Biellmann spin

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Figure skating element
Biellmann-spin svg.svg
Element name:Biellmann spin
Element type:Upright spin
Named for:Denise Biellmann

The Biellmann spin is an upright figure skating spin in which the skater executes a one-foot spin while holding the other foot extended over and behind the head, forming a teardrop shape with the body. The spin has also been referred to as a "tulip on a turn-table"[1] due to the shape formed by the torso and leg. The position requires very great flexibility and spinning ability, and is almost always performed by women.

The Biellmann position is also used as a spiral position and as a position in ice dancing lifts.


Cecilia Colledge may have performed a one-hand Biellmann spin from a layback spin at the 1937 World Championships.[citation needed] One of the earliest skaters to do the spin was Tamara Moskvina. She was inspired after seeing a gymnastics competition and performed the spin at the 1960 European Championships.[2] She was also seen with this spin at the 1965 European Championships. Other early practitioners included Janet Champion, Slavka Kohout, and Karin Iten.[3] In the late 1970s, the Swiss skater Denise Biellmann popularized the spin; and it was eventually named after her.[4] Biellmann was the first skater who performed it to win a major international title; she learned the spin at the Acrobatic School.

In the early 1990s, the pair team of Natalia Mishkutenok and Artur Dmitriev incorporated it into a death spiral-like move.

Irina Slutskaya has been credited as the first person to have ever performed a Biellmann spin with a foot change (i.e., doing a Biellmann on one leg, then immediately switching over to perform it on the other leg).[5]


A spin becomes a Biellmann spin, by definition, when "the level of the boot passes the head so that the boot is above and behind or over the head."[6] Some skaters have better positions than others, but as long as the boot is over the head, it is a Biellmann.[6]

When learning the spin the skater does not usually drop their head into the teardrop shape formed by their body so as to maintain balance.

Skaters often cut their hands performing the Biellmann.[7]


There are many spin variations that are derived from the classic Biellmann spin:

  • A cross-grab Biellmann is a variation where the opposite hand is the one used to lift the leg. The other hand may or may not be added in this position.
  • The half-Biellmann (also called a catch-foot camel spin) is a camel spin during which the skater grasps the free blade with either hand and raises the free leg upwards while otherwise maintaining the camel position. Whether a spin is counted as an upright spin variation or a camel spin variation depends on the entrance into the spin and the position of the torso.


Since the inception of figure skating's cumulative points-based judging system, many skaters have used the Biellman position in various elements, such as spiral sequences due to its added point value regardless of the quality of the position. Moreover, performing a Biellmann spin after 8 revolutions in a layback spin adds a "difficult variation," which can increase the point value of the spin.

The Biellmann spin also has the distinction of being classified as a difficult variation of both a layback and an upright position spin, meaning that a person could include the Biellmann in either spin and it would still be counted as a one-position solo spin.

Due to its increased use since the inception of the new judging system, the 51st International Skating Union Congress passed a resolution that places a limit on the number of times that a Biellmann position may be used in a skating program.


In single skating[edit]

In pairs and ice dancing[edit]


  1. ^ Milton, Steve (1998). Skate Talk: Figure Skating in the Words of the Stars. Firefly Books.
  2. ^ Polyanskaya, Natalia (June 22, 2011). Учу кататься и жить [I teach how to skate and live] (in Russian). Moskovskiy Komsomolets (Saint Petersburg edition). Archived from the original on July 2, 2011. Retrieved June 25, 2011.
  3. ^ Videoportal[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ "The Year in Sports". Sports Illustrated. (photo). March 13, 1980. p. 17.
  5. ^ "ISU Bio: Irina Slutskaya". International Skating Union. July 29, 2007. Archived from the original on April 14, 2009. Retrieved April 11, 2009.
  6. ^ a b "ISU Communication No. 1319" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on December 8, 2006. Retrieved April 11, 2007.
  7. ^ DeSimone, Bonnie (October 22, 2005). "Czisny working out jitters, has eyes on Turin". Retrieved September 8, 2011.