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Judging Clinics - Primary Clinic - Primary Judging Manual


Skate Canada gratefully acknowledges the time, effort, and expertise of the following Evaluator/Judges in composing and assembling this manual:

Author: Reaghan Fawcett


Ron Conacher
Michelle Kho
Sabrina Wong
Sylvain Guibord
Mary Rose Weir

Many thanks for the contributors of previous
Evaluators/Judge training Manuals.


Welcome to Figure Skating Officiating in Canada

Welcome to the world of judging and evaluating! We are very pleased that you have chosen to pursue officiating as an extension of your own skating experiences. We hope that you will find this a rewarding and enjoyable experience!

Training for new judges has been designed to provide you with a phased-based training in both Judging and Evaluating. The clinics you will attend over the coming weeks and months will help you to develop strong judging and evaluating skills and will serve as your introduction and foundation on which to build your judging and evaluating experiences.

This Primary Judge manual is designed to present to you some of the important things to know as you begin judging. The manual will walk you through some of the “first” experiences you will encounter in your new role. We hope that by reading these first, you will be more comfortable when you attend your first competition as an official. As I am sure you remember from your early days as a skater, a first competition can be a very frightening and overwhelming experience. As you begin to judge at the Primary level, part of your job is to strive to make early competitive experiences enjoyable and positive for all skaters. In this way, it is hoped that skaters will be encouraged to continue skating and competing.

Judges not only play an important role in determining the outcome of a competition, but also play a role in determining the atmosphere of the day. Judges should try to create a relaxed atmosphere, yet recognize that for the skaters and their parents, these competitions can seem as important as the Olympics. Being relaxed and at ease can be particularly challenging when you yourself are also nervous. Hopefully, after attending this clinic and reading this manual, you will feel completely comfortable as you begin judging. Finally, remember that it is important that you encourage all enthusiastic young skaters to be the best they can be. Constructive feedback and positive words from judges like you are vitally important in this process.

Skate Canada would like to thank you for volunteering your time so that skaters may continue to have the satisfaction of participating in skating - be it for fun, fitness or achievement of their goals.


What is a judge?

A Skate Canada Judge is an Official who officiates at figure skating competitions in Canada. The role of a judge is to work with other judges to determine the outcome of specific events at a competition. This group is often referred to as a panel of judges. In the 6.0 system of judging there are always at least 3 judges on a panel. There can be more than this – but there always has to be an odd number of judges.


Who can judge?

Anyone who meets the following criteria is eligible to become trained as a judge:

  • Must be 16 years old
  • Must have a skating background (has passed 2 Jr Bronze tests or 1 Sr Bronze test or higher)
  • Must be amateur (i.e. cannot be ‘professional’)

Individuals who are currently coaching are not able to be a judge at the same time. However, if an individual who has coached in the past is interested in becoming trained as a judge, they must follow the following process to be reinstated as an eligible person:

  • Verify that it has been at least 3 months since they have accepted money as a coach
  • Make an application to the CEO in writing to be reinstated
  • Pay the appropriate fee (refer to Skate Canada Rulebook: Notice Board)

Applications are reviewed at Board of Director’s Meetings which typically happen twice per year in the Spring and Fall.


What is judging all about?

Judges are responsible for determining the result of a competition. Skaters are grouped together by their test level and usually grouped together in groups of 5 to 10 skaters. Judges individually watch a skater, make comments about what the skaters are doing, and then assign each skater 2 marks at the end of their performance. These marks represent a ‘ranking’ or ‘ordinal’ for each skater. At the end of the event, the judges ordinals are combined and create the result for the event.


The Mechanics of Judging

When judging there are really four main activities a judge is doing:

  1. Watching the skater – this may seem like the easy part, but there are a few things to remember.
    1. You cannot judge what you do not see – keep your eyes on the skater as much as possible – avoid prolonged periods looking at your sheet.
    2. Others are watching you. Refrain from talking to your fellow judges, even on warm-ups – as others will think you are discussing the event.
  2. Recording your comments – this is much like learning a new language. You need to develop a very fast and accurate way of recording what elements the skater is doing, and how they are doing them.
    1. You need to develop a system of shorthand…avoid writing full words.
    2. You need to find a way to use symbols and letters to record elements, and also capture QUALITY information about how that element was done.
  3. Assessing Quality and Grouping the skaters – this makes the process of marking much easier. As you watch each skater, you mentally assign them to one of three groups, based on the quality of different aspects of their skating. Then, you need only compare the skaters within each group to determine your relative marks.
    1. Top Group – strongest skaters with generally strongest technical elements
    2. Middle Group – mix of strong and weak skaters and a mix of technical elements
    3. Bottom Group – weakest skaters with generally weakest technical elements
  4. Awarding your marks – this is the part where you consider what the skater has done and thus what marks their performance deserves.
    1. You need to consider the appropriate range for the level of performance
    2. You need to award marks that reflect the performance and will thus act as a ranking of that skater compared to other skaters in the event.



