Glossary of Figure Skating Terms

ATTITUDE -  An Attitude is a beautiful figure skating move that comes right from ballet. The figure skater starts off with a one-foot glide, then stretches the free leg behind. Next, the free leg bends slightly. It is optional to put one arm up above the head and one arm out to the side. The free thigh is raised and turned outward. The head should be kept up. Other arm positions from ballet work well with this move.

AXEL JUMP - One of the most difficult jumps, which takes off from the forward outside edge and is landed on the back outside edge of the opposite foot. A single Axel consists of 1.5 revolutions, a double is 2.5 revolutions, and a triple is 3.5 revolutions. The jump is named for its inventor, Axel Paulsen. It is easily recognizable as it is the only jump that takes off from a forward position.

BALLET JUMP -  The skater places the left toe into the ice (if he or she jumps in the counter-clockwise direction) and then jumps from it with the left arm extended up, and then lands on the left toe again. Lastly, the skater changes feet and glides forward to exit on the right inside edge.

BAUER (INA BAUER) -  A beautiful figure skating move. The skater skates with the blades parallel and the toes pointing in opposite directions. The trailing leg is on an inside edge and is straight. The leading leg is bent and is either on an inside or outside edge, or flat. Some skaters bend almost completely backward when they do this move.

BIELLMANN -  A position is named after Champion Swiss skater Denise Biellmann who originated this move. This position takes quite a bit of stretching. The skater holds his or her skate blade and pulls the leg way back up over the head. The legs are completely split, but the knee of the free leg is bent.

CAMEL SPIN - A spin which is done on one leg with the non-skating leg, or free leg, extended in the air in a position parallel to the ice. The body remains in this "spiral" position while spinning.

CHOCTAW - A turn from forward to backward (or backward to forward) from one foot to the other in which the curve of the exit edge is in the opposite direction to the curve of the entry edge. The change of foot is from outside edge to inside edge or from inside edge to outside edge.

CHARLOTTE SPIRAL - Also known as the 'candle stick.' The skater bends forward and glides on one leg with the other lifted into the air. The skater's torso is as close to the grounded foot as possible. When performed well, the skater's legs are almost in a straight vertical split position. The charlotte requires great flexibility and balance

COMBINATION SPIN - The combination of several spins where the skater changes feet and positions while maintaining speed throughout the entire spin.

COUNTER - A turn executed on one foot from an outside edge to an outside edge or an inside edge to an inside edge, with the exit curve on a different lobe from the entry curve. The skater turns in the direction opposite to the entry curve, causing the cusp to point away from the center of curvature of the first lobe. The edge before and after the turn are on different lobes having opposite directional curvature.

CROSSOVERS - A method of gaining speed and turning corners in which skaters cross one foot over the other. There are both forward and backward crossovers.

CROUCH - A two-foot skating move in which the skater's legs are both bent at an at least 90-degree angle.

DRAW - The process to determine the starting or skating order for each event. Either the referee or chair of the competition conducts the process in the presence of other judges (closed draw) or in an open setting where the athletes participate and actually draw a number from a pouch (open draw).

EDGES - The two sides of the skate blade on either side of the grooved center. There is an inside edge - the edge on the inner side of the leg - and an outside edge - the edge on the outer side of the leg. There is a forward and backward for each edge and each side, equaling a total of eight different edges.

EDGE JUMP - A jump where the skater takes off from the entry edge of the skating foot without bringing the free foot in contact with the ice to assist the take off. The Axel, loop and Salchow are common edge jumps.

ELIGIBLE - The term used to define skaters or competitions that meet the requirements and follow the rules of U.S. Figure Skating and/or the ISU. All eligible skaters, judges and officials are members of U.S. Figure Skating and have not participated in any activities, competitions or events that are not sanctioned by U.S. Figure Skating or the ISU.

ENVELOPE SYSTEM - In the United States, the envelope system is a part of the U.S. National Team and separates skaters for ASUPP funding levels. Based on prescribed criteria, U.S. athletes can be placed in Team A, B, C, the reserve team or the developmental team. The U.S. Figure Skating Athlete Support Fund (ASUPP) financially supports the U.S. Team envelope athletes by assisting them with their skating expenses.

