What we have learnt from Sochi’s ice sensation2014-02-09

Yulia Lipnitskaya, once known only to the figure skating scene has become an international star overnight, following her sensational performance at the Sochi Winter Olympics.

Aged just 15, the young star was crowned European champion winner in 2014. Yulia began skating when she was four years old. By the age of 11, the family moved to Moscow to support her training regime. Since then, she has taken no less than three golds and four silver medals in Championships and Grand Prix Finals.

In many ways, figure skating is very similar to DanceSport. Athletes need to demonstrate the physical fitness and stamina, while maintaing the artistic element within their unique dance styles.

Watching Yulia’s performance at the Ladies single figure skating, it is full of beauty and grace. The three minute performance looks easy and effortless but what happens behind the scenes are years of blood, sweat and tears that the public eye will probably never see.

Typically, an ameteur level competitive dancer have on average between 10 and 25 hours of training each week, on top of their day jobs or college/university studies.

As well as attending workshops and practice sessions in their chosen dance style – Standard (Ballroom) and Latin American – many also have complimentary classes such as yoga, pilate and ballet to help strengthen their posture and body flexibility. Then there is the basic stamina and core muscles training in the form of running, swimming or weights.  And of course, lots of fun and socialising in between, too!

This level of training and discipline doesn’t happen overnight. It is gradually built up over the years.

Most people start dancing as a hobby in a social class. As they get to know more vocabulary in the different dance styles, some begin to get a taste of the competitive world of DanceSport. Gradually, they increase the commitment from a couple of hours in a social class to attending more regular weekend workshops, and eventually build up to a full training regime according to their own competitive levelling and requirements.

Dancing is great because it is open to everyone.

Each dancer begins their journey at the same starting point. How far they want to go is entirely their own choice. It helps to have a good coach and a strong support network, but one thing to remember, is that dancing is for everybody, regardless of it being in a social and competitive environment.

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