Home Athletes There Is a Difference Between Ice Dance Three Turns and the Three Turns Done In Free Skating and In Recreational Ice Skating

There Is a Difference Between Ice Dance Three Turns and the Three Turns Done In Free Skating and In Recreational Ice Skating

There Is a Difference Between Ice Dance Three Turns and the Three Turns Done In Free Skating and In Recreational Ice Skating


Have you ever watched ice dancers turn from forward to backward on one foot?  Have you noticed that what they do looks effortless?  Actually, the turns ice dancers do require hours and hours of practice.  Although a three turn is a basic and simple element done by all figure skaters, there are additional techniques that ice dancers that do three turns must master.  In addition, excellent ice dance three turns are noticed by ice dance judges, ice dance technical specialists, and also other ice dancers.

For example, when my son first joined Disney On Ice Frozen three years ago, I was so, so very excited to see the amazing and beautiful ice dance number that was part of the coronation scene.   Integrated in the choreography done by Cindy Stuart and Olympic ice dancing silver medalist Benjamin Agosto, was and is wonderful ice dancing.  I was “one proud skating mom,” when I saw my son Joel, who competed in both pair skating and ice dancing, look so confident as he performed traditional ice dance moves and steps such a swing rolls, chasses, three turns, and ice dance lifts in that scene; however, my “one proud skating mom” mentality actually made something kind of comical happen!

The comical occurance surrounded the three turns my son Joel performed in Frozen’s beautiful ice dancing number when I boasted about how he performed those turns.  By accident, on Facebook, when I told a mother of another ice dancer how to spot him in the show, I mentioned that he was “the only one with really good three turns.”  I didn’t know it, but my innocent comment insulted some of the other skaters!  They just didn’t understand that I was trying to point out that Joel was doing very nice ice dance three turns as opposed to free skated type three turns.   Of course, I apologized to the skaters that I didn’t mean to insult, but that innocent comment also got me to think hard about the differences between ice dance three turns and free skated or recreational three turns.

Three turns are figure skating turns done on one foot where an ice skater turns from either forward to backward or backward to forward. The three turn gets its name because the ice skate blade makes the pattern of a “3” on the ice.  Also, three turns are done from either an outside edge to inside edge or from an inside edge to an outside edge.

In ice dancing, one of  the most difficult ice dances to perfect is a dance called the European Waltz, a beautiful pattern ice dance which includes forward outside three turns and back outside edges for the lady and forward outside three turns, back outside edges, and forward cross strokes for the man. European Waltz ice dance three turn are sometimes called “dropped three turns” since after the forward outside three turn is executed, the skater’s weight is immediately transferred, or dropped, to what was the free foot onto a back outside edge.  Dropped three turns are done over and over again in the European Waltz and are done very quickly on one end of the Starlight Waltz. When done with perfection, it appears that the dancers are spinning together as they waltz and can be so very beautiful!

European Waltz three turns, that is, dropped three turns, are very difficult to do correctly and the ice dancers must perform the turns on time and to waltz music.  In addition, the back outside edge that follows the turn must be placed right next to the skating foot.  Wide stepping is not acceptable.

Dropped ice dance three turns are done in several pattern ice dances which include the Ten-Fox, Willow Waltz, Hickory Hoe Down, Foxtrot, Tango, Rocker Foxtrot, and Blues, so this means that every ice dancer must learn and perfect his or her three turn techniques.  Ice dance judges and other ice dancers might criticize an ice dancer’s three turns in fact.

When a figure skater performs forward outside three turns in free skating or in recreational ice skating, he or she does not have to worry about “tidy footwork” or about closing his or her feet after three turns.  For example, if there is a “wide step” after a three turn in a freestyle program, that will not affect the quality of the turn or how it would be judged by figure skating judges, technical specialists, or by other figure skaters, but in ice dancing, wide stepping is considered a serious error (unless a wide step is an actual step in a pattern ice dance).

***Added note:  All kinds of figure skaters (not only ice dancers) do have to concentrate on doing smooth almost “dance like” turns in moves in the field tests and in footwork sequences.

Happy Skating!

JO ANN Schneider Farris

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Jo Ann Schneider-Farris Jo Ann Schneider Farris has participated in figure skating for most of her life as a competitor, coach, and author. Jo Ann was the Figure Skating Expert for About.com for 10 years. Jo Ann began skating as a young child. She won a silver medal in the junior dance event at the United States National Figure Skating Championships and is a US Figure Skating Double Gold Medalist. She coached figure skating and has trained skaters of all ages and levels. In addition, Jo Ann taught hockey players to skate and gave instruction in power skating. She is the author of two skating books: How to Jump and Spin on In-Line Skates, the only book of its kind on inline figure skating, and a personal memoir, My Skating Life: Fifty Plus Years of Skating. Jo Ann also has contributed articles that have been included on the US Figure Skating website and the icenetwork.com website, in SKATING Magazine, Ice Skating Institute's magazine, the Professional Skaters Association magazine, and she also wrote about ice skating for Examiner.com. She is a member of the Professional Skaters Association, The Broadmoor Skating Club, and U.S. Figure Skating. Jo Ann is a graduate of the famous Hollywood Professional School, a school that once was in southern California where many serious figure skaters attended, including Peggy Fleming. She is also a graduate of Colorado College and holds a teaching credential from California State University Long Beach. As a figure skating competitor, she trained under World Ice Dance Champion and Olympic Coach Doreen Denny and also Darlene Gilbert, who has trained international and national teams. From JO ANN Schneider Farris: Hi and Happy Skating! Yes, Happy Skating is my motto. I hope to share my love of the sport and my knowledge of it with you and my goal is to link skaters from all over the world on this site. Happy Skating! Please join me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, or follow me on Google+ and Pinterest. Email me at joannfarris@yahoo.com


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