Glossary of figure skating terms


Glossary of figure skating terms

The following is a list of figure skating terms, sorted alphabetically.

Contents: Top   0–9 A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z  

0–9

4CC
An abbreviation for the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships
6.0
The highest score possible under the 6.0 scoring system.
6.0 Scoring System
The scoring system used in which skaters were scored relative to each other. The lowest score was a 0.0 and the highest was a 6.0.
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A

The attitude position in ballet
Age-eligible
Either "old enough" or "young enough" to compete internationally at a certain level. A Junior-age-eligible skater is one currently under the age of 19 (21 for the man in pairs and ice dancing), whereas a Senior-age-eligible skater is over the age of 16. The overlap in age eligibility allows for some Senior-age-eligible skaters to compete at Junior-level events, and vice versa. One example was Mao Asada, who won the 2005–2006 Grand Prix Final and the silver medal at the 2006 World Junior Figure Skating Championships in the 2005–2006 season.
Attitude
A leg position in which the free leg is lifted behind the body with the knee bent at an angle and is held behind at a 90-degree angle to the skating foot. This is the leg position often used for the Layback spin.
Arabesque
A leg position in which the free leg is extended behind the body in a straight line. This is the leg position used for the basic camel spin.
Axel jump
The only jump counted as a jump element that starts from skating forward. An axel jump has an extra half rotation (180 degrees), and as all jumps is landed with the skater gliding backwards.
Axel Paulsen jump
The original term for the axel jump.
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B

A backflip done in exhibition
Backflip
A reverse somersault in the air. They are banned in competition, but play a role in show skating and exhibitions.
Besti Squat
a spread-eagle like move where the skater glides on two outside edges with knees bent
Biellmann spin
A catch-foot position where the free leg is pulled above the head from behind. Can be either a spin or a spiral position. By regulation, a spin becomes a Biellmann at the moment the skate passes over the level of the head. It is named after Denise Biellmann, who popularized the position.
Boards
The vertical barrier between the ice and the ground at the point where the ice ends. In non-Olympic competitions, they are usually covered with advertisements for the sponsors. At the Olympics, they are usually covered by designs or the Olympic logo.
Bracket turn
A one-foot turn with a change of edge that results in a '}' shape traced on the ice.
Butterfly jump
A flying spin with a two-foot takeoff. The body goes almost parallel to the ice in the air, with a scissoring leg motion.
Bye
Permission to compete in the a higher level of competition without having competed in the requisite qualifying competition.
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C

