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The 2010 Grand Prix series is over, and I am sitting here with tears in my
eyes, wondering what is happening to our sport. I can't remember a season
as dreary as this one has been so far. I would define these Grand Prix
events as the "falls festival".
by Sonia Bianchetti
The year after the Olympic Games is often a disappointment for figure
skating, but this one seems to be particularly dull. No doubt there has
been the usual drop-off after the Olympic Games in Vancouver and injuries
also played a part in this, especially in ice dancing. No returning
Olympic Champions and only a few medal winners competed. Still some of the
top world skaters did compete!
In all the six Grand Prix events, not one singles skater has distinguished
himself or herself by putting together two strong programs. Patrick Chan
fell 8 times in two competitions. But Patrick was not the only top skater
to fall apart in either the short or free. Daisuke Takahashi, Brian
Joubert, Adam Rippon, Jeremy Abbott, Tomas Verner, Mao Asada, Miki Ando,
Carolina Kostner, Alissa Czisny, Mirai Nagasu, and Kiira Korpi, just to
name a few, fell down several times as well.
Simply appalling, if we consider that all these skaters could contend for
a medal either at the European or the World Championships.
The quality and the standard of the sport is going down the tubes,
especially because the new judging system rewards failure. Now it is "who
is the least bad". And I am afraid that it will only get worse. It looked
like the competition was for how many times a skater could fall in a
program, not how well a program was performed. The competition is no
longer among those who skate a flawless program, but among those who fall
more often and better!
In the old 6.0 system, there was a rule which said: "a jump which is taken
off or landed on two feet shall not be marked". This no longer exists.
Unless skating gets back to "what can I give" instead of "what can I get",
the magic will not return. The skaters should be performing for the
audience, not the judges! The skaters are being sickened by all these
rules and requirements limiting their freedom. There is no time for
self-expression and communication with an audience, and as long as the ISU
persists in ignoring this, it seems very unlikely that we will get our
audiences back in the near future.
Unfortunately, they keep making rules more and more forgiving of the
skaters falling down. And there are no firm requirements to set the
component scores, so a program can be full of errors and the component
marks can still be high, if the judges want to do that. This was more than
evident this year.
There must be a new rule somewhere in the ISU Regulations that states that
in Program Components, a jump landed directly on the buttock deserves more
credit! Otherwise, how can anyone explain marks ranging from 8 to 9
awarded by some judges in Program Components to Chan, for instance, at
Skate Canada and the Cup of Russia, with three falls respectively in the
Short Program and the Free Skating? Perhaps I am old-fashioned, but in my
opinion, three falls just destroy the beauty and the art in any program
and negatively affect the performance, the execution, the choreography as
well as the interpretation, no matter how great the skater potentially may
be. The same applies to Takahashi. What score will these skaters get the
day they stay upright? 15? How long will it take for these top skaters to
be marked appropriately? What a travesty.
The Program Components marks are only used to "place" the skaters, more or
less as it used to be with the Presentation marks in the old 6.0 system.
In my opinion, and not only my own, the system is much easier to
manipulate now than it was in the past. We all realize that the program
component scores as presently constructed do not work, while at the same
time they provide a perfect path for crooks to manipulate the results.
Besides having killed creativity and originality, which is undeniable, I
do not think that the present judging system is more "objective" or
analytical at all.
With that in mind, what can I say about this figure skating season? Just
forget it and concentrate our attention and hopes on some new very
promising young skaters such as Kanako Murakami of Japan, winner of Skate
America; Adelina Sotnikova of Russia, winner of the Junior Grand Prix in
Sheffield and Graz; Elizaveta Tuktamisheva of Russia, winner of the Junior
Grand Prix in Brasov and Dresden; and the unbelievable pair from China,
Wenjing Sui / Cong Ham, who placed second at the Cup of China and qualified
both for the Junior and Senior Grand Prix Final in Beijing next week. I
trust they will give us some joys and emotions in the years heading to