Figure skating is a sport filled with grace, speed and balance. It is a sport where ice skaters perform and dance freestyle movements of jumps, spins and footwork in an elegant manner.
Whenever I watch figure skating on television, I can’t take my eyes off the figure skater. The way they move their bodies with speed and jump so gracefully on ice, doesn’t seem human at all. I always wonder how much practice and training these figure skaters go through.
Evolution of Figure Skating
60 long years before the Winter Olympics and before figure skating was even a sport, Jackson Haines was known for his jumps and dramatic movements on ice. Haines had a difficult life before all his fame and success. In the earlier days, figure skating was full of stiff and robotic movements but thanks to Haines, he changed the way the world looked at this sport. He spent years of being laughed at in Europe and his home country America. Haines finally managed to convince the people of Europe that figure skating was worthwhile.
Did you know, ice skating was introduced back in 3000 B.C. In Finland, the first skates were flattened animal bones that were tied to the bottom of the base of the skater’s feet. In the 13th century the Dutch invented steel blades with edges. In the Netherlands, everyone skated mainly because the Netherlands is filled with canals and water bodies and in the winter many people found it hard to cross them. Hence it was during winters, with the reinvention of the skates, they could easily skate over canals and water bodies.
1908 was the first time figure skating added to the Winter Olympics. Figure Skating did not gain popularity until the 1930s and rose to popularity because of Sonja Henie. Sonja was an Olympic figure skater in the 1920s, and she introduced the idea of white figure skates and short skating skirts. Her athletic ballet style and her grace increased the popularity all around the world.
Figure Skating as an International Sport
Figure Skating is one of the oldest sports in the Winter Olympics. Millions of people come to watch this sport every single year. This sport is popular in the US, Russia, China and other countries in Europe.
Russia and Germany is home to the most figure skaters every year. U.S. Figure Skating is one of the largest governing bodies within the Winter Olympic movement. It has more than 180,000 members in more than 680 clubs. This sport is immensely popular in the U.S. The basic skills program of figure skating has taught more than 2 million people since 1968.
Figure Skating in India
Even though we have the Ice Skating Association of India, figure skating is not really popular in India though we have competed quite a few times in the Olympics. Nishchay Luthra is a 21-year-old Indian figure skater who has won four international medals for India and has been a nine time Indian national gold medallist as well.
In India, since some other sports enjoy more popularity, figure skating hasn’t yet received its due as it is an expensive sport and hence making it hard to get sponsors. While efforts are being made to promote other sports such as hockey, football and even kabaddi, figure skating may still take some time to make its presence felt in India. As a result, good skaters don’t even get to compete internationally as they don’t get any sponsors.
Figure Skating as an expensive sport
Parents of figure skaters may have to pay around 75 to 100 USD for an hour of private class and the cost of an hour’s practice at the ice arena ranges from 5 to 25 USD. Serious competitive figure skaters usually skate two to four hours a day and may have to take at least one private lesson a day. Competitions, equipment, travel, costumes, music add to the other expenses.
My favourite figure skater
My favourite figure skater is 21-year-old Elena Radionova from Russia. She was introduced to skating by her father when she was barely three years old. Elena is the one who made me enjoy this sport after I watched her performance. She has won multiple championships and medals including the 2015 World Bronze Medal and is also a two-time European silver medallist.
There’s much more to figure skating than we can imagine. It helps an individual’s overall physical and mental health. Figure Skaters learn physical and mental coordination. It also boosts confidence. I have learnt so much about figure skating during my research and I hope aspiring figure skaters representing India get more recognition and support.
Contributor: Kavya Mehta
About our Writing Program Student
Kavya Mehta is a 13-year-old girl 7th grader from Mumbai who loves reading, writing stories and listening to music. She also loves learning new languages and knowing about the countries of the world. Kavya takes a keen interest in reading about mental health, she plays the violin and enjoys spending time with cats and dogs!