Amazing Kids! Magazine

One Rink and Two Sports

By Nicole Tota, age 17, New Jersey


Winter is coming up soon, and you know what that means—snow and cold weather! On a frozen pond or skating rink, a single blade cuts across the surface of the ice, with the potential to become one of two very different sports. It can transform into the grace and beauty of figure skating or the strength and teamwork required for hockey. With one rink becoming either a field for ice hockey or the dance floor for a figure skater, there is no question that the ice is their common ground. Yet, there is so much that sets each sport apart, such as the equipment needed, the sport itself and the training necessary to perform the sport. However, being an ice skater myself and an observer of basic ice hockey training, I can truly say that I favor figure skating over hockey because of their differences.

The first difference is in the equipment. Figure skaters and hockey players both wear ice skates, but the similarities end there. Figure skates have toepicks, which are small pieces on the front of the blade that let ice skaters perform jumps and stops, the blades are made more for spins and jumps, and the boots of the shoe are made of leather with a heel that is usually wood; whereas hockey skates do not have a toepick, the blades are designed to handle turning, stopping and fast skating, and the boots are typically made of plastic or plastic-like material with no heel. Another distinction with the equipment is what each sport has to wear. For hockey players it is required to have the following: helmets and face masks/shields, shoulder pads, chest protectors, gloves, elbow pads, leg guards, a hockey stick and hockey skates! However, a figure skater only needs comfortable, tight-fitting clothing for practice and a costume for competition which includes special tights, plus their figure skates. Figure skating and hockey both have clear differences in the equipment that is utilized, but that is not the only difference between these two sports.

The next apparent distinction is how each sport is performed or played. Ice skating involves a single skater (with the exception of pairs or synchronized skating) who learns to, essentially, dance on ice. For competitions, routines are created and performed in front of judges and an audience. Hockey is played with a set of teammates and is all about teamwork. The purpose is to play offense and defense while utilizing sticks to get the puck into the opposing team’s hockey net and to stop the opponent from scoring a goal. A referee keeps the game fair for hockey, however in figure skating a board of judges determines the skater’s score. As one can see, both sports have vastly different concepts, nonetheless there is still one major difference between figure skating and hockey – the training.

Lastly, the most important difference of all, is training. Both sports get their start in basic lessons where one can learn to skate, stop, and fall the proper way. Once the basics are mastered, then the differences between skill needed for the sports becomes obvious. Soon after, the two part ways. Figure skaters learn spins, jumps, and special footwork to perform their moves. Additionally, in some cases the figure skater will choose ballet or another form of dance as further training to assist their performance on the ice.  Hockey focuses on weight lifting for strength, field training for better technique and different strategies, as well as footwork for quick stops, turns and maneuvers on the ice while utilizing the hockey stick and puck. Of course, as with any sport, the proper nutrition and exercise are imperative if one wishes to be serious about their respective sport.

Both hockey and ice skating take skill and determination, however the two are far from the same. As identified throughout this paper the differences are noticed early on from the equipment, to the skills, to the training. Yet they still will both share the ice, the rink, and the need for the blade. At the end of the day, no matter how different figure skating and hockey may be, one thing remains true for both. That is the love of the ice, the feeling of the chilly air rushing past, and the talent it takes to succeed that both hockey players and figure skaters can certainly agree upon. Once a skater always a skater –there will be no separation of the ice and the blade.