Quad jump | Becoming a legend: Yagudin vs Plushenko
Not easy to compare two legends of russian skating. Alexei Yagudin, 2002 Olympic Champion and four-time World Champion, is a perfect example of the russian style: powerful and elegant with his own footwork style. Evgeni Plushenko is a two-time Olympic Champion and a three-time World Champion. Evgeni, long time compare to Alexei as heir apparent, is nicknamed "Tsar Evgeni" by his fans. Plushenko wants to compete until the next Olympics in South Korea. The russian skating federation included him in national figure skating team for next season. To be continued...
I chose to compare quad toe loop: one of the most difficult elements in male skating. During the comparison, you will see the russian style. Yagudin and Evgeni's jump technique are almost the same. It should be interested to analyze the evolution of this jump (technique and execution). Kurt Browning landed the first ratified quad toe pick in 1988.
Toe pick position
On the comparison picture, Alexei Yagudin is on the left side, Evgeni Plushenko on the right side.
- Figure 1 Toe pick position
Toe pick position is when the skater touches the ice. On the picture, you can see clearly the postion of the upper body. The rotation movement has begun. The left leg (toe pick leg) is on the same curve than the right leg ( support leg). The left foot ( and of course the left hip) is open.
Second step, I call "Impulsion", moment when the skater begins the boost of the jump.
- Fig. 2 Impulsion part
You can see the real position of the body before the take off. One revolution in the air is 360°, so four revolutions are 4 X 360° =1440° . In fact, revolution is more close to 1260° ( 3 rev 1/2 ). N.B You can't see this fact in normal speed because of the smooth move.
- Fig. 3 Imulsion part with angle
As you can notice, the body axis of Alexei is more bent than that of Evgeni. It's the consequence of the upper body position during the three turn. You can check again the figure 1 Toe pick position and see the diffence between the upper body of Yagudin and Plushenko.
Position in the air
- Fig. 4 Position in the air (part 1 after one revolution)
You can notice arms postion in the air of Evgeni: right arm above to left arm. Hands are on the same line, placed on middle of his body.
- Fig. 5 Position in the air (part 2 after three revolution) with angle
|Angle of begining||Angle in the air||Difference|
The impact of angles is more important for Alexei. Indeed, he bent too much at the start and can not fix this during the jump. Angle variation of Evgeni allows him a better landing
Landing part is when the skater touches the ice. The landing position must stop the rotation with an elegant position and allows to continue the program. The skater should keep a correct speed at the end of the jump.
- Fig. 6 Landing position (part 1)
At this moment, skaters are touching the ice. Evgeni is more ready than Alexei to stop rotation. Arms already open, free leg (left leg) is uncrossing .
- Fig. 7 Landing position (part 2)
They are too much on their toe-picks. Result: loss of balance.
- Fig. 8 Landing position (part 3)
In figure 7, they are loss of balance. But they developped some habits to get balance. In figure 8 now, we can see the elegant postion. Evegni is aligned with his support leg ( Right leg). You can draw a line to the right foot til the right shouler. It's not the case for Yagudin, a little outside of this line.
I think that it will be interesting to compare a quad toe-loop executed by Plushenko and another one executed by a skater in 10 years to get an evolution of this jump. As we saw, there is some details that Plushenko managed better than Yagudin. Yagudin was and is an amazing skater, powerfull with an elegant style. The new ISU rules changed the profile of skaters in many aspects. They are smaller, more flexible, more complete ( Good footwork, jumps and spins).... etc