Ice Skating Terms Every Skater Should Know

Some moves on the ice were named for the skaters who developed them

A figure skater kicking up some ice while skating
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Like most sports, figure skating has its own glossary, the terms that people involved with skating—skaters, coaches, trainers, and others—use to communicate clearly and succinctly with each other. Some terms are descriptive, while others are borrowed from the names of skaters who developed or perfected the moves.

Figure Skating Terms

Here are some common figure skating terms:

Attitude: To do an attitude, start with a one-foot glide, stretching your free leg behind. Bend that leg slightly and put one arm above your head and the other out to the side. Make sure your free thigh is raised and turned outward. Keep your head up throughout. You should look like a ballerina if you do it correctly.

Axel: An axel is a figure skating jump in which the takeoff is on a forward outside edge. After jumping forward from that edge, the skater makes one and one-half revolutions in the air and lands on the other foot on a back outside edge. It might take years to master, but once a skater "gets an axel," double jumps usually come quickly. The axel was named after Norwegian figure skater Axel Paulsen.

Biellmann: To do a Biellmann, a skater holds the free leg's blade with both hands and pulls it back above the head. The legs become completely split, although the free leg is bent. The free foot must be over the head. The position is named after Denise Biellmann, a Swiss skating champion.

Bunny Hop: The bunny hop is one of the first jumps new ice skaters master. To do a bunny hop, glide forward on one foot and swing the free leg forward. Then land on the toe pick of the swinging leg and glide forward again on one foot.

Camel Spin: Camel spins are done in the same position as the spiral move, which is based on the classic arabesque position in ballet. As with a spiral, the skater's upper body and free leg are held horizontally, the free leg extended parallel to the ice and the free foot turned out. The skater's back should be arched and the head should be up. The arms are usually held out to the sides, but other arm positions are acceptable.

Crossovers: Every new ice skater looks forward to learning crossovers. Crossovers are how skaters move around a corner or curve. The skater crosses the outside skate over the skate on the inside of the curve.

Death Spiral: A death spiral is a figure skating move done in pair skating. The man does a back outside pivot and holds the woman's hand. The woman circles the man on a forward or backward inside or outside edge, her body almost parallel to the ice and her head dropped back.

Flutz: "Flutz" is a skating term for a Lutz jump done incorrectly. The Lutz's entry edge must remain on the outside edge. If the edge changes to an inside, the lutz is considered a flip jump, or flutz, and doesn't receive full credit. The Lutz jump was invented by invented by an Austrian, Alois Lutz. 

Freestyle: In ice skating, "freestyle" has more than one meaning. Freestyle can mean doing jumps, spins, turns, and steps on the ice but can also mean a practice session where advanced skaters who do freestyle skating can practice . Beginning ice skaters usually first practice during public skating sessions.

Mohawk: A mohawk is a skating turn from same edge to same edge, from either forward to backward or backward to forward. The name was derived from a cut-like step Mohawk Indians use in their war dances.

Salchow: A Salchow is a figure skating jump done from the back inside edge of one foot to the back outside edge of the other foot, completing a half revolution in the air. The Salchow jump was invented by Ulrich Salchow in 1909.

Shoot-the-Duck: The easiest way to learn a shoot-the-duck is to glide forward on both feet and then bend both knees and squat into a sitting position, moving as fast as possible. The skater glides on both feet, kicks one foot forward, and keeps gliding on one foot.

Skating Parent: A skating parent must get up early, spend a lot of money, do a lot of driving, and sit in a cold ice arena for hours and hours.

Spiral: A spiral is based on the classic arabesque position in ballet. A skater glides on one foot with the chest facing toward the ice and the free leg stretched back.

Swizzles and Twizzles: These terms rhyme but describe very different moves. Swizzles are exercises done by beginning ice skaters that involve pushing your feet out and together again in a V shape. Twizzles are multirotational one-foot turns that move the skater down the ice.