Tilda: You’re In The Loop – we’re here to discuss the ups, downs and sideways of the sport of figure skating, and maybe give you +5 GOE along the way. This week’s hosts are:
Red: and Red
Tilda: Yay okay we’re a go.
Tilda: So let’s do a short introduction. Um I’m Tilda, you might remember me from the first episode. I’m from Sweden and I’m a political scientist, but politics is so depressing right now that I prefer to yell about figure skating instead. My twitter handle is @tequilda
Gina: I’m Gina, I’m from England but I currently live in Korea where I teach. My twitter handle is @4Atwizzles.
Yogeeta: Hi, I’m Yogeeta and I’m from New York. You might recognize me as your friendly neighborhood rabbit queen, but if not, my twitter handle is @liliorum.
Red: Hi I’m Red, I’m from Texas and I have a lot of spite for the US Figure Skating Association and the ISU. You can catch my screaming on Twitter @ironicbirbb with two bs on the end and you can also find me on Tumblr as the same with 1 b
Yogeeta: Let’s start with a little bit of news from the figure skating world. So Boyang Jin and Jason Brown have moved to Toronto while Elisabet Tursynbaeva has moved back to Russia.
Red: I’m very sad she is moving back to Eteri.
Tilda: Yeah and another sad thing is that Adam Rippon says that he probably won’t be competing anymore. Which is of course he will be missed.
Red: I mean I expected it but it’s still very very sad.
Gina: Who’s gonna take us to the club?
Yogeeta: We’ll have to find someone else.
Tilda: Also, Kaetlyn Osmond is not doing the Grand Prix Series so that’s also someone who will be missed.
Red: She effectively threw off everyone’s predictions.
Yogeeta: The Grand Prix placements are going to be very interesting when they’re finally out.
Tilda: Totally. And also something that is very happy for me is that Worlds 2021 will be in Stockholm. So where I will be living so that’s really fun.
Yogeeta: An opportunity to visit you.
Red: Everyone crash at Tilda’s place.
Tilda: So we’ll start with talking about the ISU Congress. This is going to be a very very long episode I feel because we have a lot to say about the ISU Congress. But let’s just get into it. How did you feel?
Red: It really made me realize the major incompetence of the entire organization.
Red: I know it’s harsh but I was just watching it and I was like what are you doing? What are you doing? Like that was just my entire mood the entire time.
Gina: They did have some nerve to stream the whole thing so everyone could see how disorganized they were.
Tilda: Definitely. And something that alarmed me a lot was that they had issues with the voting system for the entire congress. And they discussed this on the third day as well when they had already passed important things under the system.
Red: Yeah and the electronic voting system didn’t always work and there was one case where they like, they had to re-vote because of errors. Someone came up and said they didn’t see their vote on the board when they flipped it over. And then so they did a re-vote and the end result was actually different, like I think it had been rejected before and then it was accepted afterward and I was like that right there I was like okay how many others had errors? Do we know, um, how many might have had different results cause there were some votes that were really close.
Yogeeta: Yeah I remember that there was also one case where they, the voting system they have is not very um easy to modify so they had to choose between Canada and Japan’s amendments as they had to just stick to the Yes/No system that they had which was very confusing and I’m sure it passed over a lot of people like who was yes and who was no because they couldn’t directly modify the names to say Canada or Japan.
Tilda: Yeah yeah so it was very confusing. And something that really surprised me was the fact that they passed votes as a package like the new technical rules were passed as a package. And it’s, the whole process was very unclear.
Gina: And that allowed for some more questionable technical rules to slip through without being discussed properly which I think is a little bit dodgy.
Tilda: Definitely and the thing that only the technical committee could make amendments. Which meant that the federations had like no control over which uh rules were included and which passed. So probably some things that didn’t have enough support from the federations were allowed to pass because you know it’s not like they could vote down the entire thing.
Yogeeta: I wish they had more of a skater’s vote, voice in the congress because a lot of these are from like higher up people in the federations and you didn’t really see like what the skaters were really trying to say or what they wanted. It didn’t really feel like the skaters had a voice here.
Red: They should have let Misha speak
Gina: They did have the athletes commission but part of the problem with the whole set up was that it was everyone had to go up one at a time to the microphone to speak and there wasn’t always a lot of opportunity for people to talk and the discussion was then time limited.
Tilda: And it was a bit depressing to see there were all these like time restrictions. They went into detail discussing changes in wording, having long discussions about minor changes, but then for the what we care about mostly, the technical rules, they didn’t actually fully discuss them cause they didn’t have enough time. So they were like cutting all those discussions really short. So there were a lot of people I think who didn’t, who weren’t able to express their opinions about it. And there was also some lack of clarity about whether motions passed uh were binding or could be re-drafted later. General confusion like they were sometimes, you know like just pass it and we’ll change it later which was really weird.
Yogeeta: Yeah and I think a lot of the wording of the thing, of the stuff that did pass was very ambiguous and it left a lot of room for loopholes and didn’t seem like they were enforceable rules for the judges to take.
