figure skating

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder doing a lifting figure (European Championship 2007)

The figure skating is a form of skating , which is the artful execution of jumps , pirouettes arrives and steps. There are international figure skating competitions, e.g. B. the world championship , and figure skating is also an official discipline at the Olympic Winter Games .


Figure skating is carried out in four disciplines at the Olympic Games:

For the first time at the 2014 Winter Games , a team competition was added, consisting of two individual runs, pair skating and ice dancing.

There are also international competitions in synchronized figure skating .


"Ice skating Scene" A picture by J. Baber around 1830

The cradle of figure skating was Great Britain , the first competition took place here in 1814. From here it spread throughout Europe and the USA . Music was added to figure skating and elements of dance and ballet were used.

When taking an excursion into the early history of the sport, one should rather talk about ice skating , which was only divided into two different sports disciplines, figure skating and speed skating , much later .

The first historical mention of ice skating comes from Denmark in 1134, the oldest English knowledge comes from the year 1180. Archaeological finds (ice skates made of bone) date the origin of ice skating to the Bronze and Stone Ages .

Primitive beginnings can be found in the Netherlands in the 13th and 14th centuries , where the metal-studded edges of the wooden shoes allowed simple arches to be carried out. In the Netherlands, ice skating was a popular pleasure, as some pictures of the old masters attest, elsewhere it was only the privilege of the nobility. The Emperor Rudolf II. Is said to have organized a large Eiskarneval, the undisputed contributed to the popularization of this pastime.

However, the development of real figure skating only began in the 18th century , when the runners took on the shape of a curve, which made it possible to perform turns and complex elements.

  • 1742 in Edinburgh the first skating club in the world founded - Edinburgh Skating Club .
  • In 1772 Robert Johns published the first figure skating manual "A treatise on skating" in London .

Ice rinks and winter stadiums

The first ice rinks were frozen ponds and rivers . The processing of the ice was quite difficult, however, and climatic conditions determined the geographical regions in which ice skating could develop. In the annals of the Philadelphian Association, which was founded in 1848, one can find, for example, that the equipment also included a few meters of rescue rope. In Canada, on the other hand, thin ice was not the problem, but the masses of snow lying on top; the first stadium in the country was roofed over in 1860.

The first artificial ice rink ( lat.glaciarium ) was built in London ( Chelsea ) as early as 1876. The expansion of further artificial ice rinks was decisive for the subsequent development of this sport.

The largest indoor ice rink to date was built in 1960 in Tokyo . Its ice surface is 4,000 m². In Japan there is also the largest open-air ice rink, which was created in 1967 and has an area of 15,400 sqm.

Nowadays we find ice rinks not only in Canada , the USA , Sweden and in other European countries with ice hockey or figure skating traditions, but also in warmer regions such as Spain or even in hot Africa, e.g. B. in Ivory Coast . This trend is reinforced by the further development of weather-independent synthetic ice .

According to the regulations of the ISU, the ice surface should be rectangular, 56–60 meters long and 26–30 meters wide.

Rules and competitions

The first international figure skating competitions were held by the Vienna Ice Skating Club in 1882 on its club site. The competition rules written for this purpose, the so-called regulations, were based on the textbook "Tracks on the Ice - The Development of Ice Skating on the Track of the Vienna Ice Skating Association" by Jackson Haines' pupil - Karl v. Korper, Max Wirth and Demeter Diamantidi , published in 1881. This regulation was later taken over by the International Skating Union (ISU) and thus forms the basis of the international set of rules to this day. There were more significant changes with the introduction of the short freestyle and with the change in the ratio in the evaluation of compulsory and freestyle. In order to make the subjectively assessed sport of figure skating more transparent and objective, the ISU has developed a new rating system that has replaced the "6.0 system" internationally since the 2004/2005 season . The figure skating evaluation system ( ISU Judging System ) of the international ice skating union is based on a completely new calculation of the competition results. With the use of a digital video system in the competition, the judges are now able to review elements repeatedly and thus evaluate them more objectively.

