Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Informational resources

Today I found this:

The Biometrics of Skating and Rotating

I think it's a useful information resource because it's a physics page using figure skating to explain certain physics principles, such as projectile motion. It's not a skating page. It's written clearly with simple, helpful videos, and there are tips for what to focus on in the videos so as to track the physics principle in action.

It seems to me that the ISU is not just not brain trusts, but it's not a bunch of physics experts either. Which - fine.

Except, when assigning a level of difficulty to an ice dance element, it might help if you understand whether or not the "feature" that you say adds difficulty actually DOES add difficulty. Rather than, say, it turning out that the feature assists both rotational momentum and projectile motion (horizontal).

It also helps if you understand the physics of say, another element, well enough to recognize that doing it requires superior skating skills.

But the ISU doesn't need no stinking physics. I bet most physicists have never skated at a high level themselves.

I was also reading some old articles on Sanda Loosemore's old skating web page. An article on CoP:

Statistical analysis of CoP in action

is still relevant years on. The ISU designed a statistics-based scoring system without really understanding statistics, nor do the judges employ statistics rationally.

I, personally, think the 6.0 system was a little too Scott Hamilton-ey, but if you're going to assign values to elements you have to be good at making distinctions, and judges suck at it. At least in practice, they've shown themselves to suck.

But of course, figure skating pr is going to continue to turn the problem with the sport onto the fans. We don't get that it's so so hard. We don't feel like we know the figure skaters personally. It's a real sport!

P.S. - it's so strange that Debbi Wilkes failed to check a page like the jumping and rotational physics page before announcing how figure skating feats compared to the feats executed by "real' athletes.  Due respect, turns out even the tallest, strongest male singles skaters don't 'jump higher than basketball players".  They jump just about high enough to dunk a basket - if they're really, really high.


  1. Thank you for clarifying about the jumping higher than basketball players. I thought that sounded weird when I heard that in that documentary.

    It sounds like Debbi is no different than all these other uninformed journalists and commentators. Even people who have been figure skaters aren't understanding how to explain to the public what is happening on the ice. And yet through all these blog entries you've done a fantastic job explaining many aspects of ice-dance. How is it they can't do the basic research, like you have done? And all of us dumb lay-people are understanding very well, thank you very much.

    Another thing about these explanations you have given - I'm realizing I did intuitively know when something was good or bad skating in all the years I've been watching, I just didn't know how to do justice when putting it into words. But then that must also mean that the judges, who I certainly expect to have much more than just "intuition" about good skating, most certainly know what is good or bad skating. If the scores don't reflect that, it has to be a deliberate choice to reward one skater/team and not another, no matter the skating.

    What is really shocking is the way the reporting and commentating has agreed with the judging. Aren't they supposed to question things? Point out where they aren't judging according to the rulebook? And while doing so, also be explaining what the viewer is looking at and should be expecting to see? But no, like you say, they talk about personal styles, about theatrics, or music. Nothing at all about the skating - the blade on the ice and the execution of elements. When it comes to giving more detail regarding VM vs DW, they're simply agreeing with the judging. The times they kick up a fuss about the judging they don't really get it right either, as Salt Lake shows. The whole system is so corrupt. Top to bottom.

    1. Figure skating reporters are groupies or otherwise public relations arms of the sport - this happens to a degree with other sports, but in other sports the results and how the winner was determined is actually quantifiable while figure skating only pretends to be. In real sports, if an outcome is perceived as unfair it's immediately obvious where the controversy occurred - on what play and what official made the call, and the official's name.

      Those who write about figure skating have never read CoP. They get their perspective from whatever coach or skater or connection gives them access.

      It's the sort of sport where the lazy among the media can thrive, to say the least, because if they need to write something they can just babble. Lynn Rutherford can fawn over a 'real reporter' insisting that his paper cover figure skating (or allow him to cover it) because to her it legitimizes the sport. Yes, I imagine the sport isn't considered legit by a lot of sports pages but whose fault is that? Figure skating wants to be treated like a real sport while conducting itself like a secret society, while allowing politics to govern results, and while fostering secrecy. They don't want an informed public. But please - we're a real sport! Write about us!

