Implementation of the IJS

    The implementation of the new judging system marks one of the most dramatic changes ever in figure skating. Although the new system is a tremendous improvement, it still needs work. Having competed in both singles and pairs with the new system, I believe that figure skating is progressively moving in the right direction. The new system favors more interesting and complex programs, while still placing emphasis on the artistic side. — Jennifer Don, U.S. Team member, singles and pairs

    Staying informed of new rule changes and program information that could affect your performance is imperative. The requirements of the new judging system have led to some revisions in the well-balanced free skate requirements for junior and senior singles and pairs. Moreover, ice dancing is also affected as technical specialists and judges interpret the standards set by the new system.

   The "Clarification/Rule Interpretations" area is your key to understanding new rule changes that might affect your future performances. It's suggested that all skaters and coaches at this level print off a copy of the sheet (it's available as a PDF file) and use it as a reference when building programs. Knowing these rule changes can make the difference in your score at upcoming events.

How the New ISU Judging System Works

    The information on this page is intended as a general overview of the ISU new judging system to help you understand the basics of the system. The PRFSF will utilize the system at our 2005 National Championships  this information should be viewed as an overview for the system in international competitions only.

For more information on the ISU judging system visit the ISU web site at They provide links to all ISU documents that delve deeply into the system, including grades of execution, levels of difficulty, etc.

How the New System Differs from the 6.0 System
   The new system is based on cumulative points rather than the 6.0 standard of marks and placement. It is different from the 6.0 system in many ways, including the addition of new officials involved in the process and the way scores are tabulated and displayed.

    Under the new system, points are awarded for a technical score combined with points awarded for five additional components — skating skills, transitions, performance/execution, choreography/composition and interpretation. The exception to this is ice dancing, which also uses one additional component — timing. In the new system there are no penalties or deductions (except program length and other violations).

    If a skater performs more than the defined “well-balanced program” elements, there are no deductions, but the values of additional elements will not be calculated into the skater's score. If a skater performs less than the required elements, they receive less points, not deductions.

    The new system focuses on the skaters and not the judges. Judges no longer have to use their memory to compare all aspects of every skater and figure out where to place them, but they simply evaluate the qualities of the performance. Starting order does not impact a skater's score; in the old system starting early typically kept skaters' scores lower than if they had performed later in the competition. A skater can win coming from a much lower position as well — they no longer have to count on another skater's mistakes to climb the standings.

The Players
    At ISU competitions, there will be a technical panel with five people who work as a team and have direct communication with each other.

    In real time as the skater performs, the technical specialist will identify the element the skater is performing and the level of difficulty of the element, if applicable (for a spin, for instance). The level of difficulty of certain elements is defined by the new judging system. The work of the technical specialist allows the judge to concentrate on marking the quality of each element. All technical specialists are national and international skaters or coaches involved in skating on a regular basis.

    The technical controller, and a second technical specialist, support the primary technical specialist to ensure that any potential mistakes are corrected immediately. Any element can be reviewed by either the technical controller, the technical specialist, the assistant technical specialist or the judges. All final decisions made on elements and levels will be made from the majority opinion of the three technical positions.

    Each of these people will be recorded with an audio tape during each program, and video tape will be available to verify the calls. The elements are available for review after a skater's performance and scores can be changed accordingly. Review is over and scores are final once they are posted and announced to the public.

    Under the new system, the judges focus totally on scoring the quality of each element and the five program components. Their marks will be based on specific criteria for each element and will provide a comprehensive assessment of each skater's skills and performance. The computer will keep track of comparative scores, record results and calculate totals to determine rankings.

Technical Score
    In the technical score, each element of a skater's program is assigned a base value. A group of experts, including experienced skaters and coaches, have determined the element base value of each technical element. These element base values give the skaters credit for every element they perform.

    Some elements such as spins and footwork sequences have been assigned a level of difficulty. These elements are assigned their base value depending on the level of difficulty. This means that once the competition is over a skater will see that a difficult spin performed well receives more points than an easier spin.

    During the program, judges evaluate each element within a range of +3 to -3. (Note: this is not necessarily 1, 2 or 3 “points,” but rather the judges give 1, 2 or 3 + or - grades, which work out to a calculated figure to impact the grade of execution. The + or - numerical values are added to or deducted from the base value.) The judges' grade of execution is added to the base value of the element as part of the determination of the skater's score for that element.

