Everything You Need to Know about Freestyle Ice Skating

Written By: Riedell | June 5, 2024

Ice skating captures the attention of audiences and athletes with its variety. Offering something for everyone, from those who revel in the precision of solo jumps and spins to those who find joy in the harmonious movements of group performances. Within this spectrum lies freestyle ice skating, a refreshing and innovative style that sets itself apart.

Freestyle ice skating distinguishes itself by encouraging skaters to blend intricate footwork, jumps, and spins in unique and expressive ways. This is a style that celebrates the individuality of each skater and emphasizes the pure joy found in the freedom of movement. Let’s explore this distinctive aspect of ice skating in more detail.

What Is Freestyle Ice Skating?

Freestyle is a beautiful form of skating. It combines a variety of skills and moves, demonstrating an athlete’s agility, speed, dexterity, and precision. Intricate footwork, including step maneuvers performed the length of the ice or in a circle and done in sequences, are combined with spins, jumps, and spirals.

At most competitions, skaters perform to instrumental music, showing their ability to interpret the rhythm and allowing them to demonstrate their individuality through expression and movement.

Most figure skaters at a higher level do freestyle. It’s a vital element of pairs skating, and ice dancers need freestyle experience to do the complex freestyle moves that are in free dancing. 

What Is a Freestyle Session?

You may hear the term “freestyle session” from your figure skating friends or partners. Freestyle skating ice sessions aren’t open to the public. These sessions allow skaters to practice and perform powerful jumps and spins at high speeds.

Many rinks restrict access to freestyle sessions to those who have passed certain levels to ensure the safety of everyone involved, like Basic 4 or Adult 4. All skaters must be aware, alert, and focused during a freestyle session.

The great thing about freestyle sessions is skaters have complete access to the ice. They’re also generally allowed to play music while they skate to practice their routines, and access to the speaker systems is usually based on a first come first served basis.

If you want to join a freestyle session, be sure to check with your local rink to make sure you’re at an appropriate level.

What Are The Freestyle Ice Skating Levels?

While freestyle is similar to free skate, it has its own set of levels. The Ice Sports Industry lists 10 freestyle levels, with each becoming progressively more difficult and involving more challenging and complex maneuvers. 

To give you an idea of the range involved in freestyle levels, here are the moves associated with Freestyle 1:

  • Forward Inside Pivot
  • Two-Foot Spin
  • Forward Arabesque
  • Backward Edges
  • One-Half Flip
  • Waltz Jump

Here are the moves required to pass Freestyle 10:

  • Double Axel/Double Toe Loop Jump Combination
  • Triple Edge Jump
  • Death Drop
  • Four Alternating Axels in a Row or Trip Toe Assist Jump
  • Double Jump to the Right and Double Jump to the Left or Triple To Assisted Jump/Double Loop Jump Combination
  • Three Arabian Cartwheels or Butterfly Jumps in a Row
  • Creative Dance Step Sequence

That’s quite a range! If you’d like to learn more about the skills covered in each level, you can do so on the ISI site.

How to Start Freestyle Ice Skating

You’ll need to have the basics mastered before you can advance to the complexities of freestyle ice skating. Generally, those who have worked through the first few basic or adult levels will be well-prepared to engage in freestyle.

If you’re a complete beginner, you’ll want to connect with a coach and start taking lessons. Those who have some skating experience already should speak with their coach about entering the world of freestyle ice skating!

How to Prepare for Freestyle Ice Skating

There are plenty of things skaters can do to prepare for freestyle ice skating. Like all styles of ice skating, freestyle requires athleticism, training, and dedication. Here are a few tips:

  1. Be ready physically & mentally: Freestyle ice skating is particularly challenging. Skaters need a solid base of knowledge and an in-depth understanding of weaving together various techniques appealingly to succeed in this style. Focus on mastering the basics and challenging yourself to learn new moves that will enhance your performance. Ensure you have the right mentality going into practices and performances. While ice skating is heavily competitive and precision-based, it should also be something you’re passionate about and truly enjoy!
  2. Have the right equipment: Equipment is everything for skaters! Make sure you have the right skates that fit well, offer support, and are broken in properly. Choose costumes that aren’t restrictive and offer maximum flexibility.
  3. Get support: Your coach should be your biggest supporter when you’re training, but they don’t have to be your only one! Share tips and challenges with other skaters, and talk with friends or family if you need a little emotional support.
  4. Confidence is key: Work on your confidence levels. Think about what you can do to ensure your success, and don’t dwell on unhelpful “what-ifs.” Remember, you can do this!

Should I Try Freestyle Ice Skating?

Freestyle ice skating requires plenty of skill and athleticism, but it also requires passion and genuine enjoyment of the process. If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, make sure to talk it over with your coach. As always, make sure you have the right equipment to support you on every leg of your skating journey!