Thursday, April 11, 2013

The ISU doesn't want us to know the difference

Taking my own advice, I'm plowing through the ISU Rulebook. It's written in formal contractual language except where it decides to use the format of contractual language but be very very vague and forget to define something, such as the meaning of "difficult."

Considering that "difficult" goes a great deal to how many points are allocated to an element or other move, one would think this would be defined.

And before defining it, one would think, at one of the general meetings, or seminars or whatnot, that they would come to an informed understanding of what "difficult" is and then define it according to actual laws of motion and physics as impacted by the laws of motion and physics of figure skating.

If they have an informed understanding of these things separately and how they're impacted when done together, this understanding could be applied and/or tested across a variety of skating moves.*

But if they did this, it's not in the rulebook. This "pretend we've set a standard, but actually, there's no there, there" is intentional.

This is not surprising from an organization that showed little concern that a 2010 podium contender was being pulled by her ponytail in the od and swung around by her bungee cords in the fd.

Meryl and Charlie - clinging and grasping, swinging and clutching, climbing, thunking down on the ice, getting hoisted instead of skating, and getting twisted out of alignment BECAUSE they are clinging, bending, clutching, hanging etc. - get the same base value and then level of difficulty in their lifts as Tessa and Scott.

But it's GOE where they blow out the lights. They execute crappy technique really well, so.

Which again - this is not a sport. They are supposed to be scoring level of difficulty but the ISU hasn't bothered to require that the move actually be difficult.

Ice dance is a farce.

Then again, if you decide that "clambering" up onto your partner, hands clutched around his neck, or headlocking him the entire time while he's got his arms hooked around the parts of your body YOU are supposed to be stablizing is difficult, then one should consider what is good GOE.

If your arms are akimbo and your legs bent, if it takes several beats before you can manage to hold a position on your own without hanging on, if you still clutch on after being set down, shouldn't that go to GOE?

NO. You know what goes to GOE? Doing a move with crap ass, cheated technique that mostly involves clutching, pasting and clinging to your partner, letting your limbs do whatever - but blowing over all of it by moving as quickly as you can. That's gonna get you tremendous GOE.

That last part. It doesn't matter how you do something, do it quickly.

Bad technique done quickly. That is the new championship form.

It outscores GOOD technique done fast. I didn't say bad technique done fastER. Just quickly.

Of course the reason you're able to move quickly is because your technique is crap and you ARE holding and clinging on, so it becomes a little circular, but again, who cares, says the ISU.

I bet if I literally strapped a child to my chest while he/she had her arms locked around my neck, I could spin pretty fast in space without worrying about anything going wrong. That must make me a gymnast.

So the ISU doesn't care about doing something well.

They don't define other terms either. After all, Meryl and Charlie have also met the criteria for "aethetically pleasing position" no matter what position they're in. And no matter what style they're skating and whether or not the lift matches the style of their program.

The reason they meet the criteria for "aesthetically pleasing position" is there is no criteria.

The ISU Rulebook looks and reads like a lease, except where it forgets to mention how much rent you should pay, and in what currency.

Referees, judges, technical callers, technical specialists, are all supposed to be experienced, informed, attend the meetings they're supposed to attend, but the one thing the ISU won't codify with specificity is the stuff they're judging.

Also.The ISU Rulebook has a lot of stuff about scheduling and time frames. After "x" but in any event no later than "y".

But nowhere in there does it say something like "Skaters must be informed of the legality or illegality of an element after "x" but no later than "y" and in any event at least "z" amount of time before the skaters are in the venue getting ready to perform their Worlds od, especially if the given element was considered legal for the Olympic games of the same year."

And there's nothing about who among the officialdom matrix (tech specialists, tech callers, referees, judges) has the responsibility of bringing such a legality question to the attention of  - what person? - such as maybe the ISU VP of Figure Skating or similar figure - and requiring that person make the official ruling which is then recorded in the event report and discussed at subsequent meetings and seminars, and reported to the public.

That didn't happen when Tessa and Scott heard about the Farrucus od lift though the grapevine?

And what if such an official should bring the "potential" illegality of one program to "x" person's attention but fail to notice a "potential" illegality in another?

In any event, it appears that when a figure skating team has competed all season, up to and including the Olympics, without anyone in the ISU speaking up about whether a move is legal, but then "someone" decides it is potentially illegal and tells the skaters of this "potential" the day they're to compete the program at Worlds, when the skaters are already in the venue, and then there's nothing more "officially" said about this, not a public report, not a public discussion about why the skaters were put in this position after having gone through the Olympics without an issue, then your sport is really the athletic equivalent of organized crime, and not a legitimate sport.

