Everything You Need to Know About: Competitive Figure Skating

If you’ve ever been ice skating then all you’ll probably recall is desperately clinging to the sides of the rink, shuffling about on lethal blades, and praying you won’t fall flat on your face. Believe it or not, though, there are people who can stay upright for more than five seconds!

Competitive figure skating is an up-and-coming sport of skill, grace, and strength. I’ve put together this guide for everything you need to know about it and where you can find it.

Image from: https://unsplash.com/photos/uSbkpuOSmbI

Artistic Variety

Once considered ‘ballet on ice’, competitive figure skating is influenced by the graceful, artistic world of ballet as well as having strong connections with athleticism. Performers get scored on how artistic their choreography is, so there’s guaranteed to never a boring moment for us at home!

Every routine is set to music which helps the skaters create moods and characters in their performances. During the same competition you could see a beautiful swan, followed up by Charlie Chaplain, succeeded by a heavy metal band! It’s clear that figure skating can achieve artistic depths that would rarely be reached in other sports, which makes for a both inspiring and exciting watch.

Image of Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir from: https://etcanada.com/news/401405/tessa-virtue-scott-moir-named-top-canadian-team-of-2018/

Technical Merit and Power

It’s not all about artistry. Competitive figure skating also requires immense technical strength! In the ladies and men’s singles’ disciplines, choreography includes elements like jumps and spins. Each skater must perform several jumps per performance, rotating two, three, sometimes even four times in the air! Then they are expected to land cleanly and continue seamlessly with the rest of their program.

There are six different types of jumps which skaters can (and are sometimes required to) perform. These are:

  • The Toeloop
  • The Flip
  • The Lutz
  • The Salchow
  • The Loop
  • The Axel

The Axel is usually considered the most difficult jump, and the Toeloop the easiest. As skaters push for higher scores, the sport constantly evolves and sees bigger and more exciting jumps attempted. Needless to say when there are lifts involved, the performances are even more exhilarating to watch!

Image of Mirai Nagasu from: https://www.vanityfair.com/style/2018/02/mirai-nagasu-is-making-the-most-of-her-olympics-disappointment

So, if this is your first encounter with competitive figure skating, hopefully you’re now inspired to check it out. If you’re anything like me, you’ll fall in love with it too!