Is Skating A Sport?

Last Updated on October 13, 2023 by Alex PT

Yes, skating is a sport. It is a physical activity that requires athleticism, skill, and training. Figure skating is the oldest winter sport contested at the Olympics, and speed skating and roller derby are also popular sports. In 2022, there were over 1.5 million registered figure skaters in the United States alone.

Is Skating A Sport?

Skating involves much more than just a casual pastime and it has been recognized as a popular sport in many countries. Here, we will dive into some convincing reasons why skating is indeed considered a sport.

1. Requires Physical Effort

Just like other sports, skating requires a considerable amount of physical effort. Skaters require strength, stamina, balance, and agility to glide over the surface, execute jumps, perform tricks and maintain their speed in limited timeframes.

2. Defined Rules & Regulations

Skating, particularly in its competitive forms such as figure skating, ice hockey, and speed skating follows a strict set of rules and regulations. These include specific rules on the execution of various tricks, time limits, and scoring system – elements common to many traditional sports.

3. Training & Practice

Successful skaters spend countless hours refining their skills and techniques, similar to athletes in other sports. A professional skater, akin to athletes, trains regularly, follows a disciplined routine with a specific diet, and often works with coaches to improve their performance.

4. Competitive Aspects

Competitions at various levels – from local to international – are prevalent in skating. Contestants compete in various categories, demonstrating their technical and artistic proficiency, which are then scored by a panel of judges.

5. Exists in Various Forms

Skating is not limited to one specific variant. It encompasses various forms such as ice skating, roller skating, speed skating, artistic skating, or aggressive inline skating. Each variant has its unique set of rules and competitive leagues, further proving its status as a sport.

6. Recognized by International Sporting Bodies

Many forms of skating are recognized by global sports organizations. For instance, figure skating has been part of the Winter Olympics since 1908, under the governance of the International Skating Union (ISU). Similarly, speed skating and roller hockey are also recognized sporting events.

Skating DisciplineGoverning Body
Figure SkatingInternational Skating Union (ISU)
Speed SkatingInternational Skating Union (ISU)
Inline HockeyInternational Roller Sports Federation (FIRS)

7. Requires the Learning of Skills

Just like any sport, skating demands learning and mastering specific skills. Skaters must gain a sense of balance, coordination, and maneuverability. These skills may take a long time to perfect, underlining the sporting nature of this activity.

Figure Skating

Figure Skating

Figure skating is a sport that has to do with different people sometimes in pairs or groups figure skating on ice. The game became the first-ever winter sport to ever be featured in an Olympics. It was featured in the 1908 Olympics which was held in London. There are different events in figure skating on ice, the Olympic events are men’s singles, women’s singles, pair skating, and ice dance. The different events are also merged into a team event that was brought into the 2014 Olympics for the first time. 

There are also other events that are not featured in the Olympics but it is done in some other competition or maybe just when friends are having fun. Some of these events are synchronized skating, Theater on ice, and four skatings. We have the intermediate level and then move up to the senior level, there are usually two events that are mostly performed in figure skating. There is the short program and the free skate. Both programs depend on the discipline which could be spinning, jumping, lifting, throwing, and death spirals.

Figure skaters have different levels of competition, they start from the beginner level and then move up to the senior level, the senior level is the Olympic level. In the Olympics, there are different competitions involved, there is local, regional, sectional, national, and international competition in the Olympics. 

A body known as the International Skating Union is in charge of the judging of international figure skating. These international competitions are the world championship event, world junior championship event, European Championship event, four continent championship event, and ISU challenger series. It is the Olympics of course, so there is always something out of the ordinary. Skating could easily be turned into show business because, unlike the athletes who just run a particular distance, skating involves people pulling tricks on ice using wheels. 

Most times, after the competition, a gala is held, an exhibition gala where the winners and best skaters are made to perform programs without any competition, it is just done most times for fun. Most skaters in the Olympics do some off-season ice shows where they perform their craft. This is done during their careers as Olympic competitors and after their Olympic careers. 

