It’s Pancake day (Shrove Tuesday) on Tuesday 25th 2020.  Isn’t it scary doing the pancake backflip – pure peer pressure?  You want it to land flat without folding over, or worse missing the frying pan!  You hold with two hands and might even close your eyes praying for a perfect flip.  Hold on, this is an ice skating blog.. so why don’t we see ice skaters doing a backflip or forward flip?  Why do they only seem to spin?  Well, to give you a straight up answer, backflips were banned from international competitions since the Winter Olympics in 1976.  Anyone who undertakes such a move will receive a points deduction.  

Where we saw the BackFlip for the first time 

During the 1976 Olympic Games ice figure skating champion Terry Kubicka undertook a backflip during a free skate, he was one of the greats and competing against John Curry and Toller Cranston.  His flip was the first and last one, because following the competition a new rule stated any jump must land on one foot, not two.   After his skate, he was scored 6 x 5.8 & 3 x 5.9.

It seems harsh for what looks an amazing brave spectacle.  Maybe the judges simply did not know how to deal with it or score it. Following another spinning move during his performance, his blade cut a pipe causing a leak.  Did the organisers blame the two footed landing of his flip? 

Keeping our pancake theme alive, once you have mastered the two handed frying pan pancake flip you move onto one hand, so what’s wrong with ice skaters landing on one leg?  Read on. 

Why is a one-legged Backflip banned?   

Surya Bonaly went for glory during the 1998 Nagano Olympics.  A French-born ice skater from Nice, she had trained from an early age and even performed her 1st backflip aged 12 years old.  But did she like pancakes?  She had become a three-time world champion silver medalist and three-time Olympian.   During the 1998 games she suffered an injury with her Achilles tendon and this placed her out of contention of medals.  Knowing it was her last Olympics she undertook a visually fantastic backflip during her free skate, “I wanted to leave a trademark” – and didn’t she do it!  Whilst skating backward appearing to carry out a jump, she placed her hand behind her head and flipped, doing the splits mid air – but landed on one blade facing her adjudicators.  Unfortunately, the jump was considered illegal and she went from 6th place to 10th.

BBC News

Why is the backflip banned from competitions?

The backflip is simply considered very dangerous. Plus when their skates land they damage the ice more than a standard jump.  The heavy downforce of the toe pick can disrupt the surface.  In comparison, snowboarders will wear protective helmets whereas our ice skaters are swans on the ice and more suspectable to injury.  But do we have a stuffy skaters union who believe the move is showing off or showbizzy?  We believe the move is packed with confidence, perfection and grace. 

So how do I flip my pancake like a backflip?

Assuming you have made your pancake mix correctly and you have gently lifted it from the pan surface making it moveable.  Step back (with one leg!) and with one arm edge the pancake to the edge of the pan.  Get ready for your pancake backflip, you won’t be deducted points.

Thrust that edge upwards fast, enough to make the pancake flip high.  This is so you can judge the angle and meet the pancake square on if you feel it won’t land the same way it took off.  Your ultimate aim is to flip the pancake onto its uncooked side.

We don’t recommend doing this whilst ice skating and sorry there is no direct link between them, we just got carried away writing this! And why did we use a Penguin on the top of the post…well that’s a hint for our next blog!