Why is the quad Axel so undervalued? | Golden Skate

# Why is the quad Axel so undervalued?

#### Mathman

1. Every couple of years the ISU tweaks the scale a values a touch, but the basic idea has remained the same as it was back in the developmental year of 2003: Each extra rotation makes a jump about three to three-and-a-quarter times as difficult.

For instance, in the current version a single toe loop has base value of 0.40. A double is 1.30 for a factor of 3.25 increase, and a triple is 4.20, an increase of 3.23 times the double. Following this rule the base value for a quad toe should be abput 4.20x3.25 = 13.65.

But it’s not. A quad toe is only 9.50, not 13.65, a loss of 4 points for the quadster.

The ISU understood, even way back then, why they had to devalue quads relatively speaking. If they gave a quad the huge score that it deserved based on difficulty alone, that would result in figure skating becoming nothing more than “who did the most quads.”

They tried out various preliminary versions of the Code of Points by retro-judging performances from then-recent events. One of the contests selected was the 2002 Olympic men’s LP. When re-judged using the proposed code of points, Timothy Goebel came out on top solely because he did three quads. Since it was obvious to everyone that Yagudin was best and Plushenko was second best, with Goebel third, the ISU was not about to rush a new scoring system into place that upset the apple cart so drastically.

So it was necessary to scale back quads in general to prevent the sport from becoming merely a quadding exhibition, like a calisthenics exercise.

#### Mathman

2. The quad AXEL faces a double whammy. First, if a single Axel is worth 1.10 points, and a double is worth three times that (3.30 points – check!), then it is only right that a triple ought to be worth 9 times a single and a quad should be worth 27 times a single – that is, 29.70 points.

But that’s too many points for one element, however difficult – it goes against the whole “balanced program” concept that lies at the core of figure skating scoring: a few jumps, a few spins, some steps here, some turns there, a little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants (aka musical interpretation, composition, and performance).

But there is another consideration, too, as is made clear from the groupings of jumps in the official scale of values document:

https://www.isu.org/figure-skating/rules/fsk-communications/28337-isu-communication-2475/file

The 1A is regarded by the ISU as the lowest-valued “double” jump, not as the highest-valued single. Likewise the 2A leads off the “triple” jump group, and the 3A is listed as the lowest-scoring quad rather than the highest scoring triple. That explains why the score for the triple Axel is pegged so low – it must be suppressed along with the “other quads.”

But now what about the 4A? For consistency this should be listed as the lowest-valued quint, but since the scale of values stops with quads, there is nothing to do but tack the 4A on to the end of the quad group with base value a scant point above the 4Lz.

So the 4A is devalued twice, once because all “quads” are devalued and again because it is not given its full due for having one more revolution than a 3A. No wonder judges are eager to pile on the GOE.

That’s my theory. Any others?

Final Flight
2. The quad AXEL faces a double whammy. First, if a single Axel is worth 1.10 points, and a double is worth three times that (3.30 points – check!), then it is only right that a triple ought to be worth 9 times a single and a quad should be worth 27 times a single – that is, 29.70 points.

But that’s too many points for one element, however difficult – it goes against the whole “balanced program” concept that lies at the core of figure skating scoring: a few jumps, a few spins, some steps here, some turns there, a little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants (aka musical interpretation, composition, and performance).

But there is another consideration, too, as is made clear from the groupings of jumps in the official scale of values document:

https://www.isu.org/figure-skating/rules/fsk-communications/28337-isu-communication-2475/file

The 1A is regarded by the ISU as the lowest-valued “double” jump, not as the highest-valued single. Likewise the 2A leads off the “triple” jump group, and the 3A is listed as the lowest-scoring quad rather than the highest scoring triple. That explains why the score for the triple Axel is pegged so low – it must be suppressed along with the “other quads.”

But now what about the 4A? For consistency this should be listed as the lowest-valued quint, but since the scale of values stops with quads, there is nothing to do but tack the 4A on to the end of the quad group with base value a scant point above the 4Lz.

So the 4A is devalued twice, once because all “quads” are devalued and again because it is not given its full due for having one more revolution than a 3A. No wonder judges are eager to pile on the GOE.

That’s my theory. Any others?
They also might have thought the jump to be almost impossible, and wanted to deter messy/fall attemps that got a high score. For example, if it was over 20points Yolo-ing one would be a worthwhile risk for some skaters even if they didn't have the ability to rotate and land it. Secondly, they probably didn't put much thought into 4A. They didn't think it was possible so they chose a number and didn't really debate it from there.

#### Amei

Record Breaker
My guess is they don't want skaters to do the jump until they are reasonably confident they can land it. Its 12.5 points right now, if a skater rotates and falls on it then they'd get 5 points or basically a landed triple (less the triple axel). If they increase the value much more a skater could fall on an under-rotated quad axel attempt and get more then landing a triple jump.

Its unfortunate for Ilia Malinin who can land it because he does that jump very well and clearly isn't doing it because he can still get a good amount of points if he falls on it.

