Saturday, February 5, 2011

Relative Position – A skater’s location in bounds on the track in relation to other skaters when the skater is standing, stepping, and/or skating.

I pulled today's rule from the glossary. Relative position is one of those things that is often questioned, misunderstood, and sometimes ignored. It is important to know since the phrase is used is most of the penalty sections.

Relative position, as the definition says, is the position of a skater relative to other skaters on the track. If a skater passes another skater their relative position has changed. If a skater gets passed by another skater their relative position has changed. If a skater goes out of bounds their relative position has changed. It is important know all of these because it changes the severity of the penalty given in many cases. Most of the contact penalties (elbows, forearms and hands, low block, etc.) minor sections include the language "... but does not cause the opponent to lose their relative position," which means that the skater was affected by the illegal action but none of the above situations occurred. The major sections include "...causes the opponent to lose their relative position," which means that the illegal action has caused another skater to pass one or more skaters, to fall behind one or more skaters, or causes them to go out of bounds. Another factor to consider is that a skater falling down is also a change in relative position. Even though some of the penalty sections say "...forcing a skater down, out of bounds, or out of relative position," this is redundant since down and out of bounds is out of relative position. The only penalty where a change in relative position by blocking a skater out of bounds is not a major is Out of Bounds Blocking, which requires a skater to be blocked out of bounds to be a penalty anyway.

So even if an illegal block seemingly has no impact, it may be penalized as a major because of a change in the blocked skater's relative position.

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