Figure skate

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American Athletic Figure skates American Athletic Figure Skate.jpg
American Athletic Figure skates

Figure skates are a type of ice skate used by figure skaters. The skates consist of a boot and a blade that is attached with screws to the sole of the boot. Inexpensive sets for recreational skaters are available, but most figure skaters purchase boots and blades separately and have the blades mounted by a professional skate technician.



During the 19th century, new forms of ice skates were developed to allow for even more control and safer gliding. Specific figure skates were created in response to the rise of figure skating's popularity in the 19th century, coinciding with the beginnings of formalized competitions such as the World Figure Skating Championships. The name "figure" skating arises from the compulsory portion of the competition, dropped in the 1990s, requiring skaters to trace out precise figures on the ice, including perfect figure 8 circles. [1] Figure skates are now manufactured with extreme precision for use in competitive sports. Blades are specifically designed to include various types of toe picks that allow for skaters to reach new heights for jumps and spins, depending on the skater's level. [2]


Ice skating in Graz in 1909 Eislaufverein Turnhalle Graz 7 Feber 1909 mit Johann Oberhammer.jpg
Ice skating in Graz in 1909

Figure skating boots are traditionally made by hand from many layers of leather. The design of figure skating boots changed significantly during the 20th century. Old photographs of skaters such as Sonja Heine from the 1920s and 1930s show them wearing thin, supple boots reaching to mid-calf. Modern skating boots, on the other hand, are extremely rigid to support the foot and ankle in jumps, and are cut much lower—just over ankle height—to allow the foot to flex. Because the stiffness of the boots makes good fit essential, many skaters either order custom boots or have their boots "bumped out" over pressure points by a skate technician.

In recent[ clarification needed ] years, boots made of synthetic materials with heat-modifiable linings have become popular with many skaters because they combine strength with lighter weight than leather boots, and are easier to "break in." The latest development in boot technology is a boot that is hinged at the ankle to provide lateral support while allowing more flexibility. Boots used in ice dance are usually slightly lower in the back to allow for greater bend in the ankle. Some boots also come with a flexible elastic back.

The typical colors for boots are black for men and white for women, although other colors are available.


Close-up of a figure skating blade, showing the toe picks, the hollow (groove) on the bottom surface of the blade, and screw attachment to the boot. Figure-skates-2.jpg
Close-up of a figure skating blade, showing the toe picks, the hollow (groove) on the bottom surface of the blade, and screw attachment to the boot.

Figure skates differ most visibly from hockey skates in having a set of large, jagged teeth called toe picks on the front of the blade. The toe picks are used primarily in jumping, footwork and spins and should not be used for stroking. Toe pick designs have become quite elaborate and sometimes include additional picks on the sides of the blade, often referred to as a k-pick.

The skate blades are typically made of tempered carbon steel, coated with a high-quality chrome. Lightweight aluminum and stainless steel blades are becoming more popular with skaters. Blades are about 316 in (4.8 mm) thick and may have a slightly tapered cross-section. There are different blades for different levels of skaters which often correspond to a skater's age, size and skill level. Blades for advanced skaters often have larger toe picks and different curves than blades for beginner, intermediate and recreational levels. [3]

When viewed from the side, the blade of a figure skate is not flat, but curved slightly, forming an arc of a circle with a radius of 180–220 cm. This curvature is referred to as the rocker of the blade. The sweet spot of the blade is below the ball of the foot. [4] This spot is usually located near the stanchion of the blade, and is the part of the blade where all spins are spun on.

The blade is also hollow ground; a groove on the bottom of the blade that creates two distinct edges, inside and outside. In figure skating it is always desirable to skate on only one edge of the blade, never on both at the same time (which is referred to as a flat). The apparently effortless power and glide across the ice exhibited by elite figure skaters fundamentally derives from efficient use of the edges to generate speed.

Ice dancers' and synchronized skaters' blades are about an inch shorter in the rear than those used by skaters in other disciplines, to accommodate the intricate footwork and close partnering in dance. They also possess a smaller pick near the bottom to allow for better edge-work and less focus on jumping.

Blade types

Various specialty blade types exist, including:

Blade sharpness

Blades [6] for figure skates require a certain sharpness level to maintain control on the ice. Blades are typically sold unsharpened, and it is the responsibility of the customer to make sure the blades get sharpened before leaving the shop. Typically, the blades can be expected to be sharpened by the owner of the skate shop, but knowing one's skill level is necessary to get a correct sharpness. A deeply sharpened "V" cut on the blade should be reserved for professional figure skaters, as stopping on blades this sharp without an adequate amount of skill and strength can easily cause injuries such as sprains if one is not experienced enough. Figure skating blades that are too sharp can also be cause for concern, as you may find your feet slipping out to the side, making falls and sprains much more likely. [6] Skates are sharpened by a grindstone, and the deeper the cut, the quicker the user can stop or turn on the ice. Professional skaters have their skates sharpened to the deepest possible cut in order to pull off complicated spins, jumps, and footwork. The ability to stop on a dime is important in events such as the Grand Prix, where even a single point deducted can cost the competitor the lead. If a competitor is in the unfortunate position of finding their blades to be too dull to support themselves adequately after a jump combination, they could touch down on the ice or fall, which can ruin an otherwise point-grabbing sequence.

