ISU Judging System
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The ISU Judging System (also called Code of Points (CoP) or the International Judging System (IJS)), is the scoring system currently used to judge the figure skating disciplines of men's and ladies' singles, pair skating, ice dancing, 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 Winter Olympic Games.
The ISU Judging System replaced the previous 6.0 system in 2004. This new system was created in response to the 2002 Olympic Winter Games figure skating scandal, in an attempt to make the scoring system more objective and less vulnerable to abuse.1
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 lowest 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 new system, technical marks are awarded individually for each skating element. Competitive programs are constrained to have a set number of elements. Each element is judged first by a technical specialist who identifies the specific element. The technical specialist uses instant replay video to verify things that distinguish different elements; e.g. the exact foot position at take-off and landing of a jump. The decision of the technical specialist determines the base value of the element. A panel of twelve judges then award a mark for grade of execution (GOE) that is an integer from -3 to +3. The GOE mark is then translated into a value by using the table of values in ISU rule 322. The GOE value from the twelve judges is then averaged by randomly selecting nine judges, discarding the high and low value, and averaging the remaining seven. This average value is then added to (or subtracted from) the base value to get the value for the element. Skaters can receive deductions for things like falls and for lifts that go on for too long. :)
The number and type of elements in a skating program depends on the event and on the level of competition. At the senior international level, single and pairs short programs contain eight technical elements. The actual eight elements are detailed for single skaters in ISU rule 310. Each skater must attempt one combination jump, two solo jumps, three spins, and two skating sequences. The eight elements required for a senior pairs short program include two lifts, one side-by-side jump, one throw jump, one side-by-side spin, one pair spin, one step sequence, and one death spiral (ISU rule 313).
Senior level free programs have 14 elements for pairs, 13 elements for men, and 12 elements for ladies. The details of the elements are given by ISU rules 520 and 521 (2008 version). Pairs do 4 lifts, 4 jumps, 3 spins(including 1 death spiral), 1 step sequence, and 1 spiral sequence. Men do 8 jumps, 3 spins, and 2 step sequences. Ladies do 7 jumps, 3 spins, 1 step sequence and 1 spiral sequence.
Following an event, the complete judges scores are published in a document referred to as a protocol. There are specific notations used on the protocols.
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 judges may have marked it. On ISU protocol sheets, elements that have been nullified by this are denoted by an asterisk(*) next to the element name. Jump elements performed after the halfway point of a program are marked with an x and receive a 10% bonus added to their base value. If a jump has been called as having an incorrect take-off edge (for example, an inside edge on a lutz jump take-off), that jump is marked with an e and the GOE is based on the severity of the wrong edge. Jumps that are underrotated are marked with a < or << depending on the degree of turns completed on the ice instead of mid-air. < indicates that a jump had more than a ¼ turn completed on the ice, which reduces the base value to 70% of its original value. << indicates a severe underrotation (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)2
Jumps done in combination 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 can be downgraded to a "sequence", in which case the base value is 0.8 times the sum of the individual jumps. The jumps normally executed at the senior level, and their base values, are quad toe loop (10.3), triple Axel (8.5), triple Lutz (6), triple flip (5.3), triple loop (5.1), triple Salchow (4.2), triple toe loop (4.1) and double Axel (3.3).
|T||Toe loop jump|
|TTh||Throw toe loop|
|FUSp||Flying upright spin|
|FLSp||Flying layback spin|
|FCSp||Flying camel spin|
|FSSp||Flying sit spin|
|CUSp||Change foot upright spin|
|CLSp||Change foot layback spin|
|CCSp||Change foot camel spin|
|CSSp||Change foot sit spin|
|CCoSp||Combination spin with change of foot|
|PCoSp||Pair combination spin|
|SlSt||Straight line step sequence|
|CiSt||Circular step sequence|
|SeSt||Serpentine step sequence|
|MiSt||Midline in hold step sequence|
|DiSt||Diagonal in hold step sequence|
|NtMiSt||Not Touching Midline Steps|
|NtMiTw||Not Touching Midline Sequential Twizzles|
|ChSt||Choreography Step Sequence|
|SpSq||Spiral sequence of any pattern (no longer in use as of 2010)|
|1Li||Group one lift|
|2Li||Group two lift|
|3Li||Group three lift|
|4Li||Group four lift|
|5TLi||Group five toe lasso lift|
|5SLi||Group five step in lasso lift|
|5RLi||Group five reverse lasso lift|
|5ALi||Group five axel lasso lift|
|TTw||Toeloop twist lift|
|LzTw||Lutz/Flip twist lift|
|ATw||Axel twist lift|
|SlLi||Straight line lift|
|RRoLi||Reverse rotational lift|
|FiDs||Forward inside death spiral|
|BiDs||Backward inside death spiral|
|FoDs||Forward outside death spiral|
|BoDs||Backward 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.
