Meryl Davis & Charlie White.
Ice Dancing Gold. 17 Years in the Making.
Figure Skating Jumps: Triple-triple combinations
Now that you are all experts on the basic types of jumps, here is a post about combinations, specifically, triple-triple combos!
In a jump combination, the landing edge of one jump is the takeoff edge of the next jump. A skater cannot have two feet on the ice in between the jumps of a combo. Assuming that the skater lands on their right foot, all jumps land on the outside edge of the right foot. Thus, the second jump in a combo is almost always a toeloop or loop because those two jumps take off on the outside edge of the right foot. The first jump in a combo can be any of the six types of jumps. The base value of a combo is the sum of the base values of the jumps in the combo. So a 3F-3Lo is worth more than a 3F-3T, and a 3Lz-3T is worth more than a 3S-3T, and so on.
In triple-triple combinations, the second jump is usually a toeloop because it is difficult to fully rotate a triple loop in the second half of the combo. However, I have included some loop combos in this post for variety’s sake. Triple-triple combos are kind of a big deal in ladies’ skating because they are some of the most difficult and valuable elements for them, which is why I decided to focus on ladies in this post. Obviously, men can do these combos too. Midori Ito is the only woman to have done a 3A-3T combo; usually only men do this combo.
3T-3T: First toeloop takes off on the outside edge of Kanako’s right foot, left toepick used to launch, lands on the outside edge of her right foot. Left leg swings back to launch for the second 3T.
3F-3T: Flip takes off on the inside edge of Zijun’s left foot, right toepick used to launch, lands on the outside edge of her right foot. Left leg swings back to launch for the 3T.
3Lz-3T: Lutz takes off on the outside edge of Yuna’s left foot, right toepick used to launch, lands on the outside edge of her right foot. Left leg swings back to launch for the 3T.
3S-3T: Salchow takes off on the inside edge of Haruka’s left foot, lands on the outside edge of her right foot. Left leg swings back to launch for the 3T.
3Lo-3T: Loop takes off on the outside edge of Elena’s right foot, lands on the outside edge of her right foot. Left leg swings back to launch for the 3T.
3A-3T: Axel takes off from the forward outside edge of Han’s left foot, lands on the back outside edge of his right foot. Left leg swings back to launch for the 3T.
3Lo-3Lo: First loop takes off from the outside edge of Caroline’s right foot, lands on the outside edge of her right foot. She immediately takes off again from her right outside edge for the second loop, no toepick assistance in between.
3F-3Lo: Flip takes off from the inside edge of Mao’s left foot, right toepick used to launch, lands on the outside edge of her right foot. Immediate takeoff from the right outside edge for the loop, no toepick assistance in between.
3Lz-3Lo: Lutz takes off from the outside edge of Adelina’s left foot, right toepick used to launch, lands on the outside edge of her right foot. Immediate takeoff from the right outside edge for the loop, no toepick assistance in between. Notice that her lutz is slightly flutzy.
Conclusion: If there’s a bit of a delay between the two jumps and you can see the skater swing a leg back to toepick into the ice, the second jump is a toeloop. If there’s no delay or toepicking between the two jumps, the second jump is a loop. The first jump can be anything, and you should observe its entry to identify it.
Figure Skating Jumps: Solo Jumps
Guide to figure skating jumps through gifs! In this post I’ll cover the six basic types of jumps using triples from various skaters; my next post will probably be about combination jumps.
There are six types of jumps: toeloop, flip, lutz, salchow, loop, and axel. The first three are toe jumps - skaters launch into the air with assistance from the toepick of their other foot. The latter three are edge jumps - no toepick assistance; skaters take off from the edge alone. The first thing you should probably ask yourself when trying to identify jumps is whether it’s a toe or an edge jump.
A skate blade has two edges: the outside edge (closer to the outside of the skater’s foot) and the inside edge (closer to the inside of the foot). All jumps land on an outside edge. Most skaters land on their right foot, so I will just use that in this post for simplicity’s sake. Since the landing position is always the same, only variances in takeoff differentiate the jumps. All jumps have a backwards takeoff except for the axel.
