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ISU increases base value of quad jumps

Potential reward for the most difficult elements is higher, but so are deductions

Jeffrey Buttle shows off his men's gold men from world championships in Sweden.
Jeffrey Buttle shows off his men's gold men from world championships in Sweden. (Getty Images)

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By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(04/30/2008) - At the 2008 ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Gothenburg this March, Brian Joubert bemoaned the value assigned to quads.

"Under this judging system, it is better to do simple and clean programs than to try difficult [elements]," he said after placing second to Jeffrey Buttle . "I am disappointed for figure skating. We need more points for quad jumps for the future."

A few more points for quads would not have helped Buttle much in Gothenburg. The athletic Frenchman, who executed quad toes in both his short and long programs, finished nearly 14 points behind the cerebral Canadian, who did not try a quad. But the International Skating Union has heeded the call from Joubert, at least in part.

A recently issued directive, ISU Communication #1494, details increases in the base values of the most difficult jumps, but also assigns heftier penalties for imperfect landings and falls. Triple Axels (increased from 7.5 to 8.2 points); quad toe loops (raised from 9 to 9.8); and other quads are now worth more, but the increased risk in trying the maneuvers may offset the greater reward.

For example, this past season, if a skater fully rotated a quad toe but then fell on the landing, the judges would assign a -3 Grade of Execution (GOE) to the element. The competitor would have 3 points deducted from the base value of the jump, giving him 6 points. Now, 4.8 points will be deducted, leaving him with only 5 points for the element. On top of that, there is also a one-point deduction levied for each fall in a program. The values for a -1 GOE and -2 GOE for a quad toe have also increased.

Joubert is far from the only one advocating more value for the quad. Four-time world champion Kurt Browning and 1992 Olympic silver medalist Paul Wylie, who now work as television commentators, have suggested it, as have other eligible skaters.

Even Buttle, who has not landed a quad in competition for years, thinks it should be worth more.

"I do think [the quad] should get more credit, not a lot, but some," he said last week during a break from the Canadian Stars on Ice tour. "It's the next step up, harder than an Axel."

The skater said he will still work to add the element to his programs next season.

"Absolutely, it's part of the natural progression of my skating," Buttle said. "I've landed it before. It's certainly not impossible for me."

Jumps aren't the only elements affected by Communication #1494. The scale of values for some, but not all, spins; step and spiral sequences; and pair lifts has also changed. In addition, new guidelines for GOEs have been added. For example, an "awkward position of any partner" in a throw jump is recommended to result in a GOE of -1.

Communication #1494 includes single and pairs only; a separate bulletin detailing changes and clarifications to ice dance elements will likely be published soon.

In addition, the upcoming ISU Congress, to be held June 16-20 in Monaco, has a 128-page agenda featuring figure skating proposals from Bulgaria, Finland, Russia, Canada and Serbia, some of which, if accepted, could result in additional changes. Among the most notable is a Canadian proposal that could increase the value of jumps completed in combination or sequence.