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DANA'S figure skating website

Pairs skating

Pairs skating is a beautiful branch of figure skating and very nice to see. Consist in a man and woman skating together both performs single skating elements and lifts in unison ,It give the impression of two skatings as one .

is difficult achieve the unison because both must have similar technique and timming also practice and trust between the partners, they performs single skating elements and extra elements as lifts and throw jumps.

This is a little glossary found on skate canada website with all the lifts and elements of pairs skating, this glossary is simple and concise.

ISU Rulebook assign in 6 groups the lifts and are clearly defined

In the picture
Rena Inoue and John Baldwin
performing an Armpit lift.

 Lifts  Others Moves

Group 1 - Armpit Lifts
The lifts with the armpit hand hold position are the easiest type of existing lifts. The male places one hand under one arm of the female in the armpit. The female places one hand on the male's shoulder. The male grips the female's other hand with his free hand, to assume the hold. The arm of the male that is in the armpit position of the female is to be fully extended. The following lifts belong to this group: Lutz lift, Flip lift, Axel lift, One arm toe lift.

Group 2 - Waist Lifts
The lifts with waist hold position are more difficult than the lifts in the armpit group. The male places both hands on the female's waist and she, in turn, places both hands on his wrists or shoulders. This lift if more difficult as the male is required to extend both arms. Attention should be paid to the position the female assumes throughout the lift. The head should be held high, the back should be straight and a good extension of the legs is desirable. The following lifts belong to this group: Waist Loop lift, Platter lift.

The platter lift is a lift in which the male raises his partner overhead, with hands resting on her hips. She is horizontal to the ice, facing behind in platter position. It is sometimes referred to as a tabletop lift. The female releasing her grip on her partner's wrists increases degree of difficulty within the lift. Females should strive to obtain an arch in the back and an aesthetically pleasing leg position.

Group 3 - Hand to Hand Lifts
The lifts with hand to hand hold are more difficult than the previous waist lifts. Both hands of the male and female are clasped. The partners' face each other in the closed lift position with hand to hand grip, or the male is behind the female with the same grip. The following lifts belong to this group: Pressure lift, hand to hand loop lift.

The pressure lift is a lift in which the male is skating backwards and the female is skating forwards, facing each other. Both hands of each partner are clasped. The female jumps straight up over the head of the male, the arms of each partner fully extended. This is generally the first full-extension lift that pair teams learn. Variations on the pressure lift include a roll-up entry or an entry where the male is skating forwards and the female is skating backwards.

The hand to hand loop lift is a lift in which the male raises his partner, who is in front of him and facing in the same direction, above his head. She remains facing the same direction in sitting position with her hands behind her while her partner supports her from her hands. The female should take-off for this lift from one foot, on a back outside edge (like a loop jump). There are many possible variations of the female's leg position.

Group 4 - Hand to Hand Hip Lifts
The lifts with hand to hip hold are of the fourth degree of difficulty. The male places one hand on the female's hip, and takes her other hand in his free hand. The female's free hand is placed on the male's shoulder. The following lifts belong to this group: Star (or cartwheel) lift, toe loop hip lift, one arm toe loop hip lift.

The Star lift is a lift in which the male raises his partner from his side, by her hip, into the air. The basic position of the female is a scissor- position with either one hand touching his shoulder or in a hands-free position. The releasing of grips increases degree of difficulty in a star lift. Isabelle Brasseur and Lloyd Eisler made the no-hand star lift famous; in this lift Lloyd lifted Isabelle into the star lift position, with one hand placed on her hip and no other point of contact.

Group 5 - Hand to Hand Lasso Type Lifts
The lifts of the hand to hand Lasso type holds represent the fifth degree of difficulty in pair lifting. The difference between the hand to hand pressure lifts and these lifts is that in hand to hand lasso type lifts, the female rotates on her way to the top of the lift. The same is also, generally, true for the dismount. What makes this type of lift difficult is that a good portion of the lift is pressed to the top with the use of only one arm of the man. The added torque created by the rotation of the female to the top of the lift also adds difficulty to these lifts, in particular on the Lasso lift. The lifts belonging to this group include: toe overhead lift, step overhead lift, Lasso lift

Toe overhead lift: A lift in which the female is lifted after a toe assist from one side of the male's body behind his head to a raised position. She is facing the same direction as the male in a split position.

Step overhead lift: Same as above, except there is no assistance from the female's toe pick on the take-off.

