This article is from the Recreational Figure Skating FAQ, by Karen Bryden with numerous contributions by others.
Synchronized skating (also known as precision skating), when done
well, can be intensely exciting to watch. Once having been to a major
synchronized skating competition, you can find that singles may pall.
As a participant, it's an excellent way of honing your skating skills.
Synchronized skating is a choreographed routine of complex footwork
and formations, a lot like synchronized swimming (except that you are
on top of the ice and it's frozen), or like low flying jets doing
acrobatics. It is an intensely cooperative sport, with each skater
skating an assigned spot, and no substitutions allowed during the
course of the routine. In the best routines, no one skater "draws the
eye". The aim is for exact synchronization, and perfect formations
performed at speed. The greater the complexity, the greater the
difficulty, and the greater the number of skaters, the higher the
Examples of greater difficulty would include clockwise rotation and
footwork (against the natural rotation and using the "weak" side of
90% of skaters); backwards work, especially involving blind or
semi-blind intersections; formations that rotate while also having the
center of rotation travel from one point to another on the rink;
changes in direction; especially complex footwork; changes in holds
and orientation; effective and "invisible" transitions from one
formation to another (such that cause the spectator to say "How did
they get there?")
The number of skaters depends on the division in which they skate
(Junior, Senior, Masters etc.) and is usually from 12 to about 24. The
divisions are based on age and range from maximum 12 years for
Juvenile to minimum 25 years for Masters.
Routines have a specified duration, depending on the division, and
must (except for technical programs) have at least two changes of
music, with one piece being in a distinctly different rhythm or style.
Junior and Senior divisions perform both a technical program, with a
prescribed list of moves, and a free skating program.
There is no featured or solo work permitted. Jumps of more than one
rotation are forbidden, and must be performed in formation. Spins of
more than two rotations are forbidden and must be performed in
formation. Lifts and carries of all sorts are prohibited.
Synchronized skating is a sport that can be pursued by (1) people who
don't particularly enjoy skating alone, (2) people who may never get a
double jump, (3) people who can't find a pair or dance partner. (4)
people who started skating late, (5) people returning to skating, (6)
gold medalists who never stopped skating, (7) people who can't get
enough of various types of skating, (8) people who are too nervous to
compete alone, (9) anyone with appropriate skating skills, and a
willingness to work as part of a team.
Synchronized skating is a great spectator sport and a wonderful
participant sport for men and women of all ages. There are a few teams
with waiting lists and 50 people trying out for a single spot, but
there are many more teams that have room for qualified skaters ... if
not immediately on the line, then as alternates. Most will let you
"try them out" to see if synchronized skating suits your style and
talents. Most are eager to see the sport grow, and will welcome
It is a great sport for kids! All skaters in a synchronized team have
to learn a lot about the obligations that an individual has to the
group, and of the consequences of not holding up your end of a
bargain. They learn that in order for the group to succeed, they must
work for the success of every individual in the group. And do they
EVER learn about dealing with people!
Synchronized Figure Skating is a competitive discipline, recognized by
the National Governing associations, ISIA, and ISU. In 1994 the ISU
formed a Synchronized Skating Technical Committee, which is an
important step toward development of an official world championships.
National championships have been held for the last 11 years.