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Figure skating

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For the current season, see 2019–20 figure skating season.

Figure skating

Figure skates and edges

Highest governing body International Skating Union

Nicknames Skating


Contact none

Team members Individuals, duos, or groups

Mixed gender Yes

Equipment Figure skates

Glossary Glossary of figure skating terms


Olympic Part of the Summer Olympics

in 1908 and 1920;
Part of the first Winter Olympics in
1924 to today

Figure skating is a sport in which individuals, duos, or groups perform on figure skates on ice. It
was the first winter sport to be included in the Olympic Games, when it was contested at the 1908
Olympics in London.[1] The four Olympic disciplines are men's singles, ladies' singles, pair skating,
and ice dance. Non-Olympic disciplines include synchronized skating, Theater on Ice, and four
skating. From intermediate through senior-level competition, skaters generally perform two programs
(short and free skate), which may include spins, jumps, moves in the field, lifts, throw jumps, death
spirals, and other elements or moves, depending on the discipline.
The blade has a groove on the bottom creating two distinct edges: inside and outside. Judges prefer
that skaters glide on one edge of the blade and not on both at the same time, which is referred to as
a flat edge. During a spin, skaters use the "sweet spot" of the blade, formally called a rocker, which
is the roundest portion of the blade, just behind the toe pick and near the middle of the blade. Skates
used in singles and pair skating have a set of large, jagged teeth called toe picks on the front of the
blade. Toe picks are mainly used for the take-off on jumps. Ice dance blades have smaller toe picks.
Figure skaters compete at various levels from beginner up to the Olympic level (senior) at local,
regional, sectional, national, and international competitions. The International Skating Union (ISU)
regulates international figure skating judging and competitions. These include the Winter Olympics,
the World Championships, the World Junior Championships, the European Championships, the Four
Continents Championships, the Grand Prix series (senior and junior), and the ISU Challenger
The sport is also associated with show business. Major competitions generally conclude with
exhibition galas, in which the top skaters from each discipline perform non-competitive programs.
Many skaters, both during and after their competitive careers, also skate in ice shows, which run
during the competitive season and the off-season.


 1Terminology
 2Figure skates
 3Ice rinks and rink equipment
 4Disciplines
o 4.1Olympic disciplines
o 4.2Other disciplines
 5Elements and moves
o 5.1Jumps
 5.1.1Toe jumps
 5.1.2Edge jumps
 5.1.3Other jumps
o 5.2Spins
o 5.3Lifts
 5.3.1Pair lifts
 5.3.2Dance lifts
o 5.4Skating skills, turns, steps, moves in the field, and other moves
o 5.5Compulsory figures
 6Competition format and scoring
o 6.16.0 System
o 6.2ISU Judging System
o 6.3Other judging and competition
 7World standings and season's bests
o 7.1World standings
o 7.2Season's bests
 8Music and clothing
o 8.1Music
o 8.2Clothing
 9Eligibility
o 9.1Age eligibility
o 9.2Other eligibility rules
 10Competitors' expenses, income, and funding
 11Injuries and health issues
 12History
o 12.1Early 1900s
o 12.2After World War II
o 12.3Effect of television and the present day
 13In popular culture
 14References
o 14.1General references
 15External links


An 1862 lithograph depicting skating in the 19th century

The term "professional" in skating refers not to skill level but competitive status. Figure skaters
competing at the highest levels of international competition are not "professional" skaters. They are
sometimes referred to as amateurs,[2] though some earn money. Professional skaters include those
who have lost their ISU eligibility and those who perform only in shows. They may include former
Olympic and World champions who have ended their competitive career as well as skaters with little
or no international competitive experience.
In languages other than English, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Italian, Polish and Russian, figure
skating is usually referred to by a name that translates as "artistic skating."

Figure skates[edit]
Main article: Figure skate

Close-up of a figure skating blade, showing the toe picks, the hollow(groove) on bottom surface of blade, and
screw attachment to the boot

The most visible difference in relation to ice hockey skates is that figure skates have a set of large,
jagged teeth called toe picks on the front part of the blade. These are used primarily in jumping and
should not be used for stroking or spins. If used during a spin, the toe pick will cause the skater to
lose momentum, or move away from the center of the spin. Blades are mounted to the sole and heel
of the boot with screws. Typically, high-level figure skaters are professionally fitted for their boots
and blades at a reputable skate shop. Professionals are also employed to sharpen blades to
individual requirements.[3]

Blade sharpening

Blades are about 3/16 inch (4.7 mm) thick. When viewed from the side, the blade of a figure skate is
not flat, but curved slightly, forming an arc of a circle with a radius of 180–220 cm. This curvature is
referred to as the rocker of the blade. The "sweet spot" is the part of the blade on which all spins are
rotated; this is usually located near the stanchion of the blade, below the ball of the foot.[4] The blade
is also "hollow ground"; a groove on the bottom of the blade creates two distinct edges, inside and
outside. The inside edge of the blade is on the side closest to the skater; the outside edge of the
blade is on the side farthest from the skater. In figure skating, it is always desirable to skate on only
one edge of the blade. Skating on both at the same time (which is referred to as a flat) may result in
lower skating skills scores. The apparently effortless power and glide across the ice exhibited by
elite figure skaters fundamentally derives from efficient use of the edges to generate speed.
During a spin, skaters use the "sweet spot" of the blade, which is one of two rockers to be found on a
blade and is the roundest portion of the blade. The sweet spot is located just behind the toe pick and
near the middle of the blade. The other rocker is the more general curvature of the blade when
stroking or gliding.
Ice dancers' blades are about an inch shorter in the rear than those used by skaters in other
disciplines, to accommodate the intricate footwork and close partnering in dance. Dancers' blades
also have a smaller toe pick as they do not require the large toe pick used for jumping in the other
disciplines. Hard plastic skate guards are used when the skater must walk in his or her skates when
not on the ice, to protect the blade from dirt or material on the ground that may dull the blade. Soft
blade covers called soakers are used to absorb condensation and protect the blades from rust when
the skates are not being worn. In competition, skaters are allowed three minutes to make repairs to
their skates.
There are many different types of boots and blades to suit different disciplines and abilities. For
example athletes who are performing advanced multi-rotational jumps often need a stiffer boot that
is higher and gives more support. Athletes working on single or double jumps require less support
and may use a less stiff boot. Ice dancers may prefer a lower cut boot that is designed to enable
more knee bend.
Likewise, blades designed for free and pairs skating have a longer tail to assist landing. The blade
profile and picks are designed to assist with spinning and with jump entry, take-off, landing and exit.
Modern blade technology increasingly uses carbon fibre and materials other than steel to make
blades lighter. These materials may also be more flexible and help cushion jump landings and be
protective of young athlete's joints.[citation needed] Ice dance blades have short tails to enable close foot
work and reduce the risk of blade clash in close complex moves. They may also be thinner to assist
with glide and fast changes of edge.
Off-ice training is the term for physical conditioning that takes place off the ice. Besides regular
physical exercise, skaters do walk-throughs of jumps off the ice in order to practice sufficient rotation
and height of their jumps, and to practice consistency in landing on one foot.

Ice rinks and rink equipment[edit]

Main article: Figure skating rink
There is significant variation in the dimensions of ice rinks. Olympic-sized rinks have dimensions of
30 m × 60 m (98.4 ft × 197 ft), NHL-sized rinks are 26 m × 61 m (85 ft × 200 ft), while European rinks
are sometimes 30 m × 64 m (98 ft × 210 ft).[5] The ISU prefers Olympic-sized rinks for figure skating
competitions, particularly for major events. According to ISU rule 342, a figure skating rink for an ISU
event "if possible, shall measure sixty (60) meters in one direction and thirty (30) meters in the other,
but not larger, and not less than fifty-six (56) meters in one direction and twenty-six (26) meters in
the other."[6] The scoring system rewards skaters who have good ice coverage, i.e. those who
efficiently cover the entire ice surface during their programs. Olympic-sized rinks make the
differences in skill between skaters more apparent but they are not available for all events. If a rink
has different dimensions, a skater's jump setup and speed may be hindered as he or she adjusts.[7][8]
Ice quality is judged by smoothness, friction, hardness, and brittleness.[9] Factors affecting ice quality
include temperature, water quality, and usage, with toe picks causing more deterioration. For figure
skating, the ice surface temperature is normally maintained between −5.5 °C (22.1 °F) and −3.5 °C
(25.7 °F),[9][10] with the Olympic disciplines requiring slightly softer ice (−3.5 °C) than synchronized
skating (−5.5 °C).[11] Typically after every two warm-up groups, an ice resurfacer cleans and smooths
the surface of the ice sheet. Inadequate ice quality may affect skaters' performances.[12]
Some rinks have a harness system installed to help skaters learn new jumps in a controlled manner.
A heavy-duty cable is securely attached to two of the walls around the ice, with a set of pulleys riding
on the cable. The skater wears a vest or belt, with a cable or rope attached to it, and the cable/rope
is threaded through the movable pulley on the cable above. The coach holds the other end of the
cable and lifts the skater by pulling the cable/rope. The skater can then practice the jump with the
coach assisting the completion. This is used when a skater needs more help on a jump. However, if
the coaches see fit, they could use another harness usually called "the fishing pole harness." It is
named that because it looks similar to a fishing pole. The skater will put on the harness and the
coach will adjust it so it fits the skater. The skater will go and do the jump with very little help from
their coach. They can also do the jump on any pattern they choose, whereas, the other harness,
they must do in a straight line.

