A GIF guide to elements in figure skating

Olympics
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Study up! Here is a handy guide for some common elements you will see in many figure skaters’ programs.

There are six types of jump seen in men’s and women’s skating. In order of most to least difficult, they are: Axel, Lutz, flip, loop, Salchow, and toe loop (sometimes shortened to just “toe”).

What is an Axel?

Axel jumps are done here by Gracie Gold and Nathan Chen. Credit: NBC Olympics

The Axel is the only jump with a forward takeoff. Therefore, a triple, for example, requires three-and-a-half revolutions in the air. This way, the skater takes off going forwards and lands going backwards. It was named for its inventor, Norwegian Axel Paulson.

What is a Lutz:

Lutzes are done here by Bradie Tennell and Nathan Chen, the 2018 U.S. national champions. Credit: NBC Olympics

Skaters take off from the back outside edge and anchor their toe pick to vault into the air. They rotate in the opposite direction as they curved into the jump, and land on the back outside edge of the foot opposite to the launching foot. It was named for its inventor, Austrian Alois Lutz.

What is a flip:

Bradie Tennell, Nathan Chen and Ashley Wagner demonstrate flip jumps. Credit: NBC Olympics

The skater takes off from the back inside edge of one foot, using the toe pick for assistance, and lands on the back outside edge of the opposite foot.

What is a loop:

Bradie Tennell and Mariah Bell compete loop jumps in competition Credit: NBC Olympics

The skater takes off from and lands on the same edge and the same foot; it’s the only jump to do so.

What is a Salchow:

Nathan Chen and Adam Rippon with their Salchows in competition. Credit: NBC Olympics

Skaters take off from the back inside edge of one foot and land on the back outside edge of the opposite foot. It was named for its inventor, Sweden’s Ulrich Salchow.

What is a toe loop:

Nathan Chen can do a quad toe loop, which is four rotations in the air before landing. Credit: NBC Olympics

Different than the loop; skaters use their toe pick to assist them into the air. The skater takes off and lands on the same back edge of the same foot.

What is a twizzle?

Maia and Alex Shibutani and Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue demonstrate what twizzles look like. Credit: NBC Olympics

Twizzles are a series of turns on one foot, and in ice dance, skaters are close together and side by side.

What is a death spiral?

Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim, plus Tarah Kayne and Danny O'Shea, show off their death spirals. Credit: NBC Olympics

In pairs skating, the man stands as the anchor and pivots in a circle, while the lady lays parallel and low to the ice holding her partner’s hand as she rotates around him.

What is a throw jump?

Pair skating teams Tarah Kayne and Danny O'Shea and Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim demonstrate throw jumps Credit: NBC Olympics

In pairs skating, the man throws his partner into the air and she rotates, landing unassisted.

What is a twist?

Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier, Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim, and Marissa Castelli and Mervin Tran with their throw twists in competition. Credit: NBC Olympics

In pairs skating, the man throws his partner up into the air and she completes up to four revolutions in the air. He catches her before placing her back down on the ice.

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