How Levels & GOE are Determined in Ice Dance-Lifts


Wicked Yankee Girl
Record Breaker
Jul 26, 2003
Finishing up Lifts; on to Spins

This will be my final post in this thread, unless someone else asks a question or makes some comments. I will be starting a new thread on spins, probably later this week. This thread will be moving to the Reference section of the Lutz Corner after it falls off the front page. However, before I go, just for completeness, there are a couple more things to cover about lifts.

1. When are they illegal?

2. Questions

ISU Judging System: Handbook for Technical Panels, Ice Dance, July 15, 2011,11040,4844-204786-222009-173276-0-file,00.pdf

Questions and Answer for Lifts on Page 46

ISU Judging System: Handbook for Referees and Judges, Ice Dance, July 15, 2011,11040,4844-204785-222008-173275-0-file,00.pdf

One more list of things about lifts: there are a number of things that are illegal in lifts, and which will result in either a deduction or in having the entire lift declared an illegal element. This list is from the Judges Handbook:

ILLEGAL ELEMENTS• Movements and/or poses in the Lifts:
- Lifting hand(s) of the lifting partner higher than his head*;
- Lying or sitting on the partner’s head;
- Sitting or standing on the partner’s shoulder, back;
- Lifting partner swinging the lifted partner around by holding the skate(s)/boot(s) or leg(s) only with fully extended arm(s) or by holding the hand(s)
with full arm extension by both partners;
- Lifted partner in established upside down split pose (with sustained angle between thighs more than 45 degrees)**;

*It is NOT considered as an illegal lift if:
- the point of contact of the lifting hand/arm of the lifting partner with any part of the body of the lifted partner is not sustained higher than the lifting partner’s head;
- the lifting hand/arm which is used for support or balancing only or which touches any part of the body of the lifted partner is not
sustained by the lifting partner higher than his head for more than 2 seconds.
**A brief movement through an upside down split pose (with any angle between thighs) will be permitted if it is not established (sustained) or if it is
used only to change pose.

The Technical Controller authorizes or corrects if there is an illegal movement during the execution of any element, the deduction for an illegal movement [-2.0 points] will apply, and the element will receive Level 1 if the requirements for at least Level 1 are fulfilled. Otherwise the element will be called No Level. However, if both Technical Specialists disagree with a correction on illegal elements asked for by the Technical Controller, the initial decision of the Technical Specialist and Assistant Technical Specialist stands.

Additionally, it is no longer legal to use part of the costume for the lifting partner to use as a 'handle' by which to pick up the lifted partner. This restriction was added after Domnina and Shabalin used straps on her costume to facilitate lifts in 2010.

And finally, a selection of questions from the Technical Handbook, that I found interesting.

When the requirements for a Level are “Difficult Pose for lifted partner” and “Difficult Position forlifting partner” (sustained for at least 3 seconds), do the Difficult Pose and Position have to be achieved by both partners simultaneously (exactly at the same time)?

The Difficult Pose and the Difficult Position must be performed at the same time for both partners for at least 3 seconds. However, the difficult Pose and Position do not necessarily have to be achieved or completed at the same time (e.g. man may establish Crouch position before lady achieves doughnut pose. They then hold these pose and position for 3 seconds. Then the man leaves the Crouch followed by the lady releasing the doughnut).

Can a Difficult Pose/Position be considered for Level when repeated by the other partner (e.g. man does a Lift in Crouch position and then lady does next Lift, as a lifting partner, in the same position)?

No. Since the examples of Difficult Poses/Positions are for lifted/lifting partner and not for a man or a lady.

Suppose a team chose one or more of the following:

* a Difficult Pose,
* a Difficult Position
* a Creative/Difficult Entry of type a), c) or d) (“unexpected entry”, “from a difficult transition”, “significant transitional movement”),
* a Creative/Difficult Entry from Group b) (“from a Difficult Position”),

if they perform one of the above in a Lift, if it is not relevant to determine the Level of the lift, or it is not given credit for
whatever reason, if it is repeated in a subsequent Lift, can this chosen feature be considered for Level?

No. When it is repeated, the chosen feature will be ignored and the Level will be determined accordingly. According to "additional definitions", such a chosen feature shall be considered for Level only “the first time it occurs” / “in the Dance Lift where it is first performed”.

A pose forming part of a Change of Pose in a Lift, is repeated in the other part of this Lift (in case of a Long Lift) or in another (short) Lift. When repeated, can this pose be considered as a Difficult Pose for Level?

