New Judge Review System in Olympic Dressage

Wowee! The Brits pretty much haven’t put a foot wrong here and added gold in team dressage yesterday to their medal haul.? A medal in eventing and dressage was pretty much expected but the show jumping medal seemed to be a surprise, and all this gold and silver is icing on the cake.? A lot of it has to do with the hometown ?enthusiasm throughout the entire Olympics that is bolstering the efforts of the athletes. When was the last time you went to a dressage show where 23,000 people were doing the wave’

The dressage here has running scoreboards placed around the ring in several spots that have worked better here than any I have seen.? They are positioned so that everyone in the crowd can see them but not the judges.? They show splits like those seen for ?timed events like skiing,? So, for example, if a score for the extended walk is shown, the scoreboard shows the score for that specific movement, the overall score for the rider up to that point in the test, and the corresponding score of the leader at that point in the test.? It really heightens the interest, and I don’t think it detracts from watching the ride in the ring itself like it can if there is one scoreboard at the end of the ring.

As I mentioned before, there are seven dressage judges here rather than the usual five.? There is also a review panel of three judges, but I don’t know where they are sitting. Maybe they have the benefit of the excellent video cameras here. Apparently, the way it works is that if any movement has a wide discrepancy, the review panel looks at it quickly and can change the score of any judge if they feel that judge missed something.? Gary Rockwell, who sat at C for the Grand Prix and B for the Special said typical examples where this might happen would be flying changes on the center line where it’s difficult for the judge at C to tell if any changes are late behind or the final piaffe on the center line where a judge at the end of the ring can’t tell if the horse is traveling forward off the spot at X.

Some quick numbers were done at the end of the competition.? It was estimated that 12,600 marks were issued over the three days of dressage so far, and 85 marks were adjusted.? I’ll be very interested to see an analysis of the judging here in a month or two, but it looks very consistent.? I’d like to see if scores/placings might have changed with just five judges rather than seven. The judges speaking at this press conference said they welcomed someone looking over their shoulder, so to speak, and that the system seemed to work well.

We got a good example of why Steffen Peters is such an accomplished competitor. ??When Ravel was coming down the center line for the pirouette/one-tempi/second pirouette combination, Ravel stumbled a stride or two after the first pirouette.? Steffen got him up and rebalanced quickly to nail the tempis a stride later and then the second pirouette. Impressive.

A little present I give myself here is to go into the results computer and print out the marks for the individual movements for each judge for the top 10 or 12 rides.? I take them home and use them for judge forums after the dressage CD is issued.? So I looked to see what Steffen got for that sequence.? The first pirouette got 7.5s and 8s.? The sequence of ones got 4s and 3s, and the second pirouette got 7.5s and 8s.? Since the pirouette has a coefficient, that was a big save by Steffen.? His rider scores ranged from? 8s to 9s.? And yes, the jduges here are making very full use of the half point after it got a sort of slow start with the FEI-level judges a couple years ago.

Today (tomorrow depending on when you read this) will be the individual show jumping.? The stands will be bursting again with enthusiastic Brits.? Besides their successes, the big story here is the emergence of the Saudis in show jumping.? More on that later.

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