There is a very good reason to develop a quick and accurate system of shorthand. You need to quickly be able to refer back to your notes after every skater and make a sound decision about the relative strengths and weaknesses of each program, and what marks you should award.

Sound hard? Well – it can be at first, but after a few events it will definitely become easier!

In general, there are two types of information you need to record:

  1. Technical - Jumps, Spins, Footwork elements
  2. Presentation - Harmonious composition, variation of speed, style/carriage, musicality

Step 1: Decide how you will record WHAT the skater has done. For example you may want to record a double salchow in one of the following ways: 2S, S, DS, S2. Whichever way makes most sense to you is what you should use. Keep in mind, that your system needs to be adaptable for different levels. For example, if you just write S for salchow – how do you know if this is a single or double?

You should then decide how you will record spins. You should come up with a shorthand for each major spin position – camel, upright, layback, sit. Also keep in mind you will need to know how you will record combination spins. For example – if you record “CS” how do you know if this is a camel-sit spin on one foot – or a camel-back sit with a change of foot? You might want to use a slash to represent a change of foot. For example, “CL/SU” would indicate a Camel-layback-“change foot” back sit-back upright combination spin.

Finally, you should also think about ways to record footwork and connecting steps. This is perhaps more difficult to document, but to start you should identify definite footwork patterns. For example, if a skater performs a straight line footwork sequence, you might record FW and a straight arrow to indicate that it was a straight line. If the footwork was a circular step sequence, you may write FW and a circle.

In terms of presentation elements, you should develop a system of shorthand that will allow you to comment on this aspect of the program. If you feel the skater has good musicality, you might write “Gd mus.” Or if they have weak free leg extension, you might write “Style weak”. Try as much as possible to get into the habit of writing comments related to the presentation mark. You need to be able to justify your presentation mark as well as your technical mark, and this is hard to do if you have virtually no comments about a skater’s presentation!


Recording Exercise

Fill in the chart below with some ideas as to how you will record elements within a program. Think about how your system will move from lower levels to higher levels (i.e. single versus double jumps), how you will record Jump Combinations and Sequences and also Solo and Combination spins.



Step 2: Decide how to record HOW the skater has performed their elements. The next part of developing your shorthand is perhaps the most critical. Now that you have decided how you will record the technical and presentation elements – you need to develop a way to record HOW they are doing these elements.

If you have an event of 10 skaters who all perform an axel, a camel-sit spin and a straight line footwork sequence – if you simply record “A”, “CS” and “FW”, how can you possibly compare skater #10 to skater #1?

Skater Jumps Spins Footwork Presentation


What you need to do is develop symbols to help record how each element is performed. Look at the example below to see what symbols and shorthand can do to help you.


When looking back at these notes – you have a complete picture of each skater, even though they have all done the same elements.

Skater #1 – had a weak landing on the Axel (notice arrow indicates “bent over”). Their Camel sit spin had 5 revolutions and although it was slow, the positions were good (notice check mark). Their steps in their footwork were good, but the sequence was performed with little speed. Overall musicality was good, and their style and carriage were adequate – not weak, but not strong either.

Skater #2 – had steps going into their Axel (notice three dots), landed the jump with good flow and a strong landing position. Their camel sit spin had five revolutions (3 in camel position, 2 in sit position) and the positions were good. Their footwork was performed with speed and overall their style and carriage were good and they had a good sense of musicality.

Skater #3 – fell on the Axel (notice the “x”) – and in fact did not complete the full rotations (notice “ch” stands for cheated). They had 3 revolutions in their Camel-sit spin and the positions were weak. Their footwork sequence was slow with weak edges, and overall their style and carriage was weak and they lacked a sense of musicality in the program.

Simply by developing a system of symbols and shorthand, you are able to record a complete picture of each skater that will allow you to go back later and compare skater against one another.

Finally, remember that this system is yours alone. You should try new things as you judge more and more events. You should treat this as an on-going project that will take many years to complete. Don’t be afraid to ask more experienced judges how they record programs. You will likely learn new hints from them – and they may even like some of your ideas and start using them!


What is Quality?

The consideration of quality is the aspect of figure skating that makes our sport more than a race against the clock or a race to the finish line. Quality is the way in which we rank skaters who otherwise look the same on paper. Quality is demonstrated in every aspect of a skater’s performance – from the execution of technical elements, to the carriage and form used while interpreting the music, to the skills demonstrated in edges and turns.


Basic Skating Skills in the Performance

The most fundamental aspect of “quality” skating is basic skating skills. A skater would be considered to have a high quality of skating if he or she demonstrates strong basic skating skills. Likewise, a skater would be considered to have lower quality skating if he or she demonstrates weak basic skating skills. Basic skating skills can be assessed by considering the following criteria for each skater:

  • edge quality
  • turning ability
  • stroking ability

The following section will outline criteria you will need to use in order to assess and compare the basic skating quality of different skaters at the Preliminary level.

