Why the triple axel is such a big deal

Triple axels can turn skaters into legends. This is why.

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Note: The video states Mirai Nagasu was the second American to land a triple axel in competition (this was recorded before her Olympic success). In 2005, American Kimmy Miessner completed a triple axel in national competition, though not world competition. You can read about it here: http://www.espn.com/olympics/news/story?id=1967992

Want to see Tonya' Harding's routine? You can find one version here:

In this episode of Vox Almanac, Phil Edwards explores the triple axel and why it's such a big deal. The figure skating jump is legendary among ice skaters, from Tonya Harding's 1991 triple axel to modern icon Mirai Nagasu's attempts in competition. It turns out that the physics of the triple axel makes it a uniquely difficult jump — and one worth learning about.

As a forward-edge jump, the mechanics of a triple axel requires technical acumen from skaters while they still try to maintain an artistically interesting performance. Pioneers like Midori Ito and Tonya Harding had to jump, ramp up rotation speed, and then land all while trying to look good. This effort set them apart from competitors like Nancy Kerrigan, but it wasn't easy to land a triple axel in competition.

And that difficulty might be why the triple axel endures as the pinnacle of figure skating performance — and why it's sure to light up the 2018 Winter Olympics as well.

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  • alphavideochannel

    I can do a triple klutz :)

  • Jarrel Brannon

    So, you’re telling me you hurl yourself in the air off of one foot moving forwards, make 3.5 rotations while absorbing massive gravitational force, and then landing basically on a knife blade in the opposite direction.......yeah I’ll just take up knitting.

  • Jayyy Zeee

    Tanya Harding is remembered for attacking her competitor, but damn, she nailed that insanely hard jump!

  • You Learned Something today

    Physics into poetry 🎯👏

  • elena mation

    Ok but have you seen Yuzuru Hanyu's triple axel tho

  • Kohana Antonio

    why is it such a big? dude i cant even jump while skating

  • Panamanian Thing Scene

    Yeah the move Bow Wow tried to do on the movie Roll Bounce😂😂

  • ThatonePusheenLover

    Sometimes a I think not that hard.. trys to do a triple axle wait I cant even glide on ice.....

  • Dirty Poul

    0:24 For those that don't care about "first Americans" participation awards, the first woman to land it was Japanese Midori Ito in 1988. The first man to land it was Canadian Vern Taylor in 1978.

  • mycahleen

    skating videos are so satisfying to watch

  • Sid's BARBER


  • Chloe Duval

    You gotta spin like a bayblade LET IT RIP

  • lordofentropy

    Showing the actual move in its entirety from start to finish at least once would've been nice instead of only a bit here and there.

  • Jason Garcia

    The Barbie thing was a lil weird too me, but thumbs 👍🏽 to the video. FYI I’m high asf legal 🇺🇸

  • SuperToastyToast

    I'm disliking this video not because of the content but the horrible editing. It took 4 minutes for us to see the triple axle with no interruption or edgy video editing.

  • siukong

    Some of the most annoying editing I've ever seen.

  • Pixelchu

    Nah, not the Triple Axel...Quadruple Axel is de wae:Perfected by Victor Nikiforov.

  • A

    Interesting, too many cuts made it hard to watch.

  • ZabaTV

    Two minutes 40 seconds+ in and I haven't seen it in full motion or its entirety Aaaaaa. JUST SHOW ME IT MAN haha

  • issa osama

    These dancers are top line athletes. Full on dedication and hard work for years and years non stop. Honestly just amazing work.

  • j m

    can we just see a clip of the entire jump without slowing down, cutting away?

  • Kayla B

    I can’t even ice skate....

  • crayde hiyade

    ... but it doesnt look that impressive. Im sure its hard but its hard work for a move that isnt exactly awe inspiring

  • Mark Teyken

    Its almost impossible to do 3 spins.Katarina: Hold my beer.

  • QuantumBraced

    An exoskeleton would help with this.

  • Syafiq Norkhalim

    Video could honestly have been 3mins long instead of 5

  • Official house

    I don't know why I watch this.... Even though I don't want.... With internet I thought I chose what I want ... But everything changed

  • devtrash

    Quit with the romaticizing of Tonya Harding.

  • Our Founding Liars

    The triple axel is also the name of the core component of the weather machine! Keep a s k I n g questions

  • Riding Stone

    very poorly done subject. what a shame.

  • XxamorOo

    In the men competition they are past the triple axel to quadruple axel..the more you know ...*

  • harrymason666

    This video is so frustrating to watch.

  • MingforPM

    Mirai Nagasu makes Asian-Americans proud! I'm proud to be an Asian Youtuber!!!

  • darius jones

    Im going to be unstoppable next time I play trivial pursuit after binge watching vox.

  • CurveTheRain

    Is it illegal to show the actual video or something 😒

  • Trap Soul

    You guys should stick to this context instead of all the propaganda and lies you spread about politics it's media outlets like Vox that make people who already hated Trump force us to defend him.

  • Julian Fricker

    Next week on Vox, why zambonis are so loud

  • ramona lynn

    This video is trying SO HARD TO HAVE AESTHETIC and I'm just left confused 😂

  • Tirion

    i first read it as " why triple axe is such a big deal"

  • Crude Wan

    This is so easy bruh. I do this barefoot on ice.

  • Prod. David Luis

    you should do a vid on the 900 with tony hawk

  • Gina


  • Fisty Carrera

    big deal, standard in male figure skating

  • Firebrain

    Who thinks Yuzu can land a 4A someday?

  • Joey Wheeler

    Whats the song that starts at 0:21 ?

  • Ocean

    "Tonya Harding, my star"

  • Forrest Taylor

    Why was this video edited like someone with epilepsy wanted to hurt themselves

  • Tracey Claver

    Why did this video have to be creepy.

  • Billy Jones

    it's not a big deal

  • kieferonline

    Did I miss the part that explained what a triple axel is exactly?

  • TheFabulousTodd

    This explained nothing to me. Triple toe loop, triple axel, triple...whatever, they all look the same to me--amazing. I guess you really have to be a figure skater to understand all of this. I'll just take everyone's word for it that Mirai Nogasu is pretty damn brilliant. ;)

  • VL Thacker

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but men do triple axels all the time, it's the quads that are so important there.

  • jellofiend

    You never just show the move in normal speed. This video is so all over the place and could’ve been way shorter.

  • Marcelo Rezende

    me: watches this videome: spends next 2 hours looking at ice skating videos on YouTube

  • All of Jimin's Jams Namjoon stole

    best part of the video? THE ZAMBONI IS COMING IT'S GONNA BE LOUD

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