All About the Salchow Figure Skating Jump

Tiffany Vise and Derek Trent Landed the First Quad Throw Salchow
Tiffany Vise and Derek Trent Landed the First Quad Throw Salchow. Photo by Patrick Kovarik - Getty Images

Salchow Definition:

A Salchow jump is a figure skating jump where the skater jumps from the back inside edge of one skate and lands on the back outside edge of the other skate.

Entry:

The single Salchow jump is commonly done from a forward outside three turn. After the three turn, the skater stops momentarily with the free foot extended behind, then swings the free leg forward and around with a wide scooping motion, jumping in the air and landing backwards on the former free foot.

Alternate Salchow Entry:

Sometimes, the Salchow is entered from a forward inside mohawk instead of a three turn.
Most skaters find this more difficult than the three turn entry, and many beginning skaters are unable to do the jump without the three turn.

Common Salchow Errors:

A common error of beginning figure skaters is to bend the free leg during the three turn entry while allowing the three turn to almost spin the take off of the jump. That habit should be broken as early as possible. Skaters must learn to check the three turn, extend the free leg, and should be able to control the take-off of the jump. Relying on the three turn to do a Salchow is not a good idea.

The Salchow Is a Full Revolution Jump:

The single Salchow jump is considered a full-revolution jump, but feels much like a half-revolution jump, since some of the technique learned from doing the waltz jump is used in the Salchow jump. In fact, to some skaters, the Salchow will feel like a waltz jump done from a back inside edge.

Double and Triple Salchow Techniques:

Although the free leg is extended for the single Salchow, the free knee bends as the sk"ater takes off for double and triple Salchows.
In double and triple Salchows, once the skater takes off, he or she will pull the arms tightly to the chest, crossing the feet in the air as in all other double and triple jumps and rotate in a back spin position.

Landing:

The landing is the same as that of other jumps, that is, first to the toe pick, quickly moving to a smooth glide onto a back outside edge.
The rotation is checked by bringing the arms out and extending the free-leg back. The checked position should be held for a distance equal to the skater's height.

Pronunciation and Spelling:

The name of the jump is pronounced with the first syllable about halfway between "sal" and "cell" and the second syllable the same as the word "cow." Then, remember that if you fall on a Salchow, you may scream "ow!" Figure skaters sometimes refer to a Salchow as a "Sal." It is common to hear skaters say something like, "I tried a double sal today," or "I entered my sal a bit crooked..." Spelling the word also takes practice since the word "Salchow" just doesn't look the way it sounds.

Salchow Inventor:

The single Salchow jump was first invented by world and Olympic figure skating champion, Ulrich Salchow, in 1909. The first double Salchow was done by Gillis Grafström in the 1920s. Ronnie Robertson, of the United States, succeeded in landing the first triple Salchow in competition. He made history by landing the jump at the 1955 World Figure Skating Championships.

Salchow Facts and Trivia:

Today, triple Salchows are performed routinely at figure skating events. Quad Salchows are also done. In 2007, U.S. pair skaters Tiffany Vise and Derek Trent landed the first ever throw quadruple Salchow in competition at the Trophée Eric Bompard, one of the events in the 2007 Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series.

Mastering a Double Salchow Is Not Easy:

The double Salchow is usually the first double jump ice skaters try to master, and "getting" a consistent double Salchow may take time.
Like the Axel, some skaters will struggle with the jump for a long time. If you are a skater working on your double Salchow, be patient and be prepared to do a lot of falling as you work on the jump. Once you "get your double sal," the other double jumps may come quickly!