A new Olympic cycle started with the 2018/19 season and it is always a fresh starting point for many skaters. It is time to push the limits and to try new and different things. Rule changes also influence. The new range of +5/-5 Grade of Execution, for example, prompted many skaters, especially men, to focus more on the quality of their elements than on trying to include as many quadruple jumps as possible into their programs. Even more so, now that only one type of quadruple jump can be repeated in the Free Skating. We also saw new and interesting combinations and more Ladies doing quadruple jumps this past season.
Two-time Olympic Champion Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) impressed everyone when he came out with a quadruple toeloop-triple Axel sequence he performed for the first time in competition at the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating in Helsinki (FIN) last October. He had played around with this and other difficult and new combinations before and decided it was time to put it out there. “I was trying hard to do the quad toe-triple Axel without a hop in between. I think if I do a hop, it will count as two separate jumps. It was a little hard and it was a challenge. When I’m fresh I feel so much confidence I can do the quad toe-triple Axel,” Hanyu said in Helsinki. Achieving that combination meant he could eliminate double jumps from his routine.
Artur Dmitriev (RUS) surprised with a unique combination consisting of triple Lutz and triple flip at the ISU Challenger Series event Nebelhorn Trophy in Oberstdorf (GER). Some journalists and other athletes even believed there was a mistake in the protocol when seeing the 3Lz+3F. But the combination was correctly called and had the base value of 11.20 points. “I’ve started doing the Salchow from the left foot [landing] a long time ago and I thought it would be interesting to try the combination Lutz-flip. When the rules changed I remembered that and we thought, why not doing it in competition,” Dmitriev, the son of two-time Olympic Pairs Champion Artur Dmitriev, noted. “We consulted experts in the federation and asked if I can do that and if it will be recognized as a combination. They said yes. And since then we’ve prepared it to do it in competition. In Oberstdorf I landed it for the first time [in competition],” he continued. “It is interesting to do something new. Obviously, there is a certain risk to it, but when we are talking about novelties, there is always a risk. You have to take it and move on,” Dmitriev junior pointed out.
Artur Dmitriev (RUS) at the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating - Rostelecom Cup (RUS) 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)
The Russian skater is also one of the few that are aiming at a quadruple Axel. The Axel, which has half a rotation more than the other jumps as it has a forward take-off, is the only jump that has not been performed yet as a quad. Yuzuru Hanyu has said several times that he wants to do it. Dmitriev was the first one to attempt it in competition, for example at the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating - Rostelecom Cup last year, but he fell and the jump was downgraded. Keegan Messing (CAN) is eager to do it as well. “I really do feel it’s possible,” the Canadian said after trying a quad Axel just for fun at the exhibition practice at the ISU World Team Trophy. The quad Axel has been a dream of his since he was a kid and learned that nobody has ever done one and he wanted to become the first to do it. “I’m hoping that my body will allow me to work on it in the off-seasons as much as I hope to,” Keegan noted.
Shoma Uno (JPN) has been working on the combination triple Axel-quadruple toeloop that nobody has yet landed in competition. The Japanese Champion practiced that combination and went for it in the Free Skating at the ISU World Team Trophy in Figure Skating earlier this month. He fell on the quad toe, but didn’t regret his attempt. “I’ve done the triple Axel-quad toe in practice and I think it’s possible to do it in competition. I am determined to land it in the future,” the 2018 Olympic silver medalist commented in Fukuoka.
Shoma Uno (JPN) at the ISU World Team Trophy 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)
Meanwhile, Daniel Grassl (ITA) is the first European skater to land a quadruple loop in competition. The first to do a clean quad loop was Hanyu in 2016, and he also did it at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2019.
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What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. The Ladies have also taken the next step forward technically. Already in the 2017/2018 season, two-time World Junior Champion Alexandra Trusova (RUS) became the first female skater to land a quadruple toeloop and two quadruple jumps (toeloop and Salchow) in competition. This past season, the 14-year-old and her teammate Anna Shcherbakova were the first Ladies to produce a quadruple Lutz in competition. Shcherbakova did it first at a national event, Trusova was the first one to do it internationally at the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating last fall. These skaters are also working on other quads and quad combinations. “I also want to learn the quadruple loop and the triple Axel,” Trusova announced. “I can’t stop learning. I enjoy the process of learning jumps. And even if I don’t include them into my program, I will work on them, I want to learn them. I didn’t try the quad loop yet. I tried the triple Axel, but so far not successfully,” Alexandra shared.
World silver medalist Elizabet Tursynbaeva (KAZ), who trains with Trusova and Shcherbakova under Eteri Tutberidze and her team in Moscow, landed a quadruple Salchow at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships in March, becoming the first woman to do so in international senior-level competition. “I started working on this jump about three years ago. The Salchow is one of my favorite jumps, and I just thought why I should not try a quad,” the 19-year-old said in Saitama. “The first time I tried, I landed it, but it was underrotated. I kept on working on it, but I have never thought about taking it into a program. I was thinking only about trying this jump, but Eteri [Tutberidze] and other coaches helped me. They told me that I should do it in a program, that I should try and start working on it. I tried it at the Four Continents and at the Universiade, and the third time here I did it. I hope I will keep on working on this jump,” Elizabet added. The 2019 Four Continents silver medalist also aims at including the triple Axel into her programs.
As the skaters know, the summer is the best time to work on new elements. Stay tuned to find out which new jumps and jump combinations skaters will perform in the upcoming season 2019/20.