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The ISU Judging System (or the International Judging System (IJS)), occasionally referred to as the Code of Points (COP) system, is the scoring system currently used to judge the figure skating disciplines of men's and ladies' singles, pair skating, ice dance, and synchronized skating. It was designed and implemented by the International Skating Union (ISU), the ruling body of the sport. This system of scoring is used in all international competitions sanctioned by the ISU, including the Olympic Games. The ISU Judging System replaced the previous 6.0 system in 2004. This new system was created in response to the 2002 Winter Olympics figure skating scandal, in an attempt to make the scoring system more objective and less vulnerable to abuse.
Figure skating was formerly judged on a 6.0 scale. This scale is sometimes called "the old scale", or "old system". Skaters were judged on "technical merit" (in the free skate), "required elements" (in the short program), and "presentation" (in both programs). The marks for each program ran from 0.0 to 6.0 and were used to determine a preference ranking, or "ordinal", separately for each judge; the judges' preferences were then combined to determine placements for each skater in each program. The placements for the two programs were then combined, with the free skate placement weighted more heavily than the short program. The highest scoring individual (based on the sum of the weighted placements) was declared the winner.
In 2004, after the judging controversy during the 2002 Winter Olympics, the ISU adopted the New Judging System (NJS), or Code of Points, which became mandatory at all international competitions in 2006, including the 2006 Winter Olympics.
Under the ISU Judging System, the base value of each element performed by the skater is identified by the Technical Panel. The purpose of this panel is to identify all of the elements performed by the skater in real time as they happen. The panel is also responsible for: any "technical errors" to jumps; identifying falls of the skater; and any "levels of difficulty" performed in Spins and Steps.
The Technical Panel is composed of the following five people:
The judging panel's primary purpose is to grade the quality of each individual technical element performed by the skater, known as the Grade of Execution (GOE), and the five Program Component Scores (PCS) for each segment of the competition. The five component scores replaced the "presentation mark" in the old 6.0 system. At most international events and other large National Championships (such as the U.S. Championships) there are nine judges, but at smaller competitions the panel might consist of between four and seven judges. An odd number of judges was needed to break ties in the old 6.0 system, but this is no longer necessary with averaging marks in the ISU Judging System.
The evaluation of the Grade of Execution (GOE) for each technical element has clear guidelines from the ISU; it ranges from a "base value" of 0, to as high as +5 and as low as -5. In order to award a positive GOE, a judge needs to identify a certain number of "positive bullets" with almost no reductions. One positive bullet is needed for a GOE of +1, two bullets for a +2, three for a +3, four for a +4, and five or more for a GOE of +5. In the case of a negative GOE, a judge must be able to support their evaluation with reference to the published list of reductions. As the skater performs each element, the judges evaluate all phases of the element, possibly weighing both positive and negative aspects of the element in order to determine a final GOE. Prior to the 2018-19 season, which started on 1 July 2018, the GOE scoring system ranged from -3 to +3, with a base value of 0. The changes were implemented to allow more accurate scoring factors to be awarded in a sport that is becoming increasingly technical.
To aid the process of evaluating only the quality of an element, while ignoring the difficulty of the element, the judges are simply shown the element codes on their screens; they do not see the levels of difficulty awarded by the Technical Panel. The judges must be able to support every mark that they have awarded in case they are questioned by the referee after the event.
The five program component scores are Skating skills, Transitions, Performance, Composition, and Interpretation. Each mark has individual characteristics that are evaluated; they are scored from 0.25 to 10.00 in quarter-point increments. The scale from zero to ten is an absolute scale, so for example if 6.00 is considered "above average" then each judge's understanding of a 6.00 should remain the same throughout an event and their judging careers.
The judging panel consists of up to nine judges and one referee. The Technical Panel sends the element codes to the judges' computers for marking. For each element, all of the judges award a mark for Grade of Execution (GOE) that is an integer between -5 and +5. The GOE mark is then translated into a value using the Scale of Value (SOV) table which is published regularly by ISU Communications. The GOE values from the nine judges are averaged using the "trimmed mean" procedure, where the highest and lowest values are discarded and an average is calculated from the remaining seven values. This average value (which may be positive or negative) is finally added to the base value to produce the judging panel's overall score for the element.
