figure skating history

What is the history of Figure Skating? What are its origins? Where did Figure Skating come from? Who invented it? Here is the history of Figure Skating.

Figure Skating History

What are the basic rules of Figure Skating?

Figure skating is a winter sport that is done on an ice rink. In the sport, athletes perform a sequence of moves to their choice of music.

There are different competitions in this sport. Men's and women's singles, pairs, ice dance, and team events. These events have different durations, but are scored in similar ways.

Individual events can be broken down to short programs and free skating. For men and women, the short program is 2:50 long. The freestyle skate for men lasts 4:30, but 4:00 for women. The pairs events are similar to the individual, in that the shot program lasts 2:50 while the freestyle lasts 4:30. The ice dance is divided into the short dance (2:50) and the free dance (4 minutes).

Nine judges rate the performance on technical score and program component score (PCS).

The PCS covers five areas: skating skills, footwork, choreography, musical interpretation, and performance and execution (style, precision, and personality). After the scores are added by the judges, the highest and lowest are dropped and the remaining scores are averaged. Then this is multiplied by a factor that is different for men and women. Then you get your PCS score.

The technical score rates special moves or individual program elements. A special move can be a triple axel. This is a jump where the skater takes off in a forward position and spin three and a half times to land backwards on the ice. This move is considered extremely difficult and has only been a handful of Americans who have done the move in competition.

Each of these moves has a set based score. Each element is scored on a grade of execution, which ranges from 3 points above or below that base. The highest and lowest scores are dropped, the scores are averaged out, and you now have your technical score.

After all this is done, the technical score and PCS are added up and this determines who makes it to the podium.

Figure Skating Rules

Which Country Started Figure Skating?

Ice skating was started by ancient Scandinavia. Archeologists have found animal bones that have been made into skates, and they date back to 3,000 BCE in Finland.

These ancient vikings would trim horse or cow bones, pierced holes on each end, and inserted leather straps to both ends so they can fit their feet into the straps. This was revolutionary at the time because it reduced the amount of energy these people expended while traveling across Finland. Scientists say that these skates would have reduced their energy expenditure by 10 percent, and every percent was needed to survive the harsh winters at the time.

Also, Southern Finland has the highest concentration of lakes in the world, so the skates were put to good use.

Who Invented Figure Skating?

Modern figure skating was invented by Jackson Haines. He was a ballet dancer that was born in New York in 1840. When ice skating in the 1860s, he began to skate to music instead of listening to instructors. His new version of ice skating was free flowing, charismatic, and entertaining, but audiences in the United States were not too fond of it.

He packed up his bags, left his wife and two children, and headed to Europe to look for a more open minded audience. Come to find out, his new style was appreciated in Sweden, Norway, and Russia.

He was particularly popular in Vienna, Austria, where he performed in front of Franz Joseph I. He displayed his new style of skating and incorporated waltz in his program because it was popular in Vienna at the time. popularity began to grow and Haines took full advantage by opening up a skating school in Vienna, and his style was later known as Viennese.

When was Figure Skating Established?

Figure skating became officially established when the International Skating Union (ISU) was founded in 1892. The first ice skating sport to go into competition was speed skating in 1863 in Norway. The first international figure skating competition was held in Vienna, Austria in 1882.

Eventually, the first world championships were held in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1896, but only men competed. The sport continued to grow when it was introduced to the London Olympics in 1908, and pairs were introduced. Then ice dancing was incorporated in 1976.

The picture below shows the first congress of the International Skating Union, which was founded in the Netherlands.

The sport of figure skating grew in popularity when it was introduced to the Olympic Games. What was once the laughing stock of the athletic community, became the oldest sport in the Winter Olympic Games history. The athletes finally got to display their incredible jumps and maneuvers in the public eye, and the sport finally gained the appreciation it deserved after all these years.

Figure skating has been apart of the Olympics since 1908, so it is safe to say that it has gained worldwide recognition and popularity. The sport is popular in many countries:

  • United States of America
  • Russia
  • Austria
  • Canada
  • Germany
  • Great Britain
  • Sweden
  • France

Figure Skating History Key Facts and Timeline

Figure skating dates back to 3,000 BCE to Scandinavia, where the people of Finland used their skates made of animal bones to travel all throughout the area.

Figure skating began to greatly develop because of two Americans. Steel blades were made by Edward Bushnell in 1850. This allowed skaters to be able to maneuver easier. Then in the 1860s, Jackson Haines incorporated his ballet dances to the sport to develop modern day figure skating.

It was introduced to the Olympics in 1908, and it would be considered the oldest sport of the Winter Olympic Games.

Ice dancing was then incorporated in 1976, and it added an event to the Olympic Games.

The next time you will be able to see figure skating in the Olympics is in 2022 in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

  • The first ice skates were made out of animal bone
  • Skating competitions can be broken down into four events, men's and women's singles, pairs, ice dancing, and team events
  • The United States has the most medals for figure skating in the Winter Olympics with 50