I started off my morning with an email from one of my regular e-mail pals – or as my most senior CBC producer likes to say one of “Pj’s Army”. He was talking about the Short Dance results that had emerged from the Four Continents’ Championships in Taipei City. Olympic and World champions, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir had generated a less than one point lead ahead of closest rivals from the US Meryl Davis and Charlie White, who are reigning World and Olympic silver medallists. Both teams are worthy champions and have been close rivals for a very long time.

My email pal was not upset with the result but rather the fact that one of the judges had only awarded Virtue and Moir scores in the 5 out of 10 range for their program components where the rest of the field on average were in the ‘8s’. Hmmmmm. He wondered in his note if it was possible that we would see a recurrence of the judging scandal in Salt Lake City at the 2002 Olympics – the scandal that was the impetus for the creation of this system in the first place. Hmmmmm i thought. I am not a person who is prone to conspiracy theories typically – although I am always interested to listen. Frankly, the amount of time, energy, work and subterfuge that so many plots need to take make it beyond my ability to comprehend. ( I tend to get bogged down in the intricacies and the details – and with my Protestant background would be a TERRIBLE co-conspirator)

So in the spirit of satisfying myself – I sent off a couple of notes. The information that came back make me believe that there is a series of nets in place to catch the errors that get made. The first thing is the fact that the top and bottom marks get tossed out of the equation. The 2nd line of defense is the meeting that takes place at the conclusion of event segments – “The Round Table ” where judges discuss and defend their judging in fron of the rest of the panel and the referee. The 3rd thing is, there is a computer-generated report that reports anomalies and there is the further “net” of people working for the OAC (Officials’ Assessment Committee) who are on-site and are watching the same event from the same place as the panel. If all that fails, there is also the possibility of further investigation that is directed by the ISU Home Office where there exists the real possibility of an offending official receiving an “assessment”.

As far as I could read in the ISU rule book – 4 assessments could result in an official being suspended. I know LOTS of people are bugged by the anonimity of the judges. I’m not and I will tell you why. Skating is a very small world with many of the people tied together (for better or worse) for their whole lives – anonimity guarantees that an official isn’t “gotcha’d” for a slight (real or imagined) that might have taken place years before. So back the the V/M ‘5s” – I’m stumped. These two are amazing skaters so by my estimation, even with their guards on, they still get high 7s for components. Is there a conspiracy? I hope not. I think if there are shennanigans – it’s a very dumb ‘shennnanigator’ who comes up with 5s for V/M’s SD PCS – unless they like the color red – for red flag that is. I think someone needs some more time in front of skaters – my vote is human error. Regardless, it needs to be looked at and I am convinced it will be in due course. Thanks for being in touch RPL (my email fan’s initials) – nothing I like better than something new to think about!.

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