By this time, I'm sure you have heard that Evan Lysacek won the Men's Figure Skating event Thursday night. Yay Evan! It was a dramatic win and came down to one single point. So instead of rehashing it, I thought of the two things that struck me the most. First, I am so happy that Evan Lysacek won. And second, I don't think this new judging system is working properly.
Don't those two statements seem contradictory? Evan wouldn't have won under the old system as technically, Russian Evgeni Plushenko skated clean and landed the harder jump: the quadruple toe, triple toe loop. Evan skated clean as well but had no quad. It was the strength of his program as a whole -the speed, intricacy and the difficulty of his connecting steps, his spins, footwork and interpretation of the music -that allowed him to squeak out a win over the powerhouse Russian. Under the new system, everything has a point value and a difficult level and luckily for Evan, Evgeni didn't perform his jumps to his normal level: most of his jumps were off axis and that made for weak landings, which I assume lost him a few points, allowing Evan's other strengths to put him over the top.
So why my criticsm of the new scoring system? Because it doesn't support the very esssence of competition. Now don't get me wrong, I love that the new scoring system rewards quality skating: finally edges, footwork, speed, difficulty of movement, interpretation are properly rewarded through a quantative formula, not just the whim of a judge awarding a 5.9 because the skater looked dramatic. But what this system fails to recognize, is the value of the clean program under the pressure of Olympic competition. I'm going to say this and you can disagree, but Johnny Weir should have beat Patrick Chan. Patrick is a beautiful skater, his program is phenomenal, there are barely two regular crossovers that he uses to cover the ice. I've watched his long program three times now tonight so believe me I do see his abundant qualities. But, Patrick made two glaring errors in his program, both big jumps, and Johnny made none (save for tapping out of one of his spins.)
This is competition and the guy who is in the final flight of skaters, delivers a difficult and artistic program, and stands up on his jumps should be ahead of the guy who doesn't. Otherwise what's the point? If you knew that your program had a points value and no matter what you did you wouldn't beat the other guy, even if he fell, why would you compete? I just feel that there has to be a happy medium; the quality of the program and the skater has to be valued, but the ability to deliver on the big goods, on the day, has to count for a lot more.
If a snowborder falls on a trick, he's out. Skating will and should be a little more complicated than that but, Johnny you deserved better.