Know Your Skating: Judging

The International Skating Union (ISU) has created a new judging system for figure skating and ice dancing. Skate Canada has adopted these changes and will be using this new system to calculate the results at competitions.

For singles and pairs short program and free program and the original and free dance, the system is based on points being awarded for a technical score and for five additional components, as outlined below.

Technical Score:
Each existing element (e.g. jump, lift, footwork, etc.) has a point value. Once a skater performs an element, it will be identified and confirmed by the Technical Panel. The value points representing this element will be automatically added to the skater's own point account. The judges will then decide upon the quality of that performed element using a scale of seven grades ranging from "-3" to "+3". Based on the grade, a set value will be added to or subtracted from the original value of the element.

For each element, the highest and lowest points are discarded. The element score is the average determined from the points of the remaining judges. The Total Element Score will be the sum of each element score.

Program Component Score:
In addition to the technical elements, points will also be awarded for the five different program components. Judging on a scale of 1-10 (with increments of 0.25), the judges express the overall presentation of the whole program. The program components include:

  • Skating Skills - the competitor's ability to skate;
  • Transition, Linking Footwork and Movement - the variation of linking movements between elements;
  • Performance/Execution - expresses the style, carriage and unison;
  • Choreography/Composition - expresses the quality of composition of the program;
  • Interpretation - indicates the skater's expression of the music's style, character and rhythm throughout the entire program.

The Program Component scores are also calculated by discarding the highest and lowest score, then averaging the remaining scores. Each is then multiplied by a factor that is set out in the rules for each event.

Additional points may be awarded for innovative elements; deductions are made for rule violations and falls.

Result:
The total score for any segment will be the Technical Score added to the total score for the five Program Components, plus any bonuses minus any deductions.

For the compulsory dance, the system is based on points awarded for a technical score and for four additional components, as outlined below:

Technical Score:
Each segment of the compulsory dance has a point value. Once a couple performs a segment, the judges will decide upon the quality of that performed segment using a scale of seven grades ranging from "-3" to "+3". Based on the grade, a set value will be added to or subtracted from the original value of the segment.

For each segment, the highest and lowest points are discarded. The total segment score is the average determined from the points of the remaining judges. The total segment score will be the sum of each segment score.

Program Components:
In addition to the technical elements, points will also be awarded for the four different components. Judging on a scale of 1-10 (with increments of 0.25), the judges express the overall presentation of the whole program. The program components are:

  • Skating Skills - indicates the ability of the couple to perform dance steps and movements over the ice surface;
  • Performance/Execution - expresses the demonstration of unison, body alignment, carriage and style;
  • Interpretation - indicates the couple's expression of the music's style, character and rhythm throughout the compulsory dance;
  • Timing - the ability of the couple to skate strictly to the time of the music.

The Program Component scores are also calculated by discarding the highest and lowest score, then averaging the remaining scores. Each is then multiplied by a factor that is set out in the rules.

Result:
The total from the Technical Score will be added to the total score for the four components minus any deductions. The result is the Compulsory Dance Score.

Final Competition Result

In Singles and Pairs figure skating, scores from the two segments, the short program and the free skate, are added together to give the total Competition Score. In the event that a qualifying round is skated, 25% of the score awarded to the qualifying freeskate is added to the total score for the athlete. In Ice Dance, scores from the three segments, the compulsory dances, the original dance and the free dance, are added together to give the total Competition Score. At the end of the event the skater or team with the highest Competition Score wins the event.

More information on the new judging system can be found on the ISU Web site.

New Judging System

  1. Skate Canada has been a supporter of the principles of the ISU's "New Judging System" since April of 2002. To that end, Skate Canada presented a position statement on the "New Judging System" at the 2002 ISU congress.
  2. During the 2003 competitive season, the ISU conducted parallel trials of the "New Judging System." Skate Canada personnel participated in all of these trials.
  3. In 2002, the ISU created a commission to be responsible for the development of the "New Judging System." Two Canadians are members of this commission: Mr. Ted Barton, Executive Director of Skate Canada British Columbia and Mrs. Ann Shaw, ISU referee in Ice Dance and member of the ISU Ice Dance Technical Committee.
  4. Between December 2002 and October 2003, Skate Canada has conducted the following training with resect to the "New Judging System:"

    1. In depth education and monitoring sessions, as well as on-going support, for all Senior National Team Athletes
    2. In depth educational session for 50 national level coaches
    3. Information session for all Junior and Developmental Team Athletes
    4. Trial sessions of the new system for approximately 100 judges and coaches
    5. Presentations to Athletes, Coaches and Officials at all National Level events during the 2002-2003 season (4 events)
    6. 18 Presentations at the provincial level conducted for all members of the skating family (approximately 600 people in attendance)
  5. Between December 2002 and October 2003, Skate Canada conducted 5 trials of the "New Judging System" at domestic events. These trials covered all levels of skating from Introductory to Senior, in all disciplines. As a result of these trials, Skate Canada is confident that the principles of the calculation and judging process of this "New Judging System" can be applied at all levels of competition.
  6. Skate Canada has conducted 5 trials of different levels of technology in the application of the new judging system. From the case of no technology, to the case of two computers in an office, the system performed effectively and efficiently, working within reasonable time limits. As a result, Skate Canada is confident that the "New Judging System" can be applied with significantly less technology than is required at the ISU level - and even less technology than is now required.
  7. Skate Canada supports the principles of the "New Judging System" for the following reasons:

    1. The new judging system provides a quantitative measure of performance by which all athletes at all levels can gauge their performance. This system treats all athletes equally in this regard, and supports the association vision of supporting the development of personal excellence.
    2. The new judging system provides a consistent application of the standards of skating. With the freedom of no maximum score, the "New Judging System" is able to support written standards by which all athletes are measured. This detailed written standard is something that can not exist within the current "6.0-ranking" judging system.
  8. In preparation for the 2004 ISU congress, Skate Canada will continue to support the development of the "New Judging System" at the international and domestic levels.
  9. Given the research that has been conducted to date, it is clear that the current "6.0-ranking" system can no longer support the level of performances given by skaters, the level of participation in the sport, or the realities of international competition. For that reason, Skate Canada will continue to work towards making the "New Judging System" a successful endeavor.
 
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