Old Scoring System

For more than 50 years, figure skating was scored on a 6.0 system. This system was replaced during the 2004-2005 season with a new system.

Under the old system, most Olympic eligible (amateur) events had a short program and a long program. Prior to 1991 there was a third program called the Compulsory figures, during which skaters had to trace figures on the ice. This part of the event is what gave figure skating its name. In recent years, in some events (including the Worlds and the Olympics) there has also been a preliminary program. Each program that was skated had two scores assigned to it---a technical score and a presentation score. Many people referred to the latter as the artistic score. Judges assigned scores on a 6.0 scale. 6 was defined as perfection, and it was extraordinarily hard to receive. All other scores below 6.0 were relative scores. They had no absolute meaning. Scores were simply used to rank skaters among themselves, i.e. if there were 10 skaters skating, an individual judge had to rank the skaters 1-10. The judge did this using the 6.0 system.

Imagine a simplified program judged by only 3 judges:

Short program

Judge 1 gave the same total score to both skater A and B. Because this is the short program, the technical score breaks the tie. In the long program, the Presentation score breaks the tie. Thus judge 1 has ranked the skaters A, B, C. Judge 2 has ranked them the same way. Judge 3 has ranked them B, A, C. Because a majority of judges has ranked skater A in first place, this skater is the winner of the short program. Skaters B and C would be the 2nd and 3rd place winners.

The short program counted for 1/3 of the total score. The long program counted for 2/3 of the score.

To learn about the new scoring system, click here.

Return to the main figure skating page.