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Introduction to Ice Skating

January 1, 2010

National Federation
Ice Skating Association of Ireland
Irish Sports HQ
National Sports Campus
Dublin 15

Email: info@isai.ie
Web: www.isai.ie

Figure Skating

There are five Olympic figure skating events: ladies singles, mens singles, pairs, ice dance, and team.

The mens, ladies and pairs competitions consist of two separate parts: the short program and the free skating. The short program combines seven prescribed elements such as jump combinations and spins. In the free skating program, skaters, perform an original arrangement of techniques to music of their choice. The top 24 of the 30 competitors in the singles events and the top 16 of the 20 couples in the pairs event qualify for the free skate.

In the pairs the couple works as one unit, demonstrating overhead lifts, throw-jumps with the man launching his partner, and other manoeuvres. The performance requires harmony, strength and grace.

Ice dance is similar to ballroom dancing and composed of two parts, the short and free dances. The focus is on the complex steps in time with the music. The skaters maintain contact with each other, limiting lifts and jumps. The short dance must include a prescribed pattern, though the pair can choose their own music and other elements. In the free dance, the pair freely express their interpretation of the music they have chosen.

The team event was introduced at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Ten countries field teams in at least three of the four figure skating disciplines. The teams compete over both short and free programs with the five lowest scoring nations being dropped after the short. Rankings are determined by adding up the placement points in each event.


Speed Skating

Speed skating consists of 12 events, which along with cross-country is the most number of events per sport at the Games.

Speed skating is one of the few Winter Olympic sports where time and speed records are significant (in that in many other sports, the variety of terrain and the conditions of the competition track render time or speed records meaningless).


Short Track Speed Skating

The juxtaposition of speed and potential spills makes this one of the most thrilling of all Olympic Winter sports. It is one of the few events where competitors race directly against each other rather than against the clock.

Short track differs in several ways from conventional speed skating, particularly in the obvious differences in the size of the track and the nature of the competition, but also in the competitor’s equipment.

Races take place around an oval track (measuring around 111.12m) designed to fit inside an average ice rink. The bends are tight and “short trackers” skate close together counter-clockwise jockeying for position and trying to cover any attempted breaks within the pack. The odd clash and tumble are inevitable with the walls and the rink being heavily padded.

Although the aim is still to be the first across the line, speed takes a second place to tactics, especially in the heats.


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