Synchronized Ice Skating: Fitness & Benefits
Synchronized Skating has been going on for approximately 60 years and has become a successful sport. Synchronized skating is now practiced around the world. It can be seen used as an act of performance in Disneyland, world synchronized championship, classes given in colleges and many more. Before synchronized was created, there was only figure skating which is also popular around the world. Figure skating is most popular in the Winter Olympic Games where figure skaters from around the world compete. Synchronized skating is not in the Winter Olympics Games due to not favorable with the public interests. Surprisingly, there are roughly about 600 synchronized teams that are recorded with the United States figure skating. (usfsa,2019). There are approximately 14 level of in synchronized skating due to the ages and ability levels of the team associates. Synchronized skating is a team which consists of 8-20 skaters who all perform together being in synced. Synchronized skating consists of dancing, skating in singles and pair skating. Synchronized skating consists of forms, speed, coordination and formation. There also elements in synchronized skating known as intersections, blocks, circles, lines, wheels, spins and moves with a partner. (usfsa,2019). Surprisingly, synchronized skating has become popular around the world. Countries like, the United States, Canada, Russia, Finland, Japan, Sweden, Austria and Croatia all have teams that practice and compete in the world synchronized championship. However, before going in any skating field, the most important factor for the skating participants to have is to be in physical shape. All skaters need to have stamina and physical strength in order to join any skating field. There are also positive traits of ice skating, which it has many health benefits.
Originally, synchronized skating was first mentioned in “in 1838 by the Oxford Skating Society in England. Synchronized was called “combined figure skating”” (Synchro, 2017). The first synchronized skating team was created by Dr. Richard Porter in 1956. The team was given the name the “Hockettes” (SDFSC-Enews). According to the article “8 things you should know about history of synchro”, “The team entertained the audience during the intermissions of the local hockey team’s game. Throughout the 1960’s, teams began forming in USA and Canada as in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Ontario and Quebec” (Synchro, 2017). The first national championships was planned and prepared by Canada in the year of 1983. According to the article, “the first U.S. Figure Skating Association national precision Championships followed one year later. By 1987, Japan and Australia had become the first non-North American countries participating in international precision skating competition” (Synchro, 2017).
The International Skating Union gave its acknowledgement as a special area of figure skating in the year of 1994. The International Union also began approving “international competitions, with fifteen countries participating. In 1996 the first ISU World Precision Challenge Cup was held in Boston, Massachusetts” (Synchro, 2017). In the year of 1998, the International Skating Union “changed the of “precision skating”. Synchronized skating became the official name of the sport, a more internationally understood term” (Synchro, 2017). The city to host the first synchronized world championships “were held in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 2000, with twenty-one teams from seventeen countries competing” (Synchro, 2017). Also, “The Sweden Team Surprise is the most crowned team in the world. The formation created in 1985 and had won six gold medals since 2000” (Synchro, 2017).
Synchronized skating is still not part of the Olympic games, however, there is a high chance for synchronized skating to become a part of the Olympic games. According to SDFSC-Enews, “in the 2000s, although not currently an Olympic Sport, fans and participants of this fast-growing discipline have begun to strive for recognition by the rest of the skating and athletic world. In 2007, synchronized skating took one step closer to Olympic contention when it was selected to be part of the Universiade or World University Games as a demonstration sport. Countries from around the world competed in Torino, Italy with Sweden, Finland, and Russia coming out on top. Synchronized skating has already been reviewed for Olympic eligibility” (SDFSC-E-news).
As mentioned above about the history and present of synchronized skating, this sport also includes and requires a well fit and healthy life style of the participants. A study was conducted by Laura E. Fischer, Lynn A. Darby, Amy L. Morgan and David A. Tobar in which they use “field tests to describe the physical characteristics and synchronized skaters and to determine the relationships between these physiological characteristics and skating abilities” (Lynn, Darby, Morgan & David, 2016). According to the article “Physiological Characteristics of Youth Synchronized Skaters”, “Anthropometric data were collected and field tests (sit-and-reach, vertical jump, hexagon, on-min-sit-ups, one-min modified pushups, timed wall sit, and one-mile walk/run) were performed during off-ice fitness classes as part of synchronized skating camps” (Lynn, Darby, Morgan & David, 2016). These tests helped determine which participants was on the higher level and lower level. According to the article, “Participants were divided into advanced (ADV) …” intermediate and above”…and Beginner (BEG)… “juvenile and below” groups determines by their Moves in the Field (MITF) test levels. (Lynn, Darby, Morgan & David, 2016).
After the field test was conducted, there differences found between the two leveled groups. The article states “Significant differences were found between ADV and BEG groups for age, body weight, height, BMI, sit-and-reach (SR), and vertical jump height (VJ). Results from univariate statistics and paired…indicated that the anthropometric variables of age, body weight, height, and BMI were greater for the ADV group as compared to the BEG group and were consistent with their physical development” (Lynn, Darby, Morgan & David, 2016). Also, “SR (flexibility) and VJ (explosive power) were greater for the ADV group; as such, these may be athletic components to target as skating ability develops. Future research to identify fitness norms for skaters by level of skating ability (MITF) may assist synchronized skating coaches in the design of off-ice training programs to improve on-ice skating performances” (Lynn, Darby, Morgan & David, 2016). In order for skaters to perform at the different levels, they must go through and complete a sequences of standardized performance tests. According to the article, “the standardized tests within the USFS Test Track assess competence in skating skills and elements and promote consistency in the rating of skating ability across competitive disciplines. A panel of three trained judges evaluates the results of the tests using a point system to pass or fail a skater at a test level. Having a higher test level and a greater variety of test disciplines indicates a greater skating ability and competence” (Lynn, Darby, Morgan & David, 2016).