  • At the first Viennese competitions, the Norwegian Axel Paulsen came third. Even then he showed his famous jump , which is still part of figure skating today.
  • The first European championships took place in 1891, before the ISU was founded. The first European champion was the German Oskar Uhlig .
  • On February 9, 1896, the first world championships took place in Saint Petersburg , again won by a German, this time Gilbert Fuchs . Five years later, the legendary Swede Ulrich Salchow won his first world title, which he then followed by 9 more. His astonishing record was set by the equally legendary Norwegian Sonja Henie in 1927–1936 and Irina Rodnina in 1969–1978 , who won her first four titles in pair skating with Alexei Ulanow and the other six titles with her then husband Alexander Saizew .
  • The women first fought for the title of world champion in Davos in 1908 , but not for the title of European champion until 1930 in Vienna , where the premiere of the European championships for pair skating also took place. The Austrian Fritzi Burger was the first female European champion . The couples also competed for world championships earlier - since 1908.
  • Until 1948, North Americans were also allowed to take part in European championships. After the Canadian Barbara Ann Scott and the American Dick Button had become European champions that year, while Eva Pawlik from Austria and Hans Gerschwiler from Switzerland had only received the silver medals as the best representatives of European art skating, from 1949 - as in others Common sports - the possibility of participating in European championships restricted to athletes from Europe.
  • Ice dancing did not appear in the competition rules until 1952 at the World Championships in Paris and two years later also at the European Championships in Bolzano . Ice dancing has also been an Olympic discipline since 1976.
  • Before the European Championships, which began on January 9, 1984 in Budapest , the ISU brought out a new rule that limited the number of triple jumps, with which one wanted to come back to the artistic value; therefore only a triple jump was allowed; the exception was that this jump was linked to a combination.
  • The youngest figure skating discipline is precision skating , also known as synchronous figure skating , it is a group ice skating with initially 12 to 24 participants who complete their ice dance figures rhythmically to music. In 1998 the number of runners per formation was limited to 16. The formations are divided into classes according to their level of performance. - The runners are called "ice-skaters" in English. As with ice dancing, only figures in different combinations may be performed; no jumps, pirouettes or the like are allowed. Because of the limited individual freedom of movement and for safety reasons, restrictions on the figures have been decided. The ISU has been organizing world championships since 2000; From 2001 solo jumps were also allowed, but these must correspond very well with the presentation of the other team participants. A competition consists of the short freestyle and (on another day) the free freestyle. A jury evaluates technology, symmetry and precision.

Number of participants at ISU championships

The number of participants (total participation quota) per discipline (men, women, sports couples, ice dance) that an ISU member (usually state associations) may send to the respective championship is determined according to rule 378 "Special regulations & technical rules individual and pair skating and ice dancing 2018 "determined as follows:

Number of participants in the championship in the previous season Required number of points for 3 participants in the championship in the current season Required number of points for 2 participants in the championship in the current season
2 no more than 13 no more than 28
1 no more than 20 no more than 10

The placement of each runner will be counted as a score for this table if the final placement was 16 or better. 16 points will be awarded for participants in the finals with a lower ranking than 16. If the final was not reached, a score of 18 will be awarded. If there were three participants in the previous season, only the two best placed will be counted. Each ISU member may in any case send one participant per discipline per championship.

All figure skaters who took part in the draw are counted as participants in the previous season. Participants who cannot go through the freestyle completely due to illness or an unexpected defect in their equipment, but who were 10th or better after the short program or the rhythm dance, are not counted as participants.

At the four continent championships, each ISU member may send 3 participants.

The number of participants at the Olympic Winter Games is determined differently.

Figure skating at the Olympics

see: Figure skating at the Olympic Games and list of Olympic champions in figure skating

Women and figure skating

Figure skating as a sport was for a long time almost forbidden for women for various reasons. Among other things, medical and social reasons were given.

With the start of the women's competitions, it was still to be feared that the referees' sympathy for the lovely femininity would influence their objective assessment. It was even suggested that the rules stipulate that the referees must wear blue glasses in women's competitions. It should be noted, however, that the women also adhered to the Victorian dress code when doing sports and had to compete in heavy woolen dresses and petticoats, which made movement much more difficult.

Madge Syers-Cave, here with her husband at the 1908 Olympics

Florence Madeline Syers, known as "Madge" Syers , was the first woman who, due to imprecise formulations, won her right to compete in the 1902 World Figure Skating Championships , which were actually only intended for men . She took second place extremely confidently. Madge Syers and the British National Skating Association had found that nowhere in the ISU competition rules was it explicitly stated that no women could take part in a competition. The NSA fought vehemently for the right of their athlete to start - perhaps because her husband Edgar Syers , with whom she also took part in pair skating competitions, was the association's general secretary. So the participation of the only woman ended sensationally. Syers finished second behind the Swede Ulrich Salchow and might even have deserved the win. This view was not only shared by the audience and some experts, but also the winner. Outraged that his competitor did not get a prize, he demonstratively presented her with his trophy. A year after winning the runner-up world title, Syers once again faced exclusively male competition and became the first British female champion in men's figure skating. However, she did not get any more chances to beat the men. At the European Championships in Davos in 1904, she was unable to compete in the freestyle due to an injury. The International Skating Union quickly changed the rules, whereupon independent women's competitions were held from 1906. Madge Syers became world champion twice in a row. In 1908 she also won the title of Olympic champion in London.

