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Monday, March 3, 2014

Sochi Figure Skating Scandal: A (Mostly) Objective and (Somewhat) Mathematical Analysis of Why Kim Yuna Should Have Won the Gold Medal




• This guest post is contributed by Thomas Lai, my blog reader.

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Thomas Lai's (Mostly) Objective and (Somewhat) Mathematical Analysis of 

Why Kim Yuna Should Have Won the Gold Medal


There are many arguments floating around on the Internet supporting why South Korean Kim Yuna should have gotten the gold medal for women figure skating at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.  People claim that she’s underscored while the gold medalist, Russian Adelina Sotnikova, received inflated scores.  Some of the evidence presented so far is very solid and easily quantifiable, while other is less so.  Below, I have broken down the evidence into three categories (indisputable, strong, and circumstantial), and illustrate as mathematically as possible how each piece of evidence impacts or would have impacted the final results.

Indisputable Evidence


1. Free Skate: Wrong Edge on Adelina’s Triple Lutz + Triple Toe loop Combination

In figure skating, which edge of the skate you take off on to start a jump matters a great deal.  This is because the difficulty is different for different edges, and difficulty is what determines the Base Value (BV) of a jump.  Think of the Base Value as the score a skater gets if he/she does an average job on the jump.  If the execution is better than average, he/she gets a higher score, and vice versa.

In Adelina’s free skate, she took off on the wrong edge for the Triple Lutz in her Triple Lutz + Triple Toe loop combination.  A Lutz requires taking off on the outer edge of the skate, not the inner.  This is indisputable because everyone can see this in a slow-motion video of the jump.  You can find a link to an animated GIFF of the jump in question below: 




Normally, wrong edge is called out by an “e” sign on the score sheet.  However, in this case, the “e” sign is missing:



For each technical element such as a triple jump, each Judge gives a Grade of Execution (GOE) in the range of -3 to +3 to represent how well the element is performed.  An average execution gives you a 0 GOE.  A mistake gives you a negative GOE.  Good execution gives you a positive GOE, while a perfectly executed element gives you the maximum bonus, a +3 GOE.

According to the Guidelines for Marking Grade of Execution from the International Skating Union (ISU) Communication 1790 dated April 26, 2013, a wrong edge gets a GOE between -1 to -3:



As you can see, even if the “e” sign is missing, a judge can still give a -1 GOE, which is exactly what one (and only one) judge did, as seen in the score sheet above.  If the wrong edge were properly denoted by an “e” sign, the GOE should have been either -1 or -2.  Let’s assume a minimum deduction of -1 here.  What would that have done to the score?


Element

Base Value
GOE
Judges









3Lz + 3T

10.10
-0.70

-1
-1
-1
-1
-1
-1
-1
-1
-1


Note that a GOE of -1 given by the Judges doesn’t translate into a -1.00 in the actual score.  That’s because each element has a Scale of Value (SOV).  The SOV for a Triple Lutz is 0.7, hence a -1 GOE translates into -0.70 in the actual score.

Already, you can see that a simple missing “e” results in a difference of 1.70 in the score, from +1.00 GOE to -0.70 GOE.


2. Free Skate: Under-Rotation on Adelina’s Triple Lutz + Triple Toe loop Combination

What matters more than the take-off edge is the number of rotations in a jump. Needless to say, more rotations are more difficult, and hence a jump with more rotations has a higher Base Value.  If a jump doesn’t meet the required number of rotations, it’s considered under-rotated.  The automatic deduction for under-rotation depends on how severely under-rotated a jump is.  If it’s under-rotated by less than a full rotation, the GOE is either -1 or -2.  If it’s under-rotated by one or more full rotations, the GOE is -3. 

Adelina’s Triple Toe loop in her Triple Lutz + Triple Toe loop Combination was under-rotated.  Not only did she start to rotate before leaving the ground, but she also landed on her foot before it had completed the last rotation.  This is clearly visible in the following animated GIFF (same as the one above).  The jump in question is the second one in the combination:




Normally, under-rotation is called out by an “<” sign on the score sheet.  However, in this case, the “<” sign is again missing:



According to the Guidelines for Marking GOE published by the ISU, under-rotation results in a GOE of either -1 or -2:



What makes under-rotation worse than wrong edge is that under-rotation also adjusts the Base Value of the element.  A fully rotated Triple Toe loop has a Base Value of 4.1, while an under-rotated Triple Toe loop has a Base Value of 2.9, a reduction of 1.2.

If the under-rotation had been correctly denoted, what would have been the impact to the score?  Again, assuming a minimum deduction of -1 for the under-rotation and a minimum deduction of -1 for the wrong edge:

Element

Base Value
GOE
Judges









3Lz + 3T

8.90
-1.40

-2
-2
-2
-2
-2
-2
-2
-2
-2


The Base Value is lowered due to the lower Base Value of the under-rotated Triple Toe loop, and the GOE is scaled according to the SOV.  As you can see, had the errors been correctly denoted, Adelina’s Triple Lutz + Triple Toe loop combination would have gotten a score of 7.5 instead of 11.10.  That’s a discrepancy of 3.6, just for this one combination.


