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Official: Figure skating pointless

Scoring system on thin statistical ice

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A statistics professor has confirmed what most probably thought anyway: figure skating is rubbish.

Or at least the judging process is.

Yale's John W Emerson used information available online to test how the new Olympic scoring system performed at the recent 2006 European Women's Figure Skating Championships, held in Lyon, France.

Under the new system a panel of 12 judges rates the skaters from 0 to 10. After dropping the highest and lowest scores, a computer calculates the average from nine randomly selected values.

Emerson found that in the 'short program' section of the competition, only winner Russian Irena Slutskaya would have kept her position under every combination of judges.

Analysis showed the discrepancies between panels could have placed the other skaters in the top five of the closely-fought competition, anywhere between second and fifth. Emerson said: “We can only hope that the podium in Torino on February 23 will be determined by the judging of the skaters on the ice. Not by a computer.”

Ironically, the new regime was introduced “to increase fairness” after the old arrangements were repeatedly criticised for allowing bias. ®

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