Figure Skating 101 - Feb. 8

What is an Ina Bauer?

Shizuka Arakawa performs an 'Ina Bauer'.
Shizuka Arakawa performs an 'Ina Bauer'. (Getty Images)


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By Jo Ann Schneider Farris, special to
(02/08/2008) - An Ina Bauer is considered one of the most beautiful moves in figure skating. The move was invented by German figure skating champion Ina Bauer in the late 1950s. Many of the figure skaters of today just call the move a "Bauer" and do not know anything about the move's creator.

Some skaters do a back bend as they perform a Bauer. When the move is performed as a skater bends back, the move resembles the layback spin and is sometimes called a "Layback Bauer."

2006 Olympic figure skating champion Shizuka Arakawa did a beautiful layback Ina Bauer at the Olympics. In her winning performance, she bent back all the way with her head completely upside down. The Ina Bauer is now considered her trademark move.

In Japan, when fans see the move, they don't call it an Ina Bauer; instead they refer to it as the "Arakawa way."

Most figure skaters are able to bend back a little, but bending back is not required. Laying back does make the move more spectacular, so most elite figure skaters do lean back when they perform a Bauer. Figure skating fans can be confused into thinking that the Ina Bauer is the back bend, but that is not true. The position of the feet on the ice is what defines the Bauer. The Ina Bauer is considered a connecting move and can be done in various ways. The basic Bauer is done with the blades parallel. The toes of each foot are pointed in opposite directions. The trailing leg is always on an inside edge. That knee does not bend. The leading leg does bend and can be on an inside edge, outside edge, or on a flat.

The spread eagle is similar to the Bauer; in fact, sometimes a skater will do a spread eagle followed by a Bauer. Outside spread eagles are more difficult than inside spread eagles; similarly, Bauers done with a leading outside edge are more difficult than Bauers with leading inside edges or flats. If the Ina Bauer or a spread eagle is done just before entering a jump, the level of the jump's difficulty increases. Thus, Bauer or spread eagle jump entries earn skaters more points.

Ina Bauers done on inside edges are not that difficult to do. To do the move, begin at the rail. Put one skate right up against the rail, bend the knee, and stretch the other leg completely straight back and place it on an inside edge. When this feels comfortable, move away from the rail toward the middle of the rink and try this position without moving. Turn the hips, head, and upper body in the direction you would like to begin your glide, that is, the direction in which the bent knee faces.

Next, try the move while actually gliding down the ice. Next, add an arm movement. You've successfully done your first Ina Bauer!

Happy Skating!

For more information on the fundamentals of figure skating visit the U.S. Figure Skating's Basic Skills Program.