Technique is not as important today as skaters who may be weaker technically may still win.
Up until recently there were two categories of skaters. Professional and Amateur. Only amateur skaters could compete in the Olympics. Professional skaters were barred. Times have changed as the cost of preparing to compete in figure skating has risen so that today it can cost up to $45,000 per year.
Now amateurs are allowed to earn money, but only in eligible, sanctioned events. The old categories are no more. Now eligible skaters are able to compete in the Olympics and ineligible skaters have given up the right by competing in unsanctioned events.
Each country has a figure skating federation to govern which is an eligible event. Once an event has been given the blessing of the governing body, anyone can enter.
Some skaters who have had success at the Olympics may feel they would be better off skating professionally and retire. Others may have simply decided to retire due to time or money restraints of Olympic competition.
Becoming eligible for Olympic competition is extremely competitive and some skaters simply drop out and turn professional performing in such shows as Ice Capades and Disney on Ice.
There are two programs in competitive figure skating.
The short program lasts 2 ½ minutes. Worth one third of the overall score, consists of required elements that the skater may perform in any order to the music they have chosen. They have three jumps, three spins and two footwork requirements. Failure to execute any of these compulsory movements will reduce their score. A missed move is a lost move since the skater cannot retry a move.
The longfigure skating program last four minutes and counts for 2/3 of the over all score. Judges allow a little more flexibility and there are no set requirements.