      Writing about a sport from a position of unruffled ignorance as Steve Milton does still makes you an expert as long as you've been writing about it for 'two decades'. Hey Steve - all that time - ever crack open the rulebook? Ever look at instructional videos? Ever train your eye?

      A little ot but I said before the Moirs themselves, including Scott, have been guilty of double standards and lack of critical thinking. The Sale & Pelletier case is the main Exhibit. When Scott and Tessa won worlds in 2010, Scott wobbled a bit on a twizzle. He told the press this is why we train like we do - so even a wobbled twizzle gets a level 4 (it got level 3). So - Scott apparently believed it's okay dokey to win an event despite a wobble, and he also believes that if one's skating is of sufficient difficulty and overall quality a slight wobble isn't going to drop you too far down or justify you losing if you're good enough.

      Unless, of course, you're Russian.

      I've already said it - they're finding out what it means to be Russian now. Only instead of having the Russian Fed behind them, they've got Skate Canada, a vacant CEO position, a lame duck president itching to get in bed with the ISU, and they have Debbi Wilkes.

    2. The biometrics page said 'some' figure skaters can jump 30 inches in height. If they're five ten with a long reach they could dunk a basket if a basket was set up on the rink.

      A basketball stats page said that the average jump is 28-32 inches, with superstars blowing that average out of the water. The stars of basketball have historic averages over 40 inches.

      'Some' skaters jumping 30 inches doesn't translate to figure skaters jumping higher than most basketball players. It means 'some' skaters can jump as high as the jump average in basketball.

    3. Thanks so much for these links, great stuff!

      It's quite possible that Scott changed his mind since his comments in 2002, he was just a kid. Has he ever said anything more recent about it (other than the "we knew we wanted to wear Roots" crap)?

    4. He hasn't that I'm aware, although in recent times there are members of Moirville who still act like everyone agrees Sale & Pelletier were robbed in 2002. Which was far from the case.

      I'm certainly hoping that nobody in Moirville equates Tessa Scott's current predicament with Sale & Pelletier because their predicament is exactly, but exactly, like B&S - a pairs team which has far more in common with Tessa Scott than the pairs team of S&P in the areas of partnering, holds, speed and power, skating based choreographic complexity and technical difficulty, and continuous skating versus multiple pose sections, sbs skating, and skating out of hold.

      B&S had the Russian media and skaters from other countries defending them and calling out the bullshit. Skate Canada has never cared to talk about Virtue and Moir's actual skating, and they haven't started now. They talk about Patrick's skating. And Gilles & Poirier's fabulous personalities. While co-signing the results this worlds and never looking into why their own judges decided G&P and VM's scores should be so close in two different Canadians when the reality is VM skating half a free skate should accumulate enough points to bury G&P skating their fd full out. Two Canadians in a row. Two completely different programs from VM, two very similar programs from G&P.

      Maybe the Canadians are practicing with G&P - seeing if they can make them the new DW. Pull off the same thing.

    5. Well if Skate Canada is trying to make G/P the next D/W - I think they will fail. There are some decent upcoming Russian and Canadian teams that will be turning senior within the next 2 years. The window of opportunity for G/P is small and ironically I think that had Poirier had decided to stay with Crone - Scarborough and Skate Canada would be closer to actually getting a top 5 finish at Worlds...

    6. You know what - to expound upon the idea that Skate Canada hoped to use DW tactics to make winners of GP - that would explain a LOT. It would explain why Skate Canada doesn't do for Virtue Moir what it does for Patrick Chan. Slipchuk repeatedly lays out the case for Chan in CoP-centric language.

      The case for Virtue and Moir is beyond easy to spell out - for Skate Canada to make the case in CoP-centric language, skating skills language, bladework language, for Virtue and Moir. Don't even say 'D&W'. Just say "other teams" or "no other team can" and then hit the bullet points and connect it to the rules.

      But if they were hoping to get G&P scored with D&W glasses, they won't do that. They'll not only let VM swing, they'll pull the chair out, like they did 2 Canadians in a row.

      This is just what I read on line and can't remember where, but I ended up with the idea that Vanessa wanted to leave Scarborough and so Paul dumped her/chose Scarborough over her. After the Keifer Hubbell possibility went belly up, Vanessa couldn't go anywhere. She ended up like an ex wife having to be handmaiden to former husband and his new spouse.