the amount you'd receive for popping the jump. That's enough credit for taking the 'risk' in my opinion.

Anyways, going back to that 3.60 difference in points between the two hypothetical programs. Now, we have to remember once again that even with all of these errors, there is no criteria for lowering program component scores because of the jumping mistakes-- all eight of them.

Some people are going read this and write to me saying something to the extent of, "Well if he's making eight mistakes in a program, he doesn't have any skating skills!" I know this is coming. But in reality, Chan still does have the skating skills, the transitions, the choreography that goes beautifully with the music, and he probably is still interpreting the music pretty well, too.

I think oftentimes people let audience reactions get in the way of the 'interpretation' component mark. Just because the audience is going wild, it doesn't mean that they fell in love with the way the skater interpreted their music (see Rogozine). Just because the audience is disappointed that the skater didn't hold it together technically doesn't mean that they skated right through the music.

My first article discussed the possibility of reducing the performance and execution component score by 5% or so each time the skater fell. But what about this situation where a skater gets -2 for every single element? No falls-- does that mean the skater should still get a 9.00 for performance and execution?

As I write this and think about my post the other day, I actually think that it would be better to still keep the components scores, for the most part, separate. Scratch the automatic lowering of the performance and execution mark after falls. Of course, if there is a direct correlation between all of the mistakes and the performance, then mark it down. Ideally, as I mentioned, I'd like to see different judging panels for the elements and the components, anyways.

After the above experiment, though, I do think that the severity of mistakes in general needs to be more greatly reflected in the technical mark.

Denis Ten received 56.85 points for his jumps in the Worlds free skate. This included a quadruple toe loop with over a +2 GOE, a triple Axel-triple toe with nearly a +2 average, another triple Axel that received +2, and five of his eight jumping passes in the second half. The only mistake was a doubled flip, which cost him 3.85 points off of the base mark and the world title-- but that's a story for a different time.

See the problem? 56.85 for seven jumping passes being fully-rotated and receiving a majority of +1 and +2 GOE's-- meaning they were good and very good jumps. Go back to Chan's jump layout with all -2's across the board. 55.83 points would have been earned.

1.02 points difference. Sure, Chan would have hypothetically been going for two quads and a triple-single-triple sequence which puts his *planned* content higher than Ten's, but the difference in the quality of these jumps would have been drastic! The marks and system say to fans and anyone else reading the protocols that the jumps only had a 1.02 point difference between the two skaters. That's the problem. Who cares about planned difficulty when everything becomes a train wreck technically?

After this little experiment, I strongly believe there needs to be a harsher penalty for mistakes on the GOE and technical side of the sport.

Monday, March 18

Following Up on the Current State of Skating

I am going to continue where I left off with my previous post and just add a few comments and observations based on the feedback I have received.

The problem seems to remain that everyone is fired up about the result of the mens competition at the World Championships, but no one seems to have any ideas on what to do to fix the apparent problem.

Dave Lease of The Skating Lesson videocast seems to have this belief in his head that I want to add more math to the already complicated point system. In a way, I guess. But I don't know what anyone else wants to do about it. I honestly think that reverting the system entirely (again) is just going to confuse people even more.

Maybe we should just count up the number of triples completed and then decide the winner from that. In the case of ties, it could come down to the preference of the viewer to decide which program they liked better.

Seriously. It sounds like some people think that is the answer. I'm not one of them.

A CLOSER LOOK AT FALLING ON ELEMENTS AND MY PROPOSAL

My major proposals first included having a set point value for a fall-- regardless of the severity. Like the example I used in my previous article, this means a fully-rotated quadruple toe loop that results in a fall earns 2.58 points. No questions asked. No battle over whether the jump should have been a -1, -2, or -3. A fall is a fall. As I discussed previously, in the current system, a fall on a fully-rotated quadruple toe loop is worth 7.3 points at a -3 GOE. There is also a 1-point deduction automatically incurred for the fall, meaning the skater has essentially earned 6.3 points.

3.72 points difference between these two methods. People are acting like this is completely going to take someone out of contention for taking a risk. I beg to differ. 3.72 points can be made up by scoring  .50 higher than another skater on each of the components in the free skate (as each of the averaged components scores for the men are multiplied by 2), and it leaves over a point to spare.

You take a risk but you have a really strong program versus someone just throwing the big jumps out there? In a perfect world of PCS scoring, this isn't as make or break as everyone seems to think, but it is enough that I believe it shows the failure of the element.

I received a question about how this would apply to combination jumps. I am actually in favor of changing a few things when it pertains to the elements we see that have two or three jumps. Dave Lease's head might spin at this point for more math.

While reviewing Chan's free skate protocol, one of the things that stuck out to me the most was the fact that he was able to still score 9.70 points on his triple flip-half loop-triple Salchow sequence, which by newer ISU rules, is considered to be a triple-single-triple combination. Chan had a bad fall-out of the second jump, and received -2 across the board aside from one judge who deemed it to be -1 and one judge that should be fired for giving it a 0.

If I remember correctly, an earlier edition of IJS (probably before 2006) had it to where the grade of execution on combination jumps was applied to all three jumps.

I'll explain. Say a skater does a 4T+3T combination, and it has a +1 GOE as marked by the judges. Under current rules, only 1 point is added to this combination, because the GOE of the higher-base value element (here, the 4T) uses a -3.0, -2.0, -1.0, 0, 1.0, 2.0, 3.0 decrement/increment. 17.2 points base value, plus the 1.0, and the skater has earned 18.2 points.

