Do you know a clean edge when you see one? How about a traveling spin?

For each type of move in figure skating, judges draw on a large set of criteria to determine how many points a skater earns. In the Olympics, a panel of 12 expert judges evaluate skaters on the technical and aesthetic components of their routines using a complicated formula.

Here, we simplified it. Take the quiz below to see how well you can evaluate five basic figure skating skills. Then figure skating judge Heather Nemier, a national singles and pairs judge and member of the Board of Directors of U.S. Figure Skating, will explain how each move would be evaluated in competition.

### How spins are judged

According to Nemier, there are four criteria used to evaluate spins in figure skating:

• ##### 1. Preparation

Steady speed and control going into the spin

• ##### 2. Entrance to spin

Quickly getting into the spin position

Smooth, controlled entrance into spin

Stopping or slowing down while getting into position

Skates scratching or dragging on the ice

• ##### 3. Rotation

At least two full revolutions in the spin position are required, though more are desirable

Fast, controlled rotations

Spinning in one place on the ice

Free leg is held at an aesthetically pleasing angle

Slow rotations

Rotations that “travel” across the ice, instead of remaining in one place

• ##### 4. Exit

Smooth, controlled exit that leads into another element

Exiting cleanly on the edge of a skate

Slow and awkward exit

Question 1 of 5

### The judge says...

In sit spins, the skater should be as low to the ice as possible, rotating with steady speed and little bounce. Maintaining a low spin is difficult, and more points are awarded for lower spins.

Question 2 of 5

### The judge says...

A deeply arched back, well-placed free leg and fast rotations are key to a high-scoring layback spin.

Question 3 of 5

### The judge says...

A quality upright spin requires balance, an increasing speed and a controlled exit.

### How jumps are judged

In evaluating jumps, like the axel jump below, there are four criteria judges use:

• ##### 1. Preparation

Stopping or slowing down before takeoff

• ##### 2. Takeoff

Taking off cleanly from the edge of the skate (or toe)

Hearing scraping or scratching from the skate on takeoff

• ##### 3. Air position or rotation

Fast-moving rotation in the air

High jump height

Long jump distance: the further the jump, the higher quality it is

• ##### 4. Landing

“Clean edges,” or landing smoothly on the outside or inside edge of the skate

Landing with speed

Scraping or noisy skates on landing

Foot moves around on ice after landing (before moving into the arc)

Question 4 of 5

### The judge says...

Forward single axel jumps, like those shown above, require launching from and landing on an outside edge. The cleaner the edge, or the less scraping or wobbling, the better the jump.

### How sequences are judged

Step sequences are usually skated to music, and the skater’s relationship to that music is a component of their score, including “whether they skate to the high points and low the points and it makes sense with the music that they’ve chosen,” Nemier says. Since there is no music in the sequences below, here are other criteria to look out for:

• ##### 1. The depth of the “edges”, or the size of curves skater makes

Deep, rounded curves

Curves are performed smoothly and quietly

Steady speed from start to finish

Shallow, flat curves

Skates scrape the ice during curves

• ##### 2. Difficulty and variety of turns performed

Lots of different types of turns performed

Demonstrates quality and control moving in and out of turns

Performing many of the same curve or turn

Skates scrape the ice during turn

• ##### 3. Speed of step sequence

Turns are performed with speed

Speed and flow maintained throughout

Stopping and starting throughout sequence

• ##### 4. Full body movement

Moves are performed with the full body, including arms and upper body

Skater only using feet to perform move

Question 5 of 5