The toe loop is one of the simplest jumps in figure skating. It is usually the second jump learned after the salchow. It is a toe pick-assisted jump that takes off and lands on the same backward outside edge.
The most commonly taught entrance to a toe loop is straight-line approach into a right forward inside 3 turn. The skater then vaults into the air from the right back outside edge with an assist from the left toe pick, planted well behind the right foot, before rotating counterclockwise in the air and landing on a right back outside edge. For a clockwise jump, left and right are reversed.
Another common entry to the toe loop is from a forward outside 3 turn with a step to the back outside edge on the other foot just before the pick. The toe loop is also often used as the second jump in jump combinations, because it takes off on the same edge on which most jumps land.
In a toe loop, the skater must be careful not to pre-rotate the upper body prior to or during the toe pick action, as this is considered a serious flaw in technique. A pre-rotated toe loop, where the skater has turned to jump forward off the toe pick instead of backward, is nicknamed a toe axel because it is essentially an axel jump.
Some people mistakenly refer to a toe loop done from the outside three turn entrance with a change of foot as a toe walley; a true toe walley takes off from a back inside edge, not an outside edge. Under International Skating Union rules, the toe loop and toe walley are considered interchangeable despite the fact that a true toe-walley is a counter-rotated jump closely related to the Lutz jump and is accordingly much more difficult than a toe-loop. This has effectively stopped skaters from performing the jump.
Although the name of the toe loop is derived from that of the loop jump, one should not think of the toe loop as being simply a toe-assisted loop because the mechanics of the two jumps are fundamentally very different. The loop jump has a more curved entry in which the skater must keep a "closed" check position with the left foot in front and the left shoulder turned into the circle, and derives its rotational momentum solely from the pressure on the edge; while in a toe loop the skater approaches the jump in a more "open" position and reaches backwards with the left foot for the toe pick assist, and the rotational impulse comes from using the toe pick as a lever. In addition, the timing required to perform a loop jump in combination is much more challenging to learn than the timing for a toe-loop jump in combination. This difference is why the toe-loop is preferred as the second jump in combinations.
Spectators sometimes confuse the toe loop and flip jump, since they are both toe-assisted jumps with similar straight-line entry patterns. One way to distinguish them is that in the toe loop, the pick is outside the curve of the jump, while in the flip, the pick is inside the curve. Many skaters also "chop" the toe pick more on the flip than the toe-loop.
There are two half-rotation jumps in figure skating which use a toe loop takeoff.
The ballet jump bears the same relation to the toe loop as the half flip, half lutz, and falling leaf to do the flip, lutz, and loop jumps, respectively. Like the other half jumps, the ballet jump is landed forward, on the left toe pick and right forward inside edge for a counterclockwise jump.
In the mazurka, after picking with the left foot for the jump takeoff, the skater kicks the right leg forward in a scissoring motion, so that the legs are crossed in the air. The jump lands forward on the right toe pick and pushes immediately onto a left forward outside edge. Tenley Albright was particularly known for this jump.
Another toe loop variant is the one-and-a-half toe loop. As the name implies, this is a 1.5 rotation jump that lands forward, like the ballet jump. Up until the 1970's it was quite commonly used as an element of jump sequences, but is almost never performed today because of the emphasis on triple and quadruple jumps.
Toe loops can be done as singles (one revolution is completed in the air), doubles, triples, and even quadruples. Thomas Litz was the first skater to land a triple toe loop, which he accomplished at the 1964 World Figure Skating Championships; Grzegorz Filipowski of Poland was the first skater to perform a triple-triple toe loop combination in competition - 1980; Kurt Browning was the first to land a quadruple toe loop, which he accomplished at the 1988 World Championships. Today, many elite-level male skaters perform quadruple toe loops as a regular part of their repertoire, but as of yet, no female skater has been credited with landing one successfully in competition.
In skating parlance, a toe loop jump is often referred to simply as a toe; for example, double toe, triple toe.
In British English, this jump is sometimes (confusingly) called a cherry flip, but a toe loop is not the same as a flip jump. In artistic roller skating, the toe loop is instead called the Mapes after its inventor.