In figure skating, it’s all about having a “clean skate,” the perfect program. Once upon a time, a 6.0 represented perfection in the world of skating. That all changed in 2002 after the judging scandal at the Salt Lake City Olympics (see the Pairs page for more on that). The international judging system or IJS has replaced the old 6.0 system. Now skaters rack up points for everything they do from spins and jumps to footwork and transitions. Every move they make has a level of difficulty and a grade for execution. This is why the skating programs we see today are so jam-packed with “tricks.” You will notice the difference in the skaters’ programs (see the Olympics & America’s Ice Queens pages) as they’ve evolved since the adoption of the IJS. Compare Evan Lysacek’s program (this performance was from the Cup of China) which won him Olympic gold in Vancouver to its predecessor just four years earlier in Torino:
Notice before the switch to IJS, the gold medal performance at Salt Lake City in 2002 wasn’t jam-packed as the programs are today:
There is a lot of “down time,” where the skater is just skating waiting for his next jump or spin, unlike Evan Lysacek’s 2010 program. Watching Yagudin’s program now, it appears so slow and boring. In 2002, it was pure excitement and worthy of a gold medal!
This was the program that won Olympic gold for Korean skater Kim Yu-Na (skated earlier in the season in France):
This program is the highest scoring Ladies program ever. Compare it to the gold medal program from 2006 in the video below:
Again, although Shizuka Arakawa skates a beautiful program, today it seems so slow and not too exciting. And just four years earlier–in Salt Lake City before IJS–this program was worth Olympic gold for American Sarah Hughes: