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Why the triple axel is such a big deal
  Published: 1 week ago


Triple axels can turn skaters into legends. This is why.
Want to see Tonya' Harding's routine? You can find one version here:

Note: The video states Mirai Nagasu was the second American to land a triple axel in competition (this was recorded before her Olympic success). In 2005, American Kimmy Miessner completed a triple axel in national competition, though not world competition. You can read about it here:

Follow Vox's full 2018 Winter Olympics coverage here:

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In this episode of Vox Almanac, Phil Edwards explores the triple axel and why it's such a big deal. The figure skating jump is legendary among ice skaters, from Tonya Harding's 1991 triple axel to modern icon Mirai Nagasu's attempts in competition. It turns out that the physics of the triple axel makes it a uniquely difficult jump — and one worth learning about.

As a forward-edge jump, the mechanics of a triple axel requires technical acumen from skaters while they still try to maintain an artistically interesting performance. Pioneers like Midori Ito and Tonya Harding had to jump, ramp up rotation speed, and then land all while trying to look good. This effort set them apart from competitors like Nancy Kerrigan, but it wasn't easy to land a triple axel in competition.

And that difficulty might be why the triple axel endures as the pinnacle of figure skating performance — and why it's sure to light up the 2018 Winter Olympics as well. is a news website that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines. Check out

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Comments Directly on YouTube

33 minutes ago
Is triple supposed to be hard(er) for women than for men? Because men, more or less routinely, do quadruple axels. Is it just mass/jump height thing or is there more?

53 minutes ago
Her name "Mirai" means "future" in Japanese. How appropriate! She is the future of US figure skating.

3 hours ago
skating videos are so satisfying to watch

7 hours ago
One of the worst video edits I have ever seen. Soooooo annoying...

9 hours ago
Triple cork is harder

9 hours ago
Too much editing and i dont like your face

13 hours ago
i know nothing about figure skating but now i have a favorite. Mirai seems like a very cool person. love her smile : )

15 hours ago
This has got to be the absolute worst, most insipid and asinine video I have ever seen, blathering on an on about the triple axel for close to 5 minutes and showing less than 10 seconds of actual triple axels footage performed by skaters in real life! The director of this video is a total idiot who caused me to waste 5 minutes of my time.

16 hours ago
most boring sport of them all...

16 hours ago
Didnt tonya try to have someone break nancy's legs or something

17 hours ago
hey Vox, I know you're trying to make a hip and interesting video all that, but you're jumpy editing is fricken distracting, man. it's okay if you tone it down a bit, you don't have to be lit af 24/7 yanno.

18 hours ago
you training all life for a triple axel and in the competition fail? damn!

18 hours ago
Me: "Wow, Mirai Nagasu is so elegant..."
and then she opens her mouth.

19 hours ago
I get tired when i put socks on.

23 hours ago
Anyone know the song that plays for a few seconds starting at 12 seconds in?

23 hours ago

23 hours ago
whats the song in the begining bit ive been trying to find it for ages x

1 day ago
I'm not interested in the graphics or the music or the millennial narrator's airtime—I wanted to see a triple axel. Was that too much to ask? Jesus.

1 day ago
The info is good and all but holy hell this video looks awful. Make it clearer next time, please.

1 day ago
Seriously, how can you make an explanatory video about some ice-skating trick and for over 3 minutes not even show what the trick is? Most people don't know what a "triple axel" is, it's not common knowledge. And even if it was, how hard it is to show it and not cut it in the middle 8 times?!

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