One feature of the CoP is that a skater can get a big lead in the short program, which carries over to the next phase of the contest. Just how far behind the eight ball is a skater who faces, say, a ten-point deficit going into the free skate?

Here are some ways to look at it, in units of “fall equivalents.” A fall on a triple Lutz, for instance, costs about 3.1 points. This reflects a -3 GOE, factored at 70%, plus the 1-point fall deduction. (We leave out of consideration other errors on the same element, like under-rotation, and also the possible effect of a fall on Program Component Scores.)

So if you are 10 points ahead after the short program, that gives you a three fall cushion over your closest competitor. If you fall three times, losing a total of 3 times 3.1 points, you will still win, everything else being equal.

Here are some other errors that are equivalent to one fall.

* Under-rotating a quad toe. 10.3 – 7.2 = 3.1.

* Omitting altogether a planned level 4 layback or camel spin with either a flying entrance or a change of foot = 3.2 (3.0 for sit spin).

* Omitting a level 3 combination change layback or camel spin = 3.2 (3.0 for sit spin).

^ Popping a double Axel into a under-rotated single Axel with -3 GOE. 3.3 – 0.2 = 3.1.

Error equivalent to two falls

* Downgraded quad toe (10.3 - 4.1 = 6.2)

Scoring equivalent to 3 falls

* Accidentally tacking an extra double toe on to your superb triple Axel (+1 GOE) when you have already done three combinations (Zayak violation) = loss of 9.5 points.

* One extra full point across the board in PCS = 10 points for men, 8 points for ladies.

Summary: If you are ten points behind after the short program you have a reasonable chance to win if your opponent falls three times; or falls twice and doesn’t do one of his spins; or falls once and gets .75 points lower in each program component across the board from every judge; etc.

A six or seven point lead in the short program is about a two-fall advantage.