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Figure skating rules

Updated on August 29, 2015
Yuna Kim is a skater whose skating in general typically qualifies +2 GOE in her average executions.
Yuna Kim is a skater whose skating in general typically qualifies +2 GOE in her average executions.


The current COP system is represented by two divisions: PCS and GOE.

Each figure skating element is given its value, thus the two segments determine the entire picture of judging. Let us say the value of each element is determined based on comparative merits. So, the outline of protocol is preset.

Thus, the real judging begins with PCS and GOE. They are a real deal. As we all witnessed for the past years in figure skating competitions, once the judges are intended to cheat or manipulate the scores, they need to dabble on these two segments. And that's all it takes to scuttle the integrity of the sport.

So, it is critical to establish the sound foundation of PCS and GOE for fair and correct judging. The point is that PCS standards or GOE standards have to be accurate without room of dispute. Of course, this cannot be achieved without transparency in judging practices.

Here comes expertise, reliable and dignified, but this is what the ISU and the current judges fail.

Gracie Gold in 2015

Judges not the judging systems

In the wake of Sochi Scandal in 2014, some think the old 6.0 system is the way to go. Some even suggest another judging system to solve the current crisis in figure skating. But if you compare the two systems, 6.0 system and the current COP system , you will find them virtually identical.

In the 6.0 system used before the new COP system, judges, after watching each skater's practice run, would make base marks. These marks would be used for reference for how a skater would score potentially.

In that prejudging, judges would outline each skater in terms of their comprehensive skating skills. Of course, skaters often outskate their routine in real competition or poorly skate or they can make big mistakes. However, their overall skating quality cannot change much from their practice run.

These observations help judges determine base scores for skaters before the real competition begins. And in real competitions, their best performances will not skyrocket. Even though sometimes skaters skip their scheduled jumps or add, or they try harder jumps than they intended, but their advantage or disadvantage by so doing will be marginal.

Basically 6.0 system was a system of comparative grading, so that judges need a room for many unforeseen variables even after establishing the base scores for skaters. Under the COP system, however, the base scores are determined by each skater, and the total fluctuates as quality of each skater's performance will earn different GOE's. Under the COP system, skaters are expected to collect points as they perform various required elements.It is a point-earning system.

That is, comparative merit of each element was preset, which makes PCS and GOE the real judging domain.

It is judges' role to analyze each element done by skaters according to its degree of difficulty and quality, and evaluate the entire performances in terms of contextual aesthetics and athleticism. Although each element will be regraded as a distinct and individual entity to outline the protocol, figure skating is an artistic performance in the language of technicality, mainly represented by jumps, spins, and step sequences.

Skaters are expected to produce programs, contextually meaningful and aesthetically appreciative; if a performance is done just for the sake of each element's ratification itself, it won't get rewarded as good as it could have otherwise.

This is what is expected from the judging panel. If judges fail or neglect to make a comprehensive assessment based on this knowledge, judging systems are of no use. Whether it's 6.0 system or COP, it is judges that make the sport worth.

Elena Radionova in 2015

Elena is lovely here. She appears less jagged than before. I cheer for Elena. Now some of you realize how terrible she was before. Her body in the past was too unfit to handle skating, that is, underdeveloped. In other words all her moves were steep juniorish in defects. If she grows more skillful and her body becomes more fitting to the sport without big issues in realignment, you will find her skating more desirable.

Of course, she is still a long way to go, but a good thing about Elena is that she skates.

Liza Tuktamysheva in 2015

As I always said, Liza never skates. Though she lands jumps, she doesn't know how to use body on ice. That's why she is totally different from other skaters. Let's say her skating can be called "stand-up skating".

Unlike Elena, Liza has no hope. This is more likely what she can do. Up-right, slow, blunt, no edge. Liza is a champion who doesn't know how to skate.

How to run PCS and GOE

It is critical to set PCS. To some of figure skating fans, PCS may look like just an illusion.

PCS is the foundation of sport integrity, as you might have seen since Sochi scandal. The ISU has kept lying by posting fictitious PCS in favor of Russian skaters. That's why their performances never got near to the PCS points they received.

