Friday, February 15, 2013

I'll Be The Judge of That: US Nationals - Ladies Event

Following the results of 4CC, discussion has resumed regarding the US ladies, their placements at nationals and the prospects of the world team. I am one who believed there was a fair amount of propping as well as holding down at this year’s nationals. So, I decided to see what the scores would have been like if I were the one judging the ladies…

Was the "not impressed" expression justified?

I took the top 7 ladies, watched their programs and handed out my own scores. I judged all of the elements blindly meaning I didn’t check to see what jumps were called as < or e; I went by what I saw. I’ll give my final numbers and give explanations for how I came to them.

Note: Unlike actual judging where GOEs and component scores from each judge are averaged, I calculated these scores based on a single grade of execution score and a single component score. Therefore the scores may be a tad higher or lower than they would be if a range of scores were calculated instead of one.

Short Program 

Ashley maintains her lead, though I judged her 1.53 points less than her score of 67.57. I had no issue with her score in the SP and I think what she got was fair.

My score for Mirai was basically the same as the score she got and that was another SP score I was good with.  My scores for Agnes were not as generous as the US judges’ scores. I had her 1 point lower in PCS and about 2 points lower in TES. The judges seemed to be very +2 happy with Agnes which added quite a bit to her TES.

As for Christina and Courtney, I had them almost tied in terms of score. I was shocked to see that my scores for Courtney were higher than she got. Christina was lowballed. The difference in base value for these two was only 0.72. I thought Christina’s program was beautiful in terms of choreography and interpretation. Aside from the flub on the spin, the program was presented very well. Courtney’s choreography and interpretation were nowhere near the level of polish and maturity of Christina's. Courtney has good speed across the ice but she’s unrefined and a little sloppy. My PCS was about the same for Courtney (25.50 vs 25.65) but higher for Christina (30.20 vs 27.81). I feel that Christina was lowballed in her performance/execution, choreography and interpretation scores and that she should have scored higher; mid to high 7s for everything except transitions (7.25).

Yasmin's placement didn’t change but her score was higher. The TES came out to within a point or so (33.43 vs 32.14) but where I don’t think she got enough credit was in PCS. Go re-watch Yasmin’s SP. It was absolutely beautiful! She had gorgeous choreography that matched and highlighted the music and her interpretation was wonderful and captured the subtleties and nuances of the music. Additionally, I don’t understand the judges’ lower score for her skating skills. Yasmin’s edges are smooth and deep, she has beautiful flow across the ice and good speed as well.  I thought she deserved low 7s for everything except choreography (7.50).

Originally I thought Gracie was held up and that, given the mistakes she made, she should have scored lower. After doing my own scores I see that the judges were actually fair in terms of her scoring. I was kinda shocked.  The difference in the score is about a point (54.08 vs 55.10), so I take that to average out to about the same. My only issue is Gracie’s combo…that’s where things get questionable.

On the replay, it looks like Gracie lands the 3T half a turn short which means she should have received a downgrade instead of an under-rotation. Had she been downgraded on the combo her score at nationals would have been around 52.45 (53.50 for me). This takes into account the reduction in base value minus the 2.10 points she lost against the value of the combo in GOEs. However, I decided to give Gracie the benefit of the doubt so, with my score, she moves from 9th to 8th in the SP.

Free Skate

I was one who thought the judges were too excited by what Gracie did in the FS and over-scored her out of pure giddiness. I had Gracie about 2 points lower in TES. I gave +GOE to every element except for her 3L (good but not great, I gave it 0) and +1s for all of her spins except her final combo spin which I gave +2. Her step and spiral sequences also got +1s.

The biggest issue I had with Gracie’s score was her PCS. I gave Gracie credit for her strong skating skills (7.75), solid transitions (7.25) and the fact that she executed her elements well, though I thought the overall performance was very flat until the final minute (7.5). Overall the judges had her lower in transitions (7.14) but higher in skating skills and performance/execution (8.0 and 8.07).

Now where the judges and I differ greatly (and where many people are crying foul) is on choreography and interpretation. I don’t understand what program they were watching. The program itself is very generic and quite juniorish. She executed it well but there was no underlying sense of musical interpretation, artistry, or connection to the music, the audience, or what she was doing. Her face was completely blank; no kind of performance whatsoever until she was well through the majority of the program. It’s the kind of delivery we see from lower level skaters and that’s why I thought both her choreography and interpretation scores should have reflected that and gave them 6.75 and 6.50 respectively.

Technically, she was beyond brilliant; artistically, she was among the weakest in the entire field.

I had major issues with the score Ashley received at nationals. I’m thinking surely two falls can’t be worth 121.27 points! So of course my jaw hit the floor when I did the calculations and found that the scores I gave Ashley averaged out to nearly the exact same thing. I was honestly shocked. I just knew she should have scored somewhere in the 115 range, but this is a case where mistakes were made but the overall quality of the elements saved the score. The two jump errors cost her, but her step sequence and spins earned high levels with decent GOEs (level 3 on the layback, everything else was level 4) and her choreographic sequence helped as well. My PCS for Ashley were right on par with the judges’ marks except for performance/execution. The judges’ scores averaged out to 8.04 but I thought with the mistakes and other issues it should have been lower. I gave her 7.25.

I’m completely surprised but I have to say the score Ashley got is actually fair.

For Christina, the TES came out to roughly the same thing (60.07 vs 59.30). The main difference, like with most of these, are the PCS. I thought Christina deserved higher than what she got. The judges gave her low 7s for all of her PCS (7.11-7.39 was her range). I thought she deserved mostly mid 7s for her performance. I gave her 7.75 for performance/execution because her program was clean and controlled. I gave her transitions a 7.25 and her skating skills, choreography and interpretation were all 7.50. 

