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figure skating

10 words you need to know for figure skating

Figure skating has been featured at the Olympics since 1908, with five separate disciplines—women’s singles, men’s singles, pairs, ice dancing, and, since the 2014 Games, mixed team skating. Here are 10 words you need to know:

axel (n.) – a jump in skating from the forward outside blade edge of one skate to the backward outside edge of the other, with one (or more) and a half turns in the air.

Named after the Norwegian figure skater Axel Paulsen, this jumping technique is considered to be the most difficult to perform. No skater has yet to land a quadruple axel (4½ turns) in competition.

chassé (n.) – a gliding step in ice dancing in which one foot displaces the other.

Borrowed from ballet terminology, chassés in ice dancing come in three forms: the simple chassé, the cross chassé, and the slide chassé.

compulsory (n.) – an event in competitive figure skating consisting of a set of required moves or elements.

Also called the short program (or pattern dance in ice dancing), this event lasts 2 minutes and 50 seconds in singles and pairs skating, and its requirements include performing a number of jumps, spins, and foot sequences set to music.

free skate (n.) – an event in competitive figure skating that is set to music and has no required elements.

Also called the long program, this event lasts 4 minutes in the women’s program, and 4½ minutes in the men’s and pairs programs. Skaters are able to choose which jumps and other moves best showcase their ability and are judged according to both artistic and technical merit.

kilian (n.) – a fast ice dance executed by a pair of skaters side by side.

First performed in 1909, the kilian is a very difficult pattern dance.

lutz (n.) – a jump in skating from the backward outside edge of one skate to the backward outside edge of the other, with one or more full turns in the air.

This jump is named after Austrian skater Alois Lutz, who first performed it in 1913.

quad (n.) – (also quadruple) four turns in a skating jump.

The first male skater to land a valid quad in competition was Kurt Browning (1988; toe loop). The first female skater with a valid quad in competition was Miki Ando (2002; salchow).

salchow (n.) –a jump in which the skater takes off from the inside back edge of one skate and lands, after a complete rotation, on the outside back edge of the other.

This jump is named after Ulrich Salchow, the Swedish figure skater who invented it.

toe loop (n.) – a jump, initiated with the help of the supporting foot, in which the skater makes a full turn in the air, taking off from and landing on the outside edge of the same foot.

Because the toe loop is one of the simplest jumps to perform, many skaters attempt their first quads with this approach.

toe pick (n.) – (also toe rake) a set of teeth at the front of the blade of a skate.

Toe picks are mainly used to assist the skater in a jump or a spin.

twizzle (n.) – a twisting or spinning movement on one skate.

This move is a required element in ice dancing competition.

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