Spins are an element in figure skating where the skater rotates, centered on a single point on the ice, while holding one or more body positions. The skater rotates on the part of the blade just behind the toe pick, with the weight on the ball of the foot. There are many types of spins, identified by the position of the arms, legs, and torso, the foot on which the spin is performed, and the entrance to the spin. A combination spin is a spin with a change of position or foot. Spins are a required element in most figure skating competitions.

Types of spins

There are many types of spins, identified by the foot on which the spin is performed, the entrance to the spin, and the position of the arms, legs, and torso. Spins may be performed on either foot. Figure skaters are rarely able to spin in both directions; most favor one or the other. For skaters who rotate in a counterclockwise direction, a spin on the left foot is called a forward or front spin, while a spin on the right foot is called a back spin. Spins may be entered with a step or a jump. Spins entered with a jump are referred to as flying spins. There are three basic positions, for which many variations exist. There are five levels of difficulty — Level B to Level 4.

Upright spins

An upright spin is a spin where the skater is in an upright position and their head is in line with their spine. There are many variations on it.

  • A basic two-foot spin is an upright spin in which the skater rotates with both feet on the ice using their arms to swing around and create momentum.
  • A basic one-foot spin is an upright spin in which the skater rotates with one foot on the ice. Spins can be skated on either foot.
  • A scratch spin is an upright spin with the free leg crossed in front of the skating leg. The arms and free leg begin in an open position, extended straight out and high. They are pulled in gradually, which accelerates the spin, and the leg is pushed down so that the feet are crossed at the ankles. This spin is performed on a very tight backward inside edge.
  • A back scratch is similar to the forward scratch spin, only performed on the opposite foot and on a tight backward outside edge. This is usually learned soon after the scratch spin is mastered, and is the basic air position for jumping.
  • A crossfoot spin is a back upright spin in which the free leg is crossed behind the skating foot, or the front foot on a back upright is lowered and the spin becomes a two-footed spin. When spinning counter-clockwise, the left skate spins forward while the right skate travels backwards.
  • A layback spin is an upright spin, usually performed by women, in which the back is arched and head dropped back, the free leg in an attitude position, and the arms often stretched to the ceiling. A common variation of this spin is the catch foot layback or haircutter, in which the skater grabs the free blade and pulls it toward her head while in the layback position.
  • An attitude spin looks a little bit like a very shallow layback, the skater turns her head and looks to the side, instead of arching and looking up, while the free leg is held in attitude position as for a layback spin. The leg position is the feature of this variation. It is often taught as an introductory position while learning a layback.
  • A Biellmann spin is a variation of the layback spin and performed by pulling the free leg from behind up and over the head. The blade of the skate may be held with either one or both hands. This requires extreme flexibility in the shoulders, back, hips, and legs. It was popularized by and named after 1981 World Champion Denise Biellmann.
  • "I" spins (or upright front-grab spins) are a collection of spins when the skater pulls the free leg up in front of his or her face in a near-vertical angle (depending on the type of grab).
  • A shotgun spin is a variation of the upright front-grab spins in which the free leg is held in a horizontal position. This is also known as a spiral spin.
  • "Y" spins are spins in which the free leg is held with the hand and extended to the side in a near-split position. Michelle Kwan is known for doing this variation consecutively on both feet. The support can be from either or both arms, and the hold can either be on the skate or the ankle.
  • Sit spins

    A sit spin is defined as a spin in which the buttocks are not higher than the level of the skating knee. There are many variations on it.

  • A basic sit spin is a spin in which the skater is in a shoot the duck position where the skating leg bent and the free leg extended forwards.
  • A broken leg sit spin is a sit spin in which the skater's free leg is turned inwards at the hip.
  • The corkscrew sit spin is a back sit spin in which the skater crosses the free leg behind the skating foot, rather than extending it to the front.[
  • A flying sit spin is a sit spin entered from a jump; the skater attains the sit spin position in the air.[9][10]
  • A pancake spin is a difficulty variation on a sit spin in which the free leg is canted towards the body and upper body is bent over it, forming the illusion of the skater's body as a pancake.
  • A cannonball spin is a difficulty variation similar to the pancake in which the free skate touches the thigh of the skating leg and arms are held down and touching the skating leg, giving the illusion of a cannonball.[1] "Cannonball spin" is also commonly used to refer to a sit spin in which the skater holds the ankle of the extended free leg and lowers the chest flat to the thigh of the free leg.
  • A death drop is a flying spin performed by jumping up with a forward takeoff, kicking the same takeoff leg backwards, and landing in a back sit position. One of the major differences between a death drop and a regular flying sit spin is the position the skater attains in the air, which is almost horizontal to the ice in the death drop. Brian Boitano was known for his death drop.
  • Camel spin

    A camel spin is defined as a spin in which the free leg is held backwards with the knee higher than the hip level. There are many variations on it.

  • A basic camel spin (also known as a parallel or arabesque spin) is performed by assuming an arabesque position (or spiral position) with the free leg extended behind at hip level, parallel to the ice surface.
  • A flying camel spin is a back camel spin from a jump entry.
  • An illusion spin has a basic position similar to the camel, but instead of remaining "flat" throughout the duration of the spin the skater's body tilts up and down while the skater is spinning. The up-down cycle should coincide with the rotational speed so that the "low point" is always at the same point on the circle. This causes the spin to create an image that looks like a plate tilted at an angle.
  • A doughnut spin is a camel spin in which the skater pulls the blade of the skate of the free leg backward with one or both arms while arching the back to create a horizontal circular shape with the body. This is sometimes known as a horizontal Biellmann, and some skaters use this to enter the Biellmann position.
  • A butterfly spin is a flying spin with a near-horizontal body position and scissoring leg action in the air similar to that of the death drop, but it has a two-foot, twisting takeoff rather than an Axel-like takeoff. Butterflies can also be done as a solo move, without a spin, or in a series.
  • Pair skating and ice dancing

    In pair skating, skaters perform pair spins and side-by-side spins. In side-by-side spins, the skaters perform the same solo spin next to each other on the ice. Pairs sometimes shout auditory cues to their partner in order to maintain and adjust their timing. In pair spins, the skaters hold onto each other and rotate together, but may be in different positions.

    In ice dancing, skaters perform dance spins, which are similar to pair spins. They do not perform side-by-side spins.