Figure skating has come a long way since people strapped bones to their footwear to facilitate travel on frozen rivers in Scandinavia and North America. Competitive skating emerged in the late 1800s, with the first world championship held in 1896, for men only. A separate world championship for women was held in 1906, and in 1907, they combined. The following year, figure skating was in the London Olympic Games.
Figure skating competition is comprised of singles, pairs and ice dance. In each disciplines, each skating element (e.g. jump, lift, footwork, etc.) has a point value. For each element, the highest and lowest points are discarded. The element score is the average determined from the points of the remaining judges.
Points are also awarded for five program components: skating skills, transitions, performance, choreography and interpretation. Judging on a scale of one to 10 (with increments of 0.25), the judges express the overall presentation of the whole program. The highest and lowest scores are also discarded and the remaining scores are averaged. Additional points may be awarded for innovative elements.
The total score for any segment will be the technical score added to the total score for the five program components, plus any bonuses minus any deductions. In compulsory dance, points are awarded for a technical score and for four additional components: skating skills, performance, interpretation and timing.
In singles and pairs figure skating, scores from the two segments, the short program and the free skate, are added together to give the total competition score. In ice dance, scores from the three segments, the compulsory dance, the original dance and the free dance, are added together to give the total competition score. That determines who wins the medals.