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Best of all, Figure Skating For Dummies gives you the inside scoop about ways to improve and enhance your performance, and even lets you in on Kristi's personal conditioning program -- the one she used to win the Gold Medal in the 1992 Winter Olympics!
How to Use This Book
How This Book Is Organized
- Part I: So You Want to Skate!
Part II: Skimming the Surface: The Elements of Figure Skating
Part III: Sharpening the Edges: The Finer Points of Skating
Part IV: Gliding into Competitive Skating
Part V: The Part of Tens
Part VI: Appendixes
- Icons Used in This Book
Chapter 1: What Is Figure Skating?
The Blade Makes the Sport
4 Disciplines = 1 Sport
Sport + Music = Drama
Scouting Out the Rink
Chapter 2: The Right (And Best) Equipment
First Floor: Footwear (Boots)
- Getting the right fit
Renting versus buying
- Second Floor: Hardware (Blades)
- Choosing your blade
Sharpening your blades
- Third Floor: Informal Wear (Practice Clothing)
- Stay free
- Fourth Floor: Accessories
Chapter 3: Coaches, Coaches Everywhere!
What a Coach Does
- Coaching at practice
Coaching at competitions
- How a Coach Becomes a Coach
What to Look for in a Coach
Where to Look
What Lessons Cost
How to Get the Most from Your Lessons
Chapter 4: A Training Plan
Training Off the Ice
- Lifting the load
Riding to nowhere
Skating without the rink
- Eating Like Your Life Depends on It
A Precaution a Day Keeps the Doctor Away
- Protecting your knees
Protecting your feet
Preparing your back
Chapter 5: Just the Basics, Ma'am
Edging Your Way onto the Ice
Stroking Across the Ice
- Forward stroking
- Getting Around with Crossovers
- Forward crossovers
- Snow plow
- Getting Turned Around
- Three turn
- Testing Your Skills
Chapter 6: Let's Go for a Spin
All Spins Come in Two Types
- Upright spin
- Flying Spins
- Flying sit spin
The death drop
- Combination Spins
- Transitions on two feet
Transitions on one foot
- Keeping Your Head about You
Chapter 7: Jumping for Judges
All Jumps Come in Two Types
- The Axel
- Toe Pick-Assisted Jumps
- The toe loop
- Combination Jumps
Chapter 8: One if by Land, Two if by Pairs
Looking for Mr. (Or Ms.) Right
Spinning the Night Away
She Ain't Heavy, She's My Partner
- Overhead lifts
Hand-to-hand lasso lifts
One-hand lasso lifts
Split twist lifts
- Throw Your Partner
Chapter 9: Bringing the Ballroom to the Ice
Ice Dancing versus Free Skating
- Compulsory dances
- Stepping Out
Making Your Moves
Getting Hold of Your Partner
- Closed (Waltz) position
Open (Fox-Trot) position
Outside (Tango) position
Chapter 10: Putting the Program Together
Planning the Program
Chapter 11: Skating to the Beat
Put Your Music on Ice
- Fitting your style
- Not Too Fast, Not Too Slow
Don't Sing for Me, Argentina!
Chapter 12: Smooth Moves
Dancing on Ice
- Fitting the music
Carriage and style
Expression of the character of the music
Fitting a skater's personality
- Hiring a Choreographer
- How much time does a choreographer need?
How much do choreographers cost?
Chapter 13: "Amateurs" and "Pros"
What Is an "Amateur" Anyway?
It's All in the Eligibility
So Money's Not an Issue?
Turning Back the Clock
Chapter 14: The Lowdown on Competition
The International Skating Union
The U.S. Figure Skating Association
- Making the grade
Qualifying for the biggies
- The Ice Skating Institute
Skating through the Year
- The Champions Series
The National Championships
The European Championships
The World Championships
The Winter Olympics
Chapter 15: The Mysteries of Judging Revealed
How to Recognize a Judge
How Judges Are Chosen to Sit on a Panel
The Judge of Judges
What Judges Are Looking For
Are Judges Biased?
