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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Rule Changes Being Introduced at Speed

WINNIPEG, Canada -- Figure skating's century-old 6.0 marking scale appears destined for the scrap heap as details emerge about the sport's radical new scoring system, first proposed in the wake of the Olympic pairs judging scandal.

The International Skating Union's two-pronged judging overhaul, which also includes the secret, randomized selection of judges by computer, has been on a fast track since February when the Olympic furor left the sport's credibility in tatters.

Coaches, judges and former competitors are lending their expertise to the task and much has been accomplished since Canadians Jamie Sale and David Pelletier and Russia's Yelena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze left Salt Lake City with unprecedented duplicate gold medals.

"This new system has some positive approaches; the details should be worked on longer." Tamara Moskvina, coach of Russia's Olympic joint gold medallists said.

The cornerstone of the new scoring system is a base value established for each singles, pairs skating and ice dancing element according to its degree of difficulty. Competitors performing the most challenging programs will rack up the most base value points.

Current plans also call for the traditional technical merit and presentation scores -- the tools judges use to rank each competitor within the field -- to be replaced by quality of execution grades for each element and points for overall technical skating skill, performance, choreography and interpretation.

"All different aspects of the program and skating will be more objectively marked," Moskvina said.

Precise specifications for scoring the two proposed technical skills and three presentation components, possibly using a 0.5 to 10.0 scale, are under development. The presentation score would be weighted to balance its importance against the program's technical aspects.

"We don't want to make this a jumping contest," said former Canadian competitor Ted Barton, contracted by the ISU to advise on development of the scoring system and associated computer programs.

Barton said there would be a strict limit on the number of jumps allowed in a free program. "This [prototype] system will be tried out several times during one season, made more detailed, and then accepted or not," Moskvina said.

The secret judge selection process, approved by ISU members last June, was successfully tested in Germany and will be used officially at upcoming Grand Prix meetings and the 2003 European and World Championships.

The "live" judges, whose marks determine the competition result, are selected randomly by computer from an expanded panel. The identities of the live judges are never revealed.

While the 6.0 system is still being used, the marks of all judges will be displayed on the scoreboard in ascending order, rather than being attributed to a particular judge.

The procedure is intended to reduce the possibility of judges being pressured to manipulate results as allegedly happened in Salt Lake City.