Skating on Olympic Ice

The Winter Olympics have started, and while I may find myself tuning in to watch Hockey or The Luge, what I’m really waiting for is figure skating. The glitter, the sequins, the spandex the JUMPS!! I’m all about the figure skating.

Toe Pick!

I was first introduced to figure skating during the 1992 Winter Olympics. I was new to the Olympics and was so impressed with the grace and power these athletes displayed. I remember in 1992 when I saw the movie Cutting Edge. I loved the story of a Hockey player turned figure skater and I began to really pay attention and appreciate the hard work these people put into the sport. From then on, I followed the sport. Watching the various skating events, the championships and picking my favorite skaters. Then in 1994, while gearing up for the competition, Nancy Kerrigan was taken out with that blow heard ‘round the world.

The whole Tonya vs. Nancy events of that year seemed to really bring a global focus on the sport, shoving it into the spotlight like it had never been before. People learned a lot about the sport, but there are still some things I’ll bet you didn’t know.

What Else Is There to Know About Skating?

  • Figure skating is the oldest winter Olympic sport. It was first introduced in London in 1908. This predated the formal winter games by 16 years!
  • In the 1880’s the Vienna Skating Club mimicked the waltz when they gathered on the ice. This is commonly thought to be the start of ice dancing. It wasn’t officially made an Olympic event until 1976 when it was recognized in the Winter Olympics for the first time.
  • Ice skating hasn’t always been for show. Animal bones were used as blades in the first ice skates and they were primarily used for transportation. Metal blades weren’t introduced until the 13th
  • In 1848, E.V. Bushnell invented clips that attached the metal skates to the foot. It was a huge turning point in skating history. Up to this point, elaborate moves and intricate dancing simply wasn’t possible, the skates would just slip off the foot. After the clip on skate was introduced, these more elaborate moves became possible.
  • Speaking of elaborate moves, figure skaters can reach 300 RPM when they’re doing a spin or a spinning jump. Think about that. 300 RPM is the same force that astronauts experience in centrifuge training.
  • No singing, no props! Maybe you’ve noticed, but vocals during a performance is not allowed. You may choose any music you want to skate to, but if it has words, it’s not allowed. They’re also not allowed to use any props during their performance. Success or failure is solely judged on individuality and skill-set, not on who has the best toys.

Go Team!

The US has won at least one medal for figure skating during the Winter Games since 1948. That’s 18 competitions in a row. So sit back, turn out the lights and enjoy the show! Now that you’re armed with a little more knowledge of the sport, you’ll enjoy it a little more!



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