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How figure skaters stand on their partners without cutting them

figure skaters standing on partnerOuch. Clive Mason/Getty Images

  • At the , some figure skaters perform lifts in which they stand on top of their partner — while wearing sharp skates.
  • INSIDER asked two skating coaches how athletes can do this without hurting each other.
  • Nasty cuts do happen, they said, but with lots of training, teams can get the skate placement just right to minimize pain and injury.
  • It still hurts, but typically it lasts only a few seconds.
  • Sometimes male skaters might wear protective padding, too.

Olympic figure skaters execute all kinds of gravity-defying tricks, but there's one skill that seems downright impossible.

It happens when a female skater stands on top of her partner — in her skates — without seeming to hurt him in the slightest.

How do skating duos manage such feats unscathed? INSIDER spoke with two seasoned skating coaches — Paul Bellantuono of Detroit Skating Club, and Andrew Lavrik of Ice House of New Jersey— to find out. Here's how they make it work.

Figure skating blades aren't like knives.

Madison Chock stands on partner Evan Bates during a performance at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Clive Mason/Getty Images

Figure skating blades are thicker than you might think, Lavrik explained — each blade is about 0.15 to 0.25 inches in width. with a grooved, concave center. This means that the female skaters' weight is distributed over a slightly larger area than if the blades had a single, super-thin edge, like knives do.

This design helps to make the lifts more tolerable — but it doesn't mean they're painless.

Skaters practice hard to get these lifts right — but yes, it still hurts.

Lavrik explained that skaters don't just step onto their partners and hope for the best. Pairs slowly work toward the lifts.

"We start learning the lifts off the ice, in shoes," he said. "The next step would be to do the lifts off the ice, in skates, but wearing blade guards."

They might also use protective padding. Lavrik said when he first learned these lifts, he placed 1/2-inch rubber foam pads between his thighs and his pants. (He added that even Olympic-level skaters may use some padding.)

Once skaters work their way to bare blades and no padding, however, it can definitely hurt. Lavrik remembered that his legs bruised and turned "all kinds of colors" when he first practiced the lifts. With time, though his body adapted, and he even developed calluses on his thighs.

"It takes a while in practice to get it right," he said, "but you kind of build up a tolerance."

Placement of the female partner's skate is crucial.

Canada's Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir performing at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. Ricard Heathcote/Getty Images

"The reason the girls' blades don't cut the boy is based on having the proper technique," Bellantuono told INSIDER. "When a couple learns how to do a standing lift, it is very important for the couple to communicate on where to place the girl's skate and blade appropriately. After the blade is in the proper spot, the boy is able to balance the girl on his leg."

Ideally, the female partner will place her blade right in the center of her partner's leg, balancing her weight in the center of the blade, rather than the toe or heel.

"If the the placement of the girl's blade is too far in front, she will slip off,"Bellantuono added. "If the placement is too far to the back of the boy's leg, she will slide off behind him. Also, if the girl puts too much pressure in her toe or heel when standing on the boy, it becomes extremely painful."

Lavrik concurred. "If she digs in with her heel or toe pick, that's an injury waiting to happen," he said.

One note: It's common to see the female partner step on the male partner's thighs, but there are other variations. Sometimes the female partner stands on the male's skate, and during the Sochi Games in 2014, Russian skater Elena Ilinykh actually stood on her partner's torso.

Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov at the Sochi Winter Olympics. Clive Mason/Getty Images

Cuts happen, but finishing the lift is the top priority.

Bellantuono explained that cuts can happen, especially if the female partner places her skate incorrectly and slips off of her partner. But experienced skaters know how to deal if that happens.

"Many couples know how to deal with these variables and can adjust accordingly during the lift and their programs," he said. "The boys know that it's better to complete the lift in some pain versus aborting the lift."

"I've been cut multiple times," Lavrik said, "It's unpleasant, but you've still got to catch the girl and exit the lift."

Ultimately, the lifts don't last very long.

China's Shiyue Wang and Xinyu Liu at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Lifts like these are frequently used in ice dancing — a discipline of figure skating that's competed at the Olympics.

Lavrik explained that one required component of an ice dance performance is a "short lift" that lasts no more than seven seconds. When you subtract the time needed to enter and exit the lift, he said, there are only about three seconds left for the female skater to actually stand on her partner. The skaters just push through.

In fact, Lavrik said that standing on a partner in and of itself doesn't net extra points for difficulty. He also said he thinks these standing lifts are easier than some of the more complex, acrobatic lifts common in ice dancing.

Once the female skater is in position, he said, "you can actually rest.






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Date: 15.12.2018, 07:50 / Views: 35182