3. Free Skate: Stepping Out of the Triple Flip + Double Toe loop + Double Loop Combination

When a skater lands a jump and has to step out of the landing in order to steady himself/herself, it carries a GOE of either -2 or -3.  This was exactly what Adelina did in her Triple Flip + Double Toe loop + Double Loop combination.  This is clearly visible in the animated GIFF below:



Instead of getting -2’s and -3’s, Adelina got three -2’s and six -1’s from the nine judges:


This is against ISU’s own guidelines:


Had the judges followed the proper guidelines, what would Adelina’s score have been for this element?  Let’s again assume a minimum deduction of -2:

Element

Base Value
GOE
Judges









3F + 2T + 2Lo

9.24
-1.40

-2
-2
-2
-2
-2
-2
-2
-2
-2


The GOE should have been -1.40 instead of -0.90.  The discrepancy is 0.50.

Unfortunately, this is where the indisputable AND quantifiable evidence ends.  So had these mistakes been appropriately accounted for, would Kim Yuna have been the gold medalist?  Let’s take a look at the table below:



Short Program



Free Skate



Grand

BV
GOE
PCS
Total
BV
GOE
PCS
Total
Total
Kim Yuna
31.43
7.60
35.89
74.92
57.49
12.20
74.50
144.19
219.11
Adelina Sotnikova
30.43
8.66
35.55
74.64
61.43
14.11
74.41
149.95
224.59
Adelina Sotnikova (wrong edge, under-rotation, stepping out accounted for appropriately)
30.43
8.66
35.55
74.64
60.23
11.21
74.41
145.85
220.49


No, Kim Yuna would still have lost to Adelina, but only by a margin of 1.38 instead of 5.48.  No matter whom you support, I hope that you can see from the illustration above that the judging was very poor at the 2014 Winter Olympics.  Also, we have only looked at two elements above.  If the judging was so poorly done for these two elements, would it not be reasonable to suspect the quality of judging for rest of the competition?  We still have more evidence to consider below.  It’s just that the rest of the evidence isn’t as objective or quantifiable, unfortunately.



4. The Technical Controller is also the Vice President of the Russian Skating Federation

If you are looking for the definition of “potential conflict of interest”, look no further than the above sentence.  However, before we go on, an explanation is in order.  Who is the Technical Controller at a figure skating competition?  In ISU’s own words (LINK):

Technical Panel

The Technical Panel is composed of the Technical Controller, the Technical Specialist and the Assistant Technical Specialist, each one from different ISU Members (countries). A Data Operator assists them for recording purposes. An instantaneous slow-motion video replay system operated by a Replay Operator supports the Technical Panel in the identification of the performed elements.

The Technical Specialist, assisted by the Assistant Technical Specialist, identifies and calls the performed elements and the specific Levels of Difficulty of certain performed elements (e.g. spins, footwork,). He/She identifies illegal or additional elements, falls and adds if applicable, innovative elements.
The Technical Controller authorizes or corrects all calls, supervises the Data Operator and can propose corrections, if necessary.
In case of disagreement, the majority among the three Officials prevails.


To explain what the Technical Panel does in plain English, it’s the body which identifies each element performed by a skater and any mistakes committed by him/her.  Remember the wrong edge and the missing “e” sign?  Or the under-rotation and the missing “<” sign?  The Technical Panel is the body responsible for these missing signs.  And the Vice President of the Russian Skating Federation, being the Technical Controller, is the person who authorizes or corrects these mistakes on the score sheet! 

One may say that the Technical Controller is just one person on the three-people Technical Panel.  As stated above, “in case of disagreement, the majority among the three Officials prevails”.  However, the indisputable evidence here is that there is an undeniable potential conflict of interest on the Technical Panel.  Why does it matter?  Because it creates a reasonable doubt that bias might have been present on the Technical Panel, and as illustrated above, the Technical Panel has a significant impact on the scores in a competition. 

Strong Evidence


5. In the four major competitions leading up to the Winter Olympics, Adelina made the same wrong edge mistake on her Triple Lutz in all four free skates

Every time Adelina attempted the Triple Lutz in the three months leading up to the 2014 Winter Olympics, she made the same wrong edge mistake.  Here is the relevant portion of the score sheets for these competitions:











One may say this doesn’t mean anything since Adelina could have fixed the mistake.  I’m no figure skating expert, so I don’t know how easy or difficult it is to fix such a mistake in such a short period of time, but that’s not the point here.  We have already demonstrated that she DID have the wrong edge mistake.  The point here is that the Technical Panel for all four of these competitions were able to correctly identify the wrong edge mistake.  So the Technical Panel at the 2014 Winter Olympics, the highest level figure skating competition in the world, either:

