American figure skater Ilya Malinin made history on September 14 when he performed the quad Axel for the first time at the US International Classic in Lake Placid, New York. Earlier this year, the 17-year-old became the world junior champion.
Of all the jumps in figure skating, the axel is the only one with a forward push. It landed backwards like everyone else, which means the copter makes 4 1/2 revolutions in the air.
After reaching Malinin, all jumps, including Lutz, Flip, Rittberger, Salchow and Toe Loop, are now performed as quads in official ISU sanctioned competitions.
Two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan attempted a quadruple Axel at the last Winter Games, but the jump was under-rotated and he fell while trying to land. Malinin said Hanyu’s attempt was part of his motivation.
“I had an idea to try this for a while. In March or April I really started working on the technique and trying to improve it.” Malinin said. “[Hanyu] definitely inspired me to try it here.”
Malinin, who calls himself the “God of ATVs” on social networks, skated a free program to the “Euphoria” of the Labrinth group. He included a quad Axel at the beginning of the program as a strategy to make sure his legs were fresh. The complexity makes the quadruple axel a very valuable element. It has a base value of 12.50 points and an execution score of 1.00. Judging by the judges’ scores, Malinin landed cleanly.
At the competition, skaters must perform two programs. Malinin was sixth behind his short program, but his free skate (also called the long program) earned him 185.44 points, which helped him move up to the gold medal. He finished the competition with a total of 257.28 points and his name entered the history books.
Malinin has already performed the quadruple Axel several times in training, but admitted that the feeling of training and competition can be very different.
“It was really nice. When I train, it is quite easy for me to understand how to choose the right time and everything that is needed to make the attempt good, ”said Malinin. “Doing it in competition is a whole different thing because you have the nerves and the pressure to get in the way. So I have to treat it like I’m at home and I feel pretty good.”