Ice skating is a sport that is charming and magical. It is so mesmerizing to watch people glide on ice and do various jumps, turns, and figures. Their graceful movements are captivating and almost hypnotizing. In winter, if your town has public rinks, you may also get lucky and take a glimpse at a professional skater there. This type of sport has been around for very long and has evolved from just a hobby to a profession. With its complicated rules and scoring systems, it still does not cease to enchant the viewers.
World figure skating history
This magnificent sport has its roots in the Netherlands. The first mention and definition of it date back to the 13th century. People were gliding on frozen canals and showcasing various figures just for fun and the entertainment of others.
It was only in the 19th century that this sort of recreation was adopted as a competitive sport. It quickly spread throughout the world, including such countries as Canada and Sweden, where, as it is, ice skating is the most popular now. The first World Championship was held in 1896. The first winner of the championship was Gilbert Fuchs – a German sportsman. Since that time, new elements of that sport have been constantly appearing and evolving, adding to the necessary skills of sportsmen.
In 1924, it became an official part of the Winter Olympic Games. The Olympic figure skating logo is a stick figure in a pirouette. The first Olympic competition for this sport happened in France, and included three categories:
- Men’s and women’s singles;
- Mixed pairs;
- Men’s special figures.
The last one only lasted for one season and was removed from the program later. The only winner of this category in history was Nikolai Panin. In 1978, ice dancing was also added to the Olympic sports.
Nowadays, there are a couple of organizations that deal with the sport and regulate it. The International Skating Union was founded in the 20th century. It established the rules of the sport and made sure that the judging was fair. Another establishment that regulates the sport in question is the Professional Skating Association. This is the largest ice sports coach association in the world. It was launched in 1938.
The scoring system
The judges used to assess the sportsmen using two categories: technique and performance. Each judge would grade the performer in each category and give them a score of 1-6. The total score was the sum of the arithmetic means of the points from both categories.
Now, the scoring system is slightly different. It is called The International Judging System. There are still two categories of points used:
- Technique – each element that is performed in the program has a set of points attached to it. The score also depends on the level of difficulty.
- Program components – these include the musical interpretation, the overall performance, composition, and skills.
The judges are divided into two panels:
- The technical panel: the jury there identifies the elements that are shown as well as their level of difficulty.
- The judging panel gives the score and assesses the program regardless of the technical details.
The season usually starts in late fall and ends in late spring. During this time, all the competitions take place. It is also possible to skate indoors during summer, as there are technologies to not only produce fake ice but also to keep the real ice cool enough despite the temperature outside.
The age at which a skater could participate in the Olympic Games used to be 15. After the recent events, the jury realized that juniors have a hard time preparing for the competition both physically and mentally, so a decision was forwarded to raise the age to 17 years old.
Figure skating vs ice skating
While both sports are performed on ice, that is about the only similarity between them. The former includes a choreographed set of dancing elements such as jumps, turns and steps, which are performed with music.
The latter, on the other hand, refers to any activity performed on ice, such as:
- Ice hockey;
- Short track.
These sports focus mainly on speed and endurance, rather than artistic performance.
Who are the best figure skaters in the world?
Of course, one cannot objectively determine the best sportsmen, as anything related to art is highly subjective. However, if we consider the number of points at The Olympics, 5 sportsmen can be emphasized:
- Yuzuru Hanyu
- Nathan Chen
- Shoma Uno
- Alena Kostornaia
- Elizaveta Tuktamysheva
These are the people who performed best at the Olympics according to the judges.
Top women’s figure skaters
Some of the best performers in the women’s category are:
- Alena Kostornaia
- Elizaveta Tuktamysheva
- Anna Shcherbakova
- Rika Kihira
- Bradie Tennell
As for the men’s figure skating champions, there are some notable ones like the aforementioned Yuzuru Hanyu, Nathan Chen, and Ivan Shmuratko.
How fast do figure skaters skate?
Speed is one of the technical components that is assessed by the Olympic judges. It can vary depending on various elements and the difficulty of the program. Some jumps and turns can be performed at 48 km/hr or more.
There is no registered speed record for this sport. The average speed is around 16–20 kilometers per hour.
How to start figure skating?
As this sport requires intensive physical training and skill, it is important to start as young as possible, if you want to achieve professionalism in it later in life. Nevertheless, if you are willing to adopt it just as a hobby and a method of recreation, you can, of course, start any time.
As an amateur, you do not have to own a pair of skates, as you can rent them at any time. How to become a figure skater:
- Find a local rink;
- Buy or rent the necessary equipment;
- Sign up for beginner lessons. You can usually find an instructor at any public rink that will teach you the basics of balance, braking, and other crucial elements;
- Join a beginner club to find people with the same interest as you;
- Remember to wear protective gear not to injure yourself during ice dancing.
Good luck in pursuing this graceful sport!
In the future, you will be able to meet articles about how to read ski boot size and types of cross-country skiing.