  1. Edges
    • Do edges or flats predominate in the performance?
    • Does the skater demonstrate the ability to skate all the basic edges?
    • Does the skater establish the lean of the edge from the push-off?
    • Does the skater change lean easily from one edge to the next?
    • Does the skater show smooth control of the rotation of the edge?
    • Does the skater maintain the correct lean for the duration of the edge?
    • Is the edge noisy or quiet?

      A skater without strong edges, in comparison to others at this level, has a weaker foundation on which to base the more difficult technical skills.
  2. Turns

    Most of the turns you will see at the Preliminary level are those that rotate in the direction of curvature of the edge - the three and the mohawk. At the higher levels you can expect the inclusion of the more intricate turns of brackets, rockers, counters, choctaws, etc. At any level of competition, you should have an expectation of the turning ability for that particular level of development. To integrate this into the assessment process you should continually ask yourself the questions listed below while watching turns.
    • Does the skater demonstrate balance in the content of turns in the program?
    • Does the skater approach the turns with confidence?
    • Does one direction (L to R or R to L) predominate?
    • Does the skater demonstrate control of rotation both before and after the turn?
    • Does the skater maintain balance through the turn?
    • Is the depth of edge before and after the turn approximately the same?
    • Does the rotation of the upper body match the footwork?
    • Does the skater hold the edge for a reasonable length of time after the turn?

      Skaters who have not yet mastered the basics of turning will have considerable difficulty with more advanced skills.
  3. Stroking
    In order to assess a skater’s stroking skills, you consider the following:
    • Does the skater push correctly from the side of the blade?
    • Is the strength of the thrust approximately the same from each foot?
    • Is the stroking powerful in relation to the skater’s size and weight?
    • Does the skater bend the knee to absorb the power of the stroke?
    • Is the knee action soft and consistent?
    • Does the skater demonstrate good balance by being able to glide?
    • Is the transition from one foot to the other controlled and smooth?
    • Does the skater step solidly onto the new skating foot?
    • Is the posture erect or does it break at the hips with each stroke?
    • Does the skater have sufficient control to be able to stroke in time to the music?

      Crosscuts are a specific form of stroking - the same set of questions can be applied to them. It is, however, unusual for young skaters to obtain a good thrust from each foot while performing crosscuts. In general, if a skater’s stroking skills are consistently being performed at a low level, this is indicative of lower quality skating. 


      You cannot, of course, memorize these series of questions and ask yourself each one while every skater performs. What you must do is train yourself to register these aspects of the performance almost automatically. It is these basic skating skills that will determine your initial sorting of the skaters into top, middle and bottom groups. The technical highlights included and the style of the performance will then be the basis for sorting skaters within the groups.


Quality in the First Mark

Even though landing difficult jumps is a wonderful accomplishment for the skater – the landing of jumps is not the only consideration in the “first mark” or the “Technical mark”. In the next section, we discuss how quality can be used to distinguish between technical elements.

All elements (jump elements, spin elements & footwork elements) must be considered both in terms of their “completion” and also in the quality of their execution. An important consideration is that there is a sequence of phases to the elements. The quality of the elements needs to be assessed by looking at the culmination of these phases. The ultimate goal is for the element to be successful. However, an incomplete element does not necessarily equal poor quality. Likewise, a completed element does not necessarily imply a good quality element. In the next few sections we will outline some important considerations when assessing the quality of technical elements in singles skating.


Phases of Jump Elements

  1. Preparation
    1. Is jump approached with speed, on a strong edge?
    2. Is the entry edge a constant radius with consistent speed?
  2. Take-Off
    1. Does the jump lift off ice with ease?
    2. Is the take-off edge clean (not skidded, cheated or changed)?
  3. Flight
    1. Does the jump convert to a proper back-spin position?
    2. Is the body carriage/line straight in air?
    3. Are all body parts controlled throughout the flight?
  4. Landing
    1. Does the landing carry flow?
    2. Is the landing on a clean edge, or is edge cheated?
    3. Is the landing arc equal to the take-off edge arc?


Phases of Spin Elements

  1. Preparation
    1. Is the spin approached with speed, and strong carriage?
    2. Is the speed on entry appropriate and controlled?
  2. Entry
    1. Does the spiraling edge convert quickly to the ball of the foot?
  3. Rotation
    1. Is the spin position strong and controlled?
    2. Is the rotation fast and well centered?
    3. Are there many rotations in a strong position?
  4. Exit
    1. Is the termination of rotation well controlled with strong body positions?


Quality in the Second Mark

Quality, can also be considered in the evaluation of the Second Mark. In many respects, the ability to skate and perform technical elements with a high level of quality results immediately in an increase in the quality of the various criteria of the second mark. The presentation aspect of figure skating makes it a unique sport - it is one of few sports which combines athletics and artistry. The successful combination of the two aspects helps create memorable performances.

