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Figure Skating 101 - Nov. 30

Don't flutz a Lutz

Skater demonstrates proper form for a Lutz.
Skater demonstrates proper form for a Lutz. (dkImages)

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By Jo Ann Schneider Farris, special to icenetwork.com
(11/30/2007) - The Lutz jump is one of the most difficult jumps to do. In a Lutz jump, a skater glides backward on a back outside edge, and then picks with the other skate. The skater jumps a full revolution in the air and then lands on the back outside edge of the foot that picked. If a skater does a double Lutz, he or she will complete two revolutions in the air. If he or she does a triple Lutz, three revolutions will be completed.

Lutz History

The Lutz jump was invented by an Austrian named Alois Lutz. He first performed the jump in competition in 1913. In 1925, Karl Schäfer (who went on to win the 1932 and 1936 Winter Olympics) landed the first double Lutz, but his double Lutz occurred in a practice, not a competition. The first triple Lutz performed in competition was done by Canadian and World Figure Skating Champion Donald Jackson at the 1962 World Figure Skating Championships. The jump wasn't repeated by subsequent skaters for many years, but now the triple Lutz is a staple of both men's and ladies' elite skating at the national and world levels.

A Lutz is Not a "Flutz" and Can't Be Done by a Klutz

A Lutz must be taken off from a back outside edge, and staying on that back outside edge can be very difficult. If a skater allows the blade to change to an inside edge, the jump does not receive full credit. If the skater does an inside edge, he or she has done a flip, not a Lutz. The nickname for this mistake is "flutz."

Some ice skaters laugh about the Lutz jump since the term rhymes with "klutz," but the Lutz is really not a jump that is awkward at all. A Lutz is usually entered with great speed, often in a corner of an ice rink. It takes guts to do that since the entry, for most skaters, requires skating against the flow of the traffic at the rink. Most rinks have "Lutz corners," and the ice in those corners is filled with the pick marks and holes of many Lutz jumps attempted by figure skaters.

The "Tano" Lutz

1988 Olympic Figure Skating Champion, Brian Boitano, did a spectacular triple Lutz. What made Boitano's triple Lutz special and unique was that he put his left arm above his head as he jumped and rotated, demonstrating amazing control. Brian's unique triple Lutz was named the "Tano" Lutz and became his signature jump. Another great skater who was able to do the "Tano" Lutz was 2003 U.S. World Team Member, Ryan Jahnke.

Throw Me a Curve

The Lutz remains a major challenge to all skaters as they learn to do this difficult move that has an entry edge on one curve and an exit on the opposite curve.

Happy Skating!

For more information on the fundamentals of figure skating visit the U.S. Figure Skating's Basic Skills Program.