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Figure skating is a sport in which individuals,ice dance, pairs, or synchronized on figure skates on ice. It was the first winter sport included in the Olympics, in 1908. The four Olympic disciplines are men's singles, ladies' singles, pair skating, and ice dance. Non-Olympic disciplines include synchronized skating, Theater on Ice, and four skating. From Intermediate through Senior-level competition, skaters generally perform two programs (short and free skate) which, depending on the discipline, may include spins, jumps, moves in the field, lifts, throw jumps, death spirals, and other elements or moves.
The blade has a groove on the bottom creating two distinct edges: inside and outside. Judges prefer that skaters glide on one edge of the blade and not on both at the same time, which is referred to as a flat edge. During a spin, skaters use the "sweet spot" of the blade, formally called a rocker, which is the roundest portion of the blade, just behind the toe pick and near the middle of the blade. Skates used in single and pair skating have a set of large, jagged teeth called toe picks on the front of the blade. Toe picks are mainly used for the take-off on jumps. Ice dance blades are an inch shorter in the rear and have smaller toe picks.
A pair lift in competition.
An ice dancing lift in competition. The woman is lifting the man.
Figure skating lifts are a required element in pair skating and ice dancing. Pairs lifts differ from dance lifts most notably in that dancers are not allowed to lift their partners above their shoulders. In pair skating, the lifting partner must be the man and the lifted parter must be the woman. In ice dancing, the lifting partner is usually the man and the lifted partner is usually the woman. However, the rules allow for the woman to lift the man in competition. Such lifts are commonly known as "reverse lifts" or "genderbending lifts".
Dance lifts are differentiated by the skating involved, while pair lifts are grouped by the holds involved. There are seven kinds of dance lifts approved for ISU competitions, differentiated by the edges and the positions. Pairs lifts are named by either their takeoff and landing edges (in which case, they are named after the jump with the same sort of takeoff), the air position, or the method in which the lady is raised into the air.
Lifts are also executed by synchronized skating teams in the free program in competition as part of a movements in isolation requirement.
The Layback spin is a one-foot upright figure skating spin in which the head and shoulders are dropped backwards and the back arched downwards toward the ice. A common variation has the free leg is lifted toward the back, typically in an attitude position. Another common difficulty variation is the Biellmann spin.
The classic layback position is one in which the torso is bent backwards, the free leg lifted, and the arms extended above the torso, bent in an approximation of a circle. This creates a unique impression during the spin. This position has become iconic of figure skating, showing up in logos and banners promoting figure skating events, including the Olympic Games.
The spin was invented by Cecilia Colledge of Great Britain in the 1930s. It is possible to perform a back layback spin, but due to the difficulty it is rarely performed.
A layback spin can also be performed with the torso leaning more towards the side, in which case it is known as a side layback or sideways-leaning spin. This variation is sometimes used by skaters who lack back flexibility or who have difficulty balancing while arching back, but including both backwards and sideways-leaning positions in a layback spin is considered a feature that adds difficulty under the ISU Judging System. Some skaters add various hand and arm positions to create individuality and artistry in the spin, including skate grabs. Adding a Biellmann position to a layback spin is also considered a feature that adds difficulty.
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