This time, skating's scoring system adds up to excitement

HELSINKI, Finland - This is the 13th World Championships in which figure skating has used the oft-criticized scoring system developed in reaction to the pairs judging controversy at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.

Every so often, the system's seemingly mathematical madness makes perfect sense in accomplishing one of its primary goals: keeping more than a few skaters in the running for a medal after the short program at a championship event.

That is exactly what happened here Wednesday in a ladies' short program of such overall quality that the top seven finishers received just one negative Grade of Execution (GOE) on their combined 49 elements -- and that was just a blip of -0.3 for Russia's Anna Pogorilaya.

It is what allowed 2016 world silver medalist Ashley Wagner of the United States to say she wasn't in too big a hole after finishing seventh with a clean -- if admittedly -- slow and cautious performance.

Seventh consigns a skater to the penultimate group in the order for the free skate final. In the pre-Salt Lake past, that position screamed, "Also-Ran."

"Today is not at all about placement," Wagner said. "My score has set me up for a great long program. I know I am in fighting distance."

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