Team USA Skating: Sorting through the judging puzzle

9:32 AM, Feb 11, 2014   |    comments
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KUSA - No clue how the figure skater who fell got a higher score than the one who didn't? We took a look at Olympic Judging on 9NEWS 8 a.m.

Phil Tahmindjis was our guide. He is a former ice speed skater from Australia, who competed in three consecutive Winter Olympics, starting in 1988 in Calgary, Canada. 

The old judging system - where 6.0 was a perfect score - was phased out beginning in 2003. Skaters now accumulate points, with no score being "perfect."

The cumulative scoring system was implemented to prevent judges from fixing a competition as well as to make scoring less subjective.

Skaters receive a base value for every single move they execute in a program, based on its difficulty. They get this basic score just for attempting the move, whether they flub it or not. That's why a person can fall and still score higher than a person who skated cleanly.

The judges give "grades of execution," which are the number of points a judge adds to or subtracts from each move's base value, depending on how well it was performed. Skaters can gain or lose up to 3 points from the base value of the move.

A fall carries a mandatory deduction of one point.

There are five elements the skaters are also judged on. They are choreography, skating skills, transition, execution, and interpretation. Judges award marks on a scale of one-fourth of a point to 10 points, in increments of quarter-points. Ice dancers are also judged on timing their moves to the music.

During the routine, a technical specialist confirms the elements that have been performed, which are added up for the total base value. The judges then give their grades of execution for the technical elements and scores for the program components.

A computer randomly selects the scores awarded by seven out of nine judges. Of those scores, the lowest and highest are thrown out and the remaining five are totaled for a final score. The marks of all nine judges are displayed, so the judges don't know whether or not their marks contributed to the score.

Winning scores range from 200 to 250 for men, and about 200 for women, pairs, and ice dancing.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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