Discover Figure Skating

How much do you know about figure skating? In this article, we'll share all the main aspects of this aesthetic and extremely demanding sport.
Discover Figure Skating

Last update: 29 August, 2019

Figure skating is a sport that’s included in the winter Olympics and it requires optimum physical conditions. Read along to discover more about figure skating.

Surely you’ve seen figure skating at the Olympics or on a sports channel? There’s actually an interesting story behind the origin of this sport. It’ll surely change the way you see figure skating.

Discover figure skating: how did figure skating originate?

Usually performed in cold climates on frozen lakes and rivers, skates were originally made from animal bones. The bones were tied to shoes and a cane was used to propel the skater along.

As time went by, figure  skating became a recreational activity (between the 16th and 17th century). As a result, you can find a lot of artwork from these times that portrays people figure skating in open spaces.

During the 19th century, the first skating rinks started to appear. Jackson Haines, an American incorporated classical ballet to the sport.

Birth of figure skating

Jackson Haines created modern figure skating and as the twentieth century progressed, figure skating became a sport.

Although, as we previously mentioned, figure skating has been around for a long time. However, it was only in the 1920s that it became a winter Olympic sport. The Olympics divided the competition into three categories: female, male and couples.

Female figure skater

Discover figure skating: competitions

The International Skating Union was founded in 1982 and it’s responsible for almost all international competitions, with the exception of the Olympic games. The following are the most significant figure skating contests:

  • Winter Olympic Games
  • World Championships
  • European Championships (exclusively for European skaters)
  • Four Continents Championship (for skaters from Africa, America, Asia, and Oceania)
  • The Grand Prix Series

In addition, there are a number of rules that regulate participation in figure skating competitions. Elements such as age, nationality, music, dance, and technique are all taken into account.


Skaters need to be able to perform intricate movements and make them appear easy. Intense training for long periods of time is necessary for anyone wanting to become a professional figure skater.

Training for figure skating doesn’t occur exclusively on the ice. There’s a whole range of exercises that can help to develop endurance, strength, agility, speed, flexibility, balance and expression.

The following are a few of the exercises that figure skaters practice:

  • Classical ballet
  • Pilates
  • Cardio
  • Yoga
  • Anaerobic exercises
  • Figure skating routines

These exercises help condition the body for the range of movements that skaters need. In addition, after performing these exercises, they’ll have the necessary skills to perform the pirouettes, elevations and jumps that the discipline demands.

Skating routines

There are many different skating routines as there are different choreographers and teachers who design them. Certain movements include:

  • Step sequence: this refers to a series of turns on the ice that can be circular, serpentine or straight.
  • Jumps: there are different types of jumps including the axel, loop, salchow, and flip. In couples figure skating one partner may have to jump into the arms of the other.
Figure skating competition
  • Angel sequence: this sequence is performed in most competitions, however, it’s obligatory in couples and female categories. It consists of the skater sliding on one skate while the other leg is held above the hip.
  • Link movements: these are movements that are used as a union between elaborate sequences.
  • Pirouettes: can be simple or complex (including jumps). There are four basic positions: arabesque, low, vertical, T-shaped and roof.
  • Elevation: vital in dance and couple’s categories. The types of elevations include waist, armpit, thigh, hip and hand elevations with or without change of direction.

Figure skating is a wonderful discipline. Not only is it a sport with many health benefits, but it also helps to develop creativity and expression. In addition, it’s open to the public so you can choose to observe or take part in classes.


All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Kestnbaum, Ellyn (2003). «The Beginning of Skating on Ice». Culture on Ice (en inglés). Wesleyan University Press.
  • Gailhaguet, Didier (1991). «Historique». Le patinage artistique (en francés). Éditions Denoel. pp. 17-21
  • Federación Española de Deportes de Hielo. es/ «Reglamentos»
  • US Figure Skating. «Conditioning Aerobic and Anaerobic»
  • Beck, Timbre. «Figure Skating Training Program»

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.