Important Axel Concepts (Page Lipe)

International figure skating coach Page Lipe discusses some foundational concepts for the axel jump. To start, Page notes that the take-off foot does not simply point in the direction of the jump, but rather creates additional edge pressure just prior to leaving the ice. In other words, the take-off foot turns slightly into the skating circle. She explains that this can “wreak havoc on what’s going on with the rest of your body.” She then talks about the necessary weight transfer, and she notes, “Anything I do has to be pointed to the new side.” Page does not like having the free side hip and leg turned inward as she is worried that it keeps the skater over the non-axis side and prevents efficient weight transfer.

So during axel development, Page does half axels (often called “bell jumps” or “once arounds”). She says, “I work on staying over the axis side with everything pointed to the side you’re going to be switching to (axis side).” The idea is to keep the arms going to the “new side”, the head looking to the “new side” and the free leg going to the “new side” as well. Page wants the free foot pointed in the jump direction. [Editor’s note: Most elite coaches agree that the energy of the free leg must be moving in the target direction or in the direction of the jump, but they do not ask their skaters to keep the foot pointed that way as Page recommends here. Page’s method requires the hips to open, while most elite coaches teach it with a closed hip and the free foot or axis foot and leg having more of a “getting on a horse” sideways movement in the target direction.]

During very initial axel development, Page uses a two foot air turn from backwards to forward with a focus on landing toward the axis side with the feet together in the air (side by side). Page then has skaters do half axels as she demonstrates in the video, with forward landing with weight back on the heels. The purpose of the half axel is to correctly master the take-off mechanics, which is much harder if the skater is trying for more rotation (or adding the fear of falling).

Page shows a great standstill exercise for weight transfer. She stands balanced on her blade on the take-off foot and simply jumps straight up and lands and balances on the landing foot (without any speed or movement on the ice). This is a difficult exercise and requires good core strength. As Page notes, this means skaters will be ready for the increased forces and stability requirements for landing a fully rotated axel jump.


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