Figure skating jumps are a major element of competitive figure skating. Different jumps are identified by the take-off edge and the number of revolutions completed. There are six kinds of jumps currently counted as jump elements in ISU regulations.
Jumps are referred to by how many times the skater revolves in the air. One revolution (one and a half for the axel) is a "single" jump. Two revolutions (two and a half for the axel) is a "double" jump. Three revolutions (three and a half for the axel) is a "triple" jump. Four revolutions is a "quadruple" or "quad"
The first triple jump landed in competition was a loop jump. It was landed by Dick Button in 1952.
The first quadruple jump landed in competition was a toe loop jump. It was landed by Kurt Browning in 1988.
Currently, men in world-class competition typically attempt a full set of triples and one or two quadruple jumps in their free skating programs, while ladies attempt a full set of triple jumps, excluding the axel.
Jumps can be performed with either clockwise or counter-clockwise rotation. The vast majority of skaters rotate all their jumps and spins in the same direction; counter-clockwise jumping is more common than clockwise. All jumps are landed on a back outside edge (except stylized variations on some jumps like the half loop
or one-foot axel
). The type and amount of steps before a jump do not affect the jump's definition, but certain jumps have common and recognizable set-ups that help the skater do the element correctly and that also help spectators in identifying the jumps.
Jumps are classified as either edge jumps or toe jumps. An edge jump takes off directly from the edge without assist from the other foot; while in a toe jump, the skater spikes the toe picks of the free foot into the ice at the same time he or she jumps off the edge of the skating foot, providing a kind of pole-vaulting action to convert the skater's horizontal speed over the ice into a vertical leap.
Most jumps have a natural rotation; that is, the approach and landing curves both have the same rotational sense as the jump in the air. A few jumps, notably including the lutz and walley, are counter-rotated, with the approach edge having an opposite rotational sense to the rotation in the air and landing curve.
In the modern jumping technique first developed by Gus Lussi and his pupil Dick Button, skaters are taught to jump up first, and then assume a back spin position in the air to complete the rotation. For a jump with counterclockwise rotation, the left leg should be crossed in front of the right at the ankles, with the feet together, the arms pulled into the chest and the head turned to look over the left shoulder. If the legs are crossed above the knee, it is referred to as a wrap, and is considered poor technique, not only because it looks unattractive but because it interferes with the jump's mechanics. For multi-rotational jumps, it is important that the skater assume a "tight" position in the air by holding the arms close to the body, in order to concentrate their body mass around the axis of rotation and minimize the rotational moment of inertia.
Jumps can also be performed with variations in the arm positions in the air to add difficulty. These variations include one or both arms overhead, both hands on the hips, or arms folded in front of the chest. The variation with one arm overhead is often called a Tano position, after Brian Boitano, who performed a triple lutz in this position as one of his signature moves.
When landing a jump, skaters uncross the free leg from in front of the landing leg and swing it to the rear. Extending the arms and free leg checks the rotation and allows the skater to flow out of the jump on a strong edge. Ideally, a skater should exit the jump with just as much speed as on the entrance.
In skating parlance, a jump that is cheated is one in which the skater either begins or completes the rotation of a jump on the ice instead of in the air. While this error is often not obvious to casual observers, under the ISU Judging System, cheated jumps are heavily penalized, in many cases as much as or more than a fall on a fully-rotated jump.
In order of least to most difficulty under the ISU Judging System, the six most common jumps are:
- The toe loop jump is a toe jump that takes off from the back outside edge and lands on the same back outside edge (in other words, a toe-pick assisted loop jump, although the mechanics of the two jumps are very different). This is sometimes known in Europe as a cherry flip. Double or triple toe loops are often seen as the second jump of a combination. As solo jumps, they are most commonly entered from a three turn.
- The salchow jump (pronounced "sal-kow"), named for its originator Ulrich Salchow, is an edge jump. It takes off from a back inside edge and lands on the back outside edge of the opposite foot. Salchows are most often preceded by a forward outside 3 turn, but a mohawk entrance is not unusual.
- The loop jump is another edge jump, launched from the back outside edge and landing on the same back outside edge. It is also known in Europe as the Rittberger after its inventor, Werner Rittberger. Loops can be done as the second jump in a combination.
- The flip jump is a toe jump that takes off from a back inside edge and lands on the back outside edge of the opposite foot. A flip is usually preceded by a forward outside 3 turn or forward inside mohawk.
- The lutz jump, named for its originator Alois Lutz, is a toe jump that takes off from a back outside edge and lands on the back outside edge of the opposite foot. The lutz is a counter-rotated jump. Lutzes can often be identified by the long, backward diagonal glide preparation, though this is not necessary to do a lutz.
- The axel jump, named for its originator Axel Paulsen, is an edge jump launched on the forward outside edge and landed on the back outside edge of the opposite foot. Because it has a forward takeoff but lands backwards, a single axel actually has 1.5 rotations.
(Note: The jumps received their names in the 1920s long after they were invented.)
