Singles Free Skating

It may be called "free" skating, but there are still restrictions and requirements placed on the contents of these programs. Judges have always been looking for programs that demonstrate the full range of skating skills, but initially the interpretation of what constituted a well balanced program, and the penalty for having an excess or lack of a given skating skill was left to the discretion of the individual judges. In recent years, however, the requirement to present a well balanced program, the definition of what constitutes a well balanced program, and the required deductions for violations of the well balanced program rules have been formalized in the rules. This process began in the early '90s and has continued with each ISU congress. The following table summarized the well balanced program requirements for singles skating at the senior level.

Element Description
Jumps Number of doubles and different triples and quadruple jumps is not limited. Only two different triple or quadruple jumps may be repeated, one in a combination and the other in a combination or sequences.
Jump Combination At least one combination or sequence, but not more than three.
Spins A minimum of four of a different nature. One must be a combination, one must be a flying spin.
Step Sequences Two step sequences of a different nature for the Men. One a traditional step sequence and the other a moves in the field type sequence. For the ladies one step sequence and one spiral sequence or MITF sequence are required.


The restriction on repeating triple jumps (and more recently quad jumps) has been in effect since the early 1980's, and was introduced to prevent skaters with only one or two triple jumps from using them repeatedly. The triple and quadruple jumps that are repeated can only be repeated in jump combinations and/or sequences. The restrictions on repeating jumps applies to the attempt, and not to the number landed. For a triple jump to be "attempted" the skater must rotate more than two times, and similarly for a quad.  Popping a triple to a double does not count as an attempt of the triple since the actual jump completed is a double.

If a skater uses a repeated triple or quad in a combination placed in the program prior to the individual attempt, and falls in the combination, the later use of the jump does not count - unless the skater has the presence of mind to turn the second attempt into a combination. For example, if a program includes a triple Axel - triple toe combination and later an individual triple Axel, a fall on the triple Axel would prevents the second triple Axel from counting if the skater does not improvise a combination for the second Axel.

Men:  The top men are now executing all the triple jumps and quad toe loops and Salchows.
Ladies:  The top ladies are now executing all the triple jumps through triple Lutz.   A few ladies are currently experimenting with triple Axel or quad Salchow but have not completed these jumps successfully in competition.

Jump Combinations

Programs must contain at least one jump combination or sequence, but not more than three; the purpose of which is to force skaters to demonstrate that they can do a combination or sequence, and can also land individual jumps and hold the landing.   Over and above the three permitted jump combinations/sequences, additional jump sequences which contain jumps of not more than one rotation may be performed as part of step sequences and connecting moves preceding double and triple jumps without restriction or penalty.

Men:  The top men are executing quad toe loops in combination and quad Salchows in combination.  Next below in difficulty are triple Axel - triple toe loop combinations and triple Lutz - triple toe loop.
Ladies:  The top ladies typically execute triple Lutz - double toe loop (or double loop) as their most difficult combination.  A few lades attempt triple toe loop - triple toe loop, or triple Salchow - triple loop.


The requirement on the number and types of spins is meant to insure a balance between jumps and spins in free skating programs. The requirement is set up in such a way that to meet the requirement, skaters must demonstrate the ability to spin in all of the basic spin positions (upright, sit, and camel), to execute individual spins, combination spins, and flying spins. Individual spins must have a minimum of 6 rotations in position in order to count towards the number of spins required, while combination spins must have a total of 10.  In combination spins the number of rotations on each foot is not specific.   There is no upper limit on the number of spins skaters may include in the free skating program.

The men and ladies currently execute spins of similar difficulty with the main difference being the men using the layback and Biellmann positions less often than the ladies.

Step Sequences

A well balanced program must have connecting moves between the jumps and spins. The men must do at least two different recognizable step sequences (straight line, circular/oval, or serpentine patterns utilizing the full ice surface). Traditionally these sequences have consisted of turns and small jumps (e.g., half jumps or Whalleys).  One of the two step sequences must now be a MITF sequence.  Sequences of this type incorporate spread eagles, arabesques, Bauers, spirals, and other flowing moves with strong edges, utilizing the full ice surface.  Spiral sequences covering the full ice surface are traditionally viewed as "feminine" and are not done by the men, however the men may, and some do, include spirals in their MITF step sequence.  Ladies singles must also include two sequences. One a traditional step sequence and the other a spiral or MITF sequence.

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.

The men and ladies currently execute step sequences of similar difficulty.


Judges must take required deductions of 0.1 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 man has only one step sequence and no combination jumps a deduction of 0.2 would be taken in the first mark for having too few elements in two categories. A program with 4 combination jumps, on the other hand would get a deduction of 0.1 for having too many elements in the jump combination category.


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