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The Biellmann Is a Cool Figure Skating Move

Everything You May Want to Know About Biellmanns

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Olympic Figure Skating Champion Yu-Na Kim Does a Bielmannn

Olympic Figure Skating Champion Yu-Na Kim Does a Bielmannn

Photo by Jamie McDonald - Getty Images
The Biellmann is a figure skating move frequently seen at almost all figure skating competitions and events.

To do a Biellmann, a skater holds the free leg's blade with both hands and pulls it back way above the head. The legs become completely split, although the free leg is bent. The free foot must be over the head.

A Variety of Hand Positions :

Some skaters use only one hand to hold the free leg. The signature move of world figure skating champion, Mao Asada, is a cross-grab Biellmann in which she uses the opposite hand to hold her free leg.

Origins:

The Biellman position is named after Denise Biellmann, a Swiss skating champion. The move became her trademark when she competed in the 1970s. She is credited for inventing the Biellmann position, not the spin. Although the Biellmann spin also has her name attached to it, no one is quite sure who first did the spin at a major competition. Some say that another Swiss skater, Karen Iten, taught her how to do the spin.

Is the Biellmann Done Too Much?:

The Biellmann position has become very popular among today's skaters since the position earns additional points at competitions. However, it has been used so much in recent years that the International Skating Union's rules have now limited the number of times skaters can use the position for an increase in points in the marking of spins and spiral sequences.

Spins, Spirals, Glides, Steps:

The Biellmann position is done in a variety of ways. In addition to doing Biellmann glides and spirals, there are Biellmann spins. The position is also seen in step sequences.

Who Invented the Biellmann Spin?

There have also been reports that skaters from long ago also did the position and the spin. Tamara Moskvina, the iconic Russian coach of Olympic pair skating champions, competed as a singles skater in the 1960s. It has been said that she did the spin. Janet Champion, a prominent coach who was a child ice skating star with Ice Follies, performed the position as a glide during her show days. At the 1937 World Championships, British champion Cecilia Colledge performed with one hand a move that resembles the Biellmann spin of today.

Dangers:

It has been reported that the Biellmann position may damage a figure skater's body later in life. The extreme stretch and the weight of the leg being held up by the upper body puts much pressure on the spine, hips, and knees. Rumors have circulated that Denise Biellmann, the inventor of the move, can no longer do Biellmanns and has back problems.

Not Just Done By Ladies:

Both ice dance and pair skaters have been seen doing the position in pair and dance spins and also in lifts. Although the position is easier for women, men also do Biellmanns. The 2006 Olympic champion, Evgeni Plushenko, is able to execute an excellent Biellmann position.

Preparation:

Not every figure skater can do a Biellmann. Skaters who do the move must be flexible. Stretching for many months may be necessary before the skater is actually ready to pull the leg up over the head. Also, the discomfort of the required progressive stretching may just not be worth the bother for some.

How to Do a Biellmann:

If you are a skater who is going to try to master a Biellamn, then first practice stretching into the position off the ice. Then, hold onto the rail and work to find your blade, first with one hand. As time goes on, be brave, and pull the blade over your head with two hands. Practice the move daily; in time, you will build up confidence and find the move easier and easier to do. Once you are confident doing a Biellmann glide, you can begin trying the Biellmann spin.
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