Revamped system working

ANGELA MACISAAC -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 11:43 AM ET

Thank you, Jamie Sale and David Pelletier.

The Canadian pair is recognized as the catalyst to the International Skating Union cleaning house and instituting a new judging system.

At the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Sale and Pelletier skated a flawless program but were bumped to silver behind Russians Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharlidze. Amid stories of deal-making among judges, both pairs got gold.

And now figure skating runs on a points-earning system as opposed to what seemed like a random application of numbers.

"It has changed the sport in a way that the emphasis is much more on the well-rounded skater as opposed to just the jumper," said Scott Davis, two-time U.S. champion and coach at the CalAlta club in Calgary.

Three main officials -- a technical controller, a technical specialist and an assistant technical specialist -- monitor each event and keep track of the program elements. The technical specialist determines the level of difficulty of each element, while the other two assist in the process. A panel of 12 judges then applies a score on the quality of each element and an overall mark on the skater's skills and performance.

"Before, perfection was a 6.0 and deviations from perfection were subtracted from that," said Davis. "So if someone missed a couple of elements, they're in the 5.7 range and, with a pretty good program, they were in 5.8s with the artistic mark.

"Now it's based on what the person does. You start off with zero points and each jump has a base value. If the judges think it was a good jump, they'll give you a plus-1 or plus-2 after the technical panel gives the level of difficulty."


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