The free skating segment of figure skating, also called the free skate and the long program, is the second of two segments of competitions, skated after the short program. Its duration, across all disciplines, is four minutes for senior skaters and teams, and three-and-one-half minutes for junior skaters and teams. Vocal music with lyrics is allowed for all disciplines since the 2014—2015 season. The free skating program, across all disciplines, must be well-balanced and include certain elements described and published by the International Skating Union (ISU).
Free skating, also called the free skate or long program, is a segment of single skating, pair skating, and synchronized skating in international competitions, including all International Skating Union (ISU) championships, the Olympic Winter Games, the Winter Youth Games, qualifying competitions for the Olympic Winter Games, and ISU Grand Prix events for both junior and senior-level skaters (including the finals). The free skating program is skated after the short program. Its duration, across all disciplines, is four minutes for senior skaters and teams, and three-and-one-half minutes for junior skaters and teams. Vocal music with lyrics has been allowed in all disciplines since the 2014—2015 season. The first time vocal music was allowed at the Olympics was in 2018.[note 1]
According to figure skating historian James R. Hines, "free skating has been a part of competition throughout the history" of the ISU. Free skating, which became more important and popular after World War II, was developed when skaters connected individual compulsory figures into a cohesive program. The free skate, along with compulsory figures, were segments in competitions until 1973, when the short program was added.
According to the ISU, a free skating program for men and women single skaters "consists of a well balanced program of Free Skating elements, such as jumps, spins, steps and other linking movements executed with a minimum of two footed skating in harmony with music of the Competitor’s choice". Skaters have "complete freedom" to select any free skating elements they choose; the sum of the elements make up an entire free skating program. All the elements must be linked together by connecting different steps and other free skating movements. Skaters must use the entire ice surface. Forward and backward crossovers however, do not constitute connecting steps. If a skater performs more elements than what is prescribed, only the first attempt, or the allowed number of attempts, are counted in his or her final score.
A well-balanced free skate for both senior men and women single skaters must consist of the following: up to seven jump elements, one of which has to be an axel jump; up to three spins, one of which has to be a spin combination (one a spin with just one position, and one flying spin with a flying entrance); only one step sequence; and only one choreographic sequence. Junior men and women single skaters have the same requirements, except that they do not have to perform a choreographic sequence.
According to the ISU, free skating for pairs "consists of a well balanced program composed and skated to music of the pair’s own choice for a specified period of time". The ISU also considers a good free skate one that contains both single skating moves performed either in parallel (called "shadow skating") or symmetrically (called "mirror skating") and "especially typical Pair Skating moves" such as pair spins, lifts, partner assisted jumps, spirals and other similar moves, "linked harmoniously by steps and other movements".
A well-balanced free skate for senior pairs must consist of the following: up to three lifts, not all from the same group, with the lifting arm or arms fully extended;[note 3] only one twist lift, only one solo jump; only one jump sequence or combination; only one pair spin combination; only one death spiral of a different type than what the skaters performed during their short program; and only one choreographic sequence. A junior pair free skating program must consist of the following: up to two lifts, not all from the same group, with the lifting arm or arms fully extended; only one twist lift; up to two different throw jumps; only one solo jump; only one jump sequence or combination; only one death spiral; and only one choreographic sequence. If a pairs team performs any number of elements more than what has been prescribed, only the first attempt (or the legal number of attempts) will be included in their final score.
A well-balanced free skate for synchronized skating must consist of elements and other linking movements that reflect the character of the music the teams choose and/or expresses a story, theme, idea, or concept also chosen by the team. The ISU, out of the following 14 elements, chooses and publicizes up to 10 required elements for junior free skating programs and up to 11 required elements for senior free skating programs yearly. These elements include: an artistic element, a creative element, an intersection element, a group lift element (only for senior teams, when required), a line or block linear element, a mixed element, a move element, a no-hold element, a pair element, a line or black pivoting element, a wheel or circle rotating element, a synchronized spin element, a wheel or circle traveling element, and a twizzle element. These elements must be "linked together harmoniously by a variety of transitions and executed with a minimum of two (2) footed skating". Other elements can be added to a free skating program, but they are considered as choreography and/or transition components.
- The ISU has allowed vocals in the music used in ice dance since the 1997—1998 season.
- After the 2018—2019 season, due to the change in grade of execution scores from -3 to +3 to -5 to +5, all statistics started from zero and all previous scores were listed as "historical".
- See the 2018 "Special Regulations and Technical Rules for a list of pair skating lift groups.
- S&P/ID 2018, p. 9
- SS 2018, p. 7
- S&P/ID 2018, p. 10
- S&P/ID 2018, p. 79
- SS 2018, p. 67
- S&P/ID 2018, p. 103
- Root, Tik (8 February 2018). "How to watch figure skating at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang". The Washington Post. Retrieved 7 November 2019.
- Hersh, Philip (23 October 2014). "Figure skating taking Cole Porter approach: Anything goes". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 7 November 2019.
- Hines, James R. (2011). Historical Dictionary of Figure Skating. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press. p. 91. ISBN 978-0-8108-6859-5.
- "Personal Best: Men". International Skating Union. 9 July 2019. Retrieved 12 September 2019.
- Walker, Elvin (19 September 2018). "New Season New Rules". International Figure Skating. Retrieved 7 November 2019.
- "Personal Best: Ladies". International Skating Union. 4 November 2019. Retrieved 7 November 2019.
- "Personal Best: Pairs". International Skating Union. 2 November 2019. Retrieved 7 November 2019.
- S&P/ID 2018, p. 108
- S&P/ID 2018, p. 109
- S&P/ID 2018, pp. 108—109
- S&P/ID 2018, p. 117
- S&P/ID 2018, p. 112
- S&P/ID 2018, p. 118
- SS 2018, p. 106
- SS 2018, p. 105
- SS 2018, pp. 107–108
- "Special Regulations & Technical Rules Single & Pair Skating and Ice Dance 2018". (S&P/ID 2018) International Skating Union. 2018. Retrieved 6 November 2019.
- "Special Regulations & Technical Rules Synchronized Skating 2018". (SS 2018) International Skating Union. June 2018. Retrieved 6 November 2019.