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An Olympic sport since London 1908, skating is a cross between a sport and an art form. Originally it was considered a great way to get around the frozen canals in Holland during the winter.

Ice Skating at the Winter Olympic Games

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Figure Skating, Olympic Greats, Short Track Speed Skating, Ice Skating, Skating Links, Speed Skating.

Ice Skating

There are three disciplines to the sport in the Winter Olympics: Figure Skating, Short Track Speed Skating and Speed Skating.

Figure Skating

There are four Figure Skating events at the Winter Olympics: womens singles, men's singles, pairs, and ice dancing.


The singles event consists of a short programme, and a free skating.

The short programme combines eight prescribed elements such as jump combinations and spins.

In the free skating programme, skaters perform to music of their choice; with a balanced programme being inportant as judges deduct points if the programme contains too many, or too few, jumps.


The pairs event also consists of a short programme and free skating.

Demonstrating harmony, strength and grace, the couple work as a single unit; with the man performing overhead lifts, throw-jumps and other manoeuvres with his partner.

Ice Dancing

Akin to ballroom dancing on ice, the focus here is on the complex steps performed in time to the music; with the skaters maintaining contact with each other, thus limiting the lifts and jumps.

The ice dancing event consists of three sections: compulsory, original, and free dances.

In compulsory dancing, the couple perform one pre-determined dance.

Original dance follows selected rhythms, although the pair may choose their own music and interpretative steps.

In free dancing, the pair are free to express their interpretation of the music they have chosen.

Short Track Speed Skating

Short track speed skating was introduced to the Winter Olympics in Albertville 1992.

There are eight events, with skaters competing not against the clock, but against each other; trying to outskate and outwit the fellow competitors within their heats.

Individual competitions begin with 32 athletes; with four skaters compete in a race at a time. Those placed first and second advance to the next round; as the field is narrowed down to a handful of finalists.

The short track relays are two-day competitions consisting of a semi-final and a final. Eight teams are divided into two heats of four, with the top two teams in each semi-final advancing to the final.

Men Women

5,000m relay


3,000m relay

Speed Skating

Speed Skating was a part of the first Winter Olympics in Chamonix 1924.

All speed skating events are skated once, except forf the men's and women's 500 metres, which are skated twice; with the final result based on the total time of the two races.

In each event skaters race in pairs, against the clock, on a standard 400m oval.

Men Women

Team pursuit


Team pursuit

Team Pursuit

Team pursuit was added to the Turin 2006 Winter Games.

The competition consists of elimination rounds, leading to a final race.

Two teams of three athletes begin, simultaneously, on each side of the track; with team members taking it in turns to lead, while the rest follow closely behind in their slipstream.

The team finishes the race when the last team member crosses the finish line.

Ice Skating - Olympic Greats

Speed skater Lidiya Skoblikova is the only woman to win six gold medals in individual events at the Winter Olympics: the 1,500m and 3,000m at Squaw Valley 1960; followed by the 500m, 1,000m, 1,500m, and the 3,000m at Innsbruck 1964 - becoming the first person to win four gold medals in a single Winter Olympics in the process.

Irina Rodnina (ten times world champion) won three gold medals in pairs skating: with Aleksey Ulanov at Sapporo 1972; and with Aleksandr Zaytsev at Innsbruck 1976 and Lake Placid 1980.

Winter Sports

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Ice Skating Links

International Skating Union:
The official skating website of the ISU has a large collection of skater biographies, historical records, past results and calendar of skating events around the world -- with links to tournament websites, where applicable.

Further Reading

Ice Skating.

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