Axel: A forward-facing jump invented by Norwegian Axel Paulson in 1882. The Axel is the only jump in which skaters take off from a forward outside edge. The skater rotates one-and-a-half times in the air – two-and-a-half times for a double, and so on – before landing on the back outside edge of the opposite foot from which they took off.

Base Value: Every element has a certain base value according to its level of difficulty. These values are listed in a table called the Scale of Values (SOV). Base values for jumps are straightforward and pre-determined based on the difficulty of the jump and number of revolutions. For example, a triple Axel (8.5 points) is worth more than the less difficult double Axel (3.3 points). Non-jump elements, such as spins and step sequences are assigned a level – between one and four – based on their difficulty. Level one elements receive a lower base value than level four elements.

Biellmann Spin: A variety of upright spin named for former Swiss skater Denise Biellmann, this spin requires exceptional flexibility of the back and legs, and is performed almost exclusively by women. (Yuzuru Hanyu is one notable exception.) Standing in an upright position, the skater reaches behind his/her shoulders and grabs onto the skate blade of the free leg. The free leg then reaches up towards the ceiling, so the skater rotates while standing upright in a kind of reverse split position.

Camel Spin: The skater spins on one leg with the free leg extended in the air, parallel to the ice.

Choreographic sequence: The choreographic sequence consists of any kind of movements such as steps, turns, spirals, arabesques, spread eagles, Ina Bauers, hydroblading, transitional (unlisted) jumps, spinning movements, etc. The pattern is not restricted, but the sequence must fully utilize the ice surface and is a required element of the free skate in men's and women's singles.

Code of Points: The "code" is the set of technical regulations for skaters detailing how much certain elements and variations of elements are worth (see "Scale of Values").

Combination Spin: The skater changes positions while maintaining speed and a continuous spin (may or may not include a change of foot).

Composition: One of the five program components; defined as: an intentional, developed and/or original arrangement of all types of movements according to the principals of proportion, unity, space, pattern, structure and phrasing.

Connecting Steps: Skating moves such as turns, spirals, arabesques, spread eagles, Ina Bauers and any other flowing steps with strong edges can be characterized as connecting steps.


Figure skaters select outfits that match the style of their programs and the mood of their music. Women can wear a skirt or pants and men must wear full-length trousers, but not tights. Accessories, props and apparel that gives "the effect of excessive nudity" are not allowed.

Crossovers: Foot movement in which the skater crosses one foot over the other in order to gain speed and turn corners. This step can be done forwards and backwards.

Death Spiral: A pair spin in which the man stands as the anchor in a pivot position while holding his partner's hand as she spins, body extended low and parallel to the ice, around him.

Deduction: Points subtracted from the total score. Deductions can be applied for a time violation, an extra/illegal element, a costume/prop violation, or a fall, among other things.

Double Jump: A jump in which the skater completes two revolutions in the air (except in the case of the double Axel, in which the skater actually completes two-and-a-half revolutions).

Draw: The starting order for each event in a figure skating competition is determined by a lottery or “draw.” Either the referee or chair of the competition conducts the process in the presence of other judges (closed draw) or in an open setting where the athletes actually draw a number from a pouch (open draw).

Edge: The two edges of the skate blade are on either side of the grooved center. The inside edge is the one on the inner side of the leg and the outside edge is on the outside of the leg.

Edge Jump: In an edge jump, a skater takes off from the entry edge of the skating (takeoff) foot without bringing the free foot into contact with the ice to assist the takeoff. The three edge jumps are the Axel, loop and Salchow.

Fall: Under the current rules, a fall is defined as the “loss of control by a skater with the result that the majority of his/her own body weight is on the ice supported by any other part of the body other than the blades, e.g. hand(s), knee(s), back, buttock(s) or any part of the arm.” 

Flip: A toe-assisted jump in which the skater takes off from the back inside edge of one foot and lands on the back outside edge of the opposite foot.

Flutz: "Flutz" is an unofficial term for a common mistake made by skaters attempting the Lutz jump. A Lutz is "flutzed" when a skater switches from a back outside edge to an inside edge right before takeoff.

Flying Spin: A spin with a jumping entry. For example, in a flying sit spin, the skater leaps upwards and assumes a sitting position at the peak of the jump before landing in a similar sitting position on the ice and performing a sit spin.

Footwork: See "step sequence." 