How figure skating is scored as a sport and as an art?

Figure skating is scored both as a sport and an art, with a detailed system that combines technical and artistic elements.

Scoring as a Sport:

  1. Technical Elements: Skaters perform specific jumps, spins, and footwork sequences. Each element has a base value with a set level of difficulty, and judges evaluate the execution and landing of these moves.
  2. Grade of Execution (GOE): Judges assign a score from -3 to +3 to each element, based on how well it was executed. Positive GOE reflects good execution, while negative indicates errors.
  3. Program Components: Five components—skating skills, transitions, performance, choreography, and interpretation—are evaluated for their technical and athletic aspects. Each component receives a score from 0 to 10.
  4. Deductions: Points may be deducted for falls, stepping out of jumps, or exceeding time limits.
  5. Technical Score: The sum of base values, GOE, and any deductions makes up the technical score.

Scoring as an Art:

  1. Program Components (Artistic Score): Judges assess the skater’s artistic performance, including skating skills, transitions, performance, choreography, and interpretation. They assign scores for the skater’s expression, musicality, and connection with the audience.
  2. Performance: Judges look for skaters to engage with the music and display emotional connection, originality, and creativity.
  3. Choreography and Interpretation: Skaters should demonstrate a deep understanding of the music and convey its mood and theme through their movements and expression.
  4. Overall Presentation: Judges consider how well the skater presents their program as a complete artistic performance.
  5. Artistic Score: The sum of the scores for program components is the skater’s artistic score.

Figure Skating Olympic Disciplines

Figure Skating Olympic Disciplines

Figure skating has different disciplines at the Olympic level and so we are going to talk about them. Just like most of the sports at the Olympic level, it comprises different events. 

1. Singles

This competition is done by one man in the male category or one woman in the female category. What this means is that every player has to come out and perform individually in this event. Players that enrolled for this event. No duet is allowed in this program, one person has to come out and show everyone what he or she can do. They have to do things like jumps, spins, spirals, and the rest.

2. Pair Skating 

In this event, there is usually a man and a woman who come out to perform and skate alongside each other. Both of the participants are usually in one team. Both of them have to perform elements that are particular to the discipline. They have to perform a lot of outstanding things so that the judges can pass good judgment and they could end up at the top. For instance, there are throw jumps, the man on the team would have to throw the woman into the air as she jumped. There is also lifts, in this instance, the woman is held steadily above the man’s head in a particular position. A lot of things can be done that would make the judges shocked and amazed by the performance. Your performance also has to be unique. There is also what we call the pair spins, both individuals on the duet have to move together to a particular axis.

3. Ice Dance

This is an event that is played mostly by couples because it has to do with two people skating on the ice. It sounds just like pair skating but it is different because it is more of the intricate footwork that is done in time with the music playing. The rules are different foo. For instance, the ice dance lift must go high above the shoulder and the throws and jumps are not part of the routine. 

We have spoken about the four major disciplines at the Olympics, they are women’s singles, men’s singles, pair skating, and ice dancing. They have all currently made to be team events, since the 2014 Winter Olympics. 

Some Other Figure Skating Disciplines

1. Synchronized Skating 

This used to be called precision skating and it is done by both men and women, it has an age limit though, only people who are between the ages of 12 to 20. It is just like a group form of ice dance. The only difference is the extra emphasis that is added on particular formations that have to be incorporated  

2. Ice Theater

This is also known as theater on Ice or as some people like to call it, ballet on ice. It is very similar to group skating but it has a lesser structure than precision skating. It gives the players the chance to use costumes and props like they are facing a theater crowd. 

3. Four Skating 

This is an event that involves four skaters, two men, and two women, they have to perform their act in unison. They are obligated to come up with new skills that would involve all the skaters on the ice. 


Firstly, any event that is featured in the Olympics is a sport, some people see skating as something kids do for fun, it is a very competitive sport just like most winter sports. 


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