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
For more information on the ISU judging system
visit the ISU web site at www.isu.org. They provide
links to all ISU documents that delve deeply into the system, including
grades of execution, levels of difficulty, etc.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Components (or presentation components)
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:
Footwork & Movement
* 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.
the competition score
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.