Figure skating is a sport in which individuals, mixed couples, or groups perform spins, jumps, footwork, step sequences, spirals, and other moves on ice, often set to music. Figure skaters compete in multiple levels, from novice to elite, and at national and international competitions. The International Skating Union (ISU) regulates figure skating judging and competitions. Figure skating is an official event in the Winter Olympic Games. In languages other than English, figure skating is usually referred to by a name that translates as "artistic skating". The four major disciplines of international competition are single skating (both men's and ladies), pair skating, ice dancing, and synchronized skating.
Major international competitions are sanctioned by the ISU. The international senior-level figure skating season begins with the invitational ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating. The six Grand Prix events are Skate America, Skate Canada International, Cup of China, Trophe Eric Bompard, Cup of Russia, and the NHK Trophy. The Grand Prix series concludes with the Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final, held in December. Other major events include the European Figure Skating Championships, Four Continents Figure Skating Championships, the World Junior Figure Skating Championships, and the World Figure Skating Championships. Every four years, the top skaters also compete in the Winter Olympic Games.
The sport is also associated with show business. Major competitions generally include exhibitions at the end in which the top-placing skaters perform for the crowd. Many skaters, both during and after their competitive careers, also skate in ice skating exhibitions or shows which run during the competitive season and the off-season.
Figure skating lifts are a required element in pair skating and ice dancing. Pairs lifts differ from dance lifts most notably in that dancers are not allowed to lift their partners above their shoulders. In pair skating, the lifting partner must be the man and the lifted parter must be the woman. In ice dancing, the lifting partner is usually the man and the lifted partner is usually the woman. However, the rules allow for the woman to lift the man in competition. Such lifts are commonly known as "reverse lifts" or "genderbending lifts".
Richard Totten "Dick" Button is the 1948 and 1952 Olympic Champion. He was the first skater to land a double axel jump in competition and the first skater to land a triple jump of any kind in competition. He won the World Championships five times, the U.S. national championships seven times, and is the only American skater to have won the European Figure Skating Championships. He still holds the title of being the youngest man to win an Olympic title in figure skating.