«I have devoted all my life to figure skating, the most beautiful sport that not only fostered my aesthetic sensitivity but also nurtured my will to win, my courage and strong character. It is these qualities that have always steered me to victory. I am sure that at the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, we will witness many unforgettable triumphs for Russian athletes!»
Figure skating is the oldest discipline in the Winter Olympics. As far back as 1908, figure skating competitions were included in the Summer Olympics in London, and in 1920 at the Antwerp Games. As of 1924 Olympics in Paris, singles and pair skating became a fixed part of the Olympic Winter Program.
The first Russian Olympic champion in figure skating was Nikolai Panin-Kolomenkin. He won a gold medal at London 1908 Olympic Games in an individual program called “Special Figures”.
A demonstration sport up through the 1972 Winter Games, Ice Dancing became part of the Olympic program in 1976, when Soviet figure skaters Lyudmila Pakhomova and Aleksandr Gorshkov became the first Olympic Ice Dancing champions.
Figure Skating in Russia
Figure skating began to develop quickly in Russia under Tsar Peter the Great. In addition to bringing samples of skates from Europe, he even invented new ways of attaching them directly to boots. After Peter's death, figure skating fell out of fashion in Russia, and was forgotten for many years.
In 1865, a public skating rink opened in St. Petersburg at the Yusupov Gardens. The finest in Russia, this rink immediately became a center for training figure skaters. Indeed, the first contest of Russian figure skaters was held here on March 5, 1878.
The Soviet school of figure skating came to the fore only after the Second World War. As early as in 1964, the USSR was celebrating its first Olympic success – a gold medal in pairs mixed skating for Lyudmila Beloussova and Oleg Protopopov
Today, figure skating is one of the most popular sports in Russia.
Figure Skating as it is
Figure skating in the Olympic Games includes both men's and women's individual events, pairs mixed, and ice dancing mixed. At the present time, four sets of medals are contested in the Olympic figure skating program.
Individual men's and women's figure skating comprises a short program that includes seven compulsory moves, and a free skate program. A well-balanced free program should include jumps, spins, and steps.
Likewise, pairs mixed skaters first perform a short program (7 moves) and then a free skate program. Compulsory moves include lifts, spirals, throws and synchronized jumps. One of the most significant criteria in the judging of programs is the degree to which a pairs' movements mirror one another.
Ice Dancing is the only discipline that allows the use of music with vocals. Dancers much adhere closely to the rhythm of the music and express the character of the music with appropriate emotion and feeling.
Until the 2010-2011 season, ice dancing comprised three performances: A compulsory dance (in which the performance closely follows a prescribed set of steps set to a piece of music with a particular character and musical rhythm); An original dance, carried out in keeping with guidelines provided by the International Skating Union; And a free skate dance, the theme and music of which is left to the skaters' choice, although the choreography of the dances should include a specific set of elements.
At present, ice dancing competitions, like those of other forms of figure skating, consist of two programs. The short program combines a compulsory dance—consisting of one or two parts—and certain prescribed elements. The theme and rhythm of the musical accompaniment is determined each season by the ISU, while the length of this dance—currently 2 minutes and 50 seconds—is similar to requirements of other forms of figure skating. The free dance has not undergone significant changes over the years and the basis of its scoring remains the quality of the compulsory elements in close dancing positions, the unison the skaters display and their ability to express the character of the musical selection.
Figure skaters use the following athletic equipment:
- Custom-made boots made of thick, stiff leather, with extra laces and wide tongues, which provide the ankle with both flexibility and support.
- High strength carbon-steel blades with concave grooves along their entire length and teeth in the toe of the blade to allow for pushing off when performing certain types of jumps.
- A suit made of stretchable material that does not restrict the skater’s range of motion. The outfit should correspond to the character of the musical selection and reflect the artistic idea of the program.
- A standard skating rink is 30 by 60 meters in size, with plastic or sliding boards. Figure skaters need the highest quality ice, which is possible with the aid of ice resurfacers. The thickness of the ice over its entire surface cannot vary by over 0.5 cm.
Figure skating in Sochi
The “Iceberg” Skating Palace in Sochi where both figure skating and short-track events will be held during 2014 Olympic Winter Games is not only a world-class modern athletic facility, but also a genuine work of art in its own right. The smooth, curving lines of the building’s façade are intended to evoke the trajectory of a figure skater performing a triple axel.
In keeping with the overall plan of 2014 Games, the “Iceberg” Skating Palace is located in the Olympic Park, which is to become the heart of the Olympic events in the Coastal cluster.
The venue is to hold 12,000 spectators.
The Olympic Skating Centre will be fully accessible to people with disabilities.
The venue is to be commissioned in 2012 to host test events.