2006 Four Continents Championships

Colorado Springs, CO


Ladies Report     Men's Report    Pairs Report    Dance Report

Follow these links to event reports.



Saturday, 28 January

Ladies final today and then the exhibition in the evening.

Katy Taylor placed second in the free skate to win the gold medal overall, while Yukari Nakano moved up winning the free skate to place second overall.  Her attempt at triple Axel was ruled under rotated.  Finishing third overall was Beatrisa Liang who fell to third in the free skate.

Overall, the U.S. won 6 of 12 medals here.  Of the remainder four were won by Canada and two by Japan.

Even after a day of thought it is hard to make sense of the marking of the Men's event.  Many wonder why Oda did not receive deductions for interruptions to the program (1 point for each ten seconds or part thereof, after the first 10 seconds).  While the ISU has agonized over the definition of a fall, there appears to be no definition in the rules or communications that describe what constitutes an interruption. Apparently not lengthy intervals drifting aimlessly around the ice.  Perhaps the definition of an interruption means not skating at all -- just standing there doing nothing, as sometimes happens also when a skater falls or has a problem.  It is also interesting to note, however, that the deduction for an interruption is taken by the Referee, who in this event was from Japan.  In any event, Oda's marks should have suffered in some more obvious way than what occurred.

Surprisingly, one judge gave Oda component marks in the 8s.  The most obvious suspect for this must be the Japanese judge.  Two judges gave a few marks in the 4s.  These marks seem about right given that perhaps 1/5 of the program was reduced to aimless wandering around the ice.  The rest of the judges gave marks in the 6s, which is hard to fathom.  Typically Oda has gotten component marks of around 7, or less, in the past, and yet by missing 1/5 of the program his component marks drop by less than 1/2 point each!   Another oddity in the scores, is that on the attempt at the first Axel, nine judges gave a GoE of -3, but three judges gave 0s!  Now it doesn't matter because the element gets no points; but still, it makes the judges look pretty silly.

Friday, 27 January

Michelle Kwan passed the test and now moves on to preparing for Olympics.  There is no point dwelling too long on this, since the details of her two skates were on the internet moments after she skated, and long before the official press conference announcing the results.  U.S. Figure Skating had limited attendance at the session, and required all involved to agree to not discuss the results until the afternoon press conference, but clearly that did not turn out to be the case.  From reports Kwan appears to be coming along well, but claims she is ready to challenge for the gold seem to enter the realm of spin.  She is still having trouble with double Axel and not doing triple loop.  At this point, at best she is viewed as having a chance for the bronze medal in Turin.

Belbin & Agosto won the Dance event, with Matthews & Zavozin second, and Virtue & Moir hold third.  About 400 were on hand for the event, with about half of those appearing to be associated with the competition.  In the evening about 1500 were on hand to see Nobunari Oda win the Men's event with Christopher Mabee second and Matthew Savoie third.  Oda took a nasty fall into the boards on an opening triple Axel.  For the first third of the program Oda left out several connecting sections of the program and one spin but surprisingly was marked only 4 points behind Savoie in PCs, who clearly had the best performance of the group.  Further, while some judges gave Oda Program Component marks in the fours, one judge had him in the eights!  Cold this perhaps have been the judge from Japan?  Our view is that Oda was grossly over marked in the Program Components, depriving Mabee of a victory he deserved.

We continued our little experiment from yesterday.  This time taking the skaters personal best scores and using them to predict the typical Program Component mark for the free dance and Men's free skate.  For the free dance the cheat factor is 15.  Take the personal best and divide by 15.  That will be the typical PC score from the panel.  For today's dance the prediction agreed with the scores given to within 0.37 on the average, with 85% of the predictions lying within the range of the marks actually given.  In the Men's free skate the cheat factor is 20.  For today's Men's event, the prediction agreed with the scores given to within 0.09 on the average, and again 85% of the predictions were within the range of the marks actually given.

So by applying the cheat factor to the personal best, a judge can predict the typical PC mark the panel will give to within 0.50.  If the skater has a clearly superior or dreadful performance compared to normal, the judge should go up or down by 1/2 to 1 point, but no more.  Following this approach the judge will be in the corridor all the time.

With this cheat, and by tracking the scores as they are announced, judges have a complete roadmap to play the numbers to the advantage or disadvantage of the skaters of their choice.  They know where their marks are relative to the whole panel for each skater and they know before a skater performs roughly what PC marks the skater is going to get.  By marking up or down 1/2 point in each PC from there, a judge can significantly help or hinder the skaters of their choice.

For the curious, the cheat factor for Ladies free skate is 16.  For ladies and pairs short program the cheat factor is 8.

Thursday, 26 January

Suppose they gave a skating competition and no one showed up?  Well, it already happens now, with regularity.  According to those covering the event here yesterday, attendance was minimal.  Today, attendance built during the day  to an unofficial count of about 1000.  By the end of the day, the audience had dwindled to 300 at best and most of those appeared to be people associated with the competition.

In dance Belbin & Agosto expanded their lead in the dance event, while Inoue & Baldwin won the Pairs event.   The team attempted throw triple Axel again, the outcome of which was one of the nastier falls of the day.  In the Ladies event, Beatrisa Liang won the short program.

After the conclusion of the first skater's performance, the power went out to the entire building.  According to a usually reliable source, this was due to the failure of a transformer in the vicinity of the arena.  Recovery of the scoring system seemed to go uneventfully, but 30 minutes was lost waiting for full power to be restored and for the lighting in the arena to recycle.  This extended the already long day to an 11:00 PM conclusion.  Far to long for most people in the audience, who started dribbling out of the arena after about 10:00 PM, particularly those with small children.   The other part of the equation remains the long delay between skaters, which even without the power failure results in about one hour of skating taking four hours to complete.  Could there be a more user unfriendly form of entertainment?  Is it no wonder drawing an audience to a skating competition is like pulling teeth?

During the Ladies SP I played the following game.  During the leisurely time between skaters I did a quick COP calculation in my head and came up with COP scores for the skaters.  I then kept track of my scores and the official scored.  What I found was my scores were within 2 points for the panel results about half the time, and within 10% most of the time.  On the average, for 23 skaters (I stated my game after the first few skaters) my average difference from the panel was only 0.16 points.

So why, then, do we need all this expensive equipment?

But more significantly, in doing this I recognized another way the judges can work the system to stay out of trouble.

The first way judges work the system is to keep notes of all the Program Components they give.  They then compare their scores to the scores announced in the arena after the performance.  This allows them to check if their marks are consistent with the whole panel.  It also allows them to make mid-course corrections and figure out how much they have to go up or down to help or hinder future skaters in the event.

The second way to work the scores is to use the personal best score announced prior to each performance to rely on reputation judging and for staying within the corridor.  The way this works is to take the personal best and divide by two to get a fairly good estimate of the total Program Component score for the skater.  Then calculate the individual PC scores, and mark up and down from there by maybe 1/2 point depending if the skater appears to have a particularly good or bad day.  This will put the judge in the corridor most of the time.  For example, if the personal best in the Ladies SP is 40 points then the total PC score should be about 20 and the individual PC marks should be around 5.0.  Then mark up or down 1/2-3/4 of a point from there.

Wednesday, 25 January

Late into town and catching up!

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