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Winter Olympic Disciplines

Figure skating

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   Like many winter sports, figure skating's roots grew from necessity. As a mode of transportation for warfare and hunting in Northern Europe, skating was a swift way to cross frozen lakes, ponds, rivers and streams. Warriors and hunters crafted makeshift skates of reindeer antlers or elk bones, and later iron and steel. By the 16th century, skaters were transporting goods across frozen waterways.

   In 1892, the International Skating Union (ISU) was founded. Six years later, the first ISU-sanctioned event was held, and organisers hoped it might soon become an official Olympic sport. Because competitions could be held indoors, figure skating was added to the Olympic programme for the 1908 Summer Games. Figure skating became an official Olympic Winter Games sport at the 1924 Winter Games in Chamonix.


   There are four Olympic Figure Skating events: ladies singles, men's singles, pairs, and ice dancing.

   The singles event consists of two sections: the short programme, and free skating. The short programme combines eight prescribed elements such as jump combinations and spins. In the free skating programme, skaters, perform an original arrangement of techniques to music of their choice. As judges deduct points for a programme that consists of too many or too few jumps, a balanced programme is important.

   The pairs event also consists of a short programme and free skating. The couple works as one unit, demonstrating overhead lifts, throw-jumps with the man launching his partner, and other manoeuvres. The performance requires harmony, strength and grace.

   Ice dancing is similar to ballroom dancing. The focus is on the complex steps in time with the music. The skaters maintain contact with each other, limiting lifts and jumps.

   The ice dancing event consists of three sections: compulsory, original, and free dances. In compulsory dancing, the couple performs one pre-determined dances. Original dance must follow selected rhythms, though the pair can choose their own music and interpretative steps. In free dancing the pair freely express their interpretation of the music they have chosen.


   • ice dancing Mixed

   • individual Men

   • individual Women

   • pairs Mixed

Credit: IOC

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