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Figure skating is a sport in which individuals, mixed couples, or groups perform spins, jumps, footwork, step sequences, spirals, and other moves on ice, often set to music. Figure skaters compete in multiple levels, from novice to elite, and at national and international competitions. The International Skating Union (ISU) regulates figure skating judging and competitions. Figure skating is an official event in the Winter Olympic Games. In languages other than English, figure skating is usually referred to by a name that translates as "artistic skating". The four major disciplines of international competition are single skating (both men's and ladies), pair skating, ice dancing, and synchronized skating.
Major international competitions are sanctioned by the ISU. The international senior-level figure skating season begins with the invitational ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating. The six Grand Prix events are Skate America, Skate Canada International, Cup of China, Trophée Eric Bompard, Cup of Russia, and the NHK Trophy. The Grand Prix series concludes with the Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final, held in December. Other major events include the European Figure Skating Championships, Four Continents Figure Skating Championships, the World Junior Figure Skating Championships, and the World Figure Skating Championships. Every four years, the top skaters also compete in the Winter Olympic Games.
The sport is also associated with show business. Major competitions generally include exhibitions at the end in which the top-placing skaters perform for the crowd. Many skaters, both during and after their competitive careers, also skate in ice skating exhibitions or shows which run during the competitive season and the off-season.
Figure skating lifts are a required element in pair skating and ice dancing. Pairs lifts differ from dance lifts most notably in that dancers are not allowed to lift their partners above their shoulders. In pair skating, the lifting partner must be the man and the lifted parter must be the woman. In ice dancing, the lifting partner is usually the man and the lifted partner is usually the woman. However, the rules allow for the woman to lift the man in competition. Such lifts are commonly known as "reverse lifts" or "genderbending lifts".
Dance lifts are differentiated by the skating involved, while pair lifts are grouped by the holds involved. There are seven kinds of dance lifts approved for ISU competitions, differentiated by the edges and the positions. Pairs lifts are named by either their takeoff and landing edges (in which case, they are named after the jump with the same sort of takeoff), the air position, or the method in which the lady is raised into the air.
Lifts are also executed by synchronized skating teams in the free program in competition as part of a movements in isolation requirement.
The Layback spin is a one-foot upright figure skating spin in which the head and shoulders are dropped backwards and the back arched downwards toward the ice. A common variation has the free leg is lifted toward the back, typically in an attitude position. Another common difficulty variation is the Biellmann spin.
The classic layback position is one in which the torso is bent backwards, the free leg lifted, and the arms extended above the torso, bent in an approximation of a circle. This creates a unique impression during the spin. This position has become iconic of figure skating, showing up in logos and banners promoting figure skating events, including the Olympic Games.
The spin was invented by Cecilia Colledge of Great Britain in the 1930s. It is possible to perform a back layback spin, but due to the difficulty it is rarely performed.
A layback spin can also be performed with the torso leaning more towards the side, in which case it is known as a side layback or sideways-leaning spin. This variation is sometimes used by skaters who lack back flexibility or who have difficulty balancing while arching back, but including both backwards and sideways-leaning positions in a layback spin is considered a feature that adds difficulty under the ISU Judging System. Some skaters add various hand and arm positions to create individuality and artistry in the spin, including skate grabs. Adding a Biellmann position to a layback spin is also considered a feature that adds difficulty.
Template:/box-header Richard Totten "Dick" Button is the 1948 and 1952 Olympic Champion. He was the first skater to land a double axel jump in competition and the first skater to land a triple jump of any kind in competition. He won the World Championships five times, the U.S. national championships seven times, and is the only American skater to have won the European Figure Skating Championships. He still holds the title of being the youngest man to win an Olympic title in figure skating.
Following his amateur career, Button became a television commentator. He has been the voice of figure skating on television in the United States for forty years. Button has also created and organized professional competitions, including the World Professional Figure Skating Championships.
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