We are only interested in figure skating for two weeks every four years. Then suddenly, we all become experts in the sport. While we wait for someone to fail, we critique their costumes and marvel at the jumps and spins and whatever else they do so well.
[figure skater does something]— Josh Billinson (@jbillinson) February 11, 2018
me: “THAT’S AMAZING”
announcer: “And that’s really going to cost her, you just can’t be making those sloppy mistakes at this level”
If we are going to be critics, we may as well learn something about what we're watching.
If you tune in to any broadcast of a figure skating competition, it can seem like the announcers are speaking a different language. But all you need to know is that because there are only a certain number of edges and a certain number of ways a skater can land a jump, there are only six recognized jumps in competitive figure skating: the toe loop, the salchow, the loop, the flip, the lutz, and the axel.
These six jumps are generally divided into two groups. “Edge” jumps — the loop, the salchow, and the axel — rely on the power from a skater bending her knee to jump off the ice. “Toe” jumps — the toe loop, the flip, and the lutz — rely on skaters using their toe pick to launch themselves into the air.
In competition, each jump is worth a certain number of points based on their difficulty level, with the toe loop worth the least and the axel worth the most. The elite women figure skaters perform triple jumps (three to three and a half revolutions), while the medal contenders on the men’s side regularly hit quads (four revolutions). Read on for a rundown of each jump.