Gina: Does the ISU care about enforcing their rules?
Yogeeta: I wish they did
Red: Yeah. But shout out to the Netherlands for trying to pass some changes.
Tilda: Yeah truly that was pretty good.
Gina: I liked almost all of their proposals and none of them got through.
Tilda: Truly and then Bosnia and Herzegovina had like a hundred different proposals and some of, most of them were pointless. And some of them, and most of them were withdrawn as well.
Yogeeta: I feel really bad for the Netherlands because like they had one proposal um about the split judging panel that had like reached like the test, they would test it and that didn’t even pass and that was very surprising to me because it was. I feel like they should have like a separate system for like implementing like we’ll try this first and then afterwards vote on whether or not we want it.
Tilda: Yeah exactly so it’s not all depending on the congress which is biannual.
Red: The Netherlands should just take it back to their country and all the events that are, that are being hosted there next year just run it there and see how that works.
In discussion: Proposal 247 (7:50)
Tilda: So let’s move on to the first proposal we are discussing which is base value changes. So basically this proposal means that we’re going to have a lower base value like for quads and the triple axel basically
Gina: So now in the new scale of value a minus 5 grade of execution quad is one to three points less than a perfect plus 5 triple. Which was not the case before. Um, so previously a minus three attempt of a quad was worth more than a perfect triple of the same type which meant there was a much bigger incentive to try the quad even if you failed on it than get a perfect good quality triple. Whereas now if you have the high quality triples you get more credit for it.
Tilda: That’s good. Um, I still feel like some of them were cut sort of unproportionately, specifically the quad axel because in my opinion base values should be determined only by the difficulty of the element. And then I’m wondering has the ISU done the research before changing this to ensure that it is a somewhat accurate reflection of the element’s difficulty. Because if, if it’s just to limit the progress then that’s not a good reason to, then you’re just like changing the rules to limiting the figure skating from evolving.
Gina: I suspect they maybe didn’t think it through because um like imagine we have like two skaters and with the new base value one of them tries a quad axel and they fully rotate it and they land it but they maybe stumble on the landing and put two hands down and they get a minus five and another skater does a triple axel and they land it and it’s fully rotated but they touch down with one hand and they get a minus two. Should the second skater get more points?
Tilda: I don’t think so.
Tilda: But they do right?
Gina: Uh well under the new system they’re more or less the same amount of points and if the person with the quad axel gets the one point deduction for the fall then it’s a whole point, the triple axel with the minus two is a whole point more than a fully rotated quad axel attempt with a fall. And without the fall they’re about the same and this doesn’t apply for any other quad cause every other quad the minus five attempt is worth around about the same as a plus one or the base value [of the triple].
Tilda: And then you have to ask will lowering the base value of quads lead to less skaters challenging them? And I don’t think so because the skaters will of course always go for the higher points. And will it lead to skaters being without quads being more competitive? I mean, yeah it might but then you have to ask will the uhh will the judging be fair? Will it reflect the rules? Do we trust that?
Yogeeta: I think I think that the biggest issue right now is that we haven’t really seen this new system in place in like an actual in like international competition. I know it’s being tested at like the lower levels etc for a while but we haven’t actually seen it be used by actual like top level figure skaters who do the quads who do all of these heavy jumps so we can’t really say that this is going to work out well this is not going to work out well until we actually see it happen. By then it might be too late to fix anything or change anything because I don’t think the ISU properly understands how to test um proposals and amendments before actually implementing them so we’ll see what happens.
Red: They won’t really be able to fix it until like the next ISU congress which is like two years away so we’re stuck with this for like two years. Um so I really like I hope that they really thought this through because it’s at least going to be used for the next couple of seasons.
Tilda: They did test it.
Tilda: Yeah they did test it before but we haven’t seen the results but the judges liked it. The judges who tested it liked it.
Red: Well they said that the judges like the plus 5, minus 5 GOE I don’t know if they liked the base values
Tilda: Oh yeah that’s true
Red: Cause I mean it’s kinda, it’s kinda hard to tell the effect on the axel when no one has landed a quad axel.
Gina: Well I think they probably needed to lower the base values like it was pretty like they had to do that. Some of the results of lowering that base value is, I actually really agree I just think they cut it a little bit too much and the cuts to the quad axel were too much like it should have been around 14 points.
Tilda: But one positive effect might be that it would encourage skaters to not add quads to their programs until they truly feel confident with them. So we might see less messy programs.
Yogeeta: I feel like in the long run that this system will actually like improve like general figure skating overall and you’ll see more people be more well rounded, have better technique, have better skills - but in the short term, we’re in this space where everyone is trying to get quads as quickly as possible in order to like max out points and while people are in this space and they’re slowly transitioning to this new system this new scale of values of base values you’re gonna definitely going to see a lot of the mismatch between the higher level skaters just continuing to go and getting all of those heavy quads while the lower level skaters are going to have to make the decision of do they want to make sure their triples are beautiful, their skating skills are important, and try to get those to maximize those to try to get those plus 5 GOEs or instead try to fight the top guys who currently all have quads and while they’re still affected by this and we’ve seen a fair bit of falling on quads this past year so they’re definitely going to be hit harder by it but they’re also in the place where if they do it well, if they do it perfectly they’re going to have uh they’re going to have scores that are way higher than they’ve had before so it’s this odd place we’re in right now and I’m not sure what’s really going to happen in the next two seasons.
