Ice figure skates and spinning. Each spin has several factors: foot, direction the skate is travelling in, rotation, and position.
Figure skating is the third most popular television spectator sport after football and baseball, yet many fans do not know the meaning of basic terminology. In ice figure skating there are two basic spins: the forward spin and the back spin. Let's look at the the forward spin.
Each spin has several attributes that define which spin it is. These attributes are: foot, direction the skate is travelling in, direction of rotation, and position. Several of these attributes are interconnected.
The most basic of these attributes is direction of rotation. This is either counter-clochwise (CCW) or clockwise (CW). Most skaters spin counter-clockwise. One notable exception is Todd Eldrege, who normally spins clockwise. Additionally, Michelle Kwan is famous for having learned to spin in both directions. This is a very difficult skill which very few skaters take the time to learn.
The direction of spin determines which foot the forward spin is performed on. The CCW spinner performs the forward spin on the left foot; the CW spinner performs the forward spin on the right foot. Let's use the CCW direction for simplicity.
For a forward spin, the skater stands on the left foot and rotates CCW. The skate is going FORWARD. That is why this is called a forward spin. Technically, there is no edge to this spin. The skater is directly over his or her skate, there is no lean to either side.
The forward spin can be performed in many different variation of position. The forward spin can be performed as a sideways leaning position (a variation allowed in the ladies' short program), a sit spin position or a camel position. The most common variation is the layback spin, which is one of the required elements in the ladies' short program. For the layback spin, the skater enters the spin, centers it and then thrusts her hips forward while lifting her leg slightly behind her and to the side. She tilts her shoulders back. Arm positions vary, but the most classic position is to have the arms lifted in a graceful arc over the chest.
For excellent examples of the forward layback, look at film of Peggy Fleming, Angela Nikodinov or Sarah Hughes. Each of them has a beautiful classic position and a lovely strong spin. For another amazing example, look at the layback performed by master-spinner Lucinda Ruh. Her layback is known for it's extremely extended back position, exquisite centering and lovely leg turn-out. Her spins are also known for their excellent quality.
The quality of a spin is often difficult for a beginning fan to judge, but the requirements for good spinning are fairly simple. As with the back spin, or with any non-edge spin, in a good forward spin the skate should pivot around a small spot on the ice. Poor quality spins often travel, that is, they spiral around on the ice instead of staying centered in one place. The position should be attractive, with turned out and pointed toes, extended limbs and graceful lines. The spin should be fast, not wobble and should have good speed entering and exiting.
Spinning is often taken for granted by the judges, but good spinning is a much better indicator of a strong skater than good jumping. Next time you watch skating, think about who is the better spinner.
Don't hit the slopes until you've got the necessary gear; check out this guide to ski equipment first!
Skiing can be a great way to spend a weekend or afternoon, but you must be sure you have the right equipment and clothing for the experience. Ski clothes and gear is important for safety and fun, so check out this guide to essential skiing equipment.
Ski Jacket: Your protection against the elements, a good ski jacket is essential for keeping out the cold and keeping in your body heat for a day on the slopes. Most jackets offer a water-resistant outer shell to keep out moisture, as well as a warm fleece inner lining, for comfort and warmth. A well-designed ski jacket will also have a variety of pockets and features, including places for your cell phone, lift tickets, water bottles, and even snacks.
Ski Pants: The companion to the ski jacket, ski pants are made out of a thick, warm material and provide the necessary water-resistance for your legs and rear end. For beginning skiers, this is vital if you wish to avoid getting wet during the minor bumps and falls of learning to ski. For other skiers, however, ski pants are still important for keeping the legs and torso warm, for the extra layers of protection in case of falls, and for blocking the wind.
Hat: Because the majority of your body heat leaves through your head, a thick and warm hat is very important if you are hitting the slopes in winter. A woolen cap or a fleece hat will protect you from falling snow or rain. Often, ear protection is very necessary, as cold ears can turn a day's skiing into a painful afternoon. Try earmuffs or a fleece headwrap to keep your ears covered.
Ski Gloves: Not just for keeping your hands from getting cold, ski gloves improve your grip on the ski poles and protect your hands from the bitter mountain wind and the possibility of injury in case of a fall. Ski gloves are usually a combination of materials, with a soft inner lining to keep your hands warm and a protective outer lining to keep them dry and safe.
Ski Boots: The ski boots are your connection to your skis, and as such, they must fit your feet perfectly to give you the best control and most comfortable experience. Ski boots come with a hard plastic exterior which protects your legs and ankles from being twisted or pulled. Be sure to get a good-fitting pair of ski boots, as boots that are too small may cut off circulation and result in a painful afternoon. Boots that are too large will not give you the control or security you need. You do not want to lose a boot on the slopes, so make sure they are clipped in securely and bound to your feet properly.
Skis: Obviously, a good pair of skis is a vital part of your skiing gear. Skis come in a wide variety of types, depending on the type of skiing you will be doing. Options include downhill, slalom, cross-country, or even ski jump. Skis should be about the same height as you, though shorter skis are now available. Wax the skis to improve their speed and to glide over the snow.
Ski Poles: For added stability and maneuverability, a pair of ski poles is essential. The poles are most useful when making sharp turns. Ski poles are made of light aluminum or alloy, providing strength while not weighing you down. Many poles can be adjusted for length, so find the fit that is most comfortable for you.
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