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Proposed Changes to International Judging Standards

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Per a link at FSUniverse forums (free registration required) and Ice Skating International, here is a list of a "group of international coaches'" proposed list of changes to figure skating's International Judging Standards (IJS).

I'm not sure where to find a list of the judges who participated, but Ice Skating International states the proposals were recently sent to the ISU singles and pairs committees. Here are the first proposals:

1. Abolish secret judging.

Secret judging has proven to be, perhaps, the greatest disappointment in the history of the ISU. The problem it was intended to solve is a serious one, in need of firm action, but secrecy has not accomplished it’s intended goal: to eliminate judging misconduct. It is perceived by the public, and many in the skating family, as a way to hide intrigues or deals among the judges and is detrimental to the credibility of the sport. It is unfair to the skaters and to the judges as well. Secret judging has proven not to be the cure needed, and has done harm instead.

2. Abolish the random draw of the judges.

Studies have proven that there is a wide a spread of marks and consequent placements among the judges, even among the top five competitors. Depending on which judges have been selected, the result could vary from first to fifth very easily. This is not fair to the skaters. It is like a coin toss.

The random draw is another flaw of the system, especially when it does not guarantee a fairer result but is only used to make secret judging even more secret!

The only way to compensate for this is by using the marks of all the judges on the panels, deleting the highest and the lowest. To promote transparency show the list of judges in the protocols.

I put these both here because I believe the integrity of the judging (in fact, any judging) system relies on transparency. Many people could probably see the current judging system and its complete anonymity as a way to cover-up any issues like the judging scandal of 2002. I would much rather see both the highest and lowest scores included than see a random selection of anonymous judges.

There are several other suggestions meant to increase the creativity and excitement of the programs. For example, there is a proposal to allow one sequence of the competitor's choice in both the short and the long program, and spiral sequences and spread eagles are offered as examples. I have a post coming up about the evolution of the spiral sequence so I am very interested in seeing that element return to the way it was before the new code of points (more effective and more attractive for the audience, in my opinion).

You should definitely check out the full list, but here is another suggestion that caused some contention on the forum:

11. Unify the base value of the Lutz and the Flip jumps into a single jump.

In view of the never ending controversy over the starting edge of the Lutz and the flip jumps it is proposed of getting rid of the take-off edge requirements for these jumps. This is not unprecedented in the world of figure skating. The "Toe Walley" used to be a "real" jump and now it is just the same as a toe-loop. The skater will be allowed to take off from the inside, the outside, or the flat of the blade. A competitor will be allowed to attempt this Flip/Lutz jump twice, following the current repetition rule for jumps.

As you might imagine, this suggestion has been quite the point of debate on the forum boards. I personally would not support it, and it would probably help if any figure skaters out there chimed in, but I have always been under the impression that the takeoff edge is what makes the lutz much more difficult than the flip. It is much more likely that skaters screw up the lutz takeoff than the flip one. I don't think skaters should be judged the same for doing both jumps, and I also see how this could be the death knell for the lutz (why bother trying the more difficult jump when it won't rate you any more points)?

I see the issue from a spectators' point of view; many casual spectators don't know the difference between a lutz and a flip and it's confusing for viewers when a competitor loses points on their lutzes and someone else wins a competition despite not skating as well overall. Still, I would hate to see the lutz and the flip lose their distinctions. I also hate the walley comparison, but probably because the walley was mostly phased out by the time I watched skating so I have no love for it. It seems fairly simple compared with most of the other jumps, so I cannot imagine it being compared to the flip/lutz. Although perhaps when it was given the same credit as the toe loop, people were arguing that the toe loop was so much harder than the walley. Who knows? I just think this is a pretty dramatic suggestion.