In case you missed it, we are currently in the middle of the 2018 Winter Olympics. Of course, an event with a 94-year tradition is exciting all by itself, but this year the Winter Olympics, specifically figure skating, is more thrilling than ever. We are able to watch the world’s top figure skaters and dancers, and now they can skate to music with lyrics as well as instrumental pieces.
You might not know this, but figure skating is actually an umbrella category that includes singles (solo skaters), pair skating (what we usually think of), and ice dancing. Ice dancing features two skaters performing a duet like pair skating, but there are a few marked differences:
• They have to focus on footwork. While figure skating is largely about jumps, spins (like the awe-inspiring triple axle), and lifts, ice dancing puts more emphasis on grace and entertainment.
• Ice dancers can only perform lifts below the head. This means that a skater’s hands can’t be raised above his head when he lifts his partner. Throws and jumps are also disallowed.
• They have to skate in time to the music. So, like a performance on stage, ice dancing routines have to match the music perfectly.
In an interview with People, Olympic ice dancer Evan Bates compared ice dancers to ballroom dancers. “We’re interpreting music, putting a lot of emphasis on the connection between the couple and on the connection to the music.
The International Skating Union updated its rules this year allowing figure skaters to perform to music with lyrics! This might not seem like a big deal, but figure skaters have been dancing to classical and otherwise instrumental pieces since figure skating became an Olympic sport. Ice dancers, however, have been performing to songs with lyrics since the late ’90s. Basically, every facet of figure skating is now a million times more thrilling to watch because you can cheer for amazing turns and leaps while belting the lyrics to songs by Beyoncé and Ed Sheeran.
Between your favorite songs and your passion (dancing, obviously!), figure skating just became your new Olympic sport.