There is no sport in the 2014 Winter Olympics that breaks hearts and takes breaths away like figure skating does. And there's no more wince-inducing moment in sports than watching a figure skater fall.
To the naked eye, it seems simple enough — the skater just didn't land right. But breaking it down further, and knowing just how much goes into each attempt makes each successful jump much more impressive. And it makes you realize that not all jumps are created equal, and ergo, not all falls are the same, even though each fall is worth one point of a skater's total score.
A tilt here and there and the skater can go off-axis, not enough height can wreak havoc on rotations, and there's always that mind-game going on in skaters' heads as they debate between landing a safe double or going for the risk. With a flick of physics and a split-second decision, a jump can go from great to disastrous.
We asked former national team member Katrina Hacker to really explain in plain English what goes wrong, where it goes wrong, and what we should be looking for in the next week as skaters take the ice for the pairs, men's, and women's competitions.
So we sorta know (from our last post) all the things that go into a jump. And now we want know why skaters fall. First off, do skaters have preferences between edge jumps and toe jumps? Like could the Lutz be easier for someone than say, a Salchow even though the Lutz is considered more difficult?
Hacker: Definitely, jump preference varies skater by skater. One skater's favorite jump might be a triple loop, or another skater might prefer all the toe jumps to the edge jumps. You are correct in saying that even though the Lutz is worth the most points, it's not necessarily the hardest for every skater. Different skaters just "get" certain jumps more easily. But, even though certain jumps might not be as comfortable or confident, at the highest level, a skater needs to be able to do all six different jumps with consistently.