Why Is Backflip Illegal In Figure Skating? (5 Reasons Why)

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Lucas Reynolds

Lucas Reynolds loves playing tennis, golf, and football the most. But really, he'll play any sport as long as it's competitive.

Have you ever seen a backflip in professional figure skating? No? There are a few reasons for that.

We’re looking at the five most notable reasons you no longer see figure skaters perform backflips in professional competitions.

Why Is Backflip Illegal In Figure Skating?

1. Regulations

Figure skating is an extremely controlled sport, with rules that dictate how the athletes should perform. These rules are created to maintain fairness in competitions and to avoid injury.

The International Skating Union (ISU) has a rulebook that limits the types of jumps allowed during figure skating competitions. This union is the entity responsible for banning the backflip in competition.

It’s believed backflips are illegal in figure skating because they exceed the limit of rotations allowed and could potentially lead to severe injuries.

As skaters attempt backflips, they get flipped upside down which puts too much pressure on their neck and spine. This can result in severe head or spinal injuries like whiplash, concussions, and even death.

Another thing to consider is the speed at which skaters perform these jumps — skaters can reach speeds exceeding 100 kilometers per hour!

At such high speeds, it’s easy for athletes to lose control of their bodies and face more serious consequences like breaking bones or dislocating joints.

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2. Risky

One of the reasons why backflips are illegal in figure skating is because it’s a dangerous move. There is a higher chance of injuring yourself due to the larger surface area that comes in contact with the ice.

Therefore, skaters need to avoid this risky trick simply for safety measures.

Moreover, backflips can be dangerous if not performed correctly. Skaters must take note of their body position when landing and execute the move with a minimal margin for error.

3. Banned


As discussed, this is one of the reasons backflips are illegal in figure skating, and it’s because back in 1976, the International Skating Union banned the move due to safety concerns.

But just because the backflip is banned doesn’t mean skaters haven’t performed it. In fact, you can find the rare video of athletes performing backflips in figure skating, most notably Surya Bonaly.

Bonaly famously performed a backflip during the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. The Olympic-medal skater hoped she could perform the backflip — which she did to perfection — without the judges deducting points.

Bonaly performed the backflip in an impressive feat and landed on one foot on her return! Unfortunately, the judges still deducted points due to the move’s ban throughout the sport.

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So, why did Bonaly perform a banned move, and at the Olympics of all places? As it turns out, Bonaly injured her Achilles tendon before the Winter Olympics, preventing her from performing a triple Lutz.

Thus, Bonaly felt she still could pull off the backflip to compensate. While points did get deducted, Bonaly remains the only Olympic skater to successfully land a backflip on one foot!

4. Control

One of the main reasons why backflips are illegal in figure skating is that it can be really hard to control oneself during the execution. When a skater tries to do a backflip, they have to initiate the move from an upright position while on ice.

This position is different than that of a gymnast, where they can get into position by starting with their hands on the ground.

In this way, figure skaters don’t have the same stable base as gymnasts and since they are trying to jump up and turn mid-air, they are more likely to fall and land in bad positions when performing backflips.

Falling onto their head or neck can lead them to severe injuries like concussions or broken bones — or worse.

5. Legs

In professional figure skating, banned moves include anything that involves the skater’s legs going over their head. This rule clearly includes backflips.

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Bottom line; backflips are incredibly dangerous for figure skaters to perform. The lack of a margin for error and the proximity of the skater’s head to the ice are unacceptable.

While the backflip looks amazing, it puts the skater too closely in harm’s way. As such, it should remain banned.

To learn more, you can also read our posts on why soccer players wear bras, why most quarterbacks are white, and why people watch sports.


Backflips are likely illegal in figure skating for a variety of reasons. But the fact that the ISU bans it is enough to keep most skaters from performing the dangerous move.

It sure does look cool when executed correctly, though! Be that as it may, it’s unlikely that we will ever see the backflip come back in figure skating competitions.


  • Lucas Reynolds

    Lucas Reynolds loves playing tennis, golf, and football the most. But really, he'll play any sport as long as it's competitive.

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