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Figure Skating

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Figure Skating - History

Humans have been skating for thousands of years. The first skates were made from animal bones and attached to the feet with leather straps. People used skates as a way of crossing frozen lakes and rivers in the winter. In the 1850s, figure skating started when skaters started trying various spins and jumps on ice. The first World Figure Skating Championships for men were held in 1896 in Russia. The first World Figure Skating Championships for women were held in Switzerland in 1906.

Figure Skating - Terms and Jumps

  • Toe Pick - The teeth at the front of the blade, used to assist in jumping and spinning.
  • Axel - A jump in which skaters take off from the forward outside edge of the blade and land on the back outside edge of the opposite foot. The axle is one of the most difficult jumps and the only one that takes off from a forward position.
  • Lutz - A jump in which skaters use their toe pick and take off from a back outside edge, landing on the back outside edge of the opposite foot. Skaters glide backwards on a wide curve, tap their toe pick into the ice and rotate in the opposite direction of the curve.
  • Salchow (pronounced Sow-Cow) - A jump in which skaters take off from the back inside edge of one foot and land on the back outside edge of the opposite foot. This jump is named after Swedish figure skater Ulrich Salchow who won the first Olympic gold medal in figure skating.

Figure Skating - Getting Involved

If you're somewhat coordinated and aren't afraid of falling on ice, figure skating can be a great way to get exercise and have some fun. The only equipment you really need is a pair of skates and you're ready to go. If you'd like to get started, ask about figure skating programs at your nearest ice rink or at school. For more info on a figure skating program where you live, head to the official US Figure Skating site, www.usfsa.org.

Figure Skating - Did You Know?

  • US figure skater Michelle Kwan has won five World Figure Skating Championships and has won a total of nine medals at the event.
  • In Olympic figure skating events, skaters are not allowed to perform their routine to music with vocals.
  • American figure skater, Sasha Cohen took home a silver medal from the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy.
  • At the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada Canadian Figure Skater Joannie Rocheete took home the Bronze medal.

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