When people say figure skating is subjective, they mean that figure skating is inherently controversial, and there is no objectified means to evaluate figure skating.
Nothing can be farther from the truth.
Figure skating’s subjectivity does not imply that figure skating judging is everybody’s business.
Figure skating once was a rigorous sport of microscopic precision, and still is, if you choose to believe it. Only figure skating today is not the kind of “figure” forty years ago. It has been replaced by “aesthetic figure”.
Figure skating is no longer a game in which skaters draw geometric circles on ice; instead skaters are to make aesthetic movements while skating. And in judging this art-like performance, inevitably, the judges’ expertise and subjective opinion have become more and more important.
However, when the so called subjectivity is quantified and its cumulative statistics form judging standard which produces observable objectivity, the initial subjectivity no longer remains subjective.
It becomes the rules.
When it is further reinforced with consistency, it engenders predictability that lays the foundation of what the judging stands for: accuracy, fairness, integrity and reliability.
People often spin a wrong idea that figure skating is divided into two sectors – TES (Total Elements Scores) and PCS (Program Components Scores) – and TES represents objectivity while PCS subjectivity. But figure skating is not a compound of two conflicting sectors, but a unified aesthetic embodiment in which various technical elements are incorporated. The division is just for the sake of judging convenience.
Both TES and PCS are based on quantifiable value system that cumulatively objectifies each and every elements through GOE(Grade of Executions) points. All elements are by definition and on principle measured to be ratified, and based on that ratification, each execution shall be assessed for its merits by the judges, subjectively if you will.
What centers on the recent Sochi scandal is its systematic device conspired by the judges to wipe out the standard of figure skating that has been established in the past through compromising and subverting the values.
In this outrageous fraud, the ISU uses the so called subjectivity as a pretext – People, it is allurement of subjectivity that makes the whole event arguable and controversial; it’s not deliberately designed but just a coincidence that fails to satisfy the mass.
A nice try, but all indexes point to the contrary. I wont’ bother to counter those piles of nonsense submitted that don’t amount to the hill of beans.
Just take a look at the interview of Ottavio Cinquanta , the president of the ISU. When asked about the judges with dubious qualification, he replied that he must hire competent judge rather than novice.
Competent? Please elaborate, Mr. Cinquanta.
Judges only mark from -3 to +3 which covers the “marginal” variances to the basic values. Judges’ scores are free to divert from his or her peers. What exactly is his concern about naiveté?
Even ordinary people without skating knowledge can mark -3 to +3 following his sensory cognition without bothering technical expertise. An uneducated with conscience will make a far better judge than one with his own devious agenda.
What is obvious in Sochi scandal is that the judges glaringly are depleted in comparative analysis, if we take Cinquanta for his word.
If people without skating knowledge had been sitting in the panel in Sochi, would it have been as disastrous as what we had to witness in Sochi?
Let us imagine we have nine of amateur judges with minimum knowledge of figure skating but absolute honesty and integrity.
If they judged Sochi Olympics, what could possibly go wrong? All they have to do is to make only 6 numeric choices? Is it possible that any inexperience judge somehow manages to find a way to give -10 instead of -3 in GOE?
There seems no special competence required to be the ISU judges, except unpolluted conscience. Especially in the wake of Sochi Scandal, Cinquanta’s theory of “competent judge” sounds an idiotic farce.
The ISU judges’ competence, first and foremost, ought to lie in his or her ability to keep his judgment from something other than figure skating itself, not in experience or elitism as judge. But amidst this scandal stand the ISU judges , the gatekeepers of pantheon who supposedly protect the sport from corruption and maintain the utmost integrity.
The scores in the past always carry its comparative relevance – though not absolute weight of value – as the quantified asset of performance, but the Sochi judging not only defies its values system but also subvert indisputable relevance thereof.
What competence or deficiency Cinquanta is anxious about when he felt compelled to hire the sport criminal? Did he think pressing the buttons of elementary numeric digit -3 to +3 requires so much expertise? Did he mean the tainted judge was faster in punching the button than novice?
It’s a time for Cinquanta to clarify what competence he meant to stick to by picking the unqualified judge.
The conclusion from Cinquanta’s testimony is simple: today’s COP system, in reality, qualifies anyone for figure skating judge regardless of education or expertise – that is, you, just a figure fan, can be a judge, perhaps a better judge, if given basic instructions.
All you need is conscience and sensitivity for fairness and justice, and sensibility to respond to comparative analysis, which obviously lack in the ISU judges.
Can Adelina Sotnikova’s win be “subjectively” justified?
This question broadens the parameter of the so called “subjectivity”. A judge can deviate from his or her peers’ marks as long as they are explainable. This is subjectivity, legitimate subjectivity. The legitimate subjectivity is firmly based on its comparative analysis, however.
For example, as a judge you define a certain way of execution as flaw such as a skater’s takeoff is habitually disruptive. You can penalize it by awarding negative GOE, but in that case, you are obliged to compensate other skaters without such flaw.
The so called legitimate subjectivity only can be validated on the principle of equality. But if you penalize one skater, but overlook others with same flaws, you are not biased; you judge wrong. If that pattern is persistent, it constitutes negligence, which can disqualify you as a judge. If done knowingly, it is called a fraud.
Individual judge may differ from another in evaluating specificity but as long as he or she adheres to unbiased judging consistency and maintains his or her sensibility in comparative analysis, there will be no result that fails to convince unbiased spectators of justice in the outcome with a proper set of explanations.
Sochi Scandal has nothing to do with “legitimate subjectivity”.
On the contrary, the panel of judges allowed themselves to be accessory to fraud, camouflaged by a series of score inflation throughout season which culminates in Sochi judging fraud. This is a conspiratorial device institutionalized by the ISU, which constitutes moratorium of figure skating judging system itself.
It is lie, fraud and corruption.