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The Most Commonly Performed Jumps in Figure Skating

If you are a figure skating fan you have no doubt heard these terms used throughout the many competitions you’ve watched. In some cases you may even recognize them, but in most cases it is up to the narrator or announcer, or whatever they are called, to tell us what moves the skaters are making on the ice. Something I noticed during the 2010 Olympics was that the announcer wasn’t necessarily naming every move the skater made. There were, for example, a number of jumps that occurred that were not even mentioned. It was almost like I was “expected” to know what the move was.

With that in mind, I did some research on the top basic figure skating jumps that every figure skater must know. When skaters learn them, they learn them from simplest to most difficult, so that is how I will list them. Also keep in mind that higher point values are applied to the more difficult jumps and that all of these jumps can be performed as a double or triple jump, raising the level of difficulty, except for the waltz jump.

  • Waltz Jump-the waltz jump is performed by the skater leaving the ice from the forward foot outside edge of the skate. Making a half revolution in the air, the skater lands on the back outside skate edge of the opposite foot.
  • Salchow, pronounced “sal-kow” is named after Ulrich Salchow, who first originated this jump in 1909. This jump is performed from the back inside edge of one skate to the back outside edge of the other with a half revolution in the air and is usually done from a ‘forward outside three turn’ or from a ‘forward inside mohawk’ move. After the preceding move, the skater stops for a split second with a leg extended behind and then swings that leg forward and around in a wide sweeping arc, leaping into the air simultaneously and landing backwards on the foot that was used for the sweeping motion.
  • Toe Loop-the toe loop is usually entered from a ‘forward inside three turn’ and is accomplished with a toe assist in the form of a ‘pick’. After the turn while the skater is moving backwards on an outside skate edge, the skater ‘picks the ice’ with one foot, does a half revolution in the air, and then lands on the foot that did not ‘pick’ the ice. The skater should land in the same position in which they started. This jump was first performed by Bruce Mapes in the 1920s, an American professional show skater. This same jump is performed in artistic roller skating and is called a Mapes Jump.
  • Loop-the loop jump is one of the most easily recognized, most often being done as the second jump in a ‘combination’ jump. With no toe assist, the skater simply takes off from a back outside edge, does a full revolution in the air, and then lands backward on the same edge that was used to launch the jump.
  • Flip-brings to mind somersaults, but is actually much simpler. Gliding backwards on an inside edge, the skater ‘picks’ the ice with the toe of the opposite skate, performs a full revolution in the air, and then lands on the back outside edge of the same skate with which he or she ‘picked’ the ice. The toe assist somewhat resembles a pole vault and the jump is usually entered from an ‘outside three turn’ done in a straight line or from a ‘forward inside mohawk’.
  • Lutz-this jump was first performed by Austrian Alois Lutz during a competition in 1913. Performed similar to a flip, the takeoff is from a back outside edge as opposed to a back inside edge. Staying on that back outside edge while taking off is extremely difficult and points are deducted for rolling to the back inside edge, in which case it becomes a common flip jump. When this error is made, it is commonly referred to as a “flutz”.
  • Axel-First performed in 1882 by Axel Paulsen, the axel jump is launched from a forward outside edge. Making a full one and one-half revolution while airborne, the skater then lands on the opposite foot from the takeoff, on a back outside edge. This jump, when performed as a double (3 full revolutions) or a triple (4.5 turns) is truly amazing.

 I hope this helps you to identify the jumps as they occur on the ice. Personally, I think it is amazing what these skaters do and find it amazing that their whole life has been dedicated to perfecting their performance in arguably the most beautifully performed sporting event in the world.

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