Theoretical Physics of Ice Skating

Hosted by

   
San Diego Figure Skating Communications
  
sdfsc-enews.org

How Physics Applies to

Jumps and Spins

   
Spins

   A Skater achieves a spinning rotation through a process of storing angular momentum in their arms and the free leg. The process of pulling in the arms and free leg close to the body increases the speed of the spin.

   All spins start with a process that uses a  torque  maneuver (hook) to generate angular momentum and then pulling the arms and free leg closer to the body reduces the moment of inertia.  The rotation of spin increases to conserve angular momentum.

  A skater can increase rotational speed in a spin by pulling in the hands tightly to body. Rotation can be slowed or stopped by extending the hands and free leg out to check the rotational force of the spin allowing the core body to achieve stability for a controlled exit.

Jumps
  Jumps in figure skating requires a skater to change linear momentum into vertical momentum in a manner similar to pole vaulting.  The skater accelerates to achieve speed (linear momentum) then a downward pressure is applied to an edge from the ball of the foot, or the toe of a skate inserted into the ice to achieve a pole vaulting motion in coordination with the skating edge.

  Increasing the speed into a jump allows the skater  theoretically to jump higher and travel a greater distance in the air before landing. Height and speed determine the elapsed time from the take-off to the landing.

  Angular momentum can be carried into the jump by applying a torque just like when spinning and when the legs and arms are drawn into the body the  skater spins in the air.  Torque or moment of force is the rotation an object about an axis.

  To land, the skater extends (opens up) their arms and free leg in the same manner as exiting a spin on the ice. If the skater fails to control the angular momentum prior to landing, the skaters may land hard on the toe on a deep arc. A wide swinging free leg can cause a loss of control, free leg touching down or immediately stepping out of the landing. Ideally the the curve of the landing edge can be on the same arc established on the take-off, allowing the skater to control the angular momentum gained in the jump.
  
    Ice skating jumps requires lifting force that propels the skater into the air. This force can be created by pushing the entire skate blade against the ice surface by shifting the body's weight to the ball of the foot on an edge or from a poll vaulting motion from tapping the toe into the ice which requires a coordinated push against the ice from an edge and tapping motion that suddenly stops linear momentum of the body, thus launching the skater into the air.

   A skater can increase rotational speed in a jump by pulling in the hands tightly to body. Rotation can be slowed or stopped by extending the hands and free leg out to check the rotational force of the jump allowing the core body to achieve stability for a controlled landing when exiting the jump.


  The following are some terms with which you should be familiar prior to beginning the projectile motion and conservation of angular momentum units. After reviewing these terms you should have enough knowledge to understand the projectile motion unit, conservation of angular momentum unit, the linear kinematics unit, and the linear dynamics unit.
Angular Acceleration  

Angular Displacement

Angular Momentum

Angular Velocity

Center of Mass

Force

*    ground reaction
*    weight
*    friction
*    centripetal

Inertia

Linear Acceleration    
Linear Displacement

Linear Momentum

Linear Velocity

Mass

Moment of Inertia

System

Scalar

Torque

Vector

Weight

                                
© April, 1998, Montana State University-Bozeman

Introduction to the Science of Jumping and Rotating



References:

Ever wondered how ice skating works? Whether you're a first-time flounderer or a triple-axle pro, you've probably wondered what's going on.  The purpose of these pages is to explore the physics of ice skating in a fun, approachable way.

The Physics of Ice Skating vs In-Line Skating  It's surprising that in-line skating so closely mimics ice skating. Ice skaters glide along with very little friction, while inline wheels grip asphault with "rolling friction." Let's compare the physics of ice skating and in-line skating.

The Physics of Figure Skating  As the men hit the ice to show off their spins and combinations Tuesday in the Winter Olympics, here's a perfect chance to watch examples of basic scientific concepts, such as friction, momentum, and the law of equal and opposite reactions.

Stuff in the Air - Physics of  Figure skating. Is it a sport or a performing art? The physics of ice skating

The Science of Jumping and Rotating   As you watched figure skating athletes perform during the Olympic Games, did you think about the skills they are performing during their programs of the physics that  allowed them to jump and spin?  This article will give you the scientific perspective.

Conservation of Angular Movement  Several spins and jumps have been chosen to illustrate the generation and conservation of angular momentum. Before proceeding to this analysis section, you need to be familiar with some basic physics principles and definitions. For example, it is important to understand the concepts of force, angular displacement, angular velocity, and momentum to fully comprehend the analysis of the figure skating jumps and spins.



Site Index

Home Page
 
Disclaimer


Ice Skating Information & Resources

hosted by
 
San Diego Figure Skating Communications
SDFSC-Enews.Org

A web site for figure skaters of all ages involved in
Basic Skating Skills and USFS Figure Skating programs

The information on this site is provided to support skater's efforts to
achieve their full potential in the pursuit of his/her skating goals, and to transfer
those skills to their future education, career, and other life activities.

    Information is an important tool that provides a basis for the articles being developed. The goal is to help facilitate communications between judges and coaches that provides the technical descriptions coaches use in their teaching and for
judges the basis they use to arrive at the minimum standard for passing each level of tests.


  Comments and suggestions are welcomed so a balance of different perspectives can be achieved. Input from coaches and judges will help to achieve a consensus. We hope our efforts will result in skaters who are well prepared to test and receive a uniform evaluation by judges from rink to rink.

San Diego Figure Skating Communications (SDFSC) goal is to provide information
that encourages participation and achievement in the sport of figure skating.
 
Articles are continuously under development to serve as reading/reference
materials for seminars with an audience of skaters, parents, coaches, and judges.

Suggestions and comments from rink management, coaches,
     choreographers, judges, skaters, and parents are welcomed. 

   
San Diego Figure Skating Communications
webmaster@sdfsc-enews.org