Olympic disciplines[edit]
As an Olympic sport, figure skating comprises the following disciplines:[13]

 Singles competition for men and women (referred to as "ladies" in ISU rulebooks), wherein
individual skaters perform jumps, spins, step sequences, spirals, and other elements in their
 Pair skating teams, consisting of a man and a woman skating together. Pairs perform elements
that are specific to the discipline such as: throw jumps, in which the man 'throws' the woman into
a jump; lifts, in which the woman is held above the man's head in one of various grips and
positions; pair spins, in which both skaters spin together about a common axis; death spirals;
and other elements such as side-by-side jumps and spins in unison.
 Ice dance is again for couples consisting of a woman and a man skating together. In contrast to
pair skating, ice dance focuses on intricate footwork performed in close dance holds, in time with
the music. Ice dance lifts must not go above the shoulder, and throws and jumps are disallowed.
The four disciplines of men's singles, ladies' singles, pair skating and ice dance are also
incorporated into a team event, which appeared on the Olympic program for the first time at the 2014
Winter Olympics.[14]
Other disciplines[edit]

Synchronized skating team performing a 3-spoke "wheel" element

Lifts performed by the Haydenettes, 26-time U.S. national synchro champions

 Synchronized skating, formerly known as "precision skating", is for mixed-gender groups of

between twelve and twenty figure skaters. This discipline resembles a group form of ice dance,
with additional emphasis on precise formations of the group as a whole and complex transitions
between formations. The basic formations include wheels, blocks, lines, circles, and
intersections. The close formations, and the need for the team to stay in unison, add to the
difficulty of the footwork performed by the skaters in these elements. Formal proposals have
been put forward by the ISU to include synchronized skating in the 2018 and 2022 Winter
Olympics, but so far these efforts have been unsuccessful.[15][16]
 Ice theatre, also known as "Theatre on Ice" (or "Ballet on Ice" in Europe), is a form of group
skating that is less structured than synchronized skating and allows the use of theatrical
costuming and props.
 Four skating is a discipline in which a team of four skaters, consisting of two men and two
women, perform singles and pairs elements in unison, as well as unique elements that involve
all four skaters.
 Special figures is the tracing of elaborate original designs on the ice. This was a common
discipline in the early days of figure skating (hence the name of the sport) and appeared once at
the Olympics, in 1908.
 Adagio skating is a form of pair skating most commonly seen in ice shows, where the skaters
perform many acrobatic lifts, but few or none of the other elements that are performed by
competitive pair skaters.
 Acrobatic skating, also known as "Acrobatics on ice" or "Extreme skating", is a combination of
circus arts, technical artistic gymnastics skills, and figure skating.

Elements and moves[edit]

Main article: Glossary of figure skating terms
Each element receives a score according to its base value and grade of execution (GOE), resulting
in a combined technical elements score (TES). At competitions, a technical specialist identifies the
elements and assigns each one a level of difficulty, ranging from B (Basic) to Level 4 (most
difficult).[17] For each element, a panel of judges determines the GOE, ranging between –5 and +5,
according to how well the skater executes the element. The GOE is weighted according to the base
value of the element.[17]
The ISU defines a fall as a loss of control with the result that the majority of the skater's body weight
is not on the blade but supported by hands, knees, or buttocks.[18]
Main article: Figure skating jumps
ISU abbreviations:
T Toe loop
S Salchow
Lo Loop
F Flip
Lz Lutz
Video demonstrating figure skating jumps
A Axel
Jumps involve the skater leaping into the air and rotating rapidly to land after
completing one or more rotations. There are many types of jumps, identified by
the way the skater takes off and lands, as well as by the number of rotations that are completed.
Each jump receives a score according to its base value and grade of execution (GOE).[17] Quality of
execution, technique, height, speed, flow and ice coverage are considered by the judges. An under-
rotated jump (indicated by < ) is "missing rotation of more than ¼, but less than ½ revolution" and
receives 70% of the base value. A downgraded jump (indicated by <<) is "missing rotation of ½
revolution or more". A downgraded triple is treated as a double jump, while a downgraded double is
treated as a single jump.
An edge violation occurs when a skater executes a jump on the incorrect edge. The hollow is a
groove on the bottom of the blade which creates two distinct edges, inside and outside. The inside
edge of the blade is on the side closest to the skater, the outside edge is on the side farthest from
the skater, and a flat refers to skating on both edges at the same time, which is discouraged. An
unclear edge or edge violation is indicated with an 'e' and reflected in the GOE according to the
severity of the problem. Flutz and lip are the colloquial terms for a lutz and flip jump with an edge
In 1982, the ISU enacted a rule stating that a skater may perform each type of triple only once in a
program, or twice if one of them is incorporated into a combination or sequence. For a set of jumps
to be considered a combination, each jump must take off from the landing edge of the previous
jump, with no steps, turns, or change of edge in between jumps. Toe loops and loops are commonly
performed as the second or third jump in a combination because they take off from the back outside
edge of the landing foot, or skating leg. To perform a salchow or flip on the back end of a
combination, a half loop (which is actually a full rotation, but lands on a back inside edge of the
landing leg) may be used as a connecting jump. In contrast, jump sequencesare sets of jumps which
may be linked by non-listed jumps or hops.[19] Sequences are worth 80% of the combined value of
the same jumps executed in combination.
A figure skater only needs to be able to jump in one direction, either clockwise or counter-clockwise.
The vast majority of figure skaters prefer to rotate in a counter-clockwise direction when jumping.
Thus, for clarity, all jumps will be described for a skater jumping counter-clockwise.
There are six jumps in figure skating that count as jump elements. All six are landed on one foot on
the back outside edge (with counter-clockwise rotation, for single and multi-revolution jumps), but
have different takeoffs, by which they may be distinguished. The two categories of jumps are toe
jumps and edge jumps.
The number of rotations performed in the air determines whether the jump is a single, double, triple,
or quadruple (commonly known as a "quad"). The simplest jump begins with a waltz jump which can
only be done in a half-leap and is not classified as a single, double, or triple jump. Senior-level male
single skaters perform mostly triple and quadruple jumps in competition. Triple jumps other than the
axel are commonly performed by female single skaters. It is extremely rare for a female skater to
land a quadruple jump; the only two female single skaters to be credited with quads in competition
are Miki Ando, who landed the first quad salchow in Dec 2002,[20]and Alexandra Trusova, who landed
the first quad toe loop (and only the second quad salchow) in March 2018, both at the Junior level.
Alexandra Trusova also was the first female to ever land 2 quadruple jumps in competition, the quad
salchow and the quad toe loop. She was only 13 years old at the time.
Some elite skaters can complete a jump in about one second, with 26 inches of height and 10 feet in
distance.[citation needed] The takeoff speed of a jump can reach up to 15 mph.[citation needed]
Toe jumps[edit]
Toe jumps are launched by digging the toe pick of one skate into the ice, using it to vault into the air
with the opposite leg. The main toe jumps are (in order of score value):[21]

1. Toe loop – the skater takes off backwards from the outside edge of the right (or left) foot,
launching the jump using the opposite toe pick.
2. Flip (sometimes known as a toe salchow) – the skater takes off backwards from the inside
edge of the left (or right) foot and assists the take-off using the opposite toe pick.
3. Lutz – similar to the flip, but the skater takes off from the backward outside edge of the left
(or right) foot, launching the jump using the opposite toe pick.
All of the above descriptions assume a counter-clockwise direction of rotation, landing backwards on
the outside edge of the right foot. (For clockwise rotation, the skater takes off using the alternative
foot and lands backwards on the outside edge of the left foot.)
Edge jumps[edit]

An axel jump

Edge jumps use no toe assist, and include (in order of score value):

1. Salchow – the skater takes off backwards from the inside edge of the left (or right) foot,
allowing the edge to come round, the opposite leg helps to launch the jump into the air.
2. Loop (also known as a Rittberger jump) – the skater takes off backwards from the outside
edge of the right (or left) foot.
3. Axel – the skater takes off forwards from the outside edge of the left (or right) foot. As this is
the only rotating jump to take off from a forward edge, it includes an extra half rotation.
Again, these descriptions assume a counter-clockwise direction of rotation, landing backwards on
the outside edge of the right foot. (For clockwise rotation, the skater takes off using the alternative
foot and always lands backwards on the outside edge of the left foot.)
Other jumps[edit]
There are also a number of other jumps that are usually performed only as single jumps and in elite
skating are used as transitional movements or highlights in step sequences. These include the half
toe loop (ballet jump), half loop, half flip, walley jump, waltz jump, inside axel, one-foot axel, and split
jump. There are two kinds of split jump:

 Russian split, performed in a position that is similar to that of a straddle split

 ladies split, performed in the position of the more traditional split, facing the direction of the front

Ross Miner sets up for a jump.

Denis Ten sets up for a jump.

Kevin van der Perrenrotates in the air.

Jamal Othman lands on the right back outside edge.

Pairs skaters Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir set up for a throw jump

A pair team after the woman has been thrown: Jessica Miller rotates in the air.

Anabelle Langlois lands after performing a throw jump with Cody Hay.
Main article: Figure skating spins
Spins are a required element in all four Olympic disciplines. There are three basic positions –
upright, sit and camel – with numerous variations.