Judges also mark the Program Components, which are: Skating Skills; Transitions/Linking Footwork; Performance and Execution; Composition and Choreography; and Interpretation and Timing. These Components are marked on a scale of 0.25-10 with 0.25 increments and averaged using the same "trimmed mean" procedure that was used for averaging the GOE marks. Judges also have the power to input majority deductions such as Music Violations and Costume/Prop Violations. The Referee inputs other deductions such as Time Violations, Interruption in Excess and Costume Failures.
The number and type of technical elements included in a skating program depend on the event and on the level of competition. At the senior international level, the short program for both singles and pair skaters must contain seven technical elements. The free program must contain twelve elements for singles and eleven elements for pairs.
Details of the seven elements required of singles skaters in their short program are given in ISU rule 611: the skater must attempt two solo jumps, one combination jump, three spins (including one combination spin and one flying spin), and one step sequence. The seven elements required of pair skaters in their short program are detailed in ISU rule 620; the pair must attempt two lifts, one side-by-side jump, one throw jump, one spin combination, one death spiral, and one step sequence.
The twelve elements required of singles skaters in their free program are detailed in ISU rule 612; the skater must perform seven jumps, three spins (including one combination spin and one flying spin), one step sequence, and one choreographic sequence (formerly the "choreographic step sequence" for Men and the "spiral sequence" for Ladies). The eleven elements required of pair skaters in their free program are detailed in ISU rule 621; they must attempt a maximum of four lifts (including one twist lift), four jumps (including two different throw jumps), one pair spin combination, one death spiral, and one choreographic sequence (previously known as the "spiral sequence").
The panel's points for each Program Component are multiplied by a factor depending on the event. For singles and pair skating, the factor is uniform for all components, as follows:
The factors in ice dance are different for each Program Component and depend on the dance type.
Following an event, the complete judges' scores are published in a document referred to as a protocol. This document uses specific notations as described below.
If a skater attempts more than the allowed number of a certain type of element in a program, then the element is still described and called as such by the technical controller, but receives a base value of 0 as well as a GOE of 0, regardless of how the judges have marked it. On ISU protocol sheets, elements that have been nullified by this are denoted by an asterisk (*) next to the element name. In free skating, for jumps executed twice as solo jumps, the second jump is marked as +REP and receives 70% of its base value. Jump elements performed after the halfway point of a program are marked with x and receive a 10% bonus added to their base value. If a jump has been called as having an unclear take-off edge, that jump is marked with ! and receives a -1 to -2 GOE depending on severity; if a jump has been called as having an incorrect take-off edge (for example, an inside edge on the take-off of a Lutz jump), that jump is marked with e and receives a -2 or -3 GOE depending on the severity of the edge fault. Jumps that are under-rotated are marked with < or << depending on the degree of turns completed on the ice instead of in mid-air. < indicates that a jump had less than a ½ turn but more than a ¼ turn completed on the ice, reducing the base value to 70% of its original value. << indicates a severe under-rotation (a ½ turn or more) and the jump is valued as if it had one less rotation (e.g. a triple would receive the value of a double).
Jumps that are executed in combination or sequence are marked as a single element, with a base mark equal to the sum of the base marks for the individual jumps. However, a combination or sequence can be downgraded - marked with +COMBO (combinations in the short program) or +SEQ (combinations and sequences in the free skate) - in which case the sum of the base values of the jumps is reduced to 80% of its original value.