Yes. Because the lifted partner’s feature of the first Lift was not a pose, but a Change of Pose.

If a lifted partner is in Biellmann pose with the entire body in any other position than upright (e.g. the lifted partner is held horizontally, parallel to the ice), is this pose considered for Level as a Difficult Pose?

Yes, if the requirements for this Difficult Pose are fulfilled (i.e. the heel of the boot is pulled by the hand behind and above the level of the head, in relation to the vertical line of the body. This pose in its "upside down version" may be illegal.

[Note that Domnina & Shabalin, in their Masquerade Waltz FD in 2008, did just such a reverse rotational lift and got credit.]

In One Hand/Arm Lift, must the lifting arm of the lifting partner be straight?

No. The lifting partner’s biceps/upper arm may touch his own body but the lifted partner must not touch the lifting partner at any other point than his hand/arm.

In a One Hand/Arm Lift, the lifting partner swings the lifted partner around by holding her only by her leg. Is this movement always considered as an Illegal Movement?

It is considered illegal if the lifting partner's arm is fully extended and he is swinging her around. If his arm is bent, then the Lift is legal.

These would be the reasons why I couldn't find any team relying on the "entry from two difficult turns" option

If a couple performs an entry “from a difficult transition”, how close to the actual Lift the difficult Turns should be performed to consider this entry as a Creative/Difficult Entry?

The Lift has to be executed immediately after the difficult Turns, without any preparation and interruption in the pace of execution.

If a couple performs an entry “from a difficult transition”, have the Turns to be executed as precise as Difficult Turns of a Step Sequence to consider this entry as a Creative/Difficult Entry?

Yes. The Turns have to be skated on distinct and recognizable Edges and in accordance with the description in Rule 604.

Is a Double Three itself enough to be called a “difficult transition” and a Creative/Difficult Entry?

No. A Double Three (either in hold or not touching) is considered as one difficult Turn only if it is part of a series forming a “difficult transition”.

Clearly, this is quite a bit less risky:

If the lifting partner uses an “entry from a Difficult Position” as a Creative/Difficult Entry and a Difficult Position during the Lift, do the Difficult Positions have to be different or same to be given credit by the Technical Panel?

The Difficult Position used as a Creative/Difficult Entry and the Difficult Position used during the Lift are given credit, whether they are same or different.

If the lifting partner uses an entry “from a Difficult Position” as a Creative/Difficult Entry, how long does he have to be in the Difficult Position in order to get credit for a Creative/Difficult Entry?

There is no set time for the Difficult Position for the lifting partner in order to get credit for a Creative/Difficult Entry. However, the position must be fully established and clearly evident at the time the lift takes off.

This is good to know:

In a Rotational Lift or Reverse Rotational Lift, if the lifted partner enters (or exits) a One Hand/Arm Lift by jumping into (or from) the arm of the lifting partner, can this entry (or exit) be considered as “only One Hand/Arm lift is used to lift (or set down)”?

Yes. Because there is no contact at all between partners.The jump must not be of more than 1 rotation otherwise it is an Illegal Movement.

And this clarification makes it clear the pitfalls of doing a combination lift:

In a Combination Lift, if the second Lift meets all criteria for Level 3, and includes a “significant transitional movement by the lifted partners to reach the desired pose” does the Technical Panel take it into consideration to upgrade this second Lift to Level 4?

No. Upgrading to Level 4 can only come from the Creative/Difficult Entry of the first Lift or the inclusion of a One Hand/Arm Rotational Lift Extra Feature in case of a Rotational Lift Option 2.

It's interesting how the upgrade by a difficult entry works:

If the first part of a Combination Lift is Level 2 and the second part is Level 3, and a Creative/Difficult Entry is used in the first part of the Combination Lift, is the second part of this Combination Lift upgraded to Level 4?

Yes, except if the second part is a Rotational Lift Option 2 Level 3 which needs a One Hand/Arm Rotational Lift Extra Feature to be upgraded to Level 4. The first part of the Combo Lift remains at Level 2.

The first part stays at level two, because to get level 4, the requirements for level 3 must be met.

It's also interesting that it only requires three rotations by the lifting partner to get level 4 in a stationary lift:

In a Stationary Lift, the man enters on one foot and then rotates on the spot in One Hand/Arm Lift position for 3 seconds while rotating. Are there enough features to get Level 4?

Yes, because the Lift includes:

* Difficult Position for the lifting partner (“One Hand/Arm Lift”) for at least 3 seconds,
* Difficult Pose for the lifted partner (even if not listed as an example, being rotated while held in One Hand/Arm Lift is difficult) for at least 3 seconds,
* Creative/Difficult Entry (“from a Difficult Position, one foot”, by the lifting partner).

And this is a general principle about the pitfalls of creative & difficult entry:

If a couple performs an unexpected entry to the Stationary Lift, but skids to a stop exactly before the Lift, does the Technical Panel still consider this entry as a Creative/Difficult Entry?

If there is an unexpected entry and a stop before the take off was not done to get evident preparation to the Stationary Lift, credit for
Creative/Difficult Entry can be given. But if there is an evident preparation before the Lift (after the stop), credit for Creative/Difficult Entry cannot be given.

The following situation might result if the lifting partner tripped.

What happens if the lifting partner stops continuous rotation during a Rotational Lift or a direction of a Reverse Rotational Lift (this means the lifting partner rotates for while, stops rotation, and then continues to rotate some more)?

As long as the lifting partner is traveling and not on the spot, the rotations can continue to be counted. However, the feature for the lifted partner is affected in the following way:

* if the lifted partner is in a Difficult Pose when the rotation stops, the Level is reduced by one,
* if the lifted partner is moving though a Change of Pose when the rotation stops, the feature is not considered for Level.

If the lifting partner stops traveling, the rotations and features are not considered for Level from that point on.

This sounds unexpected to me too ;)

The lifted partner enters a Lift with no assistance by the lifting partner (e.g. the lady jumps into the arms of the man with a jump of one revolution maximum). Will the Technical Panel consider this as a Creative/Difficult Entry?

Yes. The Technical Panel will qualify this entry as “unexpected”.

So that's it, and I'll be heading on to spins now.

Here's a link to the new thread.
Last edited:


Final Flight
May 12, 2007
Wow, Doris, thanks so much for this thread! It definitely was a fascinating read, and thanks for taking the time to do it so well. I'm looking forward to reading the next one! :yes:


Record Breaker
Aug 1, 2011
Well first off Doris, BRAVA to the nth. I'm still in awe at how much work you put in, how UNDERSTANDABLE this is. I've been going back to old VCR tapes and looking at old dance competitions and it is like seeing them fresh. I'm making everyone who wants to watch the next Olympics with me read this first. I'm sure they'll enjoy watching so much more when they can see for themselves why lifts are judged the way they are.

Two questions: when you say "excessive" lifts, what exactly was/is excessive about them? I'm a big fan of COP for Dance (I think it is the one discipline where the change has been pretty much all for the good, with one exception: judging transparency). Do you think COP has solved the issue of "excessive" lifts?

Again, THANK YOU for this thread. It's a real gift.


Wicked Yankee Girl
Record Breaker
Jul 26, 2003
Well, the ISU seems to make changes about lifts every couple years. I really don't want to see more than 4 lifts in a program, myself, and last year you could have 6 - two transitional lifts and 4 short lifts. This year, you could only have 1 transitional lift, so it's down to 5.

Because no rule change is permanent, no problem is ever solved in COP, but at least the folks that make the rules seem to have acknowledged that the sport is not just ice lifting :)

ice coverage

avatar credit: @miyan5605
Record Breaker
Feb 27, 2012
New article on IN:
Dangerous drama: Dance lifts becoming 'scary'
Ice dancers talk about perfecting intricacies of lifts under IJS

It includes quotes from:
  • the Kerrs
  • Evan Bates
  • Gilles/Poirier
  • Logan Giulietti-Schmitt
  • Melissa Gregory


Wicked Yankee Girl
Record Breaker
Jul 26, 2003
I will definitely check it out.

Certainly for Evan Bates and for Melissa and Denis, lifts caused injuries, no questions.


Apr 7, 2014
Even though lifts can look really spectacular, reading through this thread made me think that one less risky lift in FD next season might not be a bad thing after all. :eek:


Record Breaker
Feb 26, 2014
This topic is fantastic. Thank you so much doris for the hard work and effort you put on it.
Is there anything like this about step sequence?


Wicked Yankee Girl
Record Breaker
Jul 26, 2003
There are two good threads, but I haven't felt expert enough to tackle it myself yet.

One is about identifying the basic turns that make up step sequences-something that is the first step in evaluating step sequences for all the disciplines.

The second is this one, also about singles, but applicable to dance as well, at least in general outline:

This includes Blades of Passion analysis of the turns and steps in YuNa's and Adelina's programs and gkelly's breakdown of Gracie's steps here:
Last edited: