First, it would appear the entire rule book on Ice Dance has been rewritten! Lots of changes on levels, lifts, requirements blah blah blah all coming down the pike. They aren't releasing the details yet on the new "Short Dance" that's associated with the elimination of compulsories. Check out the changes here (downloadable PDF file).
One of the really cool things they are proposing are these bullets that give the judges clearer guidelines on how to assign GOE's. They have tables with 8 bullet points and you get GOE based on how many bullet points you hit. For example, Spiral Sequences in Singles, they have the following bullet points:
*Good flow, energy, and execution.
*Good speed during sequence.
*Good body line and full extension.
*Minimal delay between spiral positions.
*Creativity and originality.
*Ability to attain positions and variations quickly and effortlessly.
*Element matched to the musical structure.
You have to do two of these to get a +1, four for a +2, and at least six for a +3. At least now judges have some basic guidelines to guide them as far as GOE's are concerned. Now each judges opinion on if certain bullets were achieved is still subjective, but there isn't much way around that. Any time a sport is "judged" there is subjectivity.
But of course what will no doubt be the big talking point for all the pundits is the new jump rule (downloadable PDF file)...already being passed around the internet (unfairly I believe) as the Asada Rule. In addition to the values jumps have, jumps values will also now exist on a scale. They are going to break the under-rotation rule up a bit by assigning a new point level for those barely cheated jumps. The ones that are more than a quarter rotation cheat but less than half a rotation cheat. These jumps will now be worth 70% of the base value of the jump.
Why are people calling it the Asada rule? Well the base value of a triple axel is 8.5 points. So if you do two in a program you stand to gain upwards of 17 points (perhaps more because one will likely be performed in combination). Mao Asada was often only earning a base value of 3.3 points for her axels because she was getting downgraded to a double. Now that just slightly downgraded triple axel is still worth 6 points. Two in your program is still earning you upwards of 12 points. It's a hit, but not nearly the hit it was before and still is a pretty lucrative jump element even with the downgrade. Quads, like axels, will also still be hefty point grabbers with the slight under-rotation. In short, everyone thinks this rule has been pushed to help Asada out.
Rather it was or not, it's a smart rule. I've said countless times that almost nailing a perfect triple axel should not be counted as a crappy double axel. That's just stupid. And as much as this rule helps Asada, it helps others too. This rule would have worked wonders for Flatt and Nagasu at the Olympics. Speaking of Nagasu, she'd probably be the reigning U.S. National Champ with this rule. Kim Yu-Na wouldn't have lost the short program to Miki Ando at the Grand Prix Final with this rule. It's a smart rule and I hope people don't use it as an excuse to continue petty bickering.