Figure skating is a sport where ice skaters, perform freestyle aerobic movements. Movements can include but are not limited to spins, lifts, and footwork. It combines ice skating with the process of drawing “figures.” Various events and deviations have arisen from figure skating. In the Olympics, each category of skating changes the technique necessitated. There are many aspects of figure skating and it is a deeply complex sport. The genesis of figure skating can be traced back to 1772, in a treatise by Robert Jones. Despite this, figure skating did not first appear on the scene of the Olympics until 1908 as part of the Summer Olympics. It since then has changed to be a hallmark event of the Winter Olympic Games.
Skaters wear leather boots which are reinforced with thick padding to prevent injury. They are specially crafted to provide the skater with exquisite control and freedom. Equipped underneath the boot is the blade which is the essential piece of the skate. The front of the blade, the toe pick, contains serrations that provide the skater with a grip on the ice and allows the skater to perform more complicated movements. “Figures” are done in curves and turns which are generally performed in order to form connected circles. These figures vary drastically in skill and feature concepts such as balance, turning skill, as well as skate control. There are dozens of different figures and there are often rigorous tests in order to qualify for competition.
There is a multitude of different styles of figure skating. Freestyle is a category of figure skating that features intricate footwork and focuses on the aesthetic appeal of skating. Skaters interpret music and perform advanced moves based on the song they are performing to. Freestyle is often said to be where a skater can really push his or her creative interpretation to the max. The next category of skating, jumps is one of the most popular figure skating events. Jumps in figure skating is one of the most complicated endeavors one can undertake. They are also quite dangerous, as a faulty landing can result in debilitating injury. Spins, the next category is again self-explained in its namesake. Spins are done either sitting down or standing upright. Skaters can also change positions even during a spin.
Figure skating is not just a solo sport and there is certainly room for interdependence in the sport. One clear digression of figure skating is pair figure skating, which is characterized by both a man and a woman skating at the same time. It combines aspects of jumps and spins. It can often be extremely complicated due to the necessitation of good teamwork and parallel movement while skating. It is one thing to skate gracefully by oneself, but it is another to be in sync with someone and to show coordination and congruency with them. Lifts which is a derivative of pair skating is the concept of lifting often the female while skating. There are many different types of lifts each requiring various intricate movement. One of these lifts is called the “star” lift where the man raises the woman by her hip and she extends her legs, and arms into a “star” position. The woman then spins while being held up.
As seen, figure skating is a complex sport that has been around for a long time. It has gone through a great evolution and is now one of the most heralded sports at the Olympic Winter Games. Many of us can appreciate the aesthetic appeal of watching figure skating, but many of us do not know the rigorous mechanics behind figure skating.
Sources: Olympics, ESPN