I’ve been working hard at refining my axel jump recently. I have a tendency to “stork” my jumping leg in the air so the jump looks ugly and isn’t fully correct.
Coach B had me doing a few exercises to combat this bad habit, and I dare say that it has been helping. I’m sure the physical therapy has been helping also, since it is strengthening the muscles surrounding my right knee.
I recently had a breakthrough with the axel after it seemed to have disappeared on me for a short while. I watched some axel videos from Tom Zakrajsek on icoachskating.com, and I got a “light bulb moment.” It happened when Tom told skaters to bring their arms together prior to takeoff on the axel. This was not something that I had done previously.
After watching the video, I decided to try it on my own. After gliding on my backwards edge, I brought my right arm up to my left (if you are a counter-clockwise skater, you will need to reverse this), touched my hands together, bent my knee while pulling my arms backwards, and finally jumped.
I got so much more height and increased my flight time by tenfold. I almost felt like I was floating in the air. When I checked my tracings afterwards, the jump was clean. A senior-level skater even came up and complimented me on the jump. I asked her if my legs were crossed, and she said that it was, and that my jump was fully rotated.
Hooray! Next step… build up more speed and cover more distance with the jump.