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Liubov Iliushechkina & Charlie Bilodeau Show New Type of Press Lift at Skate Canada International

by George S Rossano


The Canadian pair team of Liubov Iliushechkina & Charlie Bilodeau presented a new form of press lift in their free program at the 2019 Skate Canada International in Kelowna, BC.

The ISU (rule 619) divides listed lifts into five groups with the following definitions, with hand to hand lifts being group 4:

Group One - Armpit Hold position
Group Two - Waist Hold position
Group Three - Hand to Hip or upper part of the leg (above the knee) position
Group Four - Hand to Hand position (Press Lift type)
Group Five - Hand to Hand position (Lasso Lift type)

The Lift’s Group is determined by the hold at the moment the Lady passes the Man’s shoulder.

 In Groups 3–5 full extension of the lifting arm(s) is mandatory.

Rule 619 also states:

Partners may give each other assistance only through hand-to-hand, hand-to-arm, hand-to-body and hand to upper part of the leg (above the knee) grips. A change of hold means going from one of these grips to another or from one hand to another in a one hand hold. Changes of hold during the lift are permitted.

The takeoff of this lift (shown below) highlights an interesting ambiguity in the rule.

The lift meets the requirement for a legal hold (hand-to-arm) but does not meet the definition of a group 4 lift (hand to hand), or any other group for that matter.  If anything, this hold starts off looking closer to an armpit hold (group 1) than anything else. But it's clearly not hand to hand.

Nevertheless, the technical panel called this a group 4 lift; and there you have it, a new hand to arm group 4 lift is created.

To paraphrase Humpty Dumpty in "Through the Looking-Glass":

“When I use a rule,” the Technical Panel said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make rules mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said the Technical Panel, “which is to be master—that’s all.”

Like Captain Barbossa's comment about the pirate code in Pirates of the Caribbean, it seems for the ISU "the code (rulebook) is more what you'd call 'guidelines' than actual rules."