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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  • down boy

    I used to ice skate and let me tell you it takes ALOT of work. Yes it’s fun and graceful and it looks fantastic but one wrong move and your head is bashed against the ice or maybe your ankle snaps because you couldn’t land the jump properly. Forgetting the risks, the prices were also too much. It’s an expensive sport to be in. In my opinion atleast . I applaud these people who are able to do these things.

  • brih Mendiola

    If you think about it, Tonya Harding was a great skater not just because she landed a Triple Axel, but what she went through to land it.

  • Jesse H

    I'm trying to learn more about skating and here I am having a stroke watching this vid

  • JiTiAr35

    The iron lotus is more difficult.

  • AvatarTTfan

    ok but triple axel is pretty normal in male ice skating so, is it a womans thing that its more difficult because of size?

  • Al Fa

    The editing is giving me a headache

  • Eliza Gaskell

    Whatever is said about Tanya Harding - at the end of the day Harding did a triple axel (to the soundtrack of Batman)

  • sally smith

    Wow. Interesting. I always thought it was so difficult cause of the third spin...that it was near impossible to get three in the short amount of time you're in the air....hmmmm....shows you how much I DON'T KNOW.

  • Steven Sitzman

    Just show the dang move.

  • Not Emma

    why did they keep cutting off the full clip of tonya harding landing the triple axel? annoying editing

  • Breydon Nelson

    I can do a triple axle upside-down 🙃

  • You're A Hypocrite

    In my opinion Victor is a batter ice skater than Tanya...

  • Inday Baluday

    Man there's too much unnecessary in this video.. i'm confused.

  • alicenlucy

    Who edited this? It's so good

  • jerome2022

    She didnt attack anybody blame the criminals please!

  • Fernando Ramoa

    tonya was the baddest. l was blown away by her story and her unparallelled raw skills

  • Emma G

    Who else is trying to do an axel? Evil evil axel

  • Just a cat and a dog

    At the end Tonya looked so happy when she landed and it made me happy lol

  • CrrdHrz

    Wait. Let me get this straight...@ 4:27You are telling me Bruce Wayne & Batman are the same person??? 🤯😱

  • Lubid


  • Lisa Mari Arellanes

    A triple axel is no longer a big deal if you have to unfairly, and brutally, try to take down your opponent. I'm sorry it is very hard to stomach anything about Tonya at this point. Full of lies and trying to make herself out to be innocent! It is pathetic so much attention is given to her. If she overheard a conversation of people taking down her opponent........and yet, continued on with that knowledge.....my opinion,....incredibly guilty. That triple axel is very hard to even view! A Hollywood movie on how innocent she is, is pathetic!



  • Liam H

    You're Welcome./watch?v=x-pXToYyeZQ

  • sonichuizcool

    because only the best of the best of the best (with honors) can do it. Some can technically do it, but do it with grace and smoothness takes immense talent.

  • h2olover 9118

    What is the music used in this video? in the background

  • Richard Hawkins

    Bruce Wayne is Batman?! I need to sit down!

  • Casey Miller

    It's way easier than The "Iron Lotus"! Mad props to Jimmy McElroy and Chaz Michael Michaels for sticking it in competition back in '07!

  • P Dawg

    Whoever edited this video is retarded

  • Scientific Humanist

    If Yuna Kim did a 3A she would have won the Olympics in Sochi. Why didn’t she? It should’ve been easy for her. 😢

  • John citizen

    saw her 2 days ago, 9-7-2018, still looks great....

  • The Last and One

    Poor Tonya, fooking court....

  • Electro Fan

    Lol now she is on world's dumbest. 😂. Still a cool chick though.

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