What I would like to see is the +1 that has been deemed for the entire jump also applied to the 3T, which uses -2.1, -1.4, -0.7, 0, 0.7, 1.4, 2.1. The skater would earn an additional 0.7 points here, and the combination is now worth 18.9 points. Succeed, and you are really rewarded type of deal.

However, the same also applies to the opposite situation. Let's use the previously mentioned Chan combination: 3F+1Lo+3S. Since this combination was done after the half-way point of the program, Patrick started with a base value of 11.00 points (5.83 + 0.55 + 4.62). The nearly -2 GOE would be applied across the board for these jumps-- here, we will just say it was actually an even -2 final result. The flip loses 1.4 points, the loop loses 0.2 points, and the Salchow loses 1.4 points. He now receives 8.00 points for the combination rather than 9.70.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Chan's quad toe-triple toe combination in the beginning would earn around 2.0 points more than it actually received, because of the near +3 GOE he received for the judges. He's actually earning slightly more points here after the GOE for each jump scenario is applied, but I prefer this system better.

Now.. what do you do with combination jumps where the second or third jump is a fall? Take Carolina Kostner's short program 3T+3T combination, where she indeed fell on the second jump. She was able to receive 6.50 points on the element. A 1.00-point deduction for the fall essentially drops it down to a 5.50.

I would do the following: the entire jump series garners a -2 GOE from the judges. The second jump automatically gets 1.03 points for the fall-- nothing is subtracted. That value is solid. The first jump still has the -2 applied, which would be -1.40 points. She now earns 2.7 + 1.03 points for the jump, or 3.73 points overall.

So far, nothing I have done has been that drastic of a difference compared to what we see right now. However, there is enough of a difference that I believe we would start to see more accurate results.

Still skeptical? Think about this. A +1 3Lz+3T combination is only going to get an additional 0.70 points-- we will say it was applied to the Lutz; the toe loop stays neutral in a way because it doesn't have a GOE added. Now if a skater does a 3T by itself with a +1 GOE, the 0.70 remains. Don't you think +1.40 for the combination would make more sense? It is, after all, one of the highest-risk elements for most skaters.

TO FLUTZ OR NOT TO FLUTZ

Aside from playing on words for my blog title, I have never really understand how flutzes and lips could still earn so many points when they are, in fact, truly Lutzes or flips. Skaters of the past like Elena Liashenko were doing four triple Lutzes in their programs if you use the severe outside take-off edge as the only indicator. How is that fair that the Lutz came so easy to her that she could just keep doing it, but someone who finds the loop the easiest is limited to doing it twice? A third attempt receives absolutely no points.

We live in a generation of skating where hardly any skaters have both a true Lutz and flip. All this talk about rewarding skaters that have a 'full set of triples' can almost be thrown out the window after the improper edge calls, save about five or maybe ten of them. Seriously.

What really drew my attention to the issue is how Brian Joubert, who has been competing on the senior level for over ten seasons now, showed up to the European Championships and did a 'triple Lutz' from the exact same set-up that he's done a triple flip for so many years. And what do you know? Because he decided to list the planned element as a 3Lz, it got called as one.

This is going to create quite a stir real quick in my opinion, and the only way to fix it would be to call the jump solely on the basis of the take-off edge. It's either an outside edge or an inside edge. You want less math and less nit-picks? Get rid of the 'e' calls that we see in protocols. Can only do a Lutz? Then you're limited to two Lutzes in the free skate. Try a triple flip and it's on the outside edge, you get no points, just like if you do any other triple more than two times.

This will not only make the skaters have quite a serious reason to fix their technique at a younger age, and it also doesn't put those at an advantage who may prefer the flip or Lutz over the other triples and can just do the same of one up to four times, while only losing minimal points for the two with the incorrect edge.

THE COMPONENTS ARE A LOSING BATTLE IN A WAY

Let's face it, they are. This is where everyone will have the most differing opinions. Former US Champion Ryan Bradley was exclaiming on Twitter that he believed Brian Joubert should have won the World Championship the other night. Yes, really. I had him outside the *top TEN* in the free skate because of the lack of strong choreography, and as always with Joubert-- no transitions in sight.

But that just shows the potential for a major difference of opinion. What might be a great interpretation to music to one person might be a total snooze to someone else. What one person might see as a great interpretation because of audience involvement and excitement might be seen by another as a way to mask the true lack of anything really going, which I find often to be the case.

Speaking of major difference of opinion, I can tell you that Michal Brezina skated right through his short program without a hint of choreography or transitions. He could have been skating to any music. Six of the nine judges thought he was at the 8.00-level or above for interpretation. Seven of them had his transition mark at 7.50 or higher, and the other two were just behind. In a fair world, Brezina's transition mark belonged in the 3.00 or 4.00 range. Re-watch the program. It's really that bad.

Instead of worrying about how Chan was still able to score in the 8.00's when he actually did listen to the music, people should be more concerned about scores like that of Brezina which are clearly way off the mark-- fan or not.

PROTOCOL JUDGING ON THE FIRST MARK

One needs to look no further than Chan's grades of execution on his double Axel at the end of his free skate to see how the judges seemed to try to work some more points back into his program. The element was a 0 for me, but he got some +2's and even a +3. I guarantee you that if a skater in the first or second group did a double Axel with ten times the quality of Chan's particular jump the other night, they would be getting a 0 or maybe +1.. at best.

Again, instead of going all crazy because you believe Patrick Chan's skating skills dropped from a 9.00 to a 6.00 or something in the course of four and a half minutes (which I promise you, they did not), you should be looking at these instances as another huge problem.

Until next time..