Another pioneer grew up in Russia . Nikolai Panin's student Xenia Cesar began figure skating at high school. The daughter of a music teacher, an excellent pianist herself, transferred her art and artistic feeling to the ice. She was the first Russian woman to register for the men's competition at the national championship. She took third place among the five participating men. At the protest of the "sniffy" gentlemen, another similar competition was no longer held.

Sonja Henie , the Norwegian champion and unquestionable diva of figure skating between 1924 and 1936, presented a great novelty at the Olympic Winter Games in Chamonix in 1924, the skirt, which was short to the knees. From then on, she was mimicked by other female figure skaters, who started wearing short skirts that did not interfere with their movements.

The fate of one of the other figure skaters, Tenley Albright , is quite extraordinary. As a little girl, she developed non-paralytic polio . She wanted to run, but most of all she wanted to be a figure skater. It was a long time before she could take her first steps. When she was 11 she was able to start figure skating - she was healthy again. After eight years of hard work, she became American champion, then twice world champion, and in 1956 she won the gold medal at the Winter Olympics in Cortina d'Ampezzo .

The Dutch figure skater Sjoukje Dijkstra devoted a lot of time to athletic preparation, so her run was full of strength and energy. Dijkstra did not embody the idea of ​​a delicate and slender girl floating like a fairy over the ice at all. On the contrary, with her figure she looked more like a wrestler. Despite this weight handicap, she was a high jump champion. In her athletic preparation, she also used the high jump in addition to the run , and in this discipline she was also the Dutch record woman. But not only that, she was also a good judoka . She began her figure skating career at the age of 18 with the European championship title in 1962, which she defended three times in the following years. At the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley , she finished second. Now a financial obstacle emerged: Sjoukie chose the American coach Arnold Gerschwiller, but did not have enough money to pay him. After all, friends from various sports helped her - from figure skating, athletics and also from judo. At the Olympic Winter Games in Innsbruck in 1964, she won the gold medal.



Figure skating runners, made of hard steel , are 3 to 4 millimeters wide. They have a very slight convex curve that allows for rotations and intricate elements to be performed. The groove in the blade, called a hollow grind , has finely ground edges on each side (the inner edge and outer edge) that allow the skater to control and accelerate. Teeth on the front of the blade, called serrations , are mainly used for landing jumps and for tip steps. To pick up speed, the entire runner is pushed off to the side. Pirouettes are rotated on the front third of the runner - not on the tip.

Runners have different heel heights. Ice dancers often wear a high heel that pushes the body weight forward onto the ball of the toes in order to be able to better control changes of direction and quick step sequences.


Made to measure for every foot and heavily stiffened, lace-up boots that are high up to the calves, with thick, stiff leather inside and with additional ankle support. Wide leather tongues with padding allow flexibility inside the shoe .


Kristin Fraser and Igor Lukanin at the original dance of the EM 2009

The dressing room of the figure skaters and ice dancers is determined by the character of the program and the choice of music. Your costumes should crown performance, but not become a distraction. In the freestyle, women should wear a skirt and men should wear long trousers . Trousers have only been permitted for women since the 2004/2005 season. Fashion items and supports are not allowed, however, at the original dance of the EM 2009 ice dancer Kristin Fraser wore glasses for the first time. Most of the time, women's costumes match those of men. In the new rating system, the choice of costume is included in the components.

History of costume development

Much has changed in the history of ice skating since its birth as a sport in the mid-19th century: the method of judging, the rules, the organization, the structure of the competition, the techniques, the materials and the costumes. However, there is one aspect that has remained the same over time: the costumes have always followed the fashion, patterns, materials and colors of time.

When figure skating emerged as a sport in the modern sense, costumes as such did not exist: the figure skaters wore their daily clothes: men were dressed in pants and jackets, women wore long skirts down to their ankles. Gilbert Fuchs, the first world champion, introduced leggings that are no longer allowed for men today. It was Sonja Henie , the Norwegian champion who won ten world and three Olympic titles and was unquestionably the diva of figure skating between 1924 and 1936, who introduced the greatest novelty, the short skirt, at the 1924 Olympics . From then on, she was mimicked by other female figure skaters, who also began to wear short skirts and more supple costumes that did not interfere with their movements when performing difficult figures.

The development of figure skating in the decades that followed added greater technical difficulties: simple jumps became double and triple, and there was greater refinement in the conception of programs that were now telling real stories. This development also influenced the costumes, they became part of the competition, one of the main elements of the artistic programming, along with the music and the chosen theme.

