Backflips Performed By Figure Skaters

Did you know the backflip is considered an illegal ice skating move?

Skater in the middle of a backflip
Michael Ivins/Boston Red Sox / Getty Images

The backflip is considered an illegal figure skating move. It can be done in exhibitions and in professional ice skating competitions, but the backflip will not receive credit and a skater will receive deductions (or be disqualified) if the move is performed in eligible figure skating competitions. The backflip is considered an illegal figure skating move at standard US Figure Skating and ISU International Skating Union.

Back Flip Trivia

1980 World Professional Figure Skating Champion Scott Cramer successfully completed 10,032 backflips on ice skates. He was the third figure skater to do backflips after Skippy Baxter and Terry Kubicka.

The Backflip Caused Controversy at the 1976 Olympic Games

There was a great controversy about the backflip at the 1976 Winter Olympics. While U.S. men's figure skating champion, Terry Kubicka, was doing another move, a flying sit spin, at one of the practice rinks, his blade went through to a plastic pipe and caused a leak. That accident caused the rink to close for 24 hours.

Even though the move that caused the leak was not Kubicka's backflip, that may have been part of the reason that the backflip eventually was banned by the ISU. Their official reason was because the landing was made on two feet instead of one and was not a "real" jump.

Surya Bonaly Lands a Backflip on One Foot in the 1998 Olympic Games

Later, Surya Bonaly landed the backflip on one foot at the 1998 Nagano Olympics, but the move was still considered illegal. She performed the backflip during the free skate because she was injured and knew she was out of gold medal competition. She received a deduction for the move and finished in tenth place.

She had previously demonstrated her backflip during practice at the 1992 Winter Olympics. While she didn't use it in competition that year, it was a demonstration of her abilities and spirit. She came in second to Yuka Sato and was very disappointed, refusing to share the podium.

Bonaly retired from amateur competition after the 1998 Winter Olympic Games and toured professionally with Champions on Ice. She performed a backflip at the Ice Theater of New York's gala in 2008.

Backflips in Non-Qualifying Figure Skating Competition

The first-ever backflip figure skating competition was held as part of the Inaugural Freezer Aerial Figure Skating Challenge during the Broadmoor Open in 2015. The event was a non-qualifying figure skating championship. The only female competitor at the event was Caleigh Newberry. The winner of the competition was Richard Dornbush.

A very entertaining part of the event was a video shown of famous figure skaters doing backflips on the ice. It is available for viewing on YouTube: Backflips on the Ice, which includes Olympic champions Robin Cousins, Brian Orser, Scott Hamilton, Surya Bonaly, and more. Especially impressive is Janet Champion doing a string of 10 back handsprings followed by a backflip, and teams of four and five skaters doing backflips.