September 29, 2012

What is Figure Skating?

I was thinking about this today, and it came across me that this question would make a good introductory blog post. So here I am. Obviously this entire blog is based around figure skating, a sport I've been involved in most my life. I'm sure you've seen skating on the TV, or glimpsed stunning performances during Olympic events, even if you're not an avid skating fan, or you're just starting out in the wonderful world of figure skating. So what is figure skating anyway?

Figure skating is a winter sport, which comprises several different disciplines. In Olympic competition, men and woman compete in singles events, and two types of couples events exist: pairs, and ice dance. Many other types of figure skating disciplines exist, but are not recognised as Olympic sports, although many have an international competitive scene up to world championship level.

Pair skating sees a pair of opposite gender skate together and perform a range of movements either in unison (side-by-side) or as a couple, such as throw jumps, which involve the man thrusting the woman into the air to execute a given jump, which she lands on her own without any help from her male partner.

Ice dance is often likened to a translation of ballroom dancing onto ice, and sees a couple (also of opposite sexes, like in pairs skating) perform both set dance patterns to music (standard and Latin dances apply, as they do in ballroom), and also free programs which comprise personalised choreography designed to show off the couple's capacities and strengths, set to music of their choice.
Recently, the set pattern dances ice dance couples used to perform, named compulsory dances, were removed from international (and many national and regional) competition, and replaced by a new short dance, which is a program set to a specific style of music, which integrates both pieces of set pattern dances, and personalised choreography.

So far, we've looked at the events which are recognised as Olympic events, but many others exist, including synchronised skating (teams of skaters perform synchronised routines with incredible precision), and adagio skating, a form of pairs skating which sees couples perform strikingly acrobatic moves and lifts that are forbidden from Olympic competition.

Figure skating is classed as an artistic sport, and many argue that it is also an art form, akin to ballet in the grace and artistry that skaters convey during performances which are orchestrated to depict certain characters and feelings. However, the fusion of these qualities with amazing athleticism obliges onlookers to admit to the sporting feats skaters achieve during each and every performance, and as such class it as a sport.

So what's the difference between ice skating, and figure skating? Well the distinction here is quite simple: all figure skating is ice skating, but not vice versa. Ice skating is a larger term which groups all those activities which see individuals move on ice, including hockey, speed, and short track skating. Figure skating thus, is a type of ice skating.

Hopefully this introduction to what figure skating is will have helped you better understand our sport, and perhaps even get out onto the ice and try skating for yourself? Please leave a comment and let me know if this helped you, and if you are a skater or still thinking about it!

Happy skating to you all!
XOXO




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