Chapter 16: Solving the Scoring Riddle
How My 5.5 Beats Your 5.8
Putting the Scores Together
Getting from Marks to Placements
Weighting the Programs
Scoring the Two Programs in Singles and Pairs
- Short program
What goes into the required elements mark
What goes into the presentation mark
What goes into the technical merit mark
What goes into the presentation mark
- Scoring the Three Dances in Ice Dancing
- Compulsory dances
What goes into the technique mark
What goes into the timing/expression mark
What goes into the composition mark
What goes into the presentation mark
What goes into the technical merit mark
What goes into the artistic impression mark
Chapter 17: Judging for Yourself
How to Begin Judging for Yourself
What to Look For
Was That a Lutz or a Loop?
- Recognizing the Axel
Recognizing the Salchow
Recognizing the loop
Recognizing the toe loop
Recognizing the flip
Recognizing the Lutz
- Consider the Combinations
Don't Forget the Second Mark
Add It All Up
Chapter 18: Ten Ways to Improve Your Skating
Practice Like You Perform
Pick Your Own Music
Don't Worry about Your Competitors
Leave the Past in the Past
Go to Your Coach -- the Source
Learn to Accept Criticism
Shake a Leg
Sharpen Your Blades
Chapter 19: Ten Best Conditioning Secrets
Have a Doctor Check You Out
Warm Up Properly for Training
Train on the Ice
Have a Consistent Conditioning Regimen
Train for Endurance
Train for Power
Improve Your Upper-Body Strength
Make the Most of Training
Get Plenty of Rest
Chapter 20: Ten Things Every Parent Should Know
Understand the Three-Way Partnership
Keep Communications Open
Remember Your Responsibilities
Don't Be a Burden to Your Child
Watch Your Finances
Keep Financial Discussions Discreet
Keep Calm for Your Skater
Create a Stable Routine
Watch Out for School and Skating Conflicts
Remember Your Other Children
Chapter 21: Ten Tips for Watching Competitive Skating
Stake Out Practice
Get a Good Seat
Size Up the Programs
Don't Be Late for the Long
Show Your Appreciation
Be Careful with the Camera
Don't Believe Everything You Watch
Chapter 22: Ten Greatest Skaters of All Time
Brian Boitano -- 1988 -- United States
Kurt Browning -- 1993 -- Canada
Dick Button -- 1948 -- United States
John Curry -- 1976 -- Great Britain
Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov -- 1988 -- Soviet Union
Scott Hamilton -- United States
Midori Ito -- 1989 -- Japan
Janet Lynn -- 1972 -- United States
Irina Rodnina and Alexandr Zaitsev -- 1980 -- Soviet Union
Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean -- 1984 -- Great Britain
Katarina Witt -- 1984 -- East Germany
Chapter 23: Ten Great Skating Web Sites
The Unofficial Kristi Yamaguchi Web Page
Stars on Ice
Sandra Loosemore's SkateWeb: The Figure Skating Page
Figure Skater's Website
Technical Figure Skating
The Useless Skating Pages
IceSkating Email-Pals Club
The Figure Skating Corner
Figure Skating Marketplace
ISU: International Skating Union
United States Figure Skating Association
Canadian Figure Skating Association
International Olympic Committee
1998 Nagano Winter Olympics
2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics
Appendix A: USFSA Test Requirements
Appendix B: The Compulsory Dances
Appendix C: Members of the International Skating Union
International Skating Union Headquarters
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Republic of Korea
United States of America
Appendix D: Skate Speak
Book Registration Information
In This Chapter
With spins, you're getting into some serious skating. You're no longer talking about the various methods of moving across the ice, accelerating and stopping, or turning. Spins are one of the skating elements.
Spins and jumps are the heart of the technical part of your program. Other elements, such as footwork and edges (discussed in Chapter 5), are important, but spins (and jumps-- see Chapter 7) impress the judges and bring fans to their feet.
How's that for false advertising? Spins are spins are spins. (As a physicist might say, they are rotations of the body around a central axis while standing on a skate.) The two types I'm referring to here are the same once the spin has begun. The difference is that some spins have a jump at the beginning, which is why they're called flying spins (sometimes called jump spins), and other spins don't. They're called non-flying spins.
Putting your twist on spins
In figure skating, you can invent a move or take a move that's normal and ordinary and make a variation of it. Judges count the move, and you may even get your name attached to it!