The former presentation mark has been replaced by five categories, called program components. The components are (1) skating skills (SS), (2) transitions (TR), (3) performance/execution (PE), (4) choreography (CH), and (5) interpretation (IN). A detailed description of each component is given in ISU rule 322.2. Each component is awarded a raw mark from 0 to 10 in increments of 0.25, with a mark of 5 being defined as "average". The five raw marks are then translated into a program mark by multiplying by a factor that depends on the program and the level.
For senior ladies and pairs, the factor is 0.8 for the short program and 1.6 for the long program. For senior men, the factor is 1 for the short program and 2 for the long program. The factors are set so that the total score from the artistic marks will be about equal to the total score from technical marks. Senior men tend to have higher element scores than ladies because they have more jumping passes and attempt higher valued jumps, so their program components are factored higher to reflect the difference.
Ice dancing 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 5 marked technical elements. In the free dance, there are 9 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.
Under the ISU judging system, the highest score a skater earns in a career is known as a personal best. An ISU Personal Best is a score set at a competition run under the auspices of the International Skating Union. Only certain events count for personal best scores. National-level events do not count towards personal bests.
Unlike an ISU Personal Best score, which is the highest score set over a lifetime, the season's best score is the highest score earned by a skater in a season. Season's best scores help determine the fields to the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating.
The following are the highest scores that have been earned under Code of Points since its inception. It does not differentiate for changes made to the system.5 The ISU only recognizes world records set at international competitions run under ISU rules, not at national competitions. This sometimes affects record holders: Patrick Chan's all scores in the 2012 Canadian Nationals (101.33 in the short, 200.81 in the free and the total of 302.14) are all higher than the official ISU world records for men's single skating.
|Short program||Patrick Chan||98.37||2013 World Championships|
|Free skating||Patrick Chan||187.96||2011 World Championships|
|Combined total||Patrick Chan||280.98||2011 World Championships|
|Short program||Kim Yu-Na||78.50||2010 Winter Olympics|
|Free skating||Kim Yu-Na||150.06||2010 Winter Olympics|
|Combined total||Kim Yu-Na||228.56||2010 Winter Olympics|
|Short program||Shen Xue / Zhao Hongbo||76.66||2010 Winter Olympics|
|Free skating||Tatiana Volosozhar / Maxim Trankov||149.87||2013 World Championships|
|Combined total||Tatiana Volosozhar / Maxim Trankov||225.71||2013 World Championships|
The Compulsory Dance and Original Dance were eliminated at the end of the 2009–2010 season and replaced by the Short Dance.
