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Thread: What puts the “sport” in the sport of figure skating?

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    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    What puts the “sport” in the sport of figure skating?

    Just some idle musing…

    Traditionally, the “sport” of figure skating comprised the tracing of school figures. To do this at the championship level required fine muscular/nervous/motor control that is beyond the physical abilities of all but a few superbly talented athletes. It took years of study to hone the proper techniques (edges, turns, etc.) required to participate in this sport.

    Judges were not always unanimous, but at least the skaters were judged against an objective standard (the template of the perfect figure). The difference between a well-drawn figure and a sloppy one was obvious.

    Alongside this “sporting” aspect of skating, in the 1870s Jackson Haines introduced the idea of “artistic” skating – performing for an audience. Haines was a former ballet dancer from New York. He traveled to Austria and introduced his ideas to Europe. Drawing on his background in ballet, Haines introduced such novelties as skating to music and punctuating his performance with various crowd-pleasing tricks (like the sit-spin, which he invented.) Dare-devil antics like barrel jumping were also included in early ice shows, as comic relief.

    In the 1970s the ISU decided that no one was interested any more in the sport of figure skating. People did not want to watch it, and the skaters themselves were more caught up in the “show” aspect of the endeavor. Figure skating became exclusively “performing for an audience.” Nowadays, the skater wins who does the most dramatic and crowd-pleasing quads, the most contortionist spins, the most frenetic footwork, and who presents the best choreography, costume and emotion.

    Is this sport? Or did we leave sport behind on the figures patch?

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    Sitting Here on Blue Jay Way silver.blades's Avatar
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    It's still a sport because skaters are still judged based mainly on an athletic standard. Without the difficult spins, jumps and footwork, the quality of the performance won't effect the result. Plus if archery, curling, motor cross and car racing are concidered sports, figure skating is much more athletic than any of those so if they're sports, so is figure skating.

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    D/W fan ~tapdancer's Avatar
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    I think it's definitely sport still. I am amazed at the fitness of skaters. They are fine athletes and every time I see a skater take flight on the ice, it impresses me very much. Even the ice dancers thrill me. Actually ice dance is my favorite discipline and when I see them do their lifts, twizzles, turns and dance moves, I can only dream of being that fit!

    Skating is beautiful, artistic and exciting. It's also very much a sport and I admire every athlete that straps on a pair of figure skates. They are just as committed and dedicated as anyone who ever dreamed of being stronger, faster or higher.

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    Custom Title Joesitz's Avatar
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    What puts the Sport in Figure Skating

    In one word:
    ACROBATICS

    Joe

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    Beliver in Sasha's Perfect Program Tinymavy15's Avatar
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    landing triples and quads takes just as much control, both mental and physical and figures. It is still a sport, as people like Brain Joubert and Sarah Hughes proved.

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    Trixie Schuba's biggest fan! blue dog's Avatar
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    Ok--this is how my friends found out that figure skating is a sport. I had never taken lessons (will start as an adult this summer yay), but one day at the rink my friends and I were skating during a public session, and one of my friends who considers himself a know-it-all (graduated with a degree in physics at UCSD) said figure skating is not a sport. So I challenged him to skate like a figure skater for the required 2 min and 50 seconds for a short program. With the same speed, edge control, etc--

    Lord knows he barely made the 1 minute mark before calling figure skating a sport.

    I think (completely my opinion) what makes it a sport is the fact that there is a contest attached to it. Baseball, softball, water polo, roller skating, gymnastics, figure skating, even ballet--at the root are athletic activities. By attaching a competition to it (someone will most likely correct me here), they become sports. Without the competition aspect, they are athletic activities. This is why an athletic activity like...bowling...is a sport, and ballet is not. Consequently, having a contest does not make an activity a sport (parliamentary debate and baking competitions are not sports, even if we have panels of five judges or more for final rounds).
    Last edited by blue dog; 06-08-2008 at 02:30 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by blue dog View Post
    Ok--this is how my friends found out that figure skating is a sport. I had never taken lessons (will start as an adult this summer yay), but one day at the rink my friends and I were skating during a public session, and one of my friends who considers himself a know-it-all (graduated with a degree in physics at UCSD) said figure skating is not a sport. So I challenged him to skate like a figure skater for the required 2 min and 50 seconds for a short program. With the same speed, edge control, etc--

    Lord knows he barely made the 1 minute mark before calling figure skating a sport.

