When It Comes To Figure Skating, Jumps Are King

by : M J Topper

In an extremely popular figure skating forum there have been an incredible number of threads devoted to how the International Skating Union, under its new scoring system, awards points for jumps. One particular thread is currently dealing with whether the quadruple jumps are indeed getting scored high enough. Another thread is debating a rule change that would award a figure skater additional points if they completed five different triple jumps not including the triple axel. These actions only serve to tell us what we already know. When it comes to figure skating, jumps are king.

Even at the lower levels of figure skating, jumps are often a make or break filter for skaters. Those who can't do them well either drop out or maybe switch to a different discipline such as ice dancing or synchronized skating. (Ice dancing and synchronized skating are good fodder for other articles. There are skaters that ice dance and that participate on synchronized skating teams well into their golden years.) To be on a competitive track in figure skating, though, jumps are king. A prime example of this is a certain senior level lady figure skater who has had some success and is one whom people thought would set the world on fire. She has gorgeous spins and spirals but her jumps were always lacking and inconsistent. Well, she's all but been written off by the figure skating community and the comments about her always included "poor jump technique". Again, we all know, jumps are king.

That phrase "poor jump technique" always bothered me a little. How could a skater get so far with poor technique? How does a skater acquire good technique? How does a coach know how to teach good technique? It occurred to me that at least initially a skating coach is going to teach jumping as it was taught to them. But how many skating coaches actually go the extra mile and try to learn the secrets of the better jumpers because we all know, jumps are king.

I've often wondered whether or not figure skating should look "outside the box" for better jump technique. I've never see any figure skating book specifically about learning figure skating jumps but I see plenty of books geared toward basketball players on how to increase ones vertical leap. Perhaps figure skating can pick up a few pointers from basketball on the proper way to jump? Granted, jumping in a stiff boot with a narrow piece of steel fastened to the bottom is slightly different than jumping in a comfortable shoe with a cushioned sole, but I'm just trying to think "outside the box". In other words, I just want to give figure skaters an "edge" because remember, jumps are king.