In the 1970s and 1980s, short skirts and flared pants were fashionable. The costumes were sober colors with no hues and no specific patterns. In the 1980s and 1990s, on the other hand, the costumes were studded with tinsel. Light and warm colors were popular, the patterns became clearer. Pants were straight cut and the skirts were shorter in the front and longer in the back.

Jewelry instead of tinsel, longer skirts, dizzying necklines and the use of false-nudity fabrics are still common these days - jewelry is even used by men and their shirts are open. The aim is to portray the athletes as sensually as possible through their costumes.

The main focus of the program design should be to capture the theme of the program and interpret it vividly. In addition to music and dancing, the costumes, which are tailored to the music and theme, undoubtedly play a very important role: Figure skating is not only a sport, but also an art form, with athletes as the main character. The clothing is the first thing the viewer notices and what sticks in the memory.


From a technical development point of view, figure skating is probably the most conservative ice discipline. The skates' front shoes and padding are always made of natural leather, with stiffeners in the areas of the feet that are most affected by pressure. The goal is to ensure the best possible feeling, and it is no coincidence that insoles made of heat-dissipating materials that can fully adapt to the feet have been used over the past few years. The outer soles are usually made of multi-layer leather.


Figure skating figure 1965 (Elfi Kolodzey, Michael Pürst)

Main article: Figure skating elements

As mentioned above, figure skating is the artistic execution of jumps , pirouettes and steps .

The jumps include the triple jump , Salchow , Toeloop , Rittberger , Flip , Lutz and Axel , which are jumped single, double, triple and sometimes even quadruple, as well as the so-called connection jumps spreading jump , Euler (also known as Thorén), Oppacher , Walley and jet button . A five-fold jump in general or a four-fold Axel in particular has not yet been jumped.

Other well-known figures in single and pair skating are the Biellmann pirouette , the death spiral and the thrown jumps, which can also be performed twice, three or four times. The figure skater Surya Bonaly was and still is the only woman who managed a one-legged backflip on the ice.

Textbooks and methodologies

  • The first ice skating manual appeared in London in 1772 . Lieutenant Robert Jones of the Royal Artillery described in his "A Treatise on skating" ( Treatise on the ice skating ) various figures such as circles and eights and gives instructions on how to make a turn from the outer edge to the inner edge and vice versa. This was due to a new type of ice skate that made it possible to run forwards and backwards on the outer or inner edge. The manual is only for men, as women were rarely seen on the ice. Women were then banned simply to for fun ice slither what Jones could not understand, he saw no reason why women should be excluded from this pleasure.
  • Another ice skating manual was published in Leipzig in 1790 under the title "About Skating" .
  • The book by the French Jean Garcin, which was published in 1813 under the name “A real ice skater” ( “Le vrai patineur ou les principes sur l'art de patiner avec grâce” ), points to different directions in the development of ice skating . Some contemporaries said he was a better skater than a writer. His characters had names from ancient mythology. For example: with a figure called “The beautiful narcissus” one should show a blissful expression on the face and with the inward-backward semicircle without changing feet, indicate the change of direction with another expression. On the other hand, he had quite modern views: he accused the skaters of a lack of elegance and attached great importance to the aesthetic side of the figure execution.
  • The first systematic textbook was published in Vienna in 1881 under the title “Traces on the Ice” . The authors were Haines students - Dr. Body, Wirth and Diamantidi. The first competition rules , the so-called regulations , were derived from this textbook and were later adopted by the ISU , and this is how the rules arose which, with numerous changes, still apply today.

While many textbooks have been written for single skating, pair skating has been completely neglected. Lesser mentions in conventional manuals cannot even be regarded as superficial instructions, all the more so as a system. The only exception is the American handbook of English-born trainers Dench-Stewart "Pair skating and Dancing on Ice" from 1943, which is a real pair skating method, but not a methodology for ice dancing in today's competitive sense.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. Special Regulations & Technical Rules - Single & Pair Skating and Ice Dance. (PDF) International Skating Union, June 2012, p. 13 , accessed on February 17, 2014 (English).
  2. Columns 4 and 5, below: "ISU introduces new rule: Triple only once" . In: Arbeiter-Zeitung . Vienna January 9, 1984, p. 9 ( The website of the Arbeiterzeitung is currently being redesigned. The linked pages are therefore not available. - Digitized version).
  3. [1] Special regulations and technical rules for single and pair skating and ice dancing 2018 (PDF) English, ISU

Web links

Commons : Figure Skating  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Figure skating  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations