ISU 1856: 2014-15 Well Balanced Program

The ISU released Communication 1856 a few weeks ago, but I admit I found it difficult to pay it much attention until after the medals were awarded at Worlds this past weekend. With the 2013-14 season now in the books, let’s have a look at what’s in store for next year.

Communication 1856 presents the Well Balanced Program requirements for Adult, Basic and Advanced Novice, Junior, and Senior categories for 2014-15. I’ll stick to discussing Junior and Senior here, since countries often have their own requirements for domestic Adult and Novice categories. 1856 is not overly detailed, and we’ll unfortunately have to wait until at least June, when ISU Congress wraps up, for any new definitions of Elements, Features, and Additional Features, and probably later for a Communication on Difficulty Groups. Based on trends over the past few seasons, some educated guesses can probably be made as to requirements and specifications, but until the proposals are debated and new documents published, we won’t know anything for certain.

Short Programs
As usual, Junior and Senior short programs have five required Elements. The Elements are the same for both categories, with the exception that the categories have traded Intersections — this season, Juniors are required to do an Angled Intersection, while Seniors will do a Whip, which is the opposite of what was required last season.

Here are the short program requirements, by element:

  • Intersection – Angled is required for Junior; Whip is required for Senior. Additional Feature (point of intersection) is required. That means teams will likely have to at least attempt a rotation at the pi to avoid penalty. Features are permitted, and counted if executed correctly.
  • Moves Element – There are some changes here, for both categories. The Moves Element replaces Moves in the Field for Seniors. One unsupported spiral is required, but up to four different unsupported spirals are permitted at the same time, which will be new for Junior teams who are used to being restricted to all doing the same spiral. Features are permitted, and counted if executed correctly.
  • No Hold Element – For both categories, a Step Sequence Additional Feature is required (must be attempted), and Features are permitted and counted if executed correctly.
  • Pivoting Element – Line – There’s a clear new theme in Communication 1856, whereby elements are classified or grouped together according to a certain way of moving across the ice. The Pivoting Elements are the Block and Line, while Traveling Elements are the Wheel and Circle. In the short program for both Junior and Senior teams, pivoting in one line is required. A change of configuration is required and may be executed in any manner, but may not be executed during the pivoting. A change of pivot point is optional and will be counted if executed correctly.
  • Traveling Element – Circle – Travel in any circle configuration is required. Features are permitted, and counted if executed correctly.

Free Programs
I’m thrilled to see the incorporation of more choice Elements into free programs for next season. In my personal opinion, the trend of encouraging and rewarding more freedom and creativity in programs over the past few seasons has revitalized the entertainment value of synchro, which is a critical step in giving the sport broader audience appeal.

Junior free programs will have eight Elements, five of which are required, and three of which are choosen from Groups of Elements. Senior free programs will have 10 Elements (two will be Intersections) if the program length remains at 4:30, or nine Elements (only one Intersection) if a proposal to reduce skating time to 4:00 passes. Senior teams will have either seven or six required Elements, and, like the Juniors, three choice Elements.

  • Group Lift Element – Required for Senior. Juniors are typically not permitted to attempt lifts.
  • Intersection Element – One required for Junior, and either one or two required for Senior (depending on program length). If Senior will have two Intersections, they must be different. No particular shape is required for either category.
  • Moves Element – Required.
  • No Hold Element – Required.
  • Pivoting Element – Block – Required. Referring to the Block as a “Pivoting Element” is a good indication that at least some pivoting will probably be required to get the Element called, or that there will be a penalty for omitting pivoting or executing pivoting incorrectly.
  • Traveling Element – Wheel – Required. As with the Block, it’s likely that some amount of travel will be probably required to avoid penalty or a lost call.
  • Group A – Teams must choose ONE of the following:
    • Linear Element – Line. Presumably, no pivoting is required.
    • Rotating Element – Circle. Presumably, no travel is required.
  • Group B – Teams must choose ONE of the following:
    • Moves Element – If chosen, this must be different from the required Moves Element.
    • Pair Element
    • Synchronized Spin Element
  • Group C – Teams must choose ONE of the following:
    • Creative Element
    • Combined Element

1856 notes that the Base Value of Elements in a Group (A, B, or C) will be the same. That is, in Group A, a Line will be worth the same number of points as a Circle. This may not necessarily mean that Features won’t also be permitted. Or, perhaps it will be the case that only a Level Base Element is permitted from each Group. We won’t know for sure for a few months. Until then, happy speculating!

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