Saturday, June 24, 2017

Why do you think they call it “figure” skating in the first place?

November 16, 2012 by  
Filed under In The News


As I return to competitive skating one thought  strikes me again and again- basic skating is hard  to do! Basic forward stroking and turns take way  more effort to do correctly than some elements that  appear to be tougher. Right now I am focusing on  getting my basic turns- rockets, counters, brackets,  etc- to be 100% clean.  The more clean turns  skaters complete in a footwork sequence, the  higher the level of difficulty. Which means I have to be on solid edges from the moment I step into the turn until the moment I finish. No wobbles, no changes of edge, not even a tiny wiggle as I approach a turn. Let’s just say body awareness is a must!

So what did my coach do to increase my body awareness? The answer lies in the lost art of figure skating otherwise known as school figures. Remember how figure skaters used to be judged on how accurately they traced the circle they drew on the ice multiple times? That’s figures.

Figures were a skater’s basics. They were what ballet barre work is to ballet dancers. Figures taught discipline, body awareness, strength, and dedication. Because skaters did figures at such a slow speed it allowed them to be able to feel every tiny body movement. In order to trace a circle perfectly, skaters needed tremendous balance. It takes as much balance to trace a circle many times as it does for a gymnast to perform a balance beam routine.

Figure skating did away with figures completely in 1991 and replaced them with Moves in the Field. US Figure Skating defines moves in the field as a series of tests that “help develop all basic fundamental edges and turns while emphasizing edge quality, extension, quickness, and power”. While Moves are a great way to help skaters improve their speed and flow across the ice, they just don’t provide the same structure and body awareness that figures did.

So when the time came to make a push for getting my turns clean I found myself back on the circle, tracing my patterns over and over again. Now I’m developing a greater level of discipline and self awareness. It’s only helped my skating become stronger.

Why do you think they call it “Figure” skating in the first place?

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