1. Unintentionally missed the mistake, or
2. Intentionally omitted it.



6. In the four major competitions leading up to the 2014 Winter Olympics, Adelina’s Layback Spin and Step Sequence in her free skate were never identified as Level 4, but they were at the 2014 Winter Olympics

First, let’s take a look at the score sheets:




So, in summary:

Layback Spin Level
Step Sequence Level
Nov 2013
Cup of China 2013
3
2
Nov 2013
Trophee Eric Bompard 2013
3
3
Dec 2013
Grand Prix Final 2013 - 2014
3
3
Jan 2014
European Championships 2014
3
3
Feb 2014
Winter Olympics
4
4


Given the fact that the Technical Panel at the 2014 Winter Olympics either missed the wrong edge mistake unintentionally or omitted it intentionally, would it be unreasonable to question whether Adelina really deserved a Level 4 designation in both her Layback Spin and Step Sequence at the Winter Olympics?

How much impact do these elements have?  The level of the Layback Spin and Step Sequence is directly related to the Base Value of the element.  In addition, a Level 3 Step Sequence has a SOV of 0.5, whereas a Level 4 Step Sequence has a SOV of 0.7.  In other words, a +1 GOE for a Level 3 Step Sequence results in +0.5 in actual score, whereas a +1 GOE for a Level 4 Step Sequence results in +0.7 in actual score.  In light of this, how would Adelina’s score have been impacted if her Layback Spin and Step Sequence were Level 3, not 4?  Assuming all the GOE’s stay the same:



Element

Base Value
GOE
Judges









LSp3

2.40
1.07

2
2
2
3
2
2
3
2
2
StSq3

3.30
1.21

2
3
1
2
3
3
3
2
2


So adding the Base Value and the GOE together, these elements at Level 3 would have received 7.98.  At the 2014 Winter Olympics, Adelina received 9.37 for these elements since they were identified by the Technical Panel to be Level 4.  The discrepancy is 1.39.  In addition to the indisputable mistakes mentioned earlier, would this have been the difference between silver and gold for Kim Yuna?



Short Program



Free Skate



Grand

BV
GOE
PCS
Total
BV
GOE
PCS
Total
Total
Kim Yuna
31.43
7.60
35.89
74.92
57.49
12.20
74.50
144.19
219.11
Adelina Sotnikova
30.43
8.66
35.55
74.64
61.43
14.11
74.41
149.95
224.59
Adelina Sotnikova (wrong edge, under-rotation, stepping out accounted for appropriately)
30.43
8.66
35.55
74.64
60.23
11.21
74.41
145.85
220.49
Adelina Sotnikova (wrong edge, under-rotation, stepping out accounted for appropriately; Level 3 Layback Spin and Step Sequence)
30.43
8.66
35.55
74.64
59.33
10.72
74.41
144.46
219.10


Yes, it would have.  Kim Yuna would have won the gold medal by a margin of 0.01.
So far we have mostly focused on the Technical Panel, whose job is as objective as you can get in judging figure skating.  The only problem with the Judges we have looked at so far are the GOE’s for stepping out of a landing.  However, even though the Judges’ job is more subjective, there are clear objective guidelines for scoring mistakes.  Now let’s take a look at the subjective side of figure skating judging.


7. Short Program: Both Yuna’s and Adeline’s short programs have two outliers in their Program Component Scores (PCS)


Because judging is anonymous, we don’t know which judge from which country gave a particular score at the 2014 Winter Olympics.  However, we can see whether the scores from all the judges fall within a reasonable range.  First, as always, let’s take a look at the score sheets:

Kim Yuna’s Short Program:



Notice how Judge #1 and Judge #7 gave significantly lower scores than the other Judges.
Adelina Sotnikova’s Short Program:




Notice how Judge #1 and Judge #7 gave significantly higher scores than the other Judges.
Perhaps it’s easier to spot the outliners if we plot the average PCS given by each Judge for the five components:


Kim Yuna









Skating Skills
8.25
9.00
9.50
9.25
9.00
9.00
8.50
9.25
9.25
Transitions / Linking Footwork / Movement
8.00
9.00
9.25
8.75
9.00
8.25
7.75
8.50
8.75
Performance / Execution
8.00
9.50
9.75
9.00
9.25
9.25
8.50
9.25
9.00
Choreography / Composition
7.75
9.25
9.75
9.00
9.00
8.50
8.00
9.25
9.25
Interpretation
8.50
9.75
9.75
9.25
9.25
9.50
8.25
9.00
9.25
Average
8.10
9.30
9.60
9.05
9.10
8.90
8.20
9.05
9.10

