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Skatingaheadofthecurve.com states

It is especially important for skaters with competitive ambition to acquire good technique. Most skaters who have not made a sufficient adaptation to Free Skating by nine or ten years of age will have difficulty ever mastering the skills necessary to be successful in the Competitive Stream. An adaptation to Free Skating is the ability to control and manipulate the course of an edge and to push the ice and create rotation effectively and efficiently.

How do you create rotation?

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The answer itself is this: on the ice you create rotation the same way you do on normal ground - by spinning yourself (by creating angular momentum).

Ever heard of "an object in motion stays in motion?" That applies to angular momentum (rotation), too. It means that once you've created rotation you'll keep spinning - until you create rotation in the opposite direction to stop it.

Everything in higher-level skating revolves around these physics, around creating, killing and handling momentum. That's how you skate in a curve - you just skate forward while possessing a controlled amount of angular momentum. The ability to to easily skate in curves and to control their radius is called edgework.

How to create and manipulate this momentum? Free skating techniques, in essence, let you use your arms, shoulders, free leg, hips and torso rotation for this exact purpose by moving them in particular ways. It's a whole-body, whole-mind affair that is very complex and, in my experience, takes more than ten years to master. Not even all championship skaters have mastered it (jumps are more important for winning).

Now, I assume that what you want is not a curvy series of rockers and counters, but a simple curve, or, say, a little three-turn. Know how those trainers always tell you to hold your arms up? The reason for that is not aesthetic. Turn your outstretched arms left, complete with your shoulders, like you're a windmill facing up, and that'll create rotation left. Same for right. If you're wondering why high-level skaters don't hold their arms up all the time for things like three-turns: Their movements are much more efficient, so they can turn themselves using only their shoulders in an almost unnoticeable way.

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In my opinion, the quotation refers to jump rotation fast enough to perform the jumps expected in senior-level competition. There are two parts to creating the rotation for triple and quadruple jumps. The first part is creating a torque with the edges of the blade (as mentioned by the other answers) and toe picks.

The second part is manipulation of the moment of inertia. Skaters call this a "snap." It is achieved by moving the arms and legs from an extended position to one close to the axis of rotation. In the air, the arms are crossed in front and the feet are crossed at the ankle. Owing to the law of conservation of angular momentum, when the mass of the limbs moves closer to the axis of rotation, the rotation rate increases (called "George" by coach Audrey Weiseger; there is no word for it in physics). This jump technique is usually credited to Gustav Lussi, and was popularized by Dick Button.

Fast spins are achieved the same way.

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The short answer is edges. The blade on an ice skate actually has two edges: one on the inside and one on the outside. Having your weight on one versus the other causes your skate to turn. For example: Line up your feet so the left foot is front of the right. Have the weight of your left leg on the outside edge and the weight of your right leg on the inside edge. Your skates will automatically turn left. That's the basics. When you crossover you add momentum to that dynamic. Here's a picture I found that shows the basic idea. The skates are inlines, but the edges and pushing are labeled. http://www.online-skating.com/images/articles/exemple_carre_croise_roller_en.jpg If you don't get a feel for your edges you won't be able to advance because all skating is edge work.

  • So "creating rotation" just means "turning sharply" and jumps and spins are just what happens to your body if you leave the ice or stop moving forward after the turn? – Noumenon Feb 13 '15 at 15:43
  • Rotate is defined as "turning about an axis." Whether you are turning in a spin or into a hockey stop or for a jump, your edges, or rather your control over them, is what drives the turning motion. – Val Feb 13 '15 at 17:57
  • This might be a separate question, but is edge control primarily accomplished by moving the ankles, moving your center of mass so that your weight is on the correct edge, or using your muscles to push on the correct edge? – Noumenon Feb 13 '15 at 18:17
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    Since my edge control is really poor I'm probably not the best person to comment. Mostly it's about having your body weight where you want it to be. Since I didn't master edge control by age 9 or 10 I might be doomed. – Val Feb 13 '15 at 19:07

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