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Basics of Figure Skating Competition

Published: 2022-02-01
Basics of Figure Skating Competition
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Figure skating is the oldest sport in the Olympic Winter Games program.

There are five events. Single skating for men and women, pair skating, ice dance, and a team event. Skaters have scored on the quality, accuracy, and difficulty of their maneuvers.

The jump is one of the most important elements in figure skating. With six types identified, by the way, the skater takes off lands and the number of rotations completed of the jump types. Five are currently executed in quadruple form.

The toe loop, flip, lutz, the salchow, and the axel the only jump to the forward takeoff, meaning an extra half rotation has never been attempted as a quadruple jump in competition.

The quadruple lutz jump is the most difficult, performed by completing four spinning airborne revolutions. It requires incredible momentum, precisely divided between vertical lift and spin. Height comes from the vertical velocity generated at takeoff. To increase jump height, a skater must possess great strength.

However, increased strength often means an increase in muscle weight, which can result in slower rotational speed, so to increase rotational speed. It is vital to building up angular momentum. This is the quantity of rotation of the body, which comes from the torque, the twisting force a skater creates as they turn their body in preparation to jump the friction created as a skater's blades swivel against the ice during takeoff can add to torque.

Moments of inertia describe the resistance that a force is working against a smaller moment of inertia. Like when a skater hugs their arms tightly to their body will also lead to a faster spin to land, pushing outward the legs and arms stop rotation and bending of the landing leg. The knee absorbs impact, allowing the skater to land smoothly.

Landing force can be the equivalent of seven times bodyweight. No female skater has ever landed a quadruple lutz jump at the Olympic Winter Games. Today's skaters are more focused on jumps than ever before, leading to incredible displays of athleticism.

In the 2022 Winter Olympics, stripped of their flag and anthem because of doping sanctions, Russian athletes are set to dominate the podium in figure skating.  Russian female figure skaters, led by 15-year-old Kamila Valieva, could sweep the podium as they did at European championships with impressive quadruple jumps.  Valieva holds the record for the highest number of points in the short program, free skate and total score.

In-Depth Figure Skating Info Courtesy of NBC Olympics