When assigning the presentation mark, each of the following elements is taken into consideration before arriving at one number. These components are outlined in the Skate Canada Technical Handbook. The following is a further explanation of what to consider when assessing the quality of each component.

    1. Harmonious Composition/Conformity with the Music Chosen
      This is essentially the overall “look and feel” of the program. Judges must determine if the skater is skating in time with the music. Is the music used fully in terms of placement of highlights? Is the choreography suited to the music and the skater?
    2. Variation of Speed
      While general speed is assessed under the technical merit/required elements mark, variation of speed is considered in the presentation mark. Judges look for a change in speed of movement (long, sustained movement and short, sharp contractions), ease and variety of acceleration/deceleration, all of which will be dictated by the chosen music. A program should strive to incorporate changes in speed of skating and movement.
    3. Use of the Ice Surface and Space
      A program should cover the entire ice surface, using a variety of patterns, directions and levels (low, medium and high). Skaters should avoid programs that rely heavily on circular or straight line patterns. Highlights should be distributed evenly over the entire ice surface (i.e. not all in between the two blue lines, nor in one or the other end-zone). Again, use of pattern, direction, level and placement of highlights should be dictated by the chosen music and/or theme.
    4. Easy Movement/Sureness in Time to the Music
      In this component, judges are essentially looking for the ease with which the skater or team performs. Balance, strength, rhythm, timing and flow are all assessed. Skaters performing choreography and highlights with apparent effortlessness will be rewarded with a higher presentation mark.
    5. Carriage And Style
      Skaters should perform with erect carriage and strong line. Variations in line and carriage in relation to the music/theme are acceptable, so long as they are still aesthetically pleasing and have proper alignment. Flexibility is also considered in this component.
    6. Originality
      Ideally, skaters and coaches, when choreographing a new program, venture to try something new - something which will advance the sport of skating beyond the present. Originality is achieved through innovative movement, program concept (theme and/or music selected), or choreography. A skater who often “pushed the envelope” and took skating in a new direction was Canadian champion, World and Olympic medallist , Toller Cranston.
    7. Expression of the Character of the Music
      Judges assess whether the skater demonstrates an understanding of the character of the music and uses the whole body in order to interpret the chosen music theme. Judges must determine whether the choreography is being performed because that is what the coach has indicated should be done at certain points in the program, or whether the program is skated with feeling. Choreography and movement should be inspired from within.


Overview of Second Mark Quality

Judges need to take a lot into consideration when awarding the second mark to the skater or team – and the criteria are intimately connected with the quality of the execution of the program. This is not a straight forward calculation! All of these components need to be etched into the subconscious of judges. To expand your understanding of art try to study dance, theatre, visual art and music, as many coaches and skaters do in the creation of programs.


Grouping Skaters

So – now we have explored the mechanics of judging, and have identified some aspects to assist in assessing quality of a performance – but how do we balance that with the technical content successfully completed in a program? The answer to how we balance these seemingly contradictory forces in the judging process is found in the concept of “groupings.” The process of grouping skaters in an event will allow you to compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges when making placement decisions!



In any event, there is a natural breakdown of the performances. It is useful to consider the
event in terms of “top,” “middle,” and “bottom” performances. This approach makes the
judging process more efficient and effective as it reduces the number of skaters you must
compare in order to determine your placements.

For example, consider that you are judging an event of 10 skaters. As each of the skaters finishes their performance, you can determine if they fit your expectations of a top, middle or bottom group. Once you have made this assessment you need only determine if you deem the performance better or worse than the other skaters you have also placed in that group. Not only will this increase the speed of your assessment, it will also make the assignment of marks to the second skater easier as the “group” will help determine how much spread you will allow in your marks! By the end of 9 skaters, you may have 3 Top Group skaters, 3 Middle Group skaters and 3 Bottom Group skaters. When skater #10 skates, you need only decide which group they belong to and compare to the 3 skaters within that group, rather than having to compare to each of the 9 skaters that have already skated.

You may be wondering how you should decide to place skaters within a certain grouping. The most important criteria you should use to assign skaters to a group is skating quality. The previous section listed in detail the considerations in identifying quality. Remember that assessing a skater’s basic skating skills is the first step to determining the quality of that skater’s skating. Also remember that quality can exist in both the first and second marks!

To begin, the top group in an event will generally skate with a high level of quality in both the technical and presentation components. The skaters or teams in this top group will also likely have completed the higher level of technical elements as compared to the other skates or teams. In general, the basic skating quality of your top group will be superior to other skaters in the event.

The bottom group is the “flip” side of the top group. This group will skate with lower level of quality, and will not have executed the technical elements expected at that level of competition. In interclub competitions, this group is often characterized by not having met the standards to pass the required test with the performance of that day.

