Olympic Medals

The Ladies Result

This is a great story by Amy Rosewater about the result of ladies figure skating at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. As we all know if a skater gets the crowd behind them in a performance the component scores are elevated. This bias is why the ISU does not recognize scoring at any country’s national championship for personal best results. The component criteria will always be subjective no matter how judges are educated by the International Skating Union since every nation’s cultural influences affect their opinions and decisions. Let’s keep in mind the Olympics is not only about competing but also about coming together and learning to appreciate other cultures.

Figure Skating is first and foremost a SPORT at the The Olympic Games not a performance at the theatre. I reviewed all of the top ladies programs (the top 10; DVR is a great invention) several times. There were some skaters who were more athletic and there were some who were more graceful. Some risked more and some risked less. Some spun fast and received high Grades of Execution. Some spun slow and still received high GOEs. Some front-end loaded their programs. Some back-end loaded their programs (which requires more athleticism and stamina and earns more points). In all, there were too many crossovers (sometimes 5-6 or more consecutively which according to how we are educated should be no more than 3) and mohawks–a big criticism of our sport several years ago when transitions became the big thing–in many of the top ladies programs. There were also jumps that were majorly telegraphed and close to being under-rotated (the blade was not totally backwards when landing or the toe pick catches first before the skater is backwards) that were scored with positive GOE and received full credit from the technical panel.

The discussion since Thursday is healthy for our sport but must be done with the ideals of the Olympics in mind: RESPECT and SPORTSMANSHIP. “Controversy” about the results of ladies figure skating is not new. Think 1994 (Baiul vs. Kerrigan) 1998 (Lipinski vs. Kwan), 2002 (Hughes vs. Slutskaya vs. Kwan). What is new is now the participants have a protocol sheet which reveals the details about how all of the officials (both technical panel and judges) scored the competitors. As we are told in our educational seminars, the IJS scoring system makes our sport 38% (not 100%) more objective. Nothing in life is perfect but watching the ladies free skating event unfold live in the lobby of the rink Thursday morning reminded me of just how exciting following figure skating can be.