Why You Should Be Impressed by Figure Skating



Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim, of the United States, perform during the pairs short program at Skate America, Friday, Nov. 24, 2017, in Lake Placid, N.Y. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

Bethany Seal, Sports Editor

It’s no secret that figure skating is a difficult sport. The combination of dance and stunts while gliding on blades is not something that comes naturally to anyone. Figure skaters go through years of training to make their jumps and spins as accurate as possible. The scrupulous sport is so unique to the others, never failing to impress and make viewers think, “I could NEVER do that!”

The science behind a figure skater’s routines are extremely complex, but can be summed up as a limited amount of friction to help them glide, and lots of momentum to keep them spinning. When doing jumps that require multiple rotations (like the quadruple jump), their bodies have to withstand extreme impact forces that are over eight times their own weight. These forces are required to give them the air and speed necessary to complete the jump and land it, of course. If you want the nerdier translation, angular momentum = moment of inertia x rotational velocity. The sport is not only physically demanding, but is equally as mentally

The quadruple jump is relatively new to the world of ice skating, as the first jump was landed successfully in 1988 by Canadian Kurt Browning. But now, American Nathan Chen is proving that they are indeed possibly, and causally doing 5 quadruple jumps in one program. At the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, he attempted and landed 6 quadruples in one program, ¬†which was a huge risk, but he made it look easy. His excuse was that he “had nothing to lose” and he wanted to pack all of his skills he had worked on for years into his last run. In reality, he had never even landed six in practice before, so this was his first time achieving success with six quadruple jumps!

So, it is easy to conclude that figure skating is a ridiculously difficult sport, though athletes still impress others with the skills they have worked so hard to perfect.