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What In The World Do "Twizzle" And The Rest Of Those Weird Figure Skating Terms Mean?

"Camel spin"? All definitions courtesy of USFSA.

Axel Jump:

Initial Thought: OK, I've definitely heard of a "triple axel" before. Not entirely sure what an axel jump is, though. I think it's when you're skating forward and then you jump and turn around the other way.

Definition: "One of the most difficult jumps, which takes off from the forward outside edge and is landed on the back outside edge of the opposite foot. A single Axel consists of 1.5 revolutions, a double is 2.5 revolutions, and a triple is 3.5 revolutions."

Reaction: Eh, close enough.


Initial Thought: Like a March Madness bracket? Is that what we're talking about? I'm already so confused. Ummm... a bracket is when skating partners hold hands?

Definition: "A turn from forward to backward or backward to forward that is executed on one foot in the direction opposite the curve from an outside edge to an inside edge or vice versa with the exit curve continuing on the same lobe as the entry curve."

Reaction: Wait. What? Is it just turning around? I don't know how to make sense of any of those last few words. This is stupid. It should totally be when partners hold hands. "Oh, that's a strong bracket!" You know?

Camel Spin:

Initial Thought: Something to do with the skaters back? I'm going to say when they hunch over during a spin, thus creating a hump on their back, much like a camel.

Definition: "A spin which is done on one leg with the non-skating leg, or free leg, extended backward with knee higher than hip level. The body remains in this 'spiral' position while spinning."

Reaction: I had to read "extended backward with knee higher than hip level" five times to understand what that was saying. But I get it now and highly doubt that I can ever accomplish this, even on land.


Initial Thought: Choctaw! Man, this word is awesome. No clue what it means, but I like saying it. Choctaw! It's gotta be something cool, right? Ooooooh, I bet it's when something is done backward. So a choctaw is when you're skating backward and you jump and do the splits in the air.

Definition: "A turn from forward to backward (or backward to forward) from one foot to the other in which the curve of the exit edge is in the opposite direction to the curve of the entry edge. The change of foot is from outside edge to inside edge or from inside edge to outside edge."

Reaction: Well that was disappointing. Choctaw-Choctaw!

Death Spiral:

Initial Thought: That super-tight spiral at the end of a performance when everyone watching is like, "How are they spinning so fast?" You guys know what I'm talking about.

Definition: "A pairs move in which the man rotates in a pivot position while holding one hand of his partner, who is rotating in a horizontal position around him with her body low and parallel to the ice."

Reaction: DAMNIT! I know this move.

Lasso Lift:

Initial Thought: OK, my immediate thought is lifting your partner up with one hand and then spinning around, so that's what I'm going with.

Definition: "A hand-to-hand overhead lift in which the man swings his partner from one side of his body, around behind his head and into a raised position. Once in the lift, the lady is in a split position facing the same direction as the man. There are four different types of lasso lifts, determine by the take off: toe lasso, step in lasso, reverse lasso and Axel lasso."

Reaction: I basically guessed that. Cool move. I like it.

Layback Spin:

Initial Thought: If this is anything other than when the skater leans backward and spins, I'm going to get really angry.

Definition: "Generally performed by women, the layback spin involves an upright spin position where the head and shoulders are dropped backward and the back arches."

Reaction: Thought so. Side note: That looks painful.

Lutz Jump:

Initial Thought: Ah, the lutz jump. No doubt named after Lutz, the lovable loser from 30 Rock. This is clearly when you screw up a jump. "Whoops, looks like someone had a lutz jump."

Definition: "A toe-pick-assisted jump taken off from a back outside edge and landed on the back outside edge of the opposite foot. The skater glides backward on a wide curve, taps his toe pick into the ice, and rotates in the opposite direction of the curve. The jump is named for its inventor, Alois Lutz."

Reaction: Wrong. So wrong. Alois Lutz? No.


Initial Thought: What? Mohawk? Well crap. OK... I think 'mohawk' is when you skate down the middle of the rink and completely ignore the outer edge. Much like in life, a mohawk in figure skating is only for the rebels.

Definition: "A turn from forward to backward (or backward to forward), from one foot to the other, each edge forming parts of the same curve."

Reaction: I fail to see how that resembles the mohawk haircut in any way. Whoever named this move is straight-up stupid.

Press Lift:

Initial Thought: OK, THIS is when you lift your partner above your head with two hands. Gotta be that.

Definition: "A hand-to-hand overhead lift in which the man presses the lady into the air above his head. The partners may be face to face on the take off, or they may both be traveling backward, with the lady in front of the man."

Reaction: Just call me Scott Hamilton because I'm a figure skating expert. Yeah I know who that is.


Initial Thought: (scrolls back up to mohawk) OK, if a mohawk is turning around from one foot to the other with each edge forming part of the same curve, then a rocker must be close to that. Maybe this is when you use the same foot?

Definition: "A turn executed on one foot from a forward to backward (or backward to forward) edge maintaining the same character, i.e., inside to inside or outside to outside, where the body rotation is in the same direction as the natural progress."

Reaction: I AM THE SMARTEST MAN ALIVE! Oh man, I can't believe that mohawk-rocker logic worked.

Star Lift:

Initial Thought: When the guy picks up the girl and she spreads her limbs out like a star or a starfish, if you will.

Definition: "A hand-to-hip lift in which the man raises his partner by her hip, from his side into the air. Her legs are in a scissor position, with either one hand touching his shoulder, or both hands free."

Reaction: I don't get how this is a star.


Initial Thought: This obviously has something to do with the hips, right? Gotta involve the hips somehow. OK, you know when you're salsa dancing and you step and swing your hips into the step? That. That is a swizzle.

Definition: A method of two-foot progression, either forward or backward, by an in-and-out movement of the feet on inside edges.

Reaction: "Swizzle" is the perfect name for this move.


Initial Thought: Twizzlers. I know that's wrong and I don't care. Twizzlers.

Definition: "A traveling turn on one foot with one or more rotations, which is quickly rotated with a continuous (uninterrupted) action. The weight remains on the skating foot with the free foot in any position during the turn, and then is placed beside the skating foot to skate the next steps."

Reaction: Twizzlers are great.

Thanks to Colleen Holland for the idea.