Her FS is good. It’s a lovely program that is well-paced, has changes in music and mood, and is complete. Is it the best tango? No. But I thought in the field of programs presented within this group, Christina’s was second best behind Ashley’s in terms of a nicely rounded program. Her interpretation is far from perfect but she did put forth an effort. She didn’t skate like a zombie or just go through the motions. She gave it as much attitude and fire as her quiet and subtle on-ice personality allowed and I appreciated that. If Gracie's junior level choreography and zero expression FS was worth 7.64 and 7.50 for choreography and interpretation then Christina deserved much higher than the 7.39 and 7.29 she received.

I think 120.07 is very reasonable and justifiable given the skating we saw that night.

My scores for Yasmin and Courtney were right in line with what they received. I didn’t have any issues with the way they were scored in the FS. Both were solid and delivered their jumps well but Yasmin’s higher base value (56.97 vs 55.80) and the overall quality of her program are why she ended up with the edge over Courtney in both TES and PCS. Both girls did very well and appeared to have been scored fairly.

I found that Mirai’s score, which I felt was too low at the time, turned out to be right on the money. There’s only a 1.93 point difference between my 111.29 and the judges’ 109.36. The judges had her much higher in PCS than I did (60.56 vs 57.60) but my TES and overall score are higher for Mirai because of two things. First, I didn’t agree with the downgrade she got on her final 3L. It looked more than a quarter turn short but not a full half turn. Since I gave Gracie the benefit of the doubt regarding the downgrade I felt she deserved for her 3F-3T in the SP, I gave Mirai the benefit of the doubt for this 3L. FYI, the judges didn’t do that... So I recalculated her base value with an under-rotated loop instead of a downgraded loop.

The second thing I did was add 1 point back to her overall score. She was deducted 1 point for a fall…but that was not a fall; her knee never touched the ice. Both hands went down but she stayed up so, technically, that was not a fall and she shouldn’t have lost that point. The added base value and the point from the not-fall is how I came to Mirai’s score which is only 1.93 higher than what she got.

As for Agnes, I didn’t think her FS was as great as the judges thought it was. I had her lower in both TES and PCS. I felt like Agnes performed her program better than Mirai did in the FS which is why her overall PCS is higher than Mirai’s. I agreed on most of her PCS. I gave her the same mark in skating skills as the judges (7.75) and similar marks in transitions (my score of 7.25 vs 7.43) and interpretation (7.50 vs 7.64). However, her performance/execution and choreography were too high for me. The judges gave her 7.68 for performance/execution; I gave her 7.25 because with the fall and doubled jump, she did not execute her program as well as she could have. The judges gave her 7.71 for choreography but I felt it was worth 7.5 at best.

It’s important to note that in my scoring Agnes has the lowest TES of the top 7. At nationals Mirai had the lowest base value in the FS. By adding the points Mirai lost on the loop, her base value becomes higher than Agnes’ (51.39 vs 49.44). The difference in base value is why I had Mirai outscore Agnes in the FS by 0.3 points.

Final Results

While I'm sure some (or probably many) will disagree, when I judged it this is what I came up with.

I wasn’t sure if Ashley actually deserved the title but, after re-watching the performances and scoring them for myself, I do agree with her winning. I agreed before but I wasn’t 100% sure. I am now. Also the separation between gold and silver is larger than it was at nationals. Even with the mistakes, the scores point to Ashley as the clear winner.

Gracie earns the silver but due to my less enthusiastic scoring in her FS, you can see she was not nearly as close to gold as she was at nationals. I found that the race for silver could have been a lot closer than the judges made it. It’s funny because people scoff at the notion that Christina may have deserved silver. I didn’t think it was possible either. I was shocked to see that in my scoring Christina missed out on silver by only 0.42 points. The fact is she put out two solid programs in both segments plus the overall strength of her programs was superior to Gracie’s. I do feel like Christina got hosed the most at nationals this year. I thought she was held down in the SP under the pretense of a “costly” mistake on a spin when in all actuality the spin didn’t account for much, especially when everything else she did in the competition was clean. Given her performances here and the consistency she’s had this season, for me, Christina did have a case for silver or at least bronze.

So Christina moves from that damned 5th spot up into 3rd place. As for 4th place, Yasmin leapfrogs from 6th to 4th. I don’t think the quality of artistry and presentation were appreciated enough for Yasmin, especially in the SP. The increase in PCS for Yasmin in both programs was enough to put her ahead of Courtney, whose overall score ended up being nearly the exact same (177.43 vs 177.92).

Mirai moves up a spot from 7th to 6th with a slightly higher score (175.82 vs 173.75). As much as I thought she should have been closer to the podium the fact is she didn’t do enough overall.

Obviously, the person who shuffles the most in my results is Agnes, who drops from 3rd all the way down to 7th. I was actually a little shocked once I added everything up. But when I look at it Agnes received a lot from GOEs in the SP which padded her score despite her mistake. I gave Agnes +GOE but not as generously as the judges did. I thought she got higher PCS than she deserved which happens at nationals for her…and only at nationals. Overall it was Agnes’ mistakes (falls in both programs) and much lower base value in the FS that cost her.

This was a very interesting exercise. I’ll have to do this again the next time I’m confused about scoring because it has helped me to understand what went on a little better. So what do you think? Who got it right: me or the judges? Or are my scores way off base?

1 comment:

  1. Interesting. What score would you have given Caroline's programs?