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Thursday, 14 November 2013

TES and PCS Demystified


The score for each element has two components: a Base Value and a Grade of Execution (GOE).

The technical panel assigns a Base Value and Level of Difficulty to an element based on criteria the ISU has laid out in their Handbook for Technical Panels 2013These criteria have been developed by a group of experts that includes elite skaters and coaches and are reviewed and updated annually. The number of points in the Base Value depends on the difficulty of the element, with higher levels corresponding to more difficult elements (with the maximum level being 4) and therefore a higher Base Value.

It is the job of the judges to determine a Grade of Execution for each identified element (which appears on their screens) on a scale of -3, -2, -1, 0, +1, +2, +3. The GOE is an assessment of the quality of each performed element based on criteria found on pages 11-13 in the Handbook for Referees and Judges 2013The GOE is then converted to a value based of the Scale of Values (SoV) which can be found in ISU Communication 1787 and ISUCommunication 1805. This value, which can be positive or negative, is then added to the Base Value to determine the total number of points for the performed element. The TES is a sum of the Base Value+GOE value after conversion through SoV for all elements performed.


The PCS is divided into five categories, all of which have specific characteristics. The columns on the left and in the middle are taken directly from pages 14 to 16 of the Handbook for Referees and Judges 2013.
In the column to the right we have attempted to point you to things to look out for in a program that is worthy of a strong PCS.

What You Want to Look For
Skating Skills

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.
· balance and rhythmic knee action and precision of foot placement
· flow and effortless glide
· cleanness and sureness of deep edges, steps and turns
· power/energy and acceleration
· mastery of multi directional skating
· mastery of one foot skating
· equal mastery of technique by both partners and ice coverage

· the way in which speed is generated: you want to see deep knee bends (which results in smoother movement) and efficient strokes (the blade should cover a good distance with each stroke, minimizing the need to take many strokes or steps)
· turns both clockwise and counter clockwise and skating that moves both forward and backward
· one-foot skating
· minimal snow coming from the blades
· variations in speed, both overall and in terms of the tempo of the steps
· these qualities should be exhibited equally by both partners

The varied and or intricate footwork, positions, movements and holds that link all elements and constitute the distinct technical content of the dance.

· Variety
·  Difficulty
·  Intricacy
·  Quality (including unison)
·  Balance of workload
·  Variety of holds
· different kinds of transitions
· difficulty of the transitions themselves (look for transitions skated on one foot, turns, sustained edges, and changes of edge)
· number of transitions
· shared difficulty between partners
· use of numerous distinct holds
· well executed transitions

Performance – The involvement of the Couple physically, emotionally and intellectually as they
translate the intent of the music and the choreography.
Execution – The quality of movement and precision in delivery. This includes harmony of movement.
· Physical, emotion, and intellectual involvement
· Carriage
· Style and individuality/personality
· Clarity of movement
· Variety and contrast
· Projection
· Unison and “oneness”
· Balance in performing
· Spatial awareness between partners – management of the distance between partners and management of changes of hold
· immersion of the skaters  in the program, their ability to create and maintain a strong connection to the audience
· clean lines and proper alignment throughout the body
· matched bodies (look particularly at the free legs)
· matching stroking styles and harmonious movement styles
· little distance between their bodies (look at separations between their blades and between their torsos)


An intentional, developed and/or original arrangement of all types of movements according to the principles of proportion, unity, space, pattern, structure and phrasing.
· Purpose (idea, concept, vision)
· Proportion (equal weight of parts)
· Unity (purposeful threading)
· Pattern and ice coverage
· Phrasing and form (movements and parts are structured to match the phrasing of the music)
· Originality of purpose, movement and design
· Shared responsibility of achieving purpose
· Conformity to pattern and stop requirements (Short Dance only)
· elements, linking steps and movements corresponding to the music
· movements and steps that are cohesive and convey a theme or concept, with equal attention given to all parts of the program
· skaters making use of the space around their bodies
· patterns (created by the skaters as they move across the ice) that are interesting and varied, and do NOT just travel from one end of the rink to the other
· both partners participating equally in achieving the above


The personal and creative translation of the rhythm
 and/or character and content of the music to movement on ice.
· Effortless movement in time to the music (timing)
· Expression of the music’s style, character and rhythm
· Use of finesse to reflect the nuances of the music
· Relationship between the partners reflecting the character of the music
· Appropriateness of music
· Skating primarily to the rhythmic beat for Short Dance and keeping a good balance between skating to the beat and melody in the Free Dance

Finesse is the Skaters’ refined, artful manipulation of nuances. Nuances are the personal artistic ways of
bringing variations to the intensity, tempo, and dynamics of the music made by the composer and/or musicians
· skaters responding to the rhythm, tempo, and phrasing of the music
· skaters engaging their entire bodies and using their skating skills to interpret the music (look for the involvement of their blades in the movements—you want to see movement that is grounded in sound skating skills)

Please see also:

Judges uses the following scale to determine their PCS marks:
Approximately 25%
1-Very Poor
Between 25-50%
Approximately 50%
Between 50-75%
6-Above Average
8-Very Good
Over 75%

Please see pages 16 to 18 of the Handbook for Referees and Judges 2013 for further explanation of the characteristics that correspond to the range of marks


  1. So this is what the judges use to determine PCS. I have often wondered what they are supposed to use because there are times I just haven't got why one team got the numbers they did.

  2. I don't think these criteria are being applied properly these days. The leading team, DW, do not exactly embody the things listed above yet receive lots of 10s while teams that actually do excel at things like edge control, line, carriage, and dancing in hold are marked below them.

    1. Look at what happened at the GPF. These rules mean nothing. The Canadian couple should have won the PCS. I am even more convinced after reading your descriptions of the criteria.

      The American couple is the most exciting and energetic team out there, but the Canadians are much better skaters and are the true dancers. Their posture and line is impeccable, and everything they do looks effortless.

      I think the race for bronze is going to be very interesting. lots of great teams who can rise to the occasion.