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... and what do those little green, yellow, and red dots mean?

techscoreIf you've watched a figure skating competition over the last few years you've noticed a scorebox in the upper left hand corner of your screen with the current leader technical score, beneath it a running technical score for the current skater, and a series of dots underneath that change from gray to either green, red, or yellow.

Each of those gray dots represent an "element" the skater is planning to do in their program, as they complete that element the dot turns either green, red, or yellow.  Green means the element was completed with a positive grade of execution, red means it was completed with a negative grade of execution, and yellow means it is under review by the technical panel.  Once an element that is under review is reviewed it will either become green or red.

What's a grade of execution?

The final GOE (Grade Of Execution) of a performed element is based on the combination of both positive and negative aspects. It is important that the final GOE of an element reflects the positive aspects, as well as any possible reductions that may apply. The final GOE of an element is calculated considering first the positive aspects of the element that result in a starting GOE for the evaluation. Following that a Judge reduces the GOE according to the guidelines of possible errors and the result is the final GOE of the element.

Each element has a base point value based on its difficulty, example a Triple Lutz jump is worth a base value of 6.0 points and a Triple Salchow jump, which is considered easier than a Triple Lutz only has a base value 4.2 points. The technical panel decides what element was skated, and from there the judges award a "Grade of Execution" score or GOE score ranging from -3 to +3 depending on the quality of the jump.  If the jump is text book - it gets 0, to get +1, +2, or +3 GOE you need two or more of the items below:

As a general rule you need 2 bullets for a +1, 4 bullets for a +2, and 6 bullets for a +3

  • Unexpected / creative / difficult entry.
  • Clear recognizable steps/free skating movements immediately preceding element
  • Varied position in the air / delay in rotation
  • Good height and distance
  • Good extension on landing / creative exit
  • Good flow from entry to exit including jump combinations / sequences
  • Effortless throughout
  • Element matched to the musical structure

For a negative grade of execution, -1, -2, or -3 there's an even bigger list, including manadatory deductions such as:

  • One or more rev. less than required GOE -3
  • Combo consisting of one jump only GOE -3
  • Starting or landing on two feet in a jump -2
  • Stepping out of landing in a jump -2
  • Touch down with both hands in a jump -2
  • 2 three turns in between (jump combo) -2

Or other errors that the judges have descretion on what to assign as a negative GOE:

  • Poor speed, height, distance, air position
  • Under rotated* (if a jump is too under rotated (more than a 1/4 turn under rotated - either on take off or landing) it would be reviewed by the technical panel and downgraded to a lower element)
  • Poor take-off
  • Loss of flow/rhythm between jumps (combo/seq.)
  • Weak landing (bad pos./wrong edge/scratching etc)
  • Long preparation
  • Touch down with one hand or free foot

Note:  For this example I am not using the Scale of Values associated with the GOE - I'm keeping it as simple as possible (ie. the real point values for GOE on a -3 GOE on a Triple Lutz is -2.1 points, and a +3 GOE on a Triple Salchow is +2.1 points. This varies from element to element - example a Quad Salchow, a -3 GOE is -4 points, while a +3 GOE would be +3).  I'm also not explaining how they combine the judges assigned GOE to get the one GOE score added to the base value. If you want to see what all those are, visit USFSA (I recommend Excedrine Migraine when you're done..).

So here's the fun part - let's say the skater has an AMAZING triple Salchow, complicated entry, beautiful height and speed,, etc...  it's worth 4.2 + 3 = 7.2 points if executed that way.  On the other hand their Triple lutz is hit and miss - it's either amazing, or horrible - so they can get 6 + 3 = 9 points if it's a good day, or only 6 -3 = 3 points if it's a bad day... or if it's an average day they get 6 + 0 = 6. Which do they do? The Triple Salchow for a guaranteed 7.2?  or the longer shot Triple Lutz for 9 points?  It's only a 2.8 difference, but that can be the difference between 1st and 4th.  It's an even bigger dilema when you start trying to decide if you want to try that Quad!  A quad Salchow is worth a base value of 10.5

Why does something get reviewed? That little yellow dot...

