Common Waltz Jump and Axel Issues (Chris Conte)

International coach and jump specialist Chris Conte gives a lesson at a seminar, and this portion of the lesson focuses on the waltz jump and the axel. Chris begins by asking for three waltz jumps in a row with nice rhythm. He then encourages this skater to lunge less with the upper body on each forward step, instead pushing the hips forward and keeping the back more upright. Chris comments, “As the great Russian coach Mishun says, ‘When pushing into axel, never put face in soup.'” This is funny and memorable, especially with his attempt at an appropriate accent. He continues, “You don’t want to lead with your face. You want to lead with your belt buckle.” Before more waltz jump attempts, Chris reminds the skater to turn the head slightly into the landing circle.

After an axel attempt by the skater, Chris immediately focuses on the free leg position on the back outside edge prior to the forward step. Most top coaches have stopped teaching free leg “stretches” for axel entries as it tends to just cause alignment problems which cause step issues which cause take-off and axis issues. This skater stretches the free leg outside the circle, and this typically causes a “hips-behind” step into the axel. Chris prefers a free foot position where the free toe is close and directly behind the skating foot on the backward preparation edge. Not surprisingly, he doesn’t teach a stretch as part of the axel preparation. But he does note that if a stretch is wanted, the stretch should be straight back and not to the side.

Chris demonstrates how the preferred preparation creates a better step/push with improved upper body and hip usage, and he notes that it allows the skater to press the skating foot in front (ahead) and slightly outside the circle for a stronger take-off edge. Other tips here include keeping the hips level (free hip down) and having the free leg slightly bent on the back edge. Chris has the skater do waltz jump twizzle to simulate the axel with the primary focus on the changes to the entrance, and then the skater performs an improved axel.


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