Building Combination Jumps – Part 1 (Michelle Leigh)

Olympic coach Michelle Leigh works with a skater on developing triple-triple combinations with triple toe as the second jump.  The lesson starts with 2 huge double axels which are used primarily as a warm-up for this skater but they give Michelle a chance to talk about the benefits of fighting for every jump landing and making even the ones that don’t feel good look effortless.

Next, Michelle has the skater attempt a walley-triple toe combination.  This skater uses a forward inside three turn and an edge change before the walley.  This is a very challenging combination that when mastered makes “regular” combination jumps much easier.  Michelle wants the free leg to go “out and around” between the jumps.  This advice is in direct conflict with most coaches who try to minimize the “around” motion of the free leg between the jumps in combinations.  Video of elite skaters doing combination jumps proves that the free leg does go around for most skaters as Michelle teaches.

Also note the discussion at 1:50 in the video about doing an h-position for toe loop.  It is very rare to find skaters who have a triple or quad toe with an h-position.  Michelle does not teach the toe loop (and toe walk-throughs) with an h-position because, “you’re going to get called on a toe axel, plus it’s harder to get in… and it’s not what you do on the real jump anyway.”

Most of the remainder of this video focuses on controlling the free leg as it goes around before moving it deliberately in to the picking position.  Michelle uses the phrase, “out, around, stretch, and in” to feel the various positions and movements of the free leg before picking.  She also uses repeated walk-through drills to develop this movement pattern.  Most skaters find it hard to maintain free leg control if they lean forward too much and leave the hips back too far on the reach.  Michelle simply asks the skater to “try to keep good posture.”


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