 Upright spin variations include layback, Biellmann, haircutter, layover layback, attitude, and
 Sit spin variations include pancake, broken leg, tuck behind, cannonball, flying, and clam.
 Camel spin variations include catch-foot, layover, flying, and donut.
Spins may be performed individually or in a spin sequence, combining different types of spin; a spin
sequence is known as a "combination spin". During a spin, the skater rotates on the front rocker
(sometimes called the "sweet spot" or "spin rocker"), which is the curved part of the blade that
corresponds to the ball of the skater's foot, just behind the toe pick. A spin may be executed on the
back rocker of the blade during a change of edge spin. For example, a back scratch spin will flip
edges to a forward inside edge. This feature of a spin will change the level of a spin.
A figure skater only needs to be able to spin in one direction, either clockwise or counter-clockwise.
Most skaters favor a counter-clockwise direction of rotation when spinning (as in jumping), but there
are some skaters who prefer to spin in the clockwise direction. A small minority of skaters are able to
spin in both directions. Spins may be performed on either foot. For skaters who rotate in a counter-
clockwise direction, a spin on the left foot is called a forward spin, while a spin on the right foot is
called a back spin. The opposite applies for skaters who rotate in a clockwise direction. When
learning to spin, a skater will typically learn a forward spin first, then once that is mastered they will
learn how to execute a back spin.
When performing some types of spin, an elite skater can complete on average six rotations per
second, and up to 70 rotations in a single spin.[22] However, this is rarely seen in modern
competitions because it would gain no extra points for the spin.
Spins are normally entered on the ice, but they can also be entered from a jump or sequence of
jumps known as star jumps. Spins that are entered through a jump are calling flying spins; these
include the flying camel, flying sit spin, death drop, and butterfly spin. Flying spins may go from a
forward spin to a back spin and they can also be performed as part of a spin sequence (combination
In pair skating, spins may be performed side-by-side with both partners doing the same spin or
combination spin simultaneously. Additionally, in pairs and in ice dance, there are pair spins and
dance spins, during which both skaters rotate around the same axis while holding onto one another.

Camel spin

Sit spin

Upright spin

Pair camel spin

Pair spin with lady in layback and man in sit spin

Layback spin with catch-foot

Biellmann spin

Death drop
Main article: Figure skating lifts
A one arm overhead lift in pair skating

Lifts are a required element in pair skating and ice dance.

Pair lifts[edit]
Pair lifts are generally overhead. According to the current ISU rules for senior-level competition, the
man must rotate more than once, but fewer than three-and-a-half times. In competitive pair skating,
lifts must travel across the ice to be included in the technical elements score (TES); stationary lifts
are included in choreography. Pair lifts are grouped by the holds involved.
Legal holds:

 Armpit holds are not generally used in elite senior competition.

 Waist holds
 Hand-to-hip holds
 Hand-to-hand lifts are divided into two types:
o Press lifts
o Lasso lifts, in order of increasing difficulty:[17]
 Toe or step in lasso
 Axel or backward lasso
 Reverse lasso
The judges look at speed, ice coverage, the quality of the lady's position, position changes, and the
man's stability and cleanness of turns throughout. Skaters may also raise their score by having a
difficult entry such as in spiral or spread eagle position, a difficult exit, or other features such as
stopping the rotation, turning a carry lift into rotational one, or reversing rotation (i.e. both clockwise
and counter-clockwise directions). This gives the lifts a level. They can be from a base level to a
level 4. The higher the level, the more points the skaters can receive.
Twist lifts are a form of pair lifts, where the lifted partner is thrown into the air, twists, and is caught
by the lifted partner. The lady is caught by her waist in the air and lands on the backward outside
edge. Some pairs include a split before rotating. This is credited as a difficult feature if each leg is
separated by at least a 45° angle from the body axis and the legs are straight or almost straight.
Scores are also affected by the height of the twist, turns, steps or other moves before the element,
the lady holding her arms over her head, delayed rotation, etc. This element is also a leveled
Dance lifts[edit]
Ice dancers are not allowed to lift their partners above their shoulders. Dance lifts are separated
into short lifts and long lifts. There are many positions each partner can take to raise the difficulty of
a lift. Each position must be held for at least three seconds to count and is permitted only once in a
Short lifts may last up to six seconds in competition on the senior level.

 Stationary lift – A lift performed "on the spot". The lifting partner does not move across the ice,
but is allowed to rotate.
 Straight line lift – The lifting partner moves in a straight line across the ice. This lift may be
performed on one foot or two.
 Curve lift – The lifting partner moves along a curve across the ice. This lift may be performed on
one foot or two.
 Rotational lift – The lifting partner rotates in one direction while traveling across the ice.
Long lifts may last up to ten seconds in competition on the senior level.

 Reverse rotational lift – The lifting partner rotates in one direction, then switches and rotates in
the other direction, while traveling across the ice.
 Serpentine lift – The lifting partner moves in a serpentine pattern across the ice.
 Combination lift – A lift combining two of the four short lifts. Each part of the lift must be fully
In both pairs and dance, lifts that go on longer than allowed receive deductions.
Skating skills, turns, steps, moves in the field, and other moves [edit]
Along with other forms of skating, figure skating is one of the only human powered activities where
travelling backwards is integral to the discipline. The ability to skate well backwards and forwards are
considered to be equally important, as is the ability to transition well between the two.[23][24]
Step sequences are a required element in all four Olympic disciplines. The pattern can be straight
line, circular, or serpentine. The step sequence consists of a combination of turns, steps, hops and
edge changes. Additionally, steps and turns can be used as transitions between elements. The
various turns, which skaters can incorporate into step sequences, include:

Three turns, so called because the blade turns into the curve of the edge or lobe to leave a tracing
resembling the numeral "3".

Bracket turns, in which the blade is turned counter to the curve of the lobe, making a tracing resembling
a bracket ("}").

Mohawks, the two-foot equivalents of three turns and brackets.

Rockers, one-foot turns that involve a change of lobe as well as of direction.

Counters, one-foot turns that involve a change of lobe as well as of direction.

Twizzles, traveling multi-rotation turns on one foot

Choctaws are the two-foot equivalents of rockers and counters. Other movements that may be
incorporated into step sequences or used as connecting elements include lunges and spread
eagles. An Ina Bauer is similar to a spread eagle performed with one knee bent and typically an
arched back. Hydroblading refers to a deep edge performed with the body as low as possible to the
ice in a near-horizontal position.
Moves in the field emphasize basic skating skill and edge control. In the context of a competitive
program, they include spirals, spread eagles, Ina Bauers, hydroblading, and similar extended edge
A spiral is an element in which the skater moves across the ice on a specific edge with the free leg
held at hip level or above. Spirals are distinguished by the edge of the blade used (inside or outside),
the direction of motion (forward or backward), and the skater's position. A spiral sequence is one or
more spiral positions and edges done in sequence. Judges look at the depth, stability, and control of
the skating edge, speed and ice coverage, extension, and other factors. Some skaters are able to
change edges during a spiral, i.e. from inside to outside edge. Spirals performed on a "flat" are
generally not considered as true spirals. Spiral sequences were required in ladies' and pair skating
prior to the 2012–13 season,[25] but from the 2012–13 season onward, they were replaced by the
choreographic sequence. The choreographic sequence consists of moves in the field, unlisted
jumps, spinning movements, etc. and is required for the men's, ladies' and pair free program.[26][27][28]
A death spiral is a required element of pair skating. There are four varieties distinguished by the
lady's edge and direction of motion. The man performs a pivot, one toe anchored in the ice, while
holding the hand of his partner, who circles him on a deep edge with her body almost parallel to the
ice. As of 2011, the woman's head must at some time reach her skating knee. The man must also be
in a full pivot position and the death spiral must be held for a minimum amount of rotation, depending
on the level.

A basic outside edge spiral position with the free leg held unsupported behind the body.

A pair outside edge spiral in a catch-foot position.

Back inside death spiral.

Parallel mirror spread eagles with the male on an inside edge and the female on an outside edge.

