Creating Ankle Flex in Toe Loops (Michelle Leigh)

World and Olympic coach Michelle Leigh works with a skater to improve the toe loop take-off and get ankle flex in the air on the double toe loop. (In the previous video, Michelle worked with this skater to get ankle flex on double loop jump.) Michelle begins by having the skater perform a waltz jump toe loop combination followed by two cross overs on the opposite lobe before stepping into another waltz jump toe loop. Notice the desired toe loop take-off has the body set or leaned back slightly and the non-picking foot leaves the ice from the heel with the foot flexed. The non-picking leg is also straight and not an h-position. The goal is to keep the axis foot flexed as long as possible while in the air, and point just enough at the last moment to hit the bottom toe pick just prior to touching the rocker on landing.

Michelle then has the skater repeat the same excises, except this time the second combination has a double toe loop. In the single step video analysis, the skater has the correct flexed take-off, but she doesn’t maintain the ankle flex while in the air and instead points the toe. To help with learning the feeling of keeping the flex, Michelle has the skater do a toe loop take-off walk through where the skater performs a three turn and stays on the picking foot gliding backward while keeping the axis foot flexed and tucking it behind to simulate the transition into the air position.

In another single step video analysis, Michelle points out the proper body lean at take-off (power angle) but also comments about errors in head anchoring and picking leg over-bending. Nevertheless, the focus of this lesson is to get the axis foot to go through flexed and it does. And as Michelle notes, she is confident this skater will learn to maintain the flex when turning over in the air since the skater has learned it already on the double loop. She says, “You don’t need to reach for the ice” by pointing the landing toe.


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