Ice Skating Controversy.

It’s been awhile since Tonya and Nancy’s feud. :slight_smile:

Ashley Wagner falls on her ass twice at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Boston. Gets 4th.

They bump the 3rd place winner Mirai Nagasu and put Wagner on the Olympic team. At least no one whacked Nagasu’s knee with a baton.

Some of these Olympic sports are such a rigged joke. They just manipulate it however they want. Figure skating scoring has been always been a bit dodgy. How can someone falling twice get 4th place? What kind of fair scoring is that?

On the one hand, if it’s an open competition to get a spot, then whoever does best in that competition should get in. On the other hand, if one skater is likely to wind up in the middle of the pack, leaving off the competitor who is more likely to be on the podium seems a bit foolish, regardless of their last result.

On the third hand, figure skating IS kind of a rigged joke.

The US Figure Skating Championships are not the Olympic Trials. It’s part of the year long body of work that goes into selecting the Olympic Team, so no one was bumped in any direct sense. Wagner had a very good year; Nagasu did not, and only came on strong at the end.

There are set deductions for falls in routines and if your routine is difficult enough that it can score very high on the other pieces those deductions can still leave you with a good score.

Having said all that, like all sports judged for artistic merit they are fraught with bias and confusion.

I enjoy watching ice skating. Just like I enjoy Dancing With the Stars. But I don’t take the scoring very seriously. It’s so objective and easily influenced by people’s agendas.

The championship was not what determined who goes to the Olympics – they were just one datapoint (albeit, a major one). In a way, it’s a fairer system than the Olympic trials, which can eliminate an olympic-class competitor over one bad day (e.g., Dan O’Brien, who made a very bad strategic decision and ended up off the team).

My understanding is that this situation is not new and is only controversial in the sense that average people don’t understand the system.

The most recent ‘controversy’ I recall is someone got bumped in favor of Michelle Kwan and some blowhard at SI made a stink of it. Of course, he didn’t bother to mention that Michelle Kwan had herself been bumped years earlier (in favor of Nancy Kerrigan I believe).

It happens all the time and is part of the design.

They didn’t pick the U.S. men’s hockey team for the Olympics by just going with whomever scored the most points so far this year. They considered a lot of factors towards what squad had the best chance at a medal, including performance over the last few years, health, international experience, current skill level, etc.

I see no difference here. They followed the system to determine which skaters to send.

Actually, she was fifth in the free skate (long program). She finished fourth because she was in fourth after the short program (behind the three women who ended up finishing in front of her overall), and pretty much anybody who had a chance to catch her had problems of her own.

Also, four of Wagner’s jumps - all triples - were in the second half of her routine, so they got a 10% “base score” bonus. (BTW, although NBC may not have mentioned it, she lost 2 points for the falls.)

Say what you want about the scoring system, but IMO it’s far better than the 6.0 system. The judges shouldn’t have to know what routine you are intending to do and prejudge you accordingly, but that’s pretty much what had to be done in the 6.0 system; if a judge thinks in advance that a skater has the third-best routine, the judge won’t give that skater more than a 5.8, to leave 6.0 and 5.9 for the other two skaters. Also, the 6.0 system had the possibility of the following:
(a) Skater A skates
(b) Skater B skates
© Skater B is ahead of Skater A
(d) Skater C skates
(e) Skater A wins the round

Here are a couple of examples of the scoring system in action, taken from Ashley Wagner’s free skate routine at Nationals.

Wagner performed a “Level 3 Step Sequence” - that is, she pretty much “stepped across the ice,” and the official in charge of calling out the moves to the judges determined that it was Level 3 (out of 4). Each judge then gave it a grade from -3 to +3.
According to the Code of Points, the move is worth 1.2 (for a grade of -3), 1.9 (-2), 2.6 (-1), 3.3 (0), 3.8 (+1), 4.3 (+2), or 4.8 (+3). “Usually,” a +1 is for a move that has no errors but is otherwise “ordinary”; anything less than -1 is reserved for a fall or serious mistake.
The nine judges graded it 1, 1, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 3; the high and low grades are thrown out, and the others converted to points (each 1 is 3.8 points; each 2 is 4.3) and averaged (4.23).

Just past the halfway point, she performed a triple loop - double Axel combination. Normally, a combination is scored as the sum of its separate moves; however, Wagner inserted something (probably a “half jump”, or what you might call a “zero Axel”) between the two that’s not listed in the Code of Points, so it was downgraded to a “sequence” and was penalized by 20% of the base (i.e. grade 0) score. On the other hand, it was after half of the 4-minute time limit had elapsed, so it was increased by 10% of the base score. (This rule rewards skaters who don’t do all of their best jumps early in the routine, before they get tired.)

Correction: doing a “half-loop” doesn’t turn a combination into a sequence. What happened was, on her first jump (the triple loop), Wagner landed on both feet; apparently, it’s only a combination if you keep the “free foot” off of the ice between jumps (except when it is needed for the second jump - e.g. in a triple loop - double toe loop combination).

Kerrigan didn’t bump Kwan. Michelle was the alternate, and Nancy was healthy enough to skate.

Ashley Wagner is ranked 3rd in the world. Mirai is ranked something like 23rd. There are no less than three additional American ladies who have a higher overall ranking than Mirai, to boot.

Gracie Gold (#8 - named to Olympic team)
Christina Gao (#12 - not named)
Agnes Zawadski (#16 - not named)

Mirai Nagasu (#23 - first alternate)

and then on down the pecking order, we have…

Courtney Hicks (#29 - third alternate)
Samantha Cesario (#33 - second alternate)

and waaaaay on down the list we have…

Angela Wang (#51)
Alissa Czisny (#55)
Caroline Zhang (#65)
Vanessa Lam (#66)

and where is our champion, Polina Edmunds?

Well, I scanned down the World Standings through the first couple hundred names, and she’s not on there. She’s new. She’s at the head of the class, she won it fair and square, but you can understand the dilemma the US Olympic selection committee was under, here. Obviously, Polina gets her berth. But she’s untested, and they need some veterans to shore up the chances of bringing home a medal.

Thus the unpopular choice of bringing Ashley Wagner in.

You forgot “spelling ability”. :stuck_out_tongue: