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Figure Skating, XX Winter Olympic Games Torino 2006

Figure skating is an ice skating sporting event where individuals, mixed couples, or groups perform spins, jumps, and other "moves" on the ice, often to music.

EVENTS

Figure Skating at the 2006 Winter Olympics will be held in the town of Torino, from February 11 to February 24 at the newly built Palavela, inside the Lingotto Olympic District. The area is connected through public transport to the city center and the Porta Nuova railway station, and can be accessed from the Torino South Ring Road and from the Torino-Savona, Torino-Piacenza, Torino-Aosta and Torino-Milan motorways.

HISTORY

While people have been ice skating for centuries, figure skating in its current form originated in the mid-19th century. The International Skating Union was founded in 1892, and the first World Championship, for men only, was held in 1896. In 1902, a woman, Madge Syers, entered the competition for the first time, finishing second. The ISU quickly banned women from competing against men, but established a separate competition for "ladies" in 1906. Pairs skating was introduced at the 1908 World Championships. The first Olympic figure skating competitions also took place in 1908.

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

Professional competitions in figure skating are not governed by any central organization or common set of rules. Individual promoters of these events tend to choose formats and rules that are designed to showcase the talents of the specific skaters they have invited to participate, and which may vary wildly from one event to another.

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.

DISCIPLINES

    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 skates differ from hockey skates most visibly in having a set of large, jagged teeth called toe picks (also known as "toe rakes") on the front of the blade. The figure skating blade is curved from front to back with a radius of about 2 meters. Recently, parabolic figure skating blades have been designed to increase skaters' stability on the ice.

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.

[the text above is derived from Wikipedia and is subject to the GNU licence]
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