Why the triple axel is such a big deal

Why the triple axel is such a big deal


Why is the triple axel such a big deal? This is 1991, the last year of the
Cold War, the year Street Fighter II hit arcades “Mr. Gorbachev Hadouken this wall. and the year Tonya Harding became the first
American woman to perform a triple axel in competition. The famous rivalry that bloomed is the one
between Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan. And in 1991 at the Target Center in Minneapolis,
MN, that meant: “Nancy Kerrigan.” “Very elegant.” “Here comes Tonya Harding.” “Very powerful skater.” Kerrigan had this music. (elegant music) Tonya Harding had Batman. “I’m Batman.” And the triple axel is the 58 frames at the
heart of that elegant/powerful split. Mirai Nagasu’s the only other America woman
to land a triple axel in competition, and when you ask her to define it in one word: “Triple axel?” She has to think about it. And the thing is, the more you know about
the triple axel, the more impressive it gets. “Jump. Jump to it, to it, you know you want to do it do it.” “Jump to it, to it, you know you want to- The triple axel really starts with the approach. The triple axel has a forward takeoff where
the skater pushes off the outside edge of the skate, unlike say, a toe loop, where the
jumper relies on the toe of their skate to thrust up and turn. The approach is also forward instead of backwards. Axels are forward-edge jumps, landing backwards
on the opposite foot. Because they turn from facing front to facing
backwards, it’s an extra half rotation, without the help of a toe pick. All that makes the approach… Deborah King’s studied figure skating and
the biomechanics of single, double, and triple axels. “They need to generate the vertical velocity,
but they also need to generate their angular momentum, or their rotational momentum for
the jump, and that’s all gotta happen during the approach up to the takeoff.” You’ll see skaters with a slight skid on
the ice that helps, but most of the twist comes from their bodies, not the ice. Once you’re in the air, you have to deal
with what you generated on the ice. So great skaters have big jumps. But rotation speed makes or breaks a triple
axel. This chart shows a small sample of single,
double, and triple axel jumps. You can see the triple axel jump length is
often shorter than the double axel length. That’s because that extra energy is going
into extra rotation. Harding needed to snap into a tight rotation
as quickly as possible. The triple axel is a physics problem. “But in terms of body position, you don’t
want your elbows sticking out, you don’t want your arms right out in front of you,
you don’t want your knees sticking out, you should look sort of as close as you can
to a pencil.” Skaters have to use a lot of upper body strength
to keep their arms tucked in so it won’t slow down their spin. It’s only once they’ve spun three and
a half times in the air that they can start figuring out how to land. And then, their big obstacle is slowing down. Skaters try to land on the ball of their opposite
foot to absorb the speed of the rotation and the big weight of their descent. Midori Ito was the first woman to do a triple
axel in world competition in the late ‘80s. When she wobbles like this
or Tonya Harding nearly falls over, they’re compensating for a huge rotational
velocity, all the while trying to look good. A triple axel turns physics into poetry, and
that’s probably the reason it’s hard to describe, for anybody, in just one word. “Triple axel?” In the triple axel, power and elegance are
complements, not contradictions. Bruce Wayne and Batman? They’re the same person. A lot happened after 1991. But in the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota? Tonya Harding landed. “Oh the zamboni’s coming out, it’s gonna
be loud.” “Oh the zamboni’s coming, it’s gonna
be loud.”

100 thoughts on “Why the triple axel is such a big deal

  1. because only the best of the best of the best (with honors) can do it. Some can technically do it, but do it with grace and smoothness takes immense talent.

  2. I used to ice skate and let me tell you it takes ALOT of work. Yes it’s fun and graceful and it looks fantastic but one wrong move and your head is bashed against the ice or maybe your ankle snaps because you couldn’t land the jump properly. Forgetting the risks, the prices were also too much. It’s an expensive sport to be in. In my opinion atleast . I applaud these people who are able to do these things.

  3. Whatever is said about Tanya Harding – at the end of the day Harding did a triple axel (to the soundtrack of Batman)

  4. Kimmie Meissner landed a triple axle and was the 2nd woman figure skater in the US that successfully did it in competetion after Tanya Harding. Mirai Nagasu was the 3rd.

  5. How come women are less able to do a triple axel? I’ve seen more men land a triple axel in competition, and only a handful of women have done it

  6. Ya know, I was going to take my first ice skating lesson ((at 14)) tomorrow….*throws skates out the window* I’ve never been good at science. Or is this math? Ya know what…I think I’m just going to stick with watching anime characters doing this stuff.

  7. What type of world would we live in today if Reagan was cognizant enough of pop culture and video games to say "Gorbachev, Hadouken this wall…"

  8. Technically, every jump rotates forward
    You face forward and jump, but I only found out after I started doing doubles.
    Also, for anyone doing axels, I found it easier to rotate it you think of jumping onto a platform backwards, if that makes sense. Imagine going to a competition and going to get your medal for 1st place. Now pretend your going towards the platform forwards, and jump, landing backwards. Since its a competition, stand tall, use your core. 😊

  9. Quite informative, I definitely know more than I did prior to watching this….the editing didn't bother me. I've seen the triple axel in many other videos on this platform.

  10. I went to the toy store a whiel ago and saw a new Made to Move Barbie doll and the one in the video is the same one i saw (except for the skating outfit tho)

  11. Yuri on Ice, anyone? Yuri is constantly trying to attempt a quadruple salchow, which is more difficult than the triple axel.

  12. It’s so annoying how they only care about the tonya who did it in America she’s not the very first person to do it

  13. It seems like this jump also takes kore upper body strength? Tonya was super muscular and that’s why she could, at one time at her peak, do more difficult jumps than the other women. Midori ito was tiny and could literally fly through the air. I always wondered why Kristi, Nancy, Surya etc couldn’t do it?

  14. And now we have Alysa Liu, 13 year old national champion with a triple axel under her belt. Damn

  15. pfffft my coach will tell me not to hammer in my toe in the ice when i do toe jumps like lutz flip and toe loop that it should be a tap but hehhhhajkhdhah it dont work

  16. Why do you have to mention the "first American woman", we can just hear the "3rd woman". You dont need to add America

  17. The day someone lands a Quadruple Axel in competition, I will lose my mind!!

  18. The reason Midori is not in focus is because Vox mainly caters to American audiences and they can resonate better with Harding. Also Harding is the first WOMAN to land 2 triple axels in one competition, land a triple Axel in the short program, and do a triple Axel in a combination (All in Skate America 1991). So don't discredit Harding to elevate Midori. Both are legendary in their own right and, in a way, remain underappreciated.

  19. Yeah, but she'll still be more (in)famous for having Kerrigan kneecapped. Incorrectly, I might add; dude hit her with the padded handle, not the business end of the baton, thats why she was still able to walk

  20. Men have to land triples to even medal. Women must land doubles. Men figure skaters are even landing quadruple axles.

  21. OK, what do you mean "wobbled like this", seriously? SERIOUSLY? Why does everyone have to dig into everyone's achievements. Ugh.

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