Gina: I mean there was this great post on the Reddit for figure skating where someone had analyzed and tried to recalculate some of the scores with the new system by taking away one of the jump passes, and taking away the second half bonus, and changing the Grade of Execution. And it changed some of the results so for the men’s they looked at the 2018 Worlds and skaters like Deniss Vasiljevs would have outscored Alexei Bychenko and Kazuki Tomono, moving from sixth to fourth, and would have actually received a higher technical score than Shoma Uno in the free skate but not outscoring him overall. So skaters like Deniss and Jason Brown could benefit from these rule changes but it depends on how the judges actually implement these rule changes.
Tilda: And something else that changed with this is of course the scales of values because it had to be adjusted to work eleven different grades of GOE. Grades of GOE wow that’s redundant. Um so basically it means that GOE plays a bigger role in the scoring of an element, you know if you look at percentage. And one thing, one consequence of this that annoys me is that the step sequences and the spins are going to be worth less than before with the new scales of values which doesn’t make sense to me if the ISU wants well balanced programs. And I think that the steps and spins have been under appreciated in the past and even more so and when you look when the people who have done the re-judging see that the jumps play a bigger role in the TES than they have up until now which to me doesn’t make sense.
Red: Yeah it feels like they’re taking a step backward especially because they’re trying to close the barrier between the TES and PCS, and they’re trying to make it more, they’re trying to make it more artistic but they’re cutting out the technical elements that are more inherently more artistic like the steps.
Gina: Yeah it doesn’t really make sense to me that they say that they don’t want it to be all about the jumps and they don’t want it to all be about quads but then the scoring system reflects that it is mostly about the jumps and it is mostly about the quads because that’s where you get most of the points. So like previously, I think I used Yuzuru Hanyu’s Olympic short program as an example because it was really easy to convert the grade of execution. But previously his technical score, about 69% of points came from the jumps in his technical score and under the new scale of value 71% would come from jumps so it doesn’t really make sense that they’re saying it’s not all about the jumps but then the jumps are worth more.
Yogeeta: I think this is just another instance of the ISU’s incompetence to be honest- they don’t really understand what they’re doing! They say they want more artistic programs and they try and rescale everything so skaters can focus more on the artistic elements and less trying to do all these big quads and I don’t think anyone actually sat down and did the math correctly. And I think at the end of the day what it is- the ISU has implemented these rules without actually seeing it in practice and seeing how it’ll actually work out for top level skaters.
Red: I feel like a lot of what they do is like a quick patch – they’re like “okay, this is a problem, let’s see how fast we can fix this” without like, really thinking about it and so they kinda just slap a patch on there and hope that it works.
Tilda: Yeah, but one thing is that falls are punished a LOT harsher than before. And, you know, is that good?
Gina: They’re punished a lot harsher for quads. For everything else, it’s more or less the same. And in grade of execution, it’s now even, whereas before it was very uneven. So like, it would differ a lot between different types of jump not just different rotations of jumps. But falling on a quad was never as bad as falling on a triple because the way that the deduction just on grade of execution worked out favored quads so much, and now it’s a flat 50% of the base value on any kind of element, which makes it a lot more fair.
Tilda: Definitely. And also there was a proposal that was withdrawn, but they wanted to remove the 1-point deduction for a fall, so it doesn’t feel like a double punishment. And, you know, for example, one point deduction is a much harder hit against, for example, a novice lady than for a senior man. So that’s also something that could be interesting.
Gina: Yeah, I mean, I did some numbers on this, so get ready for some numbers! If we take the non-axel jumps: for a triple toe loop, you would get the -3 (GOE) deduction for your fall, and then the 1-point deduction as well, and you were losing 3.1 points of a 4.3 jump – so that’s like 72%. Whereas for a triple lutz, you’re taking away the same amount of points but the base value was higher – it was 6 pts, which is only 35%. So even between the different jump types, it was not fair. And then for like a [quad] lutz, you were getting 4-points taken away in grade of execution, and 1-point taken away as well-that makes it 5 points. But the base value was 13.6, so even with the 1-point deduction, it was just 48.54% [of the BV being deducted], which is so much less than a fall on a triple.
In discussion: Urgent Proposal 15 (20:05)
Tilda: Should we move on to the next proposal?
[Chorus of “yes”]
Red: I’m excited about this one.
Tilda: Do you wanna go for it, Red?
