US figure skater Ilia Malinin shatters history with the first landed quad axel in competition history

US Ilia Malinin performs during the men's short program skating event at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Montpellier, south of France, on March 24, 2022. (Photo by Sylvain THOMAS / AFP) (Photo by SYLVAIN THOMAS/AFP via Getty Images)
US Ilia Malinin performs during the men's short program skating event at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Montpellier, south of France, on March 24, 2022. (Photo by Sylvain THOMAS / AFP) (Photo by SYLVAIN THOMAS/AFP via Getty Images) /

The sport of figure skating is all about defying gravity, and Ilia Malinin of Team USA did so in one of the most historic ways on Wednesday night.

Defying gravity is one of the key components in the sport of figure skating. Quad jumps have been the craze of skating for decades, and with all quads through the lutz being almost a necessity for success in men’s skating, the lone remaining quad, the axel, has been a hot topic of conversation. Ilia Malinin of Team USA, at just 17 years old, made the jump reality by being the first to land it in competition in the history of figure skating.

The quad axel is a huge deal because it’s a gateway to five-rotation jumps. It takes off on a forward edge, requiring an extra half a rotation to land. Therefore, the quad axel is actually 4.5 rotations, similar to what a quint salchow or toe loop would be.

Malinin, who finished second at US Nationals last season and earned the first Olympic alternate spot, landed the most difficult attempted jump in the sport at the US International Classic. To make matters even more exciting, he landed it at the Herb Brooks Arena, home of the “Miracle on Ice” of 1980, in Lake Placid, New York.

It’s no surprise that he was going to attempt the jump. He’s been posting flawless videos of him landing it all summer on his Instagram (which he’s cleverly chosen “quadg0d” as his username), so it was expected that he’d be the first one to land it this season in competition.

Jumps are much harder to execute during competition, however, so expecting it to happen and watching it actually happen are two very different scenarios. He’s not the first one to attempt the quad axel, as the jump got a lot of craze as many hopefuls tried to make the Olympic team, and 2014 and 2018 Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu tried to defend his title in Beijing.

The quad axel has been attempted in competition before

Among fans, it’s always been thought that 2022 Olympic champion Nathan Chen or Hanyu would land the quad axel first. Chen, who has won US nationals every season since 2017 and is known for his effortless quads, has attempted the jump in practice but never in competition.

Hanyu attempted it at the Beijing Olympics, but he fell on an under rotation. He also attempted it at the Japanese national championships, but he two-footed the landing, making it invalid due to a marked downgrade from the judges.

US skater Artur Dmitriev also attempted the jump at US Nationals last season, but it was marked under rotated and he fell out of the landing, making it invalid.

Malinin, who typically completes his quads and quad combos with ease, gave new hope to the jump being landed with Chen stepping away from competition and Hanyu retiring. He completed an era and landed the last and most difficult remaining quad jump.

The first quad landed in competition was the quad toe loop in 1988 by Kurt Browning, which began the quad craze. The next was the quad salchow 10 years later in 1998 by Timothy Goebel. After that, the revolution died down through the 2000s and picked back up rapidly in the 2010s.

In 2011, the next landed was the quad lutz by Brandon Mroz. 2016 closed out the remaining two, aside from the axel, with a quad flip by Shoma Uno and a quad loop by Hanyu.

Even ladies, who only a handful have landed a triple axel in competition, have begun to attempt quads. Many up-and-coming Russian ladies began a quad revolution among women, and only one US woman, Alysa Liu, has landed one (a quad lutz at 2020 US Nationals) in history.

Malinin landed the newest and hardest quad with ease, entering from a bracket turn (considered a difficult entry) and receiving an additional point for positive grade of execution.

He’s impressed the entire figure skating world with this feat.

Teen Ilia Malinin shocked the figure skating world with historic jump

Malinin was, of course, asked about how he felt about landing the jump. He revealed in an interview, “It felt really good. When I’m practicing it, it’s pretty easy for me to figure out how to get the right timing and everything to have it be a good attempt. To do it in competition is a different story because you have nerves and pressure that can get in the way of that. So I have to treat it like I’m at home, and it feels pretty good.”

Several former Olympians also spoke out, including iconic 2018 Olympic bronze medalist Adam Rippon. According to the Huffington Post, Rippon stated, “This is the craziest thing I’ve ever seen anyone do on the ice.”

Former Team Canada pairs skater and Olympic, World and National champion Meagan Duhamel also spoke out about Malinin, stating, “How on earth does he do this. This easily. With NO prep/set up at all!!!”

Two-time Olympian and current commentator Johnny Weir Tweeted, “Ilia Malinin landed the first quadruple axel in history tonight at an event in Lake Placid, NY, home of so many great American sporting moments. 4.5 revolutions in the blink of an eye. Bravo!”

He’s also already anticipated to make the 2026 Winter Olympics, according to the official Milano Cortina 2026 Olympics Twitter account.

And right when the teen can’t seem more impressive, it’s notable that he made history with a jump sequence in the same program that night. He landed the first-ever triple lutz + triple axel jump sequence in any international competition.

Malinin is certainly setting the bar high for the future of figure skating, and competition is about to reach a whole new level in the next four years leading up to the 2026 Olympics. He’s both ended an era and begun one.