|Abbreviation||Full name||Full Code|
|A = Axel||Single Axel jump||1A|
|Lz = Lutz||Single Lutz jump||1Lz|
|F = Flip||Single Flip jump||1F|
|Lo = Loop||Single Loop jump||1Lo|
|S = Salchow||Single Salchow jump||1S|
|T = Toe loop||Single Toe loop jump||1T|
|Double Toe loop||2T|
|Triple Toe loop||3T|
|Quadruple Toe loop||4T|
|ATh||Throw Axel||Full code shows number of revolutions using same concept as above for solo jumps|
|TTh||Throw Toe loop|
|CSp||Camel Spin||Full code ends in nothing for No Value, or , , , , and|
|CCSp||Change foot Camel Spin|
|CLSp||Change foot Layback Spin|
|CSSp||Change foot Sit Spin|
|CUSp||Change foot Upright Spin|
|CCoSp||Change foot Combination Spin|
|FCSp||Flying Camel Spin|
|FLSp||Flying Layback Spin|
|FSSp||Flying Sit Spin|
|FUSp||Flying Upright Spin|
|PCoSp||Pair Combination Spin|
|ChSt||Choreographed Step Sequence|
|CiSt||Circular step sequence|
|DiSt||Diagonal in hold step sequence|
|MiSt||Midline in hold step sequence|
|NtMiTw||Not Touching Midline Sequential Twizzles|
|NtMiSt||Not Touching Midline Steps|
|SeSt||Serpentine step sequence|
|SlSt||Straight line step sequence|
|SpSq||Spiral sequence of any pattern (no longer in use as of 2010)|
|Tw||Twist Lift, Preceded by number of revolutions. E.g. Double Twist is coded 2TW|
|1Li||Group One Lift. (Hand to Armpit Hold)|
|2Li||Group Two Lift. (Hand to Waist Hold)|
|3Li||Group Three Lift (Hand to Hip Hold)|
|4Li||Group Four Lift (Hand to Hand Hold) (AKA "Press Lift")|
|Group 5 Lifts||Below all Group 5 lifts, are a pressure lift with rotation on the takeoff by the lady. The difference in code depends on the precise take off.|
|5ALi||Axel Lasso Lift- Lady takes off Forwards edge and facing the same direction as the man. (Both skaters facing forwards.) Lady makes one full Rotation around the man on the way up.|
|5RLi or 5BLi||Group Five Reverse/Backward Lasso Lift. Like the 5ALi, the lady makes a full revolution on the way up. This lift she and the partner may be back to back, or the lady is towards the man. Her take off from the ice is from a backwards positions.|
|5SLi||Step Takeoff- Similar to 5ALi but direction doesn't matter and only a 1/2 revolution on the way up.|
|5TLi||Toe Takeoff- Similar to 5SLi but the lady's toe taps upon taken. Only 1/2 revolution on the way up.|
|RRoLi||Reverse rotational lift|
|SlLi||Straight line lift|
|BiDs||Backward inside death spiral|
|BoDs||Backward outside death spiral|
|FiDs||Forward inside death spiral|
|FoDs||Forward outside death spiral|
The level of a spin or footwork sequence is denoted by the number following the element abbreviation. The number of rotations on a jump is denoted by the number preceding the element abbreviation. For example, 3A denotes a triple Axel, while SlSt4 denotes a level four straight line step sequence. ChSt and ChSq are step sequences and spiral sequences that have no level and a fixed base value.
Ice dance judging is similar to pairs and singles, but uses a separate set of rules and table of values. In the compulsory dance, steps are specified and "elements" are defined for each dance as subsets of the prescribed steps. For compulsory dance only, there is no program component score given for transitions and choreography. Instead there is a timing (TI) program component that is exclusive to the compulsory dance, leaving only four program components in the compulsory dance. In the original dance there are five marked technical elements. In the free dance, there are nine marked technical elements. Unlike singles and pair skating, the different program components are weighted differently in each segment of the competition. The highest factored component(s) in each segment are skating skills and timing in the compulsory dance, interpretation in the original dance, and transitions in the free dance. The exact values of these factors are listed in ISU Rule 543.1k.
After being trialed in 2003, the IJS replaced the old 6.0 system in the 2004-2005 figure skating season. Up to and including the 2017-2018 season, the Grade of Execution (GOE) scoring system for each program element ranged between -3 and +3. Starting with the 2018-2019 season, the GOE was expanded to range between -5 and +5. Hence, the International Skating Union (ISU) have restarted all records from the 2018-2019 season and all previous statistics have been marked as "historical".
The ISU only recognizes the best scores that are set at international competitions run under the ISU's rules, and does not recognize, for example, scores that are obtained at national figure skating championships. The competitions recognized by the ISU are: Winter Olympics (including the team event), Youth Olympics (including the team event), World Championships, World Junior Championships, European Championships, Four Continents Championships, GP events, Junior GP events, Challenger Series events, and World Team Trophy.
