Parent Guide: Scores FAQs

by Adrienne Koob-Doddy

Hello again!

Since we are approaching one of the largest events of the ice dancing season, the Lake Placid Ice Dance Championships, I thought it would be appropriate to discuss some results and scoring FAQs I have heard as a coach and an official.

“Why is my child’s score lower than the last competition? They skated the same.”

The first, and easiest, answer to this question has to do with the technical element score. Small, sometimes unrecognizable, errors can be costly. One less revolution on a spin, a touch down of a foot, even an untimely toe pick scratch can all cost a skater points. This is not the fault of anyone, but simply a normal occurrence in the sport. Especially at this point in the season, errors are bound to happen and affect your skater’s score. Additionally, the number of skaters in an event will have an effect on the program component scores. In theory it shouldn’t drastically change your skaters PCS, but sometimes with a greater variety in skaters the spread of scores will widen.

“Why do we have a deduction?”

Deductions can occur through a variety of reasons: falls, lifts extending beyond the allowed time, costume malfunctions and inappropriate designs, music/tempo violations, and the lethal (yet rare) illegal element. Some of these deductions can’t be predicted- falls happen, lifts go wrong and over time, and sometimes we do lose a hairpiece or two during a performance. While disappointing, these deductions are a one-time problem and always a learning experience.

On the flip side, deductions regarding costume design, music violations, and illegal elements will require some changes by the coach, skater, and their support system once back home. It’s very normal to be discouraged and annoyed by something that seems to have been avoidable. Truthfully though, music violations are more common at the start of the season as we all learn to work with the new tempos and possibly any new rule changes too. Costume violations are also hit or miss because the majority of the judging panel needs to weigh in on this deduction. What may seem out of the blue to a parent or skater may have actually been discussed at a previous event, but the deduction wasn’t applied because of lack of majority votes. Lastly, illegal element deductions can arise when coaches attempt to try new and innovative moves but perhaps incorporate something deemed illegal (for safety reasons, aesthetic reasons, and reasons to better differentiate ice dance and pairs). I have seen successful and experienced coaches get this deduction at major events, it happens. A few changes back home and you won’t get that deduction again.

“How did that other team place above my child? They fell!”

This combines my last two questions- it all comes down to point totals and deductions. Falls can deduct either .5 or 1.0 depending on your level, whereas a missed level (or two) can be the difference of 1 or more points. Falls are upsetting, but not earth shattering, especially at the lower levels. Other factors such as transitions, choreography, and interpretation might give another team a higher component score making their fall less devastating to their overall competition score.

“I don’t understand how that little team could be 5 points higher! My child is taller and older!”

A favorite of mine. The wonderful thing about IJS is that it rewards what the skater can successfully do. Regardless of any other factors, if a team meets the criteria for a level 4 lift, they receive the full value of that element. Furthermore, technical requirements can be met without something looking particularly beautiful, and sometimes a high scoring element doesn’t even look difficult to the untrained eye. Judges will assess the quality of the element while the technical panel assesses the difficulty. So what might look unpleasant or easy to a parent is still achieving full value. Age and size doesn’t add or subtract to your score.

Competitions are tough. Stress is high, expectations are high, tolerance for mistakes is low. One of my favorite reminders to my students, and their parents, though is this: Keep your eyes on your own paper. Remember that the season is long and inevitably you will rise and fall. The goal is to support your skaters, trust your coaches, and look for growth. It’s easy to focus on placement and everyone else around you, but that won’t help in the long term. Remind your skater to celebrate their own successes and be happy with how they have improved. The scores will come in time.

Good luck this week to everyone in Lake Placid!