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  1. #1

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    Looking for an analogy for a double axel....

    A lot of people who don't watch skating beyond the Olympics and ice shows ask me about skating, from time to time. I try to explain some of the difficulty of what they are watching, or what kids are working on and the difficulty level, but sometimes they don't get it because they don't quite understand how the skills "work".

    So, if you were going to try to explain to someone what a double axel is in regard to its level of difficulty and maybe how it would compare to attaining skills in other sports, what would be a good comparison or analogy - sports or otherwise - that non-skating people would "get"?

    Thanks!

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    Dick Button always said it was the most dangerous of jumps because of the forward take-off. Because if you slip off that take off it really can be very scary. Most skaters have done a waxel at some stage and when you see it is really is quite frightening.
    When you are up to your arse in alligators it is difficult to remember you were only meant to be draining the swamp.

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    Dick Button always said it was the most dangerous of jumps because of the forward take-off.
    In her online video, Nancy Kerrigan said something similar: that the forward takeoff is psychologically tougher because it's scarier to jump toward something.

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    Any relatively tough, getting-close-to-virtuosic piece of classical music (for whatever musical instrument makes sense)? Running a mile in under 5:00? As in, not very many people who try can actually DO it. No, not the hardest thing that the best skaters can do, but very, very challenging and a relatively rare accomplishment. And it takes a heckuva lot of hard work, and usually at least some natural talent/ability, to get there. I'm sure there are better analogies, but that's all that comes to my mind at the moment.

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    Thanks, LilJen! Yes, I think more people in general would understand those analogies, especially "running a mile under 5:00". I know so many runners these days.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jozet View Post
    In her online video, Nancy Kerrigan said something similar: that the forward takeoff is psychologically tougher because it's scarier to jump toward something.
    That is also why many skaters have trouble getting the jump. Plus it has an extra half revolution to the other jumps.

    The other way I look at it is is being a make or break jump for many skaters. If you can't get a double axel, you really are limited in how far you will go as a competitive skater (if you have international ambitions). The triples after that are bonuses.
    When you are up to your arse in alligators it is difficult to remember you were only meant to be draining the swamp.

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    Yes, it's sort of the entry card into the elite levels of competition. Not enough on its own, but without it you probably won't get to play on that level at all.

    Unfortunately, I'm not familiar enough with other sports to give a good analogy, but the racing time example is probably useful.

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    If they're having trouble understanding how it "works", ask them if they can jump into the air and do 2 1/2 turns and land standing up.

    Then ask them if they think the could do the same thing taking off and landing on a 1/8 inch wide piece of metal, while travelling fast on a slippery surface.

    That should give them some idea of how difficult a double axel is
    You should never write words with numbers. Unless you're seven. Or your name is Prince. - "Weird Al" Yankovic, "Word Crimes"

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    Quote Originally Posted by overedge View Post

    That should give them some idea of how difficult a double axel is
    But that only implies difficulty to an average person. I don't think many people watching skating and think "I could do that"- at least not the way everyone watches luge and thinks that (and I hear luge is hella hard.)

    I think the running time makes a lot more sense. I could NEVER run a mile under 5 minutes. Heck, I can't run it under 10. But an elite runs faster to that. Comparing a double axel to a 5 minute mile says "heck, even some people who are good at skating, won't be able to achieve this".

    Asking me if I can jump 2 1/2 times in the air is meaningless and doesn't frame the skill in anyway that allows me to judge the difficulty of it to someone who is good at the sport. Of course I can't do it, but that doesn't mean it isn't easy to a skater. I can't shoot a free throw either, but I expect it to be easy to a basketball player, thus, I expect a double axel to be easy to a skater. But it isn't.

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    Getting an Axel is like getting your first kip in gymnastics. You celebrate with a rip on your hands.

    Getting a double Axel is similar to doing uneven bars, letting go and catching the next bar. Physically it should be easy for a girl in training, but mentally very scary!

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheGirlCanSkate View Post
    Getting an Axel is like getting your first kip in gymnastics. You celebrate with a rip on your hands.

    Getting a double Axel is similar to doing uneven bars, letting go and catching the next bar. Physically it should be easy for a girl in training, but mentally very scary!
    Being able to swing to a handstand and do a giant? ("giant" = you swing 360 degrees all the way around the bar)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Skittl1321 View Post
    But that only implies difficulty to an average person. I don't think many people watching skating and think "I could do that"- at least not the way everyone watches luge and thinks that (and I hear luge is hella hard.)

