Skating 101: The Jumps

Kim Yu Na tops short program, Asada 2nd

In skating commentary, we often hear the commentators naming the jumps. On other occasions, there’s usually some mention of how the axel is the most difficult jump. Of course, the bits of commentary are nice and all but wouldn’t it be nice to have all that information about jumps, their difficulty and how to tell them apart in one place? Well, you’re in luck.

When I first started getting interested in figure skating, I found this video which has proven to be invaluable. It lists the jumps in ascending order of difficulty, their abbreviations, the base points your receive for each jump (if performed with 3 rotations) and demonstrates how you can tell them apart. One amendment I might make is that the flip is not always entered from the 3-turn* but as long as it’s not entered in the long backwards outside edge position, it’s a lutz but that’s just a small detail. The extremely well-made video features Yuna Kim probably because she has so many dedicated fans and also because Yuna’s known to have “textbook” jumps.

When you have finished this video, try doing this little quiz (you can put your answer in the comments!): What two jumps is Mao doing in the picture above?

*Examples of not entering the flip in a 3-turn – Myrianne Samson enters the F from a slow twizzle starting from 1:23 and Daisuke Takahashi actually steps into the 3F of the 3F-3T combination at 0:41.

As for a few other things not covered in the video…

Basic Jump-Related Terms:

Combination Jump – Jumps done simultaneously one after the other. In order to be considered a combination, skaters must take off from the landing edge of the previous jump, with no steps, turns, or change of edge in between jumps. Since all jumps are landed on the right back outside edge, skaters often use the toeloop or loop as the second part of a combination since those jumps use those particular edges for takeoff. I believe at one point in the jump video, you were shown one of Yuna’s famous 3F-3T combinations.

Jump Sequence – Jumps  linked by hops or non-listed jumps. The base value of the jumps is 80% of what the base value of the jumps in combination.

Zayak Rule – A rule that stipulates that skaters must perform each type of triple jump only once, or twice if one of them is incorporated into a combination or sequence. For frequent readers of my blog, you know that I had a hissy fit over Oda Nobunari’s LP at Skate Canada in which he violated this rule within the first minute. (It’s not the first time he’s done that. Or the second. Or the third…) In that first minute, Oda did 2 clean 3T. The second 3T was considered a sequence and which lowered the base value of the jump. In order for Oda to not violate the zayak rule, he could have, at the very least, tacked on a 1T at the end of one of his triple toeloops. I was rather furious at Oda partly because he’s done this so many times and partly because he could’ve won silver. I admit that I prefer Yuzuru who won silver at the competition but to me, it felt like a bit of an empty victory for him. It was just such a stupid thing for Oda to do.

Toe – A shorter name for the toeloop jump.

Throw Jump – Done only in the pairs competition, throw jumps are done the same way as jumps in singles skating except for the fact that the man assists the lady in getting off the ice by throwing her.

Common Jump Mistakes:

Popped jump – A jump in which the skater prematurely ends the rotation. Usually, skaters only achieve one rotation before landing. Popping jumps is one of the worst things you can do under the Code of Points system (yes, worse than falling), as skaters are only credited with the base value of a single jump.

Flutz – A common edge mistake where the skater takes off on the inside edge rather than the outside edge of a lutz. It wasn’t quite penalized as much or as harshly in the 6.0 system of judging but flutzes usually garner a -3 grade of execution from the judges. The camera was at a perfect angle to capture Tara Lipinski’s triple flutz at 1:35. If you stop the video there, you can very clearly see she was on the inside edge when she picked into the ice for takeoff.

Lip – A less common edge mistake opposite to the flutz where a skater takes off on an outside edge on the flip. Someone made an entire video about a flip vs. a lip here.

Underrotation – Where a skater does not fully rotate the jump by 1/4 of a rotation or more. If the jump 1/2 a rotation or more is not completed, the jump is downgraded 1 rotation. (i.e. If a skater did two and a half rotations for a 3F, the technical panel will consider it as a 2F.) Here, we have a clip of Tracy Wilson looking at two underrotated jumps by Caroline Zhang. With the slow-motion replay, we can see how most of the last rotation on her jumps were done on the ice.

Overrotation – When a skater does more than 1/4 of a rotation on their jump. It may not seem like a bad thing but overrotation is a sign of bad technique and lack of control and are usually hard to land properly. When they are landed properly, the mistake is hard to spot unless you do a slow-motion replay. If you look at the angle of the blade at which Sasha takes off and lands, you can see that she overrotated a little bit on her 3F at 1:24. You also see a lot of overrotations when men attempt to do quadruple jumps but can’t quite get a fourth rotation so they try to land after 3 rotations.

Two-footed landing – When a jump is landed with 2 feet instead of one. Usually the skater does not get enough height or cannot bend low enough in the knee to finish the jump on one foot in the usual landing position. Mao Asada’s most common mistake on her triple axel this season has been a two-foot landing like at 1:17.

