Monday, February 20, 2006

Slate on the New Figure Skating Scoring System

Slate gets into the mechanics of how at least the technical portion of the new skating score works, and how it inevitably leads to crappy performances.

A brief look at the chart reveals that a string of fancy moves done badly is worth a whole lot more than a string of simple moves done with grace and élan... [S]katers who know the system can treat it like a video game, stringing together fancy combos so they can rack up a high score... As long as the judges keep rewarding ugly failure, you'll never see a beautiful skate program.

This seems fairly easy to correct. Penalize more heavily for mistakes. More points for spins. Reforming the "program components" portion of the scoring might be more difficult (please stop rewarding meaningless hand-waving). Really, how can you stick a number on artistic impression?

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