#### FlossieH

Medalist
Others may disagree, but I think that most of the quad values are about right. A poorly executed quad should, in my opinion, score less than the corresponding triple. Regarding the Axel, the base value for the quad should perhaps have been a point or so higher but I wonder if it has been set where it is to discourage skaters who aren't able to attempt it safely. Given the concerns about the longevity (or lack thereof) of skating careers, the ISU might not want to be seen to be encouraging skaters to attempt a such a difficult and risky jump and risking their careers and future health. We don't yet know how Malinin's body is going to stand up to what he is doing. He had injury problems last year which meant he had to stop doing Lutzes. Depending on how the quads affect his body, he may not even make it to the next olympics - he could be permanently crocked by then. I personally think it would be sensible to monitor the impacts of the jump before considering an increase to its value.

#### noskates

Record Breaker
Do you honestly think skaters are NOT going to try the quad axel because of the points assigned to it? Or that the points associated with it are to deter skaters from trying it? I'm more of the opinion that they just haven't addressed it because there seemed to be no reason to. And I agree with Flossie that a poorly executed quad should have less points than a beautifully executed triple should get. Most of the elite men can do the rotation but the landing is the challenge. I see skaters attempting quads they can't land just to get the higher points.

#### DizzyFrenchie

Record Breaker
It's right that normally Axel jumps have scores just under the lowest value jump with 1/2 rotation more, that is, way way more than the highest value jump with 1/2 rotation less; and now its base value is less than 10% above the 4Lz's.
But let's face it: until 2018 its base value was only 15, not about 20; and when base values were revised in 2018, it was lowered even more (there are political implications, related to which skater they wanted to win in a pretended rivalry, and a misconception about how difficult would prove this jump for the skater they wanted to lose).
Somehow, it's not that unfair nowadays, as the only competitive skater who has it in his layout, as far as I know, has never rotated it, always deserving a < (with 20% deduction to the base value and usually lower GOE) and never being called. So, these 12.5 points are now used as 80% of a virtual 4A base value which would then be 15.625, which is still under what could have been expected, but there's also the GOE bonus. Not to speak of other bonuses this skater receives, I'm just speaking of the 4A.
But maybe, some day, a skater (maybe him, although his rotations don't seem to be on the rise) will fully rotate this jump, then it will be unfair.
And there's still no base value assigned to quintuple jumps. Only in The Skating Onion's dreams, ISU would consider thinking forward.

#### skatingguy

On the Ice
We've seen what happens when quads are overvalued - it's called the 2006 Winter Olympics - where programs included planned falls because skaters had to try jumps they knew they couldn't land.

#### NanaPat

Record Breaker
In the past there were skaters who regularly tried a quad and always fell on it. I thought the automatic -5 for a jump with a fall was what discouraged that approach.

#### 4everchan

Record Breaker
Do you honestly think skaters are NOT going to try the quad axel because of the points assigned to it? Or that the points associated with it are to deter skaters from trying it? I'm more of the opinion that they just haven't addressed it because there seemed to be no reason to. And I agree with Flossie that a poorly executed quad should have less points than a beautifully executed triple should get. Most of the elite men can do the rotation but the landing is the challenge. I see skaters attempting quads they can't land just to get the higher points.
Have you seen throw quads since the ISU ridiculously lowered their value? So yeah, risk and reward is a huge factor.

#### Kris135

On the Ice
I think that a quad Axel is undervalued a bit. 12.50 is too low and not in line with the point progression of the other jumps. For example a triple Lutz's base value is 5.90 and triple Axel is 8.00 which is 2.10 more. So if we extrapolate this to quads and if the quad lutz is 11.50 then to keep all things equal then the point value should be 14.00 to reflect the difficulty of the jump and the extra half of rotation that is needed. This also will allow quints to be reasonably valued as well. Those values needs to be instuted because Ilia is mostly likely is close to being able to land those jumps in competitions so it is time.

#### 4everchan

Record Breaker
Some were complaining about the valuation from single to double to triple to quad.

But it doesn't work like this because of a simple detail, the half turn.

A double axel is not twice the rotation to the single axel. A single axel is already 1.5 revolution. A double axel is not 3 revolutions but 2.5.

A double jump for all the other types of jumps is really twice the rotation. So in the end, a quad axel, 4.5 turns is only 3 times the revolution of a single axel at 1.5 and not 4

So the base value of a single toe is 0.4 and the base value of a triple toe, which is three times the rotation of a single toe is 4.20.

If I do a simple règle de 3 (no idea how to name that in English) , the quad axel would be only worth 11.55 points.

I am just doing simply logical arithmetic here... of course, I understand that the axel jump is the hardest but is it because of the forward take off or because it already includes an extra half turn?
I am guessing that kids who learn the jump do half axels (0.5 revolution) do they?

PS : I am not saying anything about the current base value of the jump but simply showing why one cannot apply the same mathematical rule to the axel jump vs other jumps.

