International Competitive Figure Skating – Issues and Events

Tracking ISU and U.S. Figure Skating Events, Issues and Governance

“Disturbance in the Force”

Confused by scores in the Men’s events? Maybe this is the conversation we should all be having:

Tweeted on 2/22/2016 by John Coughlin @JohnCoughlinUSA

So here’s the thing…

Quad jumps are not the enemy in this sport. Progress is necessary and good for skating. To say that what Hanyu, Jin and Chen have done this year technically is anything other than incredible would mean one was in denial. We are not going to be able to sell the sport as Can’t Miss Entertainment if we don’t push the envelope. Sports are part entertainment and skating is more subject to that rule than most. We need to forge ahead technically if we are going to survive… And when someone is executing elements with ease that some of their peers aren’t even attempting, they should be rewarded.

Having said that, the “Disturbance in the Force” has come from one issue with two subplots, in my opinion.  The “perfect” men’s score from a component side is 100. This would mean 10.00 awarded across the board for each of the 5 components skills and then multiplied by a factor of 2. That number was selected at a time when 100 points technically would also be considered near perfection. However, times have changed. Below are the number of skaters at recent notable events that have broken the previously revered 100 technical point mark:

Four Continents: (2)

European Championships: (1)

Grand Prix Final: (4)

          So there are seven instances of what previously would be considered technical perfection in the span of 3 months. First step, applaud the athletes that have raised the bar! To reestablish what amazing means is not something to take lightly. The next step is to balance the scale. Just days ago, we watched Patrick Chan join the 200+ point TSS in his free skate at 2016 Four Continents Championships. He did so with one of the best performances we have ever seen from him… mind you he has a Greatest Hits list that is comparable to… well… nobody? The case can be made and well argued that he is the greatest pure skater we have ever seen. Now consider that possibly THE best component skater of the IJS era, maybe of all time, skated the highest scored international free skate of his career and he was awarded 97.14 points which on a scale that maxes at 100.97.14% perfect.

Boyang Jin scored 110.66 points technically at Four Continents, something that is easily justifiable with the content in that program. However, he scored 80.72 in components or80.72% perfect. To give that number some context, Adam Rippon’s personal best score (from the 2015 Rostelecom Cup) came with a component score of 83.28… A casual skating fan could draw a conclusion from that numerical representation that Jin is only 2.56% behind Rippon in PCS. I will let you digest that.

Shouldn’t people that have reached past pre-conceived maximums of components (artistry for the old school) be rewarded beyond what was previously considered perfection in the same way the jump masters have? Who is to say that a Chan or whomever you deem to be close to perfection as a skater shouldn’t earn more than 100 points maximum for their best work. I submit to you that what some of these skaters are doing from a component standpoint is equally as ground breaking as 4 quads.

Doesn’t it stand to reason that if the new winning technical score is well over 100 points, that the scale of value of components should be raised to match, especially if the improvement warrants it? If we factored men’s components by 2.2, perfect component score would be 110. For the record, I am not saying this should happen for the 2016 World Championships. The men that are out-jumping everyone deserve the lead they have generated. But something has to happen to balance the scales so that the halves of what makes figure skating unique are equally valued.

Maybe if this happened, the jump fans wouldn’t see inflated and/or unwarranted +GOE on triple jumps.

Maybe the fans of the pure skating wouldn’t see PCS scores that seem tied to how many quads are landed.

If this doesn’t happen, we risk a panel in 100% agreement that a performance was PERFECT in components being unable to value it equally in comparison to the greatest technicians by a margin of over 10 points.

I am not defending one side or the other, nor am I endorsing any particular skater or style. I just think THIS is the conversation worth having.


A pair guy who is humbled to watch all of the skaters listed above!


One comment on ““Disturbance in the Force”

  1. visaliakid
    February 23, 2016

    John Coughlin is directly on-point with his above remarks. Definitely a conversation that needs discussion among officials in the figure skating community, International Skating Union members and the ISU Technical Committee in particular. – Peter Murray

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