Championship Judging May be Changed

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Frank Kemperman, International Equerstrian Federation (FEI) Dressage Committee chairman, pointing finger with dressage judges Dr. Dietrich Plewa (left) and Leif Tornblad. © 2013 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Frank Kemperman, International Equerstrian Federation (FEI) Dressage Committee chairman, pointing finger with dressage judges Dr. Dietrich Plewa (left) and Leif Tornblad. © 2013 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

HERNING, Denmark, Aug. 23–Big differences in dressage judges’ scores that may have affected the award of medas will be reviewed by the International Equestrian Federation, with Dressage Committee Chairman Frank Kemperman saying Friday consideration will be given to the long-standing proposal to drop the highest and lowest scores at championships.

The impact of a single judges’ score for one combination in the Nations Cup Grand Prix could have deprived Great Britain of a silver medal instead of the bronze the team was awarded.

The about face on the proposal to drop the highest and lowest scores from the panel of seven judges that awards scores at championships came after a recalculation of the Grand Prix team scores that showed Germany would still have won gold but Britain would have won silver and the Netherlands would have been awarded bronze instead of the silver the team received.

Until the two-day Nations Cup that was decided by the Grand Prix, Frank told dressage-news.com, there was no evidence that dropping the highest and lowest scores would make a difference to the medal awards although some other sports apply such a format to counter national bias and other factors..

That evidence came from the scoring of the British combination of Michael Eilberg and Half Moon Delphi where six of the seven judges awarded scores above 70 per cent, the highest being 75.638 per cent from Isabelle Judet of France while Sweden’s Gustav Svalling gave the pair 65.532 per cent.

Calculations showed that if the highest and lowest scores were removed for Michael and Half Moon Delphi, the pair would have received 72.7924 per cent and the team total would have been 233.8776, good enough for the silver medal.

The panel of seven judges and a three-member Judges Supervisory Panel (JSP) was introduced after a FEI Task Force led by Frank revamped governance of the sport following the 2008 Olympics where the judging was sharply criticized, Moves to make improvements were blocked by the then judge-dominated dressage committee.

Faced with divided opinions on results, the Task Force opted for the scores from all seven judges counting but establishing the JSP to correct errors but not opinions. So if a judge does not see that a horse and rider miss a change in the line of 15 one-tempis in the Grand Prix the JSP can correct the score but cannot change the judge’s opinion as to the quality of a movement.

Five championships, the 2011 Europeans, the 2012 Olympics and three World Cup Finals had operated with a ground jury of seven and a JSP with no problems. The next championships are the World Equestrian Games in Normandy, Framce in 2014 where the FEI has proposed that four teams can qualify for the Olympics in Riomde Janeiro the following year.

An analysis by the FEI of the scores at this European Championship showed the impact a single score.

“This means we have to look at it and discuss it again,” he said, “to decide whether to change it.”

Dressage-news.com re-calculated the scores in the same way as the FEI and found the Grand Prix results, after eliminating the highest and lowest scores for the three combinations that counted, would be:

GER
Helen Langehanenberg/Damon Hill NRW – 84.3192
Isabell Werth/Don Johnson FRH – 75.4894
Kristina Sprehe/Desperados FRH – 75.1704
TOTAL = 234.979
(Official 234.651)

GBR
Charlotte Dujardin/Valegro – 85.8298
Carl Hester/Uthopia – 75.2554
Michael Eilberg/Half Moon Delphi – 72.7924
TOTAL 233.8776
(Official 233.540)

NED
Edward Gal/Glock’s Undercover – 81.617
Adelinde Cornelissen/Jerich Parzival – 80.7232
Hans Peter Minderhoud/Glock’s Romanov – 71.234
TOTAL 233.5742
(Official 233.967)

At the medal awards ceremony for the European Championships team competition, Germany would still have heard the silver and bronze medals could have been awarded differently if the lowest and highest scores were not counted. © 2013 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
At the medal awards ceremony for the European Championships team competition, Germany would still have heard their anthem but the silver and bronze medals would have been awarded differently if the lowest and highest scores were not counted. © 2013 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

The seven judges awarded a total of 16,835 marks, 37 marks for 65 horses in the Grand Prix, and the JSP made only 34 corrections.

In the Grand Prix Special, 8,600 marks were awarded and the JSP made 11 changes, or 0.01 per cent of the total that Frank described as “almost nothing.”