Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Out of Bounds - A skater is out of bounds when part of the skater’s body or equipment is touching the ground beyond the track boundary, including both arms or hands (one arm or hand does not render a skater out of bounds), or any part below the skater’s waist (e.g., a knee, a skate, or a hip). Skaters who are airborne maintain their prior in-bounds (or out-of-bounds, or straddling) status until they land. Skaters who are straddling are considered out of bounds, except where otherwise noted.

Today’s rule comes from the glossary. In the prior rule set, any part of the body or equipment touching beyond the track line rendered the player out of bounds. New in the March 1, 2014 rule set is an exception: if one arm or hand is the sole part of the body touching beyond the track line, the player remains in bounds. This exception also brings the definition of Out of Bounds into line with the definition of Down, wherein one hand touching the floor does not count as being down. This is also an allowance for speed skaters who touch the floor with their hand as they skate, although its implications go beyond that. A player who falls in a heap on the track with an arm sticking beyond the track boundary is not considered to have gone out of bounds and is not in danger of receiving a cutting the track penalty.

When today’s rule says, “including both arms or hands… or any part below the skater’s waist”, the rule is not saying that those are the only parts of the body that can render a player out of bounds by touching the floor beyond the track boundary. The operative word is “including”. Touching beyond the track boundary with another part of the body (e.g., the head or butt), would have the same effect.

There is one possible exception to “one hand or arm out of bounds” exception: when a skater’s arm or hand is the only part of the skater touching the floor. For example, a skater that successfully completes a one-handed cartwheel or handspring across an apex of the track. A literal reading of this rule states this is legal, but it is reasonable to assume that the description of the “one arm or hand” exception implies that at least part of the skater continues to touch the in bounds area of the track. Potential for severe injury to other players aside, skaters may want to avoid one-handed cartwheels across the apex until such a time that the move is clarified as legal.

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