How does the scoring work? 5 questions you have about Olympic figure skating, answered.

Figure skating is in a league of its own. But as we tune in to watch the Winter Olympics, we've started to ask ourselves some questions.

How the hell is this sport scored? What's the go with their bedazzled costumes? And why are some choosing to wear gloves and others aren't?

So we decided to investigate: by that, we mean trawling the internet and asking figure skating fanatics to give us the down-low.

Here are five potential questions you have about figure skating, answered.

Watch: Figure skating in action. Post continues below.

Video via Channel 7.

1. Can someone please explain the ice skating scoring system? 

The overall objective in figure skating is to score the highest marks possible from the judges.

And it's all in the small details: the skaters are only limited to approximately seven combined minutes of skating between the short and long programs and are only allowed six jumps. 

In terms of the different jump styles that are options, they have the toe loop, the loop, the salchow, the flip, the lutz, and the axel.

Image: Getty. For those watching the Olympics at home, broadcasters now have a traffic light system in the top left-hand corner of the screen.


It's designed to help viewers have a better sense of how the figure skater is being scored.

Green is a good indicator that the skater is doing all the right things in the judges' eyes.

Yellow means the judges are still evaluating, especially if the skater's movement had a funny take-off or wasn't distinguishable enough for the judges to make an immediate decision.

And of course, red means it wasn't a successful move. 

2. What is the hardest manoeuvre a figure skater can do?

Out of all the jumps, the axel is arguably the most challenging for athletes to execute. This is because it's the only jump in the sport that figure skaters take off facing forward.

Another challenging move is to pull off a triple or quad: simply put, a triple in ice skating is when the skater jumps into the air and spins around at least three times and a quad is at least four times.

Image: Getty. And this year's Winter Olympics have been a monumental time for women in the sport.

Russian sensation Kamila Valieva became the first woman to land a quad in Olympic figure skating. Although it probably should be noted that there are now reports saying Valieva has tested positive for a banned drug, leaving her gold medal now up in the air. 


3. What are the dress code rules for female and male figure skaters? Are they expected to be wearing flashy/bejeweled costumes?

A person's outfit and presentation are a major aspect of Olympic-grade skating. 

"Costumes are an important part of skating and can oftentimes express what the movement and choreography can't," American figure skating superstar Nathan Chen told Vogue this week.

Image: Getty. "You're always playing a different character. What we're wearing and how we present ourselves makes for the total package, and it makes a lasting impact on the audience and the judges."

So what exactly is expected of these professional figure skaters?

Men and women are required to wear specific costumes in order to perform on the stage. Men are asked to wear trousers, while women are often expected to wear tights, unitard or skirts.

Although the outfits don't necessarily have to be bedazzled to the max, it is expected that the skater's overall look is eye-catching, photographs well and makes a statement in front of both the audience and judging panel. 

And the outfit can really be a deal-breaker when it comes to the judging process. 

Plus, you cannot have a wardrobe malfunction in this sport. "They can lose the Olympics because of it. Everything has to be stitched within an inch of its life," Chen noted.

Image: Getty. 


4. What's with some of the skaters wearing gloves?

Since watching the Winter Olympics, a few have asked themselves why some of the figure skaters wear gloves and others don't?

And interestingly, it's a completely personal decision. Which is quite surprising considering just how rigid the dress code and choreography rules are for the athletes. 

There are a few good reasons why one may choose to wear gloves.

One reason is to protect the hands. When it comes to those incredible jumps or spins, a lot involves the hands grabbing onto the skate's blade for support. And no one wants sliced hands.

Another very simple reason is the fact it's freaking freezing on an ice rink, with temps always under a frosty 16 degrees Celsius.

Image: Getty. 5. Are there any Aussies competing in the Winter Olympics for figure skating that we can cheer on?


Australia was represented at the Winter Olympics Beijing 2022 by the wonderful Brendan Kerry.

Kerry is also our country's Olympic flag bearer this year.

He got off to a great start and was through to the medal round in the men's figure skating. After qualifying for the next free skating round, he felt "relief and a lot of joy".

He said: "Since being here, practice has been really good but I've been struggling doing quad toe and in fact the second one I've landed was in the six-minute warm-up. It wasn't perfect, we've done better, but everything that all the athletes have gone through with COVID-19 and competition and travel, I'm really, really proud of myself."

Today, Kerry ultimately slipped out of medal contention, but regardless, it was a solid performance from the Aussie hero. The 27-year-old actually smashed his personal best.

"I'm so, so happy," he later said. "It wasn't just a season's best, it was a personal best by a long way ... I don't really have words for it."

Good on you Brendan Kerry!

Image: Getty. - With AAP.

Feature Image: Getty/Mamamia.

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