The middle group is much more difficult to describe, and as a result the protocol for the middle group of any event can be “messier” than that of the top or bottom groups – an indication of the differing priorities that must be analyzed in making placement decisions with these skaters.

The middle group, loosely speaking, contains the skaters (or teams) who either have good skating quality, but complete a lower level of technical skills or skaters with lower levels of quality who have completed more difficult technical elements.

While using the grouping process often makes your job as a judge easier – it is not foolproof! There will be events when the lines between top and middle, or middle and bottom may be very blurry. There will also be events where all the skaters are in the middle group – regardless of how carefully you have set your criteria: unfortunately, this is the luck of the draw! So be mindful that in some cases, assigning skaters to groups will be difficult and may not seem to help with your judging process… but in the majority of cases it is the best way to get through the event and finish with a result you are happy with.


Rewarding Attempted Elements

At this level of competition, you will more than likely see some competitors attempting elements that are beyond their abilities. The argument over whether this is important for developmental purposes or not will continue forever. What you need to know, as a judge, is how to reward these attempts. It is particularly important to consider “reasonableness” of attempts at the Primary level of competition. Skaters in this event are developing new skills quickly at the same time as their bodies continually change and grow. For this reason, it is common to judge events at this level where several (or even most) skaters miss elements. Comparing missed elements is, thus, critical.

At the Preliminary level in Singles, you may see skaters attempting the Axel jump along with the simpler double jumps. Many skaters at this level will be able to complete these jumps successfully, including some in combination. However, some skaters will be attempting jumps clearly beyond their ability. It is important that you only reward those attempts that are reasonable and within the skaters’ ability.

For example, a skater who attempts a jump that is fully rotated, lands on one foot and then falls, should receive more credit than a skater who completes one and a half rotations in the air, and half a rotation on the ice, even though that skater does not fall. The first skater has clearly mastered the rotation of the jump. The second skater has not yet mastered a key aspect of the jump: full rotation, and it appears that this jump is significantly beyond their current ability. Furthermore, when a skater’s program contains many of these types of unsuccessful and/or unreasonable attempts, it should receive a lower Technical Merit mark as well as a lower Presentation mark. The reason for this is that these types of attempts negatively impact the overall balance and flow of the program. This should be reflected in the Presentation mark.


The Marks

The marks that judges assign a skater are a divided into 2 categories:

  1. Technical Merit
    1. Difficulty – The relative difficulty of elements attempted and completed successfully. (Jumps, spins & footwork)
    2. Variety – The program should contain a balance of jumps, spins & connecting steps.
    3. (taking off and landing on true edges – not ‘cheated’). The skater should be attempting elements within his/her ability. Spins need to be examined for smooth, controlled rotation and a pleasing finish.
    4. Speed
  2. Presentation
    1. a. Harmonious Composition and Conformity with the Music
    2. b. Variation of Speed
    3. c. Utilization of Ice Surface and Space
    4. d. Easy Movement and Sureness in time to Music
    5. e. Carriage and Style
    6. f. Originality
    7. g. Expression of the Character of the Music


What marks to give?

After you consider the criteria for each mark, you must decide what two marks you will give a skater. When judging sanctioned competitions, the marks you award must be from the 0-6 scale, where only a single decimal place is allowed. The international reference for the meaning of the marks in this scale are given as:

0 is not skated
1 is very poor
2 is poor
3 is mediocre
4 is good
5 is very good
6 is faultless and perfect

This is an absolute scale of marks. Thus, although Pre-Preliminary or Preliminary skaters may perform at a level that is “very good” for them, you would not assign them marks in the range of 5.0.

Typical ranges at the STARSkate levels of competitions are as follows:

Pre-Preliminary 1.0 – 2.0
Preliminary/Jr Bronze 1.5 – 3.0
Sr Bronze/Jr Silver 2.0 – 3.5
Sr Silver/Gold 3.0 – 4.0

Remember, however, that you need not be confined to any predetermined range of marks for an event. If a Preliminary skater presents a performance equal to your expectations of a Sr Bronze competitor, your marks can (and should) reflect this.

It is important that your marks show the relative strengths and weaknesses between skaters and between the different Technical and Presentation components. Many judges when they first begin to judge do not like to ‘split’ their marks and tend to award the same mark for both Technical & Presentation.

However – at the end of an event, you should have awarded the best Technical Mark to the best Technical skater and the best Presentation mark to the best Presentation skater…and it is rare that this is the same person. Also – you want the marks to reflect the level of skating. If it is a poorly skated event, the level of your marks should reflect that.

So – be brave – split those marks up when they should be split! Try not to be overly concerned with your resulting ordinals; if you have accurately judged the event, the ordinals are a reflection of this!


Your First Competition

Many of you will remember what steps you go through as a competitor, arriving at the arena on the day of a competition. From organizing your skating bag at home, to handing in your music and getting dressed, there are a lot of things to think about on competition day. Similarly in judging, there are several things to think about and prepare before and after you arrive at the rink to judge a competition.



