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All About Pair Skating


Pair Skaters Naomi Nari Nam and Themi Leftheris

Pair Skaters Naomi Nari Nam and Themi Leftheris

Photo Courtesy US Figure Skating - © Paul/Michelle Harvath

Definition of Pair Skating:

Pair Skating is a variation of free skating. Two skaters, a man and a woman, or a boy and girl, skate together.

The jumps, spins, and footwork that are part of free skating occur in pair skating, and the two skaters do lifts as well as additional pair spins and throw jumps.


The jumps done in pairs are similar to the jumps in freeskating. It is common to see side by side jumps where the skaters jump in the same direction. (Some pair skaters jump in opposite directons and do jumps in a mirror-like style.) The skaters take off and land in unison.


There are two kinds of spins in pair skating. Pair teams do side by side spins and pair spins.

In side by side spins, the skaters enter the spins at the same time. They spin in unison. They do the exact same spin. It is common to see side by side sit spins, camel spins, camel-sit spins, and flying camels.

In pair spins, the skaters do a spin on the same axis. One common position is the lady doing an upright spin and the man doing a sit spin. The skaters sometimes enter the spin facing each other. A very common pair spin is a pair camel spin.

Throw Jumps:

In a throw jump, the man will throw the lady in the air.

Types of throw jumps vary. Beginning pair skaters will do throw loop jumps or throw axels. Advanced pair teams may do throw double axels, throw triple salchows, throw triple loops, and even throw triple axel jumps.


In pair skating, the man lifts the lady. Good lifts have a smooth take off and elegant positions. There should be a gentle and clean landing. The man should not drop the woman down on ice when the lift ends.

There are also twist lifts where the man lifts the lady up and releases her. She may do a single, double or triple twist. The man then catches the woman at the end of the twist and helps her land.

Types of Lifts:

There are armpit lifts, hand to waist lifts, hand to hand lifts, hand to hip lifts, lasso lifts, and one handed lasso lifts. Lifts rotate as the male skater moves down the ice.

Twist Lifts:

In twist lifts, the man lifts the lady in the air and then throws her. She rotates and twists and then he catches her on the waist and assists her with landing.

Other Pair Skating Elements:

Pairs skaters do other moves to create a balanced program. One popular pair skating move is the death spiral. Pairs also do spread eagles, bauers, lunges, spirals, turns, and footwork. Some of these moves are done in a side by side manner, and some of the moves are done together. Pair skaters will be creative. The way these moves are put together in a pair skating program can add a great deal to the choreography of a pair team's routine.

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