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Journey of the Quad Axel: The Hardest Jump In Figure Skating

Watching a figure skating program has always been so impressive. Seeing those skaters perform bewitching moves and combining all with an extreme balance and just watching as they turn a sport into an art. But even though all those moves look absolutely beautiful, there are some rules that figure skaters have to follow. One main element that skaters have to do to gain points is, jumps.

There are mainly 6 different jumps in figure skating. Lutz, Toe Loop, Loop, Flip, Salchow and Axel. These jumps differ from each other by how they are entered and how they are landed. But other than that each jump has levels. Depending on how many times the skater spins in the air. For example; if a skater enters the jump with a left outside edge while skating backward, strikes the ice with the right toe pick, spins, 3 times, and then lands on their right leg it is called a triple Lutz.

These days the most a figure skater can spin in the air is 4 times. And in today's figure skating, where the skating is mostly based on jumps, landing a quad jump is many skaters! dream. It sounds simple, and it looks beautiful but it’s no easy feet. And among all the other 5 quad jumps, one of them distinguishes from the others. The Quad Axel. But what makes it harder than the other jumps? So, an Axel is the only jump in figure skating that has a forward take-off. This means skaters are losing some of their speed and time to jump forward. And that obviously makes it harder to spin more times. On top of that, other than the rest of the jumps, the Axel is entered facing forward and it is landed backward so that requires another half rotation. This means a triple Axel actually has 3,5 rotations and a quad Axel has 4,5 rotations. That’s why the Axel is considered the hardest jump. And this makes the Quad Axel an almost impossible jump to achieve.

For a quite long time landing a quad Axel was something skaters could only dream about. It was so hard that no skater even had the courage to attempt it. And that’s why, people started believing that a Quad Axel is impossible to land and it will never be performed. Only if they knew how wrong they were.

The first ever quad Axel attempt was made in the Beijing 2022 Olympics by the famous skater Yuzuru Hanyu. Those days people believed that if anyone was ever gonna land a quad Axel, it was going to be Yuzuru. So in his last Olympics, Yuzuru decided to take the risk and he added the jump to his program. And he did manage to land it on two feet. Even though it wasn’t a proper jump(since Axel needed to be landed on one foot) Yuzuru still made history. Just being able to do 4,5 spins was already a huge thing. It may not sound that important but think about something that was considered impossible for almost 50 years and someone got extremely close to actually doing it. Not landing the Axel pushed Yuzuru away from the gold, and also from his last chance to win his third Olympic championship and he ended up getting fourth place, but he won a great place in people's hearts.

Just one year after Yuzuru’s attempt another skater came out. American skater Ilia Malininsom thought no one could have ever guessed him to do. In ISU Grand Prix 2022, this 17-year-old skater did landed a proper quad Axel. And it immediately made him famous. Also after his other perfect quad jumps, the media didn’t just call this kid “the Quad King” but instead he got the title of “the Quad God”.

Ilia Malinin is still the only skater that can land a quad axel, he is also the first and only skater that can land all 6 quad jumps. He also did 6 quads in one of his programs which is even more impressive. This year he also landed a quad Axel in a short program, being the first person who has ever done it. So in the end he does really deserve the title he has.

And for the people who might not understand the importance of this. We can put it this way too. Imagine a 17-year-old kid, breaking Usain Bolt’s 100-meter world record. Yes, it’s that big.

If figure skating goes like this, I believe we will even see some Quintable jumps in a few years. Today it might be considered impossible, but just remember just 5 years ago the Quad Axel was also impossible.

For the ones who might want to watch, I linked both Yuzuru’s and Ilia’s Quad Axel programs down below:

Yuzuru Hanyu-Quad Axel Attempt:

Ilia Malinin-The First Ever Quad Axel:

Ilia Malinin-The First Quad Axel Performed in a Short Program:

Some Figure Skating Information:

What is an Outside Edge?

Blades the figure skaters use in their skates have edges, And this way in some jumps or spins, skaters don't just skate directly but instead they skate on the outside or the inside edge of the blade.

What is the Toe Pick?

Toe Pick is called to the part at the very front of the blade, it is a jagged surface that helps skaters to stop, spin, and sometimes jump on ice. In some jumps, skaters have to strike the ice with their toe picks before the take-off. This also gives them the speed and strength to jump higher.

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