Toeloop (T): Takes off from the outside edge of Kanako’s right foot, lands on the outside edge of her right foot. Notice how she sets up the jump by gliding for a bit on her left foot, then putting her right outside edge down and toepicking her left foot into the ice to launch into the air.
Flip (F): Takes off from the inside edge of Zijun’s left foot, lands on the outside edge of her right foot. Her right toepick is used to launch into the air. Many skaters will do turns into the flip; it generally has a shorter setup time than the lutz.
Lutz (Lz): Takes off from the outside edge of Han’s left foot, lands on the outside edge of his right foot. His right toepick is used to launch into the air. The only difference between a flip and lutz is the edge that it takes off on; one way to differentiate between the two if you can’t see the edge clearly is the setup time - skaters often have a long running edge going into the lutz. Many skaters have indistinct edges on their flips and lutzes and “flutzing” is common - taking off on the wrong edge for the lutz, effectively making it into a flip. The opposite (taking off on the wrong edge for a flip) is called a “lip”. Notice how Kanako sets up her lutz on the outside edge, but changes to the inside edge at the last second, resulting in a flutz:
Salchow (S): Takes off from the inside edge of Akiko’s left foot, lands on the outside edge of her right foot. No toepick assistance. Salchows are characterized by a “sweeping” motion upon takeoff; notice how Akiko swings her right leg around. Salchows also momentarily have a “knock-kneed” position with the feet splayed apart.
Loop (Lo): Takes off from the outside edge of Dai’s right foot, lands on the outside edge of his right foot. No toepick assistance. Notice how his legs appear to be crossed during the setup; this is the best way to tell a loop from a salchow. Skaters often do turns into a loop as well.
Axel (A): Takes off from the outside edge of Han’s left foot, lands on the outside edge of the right foot. No toepick assistance. The axel is really easy to distinguish from the other jumps because it’s the only one with a forward takeoff; thus, a 3A actually has 3.5 rotations, and so on.
Each type of jump is worth a different amount of points. For jumps with the same number of rotations, the value from least to greatest is: toeloop, salchow, loop, flip, lutz, axel.
Figure Skating Elements: Spirals
(I got tired of gifing spins so I’m making the spiral post first.) Spirals are elements where a skater glides on one foot while the free leg is raised above hip level. Spirals can be performed on either leg, going backwards or forwards, and on the inside or outside edge of the blade. Before the 2010-2011 season, spiral sequences (SpSq) - where the skater must perform three spirals in succession - were a required part of ladies’ programs (and pairs’, but I’m only covering singles skating for now). Men usually do not perform spirals because they do not receive points for doing them. Though spiral sequences are no longer required elements today, I thought it would still be useful to make a post about spirals since you still see them in skating programs - they just aren’t scored the same way. These days, ladies must include at least one spiral in the choreo sequence of their free skate.
There are more spiral variations than the ones shown in this post; I have only gifed some common positions.
Arabesque spiral: Basic spiral position, with the free leg extended above the hip at any angle greater than 90 degrees. The arabesque spiral can be performed forwards or backwards and on either edge. Mao is performing a back outside edge arabesque in the gif.
Biellmann spiral: A spiral performed in the Biellmann position, with the free foot held higher than and behind the skater’s head. The skater may hold their free foot with one or two hands. The spiral can be performed backwards or forwards. In a cross-grab Biellmann, the free leg is on the opposite side of the body than the arm used to hold it. For example, Mao is using her left hand to hold up her right foot in the first part of her spiral sequence above. She then switches hands so that her right hand is holding her right foot, resulting in a more standard Biellmann position. Notice that her spiral sequence is a change-of-edge spiral - she starts on the outside edge and changes to the inside edge.
Kerrigan spiral: An outside-edge spiral where the free leg is supported by one hand at the knee. It can be performed forwards or backwards.
Charlotte spiral: Usually performed backwards, though it can be done forwards. The skater bends forward and points their free leg into the air in a near-split position.
Fan spiral: Back outside-edge spiral where the free leg is held unsupported to the front or side of the body, creating a fan shape.
Skid spiral: A 180-degree turn performed in a spiral position. This element can sometimes be seen as part of a step sequence or in exhibitions. Notice how Mao starts on a back edge and turns onto a forward edge.
