Figure Skating, XX Winter Olympic Games Torino 2006
Skating competitions were again interrupted for several years by World War II. After the war, with many European rinks in ruins, skaters from the United States and Canada began to dominate international competitions and to introduce technical innovations to the sport.
RULES OF FIGURE SKATING
The Ice Skating Institute (ISI), an international ice rink trade organization, runs its own competitive and test program aimed at recreational skaters. The International Skating Union - ISU is the governing body for international competitions. The ISU oversees the World Championships and the figure skating events at the Winter Olympic Games.
In 2004, the ISU adopted the New Judging System (NJS) or Code of Points which will be mandatory at all international competitions in 2006, including the 2006 Winter Olympics. Each individual element within a program is worth a predetermined number of points and the elements are judged based on their execution; scores are assigned subjectively on a scale from 0.0 to 10.0. Figure skating is a very popular part of the Winter Olympic Games, in which the elegance of both the competitors and their movements attract many spectators.
International competitions in figure skating comprise the following disciplines:
- Singles competition for men and women ("ladies"). Singles skaters must perform jumps, spins, and step sequences in their programs.
- Pairs consisting of one lady and one man. Pairs perform singles elements in unison as well as pair-specific elements such as throw jumps, in which the male skater 'throws' the female into a jump; lifts, in which the female is held above the male's head in a number of different grips and positions; pair spins, in which both skaters spin together about a common axis; and death spirals, where the man in a pivot swings the lady around him on a deep edge in a position low to the ice.
- Ice dancing, consisting of a lady and man skating together. Ice dance differs from pairs in focusing on difficult steps performed in close dance holds exactly to the beat of the music rather than acrobatic jumps, throws, and lifts. Ice dancers must perform compulsory dances with fixed steps and patterns to standard ballroom dance rhythms. Ice dancing is considered by many to be the most technical and detailed of the skating disciplines.
- Synchronized skating, for mixed-gender groups of up to 20 skaters. This discipline resembles a group form of ice dance with additional emphasis on precise formations of the group as a whole and complex transitions between formations.
- Compulsory figures, a very rare discipline, in which skaters use their blades to draw circles, figure 8s, and similar shapes in ice, and are judged on the accuracy and clarity of the figures and the cleanness and exact placement of the various turns on the circles. Figures were formerly included as a component of singles competitions but were eliminated from those events in 1990.
- Moves in the field (or field moves), which have replaced compulsory figures as a discipline to teach the same turns and edge skills in the context of fluid free skating movements instead of being constrained to artificially precise circles.
- Fours, a team of two men and two women perform singles and pairs elements in unison as well as unique elements that involve all four skaters.
- Theatre on ice, (or ballet on ice), a form of group skating that is less structured than synchronized skating and allows the use of props and theatrical costuming.
- Adagio skating, a form of pair skating most commonly seen in ice shows, where the skaters perform many spectacular acrobatic lifts but few or none of the singles elements which competitive pairs must perform.
EQUIPMENT OF FIGURE SKATING
Figure skating boots are traditionally made by hand from many layers of leather. In recent years, boots made of synthetic materials with heat-moldable linings have become popular. The latest development in boot technology is a boot that is hinged at the ankle to provide lateral support while allowing more flexibility. Blades are mounted to the sole and heel of the boot with screws.
Butt pads or crash pads, inserted into the pants or stockings, provide relief from the pain of hard falls, especially when learning new jumps.
Ice skating clothing includes dresses and skirts for women. For competition, these pieces of clothing can be heavily beaded or trimmed, and may cost thousands of dollars if designed by a top level dress-maker.