Figure skating


There are four Figure Skating disciplines: Men’s Singles, Ladies’ Singles, Pair Skating and Ice Dance.


As in Singles skating, Pairs also execute solo jumps and spins (that are done side by side). However, the most recognisable elements in Pair Skating are lifts, death spirals, twist lifts, pair spins and throw jumps. The keys to success in Pair Skating are exact timing and unison. Whether the partners are skating together or apart, their movements should be synchronised with matching body lines, gestures and footwork.

Unlike Pair Skating, which features overhead lifts and jumps, Ice Dance is based on the different aspects of dance. The emphasis in Ice Dance is on rhythm, interpretation of the music and precise steps. Its beauty lies in its creativity, choreography, and its theatrical and innovative aspects. Lifts with different lengths and types, step sequences, dance spins and twizzles are the key movements in Ice Dance.


Both singles skaters and pairs execute a Short Programme and a Free Skate.
24 Ladies, 24 Men, 16 Pairs, and 20 Ice Dance couples qualify for the Free Skate after the Short Programme. In Ice Dance the programs are called Short Dance and Free Dance. The Short Programme, which can be no longer than 2 minutes and 50 seconds, is skated first and should contain a certain amount of prescribed elements. The Free Skate is 4 minutes (+/- 10 seconds) for Ladies and Ice Dancers, and 4 minutes and 30 seconds (+/- 10 seconds) for Men and Pairs. Skaters also choose the music for their programmes around which the choreography that includes the various elements is developed. The music was traditionally restricted to instrumental music, but since the 2014-2015 season vocal music has also been allowed.


Figure skaters in the four disciplines (Men, Ladies, Pairs and Ice Dance) are entered into the championships by their national federations. Based on the ISU technical scores, federations may enter one skater or a couple per event. However, some countries are permitted to enter two or three participants if their skaters scored highly at the previous year’s World Championships.


The technical elements consist of Jumps, Spins and Steps. The Technical Score is decided according to the difficulty and execution of these elements. The difficulty of the step sequences and spins is measured by level: Base, 1, 2, 3, and 4, where 4 is the highest. The Technical Panel determines the level. Each jump receives a score according to its base value and grade of execution (GOE). The quality of execution is evaluated by nine judges and is measured on a scale that goes from -3 (completely failed) to +3 (perfect).

The five Program Components are:

  • Skating Skills
  • Transitions
  • Performance/Execution
  • Choreography
  • Interpretation

The Program Component Score is decided by the judges. The scale goes up to a maximum of 10. The Program Component Score and the Technical Score are added together to form the Total Segment Score. To get the Final Score, the Total Segment Scores from the Short Program and the Free Skate are added together. The higher the score, the better the result.


Accidentally landing a single jump or a double jump instead of a planned triple jump is often more costly than falling down, for which skaters “only” receive a 1 point deduction per fall.

Underrotating a jump is also a minor error. If there is more than a quarter but less than half a turn left in the landing the jump will lose about 30 percent of its value. If there is over half a turn or more left, the jump is downgraded. This means that when a skater executes a triple jump, for example, but is missing half a turn, the jump will be downgraded to a double jump. It can be difficult to spot but the Technical Panel can also review the jumps and landings in slow motion. This is why skaters sometimes have to wait a few minutes to get their scores.

There are limits as to which and how many jumps, spins, step sequences and/or lifts the Men, Ladies and Pairs can do. If the skater/couple repeats a jump too many times, they will collect zero points for the last repetition. Even if the skater commits clear mistakes in the jumps, they can collect lots of points for the spins. A skater may also receive deductions such as Music Violations, Costume/Prop Violations, Time Violations, Interruption in Excess or Extended lift.



The toe loop takes off from the toe pick, while the other foot travels on the back outside edge.

In a flip, the skater “digs” the toe picks into the ice while the other foot skates on the back inside edge.

In a Lutz, the skater also digs his/her toe pick into the ice but here the other foot skates on the back outside edge.



Launched from the forward outside edge with landing on the back outside edge of the opposite foot.

Jump that takes off from the back inside edge landing on the back outside edge of the opposite foot.

A jump that takes off from the back outside edge and lands on the same backwards outside edge. Similar to a toe loop but without the help of the toe pick.