Fall Deduction

Another unecessary IJS complexity that should Die Die Die

Taken in it's whole, it seems the two key design principles behind IJS are 'never do in one rule what you can do in many,' and 'never punish a skaters once for an error when you can punish them several times.'

The fall deduction is a good example of this.

In the before time, while IJS was being conjured and the SoV for jumps was being developed, the coven recognized that if a skater fell on a high value triple or quad, even with a GoE of -3, the skater received too many points.  This was an important observation -- an important symptom that GoEs based on fixed values instead of proportional values does not work for high value elements.  The solution adopted to correct this was to introduce a deduction for a fall. 

By introducing this additional unnecessary layer of complexity, however, the original problem with the GoEs went uncorrected, and new problems were added by introducing the deduction.  So instead of having one problem to be fixed, now there are two.

In IJS, every fall results in a deduction of 1 point.  For falls in attempting/executing an element, this penalty is applied on top of the reduction in element points due to the reduced GoE for the element.  While falls should adversely affect the skater's score, the current approach to handling this execution error is convoluted, unfair and an anomaly in all of sports.

With the existing SoV and fall deduction, triple and quad jump elements with falls still earn the skater too many points.  And worse, for 2Lz and below with a GoE of -3 (as most judges give on a fall) the skaters receive negative points if they fall in the attempt.

Why should the skaters lose points when they attempt to score in a sporting contest?  No other sport does this.  It is a particularly punitive penalty in lower U.S. Figure Skating divisions where the majority of the jumps are double jumps, and in all divisions when triple jumps are downgraded to doubles and the skater falls.

Moreover, this problem is not limited to jumps. A fall at the end of a Level 1 step sequence, with a GoE of -3 and a deduction ends up worth -0.2 points. A fall exiting a Level 1 upright spin with a GoE of -3 and a deduction ends up with -0.8 points, and even a fall on a Level 3 upright spin with a GoE of -3 and a deduction loses the skater 0.1 points. In fact there are 17 different spin codes that give negative points for a GoE of -3 and a deduction, and there are 13 more that give 0 points for a GoE of -3 and a deduction.

In Pairs, teams can end up with negative points for not only jumps, side-by-side spins and sequences, but also for many lifts, twists, throws, pair spins, and death spirals.  If both skaters fall in some elements, the team can lose up to 1.9 points!  In Dance there are also elements where a fall by one skater results in negative points, and many more if both skaters fall.

In addition, the punishment for falls is more severe when falls disrupt the flow of a program causing the Performance/Execution mark to be reduced.  Even when a fall does not disrupt the flow of the program, some judges will reduce the P/E mark and the skater gets killed yet again.  So much for the fiction that the punitive 6.0 system was going to be replaced with a kinder gentler system.

Throughout all sports when athletes attempt to score, either they earn points or they don't.  You succeed you get points, you fail you get nothing.  Why does skating punish the athletes when they attempt to score and fail?  In Synchro they have a rule that if deductions would result in negative points for an element, it's value is set to 0.  In Singles, Pairs and Dance if an athlete falls we crucify them.  Of all the mean-spirited rules in skating, the treatment of falls is the most mean-spirited -- and so unnecessary.

Getting back to the SoV for jumps, the simplest solution to the underlying problem in the GoEs is that the GoE values should be proportionally based.  If the most negative GoE gave the skater 25% of the base value, for example, a fall on a jump would leave the skater with at best a few points.  One could go further and say a fall on a jump was "no value" and the skater would earn no points.  In either case the consequences for a fall would be consistent for all jumps and the skater would never lose points in attempting to score.  Under the current rules, pity the poor skater in the Intermediate division or below who falls on several jumps.  I have seen some performances where the skater would have earned more total points if they had not attempted any jumps at all!

When a skater falls upon entering an element, before anything is accomplished, the element should be worth zero points, end of the story.  If the fall occurs near the completion of the element, or even after completing something of only partial substance, the element should receive some reduced value, but not a negative value by heaping on a deduction.

One way to do this would be to expand the GoE scale to +/- 4 (something that needs to be done anyway for other reasons) so that an element with a fall could receive a GoE reduction of -4, and would end up with less value than for a less serious error with a GoE of -3.  In any event, the worst case for an element with a fall should be no points and no added deduction.   If the fall disrupts the flow of the program the P/E can also be reduced.  Together that's enough of a penalty.  Finally, if a skater falls outside an element the error needs to be accounted for in some way, the simplest of which is also to let the judges reduce the P/E to the extent they feel appropriate.

If common sense were brought to the SoV, the deduction for a fall becomes an unnecessary complexity that should be eliminated.

What would other sports be like if they were scored like skating?

Attempt a home run but you fly out?  Your team loses a run.

Bases loaded and you hit into a triple play?  Your team loses a run.

Player makes an error fielding, his team loses a run.

Pitcher hits a batter, the pitcher's team loses a run.

Fumble the football and the other team recovers?  You lose a touchdown.

The ball bounces off the rim too many times before going through the basket?  Not pretty, you only get one point instead of two.

You get to sent only five players to the plate each inning, even in your team has no outs.  Use them wisely.

Your hockey team gets only 10 shots on goal in a period.  Use them wisely.

You fall while fighting over the puck?  You lose a goal.

Not emotionally and intellectually involved in the game?  You lose a point.

Let your mind run free.

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Copyright 2009 by George S. Rossano