OBO at Worlds

By Sandra Loosemore (April, 1998)

Continuing the series of OBO simulations of the major international figure skating competitions of the 1997-98 season, the results of the 1998 World Championships have been recalculated using the OBO scoring system which is included among the proposals to be voted on at the ISU Congress this summer.

Although the OBO proposal is intended to eliminate flip-flops in the standings as the event is in progress, the simulation showed that under OBO there still would have been a total of twelve sets of skaters involved in flip-flops in eight of the fourteen competition segments. There were also at least four other instances of circular "who-beats-who" relationships where flip-flops might have occurred had the skate order been different.

Here are more details of the instances of actual flip-flops:

Men's Short Program

There were two separate groups of nearly-tied skaters resulting in flip-flops in this competition segment.

The first group consisted of Robert Grzegorczyk, Laurent Tobel, and Michael Tyllesen. In the simulation, Tobel was initially ahead of Grzegorczyk with a greater number of "wins", but Tyllesen's marks put all three skaters into a tie on "wins". At this point Grzegorczyk was ahead on "judges in favor" with Tobel and Tyllesen tied behind him. Later Tyllesen moved into a tie with Grzegorczyk instead, and finally wound up placing between Grzegorczyk and Tobel.

The second group consisted of Zhengxin Guo, Szabolcs Vidrai, and Markus Leminen. Vidrai was initially placed ahead of Guo on "wins", but as Guo "won" the head-to-head comparison with Leminen and Vidrai did not, this gave all three skaters the same number of "wins" and the tie was broken to rank them in order Guo, Vidrai, Leminen.

Men's Free Skate

In this competition segment, Markus Leminen and Ivan Dinev switched places as a result of a near-tie situation also involving Margus Hernits and Michael Shmerkin. Within this group of four skaters, Shmerkin beat Hernits and Leminen; Hernits beat Dinev and Leminen; while Dinev beat Shmerkin and Leminen beat Dinev. Shmerkin was the last of this group to skate. Dinev had previously been behind Leminen on "wins", but picking up a "win" over Shmerkin moved him into a tie on "wins" and Dinev had had a greater number of "judges in favor" all along. Meanwhile, Shmerkin and Hernits were also put into a tie on "wins" that was broken in Hernits's favor -- even though Shmerkin had "won" the direct comparison with Hernits.

E.g., before Shmerkin:

                                    Wins JIF
10.                  Margus HERNITS   5   41
11.                  Markus LEMINEN   4   39
12.                      Ivan DINEV   3   41
After Shmerkin:

                                    Wins JIF
10.                  Margus HERNITS   5   45
11.                Michael SHMERKIN   5   41  <=== new
12.                      Ivan DINEV   4   47  <=== changed
13.                  Markus LEMINEN   4   43  <=== changed

Pairs Short Program

In the OBO simulation of this competition segment, there was a flip-flop between Kristy Sargeant & Kris Wirtz and Dorota Zagorska & Mariusz Siudek, that was actually the result of complicated circular "who-beats-who" relationships with three other pairs: Xue Shen & Hongbo Zhao, Marina Eltsova & Andrei Bushkov, and Sarah Abitbol & Stephane Bernadis. The two teams that flip-flopped had the same number of "wins" but the number of "judges in favor" for each team changed as a result of the way the judges marked the rest of the field.

Pairs Free Skate

Here there was a situation where Abitbol & Bernadis moved from being ahead of Sargeant & Wirtz to finishing in an absolute tie with them, with Zagorska & Siudek also having the same number of "wins" as these two teams but a greater number of "judges in favor".

Compulsory Dance 2

In the OBO simulation, Jessica Joseph & Charles Butler were originally ahead of Charlotte Clements & Gary Shortland on "wins". However, Clements & Shortland picked up a "win" over Xenia Smetananeko & Samvel Gezalian while Joseph & Butler did not, leaving all three teams in a tie on "wins" that was broken in favor of Clements & Shortland.

Original Dance

In the OBO simulation of the original dance, there were two separate flip-flops.

The first again involved Joseph & Butler and Clements & Shortland, this time in a three-way near-tie with Dominique Deniaud & Martial Jaffredo. Although Clements & Shortland had originally been placed ahead of Joseph & Butler, they finished two placed behind them.

The second involved Kati Winkler & Rene Lohse, Margarita Drobiazko & Povilas Vanagas, and Irina Romanova & Igor Yaroshenko. Within this group of three couples, Winkler & Lohse switched places with Drobiazko & Vanagas, and Romanova & Yaroshenko went from being tied for the lead to being third.

Ladies Short Program

In this competition segment, there were two sets of flip-flops, one involving Joanne Carter, Zuzana Paurova, and Diana Poth, and a second involving Angela Derochie, Lenka Kulovana, and Marie-Pierre Leray. However, all of these competitors were part of a larger group of eight skaters who did not have well-ordered "who-beats-who" relationships. The other two skaters involved in this group were Julia Sebestyen and Mojca Kopac.

