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Becoming a Figure Skating Judge/Evaluator

Judges/evaluators are usually former skaters. Candidates who wish to become qualified to judge/ evaluate, must attend Skate Canada approved clinics, trial judge and pass both a written and video identification exam at each level. Each discipline of skating, singles, pair, dance and synchronized skating requires individualized training.

Where Judges Start

The progression of competitive judges is similar to that of competitive skaters, beginning at the club level and moving through various levels. Normally competitive judges begin as test evaluators.

Evaluators assess skills at the Primary, Intermediate and Senior test levels, working with the skater and coach. A rating scale of excellent, good, satisfactory and needs improvement is used for each component of each test.

Competitive Judging

Section Judge

A judge begins to judge competitions at the inter-club or juvenile level and advances to the senior Sectional level. Progress from one level to the next is determined by the judge's activity, success at the previous level attendance at training seminars, passing the appropriate written exam and technical knowledge.

Canadian Judge

To qualify as a Canadian Championship judge, the candidates must have been a senior Sectional Championship Judge for at least one year and have judged successfully in at least two Sectional Championships and one Divisional (Challenge) Championship, attended training clinics and pass exams required by Skate Canada.

International Judge

A judge may be nominated to become an international judge after she or he has been a Canadian Championship judge for at least two years, passed the appropriate Skate Canada examinations and attended at least one national or international seminar. International judges must conform to the requirements as set by the ISU. International judges must be less than 45 years old when first appointed and retirement is mandatory at age 70.

ISU Judge

The highest level a judge can attain is that of the ISU Championships judge. These judges are eligible to judge at World and Olympic Championships. The judge must have a minimum of three years experience as an international judge, pass the required examinations and form to the ISU requirements.





Officials are valued members of the Association who donate their time, knowledge and expertise to assist in the development of our athletes. In figure skating there are many different categories of officials - evaluators, technical controllers, technical specialists, judges, referees, and data specialist each with a specific job to do.

In the sport of figure skating all officials are volunteers and they are involved in skating because of their love of the sport and to assist in the development of both skaters and skating in this country. Their reward is to see skaters grow and improve throughout the years.

Who are these officials? They are people from all walks of life, they are doctors, lawyers, school teachers, librarians, domestic engineers, business administrators, police officers, paramedics, financial analysts, university students, professors, marathon runners, writers and so on. The bottom line is that officials are ordinary people trained for a specific role in the sport of figure skating.

If you decide you want to become a Skate Canada official, you will have to meet certain criteria and complete certain tasks and activities to become qualified. These activities include participating in clinics and seminars, skill tests, trial officiating (where you will receive written assessments from qualified officials) and actual officiating. To move up through the system, an official must follow the rules which have been established for promotion. This is to ensure that every judge who officiates at Canadian competitions is both qualified and competent.

The training that Skate Canada provides to its officials is held in high regard by other figure skating federations around the world and Canadian officials are widely considered as the best trained in the business!

If you are interested in becoming a Skate Canada official, please contact your Skate Canada Section office, or send an email to


Evaluators assess skaters at test days which are arranged periodically by Skate Canada member clubs, so that their skaters can be assessed and move on to the next level or test. Evaluators are responsible for assessing the following tests:

  • Preliminary to Gold Freeskate Tests
  • Preliminary to Gold Dance Tests
  • Skating Skills Preliminary to Gold
  • Dance Variation/Bronze Rhythm/Silver and Gold Interpretive Dance Tests
  • Diamond Dance Tests
  • Bronze to Gold Artistic Tests

At a test session, the evaluator coordinates and evaluates the tests to which they have been assigned. During the tests, the evaluator acts as the assessor and referee controlling the on-ice activities. When training to be an evaluator, candidates will be taught how to manage test days where the importance of making decisions in the best interests of the skater is emphasized.

Once a skater's test is completed and the test summary sheet has been signed and given to the skater, coach and parent, the skater can go to the evaluator for clarification on any points or with any questions they have. Although evaluators are usually very busy on test days, it is important to talk to them if there are any questions. If approached, evaluators will be happy to discuss any questions a coach, skater or parent has. Communication is encouraged, as this is the only way to ensure that everyone is receiving the same information.

