40 Years of Quadruple Jumps!

The first quadruple jump in 2023 was attempted by a South Korean teenager, Habin Choi, at the junior nationals on January 6. It was preceded by at least 1073 attempts in the fall part of the 2022-23 season, and by some 12 000 attempts since March 1983.

I am pretty confident of those numbers and this post explains why. More on quads will come soon!

It all started rather innocently. In 2017 or thereabouts, I read a newspaper article about Brian Joubert (FRA) being celebrated by the French federation for having done 100 quadruple jumps in international competitions. This happened in 2013. Then I found another story about Timothy Goebel (USA) having gotten to 76 quadruple jumps (as counted by the US federation) by the end of his competitive career in 2006.

I started to wonder if records are being kept of the technical achievements of skaters. Obviously, some of the national federations record them for at least some of their skaters but I could not find much more information or data.

Then I started to wonder how many quadruples my beloved Javier Fernández (ESP) might have done by that time in 2017 – surely close to or even more than a hundred? I already had most of his results in my archives, so it was just the question of picking out and counting the quads. It was a labor of love and included at least three rounds of checking and watching just about every one of those jumps on video. Indeed, he had passed the 100 mark and eventually was one of the first to get 150 jumps done (at the Europeans in 2018). (More precisely: between fall of 2009 and January 2019 Javi jumped 186 quad toe loops and Salchows, 24 in nationals and 162 in international competitions.)

The next step was naturally checking up on his biggest rivals Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN), Patrick Chan (CAN), Shoma Uno (JPN), and a couple others – it is important to get comparative data. This led to trying to figure out other skaters who might have attempted 100 quadruples or at least close to it making the list of quadsters a little bit longer.

This was where I was when an online discussion (maybe in 2019?) inspired me to start a list of men who have attempted quads starting from the very beginning in March 1983. The aim was to get an idea how many of them there are. Some talked about hundreds, but the numbers have been surprisingly low until very recently. This work continues – new skaters start jumping quads every season and every now and then I find information on earlier skaters trying quads.

The first certain quad attempt in competition: Alexander Fadeev (USSR) at the World Championships in March 1983.

Then I realized that it would be possible to compile a list of all the jumps from the IJS era (starting with the 2003–2004 season) with information on GOE and so on. Luckily there are databases that provide a starting point to this kind of task, so it was not necessary to find and record every jump manually. After I got up to date with the international competitions, I thought it would be interesting to see how deep the quad had penetrated national scenes. This phase finished in the fall of 2021, but the work of maintaining and updating the quad list naturally continues.

The next step was collecting the 6.0 era jumps from before 2003–04. This started in the spring of 2022. It has been easier than what I thought – there were surprisingly few quadsters and jumps before the 1998–1999 season! And most of them were top level skaters so that there was data (= videos) available to work with.

Once you start, it apparetly never stops. In February 2023, I realized that I would actually want to know what happens with women and quads and compare them with the developments with men. And of course I descended into that worm hole! The data collection for the past seasons was finished in the summer of 2023.

In March 2023 when I wrote the original blog, I had three lists, one for the skaters covering about 500 names, the second with some 13 000 jumps from the IJS era, and the third with almost a thousand jumps from the decades before the 2000s. The first two have since grown a lot and the skater list is now almost 600 strong. The IJS era jump list has a little over 13 400 jumps. And it is the end of July 2023 now.

You see how this whole thing started small, slowly got out of hand, and then escalated to frightening levels?

Check out the more detailed “Making Of” post here. The first part of the QuadStory can be read here.

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