A cantilever with the hands extended
CD
A scoring abbreviation for the compulsory dance in an ice dancing competition.
COP
Abbreviation for Code of Points
Camel spin
A spin position during which the free leg is extended in the air in an arabesque position parallel to the ice.
Cantilever
An element in which the knees are bent and the back is bent backwards, parallel to the ice. The element can be performed with the hands on the ice or with them extended in the air.
A catch-foot camel position
Catch-foot
A spin or spiral position in which the free leg is held by one or both hands. The most notable catch-foot position is the Biellmann.
Centered
A spin that that stays in one spot on the ice. The opposite of traveling.
Chack, Chacked, Chacking
When a medal-winning or otherwise noteworthy program is not shown on television. This term is named after Michael Chack, whose bronze medal winning performance at the United States Figure Skating Championships was not aired on television.
Chasse
An ice dancing step that can be a simple chasse, a crossed chasse, or a slide chasse.
Check
Stopping the rotation of a jump or a spin.
Cherry-flip
Another name for the toe-loop jump.
Cheated
A jump that was not fully rotated in midair, with either the first rotation starting on the ice or the final rotation finishing after the landing.
Choctaw turn
A two foot turn with a change of edge that results in a change of lobe.
Choke
To perform badly under competition pressure.
Charlotte spiral
A spiral position in which the torso is bent down towards the skating leg, with the free leg held in a 180 degree vertical split position. Also known as a candlestick spiral.
Clean Program
A skating program without falls, hands on the ground in jumps and spins, or illegal use of toe picks in edge jumps that can all result in point deductions.
Code of Points
An informal name for the ISU Judging System.
Combination
Two or more elements (jumps, spin positions) performed in succession.
Compulsory Dance
The first of the three programs in ice dance. All teams perform the same dance to the standard music.
Compulsory Figures
Specific patterns traced in the ice by a skater's blade. While originally a major part of a skating competition, figures were removed entirely from international competition in 1990.
Counter turn
A one-foot turn on the same edge but results in a change of lobe with the rotation outside the original lobe.
Cross stroke
In ice dancing, a step that is begun with the feet crossed, the legs crossing above the knee, so the motion is begun by the outside edge of the free foot.
Crossed chasse
In ice dancing, a series of two edges across two steps (such as inside and outside). On the second step, the free foot crosses the skating foot and is placed on the ice beside the skating foot.
Crossed step behind
In ice dancing, a step that is begun with the free foot in the air. It is then crossed below the knee to the opposite side of the skating foot, so that the free foot touches down on the ice on the outside edge of the skating foot. The leg is crossed behind.
Crossed step forward
In ice dancing, a step that is begun with the free foot in the air. It is then crossed below the knee to the opposite side of the skating foot, so that the free foot touches down on the ice on the outside edge of the skating foot. The leg is crossed in front.
Crossovers
Crossing one foot over the other as a way of gaining speed and turning corners.
Crouch
A two-foot skating move in which the skater's legs are both bent at least 90-degree's.
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D

A death spiral with the woman on a back inside edge.
Dance
See ice dancing.
Dance jump
In ice dancing, a small jump used to change foot or direction. The jump is performed by both partners while in hold or while very close together.
Dance spin
A spin performed in ice dancing by both partners while in hold. It is similar to a pair spin.
Death spiral
An element in pair skating in which the woman skates on a deep edge with her body close to the ice and skates in a circle around the man, who is in a low pivot position and holding her by the arm.
Discipline
A part of skating governed by unique rules. Currently, the four disciplines that compete at the Olympic Games are men's singles, ladies singles, pair skating, and ice dancing.
Double
A jump with two full rotations (720 degrees) in the air (two and a half rotations for double Axel).
Draw
The act of choosing the starting order before the event. Can be either open (public) or closed (private)
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E

A male ice dancer achieves a deep outside edge while performing a lift.
Element
An identifiable component of a program. Includes spins, spirals, jumps, footwork, lifts, etc.


Eligible
Skaters who earn money only from ISU-approved competitions and exhibitions. Only eligible skaters may compete in the Olympic Games.


Edge
Can refer either to part of the skate blade, or the result of skating on that part. Can be either inside (towards the body) or outside (away from the body), and forward or backward, for a total for four different edges. A "deep edge" is a deep lean on the edge of the skate.


Edge jump
A general term to refer to any of the three jumps that take off from an edge.


European Figure Skating Championships
An ISU Championship for skaters from European countries.


Europeans
An informal name for the European Figure Skating Championships.


Exhibition
Non-competition skating or a show. Exhibitions often feature elements banned in competition as well as spotlights and show lighting. Also: the gala after a competition in which the highest placing skaters perform a show program.


Extension
The way a body part is held in a stretched position.
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F