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#### Diana Delafield

##### Frequent flyer
Medalist
Some were complaining about the valuation from single to double to triple to quad.

But it doesn't work like this because of a simple detail, the half turn.

I am just doing simply logical arithmetic here... of course, I understand that the axel jump is the hardest but is it because of the forward take off or because it already includes an extra half turn?
I am guessing that kids who learn the jump to half axels do they?

PS : I am not saying anything about the current base value of the jump but simply showing why one cannot apply the same mathematical rule to the axel jump vs other jumps.
Petr Barna, who was the first man to do a quad at the Olympics if I recall correctly, refused to do triple Axels because he said it felt like jumping off a cliff. I've been told it's the forward takeoff that stumps skaters, but some of us like the Axel best just because of that -- I like to see where I'm going and that the runway is clear for takeoff. Personally, I'd think that the extra half revolution would be the problem. It's so easy to under- or over-rotate.

Half-axels? That would be 3/4 of a revolution, wouldn't it? (My PhD was in linguistics, not in math.) I've never heard of a coach training someone to do that. Training someone *not* to do that, yes, frequently . You start with the waltz and then learn to add a full revolution for an Axel. Like going from a single to a double for any other jump.

#### 4everchan

Record Breaker
Petr Barna, who was the first man to do a quad at the Olympics if I recall correctly, refused to do triple Axels because he said it felt like jumping off a cliff. I've been told it's the forward takeoff that stumps skaters, but some of us like the Axel best just because of that -- I like to see where I'm going and that the runway is clear for takeoff. Personally, I'd think that the extra half revolution would be the problem. It's so easy to under- or over-rotate.

Half-axels? That would be 3/4 of a revolution, wouldn't it?
I meant only a half turn not 3/4 so is that half turn what you call a waltz jump then?
(My PhD was in linguistics, not in math.) I've never heard of a coach training someone to do that. Training someone *not* to do that, yes, frequently . You start with the waltz and then learn to add a full revolution for an Axel. Like going from a single to a double for any other jump.

#### Diana Delafield

##### Frequent flyer
Medalist

I meant only a half turn not 3/4 so is that half turn what you call a waltz jump then?
Half a revolution from a forward takeoff on one foot to a backward landing on the other foot is a Waltz jump, yes. There's also a 3-jump which is done forwards to backwards on the same foot, like a 3-turn, but you don't see that one much anymore except maybe in a footwork sequence. It used to be more common.

#### skatingguy

On the Ice
In the past there were skaters who regularly tried a quad and always fell on it. I thought the automatic -5 for a jump with a fall was what discouraged that approach.
The -5 wasn't introduced until much later. What stopped skaters from doing jumps that they weren't expecting to land were strictly enforced calls, and penalties for under-rotation. That's what led to the reduction of quad attempts between 2006, and 2010.

#### 4everchan

Record Breaker
BTW... in some sports like half pipe they express the number of revolutions by degrees (angles)... so 360 degrees is a full rotation but if an athlete lands a jump forward, then it may be 360+180 = 540. The degree of difficulty/base value is calculated based on the degrees of rotation...
So that goes back to what I was saying up there....
Lutz 360 Double Lutz 720 Triple Lutz 1080 Quad Lutz 1440
Axel 540 Double Axel 900 Triple Axel 1260 Qaud Axel 1620

The more rotation a "normal jump gets" the less significative the difference of the half turn becomes....

A single axel is 1.5 times the revolution of the other single jumps
A quad axel is only 1.125 times the revolution of the other quad jumps.

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#### Minz

##### It's not over till it's over
Medalist
The more rotation a "normal jump gets" the less significative the difference of the half turn becomes....

A single axel is 1.5 times the revolution of the other jumps
A quad axel is only 1.125 times the revolution of the other jumps.
That may be so, but still, it's a lot harder to add half a turn to four turns then it is to add half a turn to one turn.

#### 4everchan

Record Breaker
That may be so, but still, it's a lot harder to add half a turn to four turns then it is to add half a turn to one turn.
But that has very little to do with what I am saying

I am talking strictly about why the valuation can seem off to some people while the reality is that a half turn at the earlier level, single and double is considerably much more rotation than in the bigger jumps... When someone is doing a 1440 degrees element, turning 180 degrees more is a lot less revolution relatively speaking Which to me, makes the valuation quite logical.
All I am doing here is arithmetic. I am not considering the mythical difficulty of the axel jump technique. Some skaters had steadier quad toes for instance than triple axels. But the reality is that I bet there are many more skaters able to jump nice triple axels but never landed a quad in their lives

#### Mathman

When someone is doing a 1440 degrees element, turning 180 degrees more is a lot less revolution relatively speaking Which to me, makes the valuation quite logical.
The scale of values does not seem to be structured that way, though.

For instance, 1T to 2T is 100% more in revolutions, and 225% more in base value.

2T to 3T is only 50% more in revolutions, but still 223% more in base value.

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