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Posted by Kinakinw | --:-- | Comment [0] | TrackBack [0] | スポンサー広告

24 2013

Who Can Enjoy the Sport?

Who Can Enjoy the Sport

It gets warmer in Tokyo, and cherry trees in Tokyo are in full bloom now!

Bring me up to date, I’m completely exhausted by watching World Figure Skating Championships 2013 on line on consecutive days last weekend. It was held in North America, so the games started late-evening and ended around noon in Japan. I usually skip most of pairs and ice dance, but this year, I couldn’t help but shifted my living hours to the games and watched all since I felt familiar with skaters in early groups of each category I actually watched at the Four Continents Championships in Osaka.

The reason why I’m exhausted wasn’t only the extended watching but also the spot-issue at the Sochi Olympics. Our national team skaters got in the lower positions in SP, so I was on the edge of my seat during the singles’ games watching each performance and counting their rank orders. As a result of their efforts, I'm glad we got three spots in both men and women. Good job, boys and girls!

Meanwhile, I had experiences of déjà vu through the competitions. While one experience was in men’s single, which was just like second coming of last World, and the other was in women’s single, which was just like recycled versions of Vancouver. Obviously their victories were results of hard work and should be celebrated. Frankly, however, I was severely bothered by the feeling toward the ISU (International Skating Union) judging system as usual, which had nothing to do with the skaters.

I cannot explain the controversial whole system in detail here, so I just focus on GOE (Grade of Execution) in the post.

Each nine judges decide GOE (an integer from -3 to +3) for each element (like jumps, spins and step sequences). Discarding the high and low value, the seven GOE values are averaged out, and then the average value is added to (or subtracted from) the base value of an element. The upper or lower limit of the value depends on the difficulty of elements. For instance, while if the average value is 3 for triple jumps except 3 Axel, only 2.1 point is added, if it’s 3 for 3 Axel and 4 jumps, 3 point is added.

Though the judging system is aimed at objective absolute assessment, in reality, it hasn’t been in operation in that way including GOE. Firstly, ISU has guidelines describing what “good execution” is, but they are ultimately arbitrary and might change in the future. Secondly, judges’ decisions of GOE are quite subjective. It’s always happens that one judge gives +3 for an element, while the other gives -1 for the same element.

That arbitrary and subjective GOE monster goes on a rampage. When judges decide prematurely that specific skaters’ elements without mistakes are well formatted to fit into the criteria of “good execution” and they bring all elements without mistakes, a total value of GOE would be laughably enormous. In the case of women’s FS in this World, the champion got 16.51 GOE points in total, which was more than twice the base value of 3 Axel. If you compare the extreme GOE award to baseball, it would be similar to that if judges prematurely think a player’s swing is “ideal” and “meets an arbitrary standard” decided by MLB, a team can get an extra score by someone’s hit while other players whose swing prematurely determined not ideal never has that benefit. Can you imagine that?

The ironic and tragic problem is that a massive margin between a champion and the others, mainly due to the GOE monster, essentially holds no concrete meaning. If a skater won by 20 point margin, the skater is superior to the others in that margin? NO. It’s just like a number of flowers thrown by judges.

Even so, the total GOE results in someone’s huge score that leaves the others far behind. In women’s single, it’s almost impossible to fill a gap created by the pile of gifts from judges if the others can’t deliver quad jumps.

It’s a good idea to reward skaters for good execution, but, I would say, it shouldn’t be a monster that enlarges a massive gap no one can catch up. Some people who see GOE as a problem claim that it should be reduced the width, for example -2 to +2 except falling. This is one way, and I think another way is that to put a ceiling on a total GOE score becoming a part of a technical score depending on a total base technical score. For instance, put a 15% ceiling on adding total GOE points based on the total of base values of elements.

This GOE problem has been left derelict many years, and ISU seems to let the monster go unchecked. I think people who love “sports” are never be able to enjoy watching this sport. Truthfully, this World made me feel that I had to cut my ties with the sport to a greater or lesser extent.

I’m really sorry for skaters who work day in, day out have been overrun by ISU Mafia. I think so sincerely.


Posted by Kinakinw | 17:05 | Comment [0] | TrackBack [0] | Figure Skating

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