A figure skating glossary

Terms used in figure skating:


Loop – A jump in which the skater takes off from a back outside edge, turns one revolution in the air and lands on the same back outside edge. As with most jumps, a double involves two turns, a triple three turns in the air.

Toe Loop – A jump taken off from and landed on the same back outside edge, just as in a loop. But the skater kicks the toe pick of the free leg into the ice upon takeoff, providing added power. Most skaters who attempt the four-revolution quad do a toe loop.

Flip – A jump taken off from a back inside edge with the toe pick of the free leg dug into the ice, and landed on a back outside edge.

Lutz – A toe jump similar to the flip, taken off from a backward outside edge with the toe pick of the free leg dug into the ice. The skater enters the jump skating in one direction and concludes the jump skating in the opposite direction. Usually performed in the corners of the rink, the jump is named after Alois Lutz, who first completed it in Vienna in 1918.

Salchow – The skater takes off from the back inside edge of one foot and lands backward on the outside edge of the opposite foot from which the skater took off. Named for its originator, Sweden’s Ulrich Salchow, the 1908 Olympic champion.

Axel – A combination of the waltz and loop jumps. A simple axel is one revolution. The most difficult jump because of the extra half-turn, it is the only jump begun from a forward outside edge. It is landed on the back outside edge of the opposite foot. The jump is named for its inventor, Norway’s Axel Paulsen.

Quad – Any jump in which the skater completes four revolutions. Most quads are toe loops or salchows.


Simple Spin – The rotation of the body in one place on the ice. Various spins include the back, fast or scratch, sit and layback.

Camel Spin – A spin with the skater in an ”arabesque” position, with the free leg at right angles to the leg on the ice.

Flying Camel Spin – A jump spin ending in the camel-spin position.

Flying Sit Spin – A jump spin in which the skater leaps off the ice, assumes a sitting position at the peak of the jump, lands and spins in a similar sitting position. Actually, the skater is squatting.

Layback Spin – A move in an upright spin position where the head and shoulders are dropped backward and the back arches.


Crossovers – A method of gaining speed and turning corners in which skaters cross one foot over the other. There are both forward and backward crossovers.

Spread Eagle – The skater leans either on the inside or outside edge as he or she glides in a circle, bending his body in the appropriate direction.


Death Spiral – In perhaps the most dramatic move in skating, the man, acting as the center of a circle, holds tightly to the hand of his partner and pulls her around him. The woman, gliding on one foot, achieves a position almost horizontal to the ice.

Lifts – Any maneuver in which the man lifts the woman off the ice. The man holds his partner above his head with one hand.

Throws – The man lifts the woman into the air and throws her away from him. She spins in the air and lands on one foot.

Twist – The man throws the woman into the air, she spins either twice or three times and he catches her at the landing.

Lateral Twist – A move in which the man throws his partner overhead. She rotates once while in a lateral position to the ice and is caught.


All short programs have required elements that must be done in a span of 2 minutes, 40 seconds. Skaters are heavily penalized for missing any of the requirements, ranging from jumps to spins to footwork. In pairs, requirements also include lifts, jumps and twists.

Skaters may choose any music they like.


Basically, skaters can do almost anything they want, but must include all basics such as jumps, spins, footwork. No jumps can be repeated unless done in a combination with another jump.

Skaters may choose any music they like. Free programs last 4 minutes for women, 4:30 for men and for pairs.


The short dance this year is the quick step, which can also be the Charleston or fox trot. Each couple has required steps, turns, twists and twizzles (multi-rotational one-foot turns), that must be done in 2 minutes, 50 seconds. In all dances, the full rink must be used.

The free dance has no required music, but must feature the elements of ice dance on display in the short dance. It lasts 4 minutes and is judges on technical merit and artistic impression.