|Compulsory dance||Tatiana Navka / Roman Kostomarov||45.97||2005 World Championships|
|Original dance||Tessa Virtue / Scott Moir||70.27||2010 World Championships|
|Free dance||Tatiana Navka / Roman Kostomarov||117.14||2003 Cup of Russia|
|Combined total||Tatiana Navka / Roman Kostomarov||227.81||2005 World Championships|
|Records since the establishment of the short dance|
|Short dance||Meryl Davis / Charlie White||77.12||2013 World Championships|
|Free dance||Tessa Virtue / Scott Moir||112.83||2011-12 ISU Grand Prix Final|
|Combined total||Meryl Davis / Charlie White||189.56||2013 World Championships|
|Short program||Team Surprise||87.84||2004 Neuchâtel Trophy||6|
|Free skating||Team Surprise||159.60||2004 Neuchâtel Trophy||7|
|Combined total||Team Surprise||247.44||2004 Neuchâtel Trophy||8|
Judging in figure skating is inherently subjective. Although there may be general consensus that one skater "looks better" than another, it is difficult to get agreement on what it is that 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 get more experience with the new system, more consensus may emerge. However, for the 2006 Olympics there were cases of 1 to 1.5 points differences in component marks from different judges.citation needed This range of difference implies that "observer bias" determines about 20% of the mark given by a judge.citation needed 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.citation needed
Aside from intra-expert subjectivity, skating is very open to misjudgement from everyday spectators who only see skating casually, i.e. 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 no points for an element. This may result in judging appearing haphazard, or worse, biased. It must be recapitulated that such subjectivities exist in all judged sports, such as gymnastics and diving, therefore skating is not unique in this respect.
The ISU judging system moves figure skating closer to judging systems used in sports like diving and gymnastics. It also has some features intended to make judging more resistant to pressure by special interests. However, there is debate whether the new system is an improvement over the old 6.0 system.citation needed
Under the ISU rules, the judges' marks are anonymous, which removes any public accountability of the judges for their marks. The random panel selection procedure can change a skater's mark by several points and alter the outcome of competitions depending on which subset of judges are chosen. The United States Figure Skating Association has split with the ISU on these two issues. In the U.S., the judges names remain associated with the marks. Also the U.S. uses only nine judges and counts all nine of their scores.
- While COP has minimized the number of ties and the need for multiple tiebreaks like there was under 6.0, ties still do occur. At the 2007 World Figure Skating Championships, Yukari Nakano and Carolina Kostner tied for 5th place with 168.92 points overall. Nakano won 5th place on the tiebreak, which was the free skate placement, and Kostner dropped to 6th.9 Ties for single segments of the competition also occur. At the 2004 Skate America, Alissa Czisny and Cynthia Phaneuf tied in the short program at 50.20, with both earning a TES score of 25.40 and a PCS score of 24.80.10
- At the 2008 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Johnny Weir and Evan Lysacek tied in the overall score. The tie was broken by the free skate placement and Lysacek won the event. At the 2009 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Katrina Hacker and Mirai Nagasu tied in the short program, with Hacker winning the tiebreak on the technical elements score. At the same competition, Laney Diggs and Kristine Musademba tied in the overall score, with Diggs winning the tiebreak on the free skate placement.
- At the 2009 World Figure Skating Championships, Sergei Voronov and Jeremy Abbott tied with a score of 72.15 in the men's short program. The tie was broken by the technical mark and so Voronov placed 9th in that segment and Abbott 10th.
- At the 2009 ISU World Team Trophy in Figure Skating, Joannie Rochette and Miki Ando tied with a scored of 62.08 in the ladies short program. The tie was broken by the technical mark, so Rochette placed 2nd in that segment, while Ando was 3rd.11
In 2008, the International Skating Union ruled to reduce the number of judges from 12 to 9.12 Ottavio Cinquanta cited economic difficulties as the prime reason for this change. Because the top and bottom extreme scores are dropped and two more scores are dropped at random, the scores of 5 judges will determine the outcome of competitions.
- "Scoring System Approved", New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2004/06/10/sports/sports-briefing.html?ref=internationalskatingunion (accessed July 25, 2011).
- ISU : Statistics (Updated after each Grand Prix)
- "Neuchatel Trophy". Swiss Ice Skating. Retrieved 2013-04-17.
- "Neuchatel Trophy". Swiss Ice Skating. Retrieved 2013-04-17.
- "Neuchatel Trophy". Swiss Ice Skating. Retrieved 2013-04-17.
- ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2007 - Ladies
- SmartOnes Skate America - Ladies - Short Program
- 2009 ISU World Team Trophy - Ladies - Short Program
- Judging panels to shrink
- ISU Judging System Summary
- ISU Judging Systems
- How the ISU Judging System Works
- New Rules for the season 2010-2011
- ISU Judging System programs