Program Components Demystified
From a Judging Viewpoint
Most of us know a little about the International Judging System by now, however in order to maximize skating scores you need to know exactly how each part works. As a judge, I find Program Components much more difficult to mark than the technical part. So how well do you know your Program Components?
Most people think of Program Components as the old Artistic mark. It is, but it is more clearly defined under 5 headings explained below. These are inter-related but just because you have poor Skating Skills doesn’t mean you can’t score highly on Performance, and vice versa. Because the IJS is an absolute system, you can directly compare your marks with those of world class skaters like Cheltzie Lee, who usually scores 5-6 for each of her program components.
Skating Skills describes basic skating – stroking and crossovers. Judges are looking for effortless speed and glide over the ice surface; surety and depth of edges; multidirectional skating and balance (one foot skating).
Skaters who have mastered Skating Skills will be able to skate in both directions, skate fast without looking like they’re pushing hard and skate smoothly (quietly) over the ice.
Transitions form your ― footwork toolkit‖ and make programs interesting for people to watch; they are all the turns and steps that fill up programs between the technical elements. Judges are looking for variety, complexity and quality; for me, quality is the most important thing to remember here. A good way to see if you have enough transitions in your program is to skate it through without doing your elements; ideally, there are no prolonged periods of basic skating between elements.
This relates to how well structured your program is – in terms of element placement on the ice, use of available space and relation to the music. Judges know if they keep looking in one direction during a skater’s program that choreography is lacking. We also often see skaters doing movements that have no relation to their music; a good skater will be able to show their program’s theme even when their music is not playing.
Performance/Execution shows judges how much emotional involvement you have when skating a program and how precisely you perform your movements. Good skaters will show us how much they are “feeling” their music and put more into their movements than just what the choreographer has showed them. They will also perform controlled, purposeful, precise movements.
Good interpretation means a skater uses finesse to highlight music nuances and moves effortlessly in time to the music. Whereas Performance/Execution is how emotionally and how well you are performing your movements, Interpretation is what you are doing to reflect changes in the music.
I hope this has cleared up what Program Components are and I look forward to seeing more programs maximizing your individual strengths in Components.
- Cherry Lau