Who will win 2019 figure skating worlds? My gold medal crystal ball perfectly clear on just one event

Who will win 2019 figure skating worlds?  My gold medal crystal ball perfectly clear on just one event

There are two ways to do figure skating predictions.

One is based on the unlikely event that the top six or so skaters or couples in every discipline skate cleanly (wouldn’t that be wonderful to see.) Predictions then are relatively simple, since one can rely on measures of past clean programs and of pure ability.

The second method factors in recent performances, injuries, the way judges have perceived an athlete or team, how the athletes have done under pressure in big events and other intangibles.  These are much more valid but also trickier, given what might happen when you combine all that information with a slippery surface, knife-blade-wide skate edges and limit-pushing, extreme sports skills.

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In (sort of) suspending a skating judge, international federation mocks fans with ethical relativism

In (sort of) suspending a skating judge, international federation mocks fans with ethical relativism

In mid-June, the International Skating Union gave a one-year suspension to Huang Feng of China for showing “obvious and systematic” national bias in his judging of the pairs event at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

The first weekend of July, the international federation allowed Huang not only to attend an important ISU seminar on the ramifications of recent scoring system changes but also to take – and pass – a test for promotion as a technical controller, an event official's position that can have an even bigger impact on the outcome of a competition than a judge.

Huh?

The ISU willingly provided me an answer to that befuddling question, but the logic in the answer smacks of relative ethics in an area where absolute ethics are demanded.  The bureaucratic hair-splitting involved simply is unacceptable.

And the ISU's "discipline" of the miscreant judge gives skating fans yet another reason to wonder if they can ever trust the results in this highly subjective sport.

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Olympic pairs short program produced superlative skating

Olympic pairs short program produced superlative skating

GANGNEUNG, South Korea - You could exhaust a dictionary's supply of superlatives to describe what happened in the Olympic pairs short program Wednesday, and it would be a thoroughly justified verbal outpouring.

From the utterly breathtaking brilliance of winners Wenjing Sui and Cong Han of China to the exuberance with which North Koreans Tae Ok Ryom and Ju Sik Kim threw off all the political and historical weight on their shoulders for the performance of a lifetime, there never has been so much relentless excellence at a pairs competition in a global championship.

"The level of skating was a pure joy to watch," said two-time Olympic singles champion Katarina Witt, a commentator for German TV. "The quality of the lifts and throws and jumps was so high.

"It was sport at a high level and entertainment at a high level, particularly with the variety of music used -- from Ed Sheeran to the Beatles to Tchaikovsky."

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Hanyu's strong competitive spirit could hurt his chances to top Olympus

Hanyu's strong competitive spirit could hurt his chances to top Olympus

Yuzuru Hanyu has prided himself on trying to keep up with the recent quadruple jump outburst in men’s figure skating, an explosion in numbers and types of quads since 2015 for which the Japanese star credits China’s Jin Boyang as having been the spark.

When Hanyu won a second world title last year, he alluded to the quad exploits of Jin, Nathan Chen of the United States and Shoma Uno of Japan – all of whom have pushed the jump revolution - when he said, “I am trying to keep up with many of the strengths of the other skaters.”

The question now is whether pride literally came before the fall that has cast some doubt on Hanyu’s chances to win a second straight Olympic title – an achievement that, added to the rest of his career record, I feel would make him inarguably the greatest men’s skater in history.

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