Together with fellow figure skating fans, we have started a signature-collecting campaign for the survival of figure skating as a sport.
The activities of the "Figure Skating Fans’ Club" consist of:
-signature-collecting for petition to ISU (International Skating Union)
for the revision of the base values as well as the improvement of the scoring system, and
-analysis of scorings in figure skating competitions.
In the Vancouver Olympics in 2010, we had the first "quadless" men’s gold medalist in about twenty years.
For many years, quads, or quadruple jumps, have been the proof that figure skating is a sport and that figure skaters are athletes.
The athletes keep trying to improve their technical skills.In the history of figure skating, jumps have evolved from "single" to "double", "triple", and "quadruple".
Figure skating is a sport and figure skaters are athletes.
Athletes strive for improvement of their techniques and for breaking new ground.
To this aim, "quads" have been attempted since 1980s, and have become the proof of the top athletes since 1990s.
At present, they are the most difficult jumps in figure skating.
"Quads" are the greatest jumps which have been attempted by many athletes.
However, in the Vancouver Olympics, we had the quadless gold medalist.
Also, in recent years, the number of skaters who jump "quads" is in decline.
Did this happen because ISU (International Skating Union) values overall "completeness" rather than the highest skating techniques of figure skaters?
If quads become extinct in figure skating, it means the decline of skating techniques.
But now, in order to win, it is rather disadvantageous to jump a quad. If figure skating is to be regarded as "a sport", should we allow such decline to happen?
Six years ago, the current scoring system was introduced due to the judging scandal at the Salt Lake City Olympics.
However, the current system is puzzling in many aspects.
Further, ISU was admonished by International Olympic Committee (IOC)that figure skating would be "excluded from the Olympics" if another misconduct was revealed.
If this situation continues,figure skating will not only decline as a sport but also remain chaotic due to the current enigmatic judging system.
One of the features of the present figure skating competition is that the judges give score anonymously.
According to ISU, the anonymous judging system wasadopted so as to significantly reduce the risk of outside influence on Judges.
However, the anonymity makes the relationship between each of the judges and the outcome of the scoring invisible to us, the audience, so that it has become a system which may permit inappropriate scoring.
Among all sports, only figure skating adopts anonymous judging system in international competitions.
Even if skaters and coaches cannot accept the score,
they do not have a chance to protest because they have no idea who gave the score.
Also, where there exists corruption of the judges, this anonymous judging makes it difficult to detect a cheating.
As described above, the current figure skating has many problems.
Sad to say, we cannot deny the possibility that the figure skating may no longer be part of the next Olympics in Sochi.
Our activities and the issues of the Vancouver Olympics are specifically outlined in Wiki (currently available in Japanese),
and the problems described above are also examined in detail in respective categories.
-We are all volunteers (we never seek money or other material rewards)
-We do what we can do (when we can do)
-We never expect appreciation from others (remember that we do this just because we want to do this)
Quadruple jumps or four-revolution jumps in men’s figure skating are generally called quads.
The skaters who can land a quad cleanly can be called quad jumpers.
Quads are highly difficult, masculine jumps that deserve to be called the highlight of men’s singles. But the ice surface is far from a soft sponge and those unstable edges are attached to the bottom of the skaters’ shoes.
Many skaters injure their hips, inner thighs and hip joints while attempting this technique.
Nevertheless, athletes still keep attempting a quad.
It is because they are athletes.
Athletes keep challenging to improve their skills.
If you run away from the technique attained by your predecessors just because it is difficult, you should not be called an athlete.
Quads are the proof that they are athletes.
Many people may think that quadruple jumps are very difficult and rare jumps because of the scarcity of quad jumpers at present.
However, a quad used to be anything but a rare jump that you seldom encounter.
In fact, many of the top skaters could jump a quad.
At the Salt Lake City Olympics, you could not have been even in the final group of the free skating unless you had jumped a quadruple-triple combination in the short program.
Quadruple jumps which have been attempted by so many skaters are now put in a predicament.
A successful quad used to give a very good impression on the judges, but under the current scoring system introduced in 2004, it does not make much difference from triple or less difficult jumps in terms of scoring even if you successfully land a quad and a jump sequence subsequent to a quad. The difference in terms of impression is as shown below.
-Evaluation of jumps based on the old system
-Scores for the jumps based on the current scoring (Base values)
Further, GOEs (Grade of execution, i.e. addition or deduction of points for the execution of performance)are scored by the judges.
Since there is not so much difference in the basic values, a less difficult jump can easily surpass a more difficult jump in terms of their scores depending on their GOEs.
Of course, an easier jump tends to result in better level of execution, so that it is also easier to earn points in GOE.
Under such circumstances, even some top skaters have come to give up quads which are high risk but are not rewarded much with scores.
