Kind of sport
According to the rules and regulations of the International Skating Union (ISU) figure skating is divided into three competitions: the individual competition for both men and women, pairs competition and ice dancing. The nine jury members evaluate the achievements of the participants with a grading system that goes from zero to six, with six as the highest possible score. The eventual placing/ranking of the participants in the individual, pairs and ice dancing competitions is decided by means of the "ranking number method". This means that each member of the jury gives a ranking score from one to six. Thus, it is possible that a participant wins despite the fact of his/her not having a large number of points, if the majority of the jury members have given him/her a ranking score of one.
Each participant appears on the ice three times. The first time consists of compulsory exercises and is worth thirty procent of the final score, the second time, which is worth twenty procent of the final score, lasts for two minutes and consists also of a compulsory element: seven exercises which are accompanied by music which is chosen by the participant. The third time, which is worth fifty procent of the total score, is left, along with the choice of music, to the discretion of the participant. The first part comprises compulsory figures with varying degrees of difficulty (1-5) in which each figure must be performed three times in succession on the left skate as well as on the right one. The second part is formed out of a series of figures, jumps, pirouettes and the like which the jury evaluates on the basis of their technical worth and artistic impression.
Pairs figure skating consists of a short series of compusory figures, which is worth twenty-five procent of the total score, and a free skating final, which is worth a big seventy-five procent. Pairs figure skating is characterized by the its many lifting figures and jumps. Despite the fact that both partners repeatedly skate separately, an homogeneous and harmonious image must always be projected. Various figures are executed in a manner which suggests that they are mirror images or silhouettes. With the so-called A-cipher, the jury evaluates the technical and competitive value of the series of figures and with the B-cipher, it judges the artistic achievement.
Ice dancing was added to the Winter Olympic figure skating programme in 1976. The participants begin with three compulsory dances, which is worth thirty procent of the final score. Then there is a self composed dance, worth twenty procent, with the participant's choice of music, although the rhythm, for example the polka, is compulsory and changes every year. Finally, there is the free dance, which is worth fifty procent of the final score. Ice dancing has hardly any lift figures or jumps. In ice dancing, the dancing element is that which is accentuated, so much so that an impeccable execution of the figures on the ice ought to be almost synchronous with an impeccable execution of dance moves on the dance floor.