Skate guards

Skate guards [6] are a cover for the blades of skates. These guards act as a cover to protect the blades from wear and tear, or to keep the blades from rusting over. Typically, blades are composed of a stainless steel frame, but even this durable material is prone to rust if left covered in moisture, such as the water and ice produced by a long day marking up the rink. [6] The best type of skate guard for this scenario is a terry cloth guard, called "soakers, [6] " which absorb any leftover moisture and prevents the appearance of rust on the blades. Another common type of skate guard are made of hard plastic, and they are used by competitors and skaters when walking around in skates when off the ice. These durable covers delay the dulling of the blades by providing a protective barrier between the blade and the ground. Oftentimes, skate guards can be seen being used by competitors after their performances while they wait for their scores to be announced at the Kiss and Cry area. Since scores are presented soon after the performance has ended, many skaters do not have time to remove the tight laces of their skates before their placement is announced. Skate guards are also a method of personalizing one's skates, and as such, there is a decent market within the skating community for personalized and customized skate guards. Since the purpose of the guards is to protect the blades, guards can be decorated with any number of markings or materials, even being bedazzled or gold plated if the owner desires.

Related Research Articles

Figure skating Ice sport performed on figure skates

Figure skating is a sport in which individuals, pairs, or groups perform on figure skates on ice. It was the first winter sport to be included in the Olympic Games, when contested at the 1908 Olympics in London. The Olympic disciplines are men's singles, ladies' singles, pair skating, and ice dance; the four individual disciplines are also combined into a team event, first included in the Winter Olympics in 2014. The non-Olympic disciplines include synchronized skating, Theater on Ice, and four skating. From intermediate through senior-level competition, skaters generally perform two programs, which, depending on the discipline, may include spins, jumps, moves in the field, lifts, throw jumps, death spirals, and other elements or moves.

Ice skating Self-propulsion of a person over ice, wearing bladed skates

Ice skating is the self-propulsion and gliding of a person across an ice surface, using metal-bladed ice skates. People skate for various reasons, including recreation (fun), exercise, competitive sports, and commuting. Ice skating may be performed on naturally frozen bodies of water, such as ponds, lakes, canals, and rivers; and on man-made ice surfaces such as ice rinks, ice hockey rinks, and arenas, both indoors and outdoors.

Shoe Durable type of footwear worn in most cultures

A shoe is an item of footwear intended to protect and comfort the human foot. Shoes are also used as an item of decoration and fashion. The design of shoes has varied enormously through time and from culture to culture, with appearance originally being tied to function. Though the human foot is adapted to varied terrain and climate conditions, it is still vulnerable to environmental hazards such as sharp rocks and temperature extremes, which shoes protect against. Some shoes are worn as safety equipment, such as steel-soled boots which are required on construction sites.

Snowboard Winter sport equipment

Snowboards are boards where the users places both feet usually secured, to the same board. The board itself is wider than most skis, with the ability to glide on snow. Snowboards widths are between 6 and 12 inches or 15 to 30 centimeters. Snowboards are differentiated from monoskis by the stance of the user. In monoskiing, the user stands with feet inline with direction of travel, whereas in snowboarding, users stand with feet transverse to the longitude of the board. Users of such equipment may be referred to as snowboarders. Commercial snowboards generally require extra equipment such as bindings and special boots which help secure both feet of a snowboarder, who generally ride in an upright position. These types of boards are commonly used by people at ski hills, mountains, backcountry, or resorts for leisure, entertainment, and competitive purposes in the activity called snowboarding.

Ice skate Boots with blades attached to the bottom for propelling the bearer across a sheet of ice

Ice skates are metal blades attached underfoot and used to propel the bearer across a sheet of ice while ice skating.

Inline skates Type of roller skate

Inline skates are a type of roller skate used for inline skating. Unlike quad skates, which have two front and two rear wheels, inline skates typically have two to five wheels arranged in a single line. Some, especially those for recreation, have a rubber "stop" or "brake" block attached to the rear of one or occasionally both of the skates so that the skater can slow down or stop by leaning back on the foot with the brake skate.

