US figure skater Ilia Malinin shakes history with the first landed quad-axel in competitive history

Figure skating is all about defying gravity, and Team USA’s Ilia Malinin did it in one of the most historic ways on Wednesday night.

Defying gravity is one of the key components in the sport of figure skating. Quad jumps have been the craze of skating for decades, and with all quads through the Lutz being almost a necessity for success in men’s skating, the one remaining quad, the Axel, has been a hot topic of conversation. Team USA’s Ilia Malinin, at just 17, made the jump a reality by becoming the first in figure skating history to land it in a competition.

The quad-axel is a big deal because it’s a gateway to five-rotation jumps. It takes off on a leading edge and requires an additional half turn to land. Therefore, the quad-axel is actually 4.5 turns, much like a quintsalchow or toe-loop.

Malinin, who finished second at the US Nationals last season and secured the first Olympic reserve spot, landed the sport’s most difficult vaulting attempt at the US International Classic. To make things even more exciting, he landed at Herb Brooks Arena, home of 1980’s “Miracle on Ice,” in Lake Placid, New York.

It’s no surprise that he wanted to try the jump. He’s been posting flawless videos of him landing it (for which he cleverly chose ‘quadg0d’ as the username) all summer long, so it was expected he’d be the first to land it in the competition this season .

However, jumps are much more difficult to perform during competition, so expecting it to happen and watching it actually happen are two very different scenarios. He’s not the first to attempt the quad-axel as the jump drew a lot of attention as many hopefuls tried to make the Olympic team and 2014 and 2018 Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu attempted to clinch his title in Beijing defend.

The Quad-Axel has already been tried out in competition

It was always assumed among fans that 2022 Olympic champions Nathan Chen or Hanyu would land first on the Quad Axel. Chen, who has won US championships every season since 2017 and is known for his effortless quads, has attempted the jump in training but never in competition.

Hanyu tried at the Beijing Olympics, but he went into underrotation. He also tried at the Japanese national championships, but he landed on both feet, which invalidated him due to a significant demotion from the judges.

US skater Artur Dmitriev also attempted the vault at the US Nationals last season, but he was marked under-rotated and he fell from the landing, invalidating it.

Malinin, who usually completes his quads and quad combos with ease, gave hope to the jump when it landed as Chen withdrew from the competition and Hanyu retired. He completed an era and landed the last and most difficult remaining quad jump.

The first quad to land in competition was Kurt Browning’s Quad Toe Loop in 1988, which started the quad craze. Next was the Quad Salchow 10 years later in 1998 by Timothy Goebel. After that, the revolution subsided in the 2000s and quickly rebounded in the 2010s.

In 2011 the next one landed, the Quad Lutz by Brandon Mroz. In 2016, the remaining two, aside from the Axel, finished with a quad flip by Shoma Uno and a quad loop by Hanyu.

Even ladies, only a handful of whom have landed a triple axel in competition, have started trying their hand at quads. Many aspiring Russian ladies started a quad revolution among women, and only one US woman, Alysa Liu, has landed one (a quad lutz at the 2020 US Nationals) in history.

Malinin landed the newest and toughest quad with ease, coming out of a bracket corner (considered a difficult entry) and earning an extra point for a positive execution score.

With this performance, he impressed the entire figure skating world.

Teenager Ilia Malinin shocked the figure skating world with a historic jump

Malinin was of course asked how he felt during the jump landing. He revealed in an interview, “It felt really good. If I practice it, it’s pretty easy for me to figure out how to get the timing right and everything to make it a good try. Doing it competitively is a different story because you have nerves and pressure that can get in the way. So I have to treat it like I’m home and it feels pretty good.”

Several former Olympians also spoke, including legendary 2018 Olympic bronze medalist Adam Rippon. According to that Huffington PostRippon said, “This is the craziest thing I’ve ever seen on the ice.”

Meagan Duhamel, former Team Canada pairs skater, Olympic, World and National Champion, also commented on Malinin, saying, “How on earth does he do it. It’s easy. Without any preparation/setup!!!”

Two-time Olympic gold medalist and current commentator Johnny Weir tweeted, “Ilia Malinin landed the first quadruple axel in history tonight at an event in Lake Placid, NY, home of so many great American sports moments. 4.5 turns in no time. Bravo!”

According to the official Twitter account of the Milano Cortina 2026 Olympic Games, he is also expected to participate in the 2026 Winter Olympics.

And just when the teenager couldn’t be more impressive, it’s worth noting that he made history that night with a jump sequence on the same show. He landed the first-ever triple Lutz + triple Axel jump sequence in an international competition.

Malinin is certainly raising the bar for the future of figure skating, and the competition will reach a whole new level in the next four years leading up to the 2026 Olympics. He has both ended an era and begun one. US figure skater Ilia Malinin shakes history with the first landed quad-axel in competitive history

John Verrall

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