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Figure skating basics

When someone first starts learning how to figure skate, they don't immediately start with the flashy jumps and spins of freestyle, the wheels and blocks of synchro, the intricate movements of dance, or the lifts and throws of pairs. Every skater knows that before you go on to fancy stuff, it takes many years of mastering basic skills. It's not always glamorous. But for most people, it's still tons of fun. And it's never too late to start.

The Ice Skating Institute sets up its basic skating program with four beginner levels: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta. After a skater passes Delta, they then move on to freestyle. The United Skates Figure Skating Association has the BASIC program, which is similar to the ISI's introductory program. Skate Canada has learn-to-skate programs for figure skating, speed skating, and a program specially designed for those interested in synchro.

What is taught while learning the basic maneuvers are skills that a skater can take with them to any of the other branches of figure skating. The first thing new skaters usually learn is 1. how to fall and 2. how to get back up again. When you fall, it is important to try to land on your behind. When getting up again, the two positions to remember are "doggy, froggy." In "doggy," the skater has both knees and both hands on the ice. From there, he or she moves to "froggy," where, one at a time, each foot is moved forward, directly underneath the skater, much like the position of a seated frog. From the "froggy" position, it is much easier for a skater to get up.

Once skaters begin to advance, they learn how to use their edges. The bottom of a blade looks something like this:

The inside and an outside edges correspond with the inside and outside of the foot. If a skater is not completely over one edge or the other, this is considered skating on flats.

There are also many other skills a skater learns when they first start taking lessons or classes. All of these can be done on either foot, forwards or backwards.

"Basic" links

Ice Skating Institute
Recreational Figure Skating FAQ
Ice Skating for Beginners
"So You Wanna Learn the Basics?"

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