Ina Bauer

Ice dancers in lunge position


Male ice dancer in Besti squat while lifting partner
Compulsory figures[edit]
Compulsory figures involves using the blades of the figure skates to draw circles, figure eights, and
similar shapes on the surface of the ice. Skaters are judged on the accuracy and clarity of the figures
and the cleanness and exact placement of the various turns on the circles. Figures were formerly
included as a component of singles competitions but were eliminated from international events in
1990.[29] The United States was the last country to retain a separate test and competitive structure for
compulsory figures, but the last national-level figures championship was held in 1999. "Moves in the
field" (known in the United Kingdom as field moves) replaced compulsory figures as a discipline to
teach the same turns and edge skills.
The World Figure Sport Society, based in Lake Placid, NY, hosts an annual World Figure
Championship, which was first held in 2015.[30] This event acts to preserve the historic origins of
figure skating, offering a perfect black ice surface on which the compulsory figures competition is

Competition format and scoring[edit]

Pair skaters performing crossovers

Takahiko Kozuka waits for his marks with coach Nobuo Sato in the "Kiss and cry" area
Main articles: Figure skating season and Figure skating competition
The ISU is the governing body for international competitions in figure skating, including the World
Championships and the figure skating events at the Winter Olympic Games. Medals are awarded for
overall results; the standard medals are gold for first place, silver for second, and bronze for third
place. U.S. Figure Skating also awards pewter medals for fourth-place finishers in national events.
Additionally, at the World, European, Four Continents, and World Junior Championships, the ISU
awards small medals for segment results (short and free program). A medal is generally attributed to
only one country, even if a partnership is composed of skaters with different nationalities. A notable
exception was the pair skating partnership between Ludowika Eilersand Walter Jakobsson; their
1910–11 medals were attributed to both Germany and Finland.[31] Beyond the early 20th century, no
skaters have been allowed to represent two countries in the same competition.
In singles and pairs figure skating competition, competitors perform two programs: the short
program, in which they complete a set of required elements consisting of jumps, spins and steps;
and the free skate, also known as the long program, in which they have a slightly wider choice of
elements. Under both the 6.0 system and the ISU Judging System, the judges consider the
"complete package" when evaluating performances, i.e. the best jumper is not always placed first if
the judges consider the difference in jumping execution to be outweighed by another skater's speed,
spins, presentation, etc.[32][33]
Ice dance competitions formerly consisted of three phases: one or more compulsory dances;
an original dance to a ballroomrhythm that was designated annually; and a free dance to music of
the skaters' own choice. Beginning in the 2010–11 season, the compulsory and original dances were
merged into the short dance, which itself was renamed the rhythm dance in June 2018, prior to
the 2018–19 season.
6.0 System[edit]
Main article: 6.0 system
Skating was formerly judged for "technical merit" (in the free skate), "required elements" (in the short
program), and "presentation" (in both programs).[33] The marks for each program ran from 0.0 to 6.0,
the latter being the highest. These marks were used to determine a preference ranking, or "ordinal",
separately for each judge; the judges' preferences were then combined to determine placements for
each skater in each program. The placements for the two programs were then combined, with the
free skate placement weighted more heavily than the short program. The highest placing individual
(based on the sum of the weighted placements) was declared the winner.[34]
ISU Judging System[edit]
Main article: ISU Judging System
In 2004, in response to the judging controversy during the 2002 Winter Olympics, the ISU adopted
the International Judging System (IJS), which became mandatory at all international competitions in
2006, including the 2006 Winter Olympics. The new system is sometimes informally referred to as
the Code of Points, however, the ISU has never used the term to describe their system in any of
their official communications.
Under the IJS, points are awarded individually for each skating element, and the sum of these points
is the total element score (TES). Competitive programs are constrained to include a set number of
elements. Each element is judged first by a technical specialist who identifies the specific element
and determines its base value. This is done using instant replay video to verify features that
distinguish different elements; e.g. the exact foot position at take-off and landing of a jump. A panel
of twelve judges then each award a mark for the quality and execution of the element. This mark,
called the grade of execution (GOE), is an integer with a minimum value of –5 and a maximum value
of +5.[17] The GOE mark is then translated into another value by using the table of values in ISU rule
322. The GOE value from the twelve judges is then processed with a computerized random
selection of nine judges, the highest and lowest values are then discarded, and finally the average of
the remaining seven is calculated. This average value is then added to (or subtracted from) the base
value to determine the total value for the element.[35]
Note: The IJS previously used a GOE scale of –3 to +3[36] but this was changed for the 2018–19
season and is in the early stages of being tested in competitions.
The program components score (PCS) awards points to holistic aspects of a program or other
nuances that are not rewarded in the total element score. The components are:[37]

1. Skating skills (SS) reward use of edges and turns, flow over the ice surface, speed and
acceleration, ice coverage, clean and controlled curves, multi-directional skating, and
mastery of one-foot skating (no overuse of skating on two feet).
2. Transitions (TR)
3. Performance (PE)
4. Composition (CO)
5. Interpretation (IN)
A detailed description of each component is given in ISU rule 322.2. Judges award each component
a raw mark from 0 to 10 in increments of 0.25, with a mark of 5 being defined as "average". For each
separate component, the raw marks are then selected, trimmed, and averaged in a manner akin to
determining a grade of execution. The trimmed mean scores are then translated into a factored mark
by multiplying by a factor that depends on the discipline, competition segment, and level. Then the
five (or four) factored marks are added to give the final PCS score.
The total element score and the program components score are added to give the total score for a
competition segment (TSS). A skater's final placement is determined by the total of their scores in all
segments of a competition. No ordinal rankings are used to determine the final results.
Other judging and competition[edit]
There are also skating competitions organized for professional skaters by independent promoters.
These competitions use judging rules set by whoever organizes the competition. There is no
"professional league". Well-known professional competitions in the past have included the World
Professional Championships (held in Landover, Maryland), the Challenge Of Champions, the
Canadian Professional Championships and the World Professional Championships (held in Jaca,
The Ice Skating Institute (ISI), an international ice rink trade organization, runs its own competitive
and test program aimed at recreational skaters. Originally headquartered in Minnesota, the
organization now operates out of Dallas, Texas. ISI competitions are open to any member that have
registered their tests. There are very few "qualifying" competitions, although some districts hold Gold
Competitions for that season's first-place winners. ISI competitions are especially popular in Asian
countries that do not have established ISU member federations. The Gay Games have also included
skating competitions for same-gender pairs and dance couples under ISI sponsorship. Other figure
skating competitions for adults also attract participants from diverse cultures.

World standings and season's bests[edit]

World standings[edit]
Main article: ISU World Standings and Season's World Ranking
The world standing (WS) of a skater/couple is calculated based on the results over the current and
preceding two seasons. Competitors receive points based on their final placement at an event and
the event's weight. The following events receive points:[38]
 ISU Championships (World, European, Four Continents, and World Junior Championships) and
Olympic Winter Games: The best result by points per season, the best two results by points over
the three seasons.
 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating and Final (senior and junior): The two best results by points
per season, the best four results by points over the three seasons.
 International senior calendar competitions: The two best results by points per season, the best
four results by points over the three seasons.
Following the current season's World Championships, the results from the earliest season are
deleted. A new partnership starts with zero points; there is no transfer of WS points if a pair or ice
dance couple split up and form a new partnership.
These standings do not necessarily reflect the capabilities of the skater(s). Due to limits on entries to
events (no more than three from each country), and varying numbers of high-level skaters in each
country, skaters from some countries may find it more difficult to qualify to compete at major events.
Thus, a skater with a lower SB but from a country with few high-level skaters may qualify to a major
event while a skater with a much higher SB but from a country with more than three high-level
skaters may not be sent. As a result, it is possible for a skater who regularly scores higher to end up
with a much lower world standing.
The season's world ranking of a skater/couple is calculated similarly to the overall world standing but
is based on the results of the ongoing season only.[38]
Season's bests[edit]
The season's best (SB) of a skater/couple is the highest score achieved within a particular season.
There is an SB for the combined total score and the individual segment scores (short
program/rhythm dance, free skating/free dance). Only scores achieved at selected international
competitions are considered; scores from national competitions and some international events are
disregarded. The best combined total for each skater or couple appears on a list of season's
bests,[39] and the list may be used to help determine participants in the following season's Grand Prix
Skaters and couples also have personal best (PB) scores, i.e. the highest scores achieved over
their entire career, in terms of combined total and segment scores. However, PB scores are not
completely comparable if achieved in different seasons because the ISU regulations and technical
rules are modified prior to each new season.[40] There may be different requirements specified to
achieve a certain level; the required elements may change and new elements may be allowed (for
example, two quads in the short program were permitted starting in the 2010–11 season); and the
point values may change (for example, the values of quads were increased after the 2010 Olympics,
and a second step sequence is no longer assigned a level in the men's competition). As a result of
these variations in the technical requirements, the ISU places more weight on the season's bests,
which are fully comparable within any one season.

Music and clothing[edit]

An example of ice dance costumes (Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir for Canada, 2012 World Championships)

For competitive programs, figure skaters were once restricted to instrumental music; vocals were
allowed only if they contained no lyrics or words.[41] Beginning in the 1997–98 season,
the ISU decided to allow lyrics or words in ice dance music. Although the rules were not relaxed for
singles and pairs, judges did not always penalize violations. At the 2011 World
Championships, Florent Amodio's long program music included words but an insufficient number of
judges voted for a deduction.[42] In June 2012, the ISU voted to allow skaters from all disciplines to
choose music with words in their competitive programs beginning in the 2014–15 season.[43][44]
Skaters may use professional music editors so that their music meets requirements.[45] Ice dancers
are required to skate to music that has a definite beat or rhythm. Singles and pair skaters more often
skate to the melody and phrasing of their music. For long programs, figure skaters generally search
for music with different moods and tempos.[46] Music selections for exhibitions are less constrained
than for competitive programs.
Skaters are generally free to select their own attire, with a few restrictions. In competition, females
may wear a dress, typically with matching attached briefs, and since 2004, they may also choose
trousers.[47] They may wear opaque flesh-colored leggings or tights under dresses and skirts, which
may extend to cover their skates. Men must wear trousers – they are not allowed to wear tights,
although, officials do not always impose a deduction for violations.[48] Matching costumes are not
required in pair skating and ice dance.[49]
Competition costumes vary widely, from simple designs to heavily beaded or trimmed costumes.
Skaters risk a deduction if a piece of their costume falls onto the ice surface. An official may stop a
program if he or she deems there to be a hazard. Skaters and family members may design their own
costumes, sometimes with assistance from their coach or choreographer, or turn to professional
designers.[49][50][51][52] Costumes may cost thousands of dollars if designed by a top-level
According to current ISU regulations, costumes in competition "must be modest, dignified and
appropriate for athletic competition – not garish or theatrical in design. Clothing may, however,
reflect the character of the music chosen."[6] Although the use of flesh-colored fabric means the
costumes are often less revealing than they may appear, there have been repeated attempts to ban
clothing that gives the impression of "excessive nudity" or that is otherwise inappropriate for athletic
competition.[53] In general, accessories or props are not permitted in competition.[6] The ISU allowed
an exception for the original dance in the 2007–08 season but not since.

