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International Judging System FAQ


The international judging system will be used at:
  • Regionals and Sectionals - All qualifying levels and all disciplines
  • Synchronized Sectionals - Intermediate and above events including adult, collegiate and open junior
  • U.S. Junior Championships - All events
  • U.S. Championships - All events
  • U.S. Synchronized Team Skating Championships - Intermediate and above events including adult and collegiate
  • U.S. Adult Championships - Adult gold events and higher in the free skate (singles and pairs) and dance events, including masters open dance

    Q: Does the change of edge spiral count as one or two spirals?
    A: The change of edge is a transition between two spirals. Both spirals must be held for a minimum of three (3) seconds in order for feature to count. This counts as two of the attempted spiral positions.

    Q: Can I repeat double jumps in the novice free skate as many times as I would like?
    A: According to the 2006 U.S. Figure Skating rulebook, Rule 3663 B:

    Jump Repetitions: A total of two (2) jumps with two and one-half (2½) or three (3) revolutions may be repeated, and at least one (1) attempt must be in a jump combination or jump sequence.

    This means all single and doubles, EXCEPT for the double Axel (2½ rotations), can be repeated as many times as the skater would like (within the maximum number of jump elements in the program). The double Axel and any jump of three revolutions may be repeated only once, and that repetition must be in a sequence or combination. Moreover, only two jumps of 2½ and/or three revolutions may be repeated in this manner.

    Q: Define spins of a different nature.
    A: There are a maximum of three spins that can be performed in a novice program. While a skater could choose to perform no spins under the IJS, it is not recommended as no points would be gained from this choice.

    Two of these spins are specified and the third is at the total option of the skater. The required spins are a flying spin with no change of feet or position, and a combination spin where there must be a change of position, but the number of changes of feet is optional. The required combination spin may commence with a fly.

    A different nature simply means that you may not repeat a spin. If you chose to perform a flying camel spin for your required flying spin, you could not perform a second flying camel spin as the optional third spin. A second combination spin (or combination spin with change of foot) would be allowed as the third spin as long as the positions that make up the two spins are different enough so that the spins do not appear to be identical.

    Q: What does "unsupported spiral" mean?
    A: An unsupported spiral is one where there is no holding of the leg by the hand or arm. This includes grabbing of the boot or blade to pull the leg up above the head. In order to receive higher than a level 1 at least one spiral must be unsupported. An unsupported change of edge in the spiral sequence is defined as a simple change of edge without the assistance of changes of spiral position, arm position, dropping of the leg, or pushing.

    Q: Where can coaches go to learn more about the new rules and the new system?
    A: Coaches have several opportunities to learn more about the new rules and the new system. The PSA has been holding seminars for coaches as well as posting clarifications on their web site. The ISU web site (www.isu.org) has issued numerous communications which detail the new scale of values. The ISU has a dedicated section on their web site of all the ISU documentation of the ISU judging system. Coaches should contact the PSA for continuing education opportunities.

    Q: Why do program component scores receive a factor, and how does that process work?
    A: The reason for factoring in singles and pairs was to make sure that the technical and the components remained on a 1:1 ratio. In the short program for men, the maximum component score would be 50 (unlikely but mathematically 10 + 10 + 10 + 10 + 10 = 50). Their technical score also has the possibility of reaching 50 with the types of elements that the men are capable of executing, therefore; the factor for the men in the short program is 1.

    However in the ladies and pairs short program, the type of technical elements done and the point value being able to be achieved is less than 50, more like 40, therefore in order to have a 1:1 relationship in the short program, the total component score is multiplied by 0.8, thus maintaining the 1:1 ratio.

    In the free skate, the principle is followed. The men execute elements that can exceed 100 points in base value because there are 14 element boxes to be filled. Since the component score still has a maximum score value of 50, the component score is factored (multiplied) by 2 in order to maintain that 1:1 ratio. Since the ladies and pairs have technical elements that have a base value of close to 80, the component score is multiplied by 1.6, again maintaining the 1:1 ratio.

    Dance is a different ball game. The components are factored in order of importance of the segment being danced. As in compulsory dance ... timing is of the essence and therefore that has a greater factor. In the original dance, interpretation of the rhythm chosen is the most important and therefore that is weighted (factored) the most. In free dance, transitions are weighted the most because it is how the dancers maneuver around the ice in making their elements appear seamless that is the most important.

    Remember that in singles and pairs, the mean (average) is found first for each component. All five components are then added and then the factor applied. In ice dancing, the mean (average) is found for each component, then factor is then applied, and then each component is added granting the total.


    Q: How are cheated jumps handled in the new system?
    A: Under the IJS, jumps that are cheated receive a real penalty in the number of points they are worth. There is no way to overlook cheated jumps under the IJS. Remember that all phases of a jump are evaluated in the new system: preparation, take-off, air position/rotation and landing, so a cheated landing is only part of the process to assign a score for the element. It is a very important part, however, if the skater cannot adequately rotate the jump.

    Cheated jumps are marked down by the judges in their grade of execution (GOE) mark. That is the mark given by the judge for the technical elements in a skater's program. Each element receives a GOE mark from the judge. The GOE mark ranges from -3 to +3. The high and the low GOE are dropped and the average of the remaining GOE marks from the judges will constitute the GOE for that particular element. This is called the "trimmed mean."

    At the same time, a specialized official, the technical specialist, identifies each element as the skater skates. The technical specialist "calls" the element and this determines how many points the element will receive based upon the degree of difficulty of the element. This is referred to as the "base value" for the element. (The base values for the elements are listed in a Scale of Values, along with the numerical value for the judges' GOE marks. The numerical value for the judges' GOE is added or subtracted from the element's "base value" to determine the score for that particular element. Sounds complicated, but thanks to a computerized calculation program, this works smoothly and quickly inside the calculation computer.

    Here's where the real penalty for a cheated jump may come in: If the technical specialist determines that the jump is cheated more than one-quarter of a turn, the jump itself is "downgraded." (In events using video replay, the technical specialist will be able to examine the landing with super slow motion instant replay.) For example, if the skater tries a triple Salchow and cheats it more than one-quarter turn, the jump will be "called" a downgraded triple Salchow by the technical specialist and will receive base value points for a double Salchow rather than a triple. This is only fair. A skater who is that short on the rotation is not really close to executing the triple. The base value for a triple Salchow is 4.5; the base value for a double Salchow is 1.3. So this big cheat will cost the skater 3.2 points! The judges mark how well the jump was executed, and of course, a cheated jump will not be scored as well by the judges as a clean jump. The skater loses more points there.

    The skater and his or her coach will have to decide whether to chance a "downgrade" if the skater is not quite consistent on the rotation of a particular jump. That is where the new system really relies on you to develop a program that you think can achieve the most points based upon your ability. If the skater does a lovely double Salchow, the GOE may be in positive numbers and actually outpoint a cheated, downgraded triple Salchow attempt.

    Jumps may also be cheated on take-off, as well as on landing. Three types of jumps are presently evaluated by the technical panel for cheats on the takeoff. A toe loop cheated on takeoff is evaluated to see the impact of the cheat on its rotation. If it is determined to be a "toe Axel", the toe loop will be downgraded. Starting in the 2007-2008 season, the takeoffs for the flip and the Lutz will also be closely scrutinized by the technical panel. If the edge is "significantly" changed before takeoff, the jump will be called as the skater intends it, but an alert is sent to the judges that the edge is significantly incorrect; the judges will then be obliged to deduct points in their GOE mark.

    Bottom line: skaters will be penalized for cheated jumps. Landing and takeoff edges must be as clean as possible or skaters risk severe loss of points for the element.

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