Ice Skating Competition Scoring

Competition Scoring: “New” scoring system v. 6.0 (“Old”) System

In 2004, the International Skating Union voted to completely change the way skating is scored, abandoning the traditional 6.0 ordinal system for a new system called the “Code of Points”. The general idea behind the Code of Points system is that every aspect of the skating is marked individually.

Technical elements attempted by the skaters are identified by a paid technical specialist, informally known as the “caller”. The judges then assign a “grade of execution” (GoE) to each element. A table in the rulebook determines the base value of each element and the deduction or bonus corresponding to the GoE value.

The judges also assign five overall “program components” scores on a 10.0 scale, for Skating Skills, Transitions, Performance/Execution, Choreography, and Interpretation.

A secret and anonymous random subset of the judges on the panel is chosen by the scoring computer. Of the selected judges, for each element and program component, the high and low marks are discarded and the remaining marks are averaged. The skaters are ranked by their total scores.

The singles and pair events each have two parts, the short program and the free skate. Both programs are scored similarly and require the skaters to complete a list of required elements; the difference is only in the length of the program and number of elements. (There is nothing truly “free” about the “free skate” any more.)

Scoring for ice dancing is similar, except that skaters do one or two compulsory dances selected from a set that rotates yearly and an original dance to a rhythm (or set of rhythms) that also changes each year, as well as a free dance. In ice dance, the “program components” are slightly different, and the marks are multiplied by various weighting factors instead of all being given equal weight.

The “old” 6.0 ordinal system.

The 6.0-based ordinal system is still in use in the US in test track and local competitions and in some countries that have not yet adopted the Code of Points for their own internal competitions. Under this system, judges assign skaters two marks on a 6.0 scale, one for technical merit and one for presentation.

The marks from each judge are translated into rankings called “ordinals”. In the original version of the system, called the “majority ordinal” system, the placements within a competition phase are based on which skater has the largest majority of ordinals for the highest place. For example, if there is a skater who has a majority of ordinals for first place, then that skater is the winner. Under the ordinal system, the combined results from the short program and free skate are computed by multiplying the placements in each phase by a weighting factor and adding the factored placements together. The factors are 0.5 for the short program and 1.0 for the free skate.