Age eligibility[edit]
To compete internationally on the senior level, skaters must be at least 15 before July 1 of the
preceding year. To be eligible for junior-level events, a skater must be at least 13 but under 19
before that date (or 21 for male pair skaters and ice dancers).[54][55] A skater must meet the age
requirement before it becomes July 1 in their place of birth. For example, Adelina Sotnikova was
born a few hours into July 1, 1996 in Moscow and consequently, was not eligible to compete at
Junior Worlds until 2011 and senior Worlds until 2013.[56] The ISU's rules apply to international
events. Many countries have no age requirements for domestic non-ISU competitions, thus, some
skaters compete at the senior level nationally while not eligible for international competition.
The ISU has modified its age rules several times. Prior to the 1990s, 12 was the minimum age for
senior international competitions.[57] New rules were introduced in 1996, requiring skaters to be at
least 15 before July 1 of the preceding year in order to compete at the Olympics, Worlds,
Europeans, or Four Continents.[54] The minimum age for all other senior internationals was 14 until
July 2014, when it was raised to 15.
During the 2005–06 season, Mao Asada of Japan was age-eligible to compete at the Grand Prix
Final, where she claimed the title, but she was not permitted to compete at the Olympics. For
the 2008 World Championships, the United States was obliged to send skaters who had placed 5th
and 7th at nationals because higher-placed skaters were too young, including a skater who missed
the cutoff by 20 days.[54][58] The ISU has strictly enforced the rules in recent years.[54] However,
American pair skater Natasha Kuchiki was allowed to compete at the 1990 World
Championships when she was two years too young and American single skater Tara Lipinski, who
was 13 at the time the 1996 rules were introduced, was grandfathered into remaining eligible for
future events, along with other skaters who had already competed at the World Championships. A
loophole also existed for a few years for underage skaters who had medaled at Junior Worlds.[59]
As in gymnastics, skating has experienced controversy surrounding possible age falsification. On
February 14, 2011, questions emerged surrounding nine Chinese skaters. The Associated
Press found that birthdates listed on the Chinese Skating Association's website suggested five
female skaters, Sui Wenjing, Zhang Dan, Yu Xiaoyu, Geng Bingwa, and Xu Binshu, were younger
than their ISU ages, and four male skaters, Han Cong, Zhang Hao, Jin Yang, and Gao Yu, were
older.[54] The dates disappeared from the website by February 15.[60] On February 17, the ISU said
there were no discrepancies for Zhang Dan, Zhang Hao, and Xu Binshu between the birthdates
listed on their passports, ISU registration forms and the Chinese Olympic Committee's
website.[60] Athletes in China sometimes face pressure to falsify their age.[61]
Other eligibility rules[edit]
Skaters may represent a country of which they are not yet a citizen in most competitions, except the
Olympics which require citizenship.
At most international events, each country may send one to a maximum of three entries per
discipline. Consequently, even if a skater has a high season's best, he or she may not be sent to
major events if their country has many good skaters in their discipline. Some skaters have tried to
circumvent this by switching to another country. In response, the ISU introduced rules barring
skaters from international events for a certain period of time. In the 2010 regulations, it was 24
months or more from the date of the last ISU Championship.[62] In the 2012 regulations, the minimum
was 18 months for singles and 12 months for pairs/ice dancers from the date of their last ISU
Championships (Worlds, Europeans, Four Continents, Junior Worlds) and 12 months if they
competed in some other international competition.[63]Competitors may sit out for much longer
because they also have to obtain a release from their previous federation. The ISU has set no limit
to how long a country may hold skaters.[63]
Skaters may lose their ISU eligibility if they perform in an unsanctioned show or competition.
Beginning in the 2010–11 season, minimum scores were introduced for the World, European, or
Four Continents Championships. In the 2011–12 season, different minimum scores were introduced
for the Grand Prix series.

Competitors' expenses, income, and funding[edit]

Figure skating is an expensive sport.[64][65][66][67] This is particularly due to the costs of ice time and
coaching.[68] In the late 1980s, the expenses of a top-ten ladies' competitor at the U.S.
Championships reached nearly US$50,000 a year.[69] In October 2004, a U.S. Figure Skating article
estimated the annual expense at US$9,000–$10,000 for pre-juvenile, US$18,000 for juvenile,
US$35,000–$40,000 for novice, and said junior and senior levels were somewhat more
expensive.[64] In the 2010s, American senior national medalists had expenses in the mid-five-figure
range.[65][70] Swiss skater Stéphane Lambiel said his costs were around CHF 100,000 per
season.[71] World champion Patrick Chan's expenses were Can$150,000.[72] In 2015, CBC
Sports estimated that a Canadian pair team had expenses of about Can$100,000 per year.[73]
Prize money is relatively low compared to other sports.[74] A men's or ladies' singles skater who won
the 2011 World Championships earned US$45,000,[75] about 1.8% to 2.5% of the US$1,800,000–
$2,400,000 for winners of the tennis US Open and Australian Open.[76][77] A couple who won the pairs
or ice dance title split US$67,500.[75] A winner of the senior Grand Prix Final in December 2011
earned US$25,000.[78]
Some national associations provide funding to some skaters if they meet certain criteria.[79] Many
skaters take part-time jobs and some have tried crowdfunding.[80][81]In Germany, many elite skaters
join the army to fund their skating.[82] In Italy, some skaters join police agencies' sport groups, such
as the Polizia Penitenziaria's Fiamme Azzurre (Carolina Kostner, Anna Cappellini, Luca
Lanotte)[83][84] or Polizia di Stato's Fiamme Oro (Federica Faiella, Paolo Bacchini).[85] Some
competitive skaters depend on income from shows.[86][87] Shows must be sanctioned by their
association, i.e. skaters may lose their competitive eligibility if they take part without permission. In
some cases, skaters may feel pressure to compete through injury in order to be allowed to perform
in a show.[86]

Injuries and health issues[edit]

Competitive skaters generally do not wear helmets or other protective gear. There is a risk of head
injuries, particularly in pair skating as a result of falls from lifts.[88][89]Although pair skaters are most
susceptible, serious head injuries can occur in all disciplines, including ice dance.[90][91][92] Partners
have accidentally slashed each other with their skate blades.[93][94] This may occur when partners drift
too close during side-by-side camel spins. Several female pair skaters have suffered head/face
injuries during this element, including Elena Berezhnaya,[95] Jessica Dubé,[96] Mandy Wötzel,[97] Galina
Maniachenko (Efremenko),[98] and Elena Riabchuk.[99]
Commenting on falls and concussions, Madison Hubbell said that "Most of the time, the worst falls
are on things we kind of take for granted."[90] Shin splints,[100] knee injuries, and back problems are not
uncommon.[3][101][102] Hip damage may occur as a result of practising jumps and throws.[3][103] In rare
cases, intensive training of spins may result in subtle concussions (Lucinda Ruh).[104][105]
Injuries have also been sustained by skaters from different teams when there are many skaters
practising on the ice.[106] Midori Ito collided with Laetitia Hubert at the 1991 World Championships,
while Oksana Baiul and Tanja Szewczenko collided at the 1994 Olympics, but all went on to
compete. On practice sessions with multiple skaters on the ice, the skater whose music is playing
conventionally has right of way. In addition, pairs and ice dancers skating as a unit have right of way
over those skating separately as changing course is more difficult for a couple.
In some countries, medical personnel may be slow to respond to accidents. At the 2000 World
Championships in Nice, France, a pair skater who had been injured in a lift accident lay on the ice
for several minutes and had to get up and leave the ice on his own before being offered medical
Eating disorders are reportedly common in figure skating.[108][109][110]
Figure skaters occasionally have positive doping results but it is not common.[111] Commenting on
Soviet skaters, three-time Olympic champion Irina Rodnina stated in 1991, "Boys in pairs and
singles used drugs, but this was only in August or September. This was done just in training, and
everyone was tested (in the Soviet Union) before competitions."[112]

Main article: History of figure skating

Jackson Haines, considered to be the father of modern figure skating.

