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  Cheating Jumps 

Believe it or Not
       Some figure skating coaches actually teach their skaters how to cheat their jumps. This has been going on for years with judges using the term "Toe Axel" to refer to a cheated double toe loop jump. 

       As the focus on the importance of having triple jumps started, the rush to acquire all of the basic double jumps became the mantra of younger and younger skaters as the pressure to win by parents increased to a point that many coaches feelt presure to cut corners to have their skaters win.

       It is too bad that some parents provide praise to their child who is cheating their jumps. Sooner or later parents learn it may have taken a little longer, but ultimately it would have been much less expensive to have insisted their child be taught to land clean, fully rotated jumps in the first place.

       There also are parents and skaters would dye their hair the same bright glowing color, if someone else in their region had won a championship after dying their hair a fluorescent fuchsia. There is no logic in associating hair color and winning. However, accepting that the reason for winning is that other skaters in the event made more errors is not as preferable as believing their child is more talented than the others skaters who placed higher.

       Under the IJS, jumps that are cheated receive a real penalty in the number of points they are worth. There is no way to overlook cheated jumps under the IJS. All phases of a jump are evaluated in the new system:

  • Preparation

  • Take-off

  • Air position/rotation

  • Landing

  •        A cheated landing is only part of the process to assign a score for the element. However, it is extremely important consideration if the skater unable to adequately complete the rotation of the jump.

           Cheated jumps are marked down by the judges in their grade of execution (GOE) mark. That is the mark given by the judge for the technical elements in a skater's program. Each element receives a GOE mark from the judge. The GOE mark ranges from -3 to +3. The high and the low GOE are dropped and the average of the remaining GOE marks from the judges will constitute the GOE for that particular element. This is called the "trimmed mean."

    IJS and USFS 6.0 Judging
           At the same time, a specialized official, the technical specialist, identifies each element as the skater skates. The technical specialist "calls" the element and this determines how many points the element will receive based upon the degree of difficulty of the element. This is referred to as the "base value" for the element. The base values for the elements are listed in a Scale of Values, along with the numerical value for the judges' GOE marks. The numerical value for the judges' GOE is added or subtracted from the element's "base value" to determine the score for that particular element. Sounds complicated, but thanks to a computerized calculation program, this works smoothly and quickly inside the calculation computer.

           A very real penalty for a cheated jump occurs if the technical specialist determines that the jump is cheated more than one-quarter of a turn, causing the base value of the jump to be "downgraded." (In events using video replay, the technical specialist will be able to examine the landing with super slow motion instant replay.) For example, if the skater tries a triple Salchow and cheats it more than one-quarter turn, the jump will be "called" a downgraded triple Salchow by the technical specialist and will receive base value points for a double Salchow rather than a triple.

           This is only fair. A skater who is that short on the rotation is not really close to executing the triple. The base value for a triple Salchow is 4.5; the base value for a double Salchow is 1.3. So this big cheat will cost the skater 3.2 points! The judges mark how well the jump was executed, and of course, a cheated jump will not be scored as well by the judges as a clean jump. The skater loses more points there.

    Strategies of Choreographing to Maximize Points
           The skater and his or her coach will have to decide whether to chance a "downgrade" if the skater is not quite consistent on the rotation of a particular jump. That is where the new system really relies on you to develop a program that you think can achieve the most points based upon your ability. If the skater does a lovely double Salchow, the GOE may be in positive numbers and actually outpoint a cheated, downgraded triple Salchow attempt.

           Jumps may also be cheated on take-off, as well as on landing. Three types of jumps are presently evaluated by the technical panel for cheats on the takeoff. A toe loop cheated on takeoff is evaluated to see the impact of the cheat on its rotation. If it is determined to be a "toe Axel", the toe loop will be downgraded. In the 2007-2008 season, the takeoffs for the Flip and the Lutz began to be closely scrutinized by the technical panel. 

           The jump will be called as the skater intends it with a jump in the corner is deamed to be an intended Lutz and a jump in the vicinity of the hockey box is intended as a Flip. An alert is sent to the judges that the edge is significantly incorrect (inside edge takeoff for the Lutz and outside takeoff edge for the Flip).  Judges are required to deduct points in their GOE mark.

           Bottom line is that skaters will be penalized for cheated jumps. Landing and takeoff edges must be as clean as possible or skaters risk severe loss of points for the element.

    Recommended Reading:


    Test Judging Topics

    ISU Figure Skating Judging

    PDF The International Judging System (IJS)

    PDF   IJS Judging Criteria


    The following internet links have been gleaned from personal communications
    combined with information from public institutions and athletic organizations/
    associations that have a web presence with information concerning team and
    individual sports programs:

    Seminars of Off-Ice Topics
    PDF  IJS Presentation Guidelines   
    PDF  What Is A "Well Balanced Program"?
    PDF  6.0 Judging System
    PDF  Appropriate Costuming

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    The limited use of the materials for education purposes is allowed providing
    credit is given for the source of the materials.

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