Under the current COP, 6.0 to 7.0 in PCS average covers most skaters. Basically, the COP system is a point-set system, that is, as opposed to a comparative grading system like 6.0 system, so it is basically defeating the purpose if judges keep moving the offset in order to differentiate skaters in competition.

More importantly, the prudent use of GOE will preclude any undue obscurity in setting a skater from the others.

Ideally, judges need to use GOE discreetly so that a skater of the 6.0 PCS average only can overtake a 7.0 PCS average skater when the latter falls at least twice or more while the former skates to her near best.

Fundamentally, both PCS and GOE represent quality of skating. Although each segment of PCS or GOE means compartmentalization, it cannot be alienated from the whole picture.

For instance, a jump has to be analyzed in context before and after the jump. Your moves before takeoff and after landing are all critical in assessing jump. That is, your takeoff, air position, revolution, landing and flow and overall quality all are to be at one place and synchronized in order for GOE.

What is important here is that those accumulated GOE points must well explain PCS points. PCS or GOE is a safety pin to each other. Without the indisputable qualities, GOE cannot be given; it is tantamount to artificially boosting the level. So GOE points on skaters of 6.0 7.0 PCS average, especially in the current Russian skaters' protocol, are not justifiable.

In a nutshell, skaters in 6.0 or 7.0 PCS average hardly get +GOE; in other words, that's why they are categorized in that level.

The ISU and the its judges often excuse themselves by using the conditions of GOE vaguely defined in the rule book, for example, speed, height, and so on. But if you follow their logic, you can even award GOE's on falls.

Why? The skater jumped high and fast, well, before that horrible fall!I

Tenley Albright in 2015

This is Tenley Albright, one of the greatest legends in ladies figure skating. Even almost 70 years ago, she showed how to move on ice. Isn't it irony that the ISU sanctioned top skaters today such as Liza is far inferior to skating 70 years ago?

Basically, you must add jumps on the basic that Albright showed above. Your body must optimize line, angle, trajectory, in accordance with momentum. That also includes power, speed and edge.


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      Yunawhatimean 2 years ago

      @ remedy, you know that rz7, aka Rob, has no logic. Anything Yuna does needs to be scolded, and thinks anything Mao does is perfect, even her pre-/ under- rotated 3A and Flutz. lol

    • profile image

      rz7 2 years ago

      @remedy I am merely answering the absurd claim of this blog author:

      """Yuna Kim is a skater whose skating in general typically qualifies +2 GOE in her average executions"""

      Which has zero logic to back it up. It is a 100% false statement. So I showed why the claim is clearly false, based on the actual rules.

      I don't "hate" skaters, but you certainly have something against Japan...

      Why do you always have to drag Japan into this?

    • profile image

      remedy 2 years ago

      rz are you blind ? or simply "made in japan" hate yuna? lol you always drag anything into this "yuna"?

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      3F 2 years ago

      Have you recognized the changed rule?

      Mainly,the base point of 3t and 3s have increased, and more - goe a skater gets when he falls a quad jump. (There are some more changes.)

      How do you think about it?

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      rz7 2 years ago

      Which of these GOE requirements does Yuna Kim check off?


      1) unexpected / creative / difficult entry

      2) clear recognizable steps/free skating movements immediately preceding element

      3) varied position in the air / delay in rotation

      4) good height and distance

      5) good extension on landing / creative exit

      6) good flow from entry to exit including jump combinations / sequences

      7) effortless throughout

      8) element matched to the musical structure


      1) NO. All Yuna Kim's jumps are heavily telegraphed.

      2) NO. All her entrances are straight-line.

      3) NOPE.

      4) Good distance, mediocre height.

      5) NOPE.

      6) Just average.

      7) ???

      8) NO.


      SIX or more are necessary for +3.

      So no way do Yuna Kim's jumps deserve +2.

      Maybe +1 **MAX** for extraordinary examples when she was at her peak and top form in 2007.

      But I agree that Liza "never skates", and is generally worse than Radionova.