Although people have been ice skating for centuries, figure skating in its current form originated in
the mid-19th century. A Treatise on Skating (1772) by the accomplished skater, Welshman Lt
'Captain' Robert Jones (artilleryman) (c1740-c1788) of Royal Arsenal, is the first known book on
figure skating. He designed skates that could be attached to the shoes (by screws through the heels)
rather than by straps, and these were soon available from Riccard's Manufactory in London.[113]
Competitions were then held in the "English style" of skating, which was stiff and formal and bore
very little resemblance to modern figure skating. Before the changes in figure skating techniques,
there were a limited number of moves that could be performed. This was true in the mid-1800s but
was later changed by American skater Jackson Haines, who was considered to be the "father of
modern figure skating". He introduced a new style of skating in the mid-1860s, incorporating free and
expressive techniques, which became known as the "international style." Although popular in
Europe, Haines' international style of skating was not widely adopted in the United States until long
after his death.
Early 1900s[edit]

Special figures by Nikolai Panin at the 1908 Olympics

The ISU was founded in 1892. The first European Championships were held in 1891, and the
first World Championships were held in 1896 and won by Gilbert Fuchs. Only men competed in
these events. In 1902, a woman, Madge Syers, entered the World competition for the first time,
finishing second. The ISU quickly banned women from competing against men, but established a
separate competition for "ladies" in 1906. Pair skating was introduced at the 1908 World
Championships, where the title was won by Anna Hübler and Heinrich Burger. Figure skating was
the first winter sport introduced to the Olympics; its Olympic debut came at the 1908 Summer
On March 20, 1914 an international figure skating championship was held in New Haven,
Connecticut. This was the ancestor of both the United States and Canadian National
Championships. However, international competitions in figure skating were interrupted by World War
In the 1920s and 1930s, figure skating was dominated by Sonja Henie, who turned competitive
success into a lucrative professional career as a movie star and touring skater. Henie also set the
fashion for female skaters to wear short skirts and white boots.[116] The top male skaters of this period
included Gillis Grafström and Karl Schäfer.
After World War II[edit]
Skating competitions were again interrupted for several years by World War II. After the war, with
many European rinks in ruins, skaters from the United States and Canada began to dominate
international competitions and to introduce technical innovations to the sport. Dick Button, 1948 and
1952 Olympic Champion, was the first skater to perform the double axel and triple loop jumps, as
well as the flying camel spin.
The World Figure Skating Championships did not include ice dance until 1952.[115] In its early years,
ice dance was dominated by British skaters, and until 1960 the world title was won every year by a
British couple, beginning with Jean Westwood and Lawrence Demmy.[117]
Russian pair skaters Ludmila Belousova and Oleg Protopopov in 1968

On February 15, 1961, the entire U.S. figure skating team and their coaches were killed in the crash
of Sabena Flight 548 in Brussels, Belgium en route to the World Championships in Prague. This
tragedy sent the U.S. skating program into a period of rebuilding.
Meanwhile, the Soviet Union rose to become a dominant force in the sport, especially in the
disciplines of pair skating and ice dance. At every Winter Olympics from 1964 until 2006, a Soviet or
Russian pair won gold in pair skating, in what is often considered to be one of the longest winning
streaks in modern sports history.[118][119][120] The 1967 World Championships was the last event held on
an outdoor rink.[121]
Effect of television and the present day[edit]
Compulsory figures formerly accounted for up to 60% of the score in singles figure skating,[29] which
meant that skaters who could build up a big lead in figures could win competitions even if they were
mediocre free skaters. As television coverage of skating events became more important, so did free
skating as this was televised and seen by general public and the compulsory figure competition was
not. The television audience would complain when great free programs did not always equate to
gold medal victories.[122]Beginning in 1968, the ISU began to progressively reduce the weight of
figures and introduced the short program in 1973.[29] A critical issue was said to have been the
continued failure of the Janet Lynn at the world stage in spite of her fantastic free skate programs.
For example, she did not get onto the podium at the 1971 World Championships after winning the
free skate competition decisively resulting in an uproar and loud booing among the audience during
the medal ceremony.[122]
With these changes, the emphasis in competitive figure skating shifted to increasing athleticism.
Landing triple jumps during the short program and the free skate became more important. By the
1980s, some skaters began practising quadruple jumps. Jozef Sabovcik of Czechoslovakia landed a
quad toe loop at the 1986 European Championships which was recognized at the event but then
ruled invalid three weeks later due to a touchdown with his free foot.[123] At the 1988 World
Championships, Kurt Browning of Canada landed the first quad toe loop which has remained
ratified.[124] Although it was expected that quads would soon become an important part of men's
skating, it was a number of years before this happened.[123] Japan's Midori Ito landed the first triple
axel by a woman in 1988 pushing the athletic and technical level for women's programs. Worth only
20% by 1989, figures were eliminated entirely from international competition in 1990.[29]
Television showing skaters in the kiss and cry area after competing contributed to the sport's
popularity.[125] Television also played a role in removing the restrictive amateur status rules that once
governed the sport. In May 1990, the ISU voted to allow skaters who were intending to skate
professionally to return to ISU competition if they obtained their national association's
permission.[126] To retain skaters who might otherwise have given up their eligibility to participate in
lucrative professional events, in 1995 the ISU introduced prize money at its major competitions,
funded by revenues from selling the TV rights to those events.
In 1984, more than 24 million people in Great Britain watched ice dance pair Jayne
Torvill and Christopher Dean earn unanimous 6.0s for presentation, the only perfect score in
Olympic skating history, which was ranked the 8th greatest sporting moment in a UK poll.[127][128] In the
1993 National Sports Study II, considered by the Associated Press as the largest study of spectator
sport popularity in America, ladies' figure skating was the second most popular spectator sport in
America, just behind NFL football out of over 100 sports surveyed.[129] The 1993 study found that
three figure skaters – Dorothy Hamill, Peggy Fleming, and Scott Hamilton[130] – were among the eight
most popular athletes in the United States, out of over 800 athletes surveyed.[131] Dorothy Hamill was
statistically tied with Mary Lou Retton as the most popular athlete in America. The Tonya
Harding scandal in 1994 increased interest in figure skating.[132] The first night of the ladies' figure
skating competition in the 1994 Winter Olympics achieved higher TV Nielsen ratings than that year's
Super Bowl and was the most watched sports television program of all time, to that date.[133]
Spectators sometimes throw a variety of items, most commonly stuffed toys and flowers, onto the ice
in support of their favorite skaters but officials discourage flowers which are not fully wrapped due to
the possibility of debris disrupting or endangering the following skaters.[134][135]
Countries who have produced many successful skaters in recent decades include Russia and the
former Soviet Union, the United States, Canada, Japan, China, France, Germany, and Italy. While
the sport has grown in East Asia, training opportunities in South Asia are limited due to a scarcity of
ice rinks. India had only four major indoor ice rinks as of 2011, but there were plans for ten more to
be built, mostly in malls, over the following five years.[136]
Four skating has mostly disappeared while synchronized skating, singles/pair skating and ice dance
have grown. On April 6, 2011, the IOC officially confirmed the approval of a team event, which was
introduced at the 2014 Winter Olympics.[14] The elimination of the compulsory dance provided space
for the team event.[137] Each team is composed of a men's and ladies' singles skater, a pair, and an
ice dance duo. Ten teams may compete, with five eliminated after the short program.[138] In
December 2011, the ISU released details of the qualifying system and the competition.[139]

In popular culture[edit]

Torvill and Dean on Dancing on Ice

In 1937, Sonja Henie appeared in the film Thin Ice. Figure skating has been the focus of several
later Hollywood films, including The Cutting Edge (and its sequels, The Cutting Edge: Going for the
Gold, The Cutting Edge: Chasing the Dream and The Cutting Edge: Fire and Ice), Ice Princess, Ice
Castles, Ice Angel, Go Figure, Blades of Glory, and I, Tonya. Olympic champion Brian Boitano was
parodied in South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut in the song "What Would Brian Boitano Do?".
In 2006, Dancing on Ice began broadcasting in the UK. The show involves celebrities and their
professional partners figure skating in front of a panel of judges. The judges have included British
Olympic gold medalists Torvill and Dean and double Olympic champion Katarina Witt. The show has
since been exported to other countries around the world.
U.S. national champion Johnny Weir was the focus of the reality show Be Good Johnny Weir which
aired on the Sundance Channel. Figure skating plays a prominent role in Yuri on Ice, an anime that
aired in autumn 2016 which focuses on the career of fictional figure skater Katsuki Yuri.

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General references[edit]

 Evaluation of Errors in Figures, 6th edition. USFSA, 1964.

 Figure Skating: Championship Techniques. John Misha Petkevich, 1989. ISBN 0-452-26209-7.
 Single Figure Skating. Josef Dĕdič, 1974.
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 Rossano, George. "Mechanics of Lifts". Ice Skating International. Archived from the original on
March 13, 2016.
 ISU Regulations
 ISU official skater biographies
 Washington Post: All You Need to Know About Figure Skating
 ISU Judging System Summary
 "ISU Judging Systems". International Skating Union. Archived from the original on March 29,
 How the ISU Judging System Works
 History of ice skates
 Figure skating firsts at the Wayback Machine (archived October 27, 2009)
 U.S. Figure Skating – Glossary of Terms
 History on Ice!, a video about the history of figure skating produced by the Minnesota Historical
Dragon boat
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigationJump to search
This article is about Dragon boats and racing. For the festivals and holidays associated with dragon
boats, see Duanwu Festival.