Technical Controllers

Technical controllers are recruited from Skate Canada referees and judges and experienced technical specialists and are responsible for duties associated with the identification of technical elements attempted by skaters in competition. Their duties include supervising of the review process by the technical panel, and ensuring that all rules specific to element and level of difficulty identification are correctly followed.

Technical Specialists

Technical specialists are recruited from the group of former athletes, coaches, Skate Canada judges or referees and are responsible for the correct identification of elements and levels of difficulty of these elements when attempted by skaters and teams in competition.


Judges officiate at all levels of competitions, and are responsible for assessing the quality with which a skater performs in competition and also assess competitive tests.


Referees advance through a similar series of levels as judges and must take the required examinations and have the required experience to advance.

The Role of the Referee

The referee oversees the ice conditions, ensures that all rules applicable to the test or competition are followed and acts as chairman of the judges' panel and arbiter in policy or procedure disputes. During an event the referee also trouble shoots, for example, if a skater's lace comes undone, the referee will take appropriate action. At smaller events, the referee will typically act as both referee and one of the judges.

The Referees is also responsible for writing reports on the judges assessing their performance at a specific event. The reports are reviewed as part of the process of officials promotions.

The referee also conducts review meetings with the judges at the conclusion of a Challenge or Canadian Championship. At these meetings, judges discuss such things as deductions taken, and marks awarded.

All Skate Canada technical controllers, technical specialists, judges and referees must be at least 16 years old and are required to attend clinics and seminars, trial judge and take exams as they work their way up through the system. As their knowledge and experience increases, they qualify to officiate higher levels of competition.

Within the Canadian system, candidates can qualify to become an international official. To officiate at World or Olympic competition officials must be appointed by the International Skating Union (ISU). Skate Canada forwards nominations to the ISU and candidates must attend ISU seminars, pass exams and meet experience requirements. Candidates must be between the ages of 24 and 45 when they are first nominated and retirement is mandatory at age 70.

In addition to their related officiating duties, Canadian officials are available to both clubs and coaches to assist them in assessing the progress of individual skaters and in interpreting and meeting the many ISU and Skate Canada technical rules.

Data specialists

Data specialists are the individuals who are responsible for calculating the marks awarded by the judges and tabulating the final result. If open marking is used at an event the data specialists are normally found at ice level. At other events they will be in the result calculation centre. Generally, each event will have a chief data specialist. The chief data specialist ensures that all accounting rules are followed when determining the result of an event. They work with the technical representative or referee and technical controller to post results, attend draws and to answer questions regarding results calculation.

Currently, most competition results are calculated using a computer. Some smaller or local competitions may do manual calculations. In both cases, data specialists check and re-check calculations in order to ensure the accuracy of the results posted.

Data specialists are required to attend clinics, write examinations and complete practical assignments in order to secure promotions.

Technical Representative/Chief Referee

The Technical Representative or the Chief Referee is responsible for all the technical aspects of a competition. He or can be responsible for the following items:

  • development or review of competition announcement
  • assignments (may also be responsible for acquiring officials  for an event in conjunction with the applicable Section personnel)
  • conduct of draws for practice groups, skating order, compulsory dances etc., generally in conjunction with the Chief Data specialist
  • development or review of competition schedule (all practices and events, ice resurfacing and, for synchronized skating, dressing room assignments)
  • facility review and room allocation for officials (referees, technical controllers, judges, technical specialists and data specialist)
  • location of judges, data specialists and music personnel by the ice surface on-site trouble shooting
  • liaison between coaches, all officials, parents, organizing committee, data specialists, media

The technical representative's role demands time and expertise. The individual must be available to all stakeholders on-site, and to the officials and organizing committee before, during and after the event. He or she is a key contact between skaters, coaches, parents and the officials.

Judges are available to discuss aspects of events, once the event is officially complete. If a coach, skater or parent has questions about a particular placing, or the rationale behind marks awarded, the coach should approach the technical representative to arrange a time for discussion. This open dialogue is encouraged to ensure that all players are on the same page, and to share knowledge from all points of view. Judges are willing to discuss their own marks awarded, but cannot comment on the marks awarded by their peers.