A flying sit spin in mid-air
FD
A scoring abbreviation for the free dance in an ice dancing competition.
FS
The scoring abbreviation for the free skating in a singles and pairs competition.
Fan spiral
A spiral position in which the free leg is lifted, held upwards in front of the body, and lowered, in the style of an opening and closing Japanese fan.
Figures
See compulsory figures.
Flight
A grouping of skaters at a competition who warm up together immediately prior to competing. The final flight of the free skating in single skating is made up of the highest-scoring six skaters from the short program.
Flip jump
A toe-assisted figure skating jump that takes off from the back inside edge.
Flood (v.)
Resurface the ice.
Flutz
A portmanteau of "flip" and "Lutz", for an improperly executed lutz jump, where the outside take-off edge is mistakenly changed to an inside edge, making it a flip jump.
Flying spin
A jump that lands in a spinning position. Commonly performed flying spins include flying camel spins and flying sit spins.
Free Dance
The third and final program in an ice dance competition.
Free Leg
The leg that is not on the ice.
Free Skating
Originally a term for the part of the skating competition that was not compulsory figures. Now the official name of the long program. Also: free skate.
Four Continents Figure Skating Championships
An ISU Championship for skaters from countries that are not in Europe.
Footwork Sequence
A sequence of edges, turns, and hops. Often a required element.
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G

GP
An abbreviation for a Grand Prix event.
GPF
An abbreviation for the Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final
GOE
An abbreviation for Grade Of Execution.
Gold medalist
In addition to referring to the winner of a particular figure skating competition, all skaters who have passed the USFSA's highest-level skill tests are called "gold medalists"; the latter usage is especially common on coaches' resumes.
Grade Of Execution
A part of the ISU Judging System.
Grapevines
Figures performed on two feet.
Grand Prix
A series of six international invitational events that build to the Grand Prix Final.
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H

A "haircutter" spin variation
Haircutter
A catch-foot layback spin where the free leg is brought up to head level, but not above. In some cases, the head is dropped back and it appears that the skate blade is in a position to cut the hair of the skater performing the spin. This position is often performed as a segue between a layback spin and a Biellmann spin.
Hollow
The groove in the middle of a blade between the inside and outside edges.
Hop
A small jump that does not include a rotation.
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I

An "I" spin position
IJS
An abbreviated term for the ISU Judging System
ISU
An abbreviation for the International Skating Union.
Ice Dancing
The skating discipline in which two skaters perform a choreographed dance.
Ina Bauer
A two-footed move in which the skater skates with the legs parallel, with one foot on a forward edge and the other leg on a backward edge on a different but parallel edge (i.e., inside or outside). The knee of the forward leg is bent. The move is similar to a spread eagle.
Ineligible
"Professional" skaters; skaters who receive money from sources not approved by the ISU.
Inside edge
The edge of a skate blade facing towards the body.
I-spin
An upright spin position in which the skater pulls the free leg up in a split towards the front of the body, creating an I position.
International Skating Union
The international governing body for ice skating sports.
ISU Championship
A championship-level competition held by the ISU. The four figure skating ISU Championships are the World Figure Skating Championships, the World Junior Figure Skating Championships, the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships, and the European Figure Skating Championships. The synchronized skating ISU Championships is the World Synchronized Skating Championships.
ISU Judging System
The judging system in which the elements skaters perform (TES) and the way in which they perform them (PCS) add up to a total score. The highest score wins.
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J

JGP
An abbreviation for the Junior Grand Prix.
Jackson Haines spin
The original name for the sit spin.
Jump
A skating move where a skater pushes off the ice into the air, rotates, and typically lands on one foot going backwards. There are six rotational jumps; Axel, salchow, loop, toe loop, flip, and lutz.
Jump combination
Two or more jumps performed one right after the other, without intervening steps or turns. Jump combinations most commonly involve the toe loop or loop jump as the final jump, because they start from the back outside edge, which is the normal landing edge for all 6 jumps.
Jump sequence
Two or more jumps connected by turns or hops.
Junior Age Eligible
A skater who has reached the minimum age and has not exceeded the maximum age defined by the ISU for junior level competition.
Junior Grand Prix
A series of eight international events that build to the Junior Grand Prix Final. It is the junior level complement to the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating.
Junior level
The level below Senior (Olympic) level competition. International competitions for Juniors include the ISU Junior Grand Prix and the World Junior Figure Skating Championships.
Junior Olympics
A name for various different competitions in different countries. In the United States, the Junior Olympics referred to a competition held to determine the national champions at the Intermediate and Juvenile levels.
Junior Worlds
An informal name for the World Junior Figure Skating Championships. Also: World Juniors.
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K

