Not even the Nancy Kerrigan-Tonya Harding fiasco a couple years ago could
dampen the popularity of figure skating. It's one of the most watched sports
on television and it's a hobby enjoyed by many.
Whether you do a double lutz at your local hockey rink or turn a triple
Salchow on a frozen pond, figure skating is good exercise and a lot of fun.
Before skates as we know them today were invented, our ancestors had an
interest in ice skating, though more likely for hunting and traveling than
for entertainment and sport.
Ribs or shinbones of animals were bound to the feet. Skaters glided by
using a spiked stick to propel themselves. Later, iron or steel blades were
In the mid-19th century, curved steel skates contributed to figure skating
as we now know it. Then, in 1896 the first world championship for male figure
skating was held. The first time that the world saw figure skating in the
Olympic Games was in 1908.
Stacey Woods has been a figure skater for most of the 25 years of her life.
She has been involved in a variety of clubs, and is also a coach. "Over the
years, I have seen interest and enrollment in figure skating remain steady,"
Damon Allen is an international competitor from the U.S. He has been involved
with skating for 19 years.
He has some predictions. "I think that the introduction of the quadruple
jump has been very important in figure skating, in men's competition especially,"
he says. A quadruple jump is when the skater turns four times in the air.
"I also think people are becoming more aware of figure skating and it will
continue to grow as a spectator sport."
Figure skating can be an expensive hobby. The costs vary depending on how
involved you become.
The very least you will need is a pair of skates, along with skate guards.
There are always used skates around. This is the way to start if you're not
sure that you will stick with it.
For figure skaters who are quite active, skates can cost anywhere from
a couple hundred to a thousand dollars. Many skaters buy the blade and the
boot separately, and then pay to have them mounted.
If you want to look the part, a figure skating dress and tights for women,
or skating pants for men, are the general uniform. If you look around, these
items can usually be purchased used as well.
Beginners may want to consider wearing a helmet, as well as knee pads.
For jumpers, there are pads that attach to your rear end to protect you in
a fall. Unfortunately, it won't protect your pride.
Travel costs for competitions, club memberships, ice time and coaching
are other ways that figure skaters spend their money.
For beginners, Woods offers the following tips: don't look at your feet,
keep your arms out to your sides, bend your knees, take your time and relax.
It is a good idea to take a basic learn-to-skate program to get the foundation
you need for more advanced skating.
Woods says that common injuries in figure skating tend to be to the arms
or legs, and they are usually jump-related. "I've seen arms and legs broken,
twisted knees. A person will be skating along and fall or fall from a jump
and something breaks."
Skating is a physically demanding sport and a good way to exercise. Strong
leg muscles, balance and good posture are all assets to a figure skater. As
well, it gets your heart pumping and you get a great cardio workout.
If you are passionate about figure skating, why not consider these occupations?
You might even be able to do these part time while you are in school.
Figure skating coach: With proper training and certification, you
could shape the lives of future generations of skaters. A coach is usually
paid in 15- to 30-minute intervals.
Choreographer: If you have an eye for the artistic, and are able
to put moves to music, you could help figure skaters to arrange their routines.
Salesperson: Help figure skaters to find just the right skate,
the perfect costume or the latest knee pads. A knowledgeable salesperson is
an asset to any business.
United States Figure Skating Association
20 First St.
Figure Skating: Championship Techniques,
John Misha Petkevich
Super Skaters World Figure Skating Stars,
World Figure Skating Museum and Hall of Fame
Learn about the history of the sport
International Figure Skating
Find out about skaters from around the world