This year I have been stunned by a number of confusing occurrences in the GP pairs events. It started with Skate America. Why were the world champions, Totmianana and Marinin, struggling with a different lift entrance, and falling disastrously? Why were Obertas and Slavnov also struggling with lifts?
Referring to the protocol detail sheets didn't help. There were all those arcane
abbreviations, and they didn't seem quite the same as last year's. I wasn’t terribly surprised at that fact. After all, last year’s World’s was judged on 6.0, so the pairs had probably not made a full changeover to COP friendly programs. I realized that I really wanted to understand COP for pairs before I watched the GPF and World’s.
When I downloaded the seven ISU documents, describing COP for pairs, and skimmed through them, it seemed that many of the pairs were deliberately not taking advantage of COP in one way and another, and that the lifts had indeed changed a lot since last year.
Then I downloaded all the details sheets and went through them to determine who is doing the best element of each type. Again, there were a number of surprises. And so I thought I would write down what I found out for anyone else who has had some confusions with the pairs, how they were doing, and how pairs were being scored under COP. At this time, I am just going to post about the lifts. Later, I will write about the other elements if anyone seems interested.
There’s a lot of detail here, but I hope you’ll take the time to follow along, because after all, I am a relative dummy about this stuff, and I want to be sure that the experts will make any corrections.
Under COP, I had become very confused by the lifts. I thought I knew what a lasso, platter,and star lift looked like, but when I reviewed the detailed scoring sheets, the abbreviations had nothing to do with the names that I knew for the lifts. When you talk about pairs, you need to know that the biggest chunk of available points in the event is for the lifts. Pairs do one lift in the SP and three lifts in the LP, and the total base level available is 23.5 points in the total SP+Lp score. That’s more than any other category of elements. With +3 level GOE, this can be as much as 34.0 points (which of course, has not yet occurred).
Under COP, the lifts are grouped by the way the skaters enter the lift. These groups determine the number that starts the acronym description of the lift.
- Group1 Armpit Hold Lifts. You will not see any of these because they are worth at most, for an 1Li2 lift, done with a +3 GOE level, 2.7 points.
- Group2 Waist Hold Lifts- Berezhnaya and Sikuralidze used to do a lovely platter lift. This is an example of a Group 2 lift. You won’t see any of these any more either, except in exhibitions. They are worth at most 4.0 points for a 2Li3 lift with +3GOE.
- Group3 Hand to Hip Lifts Balanced program requirements specify that a third lift may be done in the LP, provided it is a Group3 or Group4. For me, that’s a good thing because the star lifts are in this category. Maximum base score with a +3 GOE level for a Group 3 lift is 5.5 points Brasseur and Eisler did a great
version of a one hand star where the only point of contact was Lloyd's hand on Isabelle's hip. We may yet see a one hand star again. Sale and Pelletier did a nice Group 3 lift in their Olympic Love Story program right after
the 2A 3T sequence.
- Group4 Hand to Hand Press lift type Lifts- These are exactly the same level of difficulty as Group 3 lifts, and get a maximum of base + GOE of 5.5 points. On the Skate Canada website, Group3 and Group4 are reversed, but the website has not been updated for this year’s COP changes. Unless you have a video clip of a 2003/2004 season program, don’t assume the detail sheets are right. Possibly Group3 and Group4 have been interchanged this year? Two typical Group4 lifts are the pressure lift and the hand to hand loop lift. In the pressure lift, the partners are facing each other, holding hands. The lady is skating forwards. She jumps straight up into the lift position. In the hand to hand loop lift, the partners are facing in the same direction. The men lifts the lady over his head. The lady takes off on one foot from a back outside edge, like a loop jump. . The last lift in Shen and Zhao’s 2004 LP is a 4Li2 lift.
- Group 5 Hand to Hand Lasso Lifts-These work similarly to hand to hand pressure lifts,except that the lady makes one revolution on the way up, and the same is also generally true for the dismount. The lady takes off on a forward outside edge, like an axel, directly in front of the man. I believe that Wachsman and Waggoner did a regular Lasso lift in the 1988 Olympic SP. However, today, you can see one in Zhang and Zhang’s LP It’s their second lift, a 5Li2.
- Group 5A Axel Lasso (Side by Side Lasso) Lifts-These work just like Lasso Lifts except that the lady makes one and one half revolutions on the way up. It is also known as the Side by Side Lasso. Gordeeva and Grinkov do a Side by Side Lasso Lift in their Olympic SP, March of the Toreadors, AFAIR. Today, for a relatively unadorned Side by Side Lasso, look at Inoue and Baldwin’s in their NHK long program. P&T and Z&S do better ones, but there are so many “ribbons and bibbons” on their lifts that it is hard to sort out the basic lift.
- Group 6 (Last year, and now not used) One Hand Lasso Type Lifts. Last year any lasso lift where the man held the woman over his head by one hand was a Group6 lift. If you check out detail sheets from the Grand Prix last year there were a lot of these being done.
Totmianana &Marinana did two 6Li1 lifts in last year’s LP, scoring 6.42 and 6.56 each for them at Skate Canada. They did no 5ALi entries to a lift last year. I wouldn't wonder if this is where the difficulty came for them this year. The one armed 6Li1 lifts fell back to 5Li 2, worth at most 7 or 6.5. Contrast this with the 5ALi3 lifts, which could be worth as much as 9.5 points. No wonder T&M, O&S, and other pairs who weren’t using the Axel entry to lasso lifts have been scrambling to catch up!