Red: Sure. So this proposal was to have more pairs teams competing at Worlds. Previously there would only be 16 that qualified for the free skate but now there’s gonna be 20. Which, pairs has always been the smallest discipline in skating and I think this will help increase the number of pairs teams and it’ll also help give countries more chances to get more spots since Worlds is where they decide which countries get how many spots for the next season[’s Worlds]. So it’ll also raise the amount of countries that have more pairs spots at Euros, at Four Continents, at stuff like that, so I’m really excited about this one!
Yogeeta: I’m also really happy for the skaters too-they put so much hard work into preparing all year long for Worlds to do their short program and their free skates. And a lot times, the smaller federations—the smaller skaters—they just get to do their short programs and then they don’t reach the cut off for the free skate. So now you get to see more of the lesser known skaters—the pairs skaters—go to the free skate, and we get to enjoy what they’ve done. And I think I’m really proud to see that more skaters will be able to make it to the free skate and we can enjoy all of their programs. This is also a great opportunity for them because they get more skate time, so hopefully they’ll be able to get more sponsors out of it, and just more general acknowledgment within the figure skating community. So, I’m all for more people skating more.
Red: I was very sad that that Australian pairs team—I can’t pronounce her last name—but with Harley Windsor—Katia [Alexandrovskaya] and Harley [Windsor]—I was very sad that they didn’t qualify for the free skate at the Olympics; they barely didn’t make it. And they’re a younger pair and so I’m really glad that something like this will help them also get more recognition and be able to do their free skate.
Tilda: And this proposal was only for pairs at Worlds, but the mood at the ISU Congress was very positive and they discussed extending it to other pairs competitions like Euros, as well as to Ice Dance in the future. So we could look forward to that – maybe in the future.
Red: That’s very exciting.
In discussion: Rejected Proposal 194 (22:27)
Tilda: Yes. Next proposal was to separate the PCS and the GOE judges—have two separate panels. This surprisingly did not pass. And it would have meant that we would test it at the Junior Grand Prix of 2019. But yeah, no, it didn’t pass.
Yogeeta: I just didn’t understand why it didn’t pass because it wasn’t even trying to pass this as like “let’s make it happen” – it was just “test at the junior grand prix” in a year so would have plenty of time to plan and make sure they had all the judges they needed at hand in order to see how this would work in practice. So part of this led to my belief that the ISU Congress needed to have separate systems in place to test versus passing actual proposals. Because the ISU Congress— we won’t see them again until their next Congress and we don’t have any opportunity for people to go out and test this without their approval. I think this is something that does to be tested and I think a lot of these proposals that passed should’ve had better testing in general – especially at a more international, high level of skating competitions and not really the smaller competitions that some of them were tested at – to see how overall it was working out. So this was one of my biggest issues – was that they had all of these great proposals and I think a lot of them did needed to be tested before they passed but, unless someone straight up amended the proposals saying, “we will test it” there wasn’t any option to just “test” a proposal.
Gina: I think this one was tested. I think it was only at one event though and it was very small, because one of the people that came up to speak in favor of it did say that it was quite popular with judges. And I can really understand why because under the judging system, judges have a LOT to look at. They have to evaluate the five performance components, which actually have individual criteria that they should be assessing but don’t; they also have to assess the grade of execution of elements.
Tilda: So I think probably, this would be a good way of making judging times shorter, while still ensuring the quality of judging doesn’t decrease. Because we have a huge issue right now with PCS corridor – where PCS are not being awarded based on what the skater actually does, but by a set of range. For example, the judge feels like a skater is around an 8 and then they give them 8.25, 8.5, etc. for all the program components, when maybe that skater had really strong interpretation skills, but not as strong skating skills, and they should be awarded individually for that. And so this proposal would have helped to actually give a more fair score.
Gina: You also have the instances where the technical score is so linked with the [program] components score…and they shouldn’t be…they’re two separate things? I’m not gonna name names, but there are certain skaters that are out there that do see an increase in their [program] component scores when they’re doing something really good with their technical. Even if they don’t really show anything that meets the criteria for the component, which is really disappointing. And then conversely you’ll have a skater that does maybe only triples – doesn’t have the quads in the mens’ field—who meets the criteria for the component, but doesn’t get the higher component scores because they don’t have the technical.
Red: The impression that I get sometimes is that they’re so busy looking at the GOE that they almost forget to make sure that skaters are hitting these PCS boxes. So they just kinda “oh they’re about at this…” like kinda what Tilda was saying. But I think it’s also because they’re looking at the GOE, they’re like, “oh no I forgot to look for this certain element, or this check mark off the list, and I think they were about at this.” Like that’s how it feels to me sometimes.
Tilda: And this is a side note, but I’d love it if for awarding GOE for elements, they started using different software and they could tick off GOE bullet point met by the skater, and then have the GOE automatically calculated based on the number of bullet points hit. Because I think that would also make sure to improve the accuracy of the judging.
Yogeeta: Do we trust the ISU and their technology though, Tilda?
Tilda: Well, maybe in the 22nd century.
