Figure skating performance, if well executed, usually looks like an uninterrupted flow of movement on ice. What sights the spectator is treated to largely depends on whether it is a solo, a pair, or a group of skaters they are watching. That being said, every performance is meticulously structured and thought through down to every minor detail. Since it is generally more interesting to watch pretty much anything if you have a good grasp on what is to be expected and how that should look like, we will take a peak into the most important elements of almost any figure skating show.
Let the jumps start off this list as it is one of the most widely recognizable figure skating elements in both its looks and successful execution. When it comes to freestyle skating, all of the jumps have similar attributes, which include the rotational position while the skater is in the air as well as the fact that the performer is supposed to land on one foot. However, they are divided into two main categories based on the different takeoff positions. There are three edge jumps, loop, axel and salchow, with axel being the most complicated one due to the additional half rotation. There are also three toe jumps – lutz, flip and toe loop – which are basically edge jumps but with assistance from the vault off the toe pick. The jumps can also be categorized from single to quadruple, which relates to the number of rotations in the air. Pretty much all the same applies to pairs and team skating, except that the factor of synchrony and knowledge of one’s partner adds on. It is very common to have one type of spin or spins followed by different ones to create a combination.
Those are more numerous in categories and might be more difficult to distinguish during a short and fast-paced performance. Mostly spins are carried out using the back outside or the back inside edge of the skate. The spin performed in an upright position, where the skater, usually a woman, arches her back and lowers her shoulders and head towards the ice, is known as the layback spin. There is also the sit spin, which, as the name implies, is performed in the sitting position, with one leg bent an the other extended besides the bent skating leg. The camel spin involves a leg being extended parallel to the ice while the other leg is straight and controls the speed and other aspects of the spin. One of the most impressive sights on ice is a scratch spin; here the skater is in the upright position and spins on one leg. They scratch the surface of the ice with the toe pick from time to time to maintain balance (this is where the spin gets its name). In the meantime, they pull their arms and the free leg towards themselves to create a centrifugal force, which allows to spin so fast that the skater becomes blurry. An interesting aspect to consider is dizziness, as most people would not be able to recover after such fast spins of several seconds. However, years of practice allow humans to achieve incredible things.