Free Dance: The second of the two phases of an ice dancing competition is the free dance. Relatively unrestricted, the skaters select the mood and tempo of their music and are allowed four minutes (plus or minus 10 seconds) to display their full range of technical skills, interpretation and inventiveness.

Free Skate: Skated after the short program, the free skate is the second and final segment of the singles and pairs events. The women's free skate lasts between 3:50 – 4:10 minutes; the men’s and pairs’ free skates last between 4:20 – 4:40 minutes. Also known informally as the long program.

Grade of Execution (GOE): The score, ranging from -3 to +3, that each member of the judging panel awards for each technical element performed by the skater(s).

International Judging System (IJS): Also referred to as the "Code of Points," the current judging system replaced the old 6.0 judging system with a cumulative points system. Ordinals and the ranking of skaters against each other was eliminated in this system. It was first implemented on the Grand Prix circuit for the 2003-04 season, and was used at all ISU championship events during the 2004-05 season. 2006 marked the first time the Olympic Games used the Code of Points system.

International Skating Union (ISU): The official governing body of figure skating. The ISU is responsible for the training and certification of judges and determines the rules of competition.

Interpretation: One of the five program components; defined as: the personal and creative translation of the music to movement on ice.

Judging Panel: Judges are the officials who award grades of execution (GOEs) for each element, as well as scores for the five program components. The judging panel consists of nine judges and a referee (in charge of the judges). In any given competition segment, seven of the nine judges’ scores are selected to count towards the result.

Jump Combination: Two jumps performed in an immediate and consecutive order. In a jump combination, the second jump takes off from the same foot on which the first jump was landed. The skater must not change feet or turn between the two jumps.

Jump Sequence: A jump sequence is a series of two or more jumps linked by hops, unlisted jumps, steps and turns immediately following each other; the jumps are connected more loosely than the jumps in a jump combination. There cannot be more than one revolution on the ice between any hop or jump. The sequence must have a constant rhythm and must not contain crossovers.

Layback Spin: Usually performed by women, the skater spins in an upright position. As the speed of the spin increases, she drops her head and shoulders backwards, arching her back. Skaters often display a few different arm and free leg positions during the layback.

Level: Non-jump elements, such as spins and step sequences are assigned a level – between one and four – based on their difficulty. Level one elements receive a lower base value than level four elements.

Lift: Some of the most exciting elements in pairs and ice dance, lifts involve the hoisting of the female partner above the head of the male partner. There are several different types of lifts, differentiated according to style of entry and the position and hand holds of the pair during the lift.

Line: A skater's carriage and position relative to the ice. The term also is used in ballet and dance.

Long Program: See “free skate.”

Loop: A jump in which skaters take off of a back outside edge and land on the same edge of the same foot. 

Lutz: This toe-pick-assisted jump is named after its Austrian inventor, Alois Lutz, who first performed it in 1913. Skating backwards on an expansive curve, the athletes take off from a back outside edge, anchoring the toe pick into the ice and rotating in the opposite direction of the curve before landing on the back outside edge of the foot opposite to the launching foot.

Mirror Skating: Opposite movements performed by pair skaters in close proximity to one another.

Performance: One of the five program components; defined as: the involvement of the skater/couple/teams physically, emotionally and intellectually as they translate the intent of the music and choreography.

Program Components: The components that represent the overall presentation and artistic quality of a skating performance are known as the program components. There are five program components: skating skills, transitions, performance, composition and interpretation.

Program Components Score (PCS): The scores (between 0.25 and 10) for each of the five program components are each multiplied by a factor and then summed. The result is the program components score, which is more precisely referred to as the factored program components score. Also known informally as the second mark.

Quadruple Jump: A jump in which the skater completes four revolutions in the air. The two "quads" that men most frequently attempt are the quadruple toe loop and the quadruple Salchow – these were the only two that were attempted at the last Olympics. Now, every quad except the Axel has been done successfully. The only quadruple jump ever landed successfully by a woman in international competition is the quad Salchow.

Referee: The referee manages the judging panel and is in charge of the overall event. Among the referee's responsibilities: conducting the draw, timing the skating performances, determining certain deductions (including music violations), monitoring ice conditions and supervising the conduct of the competitors.

Salchow: Edge jump named after Sweden’s Ulrich Salchow, 10-time world champion from 1901 through 1911. Skaters take off from the back inside edge of one foot and land on the back outside edge of the opposite foot.

