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Thread: Jumps - how to recognize them?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2004

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    Jumps - how to recognize them?

    Hi All. I am fairly new here - so if this has been covered before - I am sorry. I have been a figure skating fan since 1992 and really enjoy the sport, however, I'm now just getting into the technical aspects of the elements. Before a jump was just a jump, but now I am starting to recognize the differences more, but still have trouble.

    The only jump I recognize every time is the Axel - but I think that's the norm.

    I also get the Lutz right (most of the time) although sometimes I confuse it with the flip and even the toe loop. I can decipher these jumps based on the entrances. Usually the Lutz is a long straight entry, the flip flips around before entry and take off, and the toe loop isn't like either of them. However, if the skater does something different before the Lutz, I sometimes think it's a flip.

    The loop is my favorite jump, but lately (being that I pay more attention) I mix them up. I think I may have always thought a Salchow was loop and a loop was a Salchow.

    It's weird, sometimes I'll watch a performace and be able to indentify all jumps (with the exception of the Salchow and a loop) - other times I think the flip is a Lutz and a toe loop is a flip and so forth.

    What are some things I can look for to help me identify which jump was just completed?

    Thanx all.
    Last edited by gellio; 03-31-2004 at 02:47 PM.

  2. #2

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    You have to pay close attention to the edge the skater is on as they enter the jump:

    Axel -- Forward outside edge
    Salchow -- Backward inside edge
    Loop -- Backward outside edge
    Toe Loop -- Backward inside edge, left toe pick (for a right handed skater)
    Flip -- Backward inside edge, right toe pick (for a right handed skater)
    Lutz -- Backward outside edge, right toe pick (for a right handed skater)

    You can usually identify the lutz because it is a long back outside edge. Usually the commentators will say if it turned to the inside edge at the last second to a flip jump or a "flutz" as they call it.

    The key is understanding the edges.

    Example: Think about the circles painted on the ice. A person has their left foot inside the circle and their right foot outside the circle (straddling the circle) and they are traveling counter clockwise forward...their left foot would be on an outside edge and their right foot would be on an inside edge. Why? Because the outside of their left foot/leg is facing the middle of the circle and the inside of their right foot/leg is facing the middle of the circle. This concept applies going to going forward and backward.

    Hope this helps.

  3. #3
    On the Ice
    Join Date
    Jul 2003

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    A great site for all sorts of useful competitive skating info is There's a section called "Recognize the Elements" where he puts descriptions, photos and some video clips. It has not only jumps, but spins and "in betweens". Here's the link:

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2004

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    It does take a lot of time to become adapt at recognizing the various jumps, especially from watching competitions on TV as they happen so fast and now 'steps' included before the jump.

    For fans, I always recommend one particular video (and I have a number on the topic) called "Spectator's Guide to Figure Skating' by Ann-Margareth Frei. It is worth every penny if you are serious.

    Other than that, armed with some written descriptions, the best thing you can do is take a video of a competition, and keep rewinding and viewing a jump in slow motion. Watch the feet and the curve they are on, especially if they are picking into the ice - do they pick inside the circle or outside the curve.

    Even I as a participant, still have trouble recognizing some of the similar jumps.

  5. #5
    On the Ice
    Join Date
    Aug 2003

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    For me, I can only recognize a couple of jumps. I always recognize the axel, because they go into it forwards. I also recognize the salchow, because of the distinctive swoop of the free leg as they go into it. I can also tell an edge jump from a toe jump, but can't always tell the variations between types of toe jumps.

  6. #6
    Tripping on the Podium
    Join Date
    Jul 2003

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    I agree one of the best ways to learn is to watch a tape of someone and watch the jumps carefully, especially the feet (it helps a great deal if the commentator identifies them, unless they identify them wrong...)

    There are three edge jumps and three toe jumps. The toe jumps are those that have the skater using the toe pick to launch the jump - the edge jumps take off from the edge without using the toe pick.

    Edge jumps - axel, loop, salchow.

    The axel is easiest to identify because of the forward takeoff.
    For the loop, it takes off on the same edge the skater lands on - the back outside (BO) edge. In preparation, the skaters usually glide backwards with their feet crossed before taking off. Sometimes they do turns into it (Slutskaya, Sebestyen and Kostner all do this), but you can still see it taking off from the BO edge. Even on this takeoff, you can see that the feet are crossed before they take off.
    For the salchow - it takes off from the back inside (BI) edge, the opposite foot from the one they will land on. So for most skaters, who land on the right foot - the salchow will take off from the left foot. You will see the right (free) foot doing a kind of swinging motion into the jump.

    Toe jumps - lutz, flip, toe loop.

    When a lutz is performed correctly (e.g. not flutzed), it takes off from a BO edge, on the opposite foot from the landing foot. There are usually two kinds of entrance. One is the back glide, where the skater glides backwards on the BO edge of their left foot, holds their free foot above the ice and behind the skating foot, and then picks in to jump and rotate in the opposite direction. On the other, the skater turns to backwards and then crosses their left foot in front of their right on a BO edge, lifting the right foot and then picking it into the ice to jump. A flutz is when the skater attempts a lutz but before they jump the BO edge changes to BI, which turns it into a flip (hence the name "flutz").
    For a flip, it takes off from the same foot as the lutz but is on a BI edge (so the skating foot is the left, on a back inside edge, and the right foot is used to pick in). The entry is usually either a FO3 turn (like Kwan does - skate onto forward outside edge, turn to backwards, then reach back with the other foot to pick in and jump) or a mohawk entry (skate onto a right forward inside edge, turn to backwards by putting the left foot down on a back inside edge, then reach back and pick in and jump).
    For a toe loop, the skating foot is the same foot as the landing foot (the right foot). The left foot reaches back, following the curve, to pick in and jump. If you freeze it before the actual picking it, it's similar to the landing position - right back outside edge, left leg reaching back - before the toe picks in. Skaters either do a FO3 turn and change feet (the FO3 puts them onto a BI edge so they then change feet to be in the right takeoff position - like Kwan does), a FI3 turn (which puts the skater straight onto the BO edge - like Slutskaya does), or a mohawk (which will also require them to change feet before jumping - like IIRC Kirk does). Whichever entry you do depends on preference.

    To learn to identify the toe loop, maybe you could try watching the men's quads. Apart from the couple of guys that try the quad salchow, the majority of the quads are toe loops, which should help you learn to identify the takeoff of it.

    Also, you can watch combination jumps. If the skater does the second jump (either double or triple) straight from the landing of the first jump, it's either a toe loop or a loop. If the skater picked in to launch the second jump, it's a toe loop. If they just took off again straight away without putting the other foot down or picking in, it's a loop. Sometimes skaters put a 1-rotation jump between two big jumps - usually a half loop, which takes off from the landing edge of the first jump (BO edge), does one rotation in the air and lands on the back inside edge of the other foot (the left foot). From here, the skater will usually do a salchow, or occasionally a flip (like Plushenko does with his triple axel-half loop-triple flip sequence). They do one of these two jumps because the half loop puts them on the LBI edge, and the salchow and the flip are the two jumsp that take off from this edge (the flip picking in, the salchow not). Or even more occasionally, they can do a half loop and then change feet again to do a toe loop, but that's not done very often.

    Hope that helps a bit!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2004

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    I have Ann-Margreth Frei's video, too...even with watching it over and over and trying to learn from all the skating events I watch, I still cannot discern a flip from a toe-loop! All the others I've figured out.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2004

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    The good video is "What is salchow anyhow?" or also, the best thing I have found yet, "ISU Skating elements" - 2 volumes [edge jumps and toe jumps.

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