Deductions in Ice Dancing

The use of required deductions in singles and pair skating is fairly well known. These deductions are limited primarily to the short programs, where errors in the required elements result in deductions taken from the skater's first mark. Far less attention, however, is given to the deductions used in Ice Dancing.

In Ice Dancing, required deductions are used in each part of the event. The deductions in each part of dance events differ somewhat, and are sometimes taken from the first mark and at other times the second. Unlike in free skating where only a few required deductions apply, free dance has a long list of technical restrictions, violations of which leads to deductions. The following tables describe the deductions used in each part of Ice Dancing events.



Falls - Compulsory dances are made up of sequences of steps. Different numbers of sequences are incorporated into the different dances. The deduction taken for a fall depends on the severity of the fall and the number of sequences in the dance. If only one partner stumbles in a dance with several sequences the deduction might only be 0.1-0.2. At the other extreme, if both partners go flying in a dance with a small number of sequences, the team can be crucified up to 1.5 points.

Leading hand of the man - The dances have required positions for the position of the leading hand of the man. If his hand is in the wrong place for the dance being skated it results in a deduction.


Violation Deduction Mark
Incorrect or inapproriate music
(e.g., incorrect tempo, or more than two selections)
0.1 - 0.4 Presentation
Incorrect tempo 0.1 - 0.4 Presentation
Music lacks a constant beat or character of ballroom dancing 0.1 - 0.4 Presentation
Lack of expression 0.1- 0.4 Presentation
Inapporpriate costumes 0.1 - 0.2 Presentation
Excessive toe steps

Use of lifts, jumps other than small toe jumps

Excessive hops or small toe jumps

Both partners do not have at least one skate on the ice

Separations other than at beginning or end of dance

Separations of more than 5 seconds

More than two stops

Hand in hand skating with extended arms

Kneeling on ice or standing on two feet

Pulling or pushing partner by the leg (includes the mere touching of the partner’s leg)

0.1 per violation Composition


Timing and Temp - In the Original Dance, the couples choose the choreography for a dance whose rhythm and range of temp is specified each season. Music that does not conform to the required rhythm and tempo, or otherwise violates the music rules results in deductions.

Technical Restrictions - The chorepgraphy in the Original Dance is not totaly left free for the skaters' choosing. A number of restrictions are placed on the content of the dance, violations of which result in deductions of 0.1 for each transgression. These restrictions are imposed to insure the the couples skate a ballroom dance, and present a dance of reasonable difficulty.


Violation Deduction Mark
Lack of cleanness and sureness, failure to skate on edges 0.1 - 0.4 Technical Merit
Overall predominance of pair skating moves and/or positions 0.1 - 0.4 Technical Merit
  • more than 5
  • longer than 5 seconds
  • separations at begining or end of program more
  • than 5 meters apart, or longer than 10 seconds


  • more than 1 1/2 rotations
  • man’s hands higher than the shoulder line
  • body used as main support for sustained position
  • sitting or lying on partner’s shoulders or back
  • more than allowed number
  • longer than 5 seconds in duration
  • displaying feats of stregnth or acrobatics


  • more than one rotation
  • simultaneous
  • thrown or lifted

Dance Jumps:

  • simultaneous
  • more than 1/2 rotation
  • more than 2 arms lengths apart

Pirouettes (spins) of more than 3 rotations

Stops longer than 5 seconds

Both skates of one partner off the ice (except in permitted lifts or jumps)

Standing, sitting, leaning on partner’s boots or legs

Holding partner’s skates (boots or blades)

Sitting or lying over partner’s legs with both feet off the ice

Lying or kneeling on ice

Excessive short jerky movements,unless characteristic of the music

Excessive non--skating moves such as sliding on one knee, or toe steps

Hand-in-hand skating with extended arms

Side-by-side skating more than 2 arms lengths apart

0.1 for each violation
of the technical
Technical Merit
Incorrect music

Incorrect timing

Incorrect Interpretation

Poor style and unison

Unsuitable choreography

Inapporpriate costumes

0.1 - 0.5

0.1 - 0.5

0.1 - 0.5

0.1 - 0.4

0.1 - 0.4

0.1 - 0.2

Artistic Impression


Given the large number of restrictions in its content, one wonders why it is called "free" dance. The only things that makes the free dance any freer than the Original Dance is that the couples get to choose the rhythms (more than one rhythm and range of tempo is allowed), more than two pieces of music may be used, and there are no restrictions on the location of the pattern on the ice. Like in the Original Dance, however, there are numerous restrictions placed on the content of the dance. These restrictions are imposed to insure the the couples ice dance, as opposed to pair skate, and present a dance of reasonable difficulty.

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