Dragon Boat Racing

Dragon boat moving across the Danube river in Budapest, Hungary

Highest governing body International Dragon Boat Federation

First developed Ancient China


Contact No

Team members 22 (regulation)

Type Canoe sport

Equipment Dragon boat, paddles, drum


Country or region Worldwide

Olympic No

World Games 2005 (invitational), 2009(invitational)

Dragon boat

Traditional Chinese 龍舟

Simplified Chinese 龙舟


Alternative Chinese name

Traditional Chinese 龍船

Simplified Chinese 龙船


A dragon boat is a human-powered watercraft originating from the Pearl River Delta region
of China's southern Guangdong Province. These were made of teak, but in other parts of China,
different kinds of wood are used. It is one of a family of traditional paddled long boats found
throughout Asia, Africa, the Pacific islands, and Puerto Rico. The sport of dragon boat racing has its
roots in an ancient folk ritual of contending villagers, which dates back 2000 years throughout
southern China, and even further to the original games of Olympia in ancient Greece. Both dragon
boat racing and the ancient Olympiad included aspects of religious observances and community
celebrations, along with competition.
Dragon boat racing is a canoe-sport, and began as a modern international sport in Hong Kong in
1976. These boats are typically made of carbon fiber, fiberglass, and other lightweight materials.
For competitionevents, dragon boats are generally rigged with decorative Chinese dragon heads
and tails. At other times (such as during training), decorative regalia is usually removed, although the
drum often remains aboard for drummers to practice. For races, there are 18-20 people in a
standard boat, and 8-10 in a small boat, not including the steersperson (helm) and the drummer.
In December 2007, the central government of the People's Republic of China added Duanwu, along
with Qingming and Mid-Autumn festivals, to the schedule of national holidays.


 1History
 2Crew
o 2.1Drummer
o 2.2Paddlers
o 2.3Steerer
 3Racing
 4Organizations, recognition and popular culture
 5See also
 6References

This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this
section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be
challenged and removed.
Find sources: "Dragon boat" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (October
2012) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)

World's longest dragon boat (Kambojika Putta Khemara Tarei) on display next to Royal Palace in Phnom Penh,

Similar to the use of outrigger canoes or Polynesian va'a, dragon boat racing has a rich fabric of
ancient ceremonial, ritualistic and religious traditions, and thus, the modern competitive aspect is but
one small part of this complex dragon boat culture. The use of dragon boats for racing and dragons
are believed by scholars, sinologists, and anthropologists to have originated in southern central
China more than 2500 years ago, in Dongting Lake and along the banks of the Chang Jiang (now
called the Yangtze) during the same era when the games of ancient Greece were being established
at Olympia.[1] Dragon boat racing has been practiced continuously since this period as the basis for
annual water rituals and festival celebrations, and for the traditional veneration of the Chinese
dragon water deity. The celebration was an important part of the ancient Chinese agricultural
society, celebrating the summer rice planting. Dragon boat racing was historically situated in the
Chinese subcontinent's southern-central "rice bowl"; where there were rice paddies, so there were
dragon boats, too.
Of the twelve animals which make up the traditional Chinese zodiac, only the Dragon is a mythical
creature. All the rest are non-mythical animals, yet all twelve of the zodiac creatures were well
known to members of ancient Chinese agrarian communities. Dragons were traditionally believed to
be the rulers of water on earth: rivers, lakes, and seas; they were also thought to dominate the
waters of the heavens: clouds, mists, and rains. There are earth dragons, mountain dragons, and
sky or celestial dragons (Tian Long) in Chinese tradition. Mythical dragons and serpents are also
found widely in many cultures around the world.
Tang dynasty painting of a dragon boat race attributed to Li Zhaodao

Traditional dragon boat racing, in China, coincides with the 5th day of the 5th Chinese lunar
month (varying from late May to June on the modern Gregorian Calendar). The summer
solstice occurs around 21 June and is the reason why Chinese refer to their festival as "Duan Wu" or
"Duen Ng". Both the sun and the dragon are considered to be male (the moon and the mythical
phoenix, however, are considered to be female). The sun and the dragon are at their most potent
during this time of the year, so cause for observing this through ritual celebrations such as dragon
boat racing. It is also the time of year when rice seedlings must be transplanted in their paddy fields
to allow for wet rice cultivation. Wu or Ng refers to the sun at its highest position in the sky during the
day, the meridian of 'high noon'. Duan or Duen refers to upright or directly overhead. Thus, Duan Wu
is an ancient reference to the maximum position of the sun in the northern hemisphere, the longest
day of the year or the summer solstice.
Venerating the dragon deity was meant to avert misfortune and calamity and encourage rainfall,
which is needed for the fertility of the crops and thus, for the prosperity of an agrarian way of life.
Celestial dragons were the controllers of rain, monsoons, winds, and clouds. The Emperor was "The
Dragon" or the "Son of Heaven", and Chinese people refer to themselves as "dragons" because of
its spirit of strength and vitality. Unlike dragons in European mythology, which are typically
considered to be evil and demonic, Asian dragons are regarded as wholesome and benevolent, and
thus worthy of veneration, not slaying. If rainfall is insufficient, however, drought and famine can
result. Veneration of dragons in China seems to be associated with annually ensuring life-giving
water and bountiful rice harvests in south-central China.
Another ritual called Awakening of the Dragon involves a Daoist priest dotting the bulging eyes of the
carved dragon head attached to the boat. Doing so symbolizes the dragon ending its slumber and
re-energizing its spirit, or qi (pronounced: chee). In modern dragon boat festivals, a representative
can be invited to step forward to dot the eyes on a dragon boat head with a brush dipped in red
Not understanding the significance of Duanwu, 19th-century European observers of the racing ritual
referred to the spectacle as a "dragon boat festival". This is the term that has become known in the
West. Dragon boat racing, like Duanwu, is observed and celebrated in many areas of east Asia with
a significant population of ethnic Chinese such as Singapore, Malaysia, and the Riau Islands, as well
as having been adopted by the Ryukyu Islands since ancient times. The date on which races were
held is referred to as the "double fifth", since Duanwu is reckoned as the fifth day of the fifth lunar
month, which often falls on the Gregorian calendar month of June and occasionally in May or July.
Duanwu is reckoned annually in accordance with the traditional calendar system of China, which is a
combination of solar and lunar cycles, unlike the solar-based Gregorian calendar system.

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The crew of a standard dragon boat typically consists of 22 team members: 20 paddlers in pairs
facing toward the bow of the boat, 1 drummer or caller at the bow facing toward the paddlers, and 1
steerer standing at the rear of the boat.[2] Dragon boats, however, do vary in length and the crew size
changes accordingly, from small dragon boats with only 10 paddlers up to traditional boats which
have upwards of 50 paddlers, plus drummer(s) and steerer.

The pulsation of the drum beats produced by the drummer may be considered the "heartbeat" of the
dragon boat. The drummer leads the paddlers throughout a race using the rhythmic drum beat to
indicate the frequency and synchronicity of all the paddlers' strokes (that is, the cadence, picking up
or accelerating the pace, slowing the rate, etc.). The drummer may issue commands to the crew
through a combination of hand signals and voice calls, and also generally exhorts the crew to
perform at their peak. A drummer is typically mandatory during racing events, but if he or she is not
present during training, it is typical for the sweep to direct the crew during a race. The drummer's
role is both tactical and ceremonial. In official competitions, such as world championships, drummers
must physically beat the drum, else the team may be issued a penalty. In other events or practices,
the drummer of an experienced team may not hit the drum, as the team can paddle naturally
together, sans a drum beat.
Good drummers should be able to synchronise their drumming with the strokes of the leading pair of
paddlers, rather than the other way around.
Pairs of paddlers sit facing forward in the boat, and use a specific type of paddle which, unlike
equipment used in rowing, is not rigged to the boat in any way. Because the paddlers face the
direction of boat-movement, dragon boaters "paddle," and do not "row."
The paddle now accepted by the International Dragon Boat Federation has a standardised, fixed
blade surface area and distinctive shape derived from the paddle shapes characteristic of the Zhu
Jiang (Pearl River) delta region of Guangdong Province, China, close to where Hong Kong is
located. The IDBF[3] Paddle Specification 202a (PS202a)[4] has straight flared edges and circular
arced shoulders, based geometrically on an equilateral triangle positioned between the blade face
and the neck of the shaft.
The first pair of paddlers, called "pacers," "strokes" or "timers," set the pace for the team and are
responsible for synchronising their strokes with one another. It is critical that all paddlers are
synchronised. The direction of the dragon boat while racing is set by the steerer, but for docking and
other maneuvers, individual paddlers may be asked to paddle (while others either stop the boat or
rest) according to the commands given by the drummer or steerer.
There are generally three different strokes used by paddlers: a (normal) forward stroke, a
backstroke, and a draw stroke.
The direction of a dragon boat's movement is controlled by the steerer standing in the back of the
boat. Many terms exist for the person steering the boat, such as steerer, steersperson, sweep, and
The steerer manipulates a long (typically 9-feet) straight oar, called a steering oar. The steering oar
is situated in the upside-down U-shaped oar lock. The oar lock is housed on top of the steering arm,
which sticks out perpendicularly on the back-left of a dragon boat.
The oar is used to both steer the boat as it is moving and adjust the positioning of the boat. To steer,
a steerer will put the blade of the oar into the water and either push the handle away from him/her, or
pull it toward him/her. Doing so will turn the boat right or left, respectively.
A steerer can also use the steering oar to adjust the position of the boat by cranking. When a steerer
cranks the steering oar, the stern of the boat moves either to the left or right, spinning the boat. This
is typically executed to turn the boat around at practice or to ensure a boat is lined up straight and
pointing directly down a racecourse.

