A 2002 Olympic figure skating scandal — with allegations of score-fixing — upended the sport and led to a complete overhaul of the scoring system — one that awards more points for stamina and strenuous athletic feats.
This matters because gold-medal favorite Kamila Valieva, 15, tested positive for the banned substance trimetazidine, which is said to increase stamina and make “your heart work more efficiently,” said Dr. Elizabeth Murray, pediatric emergency medicine physician at the University of Rochester Medical Center.
Here’s how the sport has evolved in recent years to reward increased athleticism and stamina:
More difficult jumps = more points
In 2004, the International Skating Union ditched the subjective “6.0” scoring system for the more rubric-based International Judging System that gives certain base points for jumps depending on their degree of difficulty and how many times the skater rotates in the air.
For example, a quadruple Lutz — in which a skater makes four revolutions in the air — carries more base points than a triple Lutz.
But a triple Lutz carries more base points than less difficult triples, such as a triple loop or a triple Salchow.
After each jump, skaters can gain or lose points from the base value depending on the grade of execution — how well or poorly they executed the jump.
All those numbers are part of the technical score. There’s also the presentation score, which rewards artistry and skating skills between jumps.
But in recent years, skaters have been able to win competitions largely due to points racked up from jumping — with quadruple jumps playing a larger role in men’s and women’s skating.
Why better stamina can win skaters more points
In women’s figure skating, athletes perform two routines: the short program, which is about 2 minutes and 40 seconds long, and the free skate, which is about 4 minutes long.
Russian skater Alina Zagitova was 15 when she won Olympic gold after performing all her free skate jumps in the second half of the routine.
With the current scoring system, jumps performed in the second half of the free skate can get a 10% bonus because it’s more difficult to perform them on tired legs.
Read the full story here.
CNN’s Simone McCarthy, Hannah Ritchie and George Ramsay contributed to this report.
Kamila Valieva places fourth after falling multiple times during her free skate routine