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Figure skating is a multi-faceted sport that integrates drama, grace, fashion, fitness and a certain risk factor. The best figure skaters pull off a breathtaking array of tricks as they glide across the ice, including jumps, spins, spirals and lifts. All these moves have a variety of forms.
The creative and aesthetic elements of figure skating make it easy to overlook the extreme fitness the sport demands. Athletes must work on their flexibility and core strength, meaning plenty of gym work and exercise activities such as yoga or Pilates. They must eat well, too.
One of the most difficult tricks to execute in figure skating is the famous “triple Axel” jump, which involves spinning in the air three and a half times before trying to land without falling. It’s a high-risk jump to attempt and few ever achieve it flawlessly.
In pair skating, the aptly named “death spiral” requires the man to act as a pivot while the woman circles around him rapidly in a near-prone position. At times, the woman’s head may be alarmingly close to the ice or her partner’s skates.
Sportspersons like to look good while they’re taking part in their chosen activity, but few sports are as fashion conscious as figure skating. The clothes skaters wear should add to the performance and give them confidence. Elite athletes can’t wear anything they want, however, since costumes must comply with the rules of the International Skating Union. The skaters often play an active role in designing the costumes.
Figure skating is more technical than many other sports, and there is little room for error if its participants are to succeed. It’s the perfect blend of athleticism and art.