figure skating


figure skating

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Michelle Kwan (U.S.) performing at the world figure-skating championships, Vancouver, B.C., Can., …—Jeff Haynes—AFP/Getty Images

Sport in which ice skaters, singly or in pairs, perform various jumps, spins, and footwork. The figure skate blade has a special serrated toe pick, or toe rake, at the front. Figure-skating events, held in the 1908 and 1920 Olympic Games, have constituted part of the Winter Olympics since they were inaugurated in 1924. Until 1991, competition included a compulsory section in which prescribed figures were traced. Competition for individuals includes two free-skating programs: a short program with mandatory requirements and a long program designed to show the skater's skill and grace. Jumps fall into two main groups: the edge jumps (such as the axel, the salchow, and the loop), which take off from one foot; and the toe jumps (such as the toe loop, the flip, and the lutz), which are edge jumps assisted by a vault off the toe pick of the other foot. Additional pair moves, involving a man and a woman skating together, include lifts and throw jumps. Figure-skating programs are judged on both technical merit and artistic impression. See also ice dancing.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
For the full entry on figure skating, visit Britannica.com.

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