What you always wanted to know about the synchro rules

Philippe Maitrot is a member of the ISU SyS Technical Committee. Elected for 6 years, with a few other members, he’s elaborating the rules for all categories. Interview.

« Our job is to make the sport better, more understandable and fairer for the teams, and to prepare for the future for the Winter Olympic Games », explains this French Ice Dancer. « We have to prepare all technical communications, all judges, and technical panel communications, prepare the exam for all categories of officials, prepare the rules for next congress, prepare the rules for next season, etc. I’m also a referee or technical controller at events », continue the French Philippe Maitrot.

Jura Synchro: What are the biggest communications about synchronized skating ?

Philippe Maitrot : The ISU Communications are…

1. Well Balanced Program = all the Elements which will be required for next season in all categories.
2. Difficulty groups = for each element, the levels.
3. GOE & PC = How the Judges, Referees will evaluate the elements and the Programs.
4. SOV (scale of value) = it explains that each element has a value
5. All Seminars for Officials
6. Development for Junior Teams
7. Novice category

"We agreed that next season we had to try to make the team do some of the element together and not so spread. TVs did not like it !"

—  Philippe Maitrot
There is no more a maximum number of revolutions inside the lift. Here the lift of the Team Germany during the Worlds 2016 in Budapest. /Credits: Jura Synchro

JS: And which documents are the most important for synchro teams ? 

PM: I think that the first one « Well Balanced Program » and the second with the « Difficulty groups ». 

JS: Why do you have to modify rules each year ? 

PM: Rules are evolving. We gave more freedom to the team for example by using the all ice surface for all elements, but after some meetings with the television, we decided to change. It was too spread for some of the elements and TVs did not like it, it was too difficult to follow. It was also too difficult for the referee reports because too spread for two elements (Moves and Creative)… We agreed that next season we had to try to make the team do some of the element together and not so spread (like 1/2 of the ice surface). 

JS: Who decides ? 

PM: We are deciding to change the rules (we have to elaborate them), but we still have to be in line with the current rules from our Special and Technical Regulations handbook. Every two years there is an ISU Congress where we can modify the rules, in the Special and Technical Regulations. Members will vote on the rules if they agree or not. This season the Congress happened in Dubrovnik Croatia and the members (all nations represented in the ISU) voted for some changes in the rules (including new rules) in all disciplines.

JS: Is that difficult for you to explain the rules on the paper, with words ? 

PM: I don’t think so, if you are a past skater or a coach you can understand the rules, the wording is the same in all disciplines for the basic of skating. 

For all kind of jumps, there is no more restriction on the number of revolutions. For example, Team Mexico did two double Axels during the 2016 Worlds in Budapest. /Credits: Jura Synchro

JS: What are the biggest modifications for synchro teams this year ?

PM: Here they are...

 - Junior category will have a World every year, this is a great thing for the skaters and for the sport.
- 2018-2019 there will be up to 11 Grade of Execution (GOE).
 - 2018-2019 Free Skating Senior will be 4 min instead of 4.30 sec. And the Free Skating Junior will be 3 min 30 sec instead of 4 min.
 - Definition of the Program Components has been simplified.
 - The draw for the Short Program in championships has been changed for a better result.
 - Highlighting inside Program, the definition has been changed.
 - Definitions of some Elements have been updated, some are new.
 - For lifts, definition and no more maximum number of Lift or vault inside the Senior Free skating Program. There is no more a maximum number of revolutions inside the lift. And now we have the possibility to add the Group Lift inside SP for Senior.
 - For all kind of jumps, there is no more restriction on the number of revolution.

"When you see that on the ice a couple sometimes have difficulties, try to imagine with 16 skaters! This is just great."


JS: Are synchro rules the same in each country ? If not, which are the biggest changes ?

PM: Most of the countries have the same rules for Junior and Senior category.
 - For the North American, there are differents technical rules and number of skaters for Novice and all of the others categories they have.
 - For European countries, the changes are inside the non-ISU categories (like Juvenile, Beginners, Junior B, Senior B, etc).
 - For Finland in Novice and Junior category, they have 24 skaters for their Championships.
 - For Novice category, we have an ISU Communication which we share with other figure skating disciplines where all rules for Novice are inside. Most of the countries used it, not North America because they do not let go out their young skaters to International Competition.

JS: What is for you the major difficulty in the synchro discipline ?

PM: To be synchronized during all elements! When you see that a couple sometimes have difficulties, try to imagine with 16 skaters! This is just great. A simple upright spin is done by 16 skaters rotating at the same time in the same position! This is a waooo effect! But it takes time to create a team, for a couple, I would say after 5 years you start to know each other, for a team it makes that relationship more difficult, so it takes more time.

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