Figure skating 101: Equipment

2014 Winter Olympic Games - Season 2014

Rink

The skating area must be rectangular and if possible should measure 60 meters (196 feet, 10 inches) by 30 meters (98 feet, five inches); it cannot exceed this size. The minimum rink size is 56 meters (183 feet, nine inches) by 26 meters (85 feet, four inches).

Blade

A modern blade has a very slight curve and is sharpened to produce a flat or concave cross section. To maintain a sharp edge, the bottom quarter inch of the blade is made from time-tempered steel. The “sweet spot” of the blade is below the ball of the foot. The width of a blade is about .15 to .25 inches.

Edges

Skate blades are ground concave; only the two outer “edges” of the bottom of the blade contacts the ice. On a skater’s left foot, the left side of the blade is the outside edge and the right is the inside edge. On a skater’s right foot, the right side of the blade is the outside edge and the left is the inside edge.

Hollow

The groove down the middle of the bottom of a figure skate blade. Finely ground edges on either side of the hollow provide control and speed. The depth of the hollow varies depending on the skater’s event, weight and style.

Heel

Different figure skaters prefer different heel heights – ice dancers often wear high heels, which push their body weight forward onto the balls of their feet for deeper edges and better control of quick steps and changes of direction.

Toe Picks

Teeth cut into the toe of the blade that are used for pushing off in jumps and as the pivot point during spins.

Boot

Olympic figure skaters wear boots that are custom-made for each foot and heavily reinforced with thick, stiff leather interiors and extra ankle bracing. Figure skates are made with wide tongues, with rubber or sponge padding for flexibility. Skates should be tied tightly to afford maximum control.

Costume

Figure skaters select outfits that match the style of their programs and the mood of their music. Costumes should complement a performance and not be a distraction. Ladies in singles and pairs can wear a skirt, pants or tights. Until recently, ladies in ice dance were required to wear a skirt but now also have the option of wearing pants. Men in all disciplines must wear full-length trousers. Accessories, props and apparel that gives “the effect of excessive nudity” are not allowed.

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