Killian
A dance hold used in ice dancing.
Kiss and Cry
The area next to the rink at major competitions where the skaters wait to get their results.
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L

A leg wrap position in midair
A lunge
LP
An abbreviation for the long program.
Ladies
The official term for female competitors.
Landing Leg
The leg on which a skater lands a jump. Opposite of free leg. For right-handed skaters, it is usually the right leg, and vice-versa.
Layback spin
A spin position in which the back is arched and head dropped back, the free leg bent behind, and the arms often stretched to the ceiling or arched overhead.
Leg Wrap
An air position in jumps where the free leg is held at a right angle to the landing leg, crossing it above the knee, so that it appears to be "wrapped" around the other. Most skaters keep their legs more vertical and crossed at the ankles when they jump.
Level (judging)
The assigned difficulty of an element under the ISU Judging System. The highest difficulty level is Level 4.
Level (skating)
The division by competitive level of skill. International ISU competitions currently take place at the Novice, Junior, Senior, and Adult levels.
Lift
A pairs and ice dance element in which one skater lifts his or her partner while rotating. Pairs lifts, unlike dance, go over the head. Some dancers perform genderbending or "reverse" lifts, in which the woman lifts the man.
Lip
A portmanteau of "lutz" and "flip", for an improperly executed flip jump, where the inside take-off edge is mistakenly changed to an outside edge, making it a lutz jump.
Lobe
A semicircle created on the ice
Long program
An unofficial, but widely-used, name for the second and longer of the two programs performed by singles and pair skaters at a competition. The time limit is 4.5 minutes for men's singles and pairs and 4 minutes for ladies' singles at the senior (Olympic) level.
Loop jump
An edge jump that takes off from the back outside edge.
Lunge
A skating move in which one leg is bent sharply at the knee and the other is extended backwards in a straight line with the boot or blade touching the ice.
Lutz jump
A toepick-assisted jump with an entrance from a back outside edge and landing on the back outside edge of the opposite foot.
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M

Mirror Skating
Two or more skaters skating in such a way that they are mirroring each other. The opposite of unison skating.
Mohawk turn
A two foot turn on the same edge that continues along the same lobe.
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N

Nationals
A country's national championships, used to decide their national champion. The highest-level competition on the national level. See: List of national championships in figure skating.
Novice level
A level of competition below Junior. Novice level skaters compete in some international events, but there are no Championship-level events for Novice level skaters.
NJS
"New Judging System." See ISU Judging System.
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O

OD
A scoring abbreviation for the original dance in an ice dancing competition.
Open stroke
In ice dancing, a step that is started close to the skating foot that doesn't cross in front or behind.
Ordinal
Under the 6.0 system, the skater's ranking within the group of skaters by a specific judge. Ordinals were what counted, not the specific marks.
Original Dance
The second program of an ice dance competition.
Outside edge
The edge of a skate blade facing away from the body.
Overrotated
A jump in which the skater rotates past the position for landing the jump in the air, or fails to check the rotation on landing.
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P

Pair spin
A spin in which two skaters rotate around a single axis while holding on to each other.
Pair skating
The skating discipline where two skaters perform overhead lifts, side-by-side spins and jumps. Usually refers to a man and a woman skating together. Two men or two women together are called a similar pair.
Pancake spin
A sit spin that has the leg tucked over the other and the upper body is bent over the leg.
Personal best
The highest score a skater has earned in ISU competition. Scores from national championships do not count as personal bests.
Pivot
A two-footed movement in which one foot is flexed and the toe picks are inserted into the ice as a pivot point, and the other foot travels around the pivot point, such as the movement of a drafting compass.
Popping (a jump)
When a jumps "opens up" in mid-air, resulting in the skater performing fewer than the desired rotations.
Positional jump
A jump for the purpose of displaying a position, such as stag jumps and split jumps.
Presentation
The second set of scores in the old 6.0 judging system, otherwise known as "Artistic Impression".
Professional
Skaters who are not eligible to compete in ISU events. See: Ineligible.
Program
Skating elements set to music performed by a skater in a defined length of time. There are usually two programs for pairs and single skaters and three for ice dancers in ISU competitions.
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Q

