The Olympic figure skating competition consists of four medal events: ladies' singles, men's singles, pairs and ice dancing.
The singles and pairs events consist of two portions: the short program and the free skate. There are three phases of competition in ice dancing: the compulsory dance, the original dance and the free dance.
In the Singles events, the 24 best placed skaters in the Short Program qualify to skate the Free Program. In the Pairs event the skaters placed 1-20 after the Short Program qualify for the Free Program. The Ice Dancing competition consists of a Compulsory Dance, an Original Dance and a Free Dance, in which all competitors take part.
Skaters receive two sets of marks for each program, one based on the difficulty and execution of the technical elements and the second mark based on artistry, interpretation and presentation.
The maximum number of entries for the Olympic Winter Games is as follows: 30 ladies, 30 men, 20 pairs and 24 ice dancing couples. In the two singles events, 24 of the 30 competitors advance from the short program to the free skate. All 20 pairs advance to the free skate and all 24 ice dancing couples advance to the free dance. All participants must have turned 15 before July 1, 2009 to be eligible. The majority of berths were based on the results of the 2009 World Championships, with additional spots allotted at qualifying competition in September 2009.