    I think the running time makes a lot more sense. I could NEVER run a mile under 5 minutes. Heck, I can't run it under 10. But an elite runs faster to that. Comparing a double axel to a 5 minute mile says "heck, even some people who are good at skating, won't be able to achieve this".
    I understand what you're getting at, but OTOH to anyone who's never run a timed distance, the 5-minute-mile comparison won't work either because they don't have that context.

    I agree that most people watching skating won't think that any jump is easy, but explaining the technique of the jump might make them understand how hard it is.
    You should never write words with numbers. Unless you're seven. Or your name is Prince. - "Weird Al" Yankovic, "Word Crimes"

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    http://iceskatingresources.org/AcquisitionOfSkills.pdf

    What about giving them the amount of ice time to get a skill? And shock them with the price of those hours - before considering coaching time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by overedge View Post
    I understand what you're getting at, but OTOH to anyone who's never run a timed distance, the 5-minute-mile comparison won't work either because they don't have that context.
    Every school I've worked in/gone to makes kids run for PE. (That's the only time I've ran...we had to get in under 13 minutes to pass, and I got in a few seconds before the buzzer every time.)

    I would think '5 minute mile' would have context for MOST people. Non-athletic people will likely just think "holy crap, that's fast". I know when I went and looked up mile times on wikipedia I was shocked the records are in the 3s.

    How about "like making a penalty kick in soccer against a great goalie?"
    A triple axel might be like a half-court shot in basketball (only a few people will ever do it), but I can't think of an equivalent to the double axel- a double axel seems much harder than a 3-point shot, for example.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Skittl1321 View Post
    How about "like making a penalty kick in soccer against a great goalie?"
    I think this is a really good one, since soccer/football is truly the world's game...
    You should never write words with numbers. Unless you're seven. Or your name is Prince. - "Weird Al" Yankovic, "Word Crimes"

  16. #16

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    The Axel jump is a right of passage in figure skating. The single axel is truly an accomplishment for most skaters. This jump requires the skater to have sufficient control of thier body to be able to vault themself into the air with the weight over one side of thier body and transition that weight to the other side of thier body while in the air so that they can land on the opposite foot after 1 and 1/2 revolutions.

    Of all skaters in the US, less than 3 percent are able to perform the double axel. This requires more speed and height than the single axel. The timing must be very precise as well as control of the entry edge. As the rotation is faster the transition in the air must also be quicker and more precise also.

    There is an old line in skating that says "You can't buy a double axel, you can only rent it". I believe that skaters such as Patrick Chan, Scott Hamiliton, and Alyssa Czisney will agree with this statement.

    The triple axel futher amplifies the need for timing, body control and strength, all happening at precisely the right time. Again it is a right of passage. Less than 0.1 percent of skaters achieve this element. Many otherwise technically excellent skaters have reached a block wall at this point. It is still a thrill for me to witness this accomplishment when a skater is able to perform it during an event.

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    Where are you getting these statistics?

  18. #18

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    Hi FigureSpins
    The statistics are estimates only. They are based upon membership in US Figure Skating of about 100,000 basic skills members and 60,000 full members and about 2800 entries into the US Figure Skating qualifying competition system. If we also assume that the majority of the entries are at the juvenile and intermediate levels where the double axel is a rarity then the "less than 3 percent of all US skaters" is a correct statement.

    The triple axel is currently being performed by 20 to 25 men in the US. Granted there are a lot more men and women working on it but I believe that you have to perform in in an event for it to really count. These numbers are less than the 0.1 percent of the full membership of US Figure Skating.

    I am not aware of how this compares in other countries but would have to believe that it would track about the same.

    I hope this answers your question.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Skittl1321 View Post
    A triple axel might be like a half-court shot in basketball (only a few people will ever do it), but I can't think of an equivalent to the double axel- a double axel seems much harder than a 3-point shot, for example.
    I think you have take into account percentages, as well. A lot of basketball players will at some point or another put up a long-distance shot that goes in, but that doesn't make it reliable. Most skating coaches require a good 2/3rds or higher success rate on a jump in practice before you can include it in a program. So, a double axel would be a 3 point shot, but your expected shooting percentage should be >67%. That should help put some perspective on this...

  20. #20
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    A double axel is something most skaters will never land cleanly, even after years of training. I think a good analogy might be something like a third degree black belt in karate, kung fu, or some other martial art. Landing a clean triple would be the fourth degree black belt.

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