Figure skating lifts are a required element in pair skating and ice dancing. Pairs lifts differ from dance lifts most notably in that dancers are not allowed to lift their partners above their shoulders. Lifts are also executed by synchronized skating teams in the free program in competition, as part of a movements in isolation requirement.
Dance lifts are differentiated by the skating involved. There are seven kinds of lifts approved for ISU competitions. Dance lifts have become increasingly athletic.
These lifts may last up to six seconds in competition on the senior level.
Stationary lift - A lift performed "on the spot". The lifting partner does not move across the ice, but is allowed to rotate.
Straight line lift - The lifting partner moves in a straight line across the ice. This lift may be performed on one foot or two.
Curve lift - The lifting partner moves along a curve across the ice. This lift may be performed on one foot or two.
Rotational lift - The lifting partner rotates in one direction while traveling across the ice.
These lifts may last up to ten seconds in competition on the senior level.
Reverse rotational lift - The lifting partner rotates in one direction, then switches and rotates in the other direction, while traveling across the ice.
Serpentine lift - The lifting partner moves in a serpentine pattern across the ice.
Combination lift - A lift combining two of the four short lifts. Each part of the lift must be fully established.
Each position must be held for at least three seconds to count for levels. Each position is permitted only once a program.
For the lifting partner
Shoot the duck
Spread eagle - inside edge
Spread eagle - outside edge
Spread eagle - straight line, for the Straight Line lift only
Crouching, with both knees bent, on both feet
Crouching, with one knee bent and the other leg extended to the side
Lunge, with the free leg in any position
One hand lift
Rounding above the shoulder
Only two of the above spread eagle positions may be used in a single program.
For the lifted partner
Full split (180 degrees)
Full Biellmann position with the leg held above the head.
Full doughnut/ring with one or both legs held close to the head
Upside down combined with difficult hold
Vertical position with a cantilever
A horizontal position with only one point of support
Leaning forwards or backwards with the legs as the only points of support
Full layback position with no support from the other partner above the thigh.
Leaning out with the body and legs in a horizontal line with the shoulders and/or upper back as the points of support.
Non-traditional gender roles in lifts
In ice dancing, the lifting partner is usually the man and the lifted partner is usually the woman. However, the rules allow for the woman to lift the man in competition. Notable couples who have performed "genderbending" lifts include Marina Anissina / Gwendal Peizerat, Federica Faiella / Massimo Scali and Sinead Kerr / John Kerr.
The International Skating Union sets down length requirements for lifts in programs and skaters are penalized if a lift goes on for too long.
For the 2006–07 season, at the senior level, the original dance required two lifts to be no longer than six seconds each. For the free dance, four lifts were required and they were separated into short and long.