The Lasso lift is the most difficult of the hand to hand Lasso type lifts. When it is properly done, the female will take-off from a clean forward outside edge, directly beside the male, rotate one full rotation around the male, and end up on top of the lift facing the same direction as the male. Many skaters when attempting this lift rotate almost to backwards, prior to taking off for the lift. When this occurs, they are no longer performing a Lasso lift, but a step overhead. The Lasso lift take-off should resemble that of an Axel jump.

The degree of difficulty on all hand to hand Lasso type lifts is increased by the position of the lady, changes in position during the lift, release of grip, variation in dismount. Some common variations include a reverse star position, step through, change to platter. Teams will often also include flip or toss dismounts from the overhead lifts. Any flip or toss dismount can add difficulty to a lift, so long as it is cleanly executed and well controlled throughout the movement and into the landing.

Group 6 - One Hand Lasso Type Lifts
The one hand Lasso type lifts represent the sixth degree of difficulty in pair lifts. The beginning of the lift is as in the previous group of lifts. When the female reaches full extension the partners release one hand at the top of the lift and continue the lift with one hand only. All one hand Lasso type lifts are included in this group.

Twist Lifts
Sometimes the most thrilling and exciting component in pair skating, twist lifts can also be the most difficult to perform correctly. The Double split twist lift is a mandatory element in the short program at all levels (Pre-Novice to Senior). Details to be watched for on this element are: speed on entry and exit, split position attained by female on her way to the top of the twist lift, height, clean rotation, clean catch by the male (two hands at the female's waist), no collapse of female on male on the way down, one-foot exit (both partners).

In the Split twist lift, both partners skate backwards in a hip lift position, the male behind the female. The female reaches back with her free leg, and picks to assist in the take-off (like a Lutz jump). The female is than lifted by the male for half a revolution, at which time she attains the split position. The male than releases the female, at which time she completes the necessary rotation (1/2, 1 1/2, 2 1/2). She is then caught by the male in the air and assisted to a smooth landing on a clean, back outside edge. There are many fine examples of excellent split twist lifts by Canadian skaters including Brasseur and Eisler and Jamie Salé and David Pelletier.

Lateral twist: A move in which the male throws his partner overhead. She rotates one time, or more, while in a lateral position to the ice and is caught before being set down gently on to the ice. 1984 World Champions Barb Underhill and Paul Martini were known for this element, as were Brasseur and Eisler who completed a triple lateral twist!

Throw Jumps
Another exciting aspect of pair skating is throw jumps. In throw jumps, the male partner assists the female into flight. The height and distance that can be obtained on the different throw jumps often thrill audiences. Typically there are four different type of throw jumps that are executed: throw Axel, throw Salchow, throw toe loop, throw loop. From time to time, teams will also execute throw flip or throw Lutz jumps, though these are not that common. Teams will execute either single, double or triple throw jumps, depending on level and ability. The number of rotations, speed of entry increases degree of difficulty, and height and/or distance obtained. Two-time Canadian Champions Kristy Sargeant and Kris Wirtz are known world-wide for their clean, high throws.

Pair Spins
Pair spins differ from one another by the position (sit, camel, upright or variation thereof), the direction of the partners' free legs (the same or opposite), the skating leg (the same or opposite) and by the catching holds (only one partner or both hold each other with different grips).

Spins may be commenced from the edge of the spinning foot or after a jump.

Some common spin positions to look for:

  • upright waltz spin (partners facing each other in waltz hold)
  • upright Kilian spin (partners facing the same direction, side-by-side, in Kilian hold)
  • pair sit spin
  • Kilian Camel spin
  • Tango Camel spin
  • Catch-waist camel spin

Degree of difficulty in spin elements is increased by the positions attained, speed of revolution, number of revolutions and number of changes of position. Teams should strive to maintain a constant speed throughout the spin, and execute clean changes to new positions. Spins should also be centered, with aesthetically pleasing lines.

Death Spirals
Death spirals are a circular move in which the male lowers his partner to the ice while she is arched backwards gliding on one foot. The female holds the male's hand while he rotates her in a circle with her head almost touching the ice surface. The male must be in a correct pivot position for this element to be executed properly. There are four variations on the death spiral: forward inside, forward outside, backward inside, backward outside. It is generally accepted that the forward inside is the easiest of the four, and the forward outside is the most difficult. This will vary though according to each team's strengths and abilities.

At the entry-levels of pair skating, teams will often execute an upright spiral figure rather than a death spiral. In this spiral figure the male is in correct pivot position, while the female rotates around him in an upright spiral position. Again there are four variations: forward inside, forward outside, backward inside, backward outside.