The Skating System

The Skating System consists of a set of ELEVEN rules. Each rule applies to a specific step in the process of marking and then tabulating the results. There is a systematic progression from one to the next, until you end up with the final result.

A judge’s view of what they see on the floor in front of them is their view and their view alone. Human nature almost guarantees that there will be an element of subjectivity. That is why there are normally an odd number of judges, 3, 5, 7, 11… To minimize the skew effect of a single judge’s marks and the possibility of couples being tied. The Skating System in no way manipulates the marks of a judge; it neither introduces marks nor deletes marks. The starting point for the Skating System is the judges mark sheet. It may happen that a judge has duplicated a number or a number is illegible. In all cases the sheet is passed to the Chairman of Adjudicators to correct the error with the judge concerned.

The first four rules apply specifically to the competition judges.

Rule 1. In all preliminary rounds, judges must call back the number of couples requested by the Chairman of Adjudicators

10  XXX X 4 *
12XX  X   X4 *
13   X  XX3
14XX  XX 4 *
15 X XXX XX6
16       0
19X   X  2

A preliminary round is any round in a section excluding the final.  Examples are round 1, round 2, quarterfinal, and semi-final. The judges do not have to mark the competitors in any order. They simply indicate on their mark sheet the couples they wish to see in the next round.  The judge MUST ONLY mark as many couples as the Chairman requests.  As an example in a semi-final of eleven dancers the Chairman may request that six couples be recalled to the final.  Each judge should then recall six couples for each dance in the section.

The couples that advance to the next round are simply those with the most callback marks.  The scrutineer will add the marks together for each couple from all judges to find out who has advanced to the next round.

It is not an uncommon occurrence for the scrutineer to not be able to call back the number of competitors requested by the Chairman. Several couples may have received the same number of callback marks. The judges can all have provided the correct number of marks but the result just does not work out.  Take a semi-final of 11 couples with 6 couples requested for the final.

Couples 11, 15, 17, and 18 are the couples with the highest marks.  Couples 10, 12, and 14 all have 4 callback marks.  The results therefore mean that 4 couples or 7 couples can be recalled, not the 6 that were requested.  The decision passes to the Chairman as to how many couples are recalled.  The Chairman alone makes the decision, not the scrutineer.

Rule 2.  In a final round all couples must receive a placement from each judge.

A final round of a section can contain a maximum of eight couples. If more than eight couples have been recalled from a semi-final then a further preliminary round must be danced.  In some cases even a round with eight couples must be danced as a semi-final.  Again the Chairman alone makes the decision.  Often a particular section will be danced as a straight final, meaning that there were not enough couples entered to require a preliminary round. Also in this situation organizers typically award, say, only 3 prizes for a section of 6 couples. The judges are still required to allocate a place to each and every couple on the floor.

Rule 3.  In a final round a judges first choice is marked “1,” second choice is marked “2,” third choice is marked “3,” and so on.

Typically each judge has a different opinion as to the placement of the finalists. That is why we need the Skating System and scrutinizers.

Rule 4.  In a final round a judge may not tie any couple for any place of any dance

Since the final round is intended to determine final placements a judge is not allowed to tie any couples.

After applying the Skating System to the judge’s marks an unbreakable tie may result.  This is not because the judge tied the couples but through the method by which the marks are tabulated.  A possible cause of this is that the opinions of the judges differ because the ability of the couples varies wildly or are very similar to each other.  Both of these extremes result in no clear-cut winner, runner-up, etc.

The remaining seven rules are the ones that determine how the final result is calculated

It starts of simply and then gets progressively more complicated.  The Skating System uses two concepts to arrive at a final result.  The first is “majority” and the second is “overall performance.” A couple must convince a majority of the judges to mark them to win the dance.  Furthermore they must achieve this in a majority of the dances making up the section for them to win the section. Obviously this does not always happen. The Skating System rules therefore define how to tabulate the results when there is no clear-cut winner either for an individual dance or for the section as a whole.  The Skating System attempts to always reward overall performance.  As we progress through these seven rules you will begin to understand why a couple that does not win any individual dance can win the section.  Conversely a couple can win an individual dance and may only be placed 4th in the section.

