|The Fun of Figure Skating
by Maribel Vinson Owen
Chap. 1 Equipment
Chap. 2 First Strokes
Free Skating Program
Chap. 8 Ice Dances
Chap. 9 Skater
From The Desk Of: Sam Parker
to The Fun of Figure Skating
This little book on figure skating is subtitled a "primer" because it is expressly designed to teach the ABC's of a fascinating sport and a new art. It is for all of you who, after seeing the latest ice show, may have decided that skating looks like wonderful fun and you'd like to try it. You may never have been on a pair of skates in your life, or at any rate you may never have been on a pair of figure skates. You may not even know that there is any difference between the kind of skates used for figure skating and those used for plain skating and hockey. Or perhaps you are an ex-hockey player who is finding it difficult to line up other members of a team, or again maybe you are a parent who wants to see your children off to a correct start in this most beneficial of pastimes. At any rate, it is for you, the enthusiastic novice, that this book is mainly written.
However, beyond the description of correct equipment and the right way to take your first few strokes on the ice, there are descriptions of the fundamental figures of skating that should prove useful not only to the beginner but to every student of the sport, no matter how advanced.
A figure skater, even a champion, is no better than his
the primary edges. Teaching thousands of skaters, beginners in groups
as well as World and Olympic competitors, has convinced me over and
over again, in the twenty-two years that have elapsed since I taught my
first pupil, of the incontrovertible truth of that statement. Even
though a skater may do double-revolution jumps in the air and spin
faster than a whirling dervish, he is not a true skater unless he has
the gliding stroke, the effortless speed, the "soft" knee and ankle,
the graceful form, and the correct way of putting his skate upon the
ice that come only from a thorough education in basic stroking and the
first few fundamental figures.
Choppy steps and an unnatural style are usually the result of
to become an advanced skater too soon. Once the fundamental figures are
mastered so that they are done with control, even speed, and correct
form, the advanced figures come twice as quickly and they will then
automatically be done with control, even speed, and correct form.
Walking comes before running. A good primary figure comes before a good
advanced figure, and, conversely, a half-mastered primary figure means
many half-mastered advanced figures. Therefore, although the figures
and moves described in this book are only a small part of figure
skating as a whole, they are by far the most important part.
The hardest part of skating comes within these pages, yet the progression from your first stroke to your first figure and on to your next figure will be so fascinating and so natural that you won't think of it as difficult—you'll just think you're having a wonderful time. For figure skating not only looks like fun, it is fun. Interesting and exciting as watching it in shows or on television may be, skating yourself is much more interesting and exciting.
It is first of all a sport, a highly technical sport which is at once healthful and social. Unlike many other sports, you need no partner to enjoy it; if you have a partner, you will have the double fun of pair skating; and if you have many partners, you will be able to dance in turn with all of them. Indeed, it is because dancing on ice is more rhythmic and lilting than dancing on a ballroom floor that a majority of you will don figure skates in the first place and then will keep on skating year after year until your old bones refuse to move any more. As proof let me cite the case of Oscar L. Richard who performed a solo in the New York Skating Club carnival in Madison Square Garden at the age of ninety, or that of Philip Sharpies of Cambridge who skated a Dutch waltz with his young partner of fifty in the forty-eighth annual Skating Club of Boston "Ice Chips" show in Boston Garden when he was a spry eighty-seven!
Figure skating, like ballet dancing, has its own tenets and
technicalities. These tenets and technicalities have changed and
broadened greatly since the modern, or "international," style of figure
skating was adopted in this country approximately fifty years ago.
Though ever greater latitude of movement has developed until
specialties that would have been frowned on as overly "acrobatic"
twenty-five years ago are commonplace today, the fundamentals of figure
skating remain unchanged, and it is within them that the greatest
artistic expression is possible. The roots of figure skating always
have been and, despite the popularity of professional shows,
undoubtedly always will be solidly planted in competition, where
correct methods of execution and beautiful innovations of movement are
retained and fostered.
Free skating means long edges—or "spirals"—dance steps, big sweeping turns, jumps, spins, and spread-eagles skated over the whole surface of the ice and in rhythm with music. It is this part of skating that is nearest to the dance and may be made a medium for expressing the skater's individuality and personality, whether he skates alone, in pairs, fours, or carnival groups. This is the part of skating that you as a spectator have enjoyed at exhibitions and shows, and it is the part that you eventually will enjoy to the fullest as you sweep down the ice in your own speedy spirals or leap from the ice in a high, controlled, rhythmic jump.
Perhaps you will never be young enough to do much in the way of jumping or spinning and perhaps you will never have the time or the inclination for any sort of competition, but you will have just as much fun as the jumpers and spinners and the competitors, for you will do all the lovely skating dance steps alone or with expert partners and you will enjoy every minute on the ice.
Back at the beginning of the century Mrs. Edgar Syers of England, the first lady figure skating champion of the world, wrote: "Skating is an exercise fitted for both old and young. It may be taken as an exacting art or merely as a pleasant diversion; but for those who intend to practise for competitions, it has endless attractions. Its difficulties make it all the more interesting. There are always new fields to conquer. From the point of view of health, there are few if any exercises to compare with it; and it has the advantage of being equally fascinating when practiced alone or in the delightful form of pair-skating."What this great lady figure skater claimed for her sport during the early years of its international organization is even truer today.
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