The ISU for 2012 - 2013 don't care. You'd think that after 2010 they'd be - oooh, we shouldn't let that happen. That's not very legitimate sports-y.

Nope. Don't care.

*I think they ought to maybe also define "speed". There's meaning to be parsed that actually has real bearing on how well something is done. Especially because it is well understood that the "eyeball test" is not a reliable means of gauging speed.

There's an analogy I've read several times. Consider a little dog and a big dog. The big dog is walking with long, calm, easy strides. The little dog is hustling along quick quick quick quick quick quick - practically at a trot. The television viewer sees the little dog's legs churning in close-up and may think the little dog is speedier than the big loping dog.

But the little dog can't even keep up with the big dog.

It's the difference between quick and fast.

Davis and White are quick. They ain't that fast. Or as fast as VM.

The ISU doesn't care.

Also, according to this:

football speed and movement - quick and fast

Sometimes the faster your muscles contract, the less real speed you're going to have. If you're really quick you might not be fast. I think this article is calling Meryl and Charlie's name.  They love love love to accelerate. But this isn't the same as speed or velocity.

P.S. Imagine if a program like dartfish were applied to first show what optimum technique was and then ran Meryl and Charlie's movements concurrently to see where what they did fell outside the parameters.


  1. I'm no gymnast or skater but it could not be more noticeable how weak DW's lifts are. They look labored and the skaters (Meryl and Charlie) both look sloppy and unsteady. How the hell are they called great technicians.

    1. But they do these lifts very very quickly. Always be moving. Then instead of extending your line, punch out a pose super hard. Then back to frenzy.

      I believe that the so-called experienced, competent, blah blah blah technical specialists and callers and all of those who attend seminars, conferences, etc. know what good technique looks like, at least. They may not have educated themselves as to why it's good technique, but they know what it looks like.

      But this isn't shared with us, in the public document, so we can verify that they've done their job properly after they've scored DW versus VM.

      It’s more like a P.J. Kwong thing. Judges and officials are experienced and well educated in figure skating - there's no bias.

      Well can we SEE?

      Not in the rulebook you can't. You can see it in a handbook or guide to other sports, and the commentators can compare what just happened in a replay to how something was supposed to go. But in figure skating?

      That's why more or less the scores on individual jumps have to be legit. The mechanics and the technique are available for anybody to check.

      Difficult position? Aesthetically pleasing? Style of the chosen dance? GOE? Did what was required for the level?

      That can be whatever the judges find convenient in a given competition.

      If it were in the rulebook, the public or media (if there were interest) could challenge the score. And then the tech caller or official can defend their score by explaining HOW it conformed to the rulebook standard.

      I don't think they want that.

      Since Meryl and Charlie have competed against Tessa and Scott, the ISU judges have one criteria for GOE for them - do it quickly. They may pretend they also want it done "clean" but what meaning does "clean" have when lousy technique is just another way to skate. Of course it's clean - you're doing it like shit. But because it's on purpose, it counts as "clean".

      It's so circular. If it's quick, it must be clean. If it's quick, it must be good technique. If everything they did was on purpose, it must be good technique.

      Where "good technique" is already so specific the ISU can't vague it up, which would be in in pattern dances and steps - the judges feel free to ignore the size of the pattern, the unison of the team, the depth of the edge, the run of the blade, and the power across the ice. As long as the literal edges are shown and the team seems energetic, we're good. VM and DW - the same TES with DW scoring just that much higher because of pcs.

      In steps, Meryl and Charlie throw in so much absolute garbage in between the steps I don't know the point of them even showing the steps, since they can't link them. I've finally gifed what seemed to me to be a real what the hell part of Charlie and Meryl's footwork in Notre Dame and finally literally took it frame-by-frame. It turns out it looks extra sloppy because they're linking the steps with of course hops, but they are hopping differently with bad alignment so it looks weird. They're not in unison or even complementary movement. And in this gif, there's also little running steps with a half-baked pull, and then a disorganized turn by both of them.

      All of the in between stuff is executed with Charlie’s characteristically flamboyant upper body gestures (arm and hair) and Meryl’s characteristic poverty of movement (straight up and down body line (no lean, no open chest, no lifted rib cage), short steps and unfinished arms and free leg. So it looks messed up.

      None of which matters as long as the steps themselves are legal. In between do whatever the fuck you like - just don't fall.

    2. They get points for difficult exits. I just wonder why being "transitioned" out of your lift like a sack of laundry with your arm hooked around your partner's neck and you still can't even support yourself on your edge once you're down counts as difficult. Seems like it's more difficult to watch than to do.