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Phases of Olympic Figure Skating Events


Ice Dance Champions, Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto, won a silver medal at Skate America in 2008.

Ice Dance Champions, Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto, won a silver medal at Skate America in 2008.

Photo by Jonathan Ferrey - Getty Images

Olympic figure skating events have two phases: the short program or short dance and the long program or freeskate or free dance. 

Singles and Pairs: Short Program and Freeskate:

The short program in figure skating is the first program skated in Olympic figure skating competitions. The program is shorter than the freeskating program or long program, which is the second phase of Olympic figure skating competitions.

Ice Dancing:

When Olympic figure skaters compete in ice dancing, they compete in two phases.

The short dance phase comes first. Dance lifts, twizzles, ice dance steps, and footwork are included in the short dance. Also, prescribed steps from a pattern dance are included in the short dance.

The free dance comes next. The free dance will also include a dance spin but will not include steps from a pattern dance.


Olympic figure skating competitors are given two scores: a technical score and program component score. The technical score is added together to the program component score and the result is the segment score. The sum of all the segment scores (the short program and the free skate or the sum of the compulosry dance and the original dance and the free dance) becomes the total competition score. The skater with the highest score wins.

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