Quad
See quadruple jump.
Quadruple jump
A jump with four full rotations (1440 degrees) in the air. The only quadruple jumps to have been completed in competition are the toe loop and salchow by men, and just the salchow for ladies. In a quadruple Axel, the skater would have done 4.5 revolutions (1620 degrees).
Qualifying Round
A round of competition prior to the short program or compulsory dance to determine which skaters qualify to compete in the competition itself.
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R

A Russian split jump
Rittberger
Another term for the loop jump.
Rocker turn
A one-foot turn on the same edge but results in a change of lobe with the rotation inside the original lobe.
Roll
In ice dancing, a forward or backward edge that is either short or long. Can be a swing roll or a cross roll.
Rotational jump
A jump done for the purpose of rotating in the air. All jumps which count as elements under the ISU Judging System are rotational jumps. Positional jumps count as transitions.
Russian split
A split jump in which the skater performs a straddle position with the legs and the body forming a "v" shape. Many also touch their toes.
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S

Side by side shotgun spins
SP
The scoring abbreviation for the short program in a singles or pairs competition.
SBS
See side by side.
Salchow jump
An edge jump that takes off from the back inside edge. The jump is named for Ulrich Salchow.
Sanction
Permission to hold a competition or show, granted by the ISU or national governing body. Eligible skaters may only compete in sanctioned events.
Sasha Spiral
A lose term for a spiral that shows extreme flexibility. Named after Sasha Cohen.
School figures
See compulsory figures.
Scratch spin
An upright spin in which the skater has the free leg crossed over the ankle of the spinning leg.
Senior Age Eligible
A skater who has reached the minimum age defined by the ISU for senior level competition.
Senior B
A senior-level international competition held with an ISU sanction that is not a Grand Prix or ISU Championship event. Senior B events include the Nebelhorn Trophy.
Senior level
Olympic-level competition.
Sheep jump
A positional (as opposed to rotational) jump in which the skater jumps upwards and bends both legs backwards reminiscent of a sheep. The back is often arched.
Shotgun spin
An upright spin position in which the leg is held upwards towards the front of the body, but not all the way. The leg is held by the ankle or the calf, not the blade.
A basic sit spin in a shoot-the-duck position
Shoot-the-duck
A skating position in which the skater travels on one foot with the skating leg in a bent position and the other leg held forward, parallel to the ice. This is the basic position for a sit spin.
Short program
The first and shorter of the two programs performed by singles and pair skaters at a competition. This program has certain required elements that must be completed.
Side by side
Pair skating elements such as spins and jumps that are performed with the skaters next to each other, as opposed to pair spins or throw jumps, which are performed as a team.
Signature move
A move that a skater is known for and frequently performs, sometimes performed in a unique or unusual way.
A similar pair performing a throw jump.
Similar pair
A pair team made up of two men or two women.
Simple chasse
In ice dancing, a series of two edges across two steps (such as inside and outside). On the second step, the free foot is placed on the ice beside the skating foot and is then lifted up parallel to the ice.
Single (jump)
A jump with one full rotation (360 degrees) in the air (one and a half rotations for a single axel)
Single (discipline)
The skating discipline where one skater performs alone on the ice.
Sit spin
A spin position with the spinning leg bent at the knee and the free leg extended forward.
Slide chasse
In ice dancing, a series of two edges across two steps (such as inside and outside). On the second step, the free foot is placed on the ice beside the skating foot and then slides off the ice in the direction the skater is skating.
Spin
A rotation upon the ice surface. Spins are performed on the round part of the blade, just behind the toe pick.
Spiral
An edge skated with the free leg extended at or above hip level. Spirals are a required element for ladies' and pairs competitions. A good spiral depends on edge control and speed across the ice, not necessarily leg position.
Split
A position in which the legs are parallel to each other and extended in opposite directions on either the horizontal or vertical axes.
Split jumps
A jump in the air in which a split is achieved, rather than any specific rotation.
Spread eagle
An element performed with both feet on the ice, the blades turned out with the heels pointing towards each other. It can be performed on inside edges or outside edges.
A stag jump
Stag leap
A split jump in which the front leg is bent under the body.
Step
In ice dancing, a one-foot tracing on the ice.
Step-out
When a skater either under- or over-rotates a jump so that he or she does not land cleanly and must put the free leg down prematurely.
Step Sequence
A series of footwork and field moves performed during a program. Can be circular, straight line, or serpentine in pattern.
Stroking
A way of moving across the ice and gaining speed by using the edges of the blades.
Soldatova Rule
Unofficial name of the rule stating that a skater must wait out a certain amount of time from international competition when changing the country they represent. The nickname refers to Julia Soldatova.
Swizzle
A way of moving across the ice on two feet by pushing the feet outwards from a 90 degree angle V and then pulling them together again, forming an oval on the ice. Also known as scissors, fishes, or sculling.
Synchro
A common shortening for Synchronized skating.
Synchronized skating
A discipline of ice skating in which groups of figure skaters perform together as one unit.
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T