Adelina Sotnikova









Skating Skills
9.50
8.50
9.00
8.75
8.75
8.75
9.25
8.00
8.75
Transitions / Linking Footwork / Movement
9.25
8.25
8.50
8.50
8.50
8.50
9.00
7.50
8.75
Performance / Execution
9.75
8.50
9.25
9.25
9.00
9.50
9.75
8.50
8.50
Choreography / Composition
9.50
8.75
9.25
8.75
8.75
9.00
9.25
8.25
8.50
Interpretation
9.75
8.75
9.00
9.00
9.00
9.00
9.50
8.50
9.00
Average
9.55
8.55
9.00
8.85
8.80
8.95
9.35
8.15
8.70





In addition to the two outliners mentioned above, notice that there is a Judge who gave Adelina a much lower PCS than the others.  This is what the trimmed average is designed to protect against.  The lowest and the highest score for each component are discarded, and the average of the remaining seven scores, i.e. the trimmed average, becomes the final score for that component.  What the trimmed average doesn’t protect against is when you have more than one Judge simultaneously inflating the score of one skater and deflating the score of another.  The trimmed average reduces the impact of this, but it can’t negate the impact. 

Of course, no one knows what the score would have been had Judge #1 and Judge #7 scored in a way more aligned with the rest of the Judges.  However, we could illustrate the impact of these outliner scores by looking at:

1. The average of the remaining seven Judges excluding Judge #1 and Judge #7
2. The trimmed average of the remaining seven Judges excluding Judge #1 and Judge #7



Kim Yuna
Factor







Avg
Trimmed Average
Skating Skills
0.80
9.00
9.50
9.25
9.00
9.00
9.25
9.25
9.18
9.15
Transitions / Linking Footwork / Movement
0.80
9.00
9.25
8.75
9.00
8.25
8.50
8.75
8.79
8.80
Performance / Execution
0.80
9.50
9.75
9.00
9.25
9.25
9.25
9.00
9.29
9.25
Choreography / Composition
0.80
9.25
9.75
9.00
9.00
8.50
9.25
9.25
9.14
9.15
Interpretation
0.80
9.75
9.75
9.25
9.25
9.50
9.00
9.25
9.39
9.40









36.63
36.60

Adelina Sotnikova
Factor







Avg
Trimmed
Average
Skating Skills
0.80
8.50
9.00
8.75
8.75
8.75
8.00
8.75
8.64
8.70
Transitions / Linking Footwork / Movement
0.80
8.25
8.50
8.50
8.50
8.50
7.50
8.75
8.36
8.45
Performance / Execution
0.80
8.50
9.25
9.25
9.00
9.50
8.50
8.50
8.93
8.90
Choreography / Composition
0.80
8.75
9.25
8.75
8.75
9.00
8.25
8.50
8.75
8.75
Interpretation
0.80
8.75
9.00
9.00
9.00
9.00
8.50
9.00
8.89
8.95









34.86
35.00


Notice how for Yuna, her scores don’t change much between the average and the trimmed average.  For Adelina, her trimmed average is appreciably higher than her average because the low outliner score seen in the graph above is mitigated by the trimmed average.  Now the actual comparison chart:



Kim Yuna
Adelina Sotnikova
Difference
Discrepancy
Actual
35.89
35.54
0.35

Average
36.63
34.86
1.77
1.77 – 0.35 = 1.42
Trimmed Average
36.60
35.00
1.60
1.60 – 0.35 = 1.25


So it’s reasonable to say that the discrepancy could have been somewhere in the 1.20 to 1.50 range.  Would this have been the difference between gold and silver for Kim Yuna?  Using only the indisputable evidence listed above, i.e. assuming Adelina’s Layback Spin and Step Sequence are worthy of the Level 4 designation, we get the following tables:


Copy of the Original Table


Short Program



Free Skate



Grand

BV
GOE
PCS
Total
BV
GOE
PCS
Total
Total
Kim Yuna
31.43
7.60
35.89
74.92
57.49
12.20
74.50
144.19
219.11
Adelina Sotnikova
30.43
8.66
35.55
74.64
61.43
14.11
74.41
149.95
224.59
Adelina Sotnikova (wrong edge, under-rotation, stepping out accounted for appropriately)
30.43
8.66
35.55
74.64
60.23
11.21
74.41
145.85
220.49

Average Ignoring the Scores from Judge #1 and #7


Short Program



Free Skate



Grand

BV
GOE
PCS
Total
BV
GOE
PCS
Total
Total
Kim Yuna
31.43
7.60
36.63
75.66
57.49
12.20
74.50
144.19
219.85
Adelina Sotnikova
30.43
8.66
34.86
73.95
61.43
14.11
74.41
149.95
223.90
Adelina Sotnikova (wrong edge, under-rotation, stepping out accounted for appropriately)
30.43
8.66
34.86
73.95
60.23
11.21
74.41
145.85
219.80

Trimmed Average Ignoring the Scores from Judge #1 and #7


Short Program



Free Skate



Grand
Trimmed Avg Ignoring Judge #1 & #7
BV
GOE
PCS
Total
BV
GOE
PCS
Total
Total
Kim Yuna
31.43
7.60
36.60
75.63
57.49
12.20
74.50
144.19
219.82
Adelina Sotnikova
30.43
8.66
35.00
74.09
61.43
14.11
74.41
149.95
224.04
Adelina Sotnikova (wrong edge, under-rotation, stepping out accounted for appropriately)
30.43
8.66
35.00
74.09
60.23
11.21
74.41
145.85
219.94


So, if we look at the average, Yuna would have beaten Adelina by 0.05.  If we look at the trimmed average, Yuna would still have lost by 0.12. 

