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Judging Editorial

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Via Kwantifiable, here is an editorial on from Ice Skating International about the recent decision by the International Skating Union to reduce the number of judges at competitions from a minimum of ten and max of 12 to a minimum of 8 and max of 9, for budgetary reasons.

Here is an excerpt:

Coming just three months after the 2008 Congress, where it was neither discussed nor revealed to ISU members, the Council invoked Article 17 of the ISU Constitution which gives the Council the power to do anything to the scoring system it wants to without seeking the approval of the ISU members. According to our sources, many in the skating community are shocked and offended that a matter of such importance was not presented to the Congress.

Even before reducing the number of judges, the mathematics of IJS was a deal with the devil, since even in the best of economic circumstances the ISU could never afford the number of judges needed to produce reliable results of the highest integrity expected for a World or Olympic Championship. The former panel size was an unholy compromise between the need for results of the highest reliability and integrity and the cost of having enough judges to accomplish that -- with the decision made that reliability and integrity would be sacrificed to economics.

Now, to save money in the face of declining revenue, the ISU is reducing the number of officials by three at each of four championships this season. That corresponds to 12 man-weeks of travel expenses in the budget for each competition. At a generous estimated cost of $3,000 per man week, it would appear the ISU will save about $36,000 per competition, or less.

The author argues that $36,000 is a "drop in the bucket," and that more money might be saved by decreasing the number of parties, downgrading on hotels, etc. The article also states that the importance of one mark is now increased by 40 percent. It's a great explainer on the change.

It also strikes me that this decision was made very discreetly; the rule change was not submitted to the ISU Congress (it did not have to be). I am sure this is just one of what will be many criticisms of the new change; I have not seen any editorials in support of the judge reduction yet but I will keep you updated.