First, we will assume that you have been contacted by a Technical Representative to judge at a local Interclub competition. You may not be familiar with this role at a competition, but the Technical Representative or “Tech Rep” is vitally important to any competition. It is their responsibility to create the schedule for the competition, recruit and schedule judges to judge, and to be on hand the day of the competition to make sure everything runs smoothly and on-time. When a Tech Rep calls you, try to make yourself available for as much of the day as possible. It is much easier to schedule a judge who is available from 9am to 4pm than a judge who is available from 11am to 1pm. The shorter the time you are available, the fewer events you will be able to judge. Also, unless you are ill or have a family emergency, do not cancel once you have committed to judge. It is extremely difficult to change the judging schedule at the last minute and other judges will have to work harder to cover your events. This is not fair for the Tech Rep, the other judges or the skaters in the competition.

Once you have agreed to judge the competition, be sure that you know the following information: Where is the rink located? How long will it take you to drive there? What time will you start judging? It is wise to plan to arrive at the arena at least 30 minutes before you are scheduled to judge. This allows you time to find your way around the arena and provides some leeway in unexpected circumstances such as traffic delays or becoming lost. In addition, this time will allow time for preparation before you judge the first event of the day. You should also try to make sure that you will not have to rush away at the end of your scheduled judging time. Sometimes there are unavoidable delays and competitions run late.


Arrival at the arena

When you first arrive at the arena, you should find the competition Registration Desk. There is often a list of officials and you may need to sign in to let organizers know you have arrived. The volunteers at Registration may also issue you an Officials’ badge that will control your access to certain parts of the building. It is important that you wear your badge at all times, especially if spectators are charged admission. Finally, the volunteers at Registration should also be able to direct you to the judge’s room, if you do not already know where it is located.

After you have found the judge’s room, let the Tech Rep know that you have arrived. If you do not know the other judges, ask the Tech Rep to introduce you. It is generally assumed that all judges know each other, which, of course, is not always the case. If you were issued a revised schedule or judging assignment sheet, you should review it to see if there have been any changes to your schedule. If you are not familiar with the layout of the building, you may also want to take a few minutes to locate areas of importance such as where you will eat your meals, the washrooms, how to get to the ice, etc.

Finally, the last thing you must do before heading out to judge is to verify you have the necessary supplies. The competition should supply you with a clipboard and pencils for you to use. You should check to see that you have all the necessary judge’s sheets for the day’s events on your clipboard. Judging sheets should be available in the judge’s room or from the Tech Rep. Often all sheets for the day will be made available on your clipboard at the beginning of the competition. In other cases, sheets will be made available periodically in envelopes during the day.

Each event you judge will also have a Referee. The Referee is usually a more experienced judge who is in charge of ensuring that the event runs smoothly. They are the ones who communicate with skaters and make decisions during the event, if necessary. In cases when a skater’s lace comes untied for example, the Referee will instruct the skater to retie their lace and continue the program. Do not hesitate to ask your Referee if something is unclear or if you are missing anything. The more experienced judges have all been in your shoes before. They still remember their first competition and will be glad to help you!!


The End of the Competition

You did it! Your day of judging is over and you can take a break and warm up your cold feet and fingers! There are just a few things to remember about the end of a competition day. First, you should look at the results of all of the events that you judged. This is useful to make sure there were no errors when the accountants calculated your marks. This is also useful to see if there are any placings where you differed significantly from your colleagues. Although you cannot change the results, you may be able to talk to the other judges and hear why they placed the skaters differently. This type of conversation can always be useful and more experienced judges are usually willing to answer any questions you might have, or hear why your placings were a little different.

Finally, as you prepare to leave the arena, remember that parents and coaches occasionally wish to talk to the members of the judging panel to help them decide how to best further the development of particular skaters. Judges can play a key role in encouraging all members of the skating community.

Remember though, if a parent or coach wishes to discuss a particular placing, do not allow yourself to be trapped in a debate over your placing of one skater versus another. Focus on the particular skater in question and identify any strengths and outline some areas to concentrate on improving. If you need your judging sheets, you can obtain these from the Data Specialists (Accountants).


Introduction to Refereeing

Roles & Responsibilities of the Referee

As mentioned earlier in this manual, every skating event has a designated “Referee”. At lower level invitational competitions, this person will also likely be one of the judges judging the event. As a new judge, it is unlikely that you will be designated as the Referee when you first begin judging. However, in some cases at an invitational competition, you may be the most senior judge on the panel and may be asked to Referee. The following section is meant to give you a brief introduction into the duties of a referee.

