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Pairs Short Program Guide

The Pairs Short Program consists of seven elements and can be a maximum of 2 minutes and 50 seconds in duration.  There is no penalty for a program that takes less than the maximum time, but there is a time deduction for programs that exceed the maximum.  The time deduction is 1.0 points for every 5 seconds or part thereof over the maximum.  There is also a 2.0 point deduction for any extra elements beyond the seven permitted.

The seven elements consist of the following:

Group 5 Lift (lasso takeoff)

This must be one of the several lasso type takeoffs.  There are variations of the take off where the man skating backwards and the woman facing the man on the takeoff, or the opposite, or even with the skaters facing the same direction side by side.  The top teams might include changes of the air position of the woman, one arm air positions, and some type of rotating dismount such as a flip out, cartwheel out, or twist out.

Look for a secure lift of the woman by the man.  Also pay attention to the man's feet to see that he turns the lift cleanly with steady feet.  In the air watch the woman's position.  She should have a nice arch in the air, without her lags dangling like so much dead weight.  Changes in position in the air and one arm air positions should be neat and under control.  While in the air, the man might turn up to three times as the lift travels down the ice.

Watch the dismount to see that is is clean and under control.  When the woman is retuned to the ice, both skaters should flow out of the lift smoothly.

Triple or Double Twist LIft (Lutz or flip takeoff required)

The woman is lifted into the air and released.  While flying free of the man she will rotate some number of times before being caught by the man.  The man will then place the woman back on the ice.  In a double twist the lady rotates 1 1/2 times relative to the man, while the man turns from backwards on the take off to forwards on the landing.  In a triple the lady rotates 2 1/2 times relative to the man and the man makes the 1/2 rotation from backwards to forwards.

Because of the difficulty of executing a truly clean and superior triple twist, even some top teams may choose to execute a double twist, and will go for features on the double to increase it's base value.  The very best teams will attempt a triple, though often these will only be level 1.

Watch the takeoff to make sure the woman takes off on the correct edge.  It must be a Lutz type take off or flip type takeoff.  On the take off both the man and woman will be skating backwards.  The man's hands will be on the woman's waist and the woman will grip the man's wrist.  A secure grip by both skaters is important if the woman is to achieve enough height in the air to cleanly complete the element, particularly for a triple twist.

The man throws the woman vertically into the air.  The moment before the man releases the woman, she will will push off from his wrist.  To achieve great height the man and woman must work together and timing is very important in this element.

In the air watch the woman's position and whether she gets all the way around.  A twist lift can be downgraded if she does not complete the necessary rotations.

Look to see that the man really catches the woman at the waist and places her back onto the ice.  The woman should not bump or crash into the man on the catch, land on his shoulder, bump chests, etc.  If the many barely touches the lady before her feet hit the ice, he really did not catch her.  A lot is happening in a twist very quickly, so taking it all in takes practice.

On the landing the woman should land cleanly and both skaters should flow out of the lift smoothly on one foot.  On the exit the man will be skating backwards and the woman forwards.

A variation of the twist lift has the woman's body oriented horizontal to the ice instead of vertical.  This is known as a lateral twist and was invented by Kitty and Peter Carruthers.

Triple or Double Throw Jump

The takeoff of a throw jump has both the man and woman skating backwards.  The woman jumps with the takeoff edge of a solo jump, but is assisted (thrown) by the man.  When executed correctly the woman will achieve a much greater height than if she had jumped on her own.  The man will typically grip one wrist of the lady with one hand and her waist or hip with the other.

Top teams will do a triple throw, most commonly a throw triple Salchow or loop.  A few teams attempt throw triple flip or Lutz.  Only one team has landed a throw triple Axel in competition (Rena Inoue & John Baldwin).

Look for a clean takeoff on the jump, good takeoff speed, and good height in the air.  The woman should land cleanly, and just like in a solo jump, should complete the rotations, stay on her feet, and exit the jump smoothly on clean edges.  Because of the greater height (and often greater speed) on a throw jump compared to a solo jump, a fall on a throw jump is more likely to result in injury to the lady than the solo jump.

Triple or Double Solo Jump

The man and woman must execute the same jump side by side.  The top teams will commonly attempt triple toe loops.  Some teams execute triple Salchows.

Look for the same qualities of execution in this elements as in a jump by one skater; a clean takes with good speed, good height and good position in the air and complete rotations, with a clean landing and smooth flow out of the jump.  This element is scored using the principle of least common denominator;  that is, the worse of the two jumps is what determine the identification and quality of the jump.  For example, if one skater does a double and the other a triple, the element is scored as a double.

It is sometimes difficult to see what both skaters are doing during this element, particularly when they are skating far apart.  When viewing this element, look between the two skaters and try on follow the movement of both skaters simultaneously.  In addition to looking for two clean jumps, also pay attention to the timing and technique of the skaters.  Both skaters should takeoff and land simultaneously and have the same height in the air.  Their body positions during the jump should also be matched.

Pair Combination Spin

In a pair combination spin, the two skaters hold onto each other while they are spinning.  The two skaters do not have to be in the same positions at the same time, but both skaters must change position at least once, and they must change feet at the same time.

Like in a solo spin, look for a clean and controlled entry and exit, speed of the spin and strong position during the spin.  Watch for a clean change of foot at the same time from both skaters.  Count the rotations.  The team must execute at least eight rotations in the spin.  There is no requirement for the number of rotations on each foot (but for positions to count for features they must rotate at least two times in position.)

Backwards Inside Death Spiral

In a death spiral the man is in a pivot position, holding the woman by one hand.  The woman rotates around the man with one blade on the ice and her body roughly horizontal.  For the 2013/14 season the woman must be on a back inside edge during the element.  In a pivot position the man sets the toe pick of one foot into the ice and rotates around the toe pick with the blade of the other foot making a small circle on the ice a he rotates.

Look to the man for a clean deep pivot position.  Both knees should be bent.  Look at the ease with which the woman enters the death spiral,  She should not be in an awkward unattractive looking position.  The closer the woman's body to the ice the better, and look for a strong arch with her blade firmly on the ice without her boot sliding on the ice instead of the blade.  Only the woman's blade should be in contact with the ice  -- but you can ignore minor brushes of the ice with the hair or hand if it does not help hold the woman up off the ice.  Finally, look at how easily the man brings the woman back to a vertical position and the control and smoothness of the exit from the element.  The team must rotate at least once in position for this element

What distinguishes the top teams from the others is the quality of both their positions and the ease with which the team enter and exist the element.

Step Sequence (any pattern utilizing the full ice surface)

Both skaters must execute the same steps, edges and movements in unison.  They do not have to hold hands while executing the step sequence.  Often the teams close together, but some teams will also move far apart as the execute the sequence by intertwining their steps.  The skaters should remain more or less abreast and one skater should not get too far ahead of the other in the sequence.

Look for the same qualities of execution in this element as in a sequence by one skater; clean steps and edge, good positions under control, and a smooth flow through the element.  This element is scored using the principle of least common denominator.  The worse of the two sequences is what determine the identification and quality of the element.  The unison of this element is very important, so look for identical timing and technique in the steps and movements in the element.

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.

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.

Copyright 2014 by George S. Rossano