    When a skater executes an element, the technical specialist, monitored by the technical controller, identifies the element. The judge then grades the quality of the element. Since a triple Axel's base value is 10, a skater has the potential to earn 10 points for that jump, or as little as 4.5. The sum of all performed elements together with the grade of execution forms the technical score.

Program Components (or presentation components)
    In addition to the technical score, the judges will award points on a scale from 0 to 10 with increments of 0.25 for the program components to express the overall presentation.

    In ladies, men's and pairs, the following five components are scored in the qualifying round, the short program and the free skate. In ice dancing, the following five components are scored in the original dance and the free dance:

Skating Skills
    Definition: Overall skating quality: edge control and flow over the ice surface demonstrated by a command of the skating vocabulary (edges, steps, turns, etc.), the clarity of technique and use of effortless power to accelerate and vary speed.


  • Balance, rhythmic knee action and precision of foot placement
  • Flow and effortless glide
  • Cleanness and sureness of deep edges, steps, turns
  • Power/energy and acceleration
  • Mastery of multi-directional skating
  • Mastery of one-foot skating
  • Equal mastery of technique by both partners shown in unison (pairs and ice dancing)

Transitions/Linking Footwork & Movement
Definition: The varied and/or intricate footwork, positions, movements and holds that link all elements. In singles, pairs and synchronized, this also includes the entrances and exits of technical elements.


  • Variety
  • Difficulty
  • Intricacy
  • Quality (including unison in pairs and ice dancing)
  • Balance of workload between partners (pairs and ice dancing)
  • Variety of holds (not excessive side by side and hand in hand in ice dancing)
  • Conformity to pattern and stop requirements in ice dancing, original dance only

   Definition: Performance is the involvement of the skater/couple/teams physically, emotionally and intellectually as they translate the intent of the music and choreography. Execution is the quality of movement and precision in delivery. This includes harmony of movement in pairs and ice dancing.


  • Physical, emotional and intellectual involvement
  • Carriage
  • Style and individuality/personality
  • Clarity of movement
  • Variety and contrast
  • Projection
  • Unison and “oneness” (pairs and ice dancing)
  • Balance in performance (pairs and ice dancing)
  • Spatial awareness between partners — management of the distance between partners and management of changes of hold (pairs and ice dancing)

   Definition: An intentional, developed and/or original arrangement of all types of movements according to the principles of proportion, unity, space, pattern, structure and phrasing.


  • Purpose (idea, concept, vision)
  • Proportion (equal weight of parts)
  • Unity (purposeful threading)
  • Utilization of personal and public space
  • Pattern and ice coverage
  • Phrasing and form (movements and parts structured to match the phrasing of the music)
  • Originality of purpose, movement and design
  • Shared responsibility in achieving purpose (pairs and ice dancing)

    Definition: The personal and creative translation of the music to movement on ice.


  • Effortless movement in time to the music
  • Expression of the music's style, character, rhythm
  • Use of finesse* to reflect the nuances of the music
  • Relationship between the partners reflecting the character of the music (pairs and ice dancing)
  • Appropriateness of music in ice dancing, original dance and free dance

* Finesse is the skater's refined, artful manipulation of nuances. Nuances are the personal artistic ways of bringing subtle variations to the intensity, tempo and dynamics of the music made by the composer and/or musicians.

Ice Dancing exception, compulsory dance
In ice dancing, the compulsory dance(s) are scored on only four program components: skating skills, performance/execution, interpretation (see above), as well as a unique component: timing.

    Definition: The ability of the couple to skate strictly in time with the music and to reflect the rhythm patterns and prescribed beat values of the compulsory dance.


  • Skating in time to the music
  • Skating on the strong beat
  • Skating the prescribed beat values for each step
  • Introductory steps (dance starting on the correct measure of the music)

Totaling the competition score
    The technical score is added together to the program components, which are factored differently for the different disciplines (see below). Additional points may be awarded for innovative elements, and deductions will be taken for rule violations. The result is the segment score.

    The sum of all segment scores (for example, short program plus free skate), is the total competition score. No segment scores are weighted, they are simply added together cumulatively to reach the competition score. The exception to this is qualifying segments (ladies, men and pairs), which are factored by 0.25. The skater with the highest competition score is declared the winner.

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