Scratch Spin: A type of upright spin, the scratch spin begins on a back inside edge. The free leg is extended in front of the body with the thigh raised, and the arms are up and out to the side. Bringing the free leg down and drawing the arms closer to the body accelerates the spin. Skaters achieve the highest number of revolutions per minute in the scratch spin.

Shadow Skating: Identical movements performed by pairs skaters in close proximity to one another.

Short Dance: The first segment of the ice dance event. Running two minutes and 50 seconds (plus or minus ten seconds), the couple must perform a predesignated pattern dance as well as skate to a predesignated rhythm (although they select the music).

Short Program: The first segment of the singles’ and pairs’ events. Running two minutes and 40 seconds (plus or minus 10 seconds), during which skaters must execute seven required elements. The free skate follows.

Side-by-Side Jumps: Side-by-side jumps (also sometimes referred to as solo jumps) are a pairs element in which the partners perform a jump, jump combination or jump sequence, in unison, next to each other.

Single Jump: A jump in which the skater completes one revolution in the air (except in the case of the single Axel, in which the skater actually completes one-and-a-half revolutions).

Sit Spin: A spin performed in a sitting position. Low to the ice, the skater spins with one leg bent and the other leg extended beside it.

Skating Skills: One of the five program components; defined as overall skating quality: edge control and flow over the ice surface demonstrated by a command of the skating vocabulary (edges, steps, turns, etc.), the clarity of technique and the use of effortless power to accelerate and vary speed.

Spiral: A move in which the skater extends his or her free leg behind him or her during a long glide to demonstrate both flexibility and fluidity, often included in the choreographic sequence of a program.

Starting Order: The result of the draw, the starting order lists the sequence in which skaters will compete and the groups they will warm up with prior to competition.

Step Sequence: A choreographed series of steps in sync with the music, performed across the ice in straight, circular or serpentine movements to demonstrate a skater's precision and agility. Also known as “footwork.”

Stroking: A maneuver used to gain speed. Skaters push forward from one inside edge to the other inside edge.

Technical Controller: The technical controller is the leader of the technical panel. This official supports the technical specialist and ensures that any potential mistakes in the "calling" process are corrected immediately.

Technical Elements: Any specific, definable skill, such as a jump, spin, lift or throw, is a technical element.

Technical Panel: The technical panel consists of five officials - the technical controller, the technical specialist, the assistant technical specialist, the data operator and the video replay operator - who run the judging system at a competition. The technical panel is responsible for identifying all elements and levels during a program.

Technical Specialist: The technical specialist is the official who identifies, or "calls" the elements that a skater performs.

Throw Jump: A maneuver in pair skating in which the male throws his partner in the air, and she lands unassisted on a backward outside edge.

Toe Jump: Skaters use their free foot to "pick" into the ice and help propel themselves upwards. The three toe jumps are the flip, Lutz and toe loop.

Toe Loop: A toe-assisted jump in which the skater takes off and lands on the same back edge of the skate.

Toe Pick: The teeth-like ridge at the front of the blade used for spinning and jumping.

Total Element Score (TES): The sum of the judging panel's scores for each individual element performed during a program is the total element score.

Total Segment Score (TSS): A skater, pair or couple's total score for one particular segment of competition (e.g. short program, free skate) is referred to as the total segment score. The total segment score is determined by adding the total element score (TES) to the factored program component score (PCS) and subtracting any deductions.

Transitions: One of the five program components; defined as: the varied and or intricate footwork, positions, movements and holds that link all elements. This also includes the entrances and exits of technical elements.

Triple Jump: A jump in which the skater completes three revolutions in the air (except in the case of the triple Axel, in which the skater actually completes three-and-a-half revolutions).

Twist Lift: A maneuver in pair skating in which the male throws his partner into the air and catches her after she has performed one, two, three, or four revolutions. He then places her back onto the ice.

Twizzle: This is one of the most easily identifiable moves in ice dancing. Twizzles are a series of turns on one foot. The skaters perform the rotations quickly with a continuous action, side by side, preferably close to each other on the ice (though not touching). The weight remains on the skating foot, with the free foot in any position during the turn.

Upright Spin: This spin can be performed forwards or backwards. The skater spins in an upright (standing) position with the free foot positioned next to the skating foot.

Waltz Jump: From an outside edge, the skater takes off and completes a half-revolution in the air. He or she lands on the back outside edge of the opposite foot. This jump is not usually performed in competition.