After all, a pair can do THREE 5Ali3 lifts in a competition. And there is an additional whammy. GOE’s for 5Ali2 and 5Ali3 lifts can go as high as +3, but GOE’s for 5Li1 and 2 lifts go only as high as +1.5.
Once I learned this, it was no surprise to me that Obertas and Slavnov and Totmianana and Marinin were both struggling with 5ALi family lifts at Skate America, when they were debuting their new programs. As we saw, that Axel entry is risky. Peter Carruthers said that the woman turning on the way up like that tends to act like a sail, and the weight falls preferentially on one arm for the man on the way up. It’s a legitimate choice to choose not to seek the highest point level here, but the penalty can be high.
Scott and Dulebohn have also had trouble with their lifts, and I suspect they have been trying to cope with this problem as well. They failed* (correction per Pat) on a 5Li group lift in China and on a 5Ali family lift in Russia. Their planned lifts are (5Ali2, 3Li2, 5ALi2,5Li1)
When you fall or fail on a lift entry, you get ZERO for it, so it’s worse than falling on a jump. Not to mention any possible injuries.
Zhang and Zhang have two (5ALi2,3Li2,5Li2,5Ali2) and Orscher and Lucash (5li2,5Li1,5Li2,3Li1) and Don and Hunt (5Li1,5Li1,5Li2,3Li1)are not trying the 5Ali group lifts at all, and presumably are planning to make up the difference elsewhere. This is a maximum of 24.5 points from lifts for D&H and O&L.
In some ways, the oddest choice has been made by Inoue and Baldwin. They do a nice 5ALi2 lift, and do one in both the SP and LP. They also do a 3Li2 lift in the LP, as required. What I can’t figure out is why they are doing a 4Li1 in the LP when they are capable of a much harder and higher scoring lift. This gives them a maximum with GOE +3 of 27.5 points from lifts. It seems that they are doing an LP typical of the old 6.0 system where repeating elements tended to be discouraged (you can see this by referring to the lifts done as shown by the detail sheets from last years GP series).
The kings and queens of lifts are, of course, Zagorska and Siudek (5Ali3, 5Ali3,5Li3,4Li3) at NHK) and Petrova and Tikhonov (5Ali3, 5Ali3,5Li3,4Li3) Z&S scored 28.2 points from lifts alone at NHK. PetTik have scored 25.7 points. This is the hardest lift layout theoretically possible with the current version of COP. I predict that the ISU will be updating the lift section yet again soon.
There are more to lifts than Groups, obviously. There are also Levels of Difficulty. Level One lifts are described as using ‘mainly Basic take off, hold and landing. Level Two and Three involve selection menus.
For Level 2, you need to pick three from the list of:
- Simple variation in take off
- Simple variation in landing
- One change of hold or of Lady’s position in the lift
- Include a simple carry
- Include a simple one-hand hold
For Level 3, you need to pick four from the list of:
Difficult variation in takeoff
- Difficult variation in landing
- At least 2 changes of hold or at least two changes of Lady’s position in the lift
- Include a difficult carry
- Include a difficult one-hand hold (counts as several features if repeated in the lift)
- Changes of rotation by the man during the lift
- Unexpected (without preparation) takeoff
And you may ask, what are Simple and Difficult? The ISU has provided some examples.
Simple Carry (one lift in LP only)– a 2 hand carry up to 3 seconds long with no
revolutions by the Man.
Difficult Carry (one lift in LP only)– at least one of the following features:
- Man skates on one foot (O&S are trying this in the LP. He holds his foot like a heron in one lift.
- Man performs crossovers
- Man performs spread eagle or similar move
Simple one hand Hold – lasts at least 3 seconds and/or one half revolution by the Man
Difficult one hand Hold – Has at least one of the following: Lasts at least 5 seconds in a carry and or at least one revolution by the man.
Simple takeoff variation: Could be a change of hand hold on the ascent of the lift, or some other easy thing.
Difficult takeoff variation – Includes but is not limited to: Somersault takeoffs, dance lift going immediately into the Pair Lift takeoff without the lady touching the ice in between the 2 lifts, one hand take off.
Simple Landing – Different landing foot or change of hand hold on descent
Difficult Landing – Variations not limited to: Somersaults, different landing foot,
variation in holds, partner positions and/or direction of landing, or one hand landing.
Finally there are GOE definitions and deductions:
I’m going to skip what makes a good lift…basically the levels are meets criteria, good, better, and best. However, the definition of what is bad,
worse, and worst, is not wholly intuitive. Be sure to notice that bad footwork by
the man can be punished as severely as bad positions by the lady.
Bad (-1 level) minor problem in only one phase of the lift:
Weak positions in air or on landing
Weak turns by the man
Reduced speed on landing
Man exits on two feet
Touch down with the free foot
Partners bump on takeoff or landing
Worse (-2 level) Minor problems in 2 phases of the lift (see Bad List) or
major problem in one phase of the lift, as follows:
Poor positions in air
Poor or scraped turns by the man
Lady collapses on her partner
Poor landing with complete loss of speed
Lady starts or lands on two feet.
Worst (-3 level) Minor problems in 3 or more phases (see Bad List)
or major problems in 2 or more phases (see Worse list) or any of the
following totally dreadful errors
Very poor positions in air
Very poor, unsteady turns by the man
Serious problems or struggling in the lifting process
Less than the required revolutions (two for the lady,
one for the man)