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Dragon boats racing in Hong Kong

HKDBA team being awarded the Guinness World Record in Hong Kong

Modern dragon boat racing is organized at the international level by the International Dragon Boat
Federation (IDBF), the world governing body for the sport. The IDBF is a member of the Global
Association of International Sports Federations (Sportaccord) and is a founding federation of the
AIMS Group (Alliance of Independent Recognised Members of Sport) within Sportaccord. AIMS is
an IOC-Recognized Multi Sports Organisation. The International Canoe Federation (ICF) also has a
dragon boat program for those of its Member Canoe Federations with an interest in dragon
boat.[5] Both Sport and Festival racing are very competitive and many paddlers train all year round,
using paddling machines or pools in addition to on-water sessions.[6]
A festival race is typically a sprint event of several hundred meters, with 500 metres the most
common. Races measuring 200, 1000, and 2000 meters are also standard distances in international
competition. Races measuring 2000 meters are normally held on a 500-meter course, requiring
teams to do two loops. Teams start and end at the same end of the course, and complete three 180-
degree turns. Other distances may also be used in local festivals, such as 100 or 250 meters, or
another distance, depending on the size of the body of water.

Organizations, recognition and popular culture[edit]

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The established International Federation for dragon boat sport is the International Dragon Boat
Federation (IDBF). In 2007, the IDBF was recognised as a member of SportAccord (the
former General Association of International Sports Federations, GAISF) which is part of the Olympic
Movement, considering the own historical and cultural backgrounds and identities of dragon boat
IDBF member associations or federations have been established in 89 countries or territories since
1991. The IDBF is not presently an Olympic International Federation of the International Olympic
Committee (IOC), but the IOC is currently considering the IDBF application for Olympic Federation

See also[edit]
 Nouka Baich


Sports of the World Games program


Canoeing and kayaking

1. ^ Worcester, George. The Junks and Sampans of the Yangtze River, 1971.
2. ^ "Dragon boat racing calls to beginners and pros alike". Los Angeles Times. 2019-05-10.
Retrieved 2019-07-22.
3. ^ "IDBF Library". International Dragon Boat Federation. Archived from the original on 2016-03-01.
Retrieved 2016-02-11.
4. ^ "IDBF Racing Paddle Scheme" (PDF). International Dragon Boat Federation. Retrieved 2016-02-
11.[permanent dead link]
5. ^ "Dragon Boat".
6. ^ "Oswego Dragon Boat Festival". 2011-12-30. Archived from the original on
2013-06-27. Retrieved 2013-03-06.
Figure Skating Rules

Photo Credit: hkratky /

Figure Skating is a sport in which single athletes or teams of athletes conduct artistic
performances on ice. Both men and women participate in their own singles events with pair
skating events and ice dancing events open to both genders (usually one male and one female).

Athletes produce a wide variety of moves in order to impress a panel of judges, who score the
athletes based on their grace, flair and control. Moves include jumps and spirals in the air, spins
on the ice and a number of different step sequences.

Figure Skating has been a part of the Winter Olympics since the games first began in 1924, and
also made appearances at 1908 and 1920 Summer Olympics before that.

The United States are the current world leaders in Olympic Figure Skating, holding a total of 49
medals overall. Russia and Austria are the closest rivals with 26 and 20 medals, respectively. The
Soviet Union also picked up 24 medals during their time in the competition.

Object of the Game

The overall objective in Figure Skating is to score the highest marks possible from the judges, although
there are different ways to score points depending on the nature of the event.

For all Figure Skating competitions, athletes are required to perform a number of different moves in
order to obtain the highest possible score from the judges. During a typical performance, athletes will
execute a selection of spins, jumps and steps.

In pair skating competitions, athletes perform actions with one another in order to score high points,
such as throwing a partner in the air and spinning the partner around in various directions.

Ice dancing is somewhat similar to pair skating, although the focus here on is on footwork and
coordination as partners dance together in time with music being played overhead.
Players & Equipment

Both men and women participate in Figure Skating, and there is little equipment involved other than
specially made pairs of skates called “Figure Skates”.

Figure Skates

Figure Skates are specially designed skating shoes with thick steel blades at the base and jagged grooves
at the front known as “toe picks” – which assist athletes with their footwork on the ice, as well as
landing and spinning. The specific style of toe picks can vary.

The main blades are ordinarily around 4 millimetres thick, although they can vary depending on the shoe
size of the athlete. They also curve round to one side in order to assist with turns on the ice.

Athletes will always attempt to skate on the very edges of the figure skate blades.

For ice dancing, athletes usually have slightly shorter blades on the base of their shoes, with slightly
different design to accommodate step-work rather than jumping.


Men and women are required to wear specific costumes in order to perform on the professional stage.
Men are asked to wear trousers, whilst women are required to wear tights, trousers, or unitards, as well
as skirts.


Athletes in Figure Skating are scored according to the ISU Judging System by a panel of judges (usually
nine judges including a technical inspector, and also a referee). This system functions by awarding
athletes different amounts of points for different types of moves, as well as how efficiently and
effectively these moves are executed. A Grade of Execution (GoE) is calculated, and then a Scale of
Value Table is used to turn this grade into an overall mark.

The main aspects scored during a typical Figure Skating performance include skill, footwork,
performance, interpretation, overall execution, choreography and timing. Often, the more complex
manoeuvres will be scored highest provided they are executed correctly. For example, the more
rotations in a jump will lead to a higher mark.


The winner of a Figure Skating event is the individual/team who achieves the highest overall score.

Rules of Figure Skating

Athletes in Figure Skating must keep their performances varied. The Zayak Rule states that no
participant can attempt triple or quadruple jumps on more than two occasions.
Judges may also mark down participants or disqualify them completely if they fail to adhere to rules and
regulations for music and costumes. Certain types of music are not permitted, and costumes cannot
contain “excessive decoration” or be considered as too revealing.

Athletes can also be disqualified for time violations.

All the rules and regulations of dragon boating is governed by International Dragon
Boat Federation (IDBF). However, each country has its own governing body too who
acts under IDBF. For example, the governing body for US is USDBF (United States
Dragon Boat Federation). With slightest difference most of the governing bodies have
some common rules. Let’s know about some common rules and regulations.

Fees and waivers

This is one of the most important in every dragon boat race because this money is
used to protect the people playing this sport. In addition, this money is used for their
insurance purpose too. Every participating person needs to sign a legal paper that they
are playing this sport with their will. Fees generally vary from few hundred dollars to
thousand dollars per event.

The marshalling area is nearby the dock and a marshalling officer is present over there
each time. Only the team members who are going to play the sport and their
corresponding team manager are allowed in the marshalling area. Counting of all the
crew members is done at this place.
Boats are selected by the board members previously and the crew members need to
use the boat provided to them. Before leaving the dock, any defects in the boat should
be notified to the officials. Position of drums and steering should be checked properly.
Boats are weighed in advance to make sure that it is in accordance with the prescribed

While paddling out to the race course, try to maintain sufficient distance from the race
course. In case another race is going on at the same time, wait for the other race to
complete. It is not a good sportsman spirit to comment on other boat members while
passing by them. In the eye of IDBF law, commenting on other crew members is not
oncton Dragon Boat Festival
Rules of Racing

1. General

1.1. The dragon boat races shall be under the supervision and control of the Chief Race
Official who shall retain authority over all matters related to racing.

2. Team Composition

2.1.1. A crew must have a minimum of 6 females, this may include the drummer but NOT the

2.1.2. The drummer and steersperson for any crew may be male or female.

2.1.3. The minimum for any crew is 14 paddlers, a drummer and a steersperson.

2.1.4. The minimum age for a participant is 12 years old.

3. Safety

3.1. All participants must wear a certified PFD (Personal Flotation device). Personal PFD's
may be used so long as it is Canadian Coast Guard Approved.

3.2. All participants are strongly discouraged from taking any kind of valuable or electronic
device on board with them as there is a possibility of these items getting wet from paddling or
during capsize.

3.3. Unless absolutely necessary and under the control of the coach, it is strictly forbidden for
a paddler to stand up in the boat for risk of capsizing (especially at the finish of a race)

3.4. Any participants injured or who become ill during the festival are to report to medical
staff immediately. If the condition is serious, medical staff may restrict a participant from
continuing in the festival. Their decision is final.

4. Racing

4.1. All teams will race three times. This includes two heats and a final. The fastest of the two
heat times will used to place teams into the finals. All teams will race their first two heats before
the lunch break. During the lunch break the race officials will create the race program for the
finals. The slowest 3 times of the day will be in the first race of the finals, followed by the next 3
times. The last two races will feature the top 6 times from the heats. These six teams are in the
"Championship Final", and are racing for the title of the Moncton Dragon Boat festival, the
second place team will receive silver medals, and the third place team will receive bronze

4.2. The starting procedure shall be "all Paddlers Ready", followed by “Attention Please”,
followed by a shot or air horn. Any team caught false starting will receive a 2 second penalty.

4.3. All crews must remain in their lane for the duration of the race. Leaving your lane may
result in a 2 second penalty at the discretion of the chief race official.

5. Etiquette

5.1. All participants are expected to treat the officials, organizers, volunteers, their fellow
competitors and spectators with respect. Any abuse of this fact witnessed during the festival is
to be reported to the organizing committee who will review the situation and take appropriate
action that may include expulsion of a participant or crew from the festival.

5.2. All crews are expected to respect the rules and regulations of racing and the judgment of
the officials. Un-sportsmanlike towards the officials in this regard may bring about further
penalty and risk disqualification the infracting crew.