Red: I like this too because I think it would take away a lot of the bias as well because it’s a lot more objective rather than subjective. It’s like “okay, they did this, they did this, they did this.” Versus like, “uhh, I think they were pretty good.” And I think you’ll see a lot less national bias there as well.
Gina: I mean, part of the problem with the new grade of execution system and how they actually apply the different grades is that there are 3 bullet points that are mandatory to get above +3. And I don’t think they’re gonna stick to that because there’s gonna be skaters that can’t hit those first 3 bullet points but they’ll still get above +3 because of who they are, because of their reputation, and the judges’ bias.
In discussion: Proposal 243 (27:42)
Tilda: Which is the next proposal we’ll be discussing: national bias. Which, this proposal meant that an official assessment commission, putting together reports of anomalies at competitions will also include suspected national bias from judges.
Gina: They really did need wording against this. They don’t do anonymous judging anymore, but even with that into account, I don’t think the ISU will do much to actually tackle it. I mean, it’s natural that there will be some bias in judging, but where do they draw the line? And we already know some judges that have a tendency to plump up scores for their skaters and lower the scores for other skaters. Are they going to monitor those particular people?
Tilda: The only judge that was being investigated for suspected national bias from last season is the Chinese judge, Chen, at the Olympics. That’s the only one despite the fact that we have statistics that show that there are other judges who do have similar issues.
Red: I think for this proposal, it’s really easy for them to reword something or add something in that makes it seem like they’re going to do something. But like we know that bias occurs, it’s a natural part of judging, it’s just national bias you gotta look out for. And I’d like for something more to be done to fight against this issue but I just really don’t think they’re going to do anything.
Yogeeta: I think this is once again a case of the ISU putting something on paper to make themselves look better, but they’re not actually gonna anything in the long run.
Red: Yeah, exactly.
In discussion: Proposal 259 (29:17)
Yogeeta: So our next proposal is removing the connecting steps before the solo jump in the short program. This feels like a bit of a controversy to me. I don’t agree with it; I think that the connecting steps were fine before and judges had no issues in the past being able to see the connecting [steps]. I don’t see how judges can no longer see them.
Tilda: Yeah, I mean, the Russian representative at the ISU Congress said exactly that. Judges have been doing it in the past just fine and either skaters today are unable to do this or judges are unable to see it. I think it’s an important technical skill, and showing these different skills is what the short program should be about. And I just feel like, they’re saying it’s a GOE bullet point now, so it should be fine still, but if they can’t evaluate it as a mandatory requirement, how can they agree on what it means as a bullet point? It doesn’t make sense.
Gina: And the thing is, it’s not a bullet point anymore. Previously, there was a bullet point that was a negative feature and a bullet that was a positive feature. And in the new system, they still have the positive feature where it’s a bullet point that if you have clear connecting steps, you can get more grade of execution. But they don’t have it specifically worded to mean steps in the short program before a solo jump as a negative feature, and it used to be a -3 negative feature to not have steps before the jump. And they don’t have that anymore.
Tilda: Clearly this shows that the rules are too vague, and the ISU should provide further guidance for how to judge these things.
Red: We were just talking about how many issues they have with judging and then they’re making it more confusing.
In discussion: Proposal 261 (31:03)
Tilda: And another proposal that was really controversial was that only one type of quad can be repeated per free skate, and originally, the proposal was that NO quad could be repeated in the free skate. But now they amended it so that one type of quad can be repeated now.
Gina: Okay, but the more I think about this amendment, the more I don’t have a problem with this rule to be perfectly honest…which might be a bit unpopular. But the way that they changed the proposal actually works pretty fine. It doesn’t really affect anyone. Very few, in fact, two men were repeating quads anyway.
Red: It’s gonna really affect Nathan. Especially because everyone’s gonna do the triple axel (3A) combo now because they can only do one quad combo. And we all know Nathan’s 3A is iffy at best. And I’m a Nathan fan, but every time he goes up for that 3A, my heart just drops and I’m like, really scared. (laughs)
Tilda: It’s not necessary, you know, you can repeat one quad and then a lot of other skaters before have repeated the 3T, for example, to get more points from the combo.
Yogeeta: Yeah, we’ll probably see a lot more like, triple loop (3Lo) combos I think because people can’t just throw 3Ts everywhere now—especially since most people are gonna go for the 3A as their chosen triple to repeat. So I think in that regard we might actually see some more variations in combinations that people will end up doing, which I think will be nice. But it would also be harder on the skaters to train them. So I think in the long run, this is gonna be good, it’s gonna work out fine. I think my concern right now is just how skaters are going to actually turn these into actual programs. And we’re not gonna see that until the next season starts.
Tilda: To be honest, I don’t think it’ll change that much because there were very very few skaters who were repeating two types of quads in the first place. So I don’t think in reality it will affect that much at all.
Red: Yeah, it’ll just affect those couple of skaters that were doing it.
Tilda: It will sort of limit the skaters who only have two types of quads. Before, they could do four quads in a free skate, and really be up there with the ones doing the most. But now people with two types of quads are limited to only three, which could mean that more skaters are encouraged to train four more types of quads.
