Parent Guide: What in the world is IJS?

by Adrienne Koob-Doddy

“What in the world is IJS? How does it work? What do these numbers even mean? Why are my kids’ skating skills lower than the last competition? How do we get their GOE scores higher? Why are we not beating that other team?!”

These are just some of the questions I’ve heard from parents of competitive ice dancers during the course of the season. If you have felt left in the dust before at an event, you’ve come to the right place. Welcome to the Parent’s Guide to IJS! My hope is to divulge helpful, bite-sized pieces of info about our judging system in the most pain free way possible. These will come to you in various installments over the course of the year.

Let’s start at the beginning. The International Judging System, commonly called IJS, is a cumulative point system that replaced the old 6.0 system. Skaters accumulate points by completing their required elements- this is called their Technical Score. They also earn a score based on their overall skating ability, divided into five different categories- this is called their Program Components Score. In order to get these two different scores, we have two different panels. The technical panel determines the level of difficulty of each element, while the judging panel determines how well the element was executed. Judges also award the Program Component Score. In short, the tech panel looks at what is happening in the program, and the judges look at how well it’s being skated.

While your child is skating, a lot is happening on both sides of the panel. The technical panel is watching with a keen eye to see how difficult each element is, and calling a review to watch again after if necessary. As the tech panel identifies each element, the judges are giving a mark for the Grade of Execution (GOE). They may also be making notes about the different components to help them generate that score at the conclusion of the program. Both panels are working consistently through each program; rarely is there down time in a performance. Once the skaters complete the program, the tech panel will go back and review any elements that they need to clarify while the judges finish their GOEs and Component scores. When it’s all said and done, there will be two scores added together for each skater, and voila! We have a competition score. Let the tears commence.

I will go into far more detail about technical elements, GOEs, and component scores in later posts, but understanding the differences between each panel is an important first step.