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HOW DO PAIR FIGURE SKATING AND ICE DANCING DIFFER?

Both pairs skating and ice dancing are Olympics disciplnes. However, there are some significant differences between them to spot if you are interested in figure skating.

Actually figure skating is ice gymnastics – it’s a spectacular sports discipline with spins,  jumps and pirouettes. And ice dancing is more about dancing, it is more about musical interpretation, art and rhythm. However, let’s look at the differences between these sports disciplines in detail if there is some confusion about it.

ICE DANCERS BARELY JUMP ON ICE

This second difference is the most obvious. In figure skating solo, solo and pairs skaters perform many jumps (toe jumps, edge jumps) and acrobatics elements. If you have ever heard of toe loops, Rittberger jumps and flips, they are all relevant for figure skating (single or pair). The performance of pair skaters usually includes several jumps the both skaters must perform at the same time. Ice dancers barely jump on ice. Ice dancing on ice is much less acrobatic. Partners do not jump, do not throw each other in the air and carry over their heads.So if you see a couple on ice, the way to recognize a dance on ice is to see if they are jumping or the male partner throws the female skater in the ice. Such elements are not allowed in ice dancing.

ICE DANCERS COMPETE ONLY IN PAIRS

In traditional figure skating, you can see international competitions for women singles, men singles and pairs. However, at a high level, ice dancers compete only in pairs, not individually.At the national level, you can train and compete as a solo dancer on ice. There are a few international competitions, but nothing like world championships or the Olympics.

BALANCE BETWEEN SKATERS IS DIFFERENT

You may also notice that skater pairs are not like ice dancing pairs. A pair of skaters is more acrobatic, less balanced: the man is tall and broad, and the woman is tiny enough to fly through the air (most of the time). In contrast, for ice dancing (as in ballroom dancing), harmony is important, and size is much more balanced (usually no more than head size difference). 

DIFFERENCES IN COMPETITION AND USE OF THEMES

In the past, ice dancing was even closer to ballroom dancing with compulsory dances. But it has evolved to become more appealing to novice viewers. A competition in pair skating  starts with a short program that lasts 2 minutes and 40 minutes – the theme and music can be freely chosen. And there is a 4-minute program – theme and music can be freely chosen

The mandatory elements of this performance are lifts, jumps and spins (as we have already mentioned before!). In ice dancing the short program lasts about 3 minutes. 

Each year there is a compulsory theme such as foxtrot, tango or cha-cha-cha. Each couple must perform the theme. And the free dance lasts about 4 minutes. For this one, the choice of theme is free, but the dance must have a story told by the dance. The elements which skaters must include in their performance are such elements as twizzles, lifts, and now also pirouettes. Twizzle is a series of turns of one foot, in which skaters must perform quick side by side rotations close to each other.

ICE DANCING SKATES VS. FIGURE SKATES

Uninitiated viewers will not notice the difference. But there are real differences between figure skates and ice dancing skates, which makes sense because the tricks are different.

For ice dancing, the blade on the end is shorter. It is not much longer than the boot, unlike figure skates.At a high level, ice dancers often have special shoes with a slit in the back to provide better lines.

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