There are also a number of other jumps which are usually performed only as single jumps and in elite skating are used as transitional movements or highlights in step sequences. These include:
- Bunny hop jump, a non-rotational jump that is typically the first jump learned by beginning skaters.
- Waltz jump, a one-half rotation jump that forms the basis for the axel jump.
- Ballet jump, a one-half rotation jump with a toe loop entrance.
- Mazurka, a one-half rotation jump with a toe loop entrance and scissor leg action in the air.
- Half flip, a one-half rotation jump with a flip entry and forward toe-pick assisted landing.
- Half lutz, a one-half rotation jump with a lutz entry and forward toe-pick assisted landing.
- Falling leaf, a one-half rotation jump with a loop entry and forward toe-pick assisted landing.
- Split jump, with either a flip, lutz, or loop entry and split or straddle position in the air.
- Stag jump, a variation on the split jump.
- Walley jump, a full-rotation edge jump with a counter-rotated entry from a back inside edge to the back outside edge of the same foot.
- Toe walley, a variation on the toe loop with an inside edge takeoff.
- Half loop (also known as a "Euler" or "Thoren"), a full-rotation jump with a loop entry but landed on the back inside edge of the opposite foot.
- Half axel (also known as a "Bell jump"), a one-rotation jump with an axel entry and a forward landing.
- Delayed axel, an axel jump in which the skater delays the rotation in the air.
- Open axel, an axel jump in which the skater maintains an open body position in the air instead of pulling in to a back spin position.
- Tuck axel, an axel jump in which the skater lifts both knees into a tuck position at the height of the jump.
- Inside axel (also known as a "Boeckl"), a one-and-a-half-rotation jump that takes off from the right forward inside edge and lands on the back outside edge of the same foot.
- One-foot axel (also known as a "Colledge"), a one-and-a-half-rotation jump with a regular axel takeoff from the left forward outside edge, but landing on the left back inside edge.
- One-foot salchow, a variation on the salchow with a landing on a back inside edge.
- One-foot lutz, a variation on the lutz with a landing on a back inside edge.
- Toeless lutz, a counter-rotated edge jump with a takeoff from the back outside edge of the left foot and landing on the back outside edge of the other foot.
- One-and-a-half flip, with a flip entry and forward landing.
- One-and-a-half toe loop, with a toe loop entry and forward landing.
- A flutz is a flawed lutz jump, that takes off from an inside edge (like a flip jump) instead of the intended outside edge.
- A toe axel is a flawed double toe loop jump, in which the skater pre-rotates the jump and takes off by stepping forward onto the toe pick.
- A waxel is a failed axel attempt, in which the skater slips off the takeoff edge, often resulting in a fall.
Combinations are defined as two or more jumps in which the take-off edge of the second (or third) jump is the same as the landing edge of the first jump. The only standard jumps that can be done on the back end of a combination are toe loop and loop, because they take off from a back outside edge. Combinations with salchows or flips as the second jump may also be achieved by doing a half loop
as a connecting jump, because its direct landing edge is a backward inside edge.
In theory, jumps with a counter-rotated entry, such as the lutz and walley, can be used as the second jump of combination when preceded by a jump with the opposite rotational sense, such as a combination of a clockwise walley and counter-clockwise lutz. In practice this is rarely attempted because most skaters only train jumps in one direction.
In international competition, a combination of two jumps is a required element for single skaters in the short program. The ISU Judging System restricts combinations in the free skating to a maximum of three jumps.
Jumps that are not directly linked from landing to take-off edge are considered sequences. Sequences often include "decorative" jumps like mazurkas
or stag jumps
. Long sequences of single and double jumps used to be common in figure skating through the 1980's, but became more rare as skaters instead packed their programs with triple and quadruple jumps. Under the ISU Judging System
, jump sequences are worth 80% of what they would be worth if the same jumps were executed in combination, and in some cases carry less value than just doing the most difficult jump in the sequence as a solo jump.
Jumps in pair skating
Side by Side
Side-by-side jumps performed in unison are required elements in competitive pair skating
. In lower levels of competition, specific jumps (eg. double flip) may be required. Elite-level pair skaters usually attempt at least one of triple toe loop, triple salchow, and/or double axel.
If there is disparity between the jumps of each partner, the element's base value and grade of the jump will be scored on the partner that was less successful, even if the other partner's jump was clean. For example, a side-by-side jumping pass with unequal rotations from each partner is given a base value of the lower number of rotations. A fall by one of the partners is given a grade of execution as if both fell. Additionally, a one-point deduction is given for each partner that fell.
The throw jump is also a required element in pair skating. In a throw jump, the lady is assisted on a standard jump by her partner and lands on a back outside edge as if she were jumping alone.
It is unknown who performed the first throw triple jump. The first throw quadruple jump was performed by Tiffany Vise and Derek Trent of the United States.
- Figure Skating: Championship Techniques. John Misha Petkevich, 1989. ISBN 0-452-26209-7.
- Single Figure Skating. Josef Dĕdič, 1974.