Ilia Malinin lands quad axel in historic figure-skating first

Ilia Malinin made figure-skating history Wednesday night.

The 17-year-old American became the first person to ever land a quad axel in competition, pushing the sport’s boundaries with a four-and-a-half revolution jump at the start of his long program en route to a victory at the U.S. Classic in Lake Placid, New York.

“It felt really good,” Malinin said, according to a news release from U.S. Figure Skating. “When I’m practicing it, it’s pretty easy for me to figure out how to get the right timing and everything to have it be a good attempt. To do it in competition is a different story because you have nerves and pressure that can get in the way of that.”

In a sport that has become increasingly technical over the years, the quad axel had been viewed as the next frontier – the only quadruple jump that had yet to be landed in competition. 

Ilia Malinin competes in the championship free skate during the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in January 2022.

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Male figure skaters have been landing quadruple jumps since 1988, when Canada’s Kurt Browning first pulled off a quad toe loop at the world championships in Budapest. American Nathan Chen landed five quads en route to an Olympic gold medal in Beijing in February. 

But the axel is a different beast. It is the most difficult of the sport’s jumps because, based on the trajectory of the takeoff, it requires an extra half-rotation to complete.

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