For highest scores achieved prior to the 2018-2019 season, see List of highest historical scores in figure skating.
For highest junior scores prior to the 2018-2019 season, see List of highest historical junior scores in figure skating.
Like gymnastics and diving competitions, judging in figure skating is intrinsically subjective. Although there may be general consensus that one skater "looks better" than another, it is difficult to reach agreement on what causes one skater to be marked as 5.5 and another to be 5.75 for a particular program component. As judges, coaches, and skaters gain more experience with the new system, greater consensus may emerge. However, for the 2006 Olympics there were cases of 1 to 1.5 point differences in component marks from different judges. This range of difference implies that "observer bias" determines about 20% of the mark given by a judge. Averaging over many judges reduces the effect of this bias in the final score, but there will remain about a 2% spread in the average artistic marks from the randomly selected subsets of judges.
Aside from intra-expert subjectivity, skating is very open to misjudgement from everyday spectators who only see skating casually, e.g. every four years at the Olympics. A skater's jump may look perfect, but the general public will not be aware that the competitor landed on an incorrect edge, therefore receiving fewer points for an element, resulting in the appearance of haphazard or biased judging.
The aim of the IJS is to ensure that the judging of figure skating competitions is more consistent with the judging of sports such as diving and gymnastics. It also includes features intended to make judging more resistant to pressure by special interests. However, there is debate as to whether the new system is in fact an improvement over the old 6.0 system.
Initially under the new ISU rules, the judges' marks were anonymous, which removed any public accountability of the judges for their marks. However, problems with this system came to the forefront during the Sochi Olympics in 2014, and in June 2016 the ISU Congress voted to abolish anonymous judging altogether.
While the IJS has minimized the number of ties and the need for multiple tiebreaks, as there were under the old 6.0 system, ties do still occur for both overall score and also for single segments of the competition. Short/rhythm segment ties are broken based on the TES score and free segment ties on the PCS. For ties in the overall score, ties are broken based on the free segment placement.
|2004 Skate America||Alissa Czisny||Ladies||Short program||50.20||Tied third
(Identical TES and PCS)
|2007 World Championships||Yukari Nakano||Total score||168.92||Nakano 5th, Kostner 6th
(Higher free skating placement)
|2008 U.S. Championships||Evan Lysacek||Men||244.77||Lysacek 1st, Weir 2nd
(Higher free skating placement)
|2009 U.S. Championships||Katrina Hacker||Ladies||Short program||54.79||Hacker 5th, Nagasu 6th
|Laney Diggs||Total score||147.48||Diggs 10th, Musademba 11th
(Higher free skating placement)
|2009 World Championships||Sergei Voronov||Men||Short program||72.15||Voronov 9th, Abbott 10th
|2009 World Team Trophy||Joannie Rochette||Ladies||62.08||Rochette 2nd, Ando 3rd
|2011 World Championships||Alena Leonova||59.75||Leonova 5th, Kostner 6th
|2018 Winter Olympics||Evgenia Medvedeva||Free skating||156.65||Medvedeva 1st, Zagitova 2nd
|2019 Russian Championships||Alena Kostornaia||Short program||74.40||Kostornaia 3rd, Konstantinova 4th
|2020 Rostelecom Cup||Evgeni Semenenko||Men||Total score||260.78||Semenenko 6th, Ignatov 7th
(Higher free skating placement)
|Alexandra Trusova||Ladies||Free skating||128.12||Trusova 4th, Kiibus 5th
|2021 World Championships||Eli?ka B?ezinová||Short program||58.81||B?ezinová 21st, Chen 22nd
|2021 World Team Trophy||Evgeni Semenenko||Men||Total score||255.19||Semenenko 5th, Brown 6th
(Higher free skating placement)
|2021 Lake Placid Ice Dance International||Holly Harris / Jason Chan||Ice dance||159.87||Harris/Chan 4th, Pate/Bye 5th
(Higher free dance placement)
|Eva Pate / Logan Bye|
In 2008, the ISU ruled to reduce the number of judges from twelve to nine. The need to reduce costs was given as the prime reason for this change. Since the highest and lowest extreme scores are discounted, the scores of seven judges (rather than ten) determine the outcome of competitions.