Wednesday, June 29, 2011

6.3 Low Blocking Skaters may not trip or intentionally fall in front of another skater. Any contact which lands on an opponent’s feet or legs, below the legal target zone, that causes the skater to stumble or fall is considered tripping and/or low blocking. Downed skaters re-entering the track are subject to tripping/low blocking penalties even on the first instance, and even if the downed skater has fallen small.

Today I decided to cover the explanation of Low Blocking. There have been a few times where I've made a Low Blocking call on a skater on her knees, or on one knee, who was upright (not sprawled or fallen small) and another ref has asked me why, mentioning that the skater in question wasn't tripping the receiver. Simply put, it doesn't matter how the initiator fell, or what position they were in when the Low Block was made (except, of course, if they fell small), but rather where they made the contact, which is what Low Blocking is all about. An illegal Low Block is contact made below the legal target zone, which ends mid thigh. While mid thigh may be hard to determine sometimes, you can be sure that any contact just above the knees and down is certainly illegal.

Low Blocking covers all kinds of illegal contact, including a skater falling into an opponent's legs; a skater who goes down to prevent a Cutting penalty returning to the track on their knees and bumping into an opponent's legs; a skater getting really low to pass through the pack and pushing an opponent out of the way by her legs; or a skater who kick strides outside of a normal skating motion and makes contact to opponent's, usually those behind them (this is sometimes called a donkey kick, Clydesdale, or other such term). Of course, illegal Low Block contact is not limited to these examples. I just wanted to illustrate that Low Blocking is more than just a skater sprawling into the path of an opponent and tripping them, or making them stumble.

All illegal Low Block contact is, like all contact penalties, judged based on impact per the no penalty, minor, and major sections under 6.3.