Some sports, unlike others, are heavily underrated despite the fact that they demand an equal amount of hard work, dedication, and love for them, be it innate or inculcated.
Different individuals may choose for themselves the sport which they find the most amusing.
They can choose to become players or support as enthusiasts.
As people are free to pursue or appreciate whichever sport they like, it is not always necessary that everyone be fans of the undeniably engaging yet somewhat overrated games like cricket or football.
In a humble attempt to spread awareness, this blog attempts to inform people more and more about one of the more under-appreciated sports on the list.
It is hoped that after reading this short guide to figure skating readers will start appreciating and perhaps even start taking part in the said sport.
Figure skating, as we know it today, is a unique and interesting sport.
It is a specialized version of the recreational activity which is known as ‘ice-skating’.
On the outside, one might mistakenly take it to be nothing more than dainty and feminine, but in reality, it stretches well beyond that prejudiced concept.
As an international sport, competitive figure skating first appeared in the late 19th century.
Germany became the first European country to organize international figure skating competitions with the inauguration of the European Championships in 1891.
In 1896, World Championships were held for the first time in St.Petersburg, Russian Empire.
When the year 1908 advanced, at the London Olympics, figure skating became the first winter sport added to the Olympic Games.
Figure skating is now an official Olympic sport and its events take place during the Winter Olympics.
Along with the Winter Olympics, another major event which showcases this sport would be the Grand Prix Series organized by the International Skating Union which is a year-long competition where countries like the USA, Canada, Russia, China, and Japan send their ace skaters in hopes of winning a Gold, Silver or Bronze medal.
A single event offers several disciplines such as men’s singles, ladies’ singles, pair skating and ice dancing.
Just as in many other forms of sport, a junior-level alternative is also organized by ISU and it is called ISU Junior Grand Prix.
Earning points in the sport:
The sport requires the participants to perform an act on the ice based on which the participants are judged.
The participant is marked on the basis of his choreography and technicalities separately, thus, the final score is a sum total both of the technical score and the score for choreography.
It is here that we note that the choreography is of supreme importance to the skater.
The skater doesn’t always have to include difficult jumps in his program. If his choreography is simply splendid and it manages to touch the audience and the judges emotionally, he might still be able to make it to the top six without the use of difficult techniques.
However, ace skaters don’t just depend on that. They incorporate various jumps and loops in their program to raise the technical score along with presenting an impressive choreography.
Important Moves of Figure Skating:
One jump that can significantly raise the total score would be the quadruple flip.
Being one of the toughest jumps in the history of figure skating, it was first successfully landed by Japan’s Shoma Uno in the year 2016 at the USA’s Team Challenge Cup.
Other more common (yet tough all the same) moves would be the Salchow jumps, Lutz jumps, the Axels and the flips.
A single Quadruple toe-loop requires the skater to make four complete rotations in the air before landing successfully on the ice! A skater’s score is affected if he under rotates or if the landing is not clean, however there are no negative marks for accidentally flubbing jumps.
While on the topic of this sport, it is only fair to point out the common types of injuries which skaters are vulnerable to.
Ankle sprains and fractures are very frequent. When a loss of balance occurs, there is a fair chance of severe head injuries.
Ligament tears, and lacerations, though not frequent, are not entirely unheard of in the sport.
With the proper equipment, fitting skates, and sufficient warm-up, such injuries can, to some extent, be avoided.
In countries like Russia, Germany, and the Netherlands, Figure skating is much more than just a sport.
It is a part of the cultural heritage. Even the remotest villages of Siberia are likely to have a skating rink of their own!
Every year, the Russian team sends legends like Evgeni Plushenko, Alina Zagitova, Evgenia Medvedeva to the world championships to bring back pride, prestige, and honor for their country.
Skaters too like other dedicated athletes are invincible and infallible.
They don’t stop when they face crippling pain, or when they accidentally fracture themselves, not even if they have to go back to bed with a bleeding toe.
Skater Evgeni Plushenko retired in 2017, at the age of thirty five after having undergone a total of fifteen surgeries during his years as a competitive skater.
But perhaps for them, that sort of pain is sweet. When a skater stands in front of a crowd of approximately thirty thousand people and his country’s national flag is lifted high up in the air while his national anthem echoes and oozes out of nooks and corners of an eighty thousand square kilometres wide stadium, the moments of hardship are long forgotten, on the contrary, such moments are rather cherished.
Figure skating is not an easy sport, but it is a sport that is worthy of being loved by you and me, and by everyone else. It is intoxicating and appealing but requires some patience to completely fall in love with. A few months into it, and you will already have landed your first jump, suddenly finding yourself unable to leave the ice anymore.