The Dark Side of Ice Skating

The Dark Side of Ice Skating


“Wow, that jump looks almost impossible to do, how could someone do that many spins in the air?” Tonight, the Olympics is showcasing ice skating! As the first skater enters the ice rink, the crowd cheers. A smile appears on her face. Her makeup is shining, and her outfit shimmering as she skates to her starting spot.

The music comes on and the skaters glides effortlessly. Halfway into the program, she takes a jump and braces for the landing. But, instead of landing perfectly like expected, the skater falls. She does not get up or move, but instead holds onto her ankle, her eyes full of tears. The coaches walk on the ice to take the skater off. The next skater skates on and starts his or her routine, hoping not to make the same mistake.

You’ve probably heard of the great sport of ice skating. This is a sport where skaters wear pretty, sparkly outfits and lots of makeup. Instead of shoes, they wear ice skates. Finally, you dance on ice! If you didn’t know, this is a very complex sport and sometimes it takes months to master a single move. Ice skaters need to make their skating look effortless as they glide across the ice ready to impress the judges with their skills. But you might not know what a skater has to go through to train for the next show, competition, or even the Olympics. They have to train countless hours of the day, even sometimes only focusing on the same jump or spin until they get it down perfectly.  All of this pressure on a ice skaters body will eventually lead to permanent damage. This means skaters won’t skate as good as they as they could before that injury was made. There is lots of different injuries, but they all affect a skater in the same way.

A skater’s schedule is very busy. They dedicate all of their time to their sport. Most skaters skate at least four days a week, but more serious skaters take the time to skate six to seven days a week! It is necessary for skaters to take some form of dance to stretch themselves out so it is easier to to skate the next day. They also need to take private lessons, two or three times a week so their coaches can improve their skating. All this pressure from parents or coaches can really stress a skater out, and because of that stress, they can hurt themselves badly. Most ice skaters push themselves so hard until they have a serious fall. If skaters don’t take a break and rest, they can ruin their career because of one fall.

A fall can happen for a lot of different reasons. The ice could be perfectly flat, but your toe pick (the jagged edge of your blade) could dig into the wrong part of the ice at the wrong time and make you fall. Erica says, “Many falls are because ice skaters lean too far forward and lose their balance, they also lean too far backwards, causing themselves  to fall on their butt or back.” When a skater is performing their solo, anything can happen. Months of training to prepare for a big competition, only to fall. An ice skater named Alhena Leonova fell 5 times in a national competition in 2016. Once on a spin, another just lifting up her leg to do a spiral, and so on. Once a skater falls that many times they might stop believing they can win.

Other falls can be caused by doing dangerous lifts. In the Olympics, you can skate as a duet. If you do a duet, there has to be a male and female skating together. This is so the male could lift the female in the air while he is gliding with perfect balance. When this lift is made, many things could go wrong. If the woman leans too far forward while in the air, she could land on her head, most likely causing a concussion. If the male feels the female’s weight leaning too far forward, it could make him lose his balance and cause him to drop her. This will also make him fall on her. This is a very dangerous sport when lifts are involved.

As I have already said, stress can get to an ice skater.  Johnny states, “A coach always wants their skater to be better than another skater, the pressure of trying to get the move right and impressing your coach can make a skater train too hard until an injury is made.” Brakes are really important in ice skating. When a skater is tired, they don’t have as much energy and can’t gain enough speed to jump and leap in the air. Landing a jump like an axle can be very difficult if you are too tired. An axle starts off like any other ice skating jump (where you either skate forward or backwards), except it has another half rotation in the air! This is why it is so hard to master, and most skaters don’t land and instead, end up laying on the ice.

The pressure that is put on a skater to do this jump is crazy. “People keep making jumps and spins harder and harder until a skater can’t do it and end up really hurting themselves.” Emma stated. This crazy hard jump went from one spin in the air, two spins in the air, and now ice skaters are trying to master four spins in the air! This jump is called the quadruple axle and it is almost impossible to complete. It is a combination of skating backwards, jumping, and spinning four times in the air! This is the jump where most injuries come in. The skater has to gain a lot of speed to launch themselves in the air and make four rotations. The landing is the hardest part, (in any jump, really, but especially the quadruple axle) because ice skaters have to land on their blade. The blade is the sharp part of an ice skate, this is why it is so hard to land jumps. Skaters are basically balancing on a knife. All that speed that is gained up can make a skater spin out of control. If skaters don’t keep their balance, they will hurt themselves on a landing sometimes causing broken limbs.

After you have read this article, let’s think, are we harming skaters but pushing them to hard moves until they snap? Are these jumps to challenging, that it is almost impossible to do? Is this pressure of constantly pushing them to be the best to much for skaters to handle? Yes, yes it is.