Figures skating involves the tracing of circles. The circles are grouped in twos and threes in line. Two-circle figures are called figure eights and three-circle serpentine figures. Elements of figures include take-offs and turns. Loops is a special form of figures, where the circles are smaller and each have a loop. Loops can also be skated in figure eights and serpentine figures.
In competitive figure events, judges consider the following nine points: 1) start, 2) tracing, 3) turns/loops and/or change of edge, 4) second turn, 5) placement of turns, 6) tracing after/between turns, 7) circle closure, 8) subsequent take-offs, and 9) concluding figure.
Each figure contains turns, take-offs, etc., of specific difficulty. These factors must be given due consideration in determining the score while still giving full consideration to the other judging points of the figure. The major faults of figures skating and their corresponding point deduction include:
1) Putting the free foot on the floor will cause the assigned score to be reduced a minimum of l0
2) Falling on a figure will result in the assigned score being reduced a minimum of 20 points.
3) Unwarranted rock-over or changes of edge, shall be penalized according to the degree of the error.
4) An incorrect turn, a three turn instead of a bracket, or a rocker instead of a counter, will be assigned a score reduction of a minimum of 20 points.
Each set of figure or loop circles has a long axis and a transverse axis. The long axis divides the figure lengthwise through all circles. The transverse axis occurs at right angles to the long axis at the points where the circles touch. Take-offs in figures occur along the transverse axis in the striking zone. The striking zone delineates the skate length distance the skate must be placed for a take-off. Changing of edge also occurs in the striking zone, where the skate must cut the long axis and be tangent to the short axis.