To the FS Community

And Open Letter by Anton Kovalev

To the FS community. I do not feel right about the judging in FS. And I think that a lot of people on the FS community will agree with me. I was following very thoroughly all the major events since 2000 and I watched the video. I was a licensed FAI judge in the 2001-2003. Iíve been judging at the WAG 2001 in Spain, except for the finals and semifinals (no judges belonging to the nations in the finals are allowed in them). I was competing at the Malevsky Cup 2002 and 2003 as well as at the Russian Nationals 2003 where we have had a panel of international FAI judges.

The analysis of the above competitions draws a very clear picture for me. There is an abyss between judges and competitors and there are a lot of situations when competitors do not understand the scores given, and there is a great difference between the actual performance and the score received.

Iím talking about the situations, when there was an obvious busts or obvious busts not in the jumps. Unfortunately, such situations do happen a very high level of the competitions. At WAG 2001, in the round 9 of the USA team (1st page, block 23) a broken subgroup was missed by 4 out 5 judges. The difference between 2nd (France) and 1st (USA) place was quite the same 2 points. We get into the situation, when JUDGING ERROR decides the 1st place at the World Championships. This should not be.

Another case is when judges refuse to see a separation. It is the case with Airspeed now, it was a case with Magic and Sinapsi at the Malevsky Meet round 4. There was a crowd of 200 competitors standing in front of not the best quality projection screen SEEING it, and there were 4 to 5 judges NOT SEEING it. Maybe there was something wrong with the judges, we should ask?

And last, but not least. This year, first at the Malevsky Meet, next at the World Meet, the judging panel allowed itself to present the teams with QUITE different judging approach for the block 12 RIGHT BEFORE the competition, after the training jumps. The only excuse to such a surprise was that it was published somewhere at the German site. The rest of the world remained surprised, that they were training all year long for the wrong performance and got absolutely no chance to know it.

Right now weíve got a statement in the rules, giving a complete responsibility to the team for all they present to the judges. I think that it gives a heavy shift in the responsibilities towards the competitors. The competitors MUST SHOW, MUST SHOW and MUST SHOW. But not a word about the judges that also MUST SEE.

The result is a concept of judges interpreting an image of a jump. I also do not think that the very concept of judges, judging an image, interpreting image is right. The judgment of the actual performance of the jump, that is what we need. If we include the cameraman in the team, letís judge his performance too, on the equal level.

The competitors and the teams are being busted for their errors, actual or not. The judges are not. And thatís, in my opinion, unfair. The judges list is much longer then the panel of the judges we regularly see at the World level competitions. Let us make it a competitive area, too. I would propose that the judges do have their share of the responsibility. Let us leave the score as it was judged. Let us avoid endless sues regarding the scores. But let us give the teams a chance to have better judging. Let us allow a protest onto a judges decision. And, if a thorough examination will show an error, let the judge(s) in charge be OUT of the panel for a year for a FAI 1st class events.

Right now the judges have responsibility only if they disagree with the rest of the panel in more then 25% of the scores. We see what it leads us to Ė the judges are giving bust where they shouldnít and points where they were not QUITE UNANIMOUSLY.

Coming back here, to the Nationals. Round 5. The Magicís very clear NJ (you never see a separation at the 2 am direction between an O and hammer) at the Round 5 was seen by only 1 judge. The Airspeed (cut me into pieces but it was not a bust) got a bust instead of NJ at point 3, and got an extra bust, where 10 out of 10 my friends competitors have seen a short, but very clean and a real complete separation at point 17 in the same round. Now, are you sure that the final difference between places will not be within these 3 points?

Anton Kovalev, former FAI judge, Synairgy 4-way team,