The International Skating Union has been trialling remote judging systems ©ISU

The International Skating Union (ISU) is considering introducing a remote judging system for figure skating competitions after carrying out a series of trials.

Two tests were conducted by the ISU Development Commission and the ISU Centers of Excellence in cooperation with Skate Canada on November 17 in 2020 and January 26 this year.

The first had judging of pre-recorded videos of skaters’ performances, while the second was conducted at two live sites with remote judging.

A group led by ISU vice-president Alexander Lakernik also carried out two pair skating tests in Moscow in Russia on January 28 and March 18.

As the official ISU results provider, ST Sportservice initiated the development of a remote judging system and demonstrated its functionality on March 2.

ST Sportservice’s calculation software and scoring programmes were used in all three remote systems, although they all took different approaches, according to the ISU.

The ISU said the software programmes provided the officials using their personal home devices the exact same screen layout and operations to input scores during a live on-site competition, with results calculated instantly.

"The most challenging component in all approaches remains a stable live video feed of the live performance as well as the individual element clips required for the review process," a statement from the ISU read.

A number of figure skating events have been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic ©Getty Images
A number of figure skating events have been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic ©Getty Images

"A stable and high speed internet connection is necessary to ensure that the feed and clips can be received simultaneously - meaning without significant delay of more than a few seconds - by all the various participants involved in the judging process."

The ISU said office holders within the organisation, figure skating officials and Skate Canada and Swiss Timing experts were invited to attend the different tests.

"The goal remains to make available to ISU members, at a reasonable cost, a system that allows the holding of virtual live figure skating international competitions that are judged remotely," the statement added.

"While this goal could not yet be fully achieved, further updates on the progress made will be published in due course."

The ISU said the aim of remote judging was to enable skaters to compete even when travel is restricted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In January, the organisation launched the "Virtual Event Toolkit" which is a set of ideas that can be used for the online hosting of a variety of interactive sessions.

The Toolkit looks to provide a framework for monitoring, feedback sessions for skaters, meetings and seminars for officials, coaches and athletes, trials for judging, live competitions and events using submitted videos.

Numerous videos included in the Toolkit illustrate how to create an event for single, pair skating and ice dancing but can be adapted to synchronised skating, short track and speed skating, according to the ISU.