If nothing else, I hope this illustration shows you that using a trimmed average is NOT the Holy Grail against dubious scoring.


8. Free Skate: The PCS for Adelina’s free skate have a high degree of variation

If we repeat the above exercise for the PCS of the free skate, what do we see?

Kim Yuna









Skating Skills
9.00
8.50
9.50
9.00
9.50
9.25
9.25
9.00
9.75
Transitions / Linking Footwork / Movement
8.75
7.75
9.50
8.75
9.25
9.00
9.00
8.75
9.25
Performance / Execution
9.25
8.75
9.75
9.25
9.25
10.00
9.50
9.50
9.50
Choreography / Composition
9.50
8.25
10.00
9.00
9.50
9.50
9.25
9.25
9.75
Interpretation
9.25
8.75
10.00
9.25
9.50
10.00
9.75
9.50
9.75
Average
9.15
8.40
9.75
9.05
9.40
9.55
9.35
9.20
9.60

Adelina Sotnikova









Skating Skills
9.50
9.50
9.25
8.75
9.50
9.00
9.50
8.75
8.50
Transitions / Linking Footwork / Movement
9.25
9.25
8.75
8.50
9.25
9.00
9.50
8.75
8.50
Performance / Execution
9.75
9.50
9.25
9.00
9.75
9.50
9.75
9.00
9.25
Choreography / Composition
9.75
9.75
9.25
8.75
9.50
9.75
9.75
9.00
9.50
Interpretation
9.75
9.75
9.00
9.25
9.75
9.25
9.75
8.75
9.25
Average
9.60
9.55
9.10
8.85
9.55
9.30
9.65
8.85
9.00





Yuna’s chart doesn’t tell us much, except that one Judge really, really didn’t like her performance.  On the other hand, Adelina’s chart is really interesting.  You can see that there are basically two groups of scores, with a group of four significantly higher than another group of four.  It’s as if the Judges were watching two different performances.

I won’t attempt to illustrate the impact here since there are too many variables.  One could argue that the four scores at the top were too high, or that the four scores at the bottom were too low.  We’ll never know for sure unless more official judges from ISU rate the performances.  What we do know is that there is a much higher degree of variation in Adelina’s free skate score, but why?  We may never know for sure without further evidence, but unfortunately, all remaining evidence is circumstantial.  Nevertheless, it’s still worth a look.

Circumstantial Evidence


9. Adelina’s PCS has grown tremendously in the three months leading up to the 2014 Winter Olympics

Earlier on we have looked at bits and pieces of Adelina’s performances in the four major competitions leading up to the 2014 Winter Olympics.  These competitions occurred in the span of three months, from Nov 2013 to Jan 2014.  Let’s take a look now at her actual scores:



Short
Free
Grand
BV
GOE
PCS
Total
BV
GOE
PCS
Total
Total
Nov-13
Cup of China
31.83
4.03
30.17
66.03
47.32
3.04
60.31
108.67
174.70
Nov-13
Trophee Eric Bompard
26.71
2.53
30.77
60.01
55.75
9.40
64.65
129.80
189.81
Dec-13
Grand Prix Final
30.43
7.10
30.85
68.38
48.85
-2.40
60.47
104.92
173.30
Jan-14
European Championships
29.33
7.82
33.58
70.73
54.86
7.17
69.60
131.63
202.36
Feb-14
Winter Olympics
30.43
8.66
35.55
74.64
61.43
14.11
74.41
149.95
224.59


If we chart her PCS growth in the last three months, what do we see?






One may ask what the point of this illustration is.  After all, couldn’t she have improved so much legitimately in three months?  Again, I’m no skating expert, but keep in mind that the PCS has nothing to do with what jumps you perform, how you perform those jumps, etc.  Instead, it’s basically an artistic measure of the program, and it is composed of five components:
  • Skating Skills
  • Transitions / Linking Footwork / Movement
  • Performance / Execution
  • Choreography / Composition
  • Interpretation
As you can see, some components such as choreography are related to the program itself, not the skater.  In any case, you can see a side-by-side comparison of Adelina’s performance at the European Championship in Jan 2014 and her performance at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Feb 2014 by following the link below:




Can you see any discernable differences in artistic value between her performances?
Another way to put Adelina’s drastic PCS growth in perspective is by comparing her growth to that of other skaters.  Below is a screenshot from a video onyoutube:





Again, one may ask what this proves.  After all, even if 99.9% of all skaters don’t exhibit growth like this, it still doesn’t mean Adelina couldn’t have done so legitimately.  This is a point I have to concede, and this is why I consider this piece of evidence circumstantial.

