Off-Ice Seminar Class – Part 5 Jump Landings (Chris Conte)

International coach and jump specialist Chris Conte continues an off-ice jump class for skaters at a seminar. In Part 1 Chris taught some basic walking and skipping drills which served both as a warm-up and as an introduction to fundamental movements. In Part 2 Chris worked on the basic concepts of small stationary and non-rotating off-ice jumps, and in Part 3 the focus shifted to creating rotation on the floor. In Part 4 Chris elaborated on the fundamental principles and basic movements needed for both lift and rotation. In this video, he offers insights about landing, particularly the idea of checking the rotation.

Chris begins by examining the ‘checking out’ phrase that coaches commonly use for jump landings. He notes that in general skaters have a good ‘out’ which is the final movement to the landing position itself, but many skaters lack a good understanding of the ‘check.’ To check a jump landing means to stop or control rotation, so the check at the end of a jump is the movements that slow or stop the rotation prior to the ‘out’ movement to the final landing position. As Chris explains, he teaches the ‘check’ and the ‘out’ as two different things. He says, “The process of check out is a check followed by an out.”

He continues by noting that “a great landing happens in the air” and not on the ice meaning skaters need to prepare for landing while they are still in the air prior to touching down. He wants this to occur during the “last half of a turn at least” and he calls this a check, which other coaches have referred to as a ‘brace’ or ‘claw’ or ‘eagle’ (from yoga) position. Chris demonstrates why skaters should not land in a standard neutral backspin position and should instead land in the ‘check position.’

The correct check position has the free hip forward, the free foot on the axis side of the axis foot (“right of right foot” for most skaters) and held back, the shoulders twisted to the axis side (due to strong core connection), with a slight body crunch to stack the body over the axis side. He has the skaters hop in this position to get comfortable with it.

Next he has the class perform a ‘quarter turn check’ exercise where he starts in a standard air position and hops with a quarter turn and keeps the heel of the free foot “moving in the direction of the jump” which more strongly crosses the legs. Notice in this exercise that his shoulders do not rotate at all and all movement is done by the lower body other than the slight body crunch with the abs. In the check position, the free leg squeezes harder against the axis leg and this should be felt when doing this exercise. In this process, the free leg slides up the axis leg “just a little bit.” Chris says, “The check just means twist. You’re going to twist your lower core in the direction of the jump [rotation] at the very end of the jump.”

The next exercise is a ‘half turn check’ exercise where the skater starts in a standard air position and hops with a half turn to the check position. Notice the shoulders only turn a quarter turn and the head also only turns a quarter turn (or less as some skaters like to check the head on landings as well). Skaters should be able to do this exercise and land with no wiggles or movement. Chris comments that other coaches sometimes say, “Check up not out, or check back not out.”

To end the video, Chris talks about how the feet should cross naturally on multi-rotation jumps unless a skater is actively resisting it. He demonstrates how it happens, and this is a great way to get skaters to feel the transition into crossed feet when doing two foot off ice jump rotations. The idea of putting the feet on train tracks and leaving them there while jumping and rotating creates a clear mental picture of the process. Chris notes that good skating jump take-offs automatically put the skater in a position to do this naturally on the ice.


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