Waltz Jump and Axel Drill – 3 Statues, Part 1 (Nick Perna)

International coach Nick Perna explains the “3 Statues Drill” he uses to help skaters develop the proper timing necessary for stepping up strongly into a waltz jump or axel. One of the most common errors with the waltz jump or axel (or even double or triple axel!) is that skaters often press up out of the skating knee before the free leg/foot has traveled far enough forward. This prevents the skater from getting under the jump and it typically creates a jump with more relative distance at the expense of height and air time. Nick says, “This lets a skater really feel how to get the leg through before they jump.”

The first position or “statue” is the “step position.” Nick demonstrates and explains this position in some detail, including the flexed foot and tension in the arms. This position should have the free shoulder back and the skater should be aligned over the skating hip.

Next, Nick wants the skater to “swing” the free leg through to the front, where the skating knee remains slightly bent until after the free foot passes it, and then it straightens. The final position after the swing or “statue number 2” has the skater gliding forward in an h-position with a straight skating leg and a flexed free foot, with the hands forward over the free knee. Nick notes that this position is never attained in an actual axel as the skater starts to turn sideways before leaving the ice and the “getting on a horse” position is the actual take-off position for axel. Nick wants the skater to “swing the free leg through in a pendulum fashion, so they’re using their hip to come through.”

The last statue or piece of the drill is having the skater simply hop from statue 2 to backwards and execute a landing. A common error at this stage is skaters may try to swing the free leg back before this little jump. Nick wants the skater to land with the free leg in front and straight and then swinging the straight leg back. He does not allow an h-position landing.


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