Ice Skating: How to forward spin
Ice figure skates and spinning. Each spin has several factors: foot, direction the skate is travelling in, rotation, and position.
Figure skating is the third most popular television spectator sport after football and baseball, yet many fans do not know the meaning of basic terminology. In ice figure skating there are two basic spins: the forward spin and the back spin. Let's look at the the forward spin.
Each spin has several attributes that define which spin it is. These attributes are: foot, direction the skate is travelling in, direction of rotation, and position. Several of these attributes are interconnected.
The most basic of these attributes is direction of rotation. This is either counter-clochwise (CCW) or clockwise (CW). Most skaters spin counter-clockwise. One notable exception is Todd Eldrege, who normally spins clockwise. Additionally, Michelle Kwan is famous for having learned to spin in both directions. This is a very difficult skill which very few skaters take the time to learn.
The direction of spin determines which foot the forward spin is performed on. The CCW spinner performs the forward spin on the left foot; the CW spinner performs the forward spin on the right foot. Let's use the CCW direction for simplicity.
For a forward spin, the skater stands on the left foot and rotates CCW. The skate is going FORWARD. That is why this is called a forward spin. Technically, there is no edge to this spin. The skater is directly over his or her skate, there is no lean to either side.
The forward spin can be performed in many different variation of position. The forward spin can be performed as a sideways leaning position (a variation allowed in the ladies' short program), a sit spin position or a camel position. The most common variation is the layback spin, which is one of the required elements in the ladies' short program. For the layback spin, the skater enters the spin, centers it and then thrusts her hips forward while lifting her leg slightly behind her and to the side. She tilts her shoulders back. Arm positions vary, but the most classic position is to have the arms lifted in a graceful arc over the chest.
For excellent examples of the forward layback, look at film of Peggy Fleming, Angela Nikodinov or Sarah Hughes. Each of them has a beautiful classic position and a lovely strong spin. For another amazing example, look at the layback performed by master-spinner Lucinda Ruh. Her layback is known for it's extremely extended back position, exquisite centering and lovely leg turn-out. Her spins are also known for their excellent quality.
The quality of a spin is often difficult for a beginning fan to judge, but the requirements for good spinning are fairly simple. As with the back spin, or with any non-edge spin, in a good forward spin the skate should pivot around a small spot on the ice. Poor quality spins often travel, that is, they spiral around on the ice instead of staying centered in one place. The position should be attractive, with turned out and pointed toes, extended limbs and graceful lines. The spin should be fast, not wobble and should have good speed entering and exiting.
Spinning is often taken for granted by the judges, but good spinning is a much better indicator of a strong skater than good jumping. Next time you watch skating, think about who is the better spinner.