This post is my attempt to define parameters for brainstorming how the rules for the singles free program could be redefined to allow more freedom for skaters, coaches, and choreographers to make choices about program content and structure to better meet their own vision while still providing a level playing field in which skaters with different strengths or different visions can be meaningfully compared. What would our ideal free program rules look like?
Let's take the following premises as given:
*The free program will continue to follow an earlier phase of competition such as the current short program in which the focus is on completion of required elements.
*IJS is here to stay -- in particular, the concept of assigning points for elements, with one set of officials identifying the elements and in some cases assigning levels to determine their base scores according to a scale of values, and another set of officials assigning grades of execution and also component scores for various aspects of the program as a whole.
The specific details are up for debate.
*We're talking about ISU rules for international junior and senior competition, which will also be used in domestic competitions for junior and senior skaters, however each country defines those levels, some of whom will not be good enough for international assignments.
That means, probably, that at a minimum we should expect skaters governed by these rules to be capable of executing all the different kinds of turns (with preferences as to direction and entry edge), all the basic spin positions, and all the double jumps, although 2A may be a challenge.
At the upper end, we there may be some very best skaters who can execute all the triple jumps up to axel, in all sorts of combinations, as well as a couple of different quads, and enough different difficult non-jump skills that can serve as features toward the highest level in all of their leveled elements, although there will not be time or energy to execute all these skills within a single 4- or 4.5-minute program.
Most junior and senior skaters will fall somewhere in between and will have some kinds of skills that come much more easily to them than others. Our rules need to apply to all of them.
*We do want to maintain some minimum expectation of what constitutes a "well-balanced free program." Details are up for debate.
*We want the free program to represent each skater's best package of maximum difficulty with maximum quality that they can fit into 4-4.5 minutes. That includes not only the quality of the elements but also the quality of the program as a whole, both athletically and artistically.
With that in mind, let's discuss changes we would like to see to the well-balanced program rules, the scale of values, the definitions of levels, etc., etc., for the singles free program specifically.
Later maybe we'll address pairs and/or dance. Or someone else can feel free to start a thread on those topics now.
But first, if you want to make any adjustments to my starting premises, best to bring those up first.