"Spins are judged on speed, position, and centering -- that is, maintaining your spin on one place in the ice as opposed to traveling. But speed is the most important thing because it's spectacular. You can't have great speed if you're traveling, and your speed won't last very long. If you have to choose between an interesting position or speed, go for speed. Don't try to do too many positions and slow down."
Spinning is, again, balancing on the blade. Your blade has a sweet spot -- see Figure 6-1 -- that you want to maintain. It's just back from the toe pick on the ball of the foot, but not too far back. It's forward on the blade without hitting the toe pick. If you hit that toe pick too much, you're going to slow down. You should practice finding your sweet spot every day.
I refer to the free leg or free foot and the skating leg or skating foot frequently in this chapter. Free means the leg or foot that's not touching the ice and skating means the leg or foot that you're standing on.
Keeping your feet on the ground, I'll start with the non-flying spins. Master those, and you'll be ready to get your pilot's license and go solo.
This group of spins is named for the basic body position of each: the upright spin, the sit spin, and the camel spin. They can be done forward, on a back inside edge reached from a three turn, or backward, on a back outside edge from a three turn, which I discuss in the section "Getting Turned Around" in Chapter 5.
These basic spins have as many variations as there are skaters to create them.
When arms or legs are spread away from the body so that their mass is a greater distance from the axis of the spin, the rotations are slower. You'll notice that camel spins are generally the slowest spins, which is because of the body position. The upright spin is the fastest, and some variation of it is often used to end a program and give it a big finish.
The position of the skater's body in a fully developed upright spin is quite compact, which is why this spin is so fast. Follow these steps to complete an upright spin:
You're then on a back inside edge with your arms spread and the thigh of your free leg parallel to the ice and out to the side, skating knee slightly bent, as in Figure 6-3a.
As your body contracts, the rotation accelerates.
The rotation accelerates as your body elongates.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
"The edge into the spin is the most important. You have to maintain pressure on the skating knee so that the outside edge has a firm grip on the ice and doesn't slip away from you."
The sit spin is one of the most difficult spins to learn because the position is difficult for many skaters. What skaters look for is a figure 4 position, the knee of the skating leg deeply bent, the back straight and tilted forward for balance, and the free leg extended straight forward and slightly turned out, as shown in Figure 6-4.
These steps will help you get started:
Be sure your back is straight, but tilted forward. Some skaters don't get low enough in the spin because their calf muscles are too tight (see Chapter 4 for how to stretch your calves). If the skater sits upright too much, I call that a granny spin.
You maintain the speed on spins by maintaining a very balanced, tight position. Once you're in your spin, hold your position and don't adjust.
When you're first starting a camel (or parallel) spin, you can think of it kind of as a lunge. Here's how:
Raising your free leg tilts your balance forward slightly so that your left toe pick bites into the ice. The arm swing provides the rotational force to start the spin.
About three-fourths of the way through the first rotation, begin to slowly straighten your skating knee so that you rise into the camel position, which I demonstrate in Figure 6-5d.
"Look straight ahead, not down at the ice, when you do a camel spin. And take care to maintain your balance on the sweet spot of your blade as you straighten the left knee. You don't want the straightening action to tilt you forward onto the toe pick, which would slow down the spin."
Leaping into a spin provides drama. It seems to magnify the spin, and it obviously adds an extra element of uncertainty that makes judges sit up and take notice. After all, you're trying to get them to focus on your fantastic ability, right? So now that you know how to spin merrily out of your three turns, you're ready to take a flying leap into one.
Dick Button, the two-time Olympic Champion-turned-television commentator, made the flying sit spin famous because of the tremendous height he could achieve on the jump.
This spin can be murder on the landing knee because with your landing leg tucked up under your buttocks as in Figure 6-6, there is little room for it to bend more to absorb the shock of landing.
To successfully complete a flying sit spin, do the following:
This provides the rotational force for the spin. In Figure 6-6b my free leg has already swung forward, and I'm in midair.
The sitting position is described earlier in this chapter, in the section called "Sit spin."
"You see very few women doing flying sit spins because it's considered such an acrobatic move. Kristi did one in her Olympic program just because she hadn't used one in so many years and because she was pretty good at it. She was going for it, and because it's hard, it earns respect from the judges."