As a skater performs, the primary technical specialist identifies the elements performed thereby assigning the base value.  In some instances an element may need to be reviewed to determine if it was actually what was performed and if it was "clean".  For example in singles skating was the triple lutz really a triple lutz?  It could be under rotated, which if it was more than 1/4 turn under rotated would cause it to be downgraded to a double, or in the case of a Lutz it could have taken off on the wrong edge which would make it a different jump entirely, it would be a flip.  they have video reply and go back and watch the element again in slow/stop motion to verify what was really completely.

And it's not just jumps that get the once or twice over. Spins and footwork elements can to, as well as lifts in pairs and dance to verify they were completed in a manner to justify the awarding of a "level" - base level thru level 4, where level 4 has the highest base point value (I'll go into this in more detail for footwork and spins in another article).  A wrong edge on a turn can make it a different type of turn, and drop a footwork sequence from a level 4 to a level 3 (the equivelent of a jump going from a quad to a triple).

Also in pairs and dance lifts are reviewed to make sure they don't violate time limits, a violation which requires a mandatory deduction.

Next up... How Does Scoring Work? Part Two - The Program Components Score.

Play Along:

Ashely Wagner's 2017 US National's Free Skate:

 

Championship Ladies / Free Skate (this will give you the element abbreviations: USFSA ie. 2A is a Double Axel). (J1, J2, etc... stands for Judge 1, Judge 2)

 TotalTotalTotal
Place
 
Name
 
Nation
 
Seg
Score
=
Elm
Score
+
Comp
Score
+
Deductions
-
2 Ashley Wagner, SC of Wilmington   140.84 69.71 71.13 0.00
#Executed
Elements
IBase
Value
 GOE  J1 J2 J3 J4 J5 J6 J7 J8 J9  Panel
Scores
 
1 2A   3.30   1.07    2  2  3  3  2  2  2  2  2     4.37  
2 3F+3T< < 8.30   -0.10    -1  1  -1  0  1  0  0  0  -1     8.20  
3 2A   3.30   0.64    1  1  2  2  1  1  1  2  1     3.94  
4 FSSp4   3.00   1.00    2  2  2  2  2  2  2  2  2     4.00  
5 StSq4   3.90   1.60    3  2  2  3  3  2  1  2  2     5.50  
6 3Lo+1Lo+3S   11.00 x 0.70    1  2  0  2  1  1  1  1  0     11.70  
7 3F   5.83 x 1.10    2  2  1  3  2  1  2  1  -2     6.93  
8 3Lo   5.61 x 1.40    2  2  2  3  2  2  2  2  1     7.01  
9 3Lz+1T ! 7.04 x 0.00    0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  -1     7.04  
10 ChSq1   2.00   1.30    2  2  2  2  2  3  1  1  2     3.30  
11 CCoSp4   3.50   0.86    1  1  2  2  2  2  1  2  2     4.36  
12 FCCoSp3   3.00   0.36    1  0  1  2  1  1  1  0  -1     3.36  
  Total BV: 59.78                       Total elm. score: 69.71
  Program Components       Factor
  Skating Skills   1.00   8.50 8.75 8.25 9.25 9.00 8.75 8.50 8.75 8.75     8.71
  Transitions   1.00   8.50 8.75 8.25 9.00 8.75 8.75 8.50 8.75 8.50     8.64
  Performance   1.00   8.50 9.25 8.50 9.50 9.25 8.75 8.75 9.00 9.00     8.93
  Composition   1.00   9.25 9.25 8.50 9.25 9.25 9.00 8.75 8.75 9.00     9.04
  Interpretation of the Music   1.00   9.25 9.25 8.75 9.50 9.50 9.00 8.75 9.00 9.25     9.14
  General Component Factor:   1.6               Total factored comp. score: 71.13
Deductions      -0.00 
Majority deductions J1 J2 J3 J4 J5 J6 J7 J8 J9  REF