The Olympic sport that includes maneuvers such as spread eagles and axels is figure skating. Figure skating is one of the oldest and most visually spectacular events in the Winter Olympics, showcasing a blend of athletic prowess, artistic grace, and musical interpretation.
Figure skating has its roots in the frozen waterways of northern Europe, but it was in the ballrooms of England that it began to incorporate the dance and balletic movements that make it so captivating to watch today. The sport has since evolved into a highly competitive and technically demanding discipline, with skaters performing a series of intricate moves on ice, set to music.
Two of the most well-known maneuvers in figure skating are the spread eagle and the axel:
- Spread Eagle: This is a move where the skater travels across the ice with arms outstretched and feet turned out in opposite directions, much like the blades of a pair of scissors. It requires tremendous edge control, balance, and flexibility. The skater’s body faces one direction (either left or right) while moving forward or backward, showcasing the full arc of the blade on the ice.
- Axel: Named after its creator, Norwegian skater Axel Paulsen, the axel jump is one of the most challenging moves in figure skating. It is the only jump that begins with a forward takeoff. As a result, a single axel requires one and a half rotations in the air, a double axel requires two and a half, and a triple axel, a whopping three and a half rotations before the skater lands. The axel jump has become a crucial element in both men’s and women’s competitions and is often a deciding factor in a skater’s overall score.
Figure skating competitions at the Olympics are divided into multiple categories: men’s singles, women’s singles, pairs, and ice dance. Each of these categories showcases different aspects of the sport, from the powerful jumps and spins in the singles and pairs events to the intricate footwork and deep edges in ice dance. Over the years, figure skating has seen many legends who have left indelible marks on the sport, pushing the boundaries of what is possible on the ice and inspiring countless others to pursue their dreams in this beautiful blend of athleticism and artistry.