Rules 5, 6, 7, and 8 apply to tabulating the results for the individual dances in a section or for a single-dance section

The Skating System is based on the marks a couple receives from a majority of judges. The first and simplest step is to ascertain what makes up a majority A few examples should suffice, the majority of 3 is 2; the majority of 5 is 3; the majority of 7 is 4, and so on.

We now tabulate each couple’s marks in the final.  The next step is to place the winner by inspecting the marks for the number of 1st places. It is important to note that in this rule we simply count the number of places, we do not add them together.  A couple’s results are 1,1,2,3,1,2,1; they have 4 1st places.

The couple who has received the majority of 1st place marks is the winner of that dance and their marks have no further impact on the tabulation process.  The next step is to determine who is to be placed second.  This follows a similar process.  In this case, however, we count the number of “2nd place and higher marks” for the remaining couples.  The next step is to determine who is to be placed third.  We, similarly, count the number of “3rd place and higher marks” for each of the remaining couples.  This process is repeated until all couples have been placed.

In the following simple example the positions are awarded as follows:

 Judges  Places 
NoABCDE  11-21-31-41-51-61-71-8 
5111121  4⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯ 1
5242212  14⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯ 2
5333354  ⎯⎯⎯⎯ 3⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯ 3
5424543  ⎯⎯124⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯ 4
5556435  ⎯⎯⎯⎯ 124⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯ 5
5665666  ⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯ 15⎯⎯⎯⎯ 6
  1. There are 5 judges so the majority is three.
  2. Count 1st places.  #51 has 4 first-place marks and #52 has 1. The remaining couples have no first-place marks. #51 has attained a majority of first-place marks and is therefore is placed first. Although #52 attained a first-place mark they have not been placed yet and therefore stay in the tabulation.
  3. Count “2nd and higher” (1st and 2nd) place-marks awarded to the remaining couples to place the 2nd position.  #52 has 4 “2nd and higher” place marks and #54 has 1.  #52 is therefore awarded the second place having achieved a majority of “2nd place and higher” marks.
  4. The same process is followed for “3rd and higher” to place the 3rd place and so on to the 6th place.

Rule 6.  More than one couple have a majority for the same place.

Rule 6 is a simple follow-on to Rule 5.  I am sure in the previous example you very quickly asked, “Well, what happens if more than one couple has a majority?”

The position is allocated according to which couple has the greater majority. A simple case of the more the better!  All couples with the majority are placed before you consider the remaining couples. 

There are 7 judges so the majority is 4.

No A B C D E F G 1 1-2 1-3 1-4 1-5 1-6 1-7 1-8  
6111214214⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯ 1
62621521225⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯ 2
632433633 15⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯ 3
643352154124⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯ 4
654564365⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯ 35⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯ 5
665646546⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯ 24⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯ 6
  1. 1st and 2nd places are awarded based on a simple majority (Rule 5).
  2. When we count “3rd and higher places” both #63 and #64 have achieved a majority.  The greater majority has been attained by #63 and is, therefore, awarded 3rd place with #64 awarded 4th place.
  3. Be a little bit careful now! We are about to award 5th place but we are going to tabulate the next column on the work-sheet which is “4th place and higher.” Neither of the two remaining couples have a majority so we move to the “5th place and higher” column.   #65 has 5 “4th place and higher” marks and #66 has 4. #65 is, therefore, awarded 5th place and #66 6th place.

The important thing to remember here with Rule 6 is that more than one place can be awarded while working in one column of the work sheet.  The placement being assigned may not coincide with the column/marks that you are working with.  The second thing to remember is that all the couples assigned a place must have achieved a majority when they are assigned a position.

Rule 7.  If two or more couples have an equal majority for the same position