A throw jump in mid-air
'Tano jump
A jump arm position variation made famous by Brian Boitano (hence 'Tano) where one arm is extended overhead instead of folded at the chest during a jump. This increases the difficulty of a jump.
Throw jump
A pair element in which one skater throws the other into the air, where she completes a normal skating jump. Throw jumps usually have more height and power than normal jumps because of the extra help involved.
Toe loop jump
A toe-assisted jump that takes off from the back outside edge.
Toe jump
A general term to refer to any of the three jumps that use a toe pick assist.
Toe pick
The teeth at the front of a skate blade that assists a skater in jumps and spins.
Toe step
In ice dancing, a step in which the skater walks from one toe pick to the other.
Traveling
When a spinning skater moves across the ice while spinning instead of centering the spin in one spot.
Triple jump
A jump with three full rotations (1080 degrees) in the air (3 and a half rotations for the triple axel)
Three turn
A one-foot turn with a change of edge that results in a '3' shaped tracing on the ice.
Two-footed landing
The landing of a jump where both feet touch the ice. A proper landing is on one foot.
Twizzle
A quick multirotational turn on one foot while moving forwards or backwards.
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U

Underrotated
A jump that does not complete the expected number of rotations.
Unison Skating
Two or more skaters performing the same steps or elements at the same time.
Upright spin
One of the three main spin positions.
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V

Vocal music
Music with people singing. This kind of music is allowed in ice dancing competition, but not in singles or pairs.
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W

Waltz jump
a 180 degree rotation, one of the first jumps skaters learn
Warm-up group
See Flight.
World Figure Skating Championships
An ISU Championship at the World-level in which skaters compete for the title of World Champion.
World Junior Figure Skating Championships
An ISU Championship at the World-level in which skaters who are Junor age eligible compete for the title of World Junior Champion.
World Juniors
Informal name for the World Junior Figure Skating Championships. Also: Junior Worlds.
Worlds
Informal name for the World Figure Skating Championships
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X

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Y

A "Y" spin position
Y-spin
An upright spin position in which a skater pulls the free leg up into a vertical split towards the side of the body, creating a Y shape.


Y-spiral
A spiral position in which the free leg is held up in a vertical split towards the side of the body, creating a Y position.
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Z

Zayak Rule
A rule stating that skaters are only allowed to perform a jump once in a program, twice if the jump is in combination with another jump. This rule applies only to triple jumps in senior level competition. The rule is named after Elaine Zayak.
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