And in Vancouver, we had the quadless gold medalist.
Figure skating is a sport.
Those who compete in a sport are supposed to be athletes.
Athletes are people who do not give up challenging.
It is true that quads are difficult jumps, but there are other reasons why top athletes and younger skaters avoid jumping a quad even if they have the ability.
Let me repeat. Even if you jump a quad cleanly, you will not be rewarded for it in terms of scoring.
The athlete inevitably loses their motivation for the attempt.
In order to revive their will to attempt a quad, the only way is to revise the current scoring system.
[Chronology of world’s first quads]
85-86 Euro World’s first quad (Unrecognized) Jozef Sabovoik
87-88 World World’s first quad Kurt Browning
91-92 World World’s first 4-2 Elvis Stojko
96-97 GP Final World’s first 4-3 Elvis Stojko
99-00 GP NHK Cup. World’s first 4-3-2 Evgeni Plushenko
02-03 GP Cup of Russia World’s first 4-3-3 Evgeni Plushenko
97-98 Jr. GP Final. World’s first quad salchow. Timothy Goebel
96-97 World World’s first "2 quads in a program". Zhengxin Guo
99-00 Nebelhorn World’s first "2 kinds of quads in a program". Ilia Klimkin
99-00 GP Skate America World’s first "3 quads in a program". Timothy Goebel
93-94 Olympics First quad in the Olympics Zhang Min
98-99 Four Continents First quad in SP Zhang Min
90-91 World Woman’s first quad recognized by the Guinness Book. Surya Bonaly
02-03 Jr. GP Final. Women’s first quad Miki Ando
-List: Decline of the quads-
-The number of quads jumped by skaters at international competitions-
Competitions SP(Total) SP(Clean) FS(Total) FS(Clean) Total Clean
Salt Lake City (2002) 13 8 17 14 30 22
Torino (2006) 5 4 9 4 14 8
Vancouver (2010) 3 1 6 3 9 4
Competitions SP(Total) SP(Clean) FS(Total) FS(Clean) Total Clean
2000 Unknown 7 9 8 16 Over 15
2001 Unklown 7 Unkown 9 16 Over 16
2002 10 7 18 13 28 20
2003 10 7 19 10 29 17
2004 7 6 18 13 25 19
2005 6 6 10 10 16 16
2006 6 6 13 11 19 17
2007 3 2 9 4 12 6
2008 5 4 8 5 13 9
2009 4 1 8 6 10 7
*Notice for the table*
"Total" refers to the number of jumps including the jumps landed with an error but without a fall.
"Clean" refers to the number of jumps landed cleanly without an error.
Now, it is apparent that the numbers of quad jumpers are in decline year by year.
The attempts to jump quads, which were by no means rare jumps, have been in decline after they peaked at the Salt Lake City Olympics.
Since 2002, the number of quads is in decline with the introduction of the current scoring system (2004) and the rise of the generation brought up under the current system.
Especially after the retirement of experienced athletes during the season of the Turin Olympics (2006) and thereafter, the number dropped sharply.
It is because the younger skaters brought up under the current system avoid quadruple jumps.
As a fan of figure-skating for many years, and after having watched the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games, I felt the need to write you by joining this petition (an initiative that the Japanese fans of figure-skating took, but that should have been taken a long time ago and by figure-skating fans from all over the world!)
It is understandable that it is of the highest interest for the mass media to throw fuel into the fire by arousing such an absurd discussion about whether a quadruple jump is really necessary or not, or if it’s just an exhibitionist/show-off manoeuver from skaters who like to draw attention to themselves….
BUT from the moment that the official institution of figure-skating itself considers that a skater of lesser technical and artistical skills should win the highest medal of the highest competition of figure-skating…well…that’s something else.
There’s OBVIOUSLY something wrong when a skater who wins such a competition did not even attempt, much less get it right, to do the most difficult element in figure-skating currently. When the two or 3 (considering the total number of competitors, this is A VERY DISAPPOINTING NUMBER, by the way!! This low number of high-profile athletes is a symptom of a decline, don’t you think?) athletes who DO attempt, and manage, to do it are penalized and are ranked BELOW the one who did not even ATTEMPT it, it is obvious that figure-skating is regressing as a sport.
This either means that the body of judges present were corrupt, or that the judging system needs to be URGENTLY changed (or maybe both!).
Judging should not, in my view, be ambiguous, too complex, OR annonymous, so that it becomes more transparent. The standards/criteria and paradigms for judging should obviously be changed, given that the best combinations of technique and artistry have not been awarded accordingly in the recent past competitions…is figure-skating meant to be a show? Then it should go to Broadway and leave the competitive ice rinks to the real skaters, the real athletes with real skills.