Many beginner skaters who will start competing will come across a very unique judging system. It’s a very confusing skating judging system and the scores used to compete the final results and standings are difficult to interpret and understand. Many of my skaters and parents have asked to explain how the results are tallied and I will attempt to help clarify many of the confusion when reading the score sheets. I was just recently accepted by US Figure Skating in their accelerated track to become a trial judge and in this new capacity, I hope to better assist in helping you all understand the judging system.
The 6.0 system is an old scoring system is used mainly in lower level non-qualifying skating competitions, including basic skills through pre-juvenile levels. The judging panel comprises of an odd number of judges, usually ranging in size from 3-9 depending on the competition level. It’s a judging system based on majority and the winner is the skater who placed highest by a majority of judges. Skaters are compared and ranked against each other based on an absolute range from 0 (horrible) to 6 (perfection) for technical merit and presentation quality. These scores are then tallied and translated into a rank such that the skater having the highest score will receive an ordinal of ‘1’ which is the highest mark. These marks are how the standings for each skater is computed and it’s what gets reported on the final results sheet, showing how each judge scored the skaters. The most confusing and complicated part of the 6.0 judging system, I feel, is when there’s a tie and its the skater with highest presentation score which breaks the tie. So, basically, the skater who wins is the one with the majority ordinals of ‘1’ and when you have 5 judges on a panel then the skater needs to have at least the majority which would be 3 judges who gave a score of 1 to get the 1st place win. To get second place, a skater would receive a majority of 2nd place ordinals or higher, and so on.
As you know, judging in this sport is infamously subjective and the 6.0 system was an easy system to scam. So, the 6.0 system has since been replaced by the new ISU Judging System (IJS- International Judging System) due to the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games scandal where a French judge voted unfairly and denied the Canadian pairs team the Olympic title. The new IJS is viewed to be a more fair and objective because it forces the judges to analyze and assign a score for each element of a skater’s performance, such as footwork, spins, jumps, skating skills, music interpretation,… As mentioned, the 6.0 system, however, will still be used in lower level non-qualifying competitions because it’s a less complicated and less expensive judging system.