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International Skating Union Promises New Statistic

Responding to criticism, officials plan to create a mark that will give better sense of rankings.

March 30, 2003|Helene Elliott | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — In a major concession to confusion caused by the interim judging system and the wild variation in marks awarded during last week's World Figure Skating Championships, the International Skating Union will provide a new statistic next season to quantify skaters' performances.

Its nature hasn't been determined, but ISU President Ottavio Cinquanta said Saturday it will be displayed on arena scoreboards next season. He acknowledged the idea surfaced merely "a few days ago" in response to criticism from reporters and fans puzzled by an unusually wide range of marks given to even the top skaters.

Because nine scores are randomly selected by a computer from a 14-judge panel and scores aren't linked to a judge, it's nearly impossible to determine which marks count or to immediately know which judges were out of line.

"I have to recognize that something is to be done, and we are already working on this," Cinquanta said during a news conference. "Our intention is to provide a statistic in order that those reading the scoreboard can understand the level of preference [shown by judges and] whether a skater has defeated or been defeated by other skaters. How was ranked this skater compared with the other ones."

The introduction of that statistic is unrelated to the implementation of the proposed cumulative scoring system. He said the cumulative system, devised to prevent a repeat of the judging scandal that erupted during the pairs event at the Salt Lake City Olympics, will be used at Grand Prix events next season if it is approved by the ISU Council during a meeting Monday in Washington.

The system has been tested several times operating parallel to the existing interim system. If it is successful next season, it will be submitted to the ISU Congress for a vote in 2004. If approved there, it will be used at the 2005 World Championships and the 2006 Turin Olympics.

National federations such as the U.S. Figure Skating Assn. are not obligated to use the cumulative system at national championships because they're beyond the ISU's jurisdiction.

Cinquanta deflected questions about the World Skating Federation, formed by a group of coaches, skating officials and former skaters who hope to separate figure skating from speedskating and win recognition from the International Olympic Committee as the governing body of figure skating.

Fredi Schmid, the ISU general secretary, said 30% of the ISU's revenues are derived from -- and go to -- speedskating, with the remaining 70% generated by and spent on figure skating.

IOC President Jacques Rogge rejected the WSF's invitation to meet and said the IOC is happy with the ISU. Cinquanta said he couldn't comment on the WSF because he hasn't studied its statements.

"In the one year since Salt Lake City, with all the difficulties we have encountered, we have provided a new judging system," Cinquanta said. "We feel we do not deserve that kind of attitude, but we respect the right of other persons to stand and say, 'We are better than you.' We are not afraid. We do not fear."

Cinquanta also declined to say if he has been questioned by the FBI in connection with the arrest of reputed Russian mobster Alimzhan Tokhtakhunov, who is imprisoned in Italy on charges he fixed the pairs and ice dance events at Salt Lake City. Other officials reportedly have been questioned while in Washington.

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