Alexandra Trusova has enjoyed success but also suffered injuries. courtesy Wikimedia Common

Quads give skaters wins, injuries

Figure skating expert Hannah Robbins discusses the benefits and risks of quadruple jumps in figure skating as three teenage Russian stars attempt to compete with multiple injuries in the Grand Prix.

As the senior figure skating season is ramping up, it is quickly becoming apparent who is going to be on top for the season: Alexandra Trusova, Alena Kostornaia and Anna Shcherbakova. These three Russian figure skaters are in their first season as seniors, but that hasn’t stopped these 15-year-olds. For each of the competitions in the Grand Prix so far, these ladies have won by at least 10 points, a large margin for figure skating.

These three ladies are the only currently competing seniors that have landed a quadruple jump. The only previous senior to do so, Elizabet TurSynbaeva, is out for the entire Grand Prix season due to injuries. Quads have allowed the trio of skaters, or three A’s, to surpass their more experienced competitors; however, as TurSynbaeva has shown, they won’t lead to the girls winning for long.

All four of the seniors that have landed quads work with one coach: Eteri Tutberidze. While Tutberidze has a prolific coaching career, including both Alina Zagitova and Evgenia Medvedeva, 2018 Olympic gold and silver medalists, her coaching strategy has one flaw: skaters only train on ice. On the surface, this doesn’t seem like an issue, however, upon closer examination of what skaters are doing, these techniques with both hurt the three A’s, and any other skater that begins to attempt dangerous jumps like these to get ahead.

When a skater attempts a quadruple jump, they land with seven to 10 times their body weight on one leg. After repetitive attempts, this can lead to tiny microfractures on a skaters landing leg. Now imagine if skaters only practiced jumps like this on ice, eight hours a day, five days a week. This will cause these young, hopeful skaters to be injured time and again because of how they practice.

This is not just about these three skaters, though. Because of their success, more skaters will attempt these jumps in the same wrong ways. The only skater who got even close to the three A’s was Rika Kihira, but that was a flawless performance. None of the three A’s have had a clean set of programs so far, and they’re still winning. That is that advantage that quad jumps create.

The incentive is real, but so is the danger. Look at TurSynbaeva. As more and more skaters focus on the quads that will gain them an edge in hopes of making a podium, injuries will continue to be prevalent and widespread. Just look to Yuzuru Hanyu, who has been injured every year since 2016 as his quad count continues to rise.

The advantage of the quads is enticing, and if the rest of the season continues to look like these first few competitions, quads will definitely be common in the ladies senior events. There have been whispers that Zagitova is working towards a quad of her own; however, after mistakes in her first outing at the Internationaux de France, it seems like she honestly needs to work more on her current program than going for dangerous jumps.

Post Author: Hannah Robbins