Wisdom in judging figure skating

The Figure Skating Competitions in the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah, left the sport with which I've been associated for more than 25 years in disarray. The controversy surrounding the judging in the closing stages of the competitions—in which the Canadians, Jamie Sale and David Pelletier, were placed second and later awarded duplicate gold medals—shook not only ice skating but all sports in which some subjectivity is inevitable in assessing artistic merit.

As a judge myself, I have always been guided and strengthened by regular study of the US Figure Skating Association's code of ethics. The Judge's Creed reads, in part: "I consider it an honor and a privilege to be a judge of figure skating, ice dancing, or synchronized team skating. I shall make my judgment to the best of my ability with all humility and then shall keep my own counsel unless questioned officially. I shall free my mind of all former impressions, be cooperative and punctual, and do my best always to improve my knowledge and to uphold the dignity of the sport."

That sets a high standard, but I have found it invaluable—especially when under pressure—to consider all the variables and come up with the appropriate placement for every skater.

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October 13, 2003

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