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ISU Judging System (IJS) in Figure Skating Competitions
In 2004, after the judging controversy during the 2002 Winter Olympics, the International Skating Union (ISU) adopted the International Judging System (IJS), or Code of Points, which became mandatory at all international competitions in 2006, including the 2006 Winter Olympics. The ISU International Judging System (IJS) is used in all qualifying figure skating competitions.
  After each skater completes their program there are two scores presented that are added together to come up with the total score.
  • The first score is the Technical Element Score (TES)
  • The second score is the Program Components Score (PCS)
1. Technical Elements Score (TES)

A figure skating program consists of various elements, jumps, spins, spirals, and footwork. In IJS, each program is permitted a certain number of elements based on the competitive shafting level. For example junior level singles freestyle program can have a certain number of jump combinations.

  Calculating Points
  • Every element has a base value indicated in the Scale of Value (SOV) chart.
  • Each element is judged by a technical pannel to determine what element it counts as.
  • Once that is determined each of the judges determines how well the element was performed. This is called the grade of execution (GOE)
  • In determining the grade of execution the judge can mark the GOE score from -3 to +3.
  • The GOE from each judge is averaged after dropping the highest and lowest value.
  • The average is rounded to two decimal places.
  • This rounded average is the panel’s GOE of an individual element.
  • The panel's scores for all the elements are added giving the Total Elements Score (TES).
  • Jump combinations are evaluated as one unit by adding the base values of the jumps included and applying the GOE with the numerical value of the most difficult jump. The factored base value of the jump combination will be rounded to two decimal places.
  • Jump sequences are evaluated as one unit by adding the base values of the two highest value jumps,
    multiplying the result by 0.8 and after that applying the GOE with the numerical value of the most difficult jump. The factored base value of the jump sequence will be rounded to two decimal places.
  • In the free skate of singles skating the base values (but not the GOEs) for all jump elements started in the second half of the program will be multiplied by a special factor 1.1 in order to give credit for even
    distribution of difficulties in the program.
  • Time violations: -1.0 for every five seconds lacking or in excess
  • Music violations: -1.0 for vocal music
  • Illegal element violation: -2.0 for every illegal element
  • Costume and prop violation: -l.0
  • Falls: -l.0 for every fall (in pair skating -1.0 for a fall of one partner and -2.0 for a fall of both partners).
    For interpretation of this rule, a fall is defined as loss of control by a skater with the result that the majority of the skater’s own body weight is on the ice supported by any other part of the body other than the blades e.g. hand(s), knee(s), back, buttock(s) or any part of the arm.
  • Deductions will be applied for interruptions to the program as follows:
    • -1.0 for 11-20 seconds interruption
    • -2.0 for 21-30 seconds interruption, etc.
  • Deduction of -2.0 will be applied when appropriate in case of a fresh start.
2. Program Components Score (PCS)

There are five categories that make up the program component score.

Each category is marked with a value from 0 to 10 in 0.25 increments. These five marks are then multiplied by a factor depending on the type of program and level. For senior ladies and pairs, the factor is 0.8 for the short program and 1.6 for the long program. This means that PCS is more important in the long program.

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)
  • Balance in skating ability of individual skaters (synchronized)

The varied and/or intricate footwork, positions, movements and holds that link all elements. In singles, pairs and synchronized skating, this also includes the entrances and exits of technical elements.

  • Variety
  • Difficulty
  • Intricacy
  • Quality (including unison in pairs, ice dancing and synchronized skating)
  • 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
  • Variation of speed and linking steps (synchronized)
  • Variation of changes of direction and hold (synchronized)
  • Difficulty and variety of entrances/exits from elements/preparation phase (synchronized)

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, ice dancing and synchronized skating.

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

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, ice dancing and synchronized skating)
  • Distribution of highlights (synchronized)

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, ice dancing and synchronized skating)
  • Appropriateness of music in ice dancing, original dance and free dance
  Here is an IJS scoring example from the 2009 US Nationals Championship
Ladies Short Program
Place Name TSS TES PCS SS TR PE CH IN Deduction
1 Alissa Czisny, Detroit SC
2 Rachael Flatt, Broadmoor SC
3 Caroline Zhang, All Year FSC
4 Brittney Rizo, SC of Boston
5 Katrina Hacker, SC of Boston

You can see from this ijs scoring example that the ISU judging system is pretty complicated. There are many components to the ISU judging system and the way they are combined is complicated as well. If you look at the point value document for the IJS system in figure skating you will be amazed. It is a big document with values for just about every move in figure skating.

The IJS is so complicated that there is even a document called Judges First Aid which is a quick reference for judges to use during competitions. It is a good document to become familiar with if you want to know what the judges will be looking for when they are using the ISU IJS system for scoring a figure skating competition.

  The objective of IJS system in figure is to ensure that sorting is fair and unbiased. This section of our site will help you in understanding the base value of IJS scoring system and GOE.
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Links to Understanding
ISU Judging System
Scoring Figure Skating Jumps in IJS
Scoring Figure Skating Spins in IJS
Scoring Figure Skating Spirals in IJS
Scoring Figure Skating Step Sequences in IJS
Grade of Execution (GOE) in IJS
Elements of Freestyle Program
Major Competition Links
USFS Qualifying Competitions
2010 US Nationals
2009/2010 Figure Skating Junior Grand Prix
2009/2010 Figure Skating Senior Grand Prix
The 2010 Olympic Winter Games
 2010 Olympics Figure Skating Qualification
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