10. Adelina’s GOE has also grown tremendously in the three months leading up to the 2014 Winter Olympics



So far we have looked at the Base Value of the technical elements, which is determined by the Technical Panel.  We have also looked at the Program Component Score given by the Judges.  What we haven’t looked at in details is the Grade of Execution of each of the technical elements.  To recap, for each technical element such as a triple jump, each Judge gives a GOE in the range of -3 to +3 to represent how well the element is performed.  An average execution gives you a 0 GOE.  A mistake gives you a negative GOE.  Good execution gives you a positive GOE, while a perfectly executed element gives you the maximum, a +3 GOE.

How many perfect elements are there in Adelina’s recent performances?  First, let’s take a look at the score sheet for her free skate at the 2014 Winter Olympics:


Notice that Judge #2 and Judge #7 were both extremely happy with Adelina’s execution.  Judge #7 in particular thought that Adelina was perfect in almost every single one of her elements.  Now let’s look at how many +3 GOE’s Adelina received in her recent competitions:

Short
Free
Total
11/01/2013
Cup of China
3
1
4
11/25/2013
Trophee Eric Bompard
4
5
9
12/05/2013
Grand Prix Final
3
6
9
01/13/2014
European Championships
6
20
26
02/07/2014
Winter Olympics
14
33
47


I won’t even bother with a chart this time, since the differences are very obvious.
Again, I have to concede that this doesn’t prove anything.  You could say that Adelina’s growth is legitimate, as evident by her performance at the European Championships.  On the other hand, you could say that she received a generous number of +3 GOE’s even at the European Championships.  I’ll just leave you with one question:
  1. If Adelina is really such a skater of once-in-a-century caliber, why did Russia not pick her for either event in the team competition at the 2014 Winter Olympics?

11. Questionable choice in the selection of competition officials

This table shows the nationality of all the competition officials for the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Technical Panel
Short Program
Free Skate
Technical Controller
Alexander Lakernik
Russia
Alexander Lakernik
Russia
Technical Specialist
Vanessa Gusmeroli
France
Vanessa Gusmeroli
France
Assistant Technical Specialist
Olga Baranova
Finland
Olga Baranova
Finland
Judges
Judge
Robert Rosenbluth
USA
Yury Balkov
Ukraine
Judge
Karen Howard
Canada
Karen Howard
Canada
Judge
Franco Benini
Italy
Franco Benini
Italy
Judge
Birgit Foell
Germany
Birgit Foell
Germany
Judge
Diana Stevens
UK
Zanna Kulik
Estonia
Judge
Nobuhiko Yoshioka
Japan
Nobuhiko Yoshioka
Japan
Judge
Katarina Henriksson
Sweden
Alla Shekhovtseva
Russia
Judge
Adriana Domanska
Slovakia
Adriana Domanska
Slovakia
Judge
Sung-Hee Koh
South Korea
Helene Cucuphat
France


Operators
Data Operator
David Santee
USA
David Santee
USA
Replay Operator
Alexander Kuznetsov
Russia
Alexander Kuznetsov
Russia


Judges highlighted in yellow only participated in the short program.  Judges highlighted in orange only participated in the free skate.  Officials highlighted in red are from Russia.
We already know that Alexander Lakernik, the Technical Controller, is the Vice President of the Russian Skating Federation.  There is an undeniable potential for conflict of interest here.  We also know how two working together on the Technical Panel could have an enormous influence on the results of the competition. 

Two of the four incoming judges for the free skate are also questionable.  First, there is the Russian judge Alla Shekhovtseva, the wife of Valentin Piseev.  Valentin Piseev is the ex-President of the Russian Skating Federation and its current General Director.  Again, the potential for a conflict of interest to occur is undeniable.  The second judge is the Ukrainian judge Yury Balkov, who was suspended for trying to fix the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics.  He was suspended for only a year after the 1998 incident.  We have already demonstrated that just two Judges working together could also have a non-trivial impact on the PCS.

Without knowing how each judge scored, there is no way to prove one way or another whether the questionable appointments of these Judges had a biased impact on the results.  However, unlike the previous two points, this one can be easily proven or disproven, if only ISU would release how the Judges scored.

Conclusion


So what have we demonstrated?

1. Had the mistakes committed by Adelina in her free skate been properly accounted for, her margin of victory over Yuna would have been 1.38 instead of 5.48.

