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2017/18 Ladies' Short Program Guide

The Short Program consists of seven elements and must be 2 minutes and 40  seconds +/- 10 seconds in duration.  The time deduction is 1.0 points for every 5 seconds or part thereof over the maximum or under the minimum.  In addition, if a program is more than 30 seconds under nominal (under 2 minutes 10 seconds) the skater is considered withdrawn and no marks are given.  There is also a 2.0 point deduction for any extra elements beyond the seven permitted.  Vocal music is permitted.

The seven elements consist of the following:

Jump Combination (triple with triple or double)

For the top ladies this will usually be triple Lutz with triple toe loop or triple flip with triple toe loop.  Combinations with double loop are fairly uncommon.

The jump combination is evaluated as a whole.  There are five sections of the jump combination to pay attention to; the preparation and takeoff of the first jump, the flight of the first jump, the landing of the first jump and takeoff for the second jump, the air of the second jump, and the landing and flow out of the second jump.

Give attention to the speed and cleanness of the takeoff, and the difficulty of the steps and movements that immediately precede the takeoff.  For the Axel and toe loop takeoffs pay attention to excessive skids or pre rotation.  For flip and Lutz takeoffs give attention to the correct edge for the takeoff.  In the air the jump should have good height and position, with the body remaining mainly vertical.  Between the two jumps, look for a clean, fully rotated, landing and clean takeoff edge for the second jump.  Turns and steps between the jumps are not permitted, and for extreme errors between the jumps may cause the second jump to be given no value.  In the air, the second jump should also have good height, position and orientation.  On the landing look for a fully rotated landing on a true edge with good flow and control out of the jump

Solo Triple Jump out of Footwork

The top ladies will execute a triple flip or Lutz, depending on which triple is executed in the jump combination, since jumps cannot be repeated in the Short Program.  If the flip and Lutz are executed in the Short Program there is no point benefit to including one or the other in the jump combination;  that is triple Lutz and double toe loop with solo triple flip earns the same base value as triple flip and double toe loop with solo triple Lutz.  The same is true for triple-triple combinations.  The only reason to choose to execute one or the other in the jump combination instead as the solo jump, is to maximize the likelihood of successfully completing the combination with that jump.

Give attention to the speed and cleanness of the takeoff, and the difficulty of the steps and movements that immediately precede the takeoff. This jump must have preceding steps and footwork, so a long edge into the jump is an error.  The longer the skater rides the edge the greater the error.  For the Axel and toe loop takeoffs pay attention to excessive skids or pre-rotation.  For flip and Lutz takeoffs give attention to the correct edge for the takeoff.  In the air the jump should have good height and position, with the body remaining mainly vertical.  Look for a clean, fully rotated, landing on a true edge with good flow and control out of the jump.  A lady could attempt a triple Axel in this element (or the jump combination), though only a few woman skaters are capable of that jump.  Also, where a lady to pop a triple Axel attempt to a double, the the required double Axel jump would constitute a repetition of the same jump. In that case the second element with the double Axel would receive no points.

Double or Triple Axel Jump

Give attention to the speed and cleanness of the takeoff, and the difficulty of the steps and movements that immediately precede the takeoff.  Pay attention to excessive skids or pre-rotation on the jump.  A very small amount of skid on the takeoff is not uncommon in the Axel takeoff, but in the extreme it would be considered a weakness in the jump.  In the air the jump should have good height and position, with the body remaining mainly vertical.  Look for a clean, fully rotated, landing on a true edge with good flow and control out of the jump.

Flying Spin

This spin must begin with a flying entry and must have at least eight rotations in position.  The spin is executed on one foot and in one basic position (sit, camel or upright).  The spin must have a minimum of eight rotations in position.  Count them as the spin is performed, but do not begin counting until the skater is in position, and stop counting when they leave the position.  If the skater rotates too many times in the upright position, this would become a combination spin and the element would receive no value.

More often than not this will be a flying sit spin, since most skaters find the flying sit less difficult than a flying camel spin.

Look for a clean takeoff with good height and control, and strong positions in the air.  Pay attention to the quality of the landing and how easily the skater gets into their spin position.  The center of the spin should not "travel" at the skater rotates.  In a close-up view of the spin, traveling can be seen by examining the trace being created on the ice.  A spin that does not travel should have a trace consisting of concentric or overlapping circles.  With a distant view, watch how the skater lines up with a spot, pole, etc. in the background, and see if they stay lined up with that spot.  The exit from the spin should be clean and controlled.

During the spin top skaters will be varying position and/or changing edge, etc. to obtain credit for features.  All of these should be executed cleanly and in control.  A skater must rotate at least two times in position for the position to count.  In a change of edge the skater must first establish rotation on one edge and then hold the rotation following the change of edge. 

Layback Spin

This spin is a spin in one basic position (layback) executed on one foot.  There must be a minimum of eight rotations in position.  The skater cannot begin this element with a flying entry.  The only positions allowed in this element are laidback and side leaning positions, plus a Biellmann position after the eight required rotations have been completed.

Look for a clean, controlled entry into the spin.  Look for positions that are well back.  Some ladies lacking in flexibility may not lean back particularly far, while others with great flexibility can lean back far enough to bring their upper torso nearly parallel to the ice.