Gina: I think really who will probably feel this the most is the kind of men that are not at the top but kind of in the middle, maybe trying to rise to the top. So, for example, I think Vincent Zhou will probably benefit from this quite a lot in that middle pack because he has the 4Lz, and he can do it in combination, so he can repeat it. Whereas the other men in that middle of the pack don’t have that kind of high scoring quad jump, so we might see him getting lifted up because he can repeat his 4Lz with another quad, and other middle of the pack men can’t really do that.
In discussion: Proposal 83 (34:17)
Tilda: So anyway, a proposal that is quite fun is that we will now have medals for short program and free skates. They won’t be called small medals, just medals, which is a bit of a fluff, doesn’t change much, but I think it puts more emphasis on success on skaters being top 3 in a segment and it’s something that they can appreciate and hopefully you will see more ceremony around these small medals - small medal ceremonies.
Red: Yeah, and I think it’ll be good for skaters who do good in one segment, and then have an awful, like - other segment, they won’t have to go home empty handed, they’ll still be recognized for how well they did in either the short or free skate without like - yeah, sorry.
Yogeeta: Yeah, I really like this for the skaters, I think it’ll be fun. I’m just a little worried about how the media will spin these medals, but I’m always worried about how the media’s gonna spin anything, so…
Tilda: One proposal that already passed in the last congress but will only come into effect now is that the men will have one less jumping pass in the free skate and a 30 second shorter program, which I don’t think is a good idea because cutting out 30 whole seconds will probably come from the choreography, the part that the skaters get less points for, not compulsory elements, so I think it will really affect the quality of the programs - they’ll be more jump focused.
Yogs: Yeah, I agree. I think that I would have been if they cut out one jumping pass, limit it to maybe 15 seconds or something like that, but I definitely think that 30 seconds is a long chunk time, given that these programs were originally like 4 minutes and 30 seconds, and you’re really gonna lose more of that artistic element that the ISU keeps claiming that they want skaters to focus on but their rule changes keep showing that its not really looking that way, that they’re focused more on technical elements than the artistic side of figure skating.
Red: Yeah. One jump doesn’t take 30 seconds. One jump doesn’t take 30 seconds.
Tilda: No, definitely not.
Gina: It doesn’t. (Tilda: Not even if you have a long set-up time.) Out of all the technical elements, I think the one that will lose time the most out of the men’s free skate is probably the choreographic sequence, which most - a lot of men do kind of half-assed anyway (Tilda: Even more so now, probably). Yeah - that one spread eagle that they do for that choreographic sequence [will get even shorter] (chorus of “Oh, okay”s)
Tilda: Let’s move on.
Red: Yeah, let’s not.
In discussion: Proposal 256 (37:10)
Tilda: Okay, so another proposal that passed was that jump sequences are limited to two jumps and the second jump has to be an axel. This won’t change much since jump sequences are very rare, but I have to say that I think that the way its calculated now is that they combine the base value of the two jumps and multiply it by 0.8, and I think they should get full BV for the sequence, because if they perform a good triple lutz double axel for example, why not get the full value for that? If you want more variety, I think you should start giving credit for these sequences.
Gina: I agree. That would be wild to see, can you imagine?
Tilda: I think that would be a lot of fun, actually.
Yogeeta: I never really understood why jump sequences were, like, valued lower than a regular combination, since they’re still difficult, and they’re a spot of fun, like, I’ve seen a couple ladies do it and they’re fun. I like seeing something a little different every once and a while.
Tilda: Before, they could go - they could be quite far away from each other, and that is why it should be valued less than a combination, but now with the two jumps and the second one has to be an axel they have to be really close to each other, so you know - they’re not easy to do.
In discussion: Proposal 190 (38:28)
Red: So this is one that honestly should have been passed back when the ISU started but for some reason they didn’t, and that’s that skaters have to skate to music.
Tilda: It’s hilarious that they had to add this after so many years and they discussed it a lot as well in the congress. What is music, really?
Yogeeta: Really! I feel like this was such a missed opportunity. Skaters could have skated to John Cage’s 4’33, for however long.
Tilda: Yeah, definitely, and I - I mean, I think it was funny because they went into - are they allowed to have silence in the program, intentionally, how long can it be, suddenly there are so many details that has never been an issue in the past that they would try to include, which is fun.
Yogeeta: I just feel like this is another case where the ISU spent way too long talking about proposals or to pass it.
Red: They were like “What is music? What defines music?” and it’s like oh my gosh, this isn’t gonna change much, y’all already said this shoulda been in the rules but it wasn’t, and it didn’t affect anything prior to this, so…
Tilda: Yeah, but it’s fun because it really shows how ambiguous the ISU rules really are, and how many loopholes there are that you can take advantage of, basically.
Gina: Didn’t they agree that like, words spoken with cadence does actually count as music? (Tilda: Definitely.) So skaters could still skate to, like, slam poetry.
