The sport of Figure Skating is constantly evolving and every two years the ISU Members vote on rule changes during the ISU Congress. Spectators and viewers at home will notice a couple of changes since the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. The most prominent rule change makes it possible for Ladies, Men and Pair Skaters to use music with lyrics or words for their competitive programs since the post-Olympic 2014/15 season. In Ice Dance, music with lyrics has been allowed since the 1997/98 season.
Decision to allow singing to the music for ice skating- a first at the Olympics. Congrats @ISU_Figure definite enhancement to performance & in venue experience— Michael.R Payne (@MichaelRPayne1) February 17, 2018
Other changes affect the scoring. A non-valid jump element in the Short Program such as a single jump, a solo double jump or a double-double combination receives zero points. Multiple falls in a program are penalized more heavily with an increasing deduction: 1 point deduction for the first and second fall, 2 points deduction for the third and fourth falls and 3 points deduction for the fifth and any further falls.
In order to determine the order of skating, skaters participate in a draw. However, the procedure of the draw was changed in 2016, for the final two groups in the Free Skating / Free Dance programs. The last two groups are divided into two sub-groups with a separate draw in each sub-group, meaning that the top three skaters after the Short Program in Ladies, Men and Ice Dance will draw for the last three starting numbers for the Free Skating. In Pairs, the sub-groups are two and two since there are only four couples in one warm-up group.
Finally, the anonymous judging was abolished. For all Figure Skating competitions, the judges’ names and their respective scores are published.