A Short History of the Axel Jump
The Axel jump is named after Norwegian skater Axel Paulsen, the creator of the jump. He first performed the jump in 1882. An Axel jump has a forward take off, and because of this is more difficult than other jumps because it requires and extra half rotation to complete the jump and land backwards.
There are also many Axel variations. One such variation is a delayed Axel, in which the skater goes into the jump with an open air position and delays pulling their arms and legs in to complete the rotation of the jump. Similar to this is the open Axel, in which the entire jump is rotation with an open air position and no delay. Another common variation is the one-foot Axel jump, in which the skater takes off and lands the jump on the same foot. A one-footed Axel/quarter flip/Axel is an element required to pass the ISI Freestyle 7 test. Axel entrances are also commonly used for spin entrances, such as a flying sit spin.
The first woman to perform an Axel in competition was Sonja Henie, although it is said that she did not have very good technique. The first double Axels were performed by Dick Button at the 1948 Olympics, and Carol Heiss in 1953. At the 1978 World Championships, Canadian Vern Taylor landed the first triple Axel. Japanese skater Midori Ito first landed the jump at the 1988 NHK Trophy, and since her only a handful of women have ever successfully landed the jump in competition. This achievement belongs to Tonya Harding, Ludmila Nelidina, Yukari Nakano, Kimmie Meissner, and Mao Asada. Mao is also credited as the first woman to complete three triple Axels at the same competition, which she did at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
Pair skaters Rena Inoue and John Baldwin Jr. were the first pair team to perform a throw triple Axel, landing it successfully at the 2006 U.S. Nationals and 2006 Torino Olympics.