Red: I wanna see Nathan do that. I wanna see Nathan do that, because I could see him, like, writing his own rap or slam poetry and then skating to it.
Tilda: Maxim Kovtun could skate to his own hip hop. Make it happen!
Gina: That would be amazing.
In discussion: Proposal 266 (40:15)
Tilda: Okay, so the next proposal we’re going to discuss is that, well, originally they wanted to cut the choreo sequence from pairs skating, but the skaters and coaches protested so much that they ended up removing a spin instead. And thank god that they removed a spin instead of the choreo sequence.
Yogeeta: I- honestly, the choreo sequence is what helps set programs apart from each other, so if something had to go, it makes sense that it was a spin? But I don’t really understand why something had to be taken out of the pairs program to begin with (Tilda: Save time, basically) because we’re on this, like weird balance of technicality versus artistry and I think at least in pairs - they had like a pretty decent balance already there and taking out a spin or a choreo sequence is gonna slowly shift that balance more to the technical elements instead of the more artistic elements. So, once again the ISU proving that they don’t know what they’re doing when they’re saying that they wanna focus more on artistry and continue to take out artistic points from these programs.
Gina: You know what I really wish they would do, is level the choreographic sequence and make it worth a little bit more. (Various agreement)
Tilda: The reason that they don’t have a level is because they wanted the skaters to be able to be creative, because right now, for example, the step sequences, the different levels really constrain the skaters, and they wanted the choreo sequence to not be a constraint. But in the end you see skaters sort of half-assing it instead, so…
Red: Maybe put levels in but like, fewer.
Yogeeta: Yeah I don’t think you need to have any like, required elements for the choreo sequence but there should be like - “look at these moves that are this general difficulty level” you can then see, if they’re doing more difficult choreographic moves, it should worth more or something.
Gina: Or even just more of them. I joked earlier about how some people will just do a spread eagle, and you do have some skaters where it is actually a sequence of steps or movements that go with the music and some skaters that just kind of do whatever to check that box.
Red: I know exactly who you’re calling out. (laughs)
Tilda: Okay, let’s move on, again.
In discussion: Proposal 198 (42:40)
Tilda: The next proposal that passed was that they only allow the second half bonus for one jumping pass in the short program and three jumping passes in the free skate, where before all jumps in the second half got the ten percent bonus. And now it’s only those.
Red: I’m concerned about this, because I think it’s gonna further drive skaters to put their most difficult jumps at the very end, because before they could do like, four jumps in the last half, but now, if someone could do four jumps in the last half they’re gonna have to pick which three to do and they’re probably gonna pick the most difficult three so that way they can maximize the bonus that they get, and so I think it’s gonna be a little more dangerous because they’re gonna be attempting these more difficult jumps in the last half when the fatigue is at its highest.
Tilda: I just have to wonder: is there really such an issue with backloading that this had to be passed? Because it seems very directed at a select few skaters. Primarily, of course, Alina Zagitova.
Gina: Yeah, this is one of those, uh, proposals that went through where I really feel that this is an issue that could be resolved by scoring PCS correctly (Yogeeta: Yeah, I agree).
Tilda: And I think one unfortunate consequence is that we’re going to be seeing a lot more similar layouts, having, you know, two one in the short program and four three in the free skate so to really maximize what you get the bonus for, so no skater would want to do five jumping passes in the second half anymore, for example, because it’s just not rewarded.
Yogeeta: Honestly, one of my biggest issues with this is that I don’t think they needed to pass anything for the short program. If they wanted to limit something, it would have just been fine to limit the free skate, because there’s more jumps - there’s like, three skaters who backload their short programs currently, and it doesn’t really add up that much as it does in the free skate. So it would have made more sense to just limit it to the free skate and let people do what they want in the short program. The short program is meant to be more of that individual skate of the two and to let skaters try out and do things that they want, so I feel like that should have been left alone, and they could have only limited it in the free skate.
Tilda: Well I mean, if the issue is that the skates get unbalanced, then we don’t really notice that in the short program, the way you do in the free skate. But I just feel like it’s kind of a non-issue, because there are so few skaters who backload in the first place. And, you know, it is very difficult to backload, so I feel like if someone is able to do it, they should be rewarded for it, and at the same time if it impacts the performance - if it makes the performance less good - then that should be reflected in the PCS, not anything else.
Yogeeta: Unfortunately judges don’t know how to assign PCS correctly.
Tilda: So that’s a different issue. Related to this is the punishment of falling in a program, they have guidelines to how PCS should be affected by a fall and they think they shouldn’t be able to get above 9 in performance, interpretation, composition with a fall or serious error, although a serious error is never defined, so we don’t know what that means. Um, and a program with a fall or serious error shouldn’t get above a 9.5 in skating skills and transitions. And I just have to wonder if that is reasonable. Because what does transitions really have to do with a fall? Why punish something that has no relevance? You know that would be like automatically giving lower GOE to all jumps in case of one fall, since obviously that means that they’re not as good at jumps if they fell - like, it doesn’t make sense.
