What is figure skating?

Why talk about figure skating in a pipe organ site!!!???
Simply because it is a sport I had the pleasure of doing personnally and which is a real art per se...
Here is a short history of figure skating as well as all the jumps and spins
required in this sport.
Nina De Sole.

Figure Skating has been one of the oldest sports existing.

From the dawn of time people have been moving on the ice to get to the other side of the river.
The oldest skates that were found were made out of bone, and most of the recent skates are made of a steel sharp blade attached by leather strings to the footwear.

As time passed,skating changed from being just a mean of transportation on ice to become a very popular entertainement for everyone, and in wintertime, families gathered together on the iced ponds and lakes to glide and have fun... untill, they started turning around and jumping... seeing that a lot can be done with the skates.

Skating clubs started in the 1800's and skating started to become a science of sport, and thus begining it's perfecting, and foreseeing the upcoming skills.
The skater that started the popularity of figure skating as an art and a sport was Sonya Henie the norwegian skater who did all these wonderful ice shows,
and who installed a true dynasty of figure skating

The most significant evolution is the skate itself. From a blade attached to the shoes with leather strings,to a leather boot with the blade screwed under it's sole.
Figures were the basis of skating training, hence the name of "figure skating". It consisted of controlling edges and different turns by performing a figure 8 on the ice and trying to control the body in order that the skater would do exactly the same pattern over and over... For more than hundreds of years figures were part of the imposed "menu", a bit like the scales and arpeggios for order to skate. In the competitions, they were mandatory and counted for a high percentage of the final mark, and a lot of skaters, were thus penalized if they were not good in figures.

Fortunately for some and unfortunately for others... figures were abolished from skating training in 1994, and a lot of skaters that could not win, started to show their talent as freestyle skaters.

Figure skating evolved into different disciplines: freestyle, dance, precision.

Different elements of figure skating

The main element in skating is the skate itself.
It is made of two components, a leather boot that is rigid in order to support the ankle in the jumps, and attached to the sole of the boot,is a steel blade that is sharpened so it can glide through the ice for skating.
The blade has a rocker so it can be able to do the figures.
On the tip of the blade, one finds the toe picks which are NOT used for breaking like people think , but, for doing the toe jumps.

An important element of skating are the edges.... each side (or edge) of the blade has a name...
Inside edge, Outside edge,
and once a person skates on the ice the, terminology is:
Front or back inside edge and front or back ouside edge, depending of the direction in which the skater is skating.
<---- Forward
inside edge
Toe pick
-----> Backwards
Outside edge

In figure skating many creative elements are found in all the disciplines
but here I will name just the basic ones used in all disciplines.

As mentioned, in figure skating, one finds three disciplines: Freestyle, dance and precision.
The freestyle discipline is divided into men and women "solo" skating, there is also the couples freestyle skating that has the most daring and acrobatic moves.
The dance discipline is for couples who will do dance steps on the ice but has it's acrobatic restrictions comparing to the freestyle couples discipline.

Finally, precision skating, who is very popular among local clubs, is several skaters that form figures and do the same moves on the ice.

Freestyle Skating

Most of us have seen figure skating in competitions or ice shows...
Men and women are trained equally to perform the most daring jumps and spins.
Since all jumps and spins can be turned on the side that's most comfortable for the skater, I won't specify on which leg (left or right) a jump starts, since they can be done on both directions
This is the landing position of all jumps in figure skating
it is very important to do it properly in order to get the right balance
for not falling onto the ice

There are two kinds of jumps:
Edge jumps(jumps that are started on one edge of the blade)
Toe jumps (jumps that are started by picking the toe pick of one of the skates on the ice)

The edge jumps are:
Waltz jump
the skater starts the jump forward, jumps off the ice and does half a turn in the air and lands on the ice.

The skater starts the jump forward(like in the waltz jump),jumps off the ice,
does at least a turn and a half (single axel), two turns and a half (double axel), or three turns and a half (triple axel)
on the air and lands on the ice.

Triple axel

The skater prepares the jump by skating backwards,
then turns back to skating forward, does an outside three turn (a basic turn that looks like a "3" on the ice)in order to
be skating in a back inside edge
and putting pressure on that back inside edge of the skate, the skater takes off from the ice and does one(salchow or "salc"),
two (double "salc"), three (triple salc) or even four (Quadruple salch) turns on the air
and lands on the ice.

Triple salchow

The skater prepares the jump by skating backwards,
then does a sharp back outside edge with the jumping leg and has the other leg in front
using a pressure on the curve of the edge,the skater takes off from the ice and does one(loop),
two (double loop), three (triple loop) turns on the air and lands on the ice.

Triple loop

fantasy edge jumps
There are some other jumps used by skaters that are started from the edges of the skates, but I won't go into details, since the principle is the same and several times
these jumps don't contain a great number of revolutions in the air....
The Walley is like an inverted axel and it is usually done as an passage move in the coreography.
The falling leaves jump is like a split jump, but without using the toe pick.
Also the arabics which are very spectacular and are done in a circle by jumping in a way that the skater's body is horizontal to the ice....

The toe jumps are:

Toe loop
The skater prepares the jump by doing an inside three turn, in order to get an outside backwards edge,
then, with the free leg, the skater picks the ice with the toe pick in order to give the impulse to do, one (toe loop), two ( double "toe"), three (triple "toe")
or as male skaters are doing, four (quadruple or "quad toe") turns on the air, and lands on the ice.

The skater prepares the jump by doing an outside three turn (just like the salchow preparation)in order to be skating on an back inside edge,
then with the free leg, the skater picks on the ice with the toe pick in order to give the impulse to do, one (flip), two ( double "flip"), three (triple "flip")turns on the air, and lands on the ice.
Detail: The same leg is used for picking on the ice and landing.

The skater prepares the jump by skating backwards and glides on one leg on an back outside edge,then, the free leg picks on the ice with the toe pick, but, crossing the outside edge line, so the skater will rotate in the opposite direction from where he or she is heading.... takes off from the ice, and does one (lutz), two ( double "lutz"), three (triple "lutz"), or even four ( quadruple "lutz") turns on the air, and lands on the ice.
Detail: The same leg is used for picking on the ice and landing.
It is important to be gliding on an back outside edge before doing a lutz, the most common mistake is to change the edge to a back inside edge just before picking the free leg onto the ice... that mistake is usually called a "Flutz" because by changing the outside edge into an inside edge,the lutz is turned into a flip!!!

Triple lutz

Fantasy toe jumps
There are also other jumps that use the toe picks in order to take off from the ice.
The Split jump which is very spectacular and the particular one done by male skaters is the "russian" split jumps which ressembles the splits on the air that russian dancers do... here is an illustration:

The Stag jump is mostly used by women, is is a very popular jump also as a connecting coreography move and it is done by using the toe picks for getting impulse, but there is no air revolution....

to be continued

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