The first three of these competitors to skate were initially ranked like this:

                                    Wins JIF
 5.                   Joanne CARTER   8   63
 6.                  Zuzana PAUROVA   7   64
 7.                 Angela DEROCHIE   6   61  <=== new
Poth scored "wins" over Paurova and Derochie, but not Carter, creating a three-way tie on "wins":

                                    Wins JIF
 5.                      Diana POTH   8   69  <=== new
 5.                  Zuzana PAUROVA   8   69  <=== changed
 7.                   Joanne CARTER   8   67  <=== changed
 8.                 Angela DEROCHIE   6   64
Next, there were some further fluctuations in the number of "Judges in Favor":

                                    Wins JIF
 5.                  Zuzana PAUROVA   9   77  <=== changed
 6.                      Diana POTH   9   76  <=== changed
 7.                   Joanne CARTER   9   74
 8.                 Angela DEROCHIE   7   69
 9.                 Julia SEBESTYEN   6   60  <=== new
Kulovana then received marks that gave her a "win" over Poth but not Derochie. This caused Poth to drop out of the 3-way near-tie situation with Paurova and Carter, and also put Kulovana and Derochie into a tie.

                                    Wins JIF
 8.                  Zuzana PAUROVA  10   83
 9.                   Joanne CARTER  10   79  <=== changed
10.                      Diana POTH   9   81  <=== changed
11.                  Lenka KULOVANA   8   74  <=== new
11.                 Angela DEROCHIE   8   74  <=== changed
13.                 Julia SEBESTYEN   6   62
Next, Leray got a "win" over Derochie but not Kulovana. This had the effect of breaking the tie between Kulovana and Derochie, and moving Derochie into a near-tie with Leray instead.

                                    Wins JIF
 9.                  Zuzana PAUROVA  13  106
10.                   Joanne CARTER  13  101
11.                      Diana POTH  12  103
12.                  Lenka KULOVANA  11   95
13.                 Angela DEROCHIE  10   93  <=== changed
14.              Marie-Pierre LERAY  10   91  <=== new
15.                 Julia SEBESTYEN   8   80
Finally, Mojca Kopac also scored a "win" over Derochie (but not any of the other skaters in this group), which caused Derochie to drop behind Leray.

                                    Wins JIF
11.                  Zuzana PAUROVA  14  116
12.                   Joanne CARTER  14  109
13.                      Diana POTH  13  110
14.                  Lenka KULOVANA  12  103
15.              Marie-Pierre LERAY  11   99  <=== changed
16.                 Angela DEROCHIE  10   97  <=== changed
17.                 Julia SEBESTYEN   9   87
18.                     Mojca KOPAC   9   82  <=== new
In short:

It's also interesting to observe that OBO would have given significantly different results than the current scoring system in this competition segment. Most obviously, Maria Butyrskaya would have been in 7th place rather than 5th, which would have cost her the bronze medal.

Ladies Free Skate

In this competition segment, there were two separate groups of skaters involved in flip-flops.

The first group involved Julia Sebestyen, Silvia Fontana, and Marie-Pierre Leray. Sebestyen was initially ahead of Fontana on "wins", but when Fontana scored a "win" over Leray and Sebestyen did not, all three of them were thrown into a tie on "wins" that was initially broken in the order: Leray, Fontana, Sebestyen. Later Fontana pulled up into an absolute tie with Leray, so that she finished two places ahead of Sebestyen.

The skaters in the second flip-flop group were Elena Sokolova, Diana Poth, Yulia Vorobieva, and Tanja Szewczenko. Sokolova initially led Poth on "wins", but since Poth scored a "win" over Vorobieva and Sokolova did not, we once again had a situation where three skaters were thrown into a tie on "wins". At this point, Sokolova remained in the lead with Poth and Vorobieva tied on "judges in favor". Later, Poth dropped behind Vorobieva, and then back into an absolute tie. Finally, Szewczenko scored a "win" over Poth but not Vorobieva or Sokolova, which once again dropped Poth both of those competitors on "wins", as well as behind Szewczenko on "judges in favor".


The OBO simulations of the four major competitions from the 1997-98 season show that there would have been a total of 28 flip-flops in 22 of the 48 competition segments. In many of these flip-flop instances, the skaters involved changed positions relative to one another more than once. Clearly, OBO does not eliminate flip-flops.


The computer program, input data, and complete results for the simulations are available on the web at http://www.frogsonice.com/skateweb/obo/.

Sandra Loosemore is a longtime skating fan and a regular contributor of commentary and reviews to the skating discussion groups on the Internet. She publishes The Figure Skating Page at http://www.frogsonice.com/skateweb/ and is the author of the Competitive Figure Skating Frequently Asked Questions List, a collection of reference and tutorial material about the sport that is regularly updated and published on the net. She is also a recreational figure skater.

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