The real challenge when Refereeing and Judging is to be able to focus on two jobs at the same time. As a Judge your primary focus is to place the skaters as best you see fit. As a referee your responsibilities quickly expand to include:

  • Ensure all skaters are present: Before the warm up begins, ask the Announcer or Ice Captain if all of the skaters for that group are present and ready to take the ice. If a skater is not there and the ice captain has checked that they did not register, you can assume that the skater has chosen not to skate. In this case, you must inform the other judges on the panel which skater is missing so they can cross their name out on their JPRs. If you are using chits, you should also collect the blank chit for that skater so there are no accounting errors.
  • Ensure all skaters are on the warm-up: If the ice captain informs you that all skaters are present but yet there seems to be a skater missing from warm-up, you should call the skaters over to the judges stand to determine who is missing.
  • Ensure the warm-up is timed properly: Although you may not have a stop-watch, you should try to keep an eye on the clock or the Timer to be sure they are timing accurately.
  • Decide to start the event: Once the warm-up is completed, you should signal to the Music/Announcer to announce the first skater.
  • Set the pace of the event: In many cases at Interclubs, there is little or no time built in between skaters. This means that you must keep the event moving fairly rapidly. If you feel the announcer could go faster, you have the right to ask him/her to speed up. i.e. do not wait for the skater to skate to the center, bow to both sides and then skate to the exit before announcing the next skater. Valuable seconds are lost with each performance and this will put the competition behind schedule.
  • Act/intervene in the case of stops or falls: According to the Rule Book, there shall be no Restarts granted in any cases, regardless if the interruption was the fault of the skater. If a skater’s lace becomes untied, you should stop the skater, have them re-tie their lace and then pick up the program from the point of interruption. If a skater falls and injures himself or herself, you should determine if they need medical attention. If so, there should be medical personnel on-site to attend to the skater. If the problem can be resolved quickly (i.e. within 2-3 minutes) they should be allowed to resume the program from the point of interruption.
  • Signing the results: At some competitions if you have refereed an event, you will be asked to sign the official results. When you sign a competition result sheet, you are simply authorizing its release - not certifying its accuracy. However, few of us would wish to sign such a sheet without being reasonably sure that it was correct. This is one reason why it is important to understand the accounting system being used to calculate the results. Also, it is useful to know this in case you are approached by a parent or coach and asked to explain the results. If you notice anything that seems unusual and you suspect an accounting error – you should notify the Data Specialists and Tech Rep immediately. They will verify the chits were accounted correctly and make any necessary corrections before you sign the final results.


Officials’ Code of Ethics


Officials'Code of Ethics Comfirmation Form attached.

For the past several years, Skate Canada has formalized the working relationship of various partners in the Association to the organization as a whole through the development and implementation of “codes of ethics” specific to each group. Codes of Ethics are like position descriptions that outline the responsibilities of the partner to the organization in which they are involved. In general, the codes of ethics outline standards of conduct in three primary areas: technical competence, loyalty to the Association and faithfulness to the organization’s mission and policies. This document has been thoroughly researched, and has been approved by the Association’s lawyer as assurance of its validity.

According to Skate Canada policy, members wishing to hold the designate as “official” are required to acknowledge in writing that he or she has received and reviewed a current copy of the Code of Ethics (and any applicable addendum) and that he or she agrees to be bound by and comply with it in day to day functions as a Skate Canada Official. This acknowledgement must be completed every membership year in order to maintain designation as an official. Note that because this acknowledgement is required to maintain credentials as an official it is a condition of participating in any test or competition assignments on behalf of Skate Canada.

The current version of the Code of Ethics has been included on the following pages. If you have not already done so, please read the document, sign the agreement & acknowledgment form and give it to your clinic leader who will forward it to your Section Judges Chair.



The following code of ethics information has been developed to assist in defining the officials' role in the context of Skate Canada, the principles officials stand for, how officiating functions are performed within Skate Canada, and to outline officials' conduct. For the purposes of this code of ethics, the term "officials" is used as described in Skate Canada rules to include all evaluators, judges, referees, and accountants.

In general, the code of ethics outlines standards of conduct in three primary areas as follows:

  • Technical competence
  • Loyalty to the Association
  • Faithfulness to the organization's mission and policies

In order to be designated as a Skate Canada official, each official will be required to acknowledge in writing that he or she has received and reviewed a copy of this Code of Ethics (and any applicable addendum), and that he or she agrees to be bound by and comply with the Code of Ethics.



Skate Canada is an Association dedicated to the principles of enabling every Canadian to participate in skating throughout their lifetime for fun, fitness and/or achievement.



Evaluators, judges, referees and accountants are official representatives of the Skate Canada and will at all times conduct themselves in a manner befitting such a privilege of appointment. They will also be held responsible for seeing that all rules and policies of the Association are observed on any occasion when they are present.



The mission of Skate Canada can only be accomplished successfully if all stakeholders involved in the sport of skating (including skaters and parents, coaches, officials and club directors) share a common vision and understanding of their role to create and maintain a positive learning environment. However, it is the actions of each stakeholder that ultimately contribute to or undermine the existence of a positive skating environment. The onus of establishing and maintaining appropriate ethical behavior in the pursuit of this worthwhile objective falls on and must be accepted by the leaders in our sport. At the club or sanctioned skating school level, these people are: coaches, directors and officials.



