International Judging System
San Diego Figure Skating Communications
a non-profit educational organization
Event Required Elements
Figure Skating Requires Specific Elements in Competition Events
The sport of figure skating has different levels of competition events for male, female, couple, and team events. Some competition levels may have age restrictions in addition to passing specific skill related tests by Sept. 1 of each new competitive season.
The required elements for tests and competitions differ. The expectations for passing a test is less technically demanding that for a competition event at the same level. It is important to stress that testing is against a standard and in competitions, the winning performance varies according to the skills of the skaters who have entered. The competitive quality may vary according to the geographic region or section of the skater's primary home club.
Skaters may train in a different area from the location of the club they represent. Sometimes members of a pair and dance team may represent different clubs in different sections. They may choose the sectional competition they wish to compete.
Refer to -
USFS Competition Regions
Pre-Preliminary through Senior Free Skating Test Elements
How USFS Tests are Conducted
Each competitive event has specific required elements for short and long free skating programs.
Pair Short Program
Pair Long Program
Singles Short Program
Singles Long Program
All figure skating programs are based on standard elements. This guide will show you what those specific elements are for short programs, and you will also learn some of the specifics about creating a well balanced free skate or free dance. Because elements change yearly, this guide will also be updated at the beginning of every season.
There are five separate disciplines or divisions in competitive figure
skating World Championships:
The following information pertains to skaters competing at the senior
competitive levels - the highest level within the U.S. Figure
Skating competition structure.
The free skating long program has a length limitation of 4:30 +/- 10 seconds for senior men; 4 minutes +/- 10 seconds for senior ladies. Skaters select their own music and theme, and choreograph the jumps, spins, footwork and interpretive moves to best display their technical and artistic skills. Change of pace, creativity and innovative moves are encouraged. Technical and artistic perfection are paramount to the skater and to the judges.
As defined in the ISU regulations, a well balanced singles free skate must contain:
Jumps: There is a maximum of eight jump elements for men and seven jump elements for ladies. One must be an Axel-type jump. Only two triple or quad jumps can be repeated and they must be a part of a jump combination or jump sequence. There may be up to three jump combinations or sequences. Jump combinations may not contain more than two jumps, however one jump combination may consist of three jumps.
Spins: A maximum of three spins of a different nature - one must be a spin combination, one a flying spin and one spin with only one position.
Steps: One step sequence and one choreographic sequence, which must occur after the step sequence.
Two marks also are given for the
free skate - the first for technical elements, the second for program
Pairs Skating - is essentially skating performed in unison by partners, with the addition of daring and difficult overhead lifts, throw jumps and spins. The key to pairs skating is exact timing and unison. Whether the partners are together or apart, their movements should be synchronized with matching body lines, gestures and footwork.
In a pairs competition, the judges award two sets of scores for each skate, similar to singles events - technical elements and program component marks following the short program and the same for the free skate.
pairs short program consists of seven required elements, which include
overhead lifts, side-by-side solo jumps and solo spins done in unison,
footwork, pair spins and a death spiral, all performed to music of the
skaters' choice. The short program is 2:50 in length and requires the
following elements for the 2012-13 season:
Senior Pairs Short Program
1. Any hand-to-hand lift take-off (from Group 4)
2. One double or triple twist lift
3. One throw jump (double or triple)
4. One solo jump (double or triple)
5. Solo spin combination with only one change of foot and at least one change of position
6. Death spiral backward outside
7. Step sequence
The free skate consists of technical and artistic moves choreographed to best display the skaters' individual strengths, skills and ability to perform as a team throughout the 4:30 +/- 10 seconds program. Difficult double and triple solo and throw jumps will be seen, along with unique lifts and spins and variations on standard moves, as well as original moves. Shadow skating, in which partners perform identical maneuvers some distance apart, and mirror skating, where the pair's moves are in opposite directions and mirror each other, are challenging aspects of pairs skating.
A well balanced pairs free skate must contain:
Ice Dancing - was first seen at the World Championships in 1952 and introduced in 1976 as an Olympic Sport. Ice dancing is based on the different aspects of dance. The emphasis in ice dancing is on rhythm, interpretation of the music and precise steps. Its beauty lies in its limitless creativity, choreography, and its theatrical and innovative aspects.
An ice dancing competition is made up of two parts: a 2:50 short dance
and a 4 minute free dance.
Short Dance - The short dance consists of required elements including dance lifts, spins, twizzles, step sequences and sequences or sections of pattern dances. Teams choose their music and choreography, but it must conform to the specified rhythms and requirements. Judges look for creativity, good interpretation of the music and rhythm, originality and utilization of the full ice surface. Two marks are given for the short dance: one for technical elements and one for program components. For the 2012-13 season, the short dance must be to either polka, march or waltz rhythms.
The required elements for the short dance are:
Free Dance - The free dance allows dance teams four minutes to display their full range of technical skills, interpretation and inventiveness to music and choreography of their own choice. Teams will use changes of position, intricate and varied dance holds, lifts, spins and jumps and difficult footwork to present their best ice dancing skills. The required elements are:
See Program Component Marks
The following internet links have been gleaned from personal communications
combined with information from public institutions and athletic organizations/
associations that have a web presence with information concerning team and
individual sports programs:
All materials are copy protected.
The limited use of the materials for education purposes is allowed providing
credit is given for the source of the materials.