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Figure Skating Terms

Marlene Alphonse
Whenever we watch figure skating on TV, we feel awed by watching the performers skate on the ice with ease. The twists, turns, hops, jumps and what not. These are a few of the terms, from among the many, associated with this sport.

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Figure skating, a form of ice skating, came into existence only in the mid 19th century. The father of modern figure skating Jackson Haines, an American skater, introduced this new style of skating which had fluid and expressive moves.

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This style, also known as international style, was quite popular among Europeans. Some famous figure skaters are Sasha Cohen, Michelle Kwan, Mirai Nagasu and Kimmie Meissner.
The term figure skating (also called artistic skating in other languages apart from English) refers to an Olympic sport where individuals, as pairs or groups, perform certain intricate and difficult moves on an ice floor.
Competitions for figure skating are held at various levels, like local, national and international, from the beginners or amateur level to the senior or Olympic level. It is also a very popular event of the Winter Olympics, that is usually watched on television or in person.

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The males in figure skating emphasize on spins, jumps and footwork while the females make intricate, graceful and featherlight moves.

List of Figure Skating Terms

One of the most enjoyable experiences is to watch figure skating. We get to see couples (or sometimes groups of individuals) gliding gracefully across the ice floor and synchronizing their moves with the music played in the background. Every figure skating jump, move and spin has got a particular name. Given below are a few terms related to figure skating.
  • Arabesque is a position where the free leg is lifted in a straight line behind the body and this position is used in camel spin.
  • Axel Jump is a tough move where the skater has to jump forward and make two and a half revolutions in the air before landing on the other foot.
  • Backflip is a move where the skater does a reverse somersault in the air. This move has been banned from competitions because of its high risk factors.
  • Bracket turn is performed on one foot and the ice skate blade makes a '}' (curly bracket) shape on the ice.
  • Butterfly jump, as the name suggests, is a flying spin where the skater does a two-foot takeoff till the body seems to be parallel to the ice with the leg balancing the body with a scissoring move.
  • Camel spin, also called the parallel spin is similar to the arabesque, where the position of the body is like a straight line.
  • Choctaw turn, is a complex form of the mohawk turn where the skater turns forward or backward and alternately changes the position of the feet.
  • Chasse, is where the skater glides on both the feet and slightly lifts the other leg off the ice. This ice dancing turn has three variations - crossed chasse, simple chasse and slide chasse
  • Charlotte spiral, also called the candlestick spiral, is a spiral position where the skater glides on one leg with his torso bent down towards the skating leg and the free leg is almost held straight in a 180 degree like a vertical split position.
  • Death spiral, is usually performed by pairs, where the man lowers his partner horizontal to the ice floor, while she glides on one foot arched backwards. The man, holding the woman's hand, rotates her in a complete circle with her head almost touching the floor. This turn has four variations, forward inside, forward outside, backward inside and backward outside.
  • Edge jump, is a jump where the skater takes a jump from the outer edge without bringing both his feet in contact with each other.
  • Flip jump, is a move where the skater slides backward on one foot, revolves his body in the air and lands on the other foot.
  • Snowplow, is a method where the skater comes to a halt by pointing the toes of his ice skates together to reduce his speed to stop without crashing.
Figure skating, with its lucid and breathtaking moves, is no child's play and one must practice these figure skating moves under proper guidance to avoid getting injured. You can also join an academy to learn these moves and improvise your performance.