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What Exactly Is the Definition of Figure Skating?

What Exactly Is the Definition of Figure Skating?

I was About.com’s Figure Skating Expert-Guide for 10 years and that was my “almost full time job. ” I put my heart and soul into that job, in fact.  I wanted to help every person who read my articles to love figure skating and learn about our wonderful sport.

The former About.com, which laid off almost all its writers in 2016 and 2017, continues to keep some of my content online and is editing some of my former About.com Figure Skating content.

The new company, DotDash.com, has moved some, not all, of the content I wrote for About.com Figure Skating to ThoughtCo and is leaving my name on the articles as the author, but they are also slowly editing that content and the content of almost all of the other writers who wrote for About.

The person who recently edited a piece I wrote about the differences between ice hockey skates and figure skates, said indirectly that ice dancing is a different sport than figure skating!  I would NEVER say such a thing, but I understand that the person that DotDash hired to do the editing of my content and the content of other former About.com writers might not really understand figure skating or other subjects completely.  I’ve written ThoughtCo’s editor and pointed out this serious error, so I hope it will be fixed soon.

My name is listed as the author who wrote that incorrect statement even though the incorrect information was written by someone DotDash hired to do edits, so, for me, this is a very sensitive and urgent issue.

I have a feeling that ice dancers would be very insulted if I ever said that ice dancing is not figure skating!  Ice dancers are extremely sensitive when anyone says their very hard figure skating discipline is not figure skating.

This got me thinking what exactly is figure skating?  How would one explain its definition to someone who knows very little about the sport?

Well, here’s my definition:

Figure skating includes different skating disciplines that are done on figure skates, but to make things more confusing, it is possible to do some figure skating moves on ice hockey skates, roller skates, and inline skates.  The four main figure skating disciplines include single skating, pair skating, ice dancing, and synchronized skating, but within those branches there are different ways to do each one of those disciplines.

Compulsory figures were once done on clean ice in figure eight patterns by almost all figure skaters and that is how figure skating got its name, but the International Skating Union discontinued including figures in competitions in the early 1990s, so today, most figure skaters don’t do figures.  Go figure!?

But….the World Figure Society, a fairly new ice skating association, has worked hard to bring figures back to figure skating, so now, there are some figure skaters doing figures again. And..to make things even more confusing, since the ISU no longer recognizes compulsory figures as a figure skating discipline, that technically, figures are not part of figure skating!

The public might get confused with the athletic figure skating that is seen during the Winter Olympics and actually what most figure skaters do.  Many figure skaters don’t do quadruple or triple jumps, but because there is an emphasis on jumping today for today’s competitive figure skaters, there may be a misconception that figure skating is just gymnastics on ice skates.

There is so much more to figure skating than jumps.

Figure skating includes turns, edges, spins, twizzles, stroking, and the list goes on and on.  Pair skating emphasizes lifts, but there is so much more to pair skating than lifts, twists, and throws.  Pair skaters skate in unison just like ice dancers, but there is also solo ice dancing.  Also, some people just skate for fun and recreation, and many “just for fun skaters” consider themselves figure skaters.

Anyway…ice dancers are certainly figure skaters!

Happy Skating!

JO ANN Schneider Farris

Further Reading:

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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