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Figure Skating

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Figures on ice

Figure skating focuses on the artistic performance of spins, jumps, steps, and turns on ice, usually with background music. The audience is provided with a real show as well as a sportive event. There are simple, double, triple, or quadruple jumps. Figure skating was born in the UK and even at that time had already distinguished itself from speed skating. In 1814, the first competitions were held and soon figure skating spread all over Europe and the US, where dance elements and music were used in addition to the regular performance.

In 1881 the first analytical textbook about figure skating was published in Vienna. The outcome was the first rulebook (Regulativ), which was adopted by the Ice Skating Union and is still valid today, with various modifications. In 1882, the first international tournaments were held in Vienna, according to the new rulebook. In 1891, the first European Championships and in 1896 the first World Championships were carried out in St. Petersburg. For a long time, women were excluded from figure skating due to medical and social reasons. The first women’s competitions were held in 1906, the first Women’s World Championships in 1908, and the first Women’s European Championships as well as the first Pair Skating European Championships in 1930. Since the Summer Olympic Games 1908, figure skating is an Olympic discipline, it was also the first Winter Olympic Discipline in 1924, and the first Olympic Discipline with women’s contests.

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Important jumps are for example:

  • Three Turns
  • Salchow Jump
  • Toe-Loop Jump
  • Loop Jump (Rittberger)
  • Flip Jump
  • Lutz Jump
  • Axel Jump
  • Split Jump
  • Half Loop (Euler)
  • Butterfly Jump

Spins originate from ballet and refer to rotations performed on one leg. There are three categories (Upright, Camel, and Sit Spins) with a number of variations. Spins can be performed forwards and backwards, in pairs, or combined. Important spins are for example: Biellmann-Spin, Layback Spin, Death Spiral. Common Steps and Turns are: Arabesque, Lunge, Choctow Turn, Mohawk, Spiral. 


Figure skates consist of a leather boot, where a steel blade is attached to the bottom. The costumes are designed to accompany the overall presentation. Traditionally, women had to stick to the Victorian dress code and wear woolen dresses and underskirts, which extremely hindered their performance. Due to Sonja Henie’s performance in short skirts at the Olympic Games 1924, costumes were modernized and women were permitted to wear tight-fitting clothing.

Hall of Fame
  • Jackson Haines
  • Eduard Engelmann jr.
  • Ulrich Salchow
  • Werner Rittberger
  • Sonja Henie
  • Karl Schäfer
  • Tonya Maxine Harding
  • Katarina Witt

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