What Is A Quad In Figure Skating?
A quad is a figure skating jump with at least four, but fewer than five, mid-air rotations. The types of figure skating jumps in ascending order of difficulty are the toe loop, salchow, loop, flip, lutz, and axel. These can be performed as singles, doubles, triples, or quads, depending on the number of rotations a skater can complete. For decades, a triple was the peak, until Canadian skater Kurt Browning landed the first ever quad jump, a quad toe loop, at the 1988 World Championships. His accomplishment raised the bar of competitive skating and ushered in a new era of athleticism and technical difficulty. By 2022, the quad revolution had transformed the landscape of skating.
Quads in the Olympics
It’s impossible to win Olympic gold in men’s skating without quads. At the 2022 Olympics in Beijing, Nathan Chen landed a historic five quads, every type of jump but the axel, in the program that won him gold. While women’s skating took much longer to adopt quads, Russian skater Kamila Valieva also landed two quad jumps, a salchow, and a toe loop, in her free program at the 2022 Olympics. Quads were once the dream of a distant future, but today skaters worldwide are completing feats in competitions that push the boundaries of human capability and continue to push the sport of figure skating to new heights.
A quad salchow jump requires the skater to take off from the back inside edge of one skate and land on the back outside edge of the opposite foot. American skater Timothy Goebel landed the first quad salchow in 1988 at the World Championships.
The quad lutz requires the skater to take off from the back outside edge of one skate while using the opposite toe pick to launch into the air and land back on the foot used to toe-pick. American skater Brandon Mroz landed the first quad lutz in 2011 at the Colorado Springs Invitational.
The quad loop requires the skater to take off from the back outside edge of one skate and land on the back outside edge of the same foot. Japanese skater Yuzuru Hanyu landed the first quad loop in 2016 at the Autumn Classic International.
The quad flip requires the skater to take off from the back inside edge of one skate while using the opposite toe pick to launch into the air and land back on the foot used to toe-pick. It’s similar to the lutz, except for the edge you take off from. Japanese skater Shoma Uno landed the first quad flip in 2016 at the Team Challenge Cup.
The axel is the most difficult of the jumps, and the quad axel was considered next to impossible. It requires the skater to take off front-facing, from the forward outside edge of one skate, and land on the back outside edge of the opposite foot. Due to its unique take-off, it also includes an extra half-rotation, meaning a quad requires a near physics-defying 4.5 mid-air rotations. Seventeen-year-old Ilia Malinin landed the first quad axel in 2022 at the US Classic.