Scoring changes afoot because of Hanyu

You knew it was inevitable: International Skating Union technical committees are all abuzz with what to do with the scoring system after Yuzuru Hanyu’s record-breaking exploits from his past two competitions.

In an R-Sport interview in Russia, Alexander Lakernik, a Russian who is chairman of the technical committee for everything but ice dancing, said that changes need to be made to the following:

  • Change the levels of grades of execution, maybe go from -5 to +5 or mark it on a scale of 1 to 10;
  • Simplify the rules. Hallelujah.

He knows that there is an inherent difficulty in setting up a system of GOE. If the difficulty levels are set too high, nobody can reach it. If it’s too easy, then everybody can. The judging system has often been changed to reflect  what happens on the ice. If everybody is mastering a skill, then they need to seek more ways to separate the wheat from the chafe.

It’s very clear that athletes are struggling with so many rules that they cannot remember in the heat of competition when things go wrong. Witness what Hanyu did in the short program at Skate Canada: he missed scores on two elements. And Chan did exactly the same thing at the Grand Prix Final in Barcelona, having been penalized for doing the utmost to rectify an earlier mistake. So because of the rules, we are not necessarily seeing the Olympic credo – faster, higher, stronger – in action.

Lakernik says the ISU technical committee will initiate changes to the rules for figure skating at the 2018 Congress. There is a Congress this summer, but he says no radical changes will be implemented because it’s just too close to the 2018 Olympics in South Korea.

He’d like to improve the GOE scale and to tinker with the assessment of components, because he admits that it is still a subjective exercise  and judges must be encouraged to vary the marks and not feel the necessity of judging all five components at the same levels. Not every skater delivers the components equally. Again, hallelujah, Mr. Lakernik. You get it.




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