New Word #90: Figure Skating

Image by Дмитрий Бирюков from Pixabay

Every year, I would watch half to one hour of figure skating competition. Every four years, I would watch two to three hours of figure skating Olympics. However my knowledge of figure skating never improves. I don’t understand the differences between different jumps, can’t distinguish between two, three, or four rotations, don’t understand who skate better than whom. The only thing I know is that a fall is bad and if someone falls, he or she cannot be an Olympic champion no matter how good he or she is otherwise. Actually I feel that everybody deserves a medal and the competition is too brutal. It just shows how much human beings enjoy brutal fight for supremacy–from ancient Rome to nowadays.

I know a parent who lives in Plainsboro, New Jersey. She told me that her girl was doing figure skating and it is such a costly sport, from the skating boots, the lessons, the outfits, the coach, the competition, the travel. A middle class household is hardly able to afford it. And the emotional and physical exhaustion, that’s another thing on top of everything else. Behind all those glittering TV figures, how many children and parents spend years doing the costly training but not being able to make it?

This year, I am compiling a list of figure skating terms, but I know my understanding of figure skating will continue to be at the level of twenty years ago when Michelle Kwan was dazzling the screen. It is something I can never learn to understand, but I will continue to make attempt to understand.

illyngophobia: fear of spinning and dizziness.

cryophobia: An abnormal and persistent fear of cold, including cold weather and cold objects.

swizzle, twizzle

  • swizzle: A way of moving across the ice by pushing the feet outwards from a 90 degree angle V and then pulling them together again, forming an oval on the ice. Also known as scissors, fishes, or sculling.
  • twizzle: a maneuver in which a skater performs rapid, continuous rotations on one foot while skating forward or backward over the ice

spin, spiral, pirouette

  • spin: Spins are an element in figure skating in which the skater rotates, centered on a single point on the ice, while holding one or more body positions
  • spiral: Extending the free leg in the air while moving across the ice. A required element for ladies’ competitions. A good spiral depends on edge control and speed across the ice, not necessarily leg position.
  • pirouette: The solo spin, or pirouette, is allowed and defined as “a spinning movement performed on one foot”.

jump, loop, flip

  • loop: a figure skating jump in which the skater takes off from the back outside edge of one skate, makes a full turn in the air, and lands on the back outside edge of the same skate.
  • flip: It is a toe jump that takes off from a back inside edge and lands on the back outside edge of the opposite foot
  • lutz: It is a toepick-assisted jump with an entrance from a back outside edge and landing on the back outside edge of the opposite foot.
  • axel: The only jump counted as a jump element that starts from skating forward. An axel jump has an extra half rotation (180 degrees), and as all jumps is landed with the skater gliding backwards.

difficult jumps:

I tried to identify different jumps several years ago by watching a YouTube video, but I can’t understand it at all. The spinning is just too fast for my mind to figure it out.

  • the quadruple jump
  • the axel jump
  • the flip jump
  • the Salchow jump
  • The toe loop
  • the Lutz jump

mirror skating, unison skating

  • mirror skating: Two or more skaters skating in such a way that they are mirroring each other. The opposite of unison skating.
  • unison skating: Two or more skatings skating the same steps at the same time.

arabesque: a posture in which the body is supported on one leg, with the other leg extended horizontally backward.

popping: When a jumps “opens up” in mid-air, resulting in the skater performing fewer than the desired rotates. Pop is a word that is favored by the native speakers. If you open a bottle of wine, it is called “popped”; if your ear goes from blocked to unblocked, it can be called “popped”; if you ask the question “can you marry me”, it is called “pop the question”; if you visit somebody, it is called “pop in”; if one fires a gun, it is called “pop”; a can of soda is called “pop”, but I’ve never heard anybody using “pop” in this area. There are also popcorn, pop music, popsicle etc. that people love to consume.

cheated: A jump that was not fully rotated in midair, with either the first rotation starting on the ice or the final rotation finishing after the landing.

grapevine: A move in which the feet are alternately placed in front of each other, while both remaining on the ice or ground. Outside of the realm of figure skating, grapevine is used to refer to the circulation of rumors and unofficial information.

overrotated: A jump that has more than the expected number of rotations, mostly from landing the wrong way around. I will never understand this term. I thought if rotation is good for figure skating, over-rotation must be better. Apparently that’s not the case. I guess thinking too rationally is not really suitable for the real world.

20 thoughts on “New Word #90: Figure Skating

  1. I understand where you are coming from… for me, it’s American Football… of which I find the most mind blowing, is the name “football” in which only one member of each team actually kicks the ball…! Strange…!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, you remind me of checking on the date of Superbowl. And today I just see a book in discount that is about a football star’s life. I almost bought it but then I thought I didn’t know football that well. So i bought something else.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t get to watch Kristi Yamaguchi, but I watched the drama between Nancy and Tania–I guess the competition pressure just drove Tania crazy. Figure skating is too competitive. I just think I would have a heart attack if I were to be pressured to perform.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Really? There’s a movie? I probably want to watch it. I hope it is a good movie. Nowadays, most of the movies don’t have a good script, but I really like a good script and TV series are so much better than movies now.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. So true. I wonder where the thrill is from. I mean the thrill is a little different from the thrill of a team sports. I wonder why. Human beings are thrill seekers and can endure a lot of misery to seek thrills.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow. Very interesting. You really found out a lot about figure skating. I’ve only watched it a few times. It looks so graceful and beautiful. But I’m sure the training must be brutal. Nothing comes easy in this world. I never liked pop-tarts Do you? 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I remember when I was young, my parents had pink flamigo swizzle sticks to mix their drinks with, which for some reason, I always found fascinating. Maybe that’s why I have always had such a fascination regarding these birds!

    Anyway, we enjoy watching the figure skating and the speed skating. Years ago I was able to introduce my family to Steve Bradbury, the Australian ice speed skater, after he gave a talk at a conference I was at. Steve was famous for wining the gold medal after his opponents fell over and couldn’t get back up, so he skated to victory. He is just the nicest person 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I see. That’s how the idea of the picture is from. It is from the flamingo swizzle stick. Or vice versus. Thank you for sharing. It is fascinating. I mean these birds. How can they make themselves so pink? So beautiful? Are they on special diet? I mean the things these creatures do to beautify themselves.
      Haha, I guess Steve Bradbury is so nice that fate just can’t help lending him a hand. That’s the thing with skating and bicycle race. The biggest thing about the race is “not to fall”. I would be terrified, considering the big possibility of falling down among all the hustle of the opponents.


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