Catchfoot/cross-grab spiral: Any spiral in which the free leg is supported qualifies as a “catchfoot” spiral. A Biellmann spiral is a catchfoot spiral, but in a normal catchfoot spiral, the supporting arm is straight and reaches behind the skater to grasp the free foot. In a Biellmann, the arms go above and around the skater’s head and the free foot must be higher than their head. Biellmanns can be done with one or two hands and generic catchfoots are usually done with one hand. In a cross-grab catchfoot spiral, the free leg is held by the arm on the other side of the skater’s body (Yukari uses her right hand to hold her left foot in the gif above). The boundary between a generic catchfoot position and a Biellmann position can sometimes be murky.
Y-spiral: A spiral where the free leg is held at the side of the body and forms a straight line with the other leg. The legs and body form a “Y” shape. This spiral can be performed in either direction and on any edge. The free leg is usually supported by the ankle or blade, but skaters can vary their holds or leave their leg unsupported. Shizuka performs a variation on a forward change-of-edge Y-spiral in the gif.
Figure Skating Spins: Upright spins
There are three main categories of spins in figure skating: upright spins, camel spins, and sit spins. This post will cover upright spins. Upright spins are defined as spins with at least one extended leg on the ice and the body in a more-or-less upright position. (This gets murky when you get variations that are a cross between camel and upright spins.)
There are many, many, many variations on spin positions in skating; in fact, coming up with interesting positions and combinations is one way to get higher levels on spins. (A common criticism of the judging system is that it encourages weird or ugly spin positions in the name of difficulty and gaining points.) It’s impossible to account for all of the variations out there, so I’ve only gifed some common positions and famous variations. There are many more possibilities than presented in this post.
Scratch spin: One of the most basic upright spins. Taka begins spinning on one foot, then brings his arms and free leg inwards and crosses his legs at the ankle, gaining angular momentum all the while.
Biellmann spin: Usually only done by women because most men lack the flexibility to do this spin (though some male skaters like Michael Christian Martinez can do a nice Biellmann). A Biellmann spin is defined as a spin with the free foot extended over and behind the head. The classic Biellmann position looks like a teardrop, while a hyperextended Biellmann has a straighter free leg. In the gifs above Mao performs a one-handed and two-handed Biellmann and Julia performs a hyperextended Biellmann with her hands on her leg instead of her skate blade. A half-Biellmann is a murkily-defined spin that is somewhere between a full Biellmann and a catchfoot camel. Here is Mao doing a half-Biellmann (in this case it would probably be an upright spin because her torso is mostly upright instead of parallel to the ice):
Layback spin: Another spin position usually done by women, and iconic of ladies’ figure skating. (Adam Rippon has a really nice catchfoot layback though.) In the layback position, the skater’s back is arched and the head and shoulders dropped back. The classic “attitude” layback has the free leg extended back and outwards and the arms held in a circle above the skater’s body. Mirai does a gorgeous example of a classic layback in the gif above. In Zijun’s layback position, her legs are closer together and her arms are held to the side instead of above her body. In a catchfoot layback, the skater’s back is arched in a layback position and they hold their free foot with one or both hands. Mao performs a one-handed catchfoot layback while Caroline holds her free foot in her signature "Pearl" spin, which looks like a horizontal Biellmann. The haircutter is another layback variation where the free foot is brought towards the skater’s head, as demonstrated by Akiko. The haircutter is usually seen as a transition between the layback and Biellmann positions.
Y-spin: Mao’s free leg is held in a split to the side of her body, and her legs and torso create a “Y” shape. She holds her leg by the ankle, but some skaters hold their leg by the skate blade.
I-spin: Sasha’s free leg is pulled up in a split in front of her body, creating an “I” shape with her legs and torso. A shotgun spin is like an incomplete I-spin, with the free leg held straight in front of the body. Personally I think it looks ugly as hell and I didn’t gif it, but here’s a picture.
A-spin: A strange-looking spin where
the skater sticks their butt into the airthe skater bends over at the waist and grasps their ankle while extending their other leg out to create an “A” shape with their legs.
Michael Christian Martinez with Yuzuru Hanyu, Yuna Kim, Patrick Chan and Gracie Gold
From Michael’s IG