Take a moment here to consider the absurdity of that literal thought. 5 -- 4 -- 3 -- 2 -- 1, liftoff. "Houston, the camel has landed. That's one small step for dromedaries, one giant leap for animal-kind." And now back to our regularly scheduled program, already in progress.
The camel's leap into sports, shown in Figure 6-7, is as follows:
This provides the rotational force for the spin.
In this jump, in contrast to the flying sit spin, you are going more for horizontal distance than height.
The tracing and flight path are shown in Figure 6-8.
"It's a big deduction to do a three turn, turn backwards, and jump. That's a big, big no-no. You have to push up on the toe while going forward on takeoff."
Camel up, sit spin down pretty much describes this jump. The takeoff is slightly different from the flying camel because you jump more vertically. Ideally, you have both feet up and back and at the same time you have both hands up -- like you're spread out flat on a table. Brian Boitano has one of the most impressive death drops I've ever seen.
Don't confuse this jump with a Hamill camel. Dorothy Hamill's spin was a flying camel -- she landed in the camel position -- and then she switched from the camel to the sit spin position. In the death drop, the takeoff is like the flying camel takeoff, but the transition to the sit spin comes in midair.
"You can give an extra illusion of height on this jump if you give an extra kick with the trailing leg (the free leg) before you go down on the sit spin. It also gives you a little added time."
Combination spin means a spin with one or more changes of foot and/or one or more changes in position. For example, you can change from an upright spin to a sit spin, you can change from right foot to left, or you can do both.
At Olympic level competition, a combination spin must include all three positions: the sit spin, camel spin, and upright spin.
These transitions take you from one foot to another as well as changing position. You may be in a camel spin and then jump over into a sit spin on the opposite foot. But once you go down into a sit spin, jumping over into anything else is very difficult.
These involve just changing feet in mid-spin. In the short program, which has required elements, you can change feet only once in a combination spin, but you do have to show all three positions. At the Senior and Junior levels, six revolutions are required on each foot, and skaters balance the number of revolutions between their feet, completing an equal number of revolutions on each.
"It usually doesn't help a skater to do more than the three required positions in a combination spin because position changes often cut into the speed of the spin. While extra positions are interesting, if they decrease the speed or quality of the spin, they aren't worth doing."
Doing so takes practice, because all figure skaters get dizzy from spins. Except when slowing down at the end of some spins, skaters don't spot, or face their heads in one direction while their bodies spin most of the way around, like ballet dancers do. Figure skating spins are much too fast.
Getting dizzy is simply part of the game, but figure skaters do get used to the sensation after awhile and learn to cope with it. For every spin, the rotational speed is different. Sometimes I can recover fairly fast, in five seconds or so, and sometimes I take longer, depending on the length of the spin, how many rotations, and how fast I'm going. So usually I don't plan a jump immediately after a spin. As soon as I stop, I try to focus on a spot in the crowd or on the rail to regain my senses.
Skaters do fall in spins, but falls during spins are rare compared to falls on jumps. A balanced spin stabilizes itself from gyroscopic action. But if you lose your balance in one direction, just the force of the rotation takes you off your feet fairly easily. Once you lose your balance in a spin, it's very hard to recover.
Posted January 30, 2002
Posted February 16, 2001
It was more like Kristi's autobiography and her accomplishments than teaching me the specific skills I wanted to learn. I did not feel that the skills were outlined in enough detail for me to really go out and practice (even skills I already knew). These skills needed to be dissected to the bare bones. Too much was glossed over. These skills might be elementary to a professional skater but not to someone trying to learn. The importance of arms and hands were ignored. At 43 and skating regularly for 2 years I am interested in perfecting this beautiful sport. Some things I wanted to know were not covered (ie: what kind of skating outfits and types of tights to wear). The sections on judging and scoring were boring. Many parts were redundant (she mentioned so many times who her skating partner was - you only need to read it once).Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 21, 2000
Posted March 8, 2000
Do you enjoy the thrill and excitment of ice skating? This book is excelent if you want to learn more about the sport. However it doesn't provide much detail about each subject covered. You are only told a little bit of information for each subject. The book is more for someone who just wants to learn the basics behind skating. I would give it a fair rating.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.