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Clean Programs and Landed Jumps

by George S Rossano



(14 Feb. 2022)  Clean programs and landed jumps are two terms that are often used in discussing skating performances, but oddly these terms are not defined in the rules and thus have different meanings for different people.  Once can also add to these two terms "fully rotated" which only is defined in an idealized sense.

With the recent interest in whether Hanyu, or any skater for that matter, is capable of "landing" a quad Axel, we visit the meaning of these terms as we understand and use them, as derived from talking to coaches and skating sports journalists over many many years.

Fully Rotated

A fully rotated jump only has an accepted definition in an idealized sense.

Single jumps are described as having one full rotation in the air (360 degrees), doubles two (720 degrees), etc.  Axel jumps are described as having one additional half-rotation (180 degrees) in the air.  In reality such jumps are physically impossible.

All jumps have some amount of pre-rotation on the takeoff.  During the time the torque is developed on the ice to generate the angular momentum of rotation the skater MUST rotate some amount on the ice.  The amount of this pre-rotation depends ton the magnitude of the torque developed and the time over which it is generated on the ice.  For singles and doubles this pre-rotation can be quite small (often almost unnoticeable), but for triples and quads it becomes more significant.  One question then is how much pre-rotation should be considered acceptable for a jump to be considered fully rotated.  Here is where opinions diverge.

Based on discussions with coaches and journalists over the years, as well as the analysis of jump mechanics and photography of numerous jump executions, our perspective and observation is that all jumps (through quad Axel) can be successfully completed with no more than one-quarter pre-rotation.

On the landing side, for most jump types successful jumps can have missing rotation near zero, and for some takeoff and landing edge combination no more than about one-eighth rotation.

Rolling all of the above together, we consider a jump to be fully rotated if there is a total (sum of takeoff and landing) of no more than one-third rotation missing from the idealized rotation.

Landing a Jump

In the simplest sense a jump is landed if the skater takes off and lands on one foot and does not fall.  But in terms of giving credit for landing a specific jump we consider this definition too simplistic.

For a specific jump with a specific takeoff and landing edge, we consider that specific jump to be successfully landed if it meets the following requirements:  the jump must take off on one foot; the jump must have the prescribed takeoff and landing edges; it must be landed on one foot; the skater cannot fall at the time of landing or briefly thereafter; the skater must not use a hand or the free leg to keep from falling; the skater cannot step or turn out of the jump to keep from falling.

The jump, however, does not need to be perfect, and a specific jump in our opinion is considered successfully landed even with minor errors.  Anything not listed above is a minor error in this context.  Some examples of such minor erros include: poor positions on takeoff, landing or in the air; breaking at the waist on landing; turning out of the landing or stepping out of the landing when not executed to keep from falling; a swipe at the ice with a free hand, or an inadvertent touch of the ice by the free foot not required to keep from falling.

When it comes to edges, though, we somewhat split hairs, as in for flip and Lutz.  If these jumps only have an edge designation against them, we would consider "a" jump is landed, but not "the" specific jump.  For example, a quad Lutz with an edge call would be a landed jump and a landed quad, but not a landed quad Lutz - but rather a landed flutz as known in conventional conversation.

Clean Jumps

In our usage a clean jump is a more stringent description of a jump than a landed jump.  For us, a clean jump is a jump with no major or minor errors.  It is a jump for which no reductions in GoE are required by ISU scoring rules, as listed in ISU Communications.

Clean Programs

By extension to the above definition of a clean jump, a clean element is an element for which there are no major or minor errors; that is, no errors that require a reduction in GoE by ISU scoring rules.  If all elements meet this definition of clean elements, and there are no errors in the transitions and connecting movements then we consider the performance to be "clean."  We tend to be rather stringent on this and would not describe as clean a program with clean elements but a fall or near fall, or tripping or a stumble, etc., between elements.