To understand the fundamental principles of ethical conduct, it is useful to review the definition of the word “ethical”

  • Relating to morals or moral principles;
  • Philosophy which governs human character and conduct i.e. the distinction between right and wrong and/or moral duty and obligations to the community;
  • Originating from the Greek word “ethos”, meaning character.



Obligations to the Skaters and Coaches
To maintain technical knowledge of figure skating to ensure that performances are
marked accurately.

To maintain objectivity and integrity of judging by marking a performance based on sound technical knowledge. When judging, to mark only the skating being performed without bias or prejudice and not to be influenced by audience approval/disapproval, the reputation and/or the past performance of the skater.

When judging, to mark independently and from the commencement to the conclusion of the event not to discuss with any person, except the Referee and/or Assistant Referee of that event, one’s own assessment or marks or the assessment or marks of other judges.

To share technical and experiential knowledge of figure skating with skaters, parents, coaches, and other officials to enhance the development of the sport.

To declare a conflict of interest on occasions when applicable and to refrain from officiating in situations where the perception of conflict of interest may be present.

To be ever mindful of the influence one can exercise over skaters, coaches, and other officials and to never abuse this trust.


Obligations to the Sport and the Club/Skating School

To maintain membership in good standing with Skate Canada.

To promote Skate Canada and its programs and the sport of skating in general. In represent Skate Canada in a respectful manner, and to ensure that messages given are consistent with the mission of the Association and in compliance with all Skate Canada rules, policies and procedures.

To refrain from public criticism of the Association and of its members and staff and instead to use appropriate internal communication channels and protocols which are established by Skate Canada from time to time, to communicate concerns or criticism.

To be familiar with and adhere to the standards of officiating as defined in the Skate Canada Rulebook and regulations (policies and procedures); and to maintain a current working knowledge of the ISU, Skate Canada, Section and club/school rule changes, policies, regulations and programs so as to be able to assess the product of skating in a professional manner.

To maintain competence by continually pursuing technical upgrading including knowledge in related fields beneficial to skating (e.g. the performing arts, sport science, sport psychology, etc.) and by complying with any activity, training, upgrading, or other certification requirements as determined by Skate Canada from time to time.

To exhibit the important character traits of honesty, reliability/dependability and cooperation when dealing with all participants in the sport so as to bring credit to officiating.

To share the responsibility with officiating colleagues, coaches, and club/school officials to initiate and support actions that are required to meet the needs of the skater, the club/school and skating in general.

To participate in the development and/or maintenance of desirable standards of officiating through regular and on-going communication with partners in the delivery of figure skating programs.

Immediately upon becoming aware of any breach or possible breach by an evaluator/judge/accountant of this Code of Ethics or of the applicable Rules, policies and procedures, to make a report in writing to the Referee/Chief Accountant/Association as follows:

  • in relation to a test situation - to the Section Evaluator/Judges Chairperson
  • in relation to a specific event in a competition - to the referee/chief accountant of the event
  • in relation to a specific incident at a competition - to the referee/chief accountant who will report the issue to the Officials Coordinating Committee Chair if he/she feels it is necessary or warranted
  • in relation to an issue occurring outside of the event context, or in the case that the reporting cannot be done via the referee/chief accountant for some reason - to the Chair of the Officials Coordinating Committee directly.


Obligations to Evaluator / Judge / Accountant Colleagues

To share technical and experiential knowledge with one’s colleagues as they develop as officials of Skate Canada.

To judge independently and to refrain from sharing one’s assessment or marks with others, except the Referee and/or Assistant Referee, until the completion of an event. At the event review meeting, to present one’s assessment in an impartial and technically sound manner while respecting the assessment of one’s colleagues.

To avoid criticizing another official’s performance and/or assessment unless done so with the official’s knowledge or permission. (When the assessment of an official is required by the Referee or Officials Coordinating Committee, to utilize the standard tools and protocol for review as set out by the Officials Coordinating Committee).

To comply with the reporting requirements described forth above in (2).



All complaints resulting from the application of the Code of Ethics shall be processed in accordance with the Skate Canada Complaint, Suspension and Expulsion policy as outlined in the Skate Canada Rule book.



Skate Canada has created a Well Balanced Program guideline for STARSkate events from the Pre-Preliminary to Gold level. These guidelines are an attempt to ensure that skaters of completing programs of similar content. Each Section offers different STARSkate events that may or may not conform to these guidelines. For example, some Sections offer additional events with different jump restrictions than those suggested by Skate Canada.

You should discuss with your Clinic Leader what events are offered at the various competitions within your own Section and what Well Balanced Program Guidelines your Section may have in place.

Additionally, you should also discuss what, if any, deductions are to be applied to skaters that do not comply with the Well Balanced Program Guidelines that are in place within your Section.



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