2. A margin of 1.38 could easily have been manipulated by as few as two people. For example:

  •  Two people on the Technical Panel could have misidentified, intentionally or unintentionally, the level of difficulty of certain elements, mistakes committed, etc.
  •  Two Judges simultaneously inflating one skater’s score while deflating the score of another could have an impact in the range of 1.20 to 1.50 on the PCS.
3. Adelina has experienced explosive, unparalleled growth between Nov 2013 and Feb 2014, in both her artistic mastery of her routine AND her ability to execute perfect technical elements including jumps.

4. The selection of the competition officials is questionable with undeniable potential for conflict of interest.

If you have read this far, I want to thank you for your time.  Also, I hope that even if you still think Adelina deserves the gold medal, you can appreciate why many people around the world find the results suspicious, to say the least.  Despite the title of this document, my goal isn’t to convince anyone that Kim Yuna should have won.  Instead, my goal is to demonstrate the peculiarities surrounding the women figure skating competition at the 2014 Winter Olympics, and how these peculiarities represent fundamental flaws of the ISU Judging System.  For the integrity and future of figure skating, my hope is that ISU will:

1. Conduct an open and honest review of the women figure skating competition of the 2014 Winter Olympics, and

2. Change the fundamentally flawed ISU Judging System to minimize judging bias.


Make no mistake, the future of figure skating is already dire.  Similar to how MMA has taken over boxing in terms of popularity, a new generation of winter sport enthusiasts are flocking over to more modern winter sports such as snowboarding and skiing.  Why do you think we keep seeing more and more snowboarding and skiing events added to the Winter Olympics?  Does ISU really want to compete by generating controversy and forever staying in the shadow of the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics? 


Call To Action


If you would like to actively participate in an effort to push ISU to take action on the items listed above, I urge you to:

1. Sign this petition on change.org:
2. Read this blog post and follow the suggestions to put pressure on ISU:

3. Join this Facebook group to connect with other people with the same goals:



10 comments:

  1. Bravo, You've done it!!! This is the masterpiece!! You put in a lot of logics and effort into this! One thing though, you are missing one other factor other than Russia. You notice a Japanese judge got to be in both short program and free program? Coincidence? I don't think so. Japan has a lot of influence on ISU with their massive sponsorships, (http://www.worlds2013.ca/event/sponsors.html - 7 out of 13 sponsors are from Japan - see the "apologize and give Yuna..." petition for details) and you should understand the unseen hatred for Yuna because Yuna ended up beating Mao in most of major senior competitions they were both in. - They are rivals, so to speak. Japan invested so much money into Mao for her potential, and thought she was going to be the best skater ever - maybe even win gold at the Olympics. But to everyone's dismay, Yuna rose to her potentials in Vancouver Olympics. So, Japanese judge is factored into the equation. I tell you, if Mao didn't screw up her short program, that silver might have been Mao's. If you look at World Championships 2008, Mao ended up winning gold, even when she completely missed her Triple Axel (didn't execute the jump at all - cost her 8-9 points) and skated around doing no elements for 30 seconds, which should have resulted in deductions in PCS, but no deductions. Whereas Yuna was graded so harshly, even when she put out a stable and well executed performance.
    Anyway, just something for you to dig up and think about. Thanks so much for your effort!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you!! This is a very informative post! I would like to share this to other community. Would it be okay?

    ReplyDelete
  3. shawn, suit yourself! Please let the world know!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you so much for your posting. It is so logical and easy to understand. I really appreciate it.

    ReplyDelete
  5. (Copied form another post)

    Anonymous said...
    Hi,there.The guide line of GOE you refer to is too old one.That had applied from beginning to 2008-09 season.
    In 2010 Olympic season,the new guide line which is more adequate for Kim was applied.
    After Kim got historically big amount of GOE scores, and becoming Queen in Vancouver Olympic, the regulation of GOE scoring rate had been changed lower immediately.
    The true problem is this.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I have responded on another post, but here’s my reply:

    The GOE grading guidelines are from ISU Communication 1790 dated April 26, 2013. I am pretty sure it’s for the 2013 – 2014 season. It would be great if someone could confirm. Here’s the link.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I thought you'd be interested in knowing that the ISU has reopened their contact page. Spread the word.

    http://www.isu.org/en/contact-us

    ReplyDelete
  8. Figure skating fan, presents flowers to Alexander Lakernik!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8M0dC6hthSE

    :-)

    Now, seriously:


    The first comment is an example of what should be avoided.

    * One suggests that the Japanese judge would downgrade Yuna because the Japanese hate her.

    * Another at the original page, claims that the name Zanna Kulik is..."Russian".

    * Some claim that a judge whose country "does not have any hope for a medal" is more prone to "pressure coming from a higher Russian power levels". Others claim that judges from countries with hopes for medals should not judge the skaters of their opponents.

    This is exactly the way to trip on your own shoelace.

    With the exception of the most obvious conflict of interests (which should be avoided) there is no way that you could make a system for appointing a panel of judges on which everybody would agree.

    Whatever happened in Sochi, was evident to every participating national federation, whether Italian, American or Chinese - and noone objected. Do not narrow things to national or personal hatred.