Step-out – When a skater does not have enough balance to maintain the landing position. A relatively minor mistake in terms of jumping mistakes but the step-out by Anton Sikharulidze at 1:33 is the one flaw that sparked the controversy in Salt Lake City in 2002.

Hand down – When a skater puts a hand down on the ice after he or she completes a jump. From here on, the technical panel must decide whether or not the skater would have fallen without that hand to determine the deduction that he or she will incur. At 1:05, we see Shawn Sawyer drop his shoulder just slightly upon landing, which caused him to put his hand down.

Leg wrap – When the free leg (the leg not used for takeoff) is held at a right angle instead of being together and perpendicular on the ice when the skater is in the air during her jump. I love this girl but Midori Ito is a frequent offender. The most glaring example in this program is during her triple flip at 1:08. Now compare that with how Yuna’s legs are tight and straight in the air in the jump guide video. Huge difference.

Mule-kick – When a skater kicks too high to pick into the ice on a toe-jump (i.e. the toeloop, the flip or lutz). I think Caroline Zhang’s mule kick is one of the most dramatic and infamous in the skating world. You can see it here at 0:38.

Telegraphing – When a skater takes too long to set up a jump. I find that this mistake is most perceptible in the Loop jump where a skater has their legs crossed to set up the jump but looks as if they hesitate for a second or so before taking off. You can also very easily see this mistake in the Lutz where the skater holds that back outside edge for a long time before picking into the ice and taking off. Just compare Tara Lipinski’s 3Lz at 3:35 and Yuna Kim’s 3Lz at 1:00 and watch how long they stay gliding on their left foot backwards before they pick into the ice with their right foot and take off.

Fall – Well, I think we know what this means. But just in case we forget… 1:19. A fall is penalized with a 1 point deduction and negative grades of execution.

Wow, that is a lot of things that can go wrong. I didn’t realize how long this list was until I wrote it. But let’s not end this post on a bad note. Here are some flourishes that skaters add to jumps to increase their difficulty and dazzle us all. Doing these things increase the difficulty of the jump and when performed well, the judges should award skaters with a high grade of execution (GOE).

Fancypants Jumping

Difficult entries – In the jump guide video, you can see Yuna coming out of a ina bauer into a double axel. Another common but difficult entry into the axel jump is the spread eagle into the axel. You can see Ilia Kulik start his spread eagle at 0:40 which then transitions into the 3A. Takahiko Kozuka also does a lovely arabesque at 2:51, which slows him down but despite that, is able to do a beautiful 3F. Difficult entries often involve doing movements that slow down the skater before their jump so they go into it with less energy and force or a skater enters a jump from a difficult position that requires extreme edge control and power to make sure that the jump’s edges and takeoff are correct despite its unorthodox entry.

Tano/Double-tano arms – Involves extending one or two arms respectively above a skater’s head while they jump. Invented by Brian Boitano, the tano arms increases the difficulty of the jump. Elizaveta Tuktamysheva’s tano 2A back in the day was one of my favourite jumps. She just made that move so edgy. You can see it at 1:46. Adam Rippon has a signature double-tano triple lutz which has recently been named the Rippon Lutz. It is a thing of beauty.

Triple jump-loop-triple salchow combination – A rare and difficult combination that usually involves a lutz or flip at the beginning, followed by a half loop that counts as a single loop followed by a triple salchow. It’s very difficult to get the timing of this combination right and difficult to execute since you go into the last part of the combination (the salchow) with no preparation and no extra speed or power from the last jump. At 4:08, you see Yuzuru Hanyu doing a 3Lz-1Lp-3S combination. What’s lovely about this jump combination is the element of surprise. It almost looks as if a skater has two-footed a jump but then a 3S comes out of nowhere. Magical.

This post has become way longer than I expected it to. If I’ve left anything out, please let me know in the comments!

~The Rinkside Cafe

Other Skating 101 Posts:

History of the 6.0 and Code of Points Judging System

The Basics of the Code of Points Judging System

Olympic Berths and Teams: How We Decided Who and How Many Go to the Olympics

Figure Skating Jumps

Figure Skating Spins

Pairs Skating Elements

Ice Dance


9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Skating 101: Olympic Berths | The Rinkside Cafe
  2. Trackback: Skating 101: History of the Code of Points Judging System | The Rinkside Cafe
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  4. Trackback: Skating 101: Figure Skating Spins | The Rinkside Cafe
  5. Trackback: Skating 101: Pairs Skating Elements | The Rinkside Cafe
  6. Trackback: Skating 101: Ice Dance | The Rinkside Cafe
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  8. Reader
    Mar 26, 2014 @ 00:24:51

    Hi, how about pre-rotations? I’m not sure about it, but most ladies twist their upper body and their head almost facing the direction of the jump rotation. I have read that Yuna’s jumps are called textbook also because of her air position. Thanks!


  9. phuongstradivarius
    Oct 24, 2014 @ 23:58:54

    this is 3A-2T combinations jumps, that’s right


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