Experience Olympic figure skating with your kids

Find basic information about figure skating and about the Canadian athletes who are in Sochi competing for medals. Look to the right for links to interviews and for information on how your kids can get into figure skating themselves, including how they can skate at home.


Although people have been zipping around on the ice since Prehistoric times (they strapped bones to their feet!), figure skating as we know it began in the 1700s in Europe.

Early figure skaters competed by carving patterns or ‘figures’ into the ice. In the 1800s, American Jackson Haines revolutionized this formal, stiff style of skating by adding music, dance moves, and jumps and spins.

Figure skating was the first winter sport to be included in the Olympic Games in 1908 with men, ladies, and pairs all competing. Ice dancing was added in 1976 and now, in 2014, teams can compete.

How cool is this?

  • Early skates were more like skis than skates as people needed to use poles to scoot themselves along. Some time in the Middle Ages, the Dutch developed the double-edged skate blade. It’s this double-edge that allows the ‘hands-free’ push and glide motion that we know as skating.

Here’s how to watch figure skating

  • The athletes skate two different times in front of nine judges. The first skate is called a short program and the second is a free skate.
  • The judges watch to see how well the skaters jump, spin, move their feet, and express themselves, and each assigns a score. The judges’ scores are combined into a total for each performance.
  • The skater with the highest combined score, adding the scores for the two skates, wins.

Here are the types of figure skating at the Olympic Winter Games

  • Men’s singles
  • Ladies’ singles
  • Pair skating
  • Ice dancing
  • Team

Cheer for Canada’s figure skaters

More Olympic figure skating at
Active for Life

Image © Skate Canada/Stephan Potopnyk

Watch these amazing performances

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir skate at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.

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