    Andreas

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  9. The passionate and temperate reader should have a look at Jesse Helm's articles on Yahoo.

    While the Sochi videos start to get posted on YouTube and we are able to rewatch them again and again, Helm's series of articles enable us to understand Sochi's results as the byproduct of a whole process which concerns the whole ISU policies.

    What I appreciate in Helm's internet journalism are two facts, which I discern in his article under the title "Scandal, fraud and death of figure skating" (http://voices.yahoo.com/scandal-fraud-death-figure-skating-12547557.html?cat=9)

    * First, he is the only reviewer to stress the factor of the "angry Russian mob which raped and butchered the sport". Although the language is too harsh for my taste and I totally reject the introduction of cold war language ("Russian mob politics"), I cannot but welcome that shift of attention from the judging panel per se, to the influence of the "angry mob".

    * Second, he speaks about the "inflation" of the results as a ISU policy, somehow explaining the phaenomenon of Sotnikova's progressive evaluation which we have already discussed at the previous page.

    According to Helm, the inflation of the component scores of the two young Russians came as a result of the ISU policy in order to bring the audiences back to the skating stadiums:

    "In the 2013 World championships everything seemed clear that there was no way for any young skater to get even close to the top skaters such as Yuna Kim, Carolina Kostner or Mao Asada as the podium was stonewalled by them." quotes Helm. "The mastery of the veteran skaters are far ahead of the youngsters unless the gap should be closed artificially. That's why the ISU judges began to award a pile of GOE on the young skaters' poor quality jump in the Grand Prix as long as they managed to land them (...) The ISU since the 2013 Worlds prepared this coup against the figure standard upheld since the Cop introduction. In order to make it plausible in the eyes of public who have no knowledge of figure skating, the ISU judges rewarded indiscriminately the jump of poor quality this season".

    The reader is also reffered to an article of Helm written on February 2, before the games, with the same allegations:

    http://voices.yahoo.com/julia-lipnitskaia-isus-vision-12510409.html?cat=14

    Helm's views would have greater weight in my opinion, had he not praised Kim Yuna like an average fan of hers, with an article under the title "Ladies event in Sochi: There will be Yuna Kim, nothing else".

    http://voices.yahoo.com/ladies-event-sochi-there-will-yuna-kim-nothing-12539409.html?cat=14

    There is no denial though, that he examins the whole controversy under a new light, and thus give answers to multiple questions.


    Andreas

    ReplyDelete
  10. Out of 25 winter olympics held so far, only two olympics (Sapporo and Nagano, Japan) were held in eastern hemisphere. So the geopolitics may have played lesser role in the Pyeongchang's bid for 2018. It is well known that Pyeongchang bidded for 2010 and 2014 olympics without success, even though it was one of three to be short-listed for 2014. On the other hand, Sochi came out of nowhere and get the bid. So if anything is "owed" politically, it is Sochi.

    Yes, I would be very suspicious of Alexander Lakernik, but I think he is only small part of much bigger picture. We have to consider the judging pattern of other judges as a whole to get better idea of what is going on.

    1994 Lillehammer - Oksana Baiul (UKR, Height: 1.60 m (5 ft 3 in)) won the gold medal at the age of 16, and retired in that year in 1994.
    1998 Nagano - Tara Lipinski (USA, Height: 5 ft 1 in (1.55 m), 4 ft 10 in (1.47 m) in 1998) won the gold medal at the age of 15, and retired in that year 1998.
    2002 Salt Lake City - Sarah Hughes (USA, Height: 1.65 m (5 ft 5 in)) won the gold medal at the age of 16, and retired in 2003.

    2006 Torino - Shizuka Arakawa (JPN, Height: 165 cm (5.41 ft)) won the gold medal at the age of 24, and retired in 2006.
    2010 Vancouver - Yuna Kim (KOR, Height: 1.65 m (5 ft 5 in)) won the gold medal at the age of 19 and retired in 2014.

    1992 Albertville - Kristi Yamaguchi won the gold medal at the age 20 and retired in 1992. In that same year in 1992, Midori Ito won the silver medal at the age 22.

    For the last 20 years or so, figure skating has been obssessed with "jumps". In 1990s, triple-double combo was very rare in ladies skating, Nowadays the routine is triple-triple. This combo requires the athlete's strength and finesse which takes really long practice to refine.
    Notice the comparison between, Caucasian winners and non-Caucasian winners. Caucasian winners exploit their physical abilities when their body is small, light and more flexible. As they grow older, they could not keep up with their growing weight and physique, so they quickly flame out of the skating.
    This is what is happening with Sotnikova and Lipnitskaya in this year. Be generous with jumps, and award the gymnast like flexibility (or showmanship?). I think this was their winning formula and ISU certainly adopted this idea for their judging system, knowing the gradual regression of Asian powerhouses like Yuna Kim, and Asada Mao.

    ReplyDelete

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