Education

Understanding Figure Skating Jumps As Demonstrated by Yuri!!! on ICE Skaters

Triple and quadruple jumps are arguably the most exciting part of figure skating, more so for the Men’s events where quads are slowly but surely becoming as common as breathing. Everyone gets giddy over them: casual and long-time viewers, commentators, coaches, and even skaters themselves sometimes do fist pumps in the middle of their program after successfully landing a jump. But how can casual viewers differentiate between a toe loop and a loop? How does a flip differ from a lutz, and why does a “flutz” exist?

In competitive figure skating, the six types of jump elements can be divided into two categories. There are the toe jumps, which use the toe pick of the blade for takeoff – the Toe Loop, Flip, and Lutz. The other three are considered edge jumps, which use the edge of the blade for takeoff – Salchow, Loop, and Axel.

Disclaimer: As there are no clockwise jumpers in Yuri!!! on ICE, all descriptions are based on counter-clockwise jumpers. For clockwise jumpers, such as Johnny Weir and Ashley Wagner, the mirror image is performed.


Toe Loop (T)

phichit-quad-toe-loop
Phichit, unlike the other Grand Prix finalists, has only one quad in his program – the 4T.

The toe loop takes off from the back outside edge of the right foot (meaning the right foot is tilted outwards), assisted by the left toe pick, and lands on the back outside edge of the right foot. This can be done immediately after other jumps in combinations.
TL;DR: take off with left toe pick, land with right leg

Fun Fact: Kurt Browning landed the first ratified quadruple jump, a toe loop, at the 1988 World Championships (with three turns on the landing). With the current judging system, this would have merited a 0 or negative grade of execution.


Salchow (S)

yuri-quad-salchow
Yuri Katsuki performs a 4S in his free skate. Prior to being taught by Yuri Plisetsky, the only quad he could consistently perform was the toe loop.

The Salchow jump (pronounced “sal-kow”) is one of the edge jumps. It takes off from a back inside edge of the left foot (where the foot is tilted inwards) and lands on the back outside edge of the right foot.
TL;DR: take off with left blade, land with right leg

Fun Fact: The first ratified quad Salchow was from Timothy Goebel during the 1998 Junior Grand Prix Finals. Moreover, this jump was done in combination.


Loop (Lo)

jj-quad-loop
JJ lands an impromptu 4Lo in his free skate. Despite the hand down, a zero or positive grade of execution is possible due to his improvisation.

The loop is similar to the toe loop in the sense that it takes off from the back outside edge of the right skate and lands on the same back outside edge, though the major difference is that there is no toe pick assist. Like the toe loop, this jump can be done immediately after other jumps in combinations.
TL;DR: take off with right blade, land with right leg

Fun Fact: Yuzuru Hanyu is the first skater to successfully land a quad loop in competition, at the 2016 CS Autumn Classic International.


Flip (F)

victor-quad-flip
Victor performs his signature jump, the 4F, at the World Championships.

The flip is a toe jump that takes off from the back inside edge of the left foot and lands on the back outside edge of the right. A “lip” (portmanteau of lutz and flip) is when the skater takes off from the back outside edge of the left foot instead.
TL;DR: take off with right toe pick, left blade is slanted inward, land with right leg

Fun Fact: Shoma Uno became the first skater to land a quad flip at an international competition, during the Team Challenge Cup in April 2016. 


Lutz (Lz)

chris-quad-lutz
In the series, Christophe Giacometti and JJ Leroy are the only skaters other than Victor Nikiforov who can successfully land a 4Lz.

The Lutz takes off from the back outside edge of the left foot and lands on the back outside edge of the right. It is arguably the most difficult back outside edge jump due to its counter-rotated nature, meaning that the takeoff edge travels in a rotational direction opposite to which the skater rotates in the air and lands. A “flutz” (portmanteau of flip and lutz) is when the skater takes off from the back inside edge of the left foot instead.
TL;DR: take off with right toe pick, left blade is slanted outward, land with right leg

Fun Fact: On November 12, 2011, Brandon Mroz successfully landed a quad Lutz at the NHK Trophy, becoming the first skater to successfully land a quad Lutz in international competition.


Axel (A)

yuri-triple-axel
Yuri Plisetsky successfully lands a 3A after a difficult spiral entry.

The Axel is an edge jump where the skater launches on the forward outside edge of the left foot and lands on the back outside edge of the right. Because it has a forward takeoff but lands backwards, an Axel actually has half an extra rotation.
TL;DR: it’s the sole forward jump

Fun Fact: There is currently no ratified quad Axel (4A),  but Yuzuru Hanyu attempted it in Dreams on Ice 2015 and made 4.5 rotations but did not land successfully. Had he done it in competition, it would have merited an overall value of 10 (15 for the base value, with -4 for the scaled grade of execution and a further -1.0 for the fall), just a little lower than the base value of a 4T (10.3).

And that’s it! Do you have a favorite jump? What’s your favorite jump combination? Sound off in the comments below!

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