It is clear to conclude that just like every sport, all skaters have to be in physical shape in order to be high performance rates. The “skill development and advanced performance standards within all disciplines of figure skating have led to increased physical demands being placed on skaters’ bodies (7, 13). As a result, focus on sport performances testing, training, and injury prevention specific to synchronized skating has increased. Developing greater athletic ability through training and an improved level of physical fitness could aid in the acquisition of skating skills and injury prevention 13, 25, 31” (Lynn, Darby, Morgan & David, 2016). It is best for skaters to start in an early since it “may allow the skater to train at his or her highest capability and develop skating skills, as well as introduce the importance of overall physical fitness to the skater. Figure skaters are often required to demonstrate proper form and posture, creative grace and style, and correct techniques all while executing elements that require high levels of athleticism (13, 25, 26)” (Lynn, Darby, Morgan & David).
There are a lot of difficult moves added in the skating sport, the ability to lift, spin and maintain posture has become an increased requirement in the skating sport, which now requires full physical fitness and stamina. According to the article, “Fitness testing results are important components for the design of an appropriate program to meet the needs of an individual skater” (Lynn, Darby, Morgan & David). Without the proper physical tests, skaters would not have the ability to figure out their strength and weakness. As stated in the article, “Fitness tests can be utilized to assess current fitness levels for strengths and weakness, identify special needs for individualized programming, evaluate progress, and motivate the athlete who participates in synchronized skating (19)” (Lynn, Darby, Morgan & David). The study of the physical tests also helps the judge determine a limit to wear the skaters physical fitness should meet. The article states, “Fitness performance data could also be beneficial to establish baseline measures and identify realistic goals for the improvement of each component of a skaters physical fitness” (Lynn, Darby, Morgan & David).
The physical tests that were use for the study to determine the skaters physical test was the sit-and-reach that “assess flexibility of the hamstrings and lower back”, the vertical jump which “is sport specific for any activity that includes jumping or explosive lower body movements and its an appropriate power test for figure skating”, the hexagon test which “is uses to assess agility, the ability to stop and start, quickness of foot speed and legs, change of direction, and whole body coordination (5)”. The movement performed in the hexagon test is an off-ice simulation of fast, full body coordinated movement in all directions”, the one-minute sit-up test which “is a muscular endurance test of the abdominal muscles and hip flexors (core strength) (5)” The one-minute push-up test which is known as “a muscular endurance test of the arms, upper back and chest muscles(5), the time wall sit, “which is also known as the phantom chair or isometric leg squat is intended to measure static leg endurance.(24)” Lastly, the one-mile walk/run test was also used “to assess cardiorespiratory endurance (19, 24)” (Lynn, Darby, Morgan & Davide, 2016). Is quite interesting to know how synchronized skating needs a lot of physical fitness and stamina, one might think its an easy sport due to having to skate together, however, synchronized skating it quite more difficult than regular figure skating since it require all team members to be in sync. If one member makes a mistake, the whole performance messes up.
The health benefits of skating are many. Ice skating itself helps develop the main muscles in the skaters body. According to the “The Health and Fitness Benefits of Ice Skating”, it states “the lower body and core muscles benefit more than other muscle…hamstrings, hips, calves, quadriceps and core muscles, like pelvic floor muscles, back muscles, and the gluteus maximus, increase in mass and are strengthened and toned…” (Staff, 2018). Many health problems like “urinary stress incontinence, suffered frequently among childbearing women and the aging, can be improved or eliminated completely through exercises that strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, as ice skating does” (Staff, 2018). Ice skating also increases energy. “Activities like standing, squatting, walking, reaching, bending, and even sitting all rely on core or leg muscles or leg muscles or a combination of both” (Staff, 2018). It makes daily small tasks and movements easier to achieve.
Ice skating also increases weight loss. According to the article, “for every hour of leisurely, ice skating, the average person can expect to burn from 200-650 calories, depending on weight and energy expenditure. A person weighing 185 pounds burns, on average, around 622 calories per hour while ice skating. For every 30 pounds over, 185, add another 60 calories burned” (Staff, 2018). Ice skating also benefits the joints. The article states, “ice skating improves joint health mainly because it is a low-impact exercise that improves strength, endurance, flexibility, and range of motion” (Staff, 2018). Lastly, Ice skating helps bone density. As stated in the article, “practicing jumps for as little as 10 minutes daily will slowly increase bone mass in the bones that are impacted, namely, in the legs, feet, hips, and ankles” (Staff, 2018). Ice skating has many more benefits like balance and mental health. The way of skating and movements helps the increase of benefits of ice skating.
Therefore, synchronized skating started not too long ago. Synchronized skating consists of 8-10 or more members in one team in which they all have to perform together. The skating consists of moves like the intersection, wheel, block, coordination and speed. Synchronized skating has become quite an domestic and international sport and soon later will be joining the Olympic games. Being in a synchronized skating or any type of skating requires physical strengths and stamina. In order for the participant to be determined and chosen for the team, the participant needs to go through a series of testing which helps the judge determine whether the participant is an advanced skater or an beginner. Participants who starts ice skating in an early age are more likely to have fitness and better practice to those who start in an later age. Also, synchronized skating and many other forms of skating has many health benefits. Ice skating itself helps improve many health factors like weight loss, energy muscle development and joint health.
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