EXHIBITION - Non-competition skating or a show. Exhibitions often feature elements banned in competition as well as spotlights and show lighting. Also: the gala after a competition in which the highest placing skaters perform a show program.

FAN SPIRAL - A spiral position in which the free leg is lifted, held upwards in front of the body, and lowered, in the style of an opening and closing Japanese fan.

FLIP JUMP - A toe-pick-assisted jump taken off from the back inside edge of one foot and landed on the back outside edge of the opposite foot.

FOOTWORK - A sequence of step maneuvers carrying the skater across the ice in patterns - generally straight, circular or serpentine. Footwork is intended to show the precision and dexterity of the skater's movements.

FREE SKATE (OR FREE SKATING) - The free skate does not have required elements, so skaters select their own music and theme, and choreograph the many difficult jumps, spins and footwork that best display their technical and artistic skills. The free skate (for senior level) has a length of 4 1/2 minutes for men and pairs, and four minutes for ladies. It is preceded by the short program.

HAIRCUTTER SPIN -  A variation of a layback spin. During the spin, in addition to spinning in the lay back position, a skater pulls the leg to the head.

I-SPIN - An upright spin position in which the skater pulls the free leg up in a split towards the front of the body, creating an I position.

KISS AND CRY -  After a performance at a figure skating competition, the "Kiss and Cry" area is the place where the competitors and their coaches wait for the scores to be announced and posted. At elite ice skating events, the media and television focus on the "Kiss and Cry." Much emotion is sometimes displayed in the "Kiss and Cry" as the skaters wait and receive their scores.

LAYBACK SPIN - Generally performed by women, the layback spin involves an upright spin position where the head and shoulders are dropped backward and the back arches.

LOBE - The pattern made on the ice by an edge or steps, forming an arc of a circle that starts and finishes on an axis.

LONG PROGRAM - Old term for the free skate portion of the singles and pairs competitions.

LOOP JUMP - An edge jump, taken off from a back outside edge and landed on the same back outside edge.

LUNGE - A skating move in which one leg is bent sharply at the knee and the other is extended backwards in a straight line with the boot or blade touching the ice. (Pictured-Side Lunge)

LUTZ JUMP - A toe-pick-assisted jump taken off from a back outside edge and landed on the back outside edge of the opposite foot. The skater glides backward on a wide curve, taps his toe pick into the ice, and rotates in the opposite direction of the curve. The jump is named for its inventor, Alois Lutz.

MOHAWK - A turn from forward to backward (or backward to forward), from one foot to the other, each edge forming parts of the same curve.

QUALIFYING COMPETITION - In the U.S., qualifying competitions are those that are part of the competition structure leading to the U.S. Championships, U.S. Adult Champion-ships, U.S. Synchronized Team Skating Championships, and U.S. Junior Championships. Qualifying competitions are all regional and sectional events.

ROCKER - A turn executed on one foot from a forward to backward (or backward to forward) edge maintaining the same character, i.e., inside to inside or outside to outside. The skater turns in the direction of the curve, causing the cusp to point to the center of curvature of the first lobe. The edge before and after the turn are on different lobes having opposite directional curvature.

SALCHOW - Another edge jump taken off from the back inside edge of one foot and landed on the back outside edge of the opposite foot. Created by Ulrich Salchow.

SANCTION - Permission or approval given by U.S. Figure Skating or the ISU to member clubs, competition organizers, individuals or national federations to conduct competitions, shows or events featuring eligible athletes. Registered U.S. Figure Skating athletes can only participate in sanctioned activities to remain eligible.

SCRATCH SPIN - Also known as an upright spin. After entering from a controlled forward outside edge, the spin begins on a back inside edge. Gradual acceleration begins by moving and placing the free foot toward the top of the skating knee and drawing the arms close to the body. The spin exits into a backward outside edge.

