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17-year-old Ilia Malinin lands the first quad axel, ushering in a new era of figure skating

Photo Courtesy of PopSugar: Getty/Joosep Martinson - International

Ilia Malinin, an American figure skater, performed the first quad axel in competition on September 14. Malinin won the gold at the US International Classic in Lake Placid, New York, and also established himself as the future of men's figure skating.

At the beginning of his figure skating career, Ilia Malinin achieved a number of successes. Malinin made a reputation for himself with his quads in addition to winning the world junior title and even finishing second to Olympic gold medalist Nathan Chen in the US Figure Skating Championships in 2022. He posted videos of himself landing jumps like the quad loop and quad lutz under the handle "quadg0d" on social media. 

Most men were only landing quad salchows and toe loops before quads started to develop in men's, and later women's, figure skating, most notably two-time Olympic gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan. Hanyu was one of the first figure skaters to introduce quad jumps in competition, and they have only become more popular since then.

The quad lutz initially attracted the most attention since it is one of the trickiest jumps in figure skating to land, and subsequently the quad axel. Even at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, Yuzuru Hanyu tried the quad axel in competition but was unable to land it cleanly.

The quad axel involves force, quick rotations, and stability throughout because it is 4 1/2 rotations rather than 4, and the skater leaves the ice facing forward.

Ilia Malinin is in the lead when it comes to competing at the international level when the next generation of figure skaters at the senior level emerges in 2022. Men's figure skaters must possess a range of quad leaps, especially if they want to follow in the footsteps of Yuzuru Hanyu and Nathan Chen.

Malinin will benefit from his cleanliness and capacity to recover from poor beginnings in the short program even though he will need to keep up his consistency in his jumps and work on his overall artistry on the component side of his programs. Malinin made history with the quad axel, not only because it is now regarded as the trickiest quad jump to land, but also because it changed the perception of American figure skating.

Reuters reported that despite being unable to participate globally due to the ISU's ruling in early 2022 barring Russia from hosting or participating in international tournaments, Russia was and is still one of the major players in world figure skating. Russia has produced figure skaters that have won World Championships and Winter Olympics, notably four-time Olympic medalist Evgeni Plushenko, who is renowned for consistency and a hard work ethic. Alina Zagitova (2018 Olympic gold medalist), Anna Shcherbakova (2022 Olympic gold medalist), and Alexandra Trusova (2022 Olympic silver medalist) are examples of women who fit this description.

American figure skaters will have to improve their performance and ability in order to compete with China and Japan, which are key competitors alongside Russia. This means that harder levels of difficulty need to be incorporated into skaters' routines, such as adding more quads to men's and possibly women's jump repertoires or outdoing rivals in artistic maneuvers.

Malinin has the potential to raise American figure skating's standing abroad along with what Nathan Chen has achieved. Malinin's accomplishment with the quad axel is the starting point that will raise the bar of American figure skating to a more competitive and formidable position in the figure skating world.

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