|Element name: Axel jump|
Scoring abbreviation: A
Take-off edge: Forward outside
|Alternative name: Axel Paulsen jump|
Element type: Jump
Landing edge: Back outside
The axel is a figure skating jump with a forward take off. It is named after Norwegian figure skater Axel Paulsen, who, in 1882, was the first skater to perform the jump. Compared to other common figure skating jumps, an axel has an extra ½ rotation in the air because of its forward take off. Most skaters perform the jump with counterclockwise rotation, taking off from the left forward outside edge and landing on the right back outside edge. (But a minority of skaters perform it the opposite direction). The axel can also be done as a double jump with 2 ½ rotations, or as a triple jump with 3 ½ rotations, or a quadruple axel with 4 1/2 rotations, but no skater has yet accomplished a quadruple axel in competition.
Value in competition
The axel jump is considered the most technically difficult jump among six types of jumps in single figure skating. According to ISU judging system, a triple axel jump has a base value of 8.5 points, while a double axel has that of 3.3 points. This makes a triple axel the highest base-valued triple jump, above other triple jumps such as the triple lutz (6 points), triple flip (5.3 points), triple loop (5.1 points), triple salchow (4.2 points), and triple toe loop (4.1 points).
To perform an axel, the skater typically approaches the jump on a right back outside edge in a strongly held check position before stepping on a left forward outside edge. He or she vaults over the toe pick of the left skate and "steps up" into the jump with the right leg. The skater crosses the left foot in front of the right, which is known as a back spin position (similar to the loop jump), to bring the center of rotation around the right side of the body. This act is often described as a weight shift in the air. Uncrossing the legs during the landing checks the rotation and allows the skater to flow out of the jump with good speed.
It is common for skaters to skid the forward take off edge, especially on double and triple axels, rather than vaulting directly off a clean edge. The skid helps the blade grip the ice on the take off, and is considered an acceptable technique as long as the skid does not make the skater pre-rotate the jump or take off the back of the blade. When the skater makes a mistake in the timing of the jump so that the blade slips off the edge instead of gripping the ice, the result is called a "waxel," often resulting in a fall.
Computerized bio-mechanical studies of skaters performing double and triple axels have shown skaters typically do not achieve as much height on triple axels as they do on doubles. This may seem counter-intuitive because higher jumps ought to give a skater more time to complete the rotation. Instead, during the triple axel, skaters do not take a big "step up" so that they can pull into the rotation position more quickly.
The jump with half a rotation from forward outside to backward outside is called a waltz jump or a three jump in some countries. Any other rotational jump with a forward takeoff is generally considered to be a variation of the axel. These include:
In addition, an axel entrance can be used as a take-off for flying spins. An axel sit spin is also known as a flying reverse sit spin, and is essentially an axel jump landed in a back sit spin. Rarely, skaters may also attempt a double axel sit spin. In a flying open axel sit spin, also known as a death drop, the skater achieves an almost horizontal position in the air (by kicking the takeoff leg backwards and to the side, instead of bringing it forward) before landing in a back sit spin.
In general, the International Skating Union's new ISU Judging System discourages skaters from including variety jumps such as axel variants in their competitive programs, because they count towards the maximum number of permitted jumps but carry a much lower point value than any double or triple jump that the skater could perform instead. Likewise, the IJS treats all flying spins equally and does not reward the additional difficulty of a double axel sit spin.
A toe axel is not a real jump, but is instead the name given to a flawed double toe loop jump.