Figure skaters not only have to perform incredible feats of human strength and agility, but they also have to push the limits of what is humanly possible while making their movements look easy. Their motions appear graceful and smooth as they hurtle their bodies through the air with nothing but the hard ice below.

As spectators, we take for granted that a figure skating routine will involve multiple jumps which incorporate triple and even quadruple spins in a single jump. Nathan Chen has taken the title of Quad King as the first person to land five quadruple jumps in a single routine and will attempt to match this feat in the 2018 Winter Olympics. Although skaters like Chen can make their sport look easy, executing the perfect jump requires a precise combination of speed, force, vertical velocity, angular momentum, friction, and of course timing. Let’s break down some of these crucial pieces that go into the perfect loop, flip, salchow, axel, or lutz.

 

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