Watching kids ice skate and take tumbles doesn’t do justice to the expertise and finesse, this sport requires. In fact, the true nature of ice skating is revealed in figure skating, especially figure skating jumps. These jumps require technique and style that have to be mastered through rigorous training and practice; and the end result is sheer poetry as you watch figure skaters swirl and twirl in midair.
Learning figure skating is fun and a wonderful exercise. It can increase your focus and concentration and also make you physically fit. But, if you are confused about the difference between a Salchow and Axel, it is time to enhance your figure skating vocabulary and understanding.
Basics of Figure Skating Jumps
There are different types of figure skating jumps and it all depends on the take off edge and the number of revolutions you complete in midair before landing neatly on the ice. A revolution is the number of times you turn a full circle in the air. A revolution can be double, triple or quadruple.
You can do the jumps clockwise or counterclockwise direction and, usually, your preference will depend on whether you are left handed or right handed. When you jump, it can be an edge jump or a toe jump. The former refers to a figure skating jump where you do not take help from the toe pick, while the latter is when the jump is performed using help from the toe pick. Then there are combination jumps that are quite thrilling and exhilarating to watch and perform.
Types of Figure Skating Jumps
Once you learn to balance and glide smoothly on your skates, you can begin your endeavour to learn and master figure skating jumps. Here are the six basic jumps that are listed from the easiest to the hardest.
This jump was invented in 1920 by an American skater named Bruce Mapes. Here, you skate backwards on the right outside edge of your skates and then leap into the air. While you are in midair, you have to cross your left leg over your right while revolving. You can make one, two or three revolutions. When you land, you land again on the right outside edge of your skate and extend your left leg behind you to finish the jump.
Invented by Ulrich Salchow, a Swedish figure skater, in 1908, this jump requires you to skate forward on your left foot and then making three-turn to assume a back-facing position. You continue skating backwards using your left foot and take off into air. At this point, you swing your right foot forward and outward to make a scoop and also revolve. After completing the revolution, you have to land backwards, but on your right outside edge of your foot and extend your left foot horizontally to complete the follow through.
This jump was invented in 1910 by Werner Rittberger, a German figure skater. You have to do this jump by skating backwards and then going on to your right foot; rotate your arms to the right; and finally move your left foot forward. When you leap into the air, you have to twist to the left and cross your left foot over your right and complete the revolution. The landing is on the outside edge of the right foot. You complete the jump by extending your left leg horizontally behind you.
The credit for this jump too goes to Bruce Mapes, who came up with it in 1913. The starting of the jump is similar to Salchow with the three-turn, but you have to use toe pick of your right foot to jump into the air and complete the revolutions. And, when you land, it has to be on your right foot.
This is a toe jump and was invented in the 1930s by Alois Lutz, an Austrian figure skater. You skate backwards using your left foot and then use the toe pick to jump into the air and complete the revolutions. You have to land on the outside edge of your right foot. The entry into the jump is from the opposite direction to the revolutions you do mid-air and this what makes it tough for majority of ice skaters.
This is the most difficult figure skating jump and was invested by Axel Paulsen, a figure skater from Norway. This jump’s take off is from a forward position, but on the outside edge of your left foot. You have to complete a revolution and a half (or 2.5 or 3.5 revolutions) before you land on the back outside edge of your right foot.
Once you know these basic figure skating jumps, you can combine two or more jumps to make it more interesting. When you perform combination jumps, you cannot take connecting steps, change your foot or make additional turns. You have to start the next jump from the first jump’s landing.
Learning figure skating jumps is a fun, thrilling and exciting experience. So, if you are interested in ice skating and figure skating, now is the best time to take it up. You will be amazed at what you will be able to do with your skates.