    I think (completely my opinion) what makes it a sport is the fact that there is a contest attached to it. Baseball, softball, water polo, roller skating, gymnastics, figure skating, even ballet--at the root are athletic activities. By attaching a competition to it (someone will most likely correct me here), they become sports. Without the competition aspect, they are athletic activities. This is why an athletic activity like...bowling...is a sport, and ballet is not. Consequently, having a contest does not make an activity a sport (parliamentary debate and baking competitions are not sports, even if we have panels of five judges or more for final rounds).
    According to what I'm hearing you say is that sport involves some type of athletic activity plus an associated competition/contest. If that's the case, then sometimes ballet is a sport and sometimes it's not depending on whether it's in the context of a ballet competition. Piano could also be a sport because it involves athleticism of the hands and fingers (both which require agility, coordination, and endurance) within the context of a music competition. I think sport involves some sort of formal organization where there are specific rules that define the athletic activity and also some sort of formal organization on a global or regional level such as a federation. I've always wondered how the IOC chooses what is deemed an Olympic sport and what is not. I believe one of their criteria is there has to be some sort of World championship for the particular activity. This is creating havoc internationally for women ski jumpers.

    According to the way I see sport, figure skating will always be a sport because we have the formal organization on the international level and there are numerous countries with skating federations, and there are (too) many rules governing skating! I think sport involves more than athletic prowress and can involve varying degrees of that as in the case of doing figures, or doing quads and contortionist spins. Incidentally, fishing is called a sport and the only athleticism involved is reeling the line.
    Last edited by passion; 06-08-2008 at 06:09 PM.

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    I definitely can't think of any sport that is "more" sport than figure skating. The others are not even close in this regard.

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    Custom Title Joesitz's Avatar
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    Whenever 2 people oppose one another with the expectation of one topping the other. That goes for 2 or More Teams as well. The word also covers any pastime outdoor activity such as fishing and hunting. Figure Skating when it was first attempted - the outdoor activity of past time When the Hollywood Ice Revue came to town indoors, there was frozen ice and all the tricks were performed.

    Joe

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    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    A little OT, but if you are looking for a spring/summer sport to follow after the figure skating season is over, here is what Wikipedia has to say about the sport of kite-flying.

    Developments in multi-line kites in recent years has allowed forms of kite flying to develop into a sport. Kite competitions have much in common with figure skating, with competitors being judged on their performance in compulsory figures as well as a “ballet”, which involves artistic interpretation of music.

    Performances are done as individuals, a pair of pilots, or as a team. Team flying is typically the most spectacular, with up to eight pilots and stacked kites with tails flying within inches of each other and narrowly averting disaster, while performing all manner of figures and formations in the air.

    Competitions are held nationally and internationally under the auspices of STACK (Sport Team and Competitive Kiting).
    The 2008 World Champions are team Air-Rex, representing Japan. In the CoP of kite-flying they scored 73.81 in “Precision” and a whopping 87.24 in “Ballet.” Here are the World Championship results, from the web site of the team from Argentina, the Freaks. Alas, the Freak Team finished in eleventh place. My personal favorite, the Scratch Bunnies (UK) were fifth.

    http://www.freaksteam.com/english/fe...ampionship.htm

    And if that’s too tame, there are also “Fighting Kite” (patang-baazi) competitions (the hockey of the kite word. ) This sport is most popular in India. The objective is to use the fiberglass string of your kite to cut the other kite’s string in the air.

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    I think the definition of sport has become so broad, I don't see how FS could not be considered a sport..............look at some of the new sports at Olympics......equestrian, archery, shooting etc. It sure takes a lot of effort and physical endurance to complete a SP and/or LP - just look at the perspiration on the skaters faces in the K and C area.............

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    I think figure skating competitions as usually organized -- emphasizing athleticism and technique, technical difficulty and technical quality -- are definitely sport. In this context, the artistic components of skating movement are at the service of the athletic and technical; the reason they're there is because it shows greater mastery of the technique to be able to perform moves with control and good form and with control of the rhythm of the movements to make them fit the rhythm of the music.

    Skating can also be organized to emphasize the art/entertainment side, with the athletic and technical requirements subordinate to the ideas and feelings the skaters/choreographers want to communicate to the audience. Skating designed for shows, Theatre on Ice, even artistic competitions would fit under this performing arts rubric rather than a sports rubric.

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    all long time ago, they use to define between a "sport" and a pasttime. i don't remember what it was because in the old days--golf, racecar driving, bicycling including tour de france was consider pasttimes. most of the what we call sports today was consider pasttime.
    i don't know what it was though.

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    Custom Title Joesitz's Avatar
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    Look no further than Ancient Greece. If the Spartans and Athenians had ice maybe it would be considered sport. Present day pugilism works.

    Joe

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    i think back then , figure skating was consider more of a
    Show Sport, but a sport none the less. I think more recently it wasn't consider a sport by alot of the media especially in the so called only sports channels. like because they didn't watch it -consider because of its all female audience. The sports channels, sports radio stations consider it a joke not a sport. And it didn't help that some figure skaters acted like figure skating is a joke --the movie (blades of glory)only maded it more agreeable that figure skating is a joke not a sport.

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