The center of the spin should not "travel" at the skater rotates.  Since this spin rotates on each foot be alter to traveling on each foot.  When changing feet, the spin should be centered in the same place on the ice for both feet.  A wide step from one foot to the other, or a push to regain rotation speed are errors to be alert to.  The exit from the spin should be clean and controlled.

During the spin top skaters will be varying position and/or changing edge, etc. to obtain credit for features.  All of these should be executed cleanly and in control.  A skater must rotate at least two times in position for the position to count.  In a change of edge the skater must first establish rotation on one edge and then hold the rotation following the change of edge.

Due to the limited number of features available for the Layback spin (and the lack of imagination of the skaters), most Layback spins end up looking very similar.  Most commonly the layback spin will consist of the layback position, a haircutter (layback with free foot held to back of head) positions and a Biellmann position, with either eight rotations in one position, or a back to side change of position.  This gets the skater to level three, while both the eight rotations AND the back to side change gets the skater to level four.

Combination Spin With Change of Foot

This spin must not only change feet, but must include at least two different basic positions.  There must be a minimum of six rotations on each foot.  The skater cannot begin this element with a flying entry.  More often that not this will begin with a camel position and then change to a sit position.  To reach the higher levels, all three basic positions must be included in the spin.  Often this element will be of the form, camel to sit to upright to change of foot to camel to sit.  It might also include a concluding upright position.

Look for a clean controlled entry into the spin.  The center of the spin should not "travel" at the skater rotates.  Since this spin rotates on each foot be alter to traveling on each foot.  When changing feet, the spin should be centered in the same place on the ice for both feet.  A wide step from one foot to the other, or a push to regain rotation speed are errors to be alert to.  The exit from the spin should be clean and controlled.

During the spin top skaters will be varying position and/or changing edge, etc. to obtain credit for features.  All of these should be executed cleanly and in control.  A skater must rotate at least two times in position for the position to count.  In a change of edge the skater must first establish rotation on one edge and then hold the rotation following the change of edge.

Step Sequence (any pattern)

Often this element consist of a straight line step sequence and a circular step sequence, but more complex patters are allowed.  What ever the pattern, the step sequence must be visible and identifiable and should be performed using almost the full ice surface  Identifying the start of the straight line step sequence is fairly easy.  The skater will move to one end or corner of the ice, perhaps pause for a moment, and then charge off down the ice.  The start of the circular sequence is sometimes a little less obvious.  It is important to identify this point, as the skater must close the circle, and to know if they closed the circle you have to know where it started.  Failing to complete a full pattern of any type is an error.  This step sequence is a "leveled" step sequence, since the element can earn up to four features to increase its base value.

Identifying the start of the straight line step sequence is fairly easy.  The skater will move to one end or corner of the ice, perhaps pause for a moment, and then charge off down the ice.  The start of the circular sequence is sometimes a little less obvious.  It is important to identify this points, as the skater must close the circle, and to know if they closed the circle you have to know where it started.  Failing to complete a full pattern of any type is an error.  This step sequence is a "leveled" step sequence, since the element can earn up to four features to increase its base value.

The start of a serpentine step sequences is also fairly easy to recognize since it also start at one end of the ice and continues to the other end of the ice.  As the skater moves the length of the ice they also weave back and forth across the width of the ice along several roughly half circles.  Since a straight line step sequence does not have to be exactly straight, it is sometime difficult to distinguish between a straight line and serpentine sequence.  In terms of points, however, it does not matter how the sequence is identified since both sequences have the same base value and the same features.

Look for clean steps and edge, good positions under control, and a smooth flow through the element.  One feature for this element is use of the whole body during the sequence.  Many skaters attempt to achieve this feature by throwing their body all over the place with frantic movements.    Another feature calls for turning in both direction.  The results is what some refer to as a "footwork tornado" skated to very fast, energetic music.  Frantic fast movement is not required to achieve these features, so pay attention to full body movement and rotation in both directions for slower music.

This is a good element for evaluating the skating skills of the skaters, so pay attention to the difficulty of the steps and edges, the ability of the skaters to skate on all edges, and to turn clockwise or counter clockwise as they move across the ice.  There are requirements for the number and type of steps and turns needed to achieve higher levels, so pay attention to the different types of steps and turns included in the sequence.

This element is also a good element to develop the Interpretation component of the program, so pay attention to how the step sequence actually relates to the music and how it fits into the overall choreography of the program.

Combining the Elements

There is a 10% bonus for jumps executed in the second half of the program (after 1 minute 20 seconds).  Most skaters will place at least one or two of the jumps in the second half of the program.  One occasionally sees programs with all three jumps in the second half of the program, particularly from Russian skaters.  In that case, the skaters will often burn time by putting the step sequence and the combination spin as the first two elements, as they take the greatest amount of time to execute. Skaters will also often end their program with one of their best elements among the spins or steps, for a big finish.

In order to fit everything in and to take shortcuts on the amount of transition steps several elements will often be connected directly together with one flowing into the next with nearly no steps.  This also allows more time between the jump elements elsewhere in the program.  In the Short Program directly linking the elements still often consist of a spin flowing directly into a step sequence or a spin immediately following a step sequence, or even two spins bracketing a step sequence.  Sometimes you will also see two spins executed one after the other.

Linking several element directly together without intervening movements is considered in the Transitions mark, particularly if executing one element immediately after the other has significant difficulty.

Copyright 2018 by George S. Rossano