Pairs Figure Skating:
- It's inspired by singles skating, with "two skating as one".
- It became an Olympic Metal Sport in 1908.
- Couples can skate as far away from each other as they want, but their side-by-side skating should be in unison and in close proximity.
- Throw-jumps (where the man assists the lady in a jump) and side-by-side jumps (toe loops, salchows, lutzes, loops, flips, and axels) are incorporated.
- Lifts are categorized by the way the man initially lifts the lady over his head. They can include hip lifts, press lifts, axel lasso lifts, carry lifts, and twist lifts.
- Spins involve the two skaters holding each other while spinning around a common axis.
- The music may not contain sung lyrics.
- There are 2 components to the competition:
1. Short Program (skaters complete a list of required elements using their own choreography)
2. Long Program (skaters choose their own elements, each worth various point values, and perform them using their own choreography)
- It's inspired by ballroom dancing.
- It became an Olympic Metal Sport in 1976.
- Couples are not supposed to separate by more than 2 arm lengths.
- Throws and full jumps are not allowed. "Half" jumps are permitted.
- Lifts can be unique, but may not involve the man extending his hands above his head.
- Spins should be performed as a team, in a dance hold.
- The music may contain sung lyrics.
- There are 3 components to the competition:
1. Compulsory Dance (all the couples perform the same standard steps and holds)
2. Original Dance (skaters must perform to music with a designated tempo, but can choose their own choreography)
3. Free Dance (skaters choose their own tempos, themes, and choreography, but there are required elements such as step sequences, lifts, and spins)
Canada's Virtue & Moir, 2010 Olympic Gold Ice Dancing winners
Hope that helped clarify! :)
Bonus fact for Michigan fans:
A Detroiter [an illegal pair skating move] is performed by the man lifting the lady over his head, holding her parallel to the ice while he is in a two-foot spin. The hold is the most dangerous part of the spin because the man is supporting the lady only by her legs. This move is also performed in more dramatic and dangerous fashion with a one-handed hold.