This is figure skating

This is figure skating

While in Single Skating male and female skaters compete individually, in Pairs and Ice Dance there is always a couple. Here are some hints on how you can recognize these two disciplines from each other.

Pair Skating
As in Singles Skating, Pairs also execute solo jumps and spins (that are done side by side). However the most recognizable elements in Pair Skating are lifts, death spirals, twist lifts, pair spins and throw jumps.

The key to Pair Skating is exact timing and unison. Whether the partners are skating together or apart, their movements should be synchronized with matching body lines, gestures and footwork.

Ice Dance
Unlike Pair Skating, which features overheads 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 limitless 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.

The programs

Women and Men single skaters as well as Pair skaters execute a Short Program and a Free Skate. all skaters qualify for the Free Skating/Dance after the Short Program/Rhythm Dance.

In Ice Dance the programmes are called Rhythm Dance and Free Dance.

The Short Program, which can be no longer than 2 min and 50 seconds, is skated first and should contain a prescribed selection of figure skating elements.

The Free Skating programme, and Free Dance in Ice Dance, gives more variety to the participants to choose the elements they want to include in their performance. The duration is 4 minutes (+/- 10 seconds).

Skaters also choose music for their programs around which choreography is built. Music has traditionally been restricted to instrumental music, but since the 2014-2015 season vocal music has also been allowed.

Judging system 

The technical elements of Single Skating consist of Jumps, Spins and Steps, and in Pair Skating also of Lifts, Throw Jumps and Death Spirals.

In Ice Dance the technical elements are different Step Sequences, Dance Lifts, Dance Spins and varied Choreographic Elements.

The Technical Score is decided by the difficulty and quality of the elements. The difficulty in jumps is determined by the number of revolutions in the air. Other elements are measured by difficulty level: Base, 1, 2, 3, and 4, where 4 is the highest. The Technical Panel determines the level according to specific and detailed rules.

Each element receives a score according to its base value as well as a grade of execution (GOE). The quality is decided by judges, and it is measured on a scale from -5 (completely missed), to +5 (excellent execution).

The artistic evaluation of the program is done through Program Components marks.
They consist of Presentation, Skating Skills and Composition.

The Program Component Score is decided by the judges. The scale is from 0,25 up to 10. The Program Component Score and the Technical Score are added together, and this is how we get the Total Segment Score of Short Program/Rhythm Dance or Free Skating/Free Dance respectively.

To get the Final Score the Total Segment Scores from both programmes are added together. The Bigger the score, the better the result.

Mistakes and deductions

Sometimes even the best skaters fail in execution of an element. In these cases, judges need to make a deduction in the Grade of Execution mark. In case of a fall, there will be additional 1 point Fall deduction made by the Technical Panel.

Some smaller mistakes can be difficult to see, but the technical panel and judges can also review the technical elements after the performance on their video screen. Therefore the skater sometimes has to wait for their score for a quite a long time.

A skater may also receive deductions such as Music Violations, Costume/Prop Violations, Time Violations, Interruption in Excess or Extended lift.


Jumps are classified as either edge jumps or toe jumps. An edge jump takes off directly from the edge without assist from the other foot, while in a toe jump the skater spikes the toe picks of the free foot into the ice and at the same time jumps off.

Edge jumps
It is launched from the forward outside edge and landed on the back outside edge of the opposite foot. It has a forward take off but lands backwards. The Axel has an extra half rotation.

It takes off from a back inside edge and lands on the back outside edge of the opposite foot.

The Loop jump is a jump that takes off from a back outside edge and lands on the same backwards outside edge.

Toe jumps
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 (different toe pick from Toe Loop) 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 just like in a Flip, but here the other foot skates on the back outside edge.