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Figure Skating Judging Guidelines: 1

Updated on October 20, 2014

2013 Worlds


Judging is another quality control

Any sport has its own agenda and ideal. It goes same to figure skating. And the rules and execution of the rules are all set for those ideals and principles.

For example, if sprinters strive to shorten a time period during which they are required to pass the finish line. Figure skaters skate to evoke aesthetic ideal by their moves.

In figure skating, there are different levels of skating, and its degree can be identified and distinguished in point or grade. Today's COP is a system that converts all merits of skating into PCS points.

There are two most fundamental principles in figure skating like other sports. First establishment of fairness. Second, quality control. The two are closely connected, and one can't exist without the other in order to encourage skaters to contribute to the development of the sport.

Thus quality is critical and in order to secure and promote quality, the judging particularly demands high quality of lead skaters while strictly observing the integrity of levels.

That's why you may find me sometimes harsh on the lead skater's quality. Their high level skating is ratified beforehand, rightfully so, but because of that, they need to maintain or even improve the quality of their skating at the same time.

Miki Ando in 2007

Miki Ando: zombie skating

Miki Ando in 2007 Worlds is an example of wrong judging.

You compare two programs and immediately know that one is a top skater's performance and the other is even worse than junior level.

I was shocked by both the judges and Ando.

Ando couldn't prove stronger my argument of heavy penalty on lead skaters who fail to make their due quality. But her case seems beyond mistake. I doubt the qualification of the judges.

Ando's moves are a total disaster. As I mentioned, that was far worse than any junior skating.

Ando's start isn't so bad, but her skaitng crumbles and breaks apart unexpectedly; with her compromised speed, Ando is like a duck in skating practice session. But what is really catastrophic is her skating. That's not skating moves. That's not spins either.

In figure skating jumps don't have merits by themselves, unless they are contextually connected with other elements and moves. It looks like she is testing the very principle of the sport.

As if saying, "Hey, guys jump can be meaningful by itself. What do ye all think?"

Ando's performance was perhaps the most disarrayed program ever. All moves are disconnected and detached from music. There is no direction and sync. Ando looks completely deranged.

It looks like she was seized under trauma or she is trying to deliberately sabotage the skating or mock the judges. Whatever it is, I must confess I have never seen this horrific mess in all my life. Even Kostner in her worst looks far better than this. That at least would be an honest failure.

It's a shame.

Miki Ando in 2007

GOE, only when there is excellence

GOE is of not only comparative merit but also criteria for due quality. Let's say top skaters show high quality skating throughout the program.

Skaters in higher level are subject to strict scrutiny to ensure the due quality because their merits are already sanctioned. They are therefore required to live up to that expectation.

In terms of competition, when skaters in higher level make many mistakes, then their PCS can be downgraded. But that has to be done in relation with how competent skaters of low level play.

This will help skaters in lower level who outperform their average catch up with them. This gives not only fairness and but also supports a competition friendly format, while it upholds high quality in competition.

By penalizing skaters based not only on comparative merit but also her own due quality, skaters in higher level need to be vigilant for quality control.

In conclusion, the rules of thumb is that judges shall not hesitate to penalize skaters in high level based on their due quality. "How bad" hardly matters. Bad is bad, thus disqualified.

Yuna Kim's jumps

Quality =Yuna Kim

Enjoy the clip above that I've found recently. I hope we have this kind of compilation for all skaters. At least judges need to watch them.

What can I say? Wow!

Simply unreal. Kim's jump quality is just something beyond real. I've never given her more than +2, and I always believe that prudent judges shall refrain from giving out +3 at all costs.

But I admit that's twisted pride when you come to see Kim's triple-triple. They are all categorically +3 good or even more.

I know it's hard, but pick only one.

Which triple combo is the best among Kim's program?

See results

PCS Table

Average PCS
PCS Total in Short Program
PCS Total in Free Program

PCS is a baseline of judging

As you see from the table above, there are 12 points difference between 7.0 skaters and 8.0 skaters.

Under the strict adherence to due quality, 12 points are impossible to overcome for lower level skaters when higher level skaters perform their average.

If lower level skaters make such a fantastic show that enables him or her to overcome 12 points difference, that means the original PCS has been wrong, or GOE may be given wrongfully.

Again skaters don't improve overnight.

The current ISU judges are violating these rules to make it arbitrary judging.


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