Inline speed skating Sport discipline

Inline speed skating is the roller sport of racing on inline skates. The sport may also be called inline racing by participants. Although it primarily evolved from racing on traditional roller skates, the sport is similar enough to ice speed skating that many competitors are known to switch between inline and ice speed skating according to the season.

A blade is the portion of a tool, weapon, or machine with an edge that is designed to puncture, chop, slice or scrape surfaces or materials. Blades are typically made from materials that are harder than those they are to be used on. Historically, humans have made blades from flaking stones such as flint or obsidian, and from various metal such as copper, bronze and iron. Modern blades are often made of steel or ceramic. Blades are one of humanity's oldest tools, and continue to be used for combat, food preparation, and other purposes.

Inline skating Sport discipline

Inline skating is a multi-disciplinary sport and can refer to a number of activities practiced using inline skates. Inline skates typically have two to five polyurethane wheels, arranged in a single line by a metal or plastic frame on the underside of a boot. The in-line design allows for greater speed and maneuverability than traditional roller skates. Following this basic design principle, inline skates can be modified to varying degrees to accommodate niche disciplines.

Salchow jump

The Salchow jump is an edge jump in figure skating. It was named after its inventor, Ulrich Salchow, in 1909. The Salchow is accomplished with a takeoff from the back inside edge of one foot and a landing on the back outside edge of the opposite foot. It is "usually the first jump that skaters learn to double, and the first or second to triple". Timing is critical because both the takeoff and landing must be on the backward edge. A Salchow is deemed cheated if the skate blade starts to turn forward before the takeoff, or if it has not turned completely backward when the skater lands back on the ice.

Motorcycle boot

Motorcycle boots are associated with motorcycle riders and range from above ankle to below knee boots. They have an outside of a typical boot but a low heel to control the motorcycle. To improve motorcycle safety, motorcycle boots are generally made from a thick, heavy leather and may include energy absorbing and load spreading padding, metal, plastic and/or composite materials to protect the motorcycle rider's feet, ankles and legs in an accident. For use in wet weather, some boots have a waterproof membrane lining such as Gore-Tex or SympaTex.

Kitchen knife Knives intended for use in the process of preparing food

A kitchen knife is any knife that is intended to be used in food preparation. While much of this work can be accomplished with a few general-purpose knives – notably a large chef's knife, a tough cleaver, a small paring knife and some sort of serrated blade – there are also many specialized knives that are designed for specific tasks. Kitchen knives can be made from several different materials.

Artistic roller skating Type of sport similar to figure skating

Artistic roller skating is a sport similar to figure skating but where competitors wear roller skates instead of ice skates. Within artistic roller skating, there are several disciplines:

Knife sharpening

Knife sharpening is the process of making a knife or similar tool sharp by grinding against a hard, rough surface, typically a stone, or a flexible surface with hard particles, such as sandpaper. Additionally, a leather razor strop, or strop, is often used to straighten and polish an edge.

The ISU Judging System, occasionally referred to as the Code of Points (COP) system, is the scoring system currently used to judge the figure skating disciplines of men's and ladies' singles, pair skating, ice dance, and synchronized skating. It was designed and implemented by the International Skating Union (ISU), the ruling body of the sport. This system of scoring is used in all international competitions sanctioned by the ISU, including the Olympic Games. The ISU Judging System replaced the previous 6.0 system in 2004. This new system was created in response to the 2002 Winter Olympics figure skating scandal, in an attempt to make the scoring system more objective and less vulnerable to abuse.

History of figure skating

The history of figure skating stretches back to prehistoric times. Primitive ice skates appear in the archaeological record from about 3000 BC. Edges were added by the Dutch in the 13th and 14th century. International figure skating competitions began appearing in the late 19th century; in 1891, the European Championships were inaugurated in Hamburg, Germany, and in 1896, the first World Championship were held in Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire. At the 1908 Summer Olympics in London, England, figure skating became the first winter sport to be included in the Olympics.

The following is a glossary of figure skating terms, sorted alphabetically.

Single skating Discipline of figure skating

Single skating is a discipline of figure skating in which male and female skaters compete individually. Men's singles and women's singles, along with the other figure skating disciplines of pair skating, ice dance, and synchronized skating, are governed by the International Skating Union (ISU). Figure skating is the oldest winter sport contested at the Olympics, with men's and women's single skating appearing as two of the four figure skating events at the London Games in 1908.

Ice hockey equipment

In ice hockey, players use specialized equipment both to facilitate the play of the game and for protection as this is a sport where injuries are common, therefore, all players are encouraged to protect their bodies from bruises and severe fractures.

British Ice Skating is the governing body of ice skating within the United Kingdom. Formed in 1879, it is responsible for overseeing all disciplines of ice skating: figure skating ; synchronised skating; and speed skating.


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