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michelle kwan spiral
World-reknowned figure skater Michelle Kwan performing a spiral (file photo credit: wikimedia commons).


Figure skating is a type of ice-skating where individuals, duos, or groups compete on figure skates on ice. 

The interesting thing about figure skating is their skates. Unlike Ice hockey, figure skates have a large set of jagged “teeth” in the front of the blade called toe picks. These are generally used for jumping and not for spins. 

Spiralling is only one aspect of figure skating. Spiralling has an interesting history. It is said to have originated from the arabesque position from ballet.  In figure skating, spiralling is when skater glides on one foot while the other foot is raised above hip level. 

When the basic spiral is performed, the skater glides forward on one foot with the chest facing downwards, towards the ice and as mentioned earlier, the free leg is stretched back, higher than the hip level as the move occurs. There are two figure skates famous for their spirals – Michelle Kwan and Sasha Cohen. 

Kwan is famous for doing a beautiful change of edge spiral. Beginning her spiral on an inside edge, she is able to easily move onto an outside edge of the skating blade. Her free leg is usually extended far above her head as she performs this move – almost to doing a complete split. 

Fans of the sport say that the Sasha Cohen does the best spirals in the world. Cohen has incredible poise and control when she performs her spiral sequences with incredible flexibility. Cohen received a silver medal in in the 2006 Winter Olympics. 

How to perform a spiral

1. Before you attempting to spiral, it is recommended that you invest some time practising good edge control. A good place to start would be perfecting a good forward or backwards edge. It can be either inside or outside the blade in a vertical upright position. 

2. Now from a "banana" position, slowly bring your body forward and your free leg up to the same level as your head. This should make your body in a horizontal position, almost like doing a split with one foot on the ice and the other in the air. Finally, slowly extent your free leg and turn out the toe, as if you were doing ballet on the ice. 

3. If you have managed to do it correctly, you should have mastered the art of performing a spiral. 

Once you master this, you can vary your spiral as Cohen and Kwan have done. 

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