Online Webinar with Mirai Nagasu
One thing that I’ve been grateful for during this period of social isolation is the closeness of the figure skating community. Coaches have had to be creative in how they are earning money, and one common strategy is teaching online lessons. Some coaches have partnered with elite skaters to offer online sessions on certain elements.
One afternoon, I participated in an online webinar that featured Mirai Nagasu. She is an Olympic bronze medalist and was the first American woman to land a triple axel at the Olympics. Coach Tom Zakrajsek brought Mirai as the guest speaker to talk about the mechanics for the triple axel.
While I am nowhere near attempting a triple axel, I thought that the information they presented would be relevant for the double jumps that I am working on. I struggle with rotation and quickness, and I figured that the content would apply for my double salchow, double toe loop and double loop.
Mirai shared that one big “ah-ha” moment for her was the timing of the triple axel setup. She had to consistently count 2 full seconds while gliding on her backwards outside edge before stepping forward into the takeoff. As soon a s she took off, she would know whether or not it would be successful. The key words she used were “Foot, arms, left and right, AND GO.” Her coach Tom said that the optimal “lean” on the backwards outside edge is 26 degrees (for all you skating nerds out there – me included).
Hearing Mirai’s key words sparked a revelation for me. I had been using my own key words for my single axel but found that it wasn’t solid enough to produce a consistent jump. What I hadn’t been doing is using key words for the backwards outside edge. And now that I think about it, the failed jump attempts during competition came from an edge that wasn’t held long enough. As I reviewed my successful axel videos, I noticed a consistent pattern – I needed to hold my edge for two full seconds as well. Now with this new information, I will attempt to tell myself, “One one thousand, two one thousand, step AND GO!” We’ll see if this new phrase works once we get back on the ice.
Here are some other tidbits from both Tom and Mirai:
- Trust your training and set goals (Mirai listed on her goal sheet in 2014 that she wanted to land a triple axel)
- When you are attempting jumps on the floor, you want your shoulder and knee to line up on the takeoff. Your motions should be smaller and more compact.
- Don’t worry about cheated jumps. Keep working on the technique and the cheats will go away.
- Keep your head anchored over your landing side. Your body will follow your head so if your head drifts off and looks over the incorrect shoulder, you will not have a successful jump.
- The air time on Mirai’s failed and successful jumps were exactly the same. The corrections she made for a successful jump include a more anchored head and a delayed attempt to snap into rotation. You don’t want to snap too early – the “check” going into the jump should feel slow, but then the snap into the backspin should be quick. Don’t make both of them happen too quickly.
- Fight negative self-talk. Mirai said that during the team event in Sochi, she tripped on her backwards outside edge going into the triple axel. She initially had bad thoughts but then told herself, “I did not come all the way to Korea to take myself out of the game before the program even starts.”
Thanks to Tom for hosting us and to Mirai for sharing her experience and wisdom!