The Well Balanced Program for Pair Skating

The following table summarized the well balanced program requirements for pair skating. The requirements for seniors and juniors come from the ISU rules and apply to International competitions. They are also used in U.S. domestic competitions as well. The novice requirements are taken from the USFSA rules and apply to U.S. domestic competitions. Since the rules of most national skating associations for seniors and juniors are identical to the ISU requirements, the entries for senior and junior programs are applicable to domestic competitions in most countries throughout the world.

Element Senior Junior Novice
Lifts At least three pair lifts, but not more than five. One must be a twist lift, but not more than two. At least three pair lifts, but not more than five. One must be a twist lift, but not more than two. At least two lifts (pair plus small), but not more than four. Two may be overhead lifts. One may be a twist lift, but not more than two.
Throws Not more than two Not more than two Not more than two
(must be single or double)
Solo Jumps One One One
Jump Combination One combination or sequence One combination or sequence One combination or sequence
Pair Spin One One One
Pair Spin Combination One One One
Side by Side Solo Spin
Spin Combination
One One One
Death Spiral One One
(Cannot be the prescribed death spiral from the short program)
Death Spiral
Pivot-type Maneuver
(a second death spiral must be different from first)
not required not required
Step Sequence One One not required
Spiral Sequence One One not required


Three to five are required. While a program with three lifts meets the requirement, including only three lifts is viewed as marginal, indicating a team with poor lifting skills, or endurance. Having only three lifts in a senior program would generally adversely affect the first mark. In a champion caliber team a strong triple twist is expected. If a program includes two twist lifts, the second tends to be a lateral twist, to add variety to the program.


Two throws is the norm for a typical senior pairs program, with a minimum of a throw double axel and a triple throw expected. A champion caliber team will usually have two triple throws.

Solo Jumps

Prior to the 1996 ISU Congress two solo jumps were included in this category. This was reduced to one and a second pair spin was added to shift the emphasis away from single skating tricks. At the senior level a minimum of double axel is expected.

Jump Combination

One jump combination or sequence is required.

Jumps in the solo jump and in the jump combination or sequence should be well matched in height and timing for the two partners. Teams that do not have well matched jumps attempt to hide it by compensating in their patterns preceeding the takeoff, and/or in the timing of the takeoffs.

Pair Spins

Two pair spins, one of which must be a combination, are required. Prior to the current season only one pair spin was required. This was increased to two when the number of solo jumps was reduced to one.

Side-by-Side Solo Spins

One side-by-side solo spin is required. This can be in a single position or may be a combination spin. Spins should be well matched in positions, unison of the rotation, and timing of the entries, exits and changes of position.

Death Spiral and other Pivot Maneuvers

A senior program must include one death spiral and another pivot type maneuver, or two death spirals. If a program includes two death spirals they must be of a different nature (i.e., different edges). The inclusion of a pivot type maneuver other than a death spiral is new to the 1996/97 season.

Step and Spiral Sequences

A well balanced program must have connecting moves between the jumps and spins. In general, the requirements for these sequences are the same as in singles skating. In pairs, of course, the unison of the skaters in step sequences is critical, and the speed and closeness with which the partners skate affects the difficulty of the sequence. Pairs must include one recognizable step sequence and one recognizable spiral sequence (straight line, circular/oval, or serpentine patterns covering a significant portion of the ice). Traditionally these sequences consist of turns and small jumps. In addition sequences may incorporate spread eagles, arabesques, Bauers, spirals, and other flowing moves with strong edges, covering a significant portion of the ice. In the spiral sequences only one of the two partners needs to be in the spiral position at any time. In executing step sequences and spiral sequences the skaters are expected to demonstrate the ability to skate forwards and backwards, on inside and outside edges, and to turn both clockwise and counter-clockwise.


Judges must take required deductions of 0.2 in the mark for Technical Merit for violations of the well balanced program requirements. These deductions are taken in each category where there is an excess or deficiency in the requirements. For example, if a program from a senior pair has one step sequence and no spiral sequence and no combination jump a deduction of 0.4 would be taken in the first mark for having too few elements in two categories. A program with 3 throws, on the other hand would get a deduction of 0.2 for having too many elements in the throw category.


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