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111 days until the Opening Ceremonies – Figure Skating!

October 24, 2009

111 - Figure Skating

Well, what can I say… we’ve all heard about how the judges aren’t always so honest, but it is Vancouver 2010 and I believe that we really can hope and expect the best this time around.  I have watched figure skating in the past (Kurt Browning is still my favourite!) but I don’t really know all that much about how the competition occurs in Olympic Figure Skating.  So it’s lesson time for all of us!  This is what Vancouver 2010 says about Olympic Figure Skating:

About the Sport

An American, Jackson Haines, is considered to be the founding father of modern figure skating in the 1860s — established not in his home country, but in Vienna, Austria, where audiences loved his carefully choreographed, ballet-influenced style.

Before Haines, figure skating concentrated largely on required figures — skating a figure eight, several times exactly the same way — and movements. Haines brought in musicians to play on the ice while he skated, while adding interesting costumes and exciting spins and pirouettes.

Figure skating was an Olympic sport before there was an Olympic Winter Games. Figure skating first appeared at the London 1908 Olympic Summer Games with events for pairs and singles (indoor ice rinks could be kept cold even in hot weather). Ice dancing joined the Olympic Winter Games in 1976, when the Games were held in Innsbruck, Austria. The compulsory figures competition was dropped from the figure skating program prior to the Albertville 1992 Olympic Winter Games.

How It Works

At the Olympic Games. Each of figure skating’s four disciplines are adjudicated by a separate panel of 12 International Skating Union (ISU) championship judges using a computer scoring system to measure the quality of each performance. Before each event, there is a secret and random draw to determine which judges’ scores will form the result of the segment. Only nine of the 12 scores are used. A new draw is done for each segment.

During each performance the judges assign a grade of execution (GOE) to every element that is executed. This makes up the technical score. At the conclusion of each performance, the judges assign additional program component scores that measure the overall technical and presentation abilities of the skater or team. The individual or team with the highest totals of technical and program component scores is deemed the winner.

In addition to the panel of judges, there is also a technical panel that determines the name and the level of difficulty of each element as it is performed.


In singles skating, skaters must complete both a short program (maximum 2 minutes 50 seconds) of required steps, jumps, spins and combinations, and a longer free skating program (4 minutes for ladies, 4 minutes 30 seconds for men), both set to music. The free skate — worth two-thirds of a skater’s final score — allows the athletes to demonstrate their creativity, innovative moves and technical difficulty.


The pairs event follows the same format as the singles, with a compulsory short program and a free skate (4 minutes 30 seconds). In this event, however, one male and one female skater work in unison, incorporating lifts, throws and synchronized jumps, spins and spirals linked harmoniously by steps and other movements.

Ice Dance

Ice dance is performed by a couple and is based on their rhythm, interpretation of music and precise steps. Unlike pairs skating, ice dance does not include overhead lifts and jumps. Ice dance is similar to ballroom dancing, as the skaters remain in contact throughout most of the program.

An ice dance competition is made up of three parts: one compulsory dance, an original dance and a free dance. Compulsory dance is the skating of prescribed patterns to music incorporating pre-determined rhythm and tempo. Original dance and free dance are created by each couple to music of their own choice. There are also required elements such as dance lifts, spins, synchronized twizzles (a multi-rotational one-foot turn) and step sequences that must be included in the composition of these programs.”

Hee hee!  “Twizzles”!   I knew there were a lot of amusing words in Figure Skating but I hadn’t heard “twizzles” before!

The Figure Skating competitions will all take place at Pacific Coliseum, while practice will also include Trout Lake Centre.

Some Canadians to watch for??  Ladies: Joannie Rochette, Cynthia Phaneuf, Amélie Lacoste, and Diane Szmiett.  Mens: Patrick Chan, Vaughn Chipeur, Shawn Sawyer, Kevin Reynolds, Joey Russell, and Jeremy Ten.  Pairs: Jessica Dubé and Bryce Davison, Anabelle Langlois and Cody Hay, Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch, Meagan Duhamel and Craig Buntin, Mylène Brodeur and John Mattatall, Amanda Velenosi and Mark Fernandez, and Paige Lawrence and Rudi Swiegers.  And Ice Dance: Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, Andrea Chong and Guillaume Gfeller, Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier, and Allie Hann-McCurdy and Michael Coreno.  Not all of these athletes will make it to the Olympics but I wish the best of luck and skill to all of them!

Joannie Rochette pin by Cold-FX

Joannie Rochette pin by Cold-FX (image from

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