Short program (figure skating)

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The short program of figure skating is usually the first of two phases in figure skating competitions for single skating, pair skating and synchronized skating. As the name suggests, it is the shorter of the two programs, the other one being the free skating. The short program has also been known by other names. From 1989 to 1992, it was called the original program, and from 1993 to 1994, it was called the technical program.


The short program was first introduced in the 1964 season for pair skating competitions, which originally consisted of free skating only. The new short program for pairs was originally called the "connected program" and had only six required elements, drawn from designated groups in lifts, solo jumps, pair spins, solo spins, "spiral spins" (death spirals), and step sequences. The maximum time allowed was 2 minutes and 30 seconds.[1]

For single skating, figure skating competitions used to consist of compulsory figures and free skating only. The short program was introduced in the 1972–73 season as part of a reform to reduce the weight of the compulsory figures and provide an additional event suitable for television coverage of skating competitions. Originally, the short program for singles had only six required elements (three jumps, two spins, and one step sequence). It was performed for the first time at the Nebelhorn Trophy late in the summer of 1972. A seventh element, the spin combination, was added to the short program the following season. Required deductions for failures on elements were introduced in the 1975–76 season. The eighth element (second step sequence for men or spiral sequence for ladies) was added in the 1988–89 season, when the time limit was set at 2 minutes 40 seconds. When the ISU Judging System was adopted, the short program was extended by an additional ten seconds in order to allow skaters more time to complete complex spins and step sequences.

In June 1988, the ISU raised the value of the short program from 20% to 30%, beginning in the 1988–89 season.[2]

Required elements in the short program were originally very constrained. For example, at the 1988 Winter Olympics, both men and ladies were required to do a double flip as the jump out of steps, and include a double loop in the jump combination. Beginning in the 1998–99 season, men were allowed to do a triple as the required axel jump and include a quadruple jump in the short program.

Required elements[edit]

The International Skating Union regulations set a maximum time of 2 minutes 50 seconds for the short program. There are seven required elements, with mandatory deductions for failures on each element.

Men's singles[edit]

  • A double or triple axel jump
  • A triple or quadruple jump immediately preceded by connecting steps
  • A jump combination consisting of a double jump and a triple jump, two triple jumps, or a quadruple jump and a double or triple jump
  • A flying spin
  • A camel spin or sit spin with one change of foot
  • A spin combination with one change of foot
  • Two step sequences of different nature (straight line, circular, or serpentine) were competed until 2010. Beginning with the 2010-11 season, only one step sequence is now required.

Ladies' singles[edit]

  • A double or triple axel jump
  • A triple jump immediately preceded by connecting steps
  • A jump combination consisting of one double and one triple jump, or two triple jumps
  • A flying spin
  • A layback spin
  • A spin combination with one change of foot
  • A step sequence (straight line, circular, or serpentine)
  • A spiral sequence. Beginning with the 2010–11 season, the spiral sequence is no longer included as a required element but may be performed as a transition.[3]

Pair skating[edit]

  • A lift with a specified grip that rotates from year to year
  • A double or triple twist lift
  • A double or triple throw jump
  • A solo (side-by-side) double or triple jump
  • A death spiral on a specified edge that rotates from year to year
  • A spiral or step sequence, rotating from year to year
  • A spin combination, alternating annually between a solo, side-by-side spin combination and a pair spin combination

Synchronized skating[edit]

  • A block
  • A block step sequence
  • A choreographic element
  • A circle
  • A circle step sequence
  • A creative element (replaced earlier movements in isolation) this may include jumps, spins, free skating moves or lifts, not all skaters need to perform all moves, i.e. half the team could spin while the other half jump.
  • 2 intersections
  • A line
  • Moves in the field (a sequence containing spirals, ine bauers, spread eagles etc. alternating annual through different compulory patterns e.g. serpentine, oval, figure 8)
  • A no hold step sequence
  • A pair element i.e. a pairs lift, pairs spin, pull-through, death spiral etc.
  • A spin
  • A moves element
  • A wheel with a minimum of 2 shapes each year one specific shape is required.[4]


  1. ^ "New ISU Pair Program", Skating (magazine), December 1963 
  2. ^ "No More Figures In Figure Skating". Associated Press (The New York Times). 9 June 1988. 
  3. ^ "Communication No. 1619" (PDF). International Skating Union. U.S. Figure Skating. 24 June 2010. 
  4. ^ "SPECIAL REGULATIONS & TECHNICAL RULES – SYNCHRONIZED SKATING 2012" (PDF). International Skating Union. Retrieved 17 April 2013.