SHORT PROGRAM - Official name for a two minute, 50 second program in singles and pairs that consists of eight required elements and is set to music of the skater's choice. No more than eight required elements can be done. It is followed by the free skate.

SIT SPIN - A spin which is done in a "sitting" position. The body is low to the ice with the skating (spinning) knee bent and the non-skating, or "free" leg, extended beside it.

SPIRAL - A move in which a skater demonstrates flexibility and a fluid line by extending his or her non-skating leg behind them into the air during a long glide.

SPIRAL SEQUENCE - A sequence of steps which incorporates various spirals in a pattern across the ice. Spirals in a spiral sequence may be done going forward, backwards, in a straight line or on a curve, or on an inside or an outside edge.

SPLIT JUMP -  A simple half revolution figure skating jump. The familiar split position that can be done on the floor is done in the air.

SPREAD EAGLE -  A figure skating move where a skater glides on two feet with the toes pointing in opposite directions. The legs are completely straight and spread apart. This move is done on outside or inside edges.

STAG JUMP -  A simple half revolution figure skating jump that similar to a split jump, but the forward leg is bent at the knee.

STARTING ORDER - The result of the draw which lists the order in which the athletes will compete and the group in which each athlete will warm up prior to competition.

STEP SEQUENCE - A sequence of steps that immediately follows one another, executed in time to the music and choreographically related to each other.

STROKING - Fluid movement used to gain speed in which a skater pushes off back and forth from the inside edge of one skate to the inside edge of the other skate.

SWIZZLE - A method of two-foot progression, either forward or backward, by an in-and-out movement of the feet on inside edges.

TECHNICAL PROGRAM - Former term for the short program.

TOE LOOP - A toe-pick-assisted jump that takes off and lands on the same back outside edge.

TOE PICKS - The teeth at the front of the blade used primarily for jumping and spinning.

TWIZZLE - A traveling turn on one foot with one or more rotations, which is quickly rotated with a continuous (uninterrupted) action. The weight remains on the skating foot with the free foot in any position during the turn, and then is placed beside the skating foot to skate the next steps.

Y-SPIN - An upright spin position in which a skater pulls the free leg up into a vertical split towards the side of the body, creating a Y shape.

Y-SPIRAL - A spiral position in which the free leg is held up in a vertical split towards the side of the body, creating a Y position.


TECHNICAL SCORE (TOTAL ELEMENTS SCORE) - The sum of scores for the technical portion of a skater's program.

GRADE OF EXECUTION - The grade of execution, ranging from -3 to +3, that is given for every element per the judge's discretion.

SCALE OF VALUE - Determines how much each performed element is worth.


PROGRAM COMPONENTS - The five components that express the overall presentation: skating skills, transitions, performance/execution, choreography/composition and interpretation. The compulsory dance(s) in ice dancing uses one additional component: timing.

SKATING SKILLS - Overall skating quality: edge control and flow over the ice surface demonstrated by a command of the skating vocabulary (edges, steps, turns, etc.), the clarity of technique and use of effortless power to accelerate and vary speed.

TRANSITIONS/LINKING FOOTWORK & MOVEMENTS - The varied and/or intricate footwork, positions, movements and holds that link all elements. In singles, pairs and synchronized, this also includes the entrances and exits of technical elements.

PERFORMANCE/EXECUTION - Performance is the involvement of the skater/couple/teams physically, emotionally and intellectually as they translate the intent of the music and choreography. Execution is the quality of movement and precision in delivery. This includes harmony of movement in pairs and ice dancing.

CHOREOGRAPHY/COMPOSITION - An intentional, developed and/or original arrangement of all types of movements according to the principles of proportion, unity, space, pattern, structure and phrasing.

INTERPRETATION - The personal and creative translation of the music to movement on ice.

TIMING - The ability of the couple to skate strictly in time with the music and to reflect the rhythm patterns and prescribed beat values of the compulsory dance.

PROGRAM COMPONENT SCORE - The sum of the factored scores for the five (or four) program components.

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