Gina: Also, what about the skaters that aren’t getting 9 or 9.5 in PCS anyway? Do they get no deduction? (Tilda: Yeah, that’s the question.)
Red: I feel like this was poorly defined.
Tilda: I think it’s very silly.
Gina: I think the problem with trying to come up with a flat deduction in PCS is because the components should be scored based on what’s presented on the ice in the competition, in accordance to the individual criteria of the five components, which they don’t do.
Red: We were already talking about how PCS judging has so many issues and then they’re just adding this in there - like, I feel like they’re trying to put a bandaid on something that doesn’t need a bandaid instead of a gaping wound.
Yogeeta: Yeah, I feel like so much of this would have been solved if they had actually passed the “split the judging panel” proposal.
Gina: Yeah, and also the mention by The Netherlands as well that PCS needs to be specifically graded by the individual criteria cause at the moment they don’t do that at all
Tilda: They don’t. I mean, basically this would all be solved if the ISU would make sure that their judges followed the rules, basically. Okay, let’s move on to something that is, you know, won’t be a bit relevant until four more years, which is the Olympic qualification.
In discussion: Proposal 211 (47:47)
Tilda: So, where countries have very uneven fields, such as one star and then no one else who’s really competitive, then the rules try to ensure that all other Olympic skaters are at least good enough to have gotten through the free skate at Worlds or have performed well at the Olympic qualification competition. So this could - this is meant to give small federations, who couldn’t qualify for the Olympics because of bigger feds getting multiple spots where they maybe don’t need them - so this was meant to help smaller federations and could mean that more countries get representation at the Olympics.
Yogeeta: Does this really affect any country except Spain? (chorus of agreement)
Gina: And Italy.
Tilda: Yeah Italy, I mean there were other countries as well but let’s not try to name names because it’s quite mean. But there were a few.
Red: I think that even - the way it was before even helped smaller federations because it gave them a chance to send another skater besides their like, star skater in those cases. So I mean, I think a lot of them didn’t take full advantage of it, but it helped them also, so it’s kind of a good thing, kind of a bad thing, kind of helps some people by hurting others and vice versa.
Tilda: Well, okay, so, how do we expect this to change things for the next season? Not a lot, yeah. I guess that’s the summary.
Red: I still think that any major changes, which - not all of these are major, but some of them are more major than others, like +/-5 GOE is pretty major - but I think any major change always has unforeseen side effects, and I think we’ll just have to wait and see what happens, whether or not these side effects end up being good or bad.
Gina: I’m mostly curious about whether or not the judges will follow the GOE the way it’s written, particularly in applying the bullet points, because we do have like top skaters who usually get quite high grade of execution who won’t meet the first three bullets that are mandatory to get higher GOE.
Tilda: Yeah, to get +4 and +5, now that they’re (the bullets) compulsory. We’ll see if they - if those skaters get capped at +3, then. That could be a serious disadvantage to them.
Gina: It would be really interesting.
Yogeeta: Yep. I think for me I just - we’ll see what happens, I don’t want to make any predictions as to whether or not something bad or something good will come of this until we actually see it happen. I hope that it doesn’t really affect the skaters too much, and that they’re happy with whatever they put out during the next season, but other than that, I don’t wanna say anything good or bad right now.
Red: I was gonna say there’s not a whole lot we can do, we’re not the ISU.
Gina: Ideally, I would hope that these rule changes would allow some skaters with higher quality elements but maybe not the highest scoring elements to kind of rise a little bit, but -
Tilda: That would be ideal. If it leads to quality over quantity, like you know, if it helps, then I think that would be a very very good consequence.
Gina: At the end of the day, the most balanced skater on the field is gonna be the one that gets the most benefit from any system, so hopefully it will encourage a lot more balance and a bit more quality, and less putting all your eggs in one basket.
Yogeeta: Yeah, I definitely think in the long run this will definitely encourage more balanced skaters, and more balance, yeah, more well-rounded skaters is the word I’m looking for? They’ll focus more on getting the jumps so they can do it well versus getting it done and moving onto the next one because they will get the - the new scale of value will give them more reason to do something well. So I think in the long run we’ll definitely get to see more well-rounded skates, and hopefully, with the new rules as well, people won’t be attacking jumps before they’re actually ready for it, so hopefully it’ll lead to less room for injury, but once again, we’ll have to see what happens.
Red: For those skaters in the senior division who have their eggs in one basket, I think it’ll encourage them to start working on the other side as well, which will also lead to them being more well rounded.
Tilda: We’ll hope so.
Tilda: So, thank you for today, the next episode will be hosted by Karly, Kite, and Lo, and they’ll be discussing the judging system from a historical perspective, from 6.0 to today.
Gina: If you want to get in touch with us, please feel free to contact us via Twitter @InTheLoPodcast or on Tumblr at inthelopodcast.tumblr.com.
Yogeeta: